MamaT: February 2005 Archives

(And NO, TSO, his fan club is not waning--we were just waiting to be asked! Of course, we love YOU too, you know.)

Here are the questions for Mr. Luse over at Apologia:

1. How long have you been married, and how did you talk her into it? (You will notice that, like all good Southern women, we ASSUME that she had to be talked into it. No reflection on you or your character, it's just the way it is.)

2. What piece of advice would you give young folks approaching marriage (not necessarily including your daughter, since we assume your advice to her would be something along the lines of "If he hurts you, I'll kill him" which wouldn't be practical advice to give random young people)?

3. If you weren't a teacher, what would your dream job be? Or is teaching your dream job?

4. Convert or cradle Catholic? If a convert, what drew you to the Church? If cradle, did you ever relapse and come back?

5. Do you think we're living in the Dark Ages and just don't know it yet?

And a Reminder!

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For all you fans of The Amazing Race, season premiere for the next go-round is Tuesday night, 8 p.m. central time.


Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding!




Today's great hymn:

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The glory of these forty days
We celebrate with songs of praise;
For Christ, by Whom all things were made,
Himself has fasted and has prayed.

Alone and fasting Moses saw
The loving God Who gave the law;
And to Elijah, fasting, came
The steeds and chariots of flame.

So Daniel trained his mystic sight,
Delivered from the lions’ might;
And John, the Bridegroom’s friend, became
The herald of Messiah’s Name.

Then grant us, Lord, like them to be
Full oft in fast and prayer with Thee;
Our spirits strengthen with Thy grace,
And give us joy to see Thy face.

O Father, Son, and Spirit blest,
To thee be every prayer addressed,
Who art in threefold Name adored,
From age to age, the only Lord.

Sung at SMV to the tune "Spires." You can hear it over a, if you can't remember it.

Love it, love it, love it.....

| | Comments (3) of the very best parts of keeping McKid and having a 7 year old niece is that I get to buy all the girl clothes that I want! And they are not to the point yet that I have to really argue with them about the appropriateness of what they want. McKid wears whatever you put on her. Zgirl still likes all the "Hawaiian colored" things--bright capri pants and flowery shirts.

I got to take Zgirl shopping for her birthday today. I know years will come when I will be sitting in some teen-girl store, trying to get her to buy something that covers her belly-button or isn't black, probably. But it was so FUN to go buy blue sandals with white flowers on the toe to go with wildly colored capris and t's. I'm living it up now, and practicing my "Well, that is certainly INTERESTING" look for later.

7th Book of 2005 finished:

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In the Beginning There Were No Diapers by Tim Bete.

This book is basically a series of humorous essays on parenthood, by a man with four kids. The second essay made me think of poor Smock and her trials, because it concerns, in part, the "fertility police"--those people who feel called to discuss in public the number of children you have or will have.

Claiming you had four children on purpose will ensure a lecture on the pitfalls of large families. There is, however, one response that will silence the detectives.

Look protectively at your children and say, "Yes, all these are mine. I found them on sale in aisle five--buy three, get the fourth free." Then, follow up with, "Hey, the sign says, 'ten items or less.' I only have four kids, three bags of chips and a two-liter bottle of soda, so I'm under the limit."

While the first few essays were amusing, when I got to the essay "The Parable of the Dirty Laundry, and Other Miraculous Lessons" I found Zteen as a little boy:

Paul is frugal with his monetary treasure too. His money-management abilities emerged at an early age. It was clear by age two that Maria would be an actress. She's a drama queen and can make the removal of a Band-Aid look like a Shakespearean death scene. It was also clear that, if Maria succeeds on the Broadway stage, Paul will own the theater in which she acts.

At four years old, Paul was probably the only kid in America who read the Wall Street Journal. I'm kidding of course. He couldn't read at four, so he made me read it to him.....When he was two he began asking for some of the change when my wife and I were buying things. A penny here, a nickel there. Then, two years later, I found Paul counting his pile of coins.

"I have 102 dollars," he said......

"What are you going to do with all that money?" I gasped.

"Keep it," he said. "I'm going to keep it."

That's the same answer he gave when his preschool teacher asked him what he would do if he found a pot of gold. While the other preschoolers were busy imagining the candy and toys they would buy with their ports of gold, Paul was saving for retirement.

