January 2005 Archives

So sweet!

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McKid has listened to me say goodbye to PapaC and Zteen when they leave for the last 2 1/2 years. Now she wants to say it too. So now when they leave, a little sweet voice pipes up:

"Bye bye! Be careful! Don't fall down!"

I guess when you're 2, falling down is about the worst thing that can happen. But both of my guys leave the house with a smile.......

Last night we watched:

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The video of The Reduced Shakespeare Company's Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged).

Here's the description from their website:

Loosen your doublets, sort out your singlets and witness the RSC performing HAMLET forwards and backwards in 30 seconds. Clutch your codpieces and join these madcap men in tights as they weave their wicked way through all Shakespeare's comedies, histories and tragedies in one terrific roller coaster ride that will leave you breathless and helpless with laughter.

While I wouldn't say we were "helpless with laughter", it was certainly funny and a very enjoyable way to spend a Sunday evening. You need to have some acquaintance with Shakespeare to think it as funny as we did. Zteen's last Lit course was a Shakespeare survey course, and we have attended numerous productions of Shakespeare (most notably at the now defunct "Shakespeare in the Park" in Fort Worth).

We laughed and laughed: Titus Andronicus as a cooking show (eeeeuuuuwwww!), Othello as a rap tune, all the comedies jammed together (since they're all really one plot, played out 16 times, per TRSC!), the Histories as a football game, and Hamlet with audience participation.

Not great, but certainly GOOD, especially for Zteen after finishing his course!

4th Book of 2005 finished:

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Little Altars Everywhere by Rebecca Wells. If you've read The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, you might be interested in this book.

This is mainly a story of growing up with the leader of the Ya-yas as a mother. Told largely from the perspective of Siddalee Walker, daughter of Vivianne Abbot Walker, there are also chapters told in the voices of the 3 other children in the family, Little Shep, Baylor and Lulu.

The most interesting thing about the book is how it starts out with the children relating incidents in their lives when they are young. And part of you thinks, "Man, I'd love to have that life." The chapter about going out to Spring Creek for the summer is enchanting--and a dream of a childhood summer.

But there are hints of the dysfunction hiding just below the surface of this Southern story. Miss Vivi drinks too much. She and Big Shep fight too much in front of the kids. Miss Vivi is a drama queen. Everything is about HER first, and about the children only as they are extensions of herself.

The second half of the book exposes the truth beneath the stories of the first half. The children are badly damaged by their parents--a mother with a full blown narcissistic personality; the girl who never got over being "all that" in high school. A dad who checks out of the conflict and goes to the duck camp any time there is anything unpleasant to deal with. A dad that didn't protect his children.

A good book, hard to believe it was a first novel. Wells shows the dark side of the South without making the South seem all bad. You know she grew up Southern from the dialogue. She has it cold.

Parts of the book are hysterically funny. Parts ineffably sad. Worth a read if you're into Southern lit.

Here's a funny part (because my own sweet mom has poodles) told in the voice of Little Shep:

Buggy, my Mama's mama, has got the meanest little lapdog you ever laid eyes on. One of those puny-butt poodles that's nothing but bone and fluff. And to Buggy that dog can't do any wrong. It can pee or poop or tear up the bedspread and Buggy just say, Isn't that just the darlingest thing you have ever seen?

Even though I don't care for yap-butts like that dog, I still think an animal oughta get treated with some respect and not like a nutcase, which is what Buggy has been turning that puff-ball into.

My Daddy say, Buggy is going to drive that animal as crazy as she did her daughter.

A new hymn from today:


This is one I had never heard or sung, written by W. J. Sparrow-Simpson (1859-1952), with music by John Stainer (1840-1901):

All for Jesus, all for Jesus,
this our song shall ever be;
for we have no hope, nor Saviour,
if we have not hope in thee.

All for Jesus, thou wilt give us
strength to serve thee, hour by hour;
none can move us from thy presence
while we trust thy love and power.

All for Jesus, at thine altar
thou wilt give us sweet content;
there, dear Lord, we shall receive thee
in the solemn sacrament.

All for Jesus, thou hast loved us;
all for Jesus, thou hast died;
all for Jesus, thou art with us;
all for Jesus crucified.

All for Jesus, all for Jesus,
this the Church's song must be,
till, at last, we all are gathered
one in love and one in thee.

Interesting list of movies to consider

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Commentaries: The 10 Most Redeeming Films of 2004 - Christianity Today Movies

1. America's Heart and Soul
2. Finding Neverland
3. Hotel Rwanda
4. The Incredibles
5. Les Choristes
6. The Passion of the Christ
7. The Return
8. Spider-Man 2
9. The Story of the Weeping Camel
10. Woman, Thou Art Loosed

What think you?

From my sweet mom:

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Do just one brave thing today:
Then run like hell!

government bytes

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found an interesting website. now, usually the word "union" alone throws me for a loop, but the national taxpayers union is worth at least a gander. they're pushing the "no work-no pay" laws already in place for politicians who take full saleries, but skip out on their duties. from their study:

From January 2003 to the October 2004 recess, John Kerry missed 146 days of votes without being granted leave. Total salary overpayment: $90,932.68.

Stolen Shamelessly from Donna:

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....over at Quiet Life. Sometimes it is necessary to quit focusing on the icky and negative. Those things are far too easy to see, notice and fret about. So today let's all think about the things that are VERY GOOD THINGS in our lives:

1. Friday adoration
2. My parish--SMV
3. The Summas and our blogfriends
4. All the people that comment on our blog--we never thought anyone would read at all!
5. My family--including all the family we've "adopted"
6. Potato soup at La Madeleine
7. Diet cokes, even though I'm giving them up. I still love them.
8. Popcorn with butter
9. The Amazing Race
10. House
11. Nearly everything on HGTV
12. 55+ flamingos in my office
13. My multi-colored house
14. Luckydog, Maggie and Nyx, even though they are currently driving me insane
15. Wednesday lunches with Zteen--may they last a few years more!
16. Allison Kraus and everything she has ever done.
17. Texas Honky Tonk on Sunday nights on KSCS
18. Jimmy Buffett
19. Aaron Neville's album Devotion, especially his version of Jesus Loves Me
20. Crocheting
21. Decorative painting, especially with my friends
22. Sisters weekend!
23. Potty training!!!!!
24. Dancing in the kitchen
25. Yoga pants and a big t-shirt
26. Chicken enchilada casserole
27. Jon Hassler and Richard Russo
28. St. Frances de Sales
29. All my CDs by the Rat Pack guys
30. Margaritas with a lot of salt on the rim
31. Dinner with friends

3rd book of 2005 finished

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Third book: Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley.

A trifle of a book, but one that bibliomaniacs should read. It is a story about books, their place in the world, and love found at an "advanced" age. (Note: the narrator is 39, the love interest is 40--they say they are old. Since I'm 48, and that for only a few more short days, I don't think that seems very old.)

I could have underlined something on virtually every page!

Here's an excerpt:

What absurd victims of contrary desires we are! If a man is settled in one place he yearns to wander; when he wanders he yearns to have a home. And yet how bestial is content--all the great things in life are done by discontented people.

There are three ingredients in the good life: learning, earning, and yearning. A man should be learning as he goes; and he should be earning bread for himself and others; and he should be yearning, too: yearning to know the unknowable.

prayer request -- update for bret


for those of you who've been praying for bret and his family, feel free to visit bret's "caringbridge" page for updates. please keep sending your prayers heavenward. many thanks.

kids group-ee.jpg

this photo of the smocklins was taken by MBW Photography...it is a compilation of four different poses. that's right. whoever said "the camera doesn't lie" didn't have the advantage of photoshop.

Banging head on desk....

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New York Post Online Edition: style

Go now and look at this prom dress, featured prominently in the Prom magazines out now.