SO Zteen. Remind me to tell you someday of how I have the only kid who has actually ever purchased a television with saved up tickets from Putt-Putt Golf and Games.....

Bete has a clear eye for the humor and sweetness of daily life as a parent. This book would be a GREAT shower gift for someone having kiddo number 3 or 4 or more.

Best read a little at a time, it is a faith-filled, but not preachy, paean to parenthood.

Check it out.

Another prayer request


The pope has been taken to the hospital again, with a relapse of his flu and recurrence of his breathing difficulties. AP story can be found HERE.

Send up prayers for our Papa.

Might I ask a favor?

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If you have a spare minute, could you all please pray for an intention of mine? I'm not at liberty to go into details, but I've been asked to pray for someone in a really difficult situation, and I know that I need my prayers buttressed with the prayers of others.

Thank you.

Heads up!

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We are within 22 comments of our 3000th comment. Poster who is number 3000 will get a big ol' smooch from the Mamas! (And who knew it would be such a great conversation? We appreciate each and every one of you so much.)

Bill Luse


....has a great entry up on Terri Schiavo HERE.

And pray some more.

Interview questions....

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.....for Erik, of Erik's Rants and Recipes fame:

1. Not for you something ordinary, is it? Bull-fighting????? How did you get started as a bull-fighting afficianado?

2. I read somewhere that you can learn to like any food if you just make yourself eat it for 6 weeks. Do you think that's true? Can picky eaters become more adventurous eaters? How?

3. What's the funniest thing you can remember your sweet Amalia saying/doing?

4. What is your all-time favorite country-western song, and why?

5. What is your all-time favorite book, and why?

I have finally arrived....

| | Comments (3) the land of speedy internet. We installed DSL last night, and I am zooming through webpages like a maniac! Of course, it is a terrific pain for everyone to have to update their address books and all but WOO HOO!!!!!!

Now I can look at Elena's blog without having to go eat lunch while it loads! Yippee!!!!

Interview questions

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For Julie at Sotto Sotto

1. What is your favorite recipe, and why? Can you share it with us?
2. What is the funniest thing you can remember your girls saying/doing?
3. Tell us one of your guilty pleasures.
4. Other than Jesus, what historical figure would you like to have at your dinner table?
5. Of course, you knew this was coming: What's your all-time favorite book?

For Elena at My Domestic Church

1. You do such a good job of discussing issues with people--have you ever changed anyone's heart/mind?
2. What are your hobbies, besides blogging?
3. What has been the most gratifying parenthood moment so far?
4. Why did you decide to homeschool?
5. What's your all-time favorite book?

For Smock at, well, HERE, of course!

1. What is the happiest memory of your girlhood?
2. Do you really think that green vegetables (other than Caesar salad) will kill you?
3. How different from your "real" self do you think your Smockmomma blog persona is? Would most people be surprised if they met you in person?
4. Do you have a Scriptural "life verse"? If so, what is it and why?
5. What's your all time favorite book? And PLEASE don't say that awful Love Among the Cannibals book.

For Aisling, who doesn't have a blog, so we'll put her answers here

1. Are you catching as much grief over your new pregnancy as the Smock is?
2. What is the best thing about working in a movie theater? The worst?
3. What marriage advice are you giving your soon to be wed sister?
4. What's it like being the only girl in your house? (Maybe we'll get some pink this time around!!!!)
5. What's your all-time favorite book?

BTW, still looking:

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....for 4 more interview subjects. Scroll down to tell me if you're interested! I've got one in process, I'd like to do some more!

Well, that's an understatement:

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Premature baby left to die

Quote from article:

In a statement issued at the weekend, the judiciary said "the medical personnel reacted badly to an abominable request by the parents."

You think?

Please pray!


Latest news on the Terri Schindler-Schiavo front doesn't sound good, and her despicable worm of a husband may have her feeding tube removed as early as 1 p.m. tomorrow.

I have no words. I am appalled. I am heart-broken. I am ashamed of my country and its legal system, though I know it would probably be no better anywhere else.

There are watershed moments for everyone. The brutal attack on Walker Railey's wife (and the ensuing nastiness) convinced me that there had to be a hell. Before that I was one of those touchy feely "God will save us all 'cause he just loves us so much" dimbulbs.

Now this case has convinced me that here I have no true home. For the first time I KNOW, deep in my bones, that I am an alien in an alien land. I will never forget that my existence depends upon God alone, because the government sure ain't here to protect me.

And anyone who doesn't think THIS, right here, right now, is the Dark Ages is a loon.

An interview

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Mz. Booshay over at Quiet Life is playing the interview game. She has agreed to "interview" me, and I have agreed to post my answers here for everyone to read.

Then, if you would like to be "interviewed" by me, post a comment in the comments box saying "Interview Me!!!!" I'll come up with 5 questions for YOU, and you will post the answers on your own blog......

Here's my interview with Mz. Booshay:

1. Did you go to college? If so, where?

Sometimes it feels like I went EVERYWHERE. I started at the University of Texas in Austin, where I spent two years. I finished at McMurry College (now McMurry University), a small Methodist college in my hometown of Abilene, TX. It was like a trip back to the 1950s in some ways, but it was so FUN. After graduating with a degree in accounting (nevermind what YEAR), I went to Texas Tech University and got a Master's degree in accounting.

2. Why is Texas better?

Oh, honey, it's one of those questions you just can't answer briefly. #1, you can find it on a map--it's not a boring square state, or a teeny one you can't see. #2 Every kind of climate/food/ethnic group, etc. in the world. Other than skiing, if you can't find it in Texas, it ain't worth doin'. #3 The women. They can run a ranch and do stoop labor with painted nails wearin' mink coats. Oh, and they have big hair. I don't, but I wish I did. #4 The sky. Where I was raised, it's a giant turquoise bowl, from horizon to horizon. Don't fence me in, baby.

3. What book do you recommend to others the most?

To Kill a Mockingbird which I believe is the finest American novel ever written. It is certainly the truest Southern novel ever written. Dare anyone, anyone, to read it and not weep at the end when Scout walks Boo Radley home.

4. Do you have a pink flamingo on your front lawn?

Yes ma'am, I do. His name is Bob T. Flamingo, and his head bobs up and down. He came from First Monday Trade Days in Canton, TX.

5. If you could magically appear in a movie, which one would it be and why?

Beauty and the Beast--the scene of them dancing in the big ballroom. Except I look hideous in yellow, so the dress would have to be another color--probably PINK! Besides, I always thought I'd look good animated! (Oh, and p.s.: I always liked the Beast best as the Beast, not the girlie man at the end. Go figure.)


OK, now anyone game to be interviewed by MOI?

Interesting article


The Branding of a Heretic

About a brouhaha at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Never let it be said that secularism isn't a religion--and a harsh, unforgiving one at that.

A thought for today:


From the Lent and Eastertide volume of Conversation With God:

Here is a point for your daily examination. Have I allowed an hour to pass, without talking with my Father God? Have I talked to him with the love of a Son? You can!

That's why I like this book so much. It has such homey advice. Aimed at people in regular walks of life, faced with ordinary problems. Meeting them where they are. Giving them something to do practically and immediately.

Sixth book of 2005 finished!

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Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. Had seen her recommended many times, in a variety of sources, but had never read anything of hers. Her story is an interesting one. Became famous as part of the "Harlem Rennaissance", she fell from favor in the 50's (and became obscure during the 60's and 70's--until her "rediscovery" by Alice Walker in 1975)--largely, it seems, because she wasn't "political" enough in her writing. She wanted to tell the story of the black man and woman--thinking it had enough dignity in its own right. For her, it didn't have to rail against the white man continually, defining blacks only as they stood in regard to white society. She also had the temerity to write in Southern black vernacular, letting the blacks "speak for themselves." Other black writers were scandalized by this--and felt it gave white people even more ammunition to think blacks were stupid and uncultured. Hurston thought blacks had a culture, and one worth immortalizing in her literature. She also did collections of black mythology, stories, songs, poems.

Their Eyes is the story of a woman, Janie, and her marriages, life and love. She has been raised by her grandmother, a freed slave, who can only conceive of Janie's life as "safe" if she is married to a stable man. So Janie is married off to an older man she doesn't love. She eventually runs away with a sweet talker, Joe Starks, who wants to be a big man, and wills himself into the position of mayor, store-owner, postmaster, etc. of a black town in Florida. Though he sweet-talked Janie, and probably loved her in his way, he has ideas of what is right and proper for a woman "of her station." She is his possession, his trophy, and his victim when he can't figure out how else to treat her.