This prom dress is so skimpy, even the designer's CEO wouldn't let his teenage daughter wear it. But the dangerously revealing gown, prominently advertised in Seventeen Prom, YM Prom and Teen Prom, and on sale in a Midtown shop, is a top seller for the company this season.

"I was shocked when I first saw it, but now it's one of our top 20 dresses nationwide," says Nick Yeh, the CEO of Xcite, the Stafford, Texas, company that designed the dress and some 200 other styles this season. "I have a 15-year-old daughter and, no, I would not recommend she wear this dress. As a businessman," he adds, "I'm not judging what a teenager should wear or not wear. It's up to the parents to decide for their own children."

Zteen's take: "That's inappropriate!"

PapaC's take: "I've seen hookers dressed better than that."

What mother allows her child to walk out of the door dressed like this?

And as Charlotte Allen over at The Independent Women's Forum asked, "Where do you pin the corsage?"

Just go nekkid sweetie. Save the $495.

Best first line of a book in a long time:


I wonder if there isn't a lot of bunkum in higher education?

Parnassus on Wheels

2nd Book of 2005 finished!

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Book #2 is Triumph: The Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church by H.W. Crocker III.

Two thumbs up on this one, especially if you're not much of a history type. This is a fast, sometimes snarky, trip through 2000 years of Catholic history. I'd say it's a good START to learning about Church history. I mean, anything that tries to cover 2000 years in 427 pages is only going to be hitting the high points. Contrasted with Warren Carroll's Christendom series, this is the Cliff Note version.

But it's good. And funny. PapaC got really tired of me elbowing him so I could read him a paragraph or 12....

How can you not like a book that describes Rousseau as follows:

Jean Jacques Rousseau was quite obviously insane. His life and works are those of a hypocritical, intellectually perfervid, and emotionally unstable actor. He is a precursor of New Age religion, and a smoother of that yellow brick road that leads from giving every man the vote to having every man's national and emotional aspirations embodied in a Fuhrer. His idea that man was born good but made bad by society was the revolutionists' charter.

And then later, writing about Humanae Vitae:

It is modern, liberal secularists who are "opposed to sex" in that they attempt to blur the distinctions between male and female, ignore the objective meaning of sexual activity, and who think that its natural result should be freely and inconsequentially aborted if it cannot otherwise be prevented. To a logician of an Aristotelian or Thomistic kind--in other words, a Catholic theologian, one of the few defenders of logical, objective reason in modern society--this is simply ludicrous. It is also, needless to say, majority opinion in the Western world.

A prayer request


Could you all please say a quick prayer for a guy named Seth. McKid's preschool teacher's son. He is having major reconstructive jaw surgery today.

Thank you!

I fully intended.....

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.....to finish my 2nd book of 2005 last night. I went to bed early, with a glass of ice water and my reading glasses, and fell straight asleep at 8 pm! Not a drink of water, only a page of my book! What's up with that? And I still feel tired this morning. Go figure.

I think it has something to do with the fact that I have decided to quit drinking diet (or really any) soft drinks. So the lack of caffeine probably is making me tireder than I should be. (I'm not necessarily giving up caffeine--I had a glass of tea this morning.) But if I fall asleep while I'm doing laundry today, you'll know why!

Potty training update

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For those of you who wanted to know:

Good (even GREAT!) on tinklepotty

Not so good on pooppotty.

McKid's only wearing training pants at night (though she is waking up dry, her mama doesn't want to take the chance of waking up in a lake, since McKid sleeps in her bed most nights!) and loves her "Nemos, CareBears, Doras and Cakies (which are Strawberry Shortcake in case you didn't know)."

All in all, one week in, I think we're doing GREAT.

Pass it on poems

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From Alicia, via the Sleepy Mommies:

1. Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be

2. I never saw a Purple Cow

3. Two roads diverged in a yellow wood

4. Death, be not proud, though some have called thee

5. Do not go gentle into that good night,

6. Belinda lived in a little white house

7. How do I love thee, let me count the ways

8. "Who stuffed that white owl?" No one spoke in the shop,

9. It was many and many a year ago, in a kingdom by the sea

10. ’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

If it's familiar, leave it, if it's not, put in one of your own and bold what you change.