She stays with Joe until his death, but eight months later meets Tea Cake, a younger man who loves her for who she is. Tea Cake wins her heart and takes her off to the 'Glades to work the bean fields and gamble. Her two years with him are not without problems (he is a gambler and there is one incident of the beginning of a flirtation with another woman, which Janie quashes immediately). But they are the happiest years of her life--years where there is food, and laughter, and love, and companionship, and of someone thinking that she is worth love and attention.

The ending is dramatic--I couldn't imagine where the story was meandering around to. The last 50 pages read like 5. The book is sad, but hopeful.

The book is written beautifully, as well. The narrator writes (speaks?) in a beautiful, languid standard English. The dialogue is in heavy Southern, black vernacular. If you are not Southern, I think it would take a great deal of getting used to. But it is mesmerizing. And, I think, it speaks to the diversity within black life--not either/or, but both/and.

I understand that Oprah has financed a new movie version of the book. I will be anxious to see how they portray it. There is only ONE sex scene in the whole book, and it is mild by today's standards. From what I understand, the movie is billed as "steamy" which wouldn't be particularly true to the book, though of course, there is an undercurrent of passion in the writing about Tea Cake and Janie.

Anyway, here's a little piece of the non-vernacular writing. Mrs. Turner is a black woman who is very light--who has a straight nose (her own description) and thin lips. She despises blacks who are darker than she. She loves Janie, because Janie has fairer skin and long, beautiful, straight hair:

Once having set up her idols and built altars to them it was inevitable she would worship there. It was inevitable that she should accept any inconsistency and cruelty from her deity as all good worshippers do from theirs. All gods who receive homage are cruel. All gods dispense suffering without reason. Otherwise they would not be worshipped. Through indiscriminate suffering men know fear and fear is the most divine emotion. It is the stones for altars and the beginning of wisdom. Half gods are worshipped in wine and flowers. Real gods require blood.

Mrs. Turner, like all other believers had built an altar to the unattainable--Caucasian characteristics for all. Her god would smite her, would hurl her from pinnacles and lose her in deserts, but she would not forsake his altars. Behind her crude words was a belief that somehow she and others through worship could attain her paradise--a heaven of straighthaired, thin-lipped, high-nose boned white seraphs. The physical impossibilities in no way injured faith. That was the mystery and mysteries are the chores of gods. Beyond her faith was a fanaticism to defend the altars of her god. It was distressing to emerge from her inner temple and find those black desecrators howling with laughter before the door. Oh, for an army, terrible with banners and swords!

Agree or disagree, it is pretty powerful stuff.

Mmmm mmmm mmmm!

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For a mom-blog, we have talked very little about cooking. The Smock doesn't like to cook much, and would really prefer to let someone else do it for her permanently! I like to cook, and am OK at it, but during the years of Scouting, church volunteering, and homeschooling, expediency was key. I know a bunch of quickie casserole recipes, and have fallen back too much on them.

Now that I am finished with Scouting (though Zteen is now an assistant scoutmaster at his troop), and homeschooling for me consists simply of cracking the whip over Zteen, it's time for me to pick up the art of cooking, real cooking, again.

Julie over at Happy Catholic recommended a couple of good cookbooks to me. I took the B&N giftcards I received at Christmas and purchased The All New Good Housekeeping Cookbook. What a great basic cookbook it is. It has clear directions, nice pictures, good info on all kinds of stuff, and 1,500 receipes, ranging from homestyle favorites to more exotic ethnic fare. This isn't your mother's old cookbook.

So, I've been reading the cookbook as if it were a novel, and putting sticky arrows on tons of recipes. Last night we had Tamale Pie (good--even better as leftovers). But tonight was better than good. It was outstanding.

We had Potato and Ham Frittata, served with biscuits and a mixed berry fruit salad. I will tell you that the Pillsbury frozen biscuits are very good. Not the microwave kind--the bake in the oven kind. They were well reviewed by the cooking editor of our newspaper, and I had bought a bag last time I went to the grocery store. Not as good as my Mama Warren's biscuits, but better than my own biscuits by a long shot. And the fact I could pop them in the oven while I was preparing the frittata was a big plus.