Interesting article on RU-486


Bitter Pill - Christianity Today Magazine

Does anyone know how this stacks up against other drugs that have been taken off the market lately?

african violet.jpg

I have blooms today on my African Violet grown from the leaf that Grace gave me!!!!!!

One of my favorite saints!

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Today is the feast day of St. Francis de Sales. His Introduction to the Devout Life is a classic that everyone must have in her library. Everyone. It's that good. He is so accesible, so homey, so to the point. It's a book that I will never exhaust, no matter how often I pick it up. Take this, for example (and Smock will have heard the first part of it many times before in Bible study!):

We condemn every little thing in our neighbor and excuse ourselves of important things. We want to sell very dearly and to buy at bargain prices. We desire that justice be done in another's house but that mercy and generosity be granted to our own. We like to have things we say taken in good part but we are tender and touchy about what others say...

In general we prefer the rich to the poor, even though they are neither of better condition nor as virtuous. We even prefer those who are better dressed. We rigorously demand our own rights, but want others to be considerate in insisting on theirs. We maintain our rank with exactness, but we want others to be humble and accommodating as to theirs. We complain easily about our neighbors, but none of them must complain about us. What we do for others always seems very great, but what is done for us seems nothing at all......

Yet we are obliged to make amendment since they are great faults against reason and charity. In the end they are simply acts of self-deceit, for a man loses nothing by living generously, nobly, courteously, and with a royal, just, and reasonable heart. Philothea, resolve to examine your heart often to see if it is such toward your neighbor as you would like his to be toward you were you in his place. This is the touchstone of true reason.

He is one of the saints I long to meet in heaven!

Go now and read:

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Steven's entry on Flos Carmeli HERE.

I need this typed out, printed up in the largest type available and plastered everywhere my eyes look:

In every case, when we can put self aside, we will be serving God. And when we do so we immediately become better witnesses for Him. Our strongest Catholic witness is not necessarily a lecture about the Real Presence or the apostolic succession (true though they may be) but rather our joy in living out our Catholic Faith. Was it St. Teresa who said, "Lord preserve me from sour-faced saints?" Knowing God is real joy, profound joy, life affecting joy. Too often we are caught up in our own agendas, attempting to shape all things to ourselves and to our own convenience to notice that these little miseries, these little hardships are training us up in the way we should go--in enduring them is far greater joy than can ever be had by tryng to put them aside or change them. God is a loving Father and everything He sends, He sends for our good. Problem is, we don't really believe that--we think we can take this good and make it better. The reality is living what God has given us is our highest good.

Brouhaha in Denver

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DenverPost.com -Clinic assails parish fetus burial

Dr. Warren Hearn, director of the Boulder Abortion Clinic says:

"Anti-abortion zealots, Catholic or otherwise, have shown that they will stop at nothing to inflict guilt and to compound the grief, sadness and sense of loss that these women experience," Hern's statement said. "These fanatics simply cannot leave other people alone with their most intimate sorrow."

Hey, if abortion is NO BIG DEAL, and it's JUST TISSUE, then why would he assume that it's a time of "intimate sorrow"? If we're sorry because we're killing a BABY, then perhaps he should come out and actually SAY that. Let's see, something like this would be appropriate:

"We think it is terrible, just terrible, that the Church has the absolute gall to bury the cremated remains of the babies that it was absolutely necessary for us to kill. Those ashes should have been thrown directly into the trash and taken to the public landfill."

And big surprise here:

Hern, who declined an interview request, is the author of a seminal abortion textbook and has worked behind bulletproof glass since someone shot into his office in 1988.

His clinic specializes in "late abortion for fetal disorders," its website says.