Anyway, both of my guys raved over the frittata. We keep a "Southard Family Cookbook" of all the recipes we have really loved. The ones that I will hand down to Zack and to his bride one day. They are collected from all over--different cookbooks, stuff clipped out of magazines, handed down through the family, passed on by friends. We have three levels of "good" recipes in our house, and everyone votes: 1) OK, but if we never have it again that's fine. 2) Good, but just remember which cookbook it's in. And 3) PUT IT IN THE FAMILY BOOK. Tonight's frittata was in the third category. Its been awhile since anything hit the book.

So, courtesy of the Good Housekeeping Cookbook, here's a recipe for you to try:

Potato and Ham Frittata

10 ounces all-purpose potatoes (2 medium), peeled, cut lenghtwise in half, then crosswise into thin slices (2 cups)
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 piece cooked ham (4 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch pieces (1 cup)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
8 large eggs
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
pinch dried thyme

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In 2 quart saucepan, combine potatoes, 3 cups cold water, and 1 teaspoon salt; heat to boiling over high heat. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes; drain.

2. In oven-safe nonstick 10 inch skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add ham and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. With slotted spoon, transfer ham to plate.

3. Add 1 tablespoon oil to skillet; add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer onion to plate with ham.

4. In large bowl, with wire whisk, beat eggs, water, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper, and thyme until well blended. Stir in potatoes, ham, and onion. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in skillet over medium heat. Pour in egg mixture; cover and cook until egg mixture begins to set around edge, about 3 minutes. Remove cover and place skillet in oven; bake until frittata is set, 8-10 minutes.

5. To serve, loosen frittata from skillet and slide onto warm platter; cut into 6 wedges. Makes 6 main-dish servings.

I will say that my frittata wouldn't slide out--my pan has very steep sides. But I flipped it out onto the plate and it was still beautiful. And the good thing about a frittata is that I can see hundreds of variations, depending on what's left over in the refrigerator.....


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From my Lenten reading, In Conversation with God:

...we will normally find the Cross each day in the sort of petty annoyances that may occur at work, and which usually present themselves to us through people around us. It may be something unexpected, the difficult character of a person with whom we have to live, plans perhaps that have to be changed at the last minute, stubborn materials or instruments of work that fail us when we most need them. Discomfort, maybe caused by cold, or heat, or noise . . . misunderstandings. A below-par seediness that impairs our efficiency on a particular day...

We have to accept these daily pinpricks courageously, offering them to God in a spirit of reparation without complaint. Those mortifications that crop up unexpectedly can help us, if we receive them well, to grow in the spirit of penance that we need so much, and to improve in the virtues of patience, of charity, of understanding: that is to say, in holiness. If we receive our setbacks with a bad spirit, it can cause us to rebel, or to become impatient or discouraged. Many Christians have lost their joy at the end of the day, not because of big reverses, but because they have not known how to sanctify the tiredness caused by work, or the little snags and minor frustrations which have arisen during the day. When we accept the Cross--little or great--it produces peace and joy in the midst of pain and is laden with merits for eternal life.....The Christian who goes through life systematically avoiding sacrifice will not find God, will not find happiness. What he will have been taking care to avoid is his own sanctity.

First, how did this guy get a look into my house and head? Because it is exactly the issue that I am dealing with. Now and maybe always.

Seen objectively, I am one of the most fortunate women on the planet. Unfortunately, I don't see myself objectively. By the end of the day I have convinced myself that I am really the next Joan of Arc, only worse, because instead of being burned at the stake, I am being nibbled to death by ducks. Self-pity reigns. And all because of the petty annoyances of the day. White dog hair everywhere. Dishes piled up. A two year old whining, "But I WANT to!" over and over. Dinner to do, again. Laundry to do, again. Bathrooms to clean, again.

Last night, in the midst of yet another bout with insomnia, it hit me what a great gift becoming Catholic has been. When I could not even think straight, because I was so tired, yet couldn't fall asleep, I could at least pray the Rosary. When I couldn't think of anything to tell God, I could fall back on what we have been telling God for centuries.

So I arose this morning, tired in body, but happier in spirit. The world hasn't changed. But maybe one molecule of me has.

Tell us, tell us, do:


Ms. Booshay over at Quiet Life (link to the right) wants to know what our favorite romantic songs, movies, poems or movies might be.