Here's a MamaT question though. If this is so painful for the mothers undergoing the process--and the abortions are really being done with grossly handicapped babies--why is there any "tissue" to dispose of. If this is late term, then wouldn't the parents want to DO something with the remains themselves? Something doesn't wash in the story. To then be all concerned that the burial of the ashes THAT THE MOTHER DIDN"T WANT ANYWAY would cause her irreperable harm and tons more grief? They aren't taking ashes that anyone wanted to deal with themselves. These are truly the forgotten babies--the ones that everyone wants to pretend were never there in the first place.

It is to weep. Blessed Virgin, pray for us. We need it.

be disgusted. be very disgusted.

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take a look at how an "objective, fair and just" consumer reports advocates abortion.

two points of interest:

in the condoms story two prophylactics distributed by planned barrenhood, er parenthood, the top abortion provider in the nation, came in dead last in the condom competition. coinkydinky? i think not.

consumer reports goes so far as to intimate that birth itself is much more risky than the surgical removal of those pesky "uterine contents."

consumer reports, you suck.

(this story was shamelessly lifted from mr. newman.)

Like I need another entry....

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.....on my "to read" list!

The January issue of First Things has a review of the book Alec Guinness: The Authorized Biography by Piers Paul Read. Since it's $30 in hardback, I'll either be waiting til (if?) it comes out in paperback, or checking it out of the library.

Take this quote from the review:

Read [the author of the book] fully appreciates the centrality that Catholicism came to have for Guinness. Two years before he converted at the age of forty-two, Guiness confided to his diary: "My soul, my body, my brain longs for religion. The world is too bleak, and blank without a sense of worship." Even in his twenties, while an officer in the Royal Navy, he recognized Catholicism as "the crack regiment," though at the time he felt he could not afford its "expensive uniforms."

and then further on:

An unusually intelligent man, he reveled in the intellectual richness of the Catholic tradition. After converting, he wrote to his wife, "One of the recent things I've discovered is that now there is always something to think about. Never a dull moment in heaven or hell."

and then:

In "the minute details of daily life, where . . . men excel each other only by prudence and by virtue," Guinness did not altogether shine. Yet, to be fair, if at times he was insufferable, he was a loyal friend and a faithful husband. He was grandly munificent. He recognized his faults and sought to combat them. In summing up his character, Read compares him to Evelyn Waugh, who once said "I know I am awful. But how much more awful I should be without the Faith." Guinness could have said the same. As could many readers of this brilliant book.

Oh, man, I want to read the book NOW.

Just got back



.....from seeing Driving Miss Daisy at Theater Arlington. It was really, really good. All three of us thoroughly enjoyed the production.

The end of the play always makes me cry. But tonight, we were sitting next to people who made that "aaaahhhh" sound. You know, the one that sounds like "ain't that cute." And I was nonplussed. How can they make that semi-condescending sound? I was busy trying not to sob out loud.

Oh well, I'm weird. I know.

my momma loves me


and i kin prove it. she bought me this beauty with the chianti cover.

when glynni was born, someone bought us the little "keep baby on her side" wedge pillow and i said, someone should make these for grownups! well, now they have, and i have one, and it's totally coolmoe and hyperdelish!

and you thought they were kidding


see the new darth tater here.

prayer request update

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Bret has been diagnosed with stage 4+ cancer of the esophagus which has spread and mastesized to his lymph nodes and salivary glands. His wife is heartbroken and they told the older girls last night and really have no idea where to begin with the little girls. The doctors have told him that he is not a candidate for chemo, radiation, or surgery. They were meeting with a doctor this morning who was going to discuss an experimental treatment with them and then they are getting a second opinion from MD Anderson in Houston. They have few options at this point. Bret has an incredible outlook and his faith is so very strong. He has asked for continued prayer and his wife said that he has a smile on his face. Now that is an incredible testimony of the peace that passes all understanding. We all know that comes from only once source!

Happy Birthday, PapaC, and

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Happy Birthday, PapaC, and here's to many, many more! I LOVE YOU!!!