My favorite romantic song, currently, is one playing on country-western stations (I'm in full blown country mode at the moment). Sung by Rascal Flatts:

"Bless The Broken Road"

I set out on a narrow way many years ago
Hoping I would find true love along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
Wiped my brow and kept pushing through
I couldn't see how every sign pointed straight to you
Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

I think about the years I spent just passing through
I'd like to have the time I lost and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You've been there you understand
It's all part of a grander plan that is coming true

Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

Now I'm just rolling home
Into my lover's arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you.

Most romantic moment ever? Ssssshhhhh. Don't tell. It wasn't PapaC! When I was in high school my boyfriend sent me ELEVEN yellow roses (he was a Yankee boy. What is it with me and these Yankee boys???). The card said, "For the yellow rose to make the dozen, just look in the mirror."

Not bad for a high school boy, huh?

How 'bout y'all?

What a cutie site!

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You can go HERE and make your own candy heart. PapaC was a math teacher after we got married, so this has been a long-standing term of affection at our house.

Thanks to Julie over at Happy Catholic for the heads up. (Her link is, of course, to the right.)

Today's great hymn:

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(Sung in our parish to the tune "Heinlein")

Forty days and forty nights
Thou wast fasting in the wild;
Forty days and forty nights
Tempted, and yet undefiled.

Sunbeams scorching all the day;
Chilly dew-drops nightly shed;
Prowling beasts about Thy way;
Stones Thy pillow; earth Thy bed.

Should not we Thy sorrow share
And from worldly joys abstain,
Fasting with unceasing prayer,
Strong with Thee to suffer pain?

Then if Satan on us press,
Jesus, Savior, hear our call!
Victor in the wilderness,
Grant we may not faint nor fall!

So shall we have peace divine:
Holier gladness ours shall be;
Round us, too, shall angels shine,
Such as ministered to Thee.

Keep, O keep us, Savior dear,
Ever constant by Thy side;
That with Thee we may appear
At the eternal Eastertide.

What an odd little movie

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Watched The Triplets of Belleville last night after we came home from our parish's Lenten Supper series. What an odd little movie. It takes a bit to get used to the animation--very not American to say the least!. At first I was so distracted by how ugly I thought everything was, that it took me a bit to get into the story. But it doesn't take long to fall under the spell of Madam Souza and her incessant whistle, to love the dog (who is too much like our own constantly barking dogs), and admire the Triplets (who else would carry a bombs tucked into their hosiery?).

I remembered this from last year's Academy Awards, and when it popped up on my Netflix recommendations, I took a chance. I'd give it four stars. If you're an animation fan, you should check it out. And the score to the movie is absolutely hypnotic.

A thought for today


Fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms. Laying down your arms, surrendering, saying you are sorry, realizing that you have been on the wrong track and getting ready to start life over again from the ground floor - that is the only way out of a "hole." This process of surrender - this movement full speed astern - is repentance.

C.S. Lewis, courtesy of the Bruderhof's Daily Dig

Go, now, and read

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Peggy Noonan's lovely article about the pope: OpinionJournal - Peggy Noonan

Fifth book of 2005 finished

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Book #5: The Bee Season by Myla Goldberg.

This is a book I haven't made up my mind about yet. If I say that it was "interesting" that might make people think it is not worth the read. It is, but I don't think the book is for everyone. If you're depressed, don't read it. If you don't want to read about a dysfunctional family, falling apart at the seams, don't read it. But it IS a book worth reading, by the people who can stand it. How's that for a weird recommendation?

The book is about a Jewish family: Eliza, a 9 year old who has been put in the "ungifted" class at school, her older brother Aaron, her mother, the more than tightly wound Miriam, and her cantor father Saul, who is interested in Jewish mysticism.

Eliza has been the loved but kind of ignored "dumb" little sister/daughter, until it comes to light that she has a gift--when she wins the school spelling bee. The first part of the book details her trip to the national bee, and you see the cracks in the family beginning to show.

The second half of the book is different. Saul decides that his daughter has the ability to attempt to reach oneness with God through a method described by a rabbi named Abulafia. Saul himself has never had the gift to reach for that contact, and his pushing of his daughter toward it is the perfect example of a parent trying to live through the achievements of a child. In the meantime, Miriam (the mother) is spiralling down into her own obsession--the hunt for Perfectimundo--something she has searched for since she was a child. She has never been a particularly present mother, but with Saul over-involved with Eliza, her obsession picks up steam and takes control of her life.