Oh, dear

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The Demands of the Particular
Fyodor Dostoevsky

The more I love humanity in general the less I love man in particular. In my dreams, I often make plans for the service of humanity, and perhaps I might actually face crucifixion if it were suddenly necessary. Yet I am incapable of living in the same room with anyone for two days together. I know from experience. As soon as anyone is near me, his personality disturbs me and restricts my freedom. In twenty-four hours I begin to hate the best of men: one because he’s too long over his dinner, another because he has a cold and keeps on blowing his nose. I become hostile to people the moment they come close to me. But it has always happened that the more I hate men individually the more I love humanity.

Thanks (I think) to The Daily Dig

Pray for us!

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McKid and I are starting today. She is currently running around bare-bottomed (which happens to be very cute), but we've already wet 2 training pants.

Oh, well, good thing today is wash day.

(And any of your tried and true tips would be appreciated! I'm trying to keep it very low key at the moment. We've put a stool by the potty, and her favorite books in a basket in the bathroom.)

quote du jour


"When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us."
Helen Keller

From the Crisis "weekly" e-letter:

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23 Ways To Identify a Faithful Parish

1. There is at least one daily Mass. Obviously, if a parish shares a
pastor with other parishes, this may not always be possible. But
barring that, a parish needs to offer daily Mass.

2. Confession is offered for a set time... not just "by appointment
only." The absolute importance of that sacrament must not be

3. The tabernacle is inside the main church in a prominent place.
It's always frustrating to have to play "Where's Jesus?" when you
walk into a parish for the first time. I recall once when visiting a
church I'd never been in before, I confusedly genuflected to
everything from the cantor to a statue of St. Therese before I
figured out where the tabernacle was.

4. The church has kneelers. Period.

5. The church doesn't have a sign in the front that describes itself
as a "Catholic Community." I know, this one seems petty at first, but
it tends to be true. If a parish has an objection to the word
"church," that's a good indication that a larger problem exists. And
if that parish magnifies the nonsense with a sign that says something
like, "An Open, Inclusive Community of Catholic Christians Who Care
and Share," stop, turn around, run.

6. As you enter the church, you see people in the pews in prayer or,
at least, reverent silence. If, on the other hand, it looks like
social time down at the bingo parlor, that's a bad sign.

7. The Mass is not intentionally altered through the use of
inclusive language.

8. The Mass is said according to the General Instruction of the
Roman Missal and the instructions of the local bishop. Improvisation
is great in jazz. Mass isn't jazz.

9. The gospel is not being read, nor the homily given, by someone
other than a priest or deacon.

10. Latin has pride of place in the Mass. It's right there in the
documents of the Second Vatican Council. That should be reflected in
the liturgy itself.

11. The bread for the Eucharist isn't made with added ingredients
not allowed by the Church. Honey, for example.

12. The liturgical music focuses on God, not the community. We are
there, after all, to worship Him, not ourselves. And there's never a
good reason to sing songs about bridges over troubled waters. You can
do that at home, Mr. Garfunkel.

13. Extraordinary ministers do not outnumber the parishioners.
There's a reason, after all, that we refer to them as EXTRAORDINARY
ministers. We only use them when there are too many people for the
priest and deacon to handle.

14. If you're able to find the mission statement of the parish (it's
often carried in the bulletin), make sure it says something about
fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church.

15. And while you're thumbing through the bulletin, see if there are
other good groups there, like the Knights of Columbus, Legion of
Mary, St. Vincent de Paul, and Holy Name Society. A faithful Bible
study group is also a great sign.

16. The parish offers some form of Eucharistic adoration.

17. The parish has an active Pro-Life ministry, as well as a
ministry that cares for the poor.

18. The priest wears his collar. Now, obviously, if you see your
local pastor jogging one morning, he's not going to be wearing his
clericals. But a priest should generally look the part. It's an
important witness to the secular world and a sign that he recognizes
the great value of his own vocation.