At the same time, Aaron, the son and questing teenager, feels pushed out of his father's life and continues looking for that something to fill him up. He finds it with the Hare Krishnas, to the dismay and anger of his father.

Everything is a smashup at the end, with the only shred of hope coming in Eliza's final decision on the last page of the book.

A good, highly imaginative, first novel. It'll be interesting to see what Goldberg has to say next.

Almighty and everlasting God,

Almighty and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all them that are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we worthily lamenting our sins, and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

And now the time is almost here

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My stomach has butterflies today, but then it always does on Shrove Tuesday. Today will be a day of celebration, in its way. We'll go to the K of C Pancake Supper tonight at church. We'll eat, drink and be merry, knowing that tomorrow will begin the season we all, secretly or openly, welcome and adore.

We live in a culture of excess--too much food, too much drink, too much sex, too much stuff. I contend it's why we have a hard time following the church calendar--it's almost impossible, in a culture of permanent feasting, to make feast days anything really special. We need to recapture some sense of "ordinary time"--a time from which it is possible to go UP for feast days (without breaking the bank, a la Christmas) and DOWN for fast days (which wouldn't include spending more on food by buying expensive fish than you would on a regular day!). But that's an essay for ordinary time. Remind me later, and I'll tell you what I think.

But that's why I think Lent has such a hold on our imaginations and hearts. We KNOW we live in excess. The voluntary shedding of that is something we CAN do, and makes us feel objectively good to do it. So we ponder our spiritual lives. What will be enough. What should I be doing that I'm not. What will cause me enough discomfort to call my mind to Christ, but not so much that I fall away from the program altogether. There is a frisson of excitement about denial. It does our heart good.

I, like the rest of you, have been pondering. Today will be the time that the pondering will end, and the program will be set. I suspect that a major part of it will be praying the Liturgy of the Hours from the Book of Divine Worship. I also think that it will entail getting my physical house in order and bringing a sense of holy workmanship and attention to detail to the volunteer work I have set my hand to. Ora et labora, so to speak. And I'll be meditating through my Conversation with God book.

But all the programs and intentions in the world won't make a difference unless they bring us closer to the crucified Christ. May we, like the blessed Virgin, be willing to walk with Jesus all the way to the Cross.

Bless us, every one.

....and probably will again this year:


One of my favorite books for Lent

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And if you order through Amazon, it'll ship in 24 hours.

Another resource


Interesting Lenten resource


Praying Lent

Thanks to Julie over at Happy Catholic for the heads up. Her link's over on the sidebar.

Check it out!

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I'm FAMOUS!!!!!

(Thank you TSO!)

The challenges of the older mama

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We are in the last stretches of homeschooling high school around here. Zteen will finish up by this summer, and start college (at the local junior college) in the fall. We have taken an extra year to finish up homeschooling--had we stayed on track better, he would have been off at college this year.

I try to keep in mind that when I was his age, my parents had dropped me off at college, and were no longer aware of my daily doings. I know things are bound to be different when the student lives at home, but I keep deep breathing and trying to give him the freedom that he so earnestly wants--and to be frank, deserves by his generally responsible behavior. Zteen is a good kid.

But it doesn't make it easy. This past Saturday, he wanted to "just get in [his] car and drive. See where the road takes me." I could think of no good reason for him not to do this. Well, no reason other than Do you know how nervous this makes your mother? and that doesn't seem, even to me, to be a good enough reason to say no. I mean, come on, he's 18. He's an Eagle Scout. He's a good driver. He's a responsible boy.

But he's my baby. All 6 feet, 200 pounds of him.

It's not easy.

I still remember how exciting it was to be "on my own." To make my own decisions. I'm glad he wants that for himself. And I want it for him.

But it is so HARD, so darn hard, to let go.

I know the Smock and SpecialK probably read this and think--Hoo boy! Get me to that magic time when they don't want me 24/7. And I was there, too.

But snuggle down, enjoy it. Too soon you'll be waving from the front door watching them drive away. And your heart will ache.

Now this is plain WEIRD...


.....I was doing a Google search on something that I'll write about in a bit, and our blog came up as one of the responses to the search. An entry I wrote, as a matter of fact. How odd. Just shows you that search engines can't tell the important from the unimportant........

Today is affectionately known as....

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...."Alleluia Sunday" at SMV. Every hymn has alleluias in it--getting us ready for the long Lenten season without them. Zteen says it's not fair--he serves Ash Wednesday noon mass (and has for the past 5 years), so he gets to be the first and most obvious person to respond with a forbidden alleluia by mistake. The first year he did it was pricless--he was such a baby (at least in comparison). He piped up with an alleluia, then said "Oops!" loud enough for everyone to hear it and then slapped his hand over his mouth. More than a few smiles rippled through the congregation.

Anyway, today's great hymn was sung at communion:

Alleluia! sing to Jesus! His the scepter, His the throne.
Alleluia! His the triumph, His the victory alone.
Hark! the songs of peaceful Zion thunder like a mighty flood.
Jesus out of every nation has redeemed us by His blood.

Alleluia! not as orphans are we left in sorrow now;
Alleluia! He is near us, faith believes, nor questions how;
Though the cloud from sight received Him when the forty days were o’er
Shall our hearts forget His promise, “I am with you evermore”?

Alleluia! bread of angels, Thou on earth our food, our stay;
Alleluia! here the sinful flee to Thee from day to day:
Intercessor, Friend of sinners, Earth’s Redeemer, plead for me,
Where the songs of all the sinless sweep across the crystal sea.

Alleluia! King eternal, Thee the Lord of lords we own;
Alleluia! born of Mary, Earth Thy footstool, Heav’n Thy throne:
Thou within the veil hast entered, robed in flesh our great High Priest;
Thou on earth both priest and victim in the Eucharistic feast.

Here comes Lent. Are you ready?

Hey, thanks, y'all!

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Look here! We've been nominated for Best Group Blog in the CBA award thingie. If you want to, you could go HERE and vote for us! We don't stand a chance against the Ragemonkey and the Whapping people, but we'd like to make it look respectable!

Thank you to those who nominated us! We really appreciate it.

Oh, yeah and....

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It's a good morning

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....when by 10:00 a.m. I have e-filed our tax return (refund a-comin--unfortunately it is already all spoken for), taken McKid to preschool, and have soup for supper simmering on the stove.

Last night, Zteen, PapaC and I were all actually HOME AT THE SAME TIME to watch House. We taped The Amazing Race to watch during lunch today. It's also been a good week for homemade suppers, something that must continue into the future as we have financial plans afoot that will call for economizing some.

Monday night was Baked Beef Stew. Last night was cheddar, bell pepper and ham quiche. Tonight is Nine Bean Soup. Zack wants to know "What's up with all the good food?" That tells you how little I cooked while PapaC was on his 3 1/2 month working trip!

Am in the midst of two books--The Bee Season by Myla Goldberg, which has nothing to do with buzzing bees and everything to do with spelling bees and a Jewish family. And The Wisdom and Innocence of G.K. Chesterton by Joseph Pearce. I'll report on them when I've finished.

Oh, and a big THANK YOU to Steven Riddle over at Flos Carmeli, for his recommendation of Kalihari Rooibos red tea. It is what Mma Ramotswe drinks in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books. I brewed a cup last night with a little trepidation--but it is really quite good. It lacks the "bite" that hot tea has. It feels, oh, I don't know, SOFT in your mouth. And it has a very lovely smell. High in anti-oxidants (the package says higher even than green teas), it also has no caffeine. Anyway, I agree with Steven: you should try this if you are a hot drink drinker.

Now it's off to spoil the day by actually having to do some financial work for the parish.


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.....I just love the smell of the house when dinner is cooking. Don't you?

My next door neighbors, who are Vietnamese, have their stove and oven in their garage, and they cook out there instead of in the kitchen. I asked my neighbor why. She said, "Vietnamese food tastes delicious. But it stinks like crazy. We don't want our whole house smelling like that all evening!"

Now, I've never had Vietnamese food, I don't think, certainly not anywhere but at a restaurant, where I wouldn't necessarily smell it cooking. Does it smell that bad?

Anyway, I'm smelling cheddar, ham and bell pepper quiche, and I think it smells GREAT. Off to see if it's done!

Why is it....

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....that I am CONVINCED that if I just had the right knife I could cook like the people on the Food Network?

Delusional, I tell you. I'm delusional.



About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries written by MamaT in February 2005.

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