19. The pastor isn't afraid to preach on the tough issues: abortion,
divorce, contraception, cloning, etc. That's not to say that every
homily should cover those topics. But a priest should truly believe
the Church's teaching and defend them without pause.

20. The parish's marriage preparation program includes instruction
in Natural Family Planning (NFP). And if someone involved in the
program describes NFP as "the rhythm method," go immediately limp and
drop to the ground. With luck, he'll think you passed out and will
take you to the emergency room, far, far away from that parish.

21. The church has a vibrant religious education program for both
children and adults based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
You might also try to find out who's involved in the program and
where they received their own formation.

22. The church's Website doesn't link to dissident groups like Call
to Action, Voice of the Faithful, or Catholics for a Free Choice.

And finally...

23. If there's a literature rack in the church, look at the
publications the parish is carrying. Dissident magazines or
newspapers tend to go hand in hand with a dissident parish. On the
other hand, should you see a copy of Crisis in the rack, join that
parish. The pastor is clearly a man of great taste and refinement.

Here's a thought:

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...sent to me from a friend:

One nice thing about egotists: they don't talk about other people.

Career Day in California: Eighth-Graders Told Stripping Can Be a Rewarding Career

said one 8th grader in a thank-you letter, [William Fried's presentation] "helped me realize that my career choice should not be influenced by money ... It should be influenced by what we like and are good at."

smock's first book of '05 finished


although, by no means, do i recommend it. it's entitled little children and it served no purpose other than to make me feel like an incredibly sane, highly moral and tremendously well adjusted suburban mom and wife compared to the loonies running amuck in tom perrotta's third stab at dark humor. yes, i get it that the "little children" refers to both the children these idiots are trying to raise as well as to the idiots themselves, but it doesn't make the read any more pleasant. most of my "LOL" moments were spent in the living room of the child molester. yeah, i know.
well, i'm disgusted with myself for caring so much about such shallow, hedonistic, and even criminal morons. of course, maybe that was the point, but i just lament the fact that i could have been reading something less, what's the word, ugly.

by the by, interesting tidbit of info: the cover on the paperback was changed to a patch of manicured lawn with a bag of water holding two goldfish instead of the hardback's version which featured two half-eaten cookies dropped on a lawn.

First book of 2005 finished!

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Finished Mansfield Park by Jane Austen last night. It is the January selection for my reading group, so I had to be finished before next Wednesday.

Mansfield Park is not one of the favorites among Austen's novels for most readers. But I enjoyed it very much. And I think it has some important things to think about for us in modern society.

But first, I'd like to highlight something that I found enchanting. It is a scene where Henry Crawford is attempting to woo Fanny Price, the novel's heroine. She has grave misgivings about his character, and has refused his offer of marriage, even though it would be a marriage of great "advantage" to her. She cannot love him; her heart effectively belongs to her cousin Edmund. But Mr. Crawford perseveres. And what does he do that makes a little inroad into her heart? He reads aloud! Try this:

She seemed determined to be interested by nothing else. But taste was too strong in her. She could not abstract her mind five minutes; she was forced to listen; his reading was capital, and her pleasure in good reading extreme. To good reading, however, she had been long used; her uncle read well, her cousins all, Edmund very well, but in Mr. Crawford's reading there was a variety of excellence beyond what she had ever met with........

and later

The subject of reading aloud was further discussed. The two young men were the only talkers, but they, standing by the fire, talked over the too common neglect of the qualification, the total inattention to it, in the ordinary school-system for boys, the consequently natural yet in some instances almost unnatural, degree of ignorance and uncouthness of men, of sensible and well-informed men, when suddenly called to the necessity of reading aloud, which had fallen within their notice, giving instances of blunders, and failures with their secondary causes, the want of management of the voice, of proper modulation and emphasis, of foresight and judgment, all proceeding from the first cause: want of early attention and habit; and Fanny was listening again with great entertainment......

To be wooed by being read to! Now THAT, my friends, is romantic.

Reading the paper and eating my breakfast this morning, I came across an article about the "Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston breakup." Good heavens, I thought, what can there possibly be to say that would take up 1/4 of a page in the NEWSPAPER? I mean, People Magazine, The National Enquirer, The Star, etc, etc, etc, sure. They're full of nothing else. But the Startlegram????

So, against my better judgement, I read the article. And the snorting began:

How could they do this to us?

Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston left countless admirers feeling dumped when they announced last weekend that they were breaking up.

"I can't tell you how many people have said to me, 'If they can't make it, who can?'" said Ken Baker, West Coast executive editor for Us Weekly magazine, speaking by phone Monday from Los Angeles.

You don't need to have been at the wedding in 2000 to feel jilted.

"It's kind of depressing; I'm a single girl myself, and it's like there's no hope," says Michelle Biggs, who lives in Sacramento and is 35, the same age as Aniston. "I was hoping it would turn out to be forever."

Now, let's see, If they can't make it, who can?, hmmmmm. Let's see. My mom and dad. My grandparents. My aunt and uncle. My cousin and her husband. Alice and Bill. Me and PapaC. Just to name a few.

Wait. We don't count????

Oh, that's right. We're not rich, famous, thin and beautiful and on the cover of every magazine. We don't count.

And poor, poor Michelle: "It's like there's no hope." Well, dang, I guess you're right. If Brad and Jennifer are on the outs, marriage as an institution must be on its last legs.


Too much could be said. Too little charity to say it with.

The Gallant Master Herbert

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The Elixir

George Herbert (1593–1633)

TEACH me, my God and King,
In all things Thee to see,
And what I do in anything
To do it as for Thee.

Not rudely, as a beast 5
To run into an action;
But still to make Thee prepossest
And give it his perfection.

A man that looks on glass
On it may stay his eye, 10
Or if he pleaseth, through it pass,
And then the heaven espy.

All may of Thee partake
Nothing can be so mean
Which with his tincture, ‘for Thy sake,’ 15
Will not grow bright and clean.

A servant with this clause
Makes drudgery divine;
Who sweeps a room, as for Thy laws,
Makes that and the action fine. 20

This is the famous stone
That turneth all to gold,
For that which God doth touch and own
Cannot for less be told.

a big happy birthday to

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......Alicia of Fructus Ventris on Wednesday.

Go on over and wish her another happy 50!!!!

For Julie:

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Here is the macaroni and cheese recipe I told you about. I don't make it often, because it probably has more WW points in it than I can eat in a week. So, I just don't think about it.

Here's another warning: If'n you're a cheese snob and the thought of Velveeta hurts your soul, don't read the recipe!

Christine's Three Cheese Macaroni

1 c. dry macaroni
1 c. sour cream
2 eggs, beaten
1 c. sharp cheddar, shredded
1 c. cottage cheese (and at this point, why worry about low fat?)
1 c. Velveeta, cut up
5 drops hot sauce (optional)

Cook macaroni according to package directions: drain. Combine cottage cheese, sour cream, Velveeta, cheddar cheese and eggs in a buttered 2 1/2 quart casserole. Mix in drained macaroni. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Makes 8 servings for normal people, a lot fewer for my family.....

For those of you looking...

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...for St. Martha statues, here is a picture of mine:


You can purchase the 8 inch statue (which is the one I have) here.

Or you can purchase a 5 1/2 inch statue here.

I have a statue....

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.....of St. Martha that sits on my desk. (Not surprised, are you?)

Every morning, when I am reading my e-mails, McKid walks in (her toys are stored in the room that serves as my office), looks around, and says, "Can I turn Marfa around so she can watch me play?"

Of course the answer is always yes. And isn't that a perfect example of becoming as little children? When we can truly say, "Jesus, turn around and watch me work today!", won't we be on the road?

Making Babies: A Very Different Look at Natural Family Planning
By H. W. Crocker III

Natural family planning (NFP) needs a slogan, because as a “product”—if I might adopt business-speak—it’s not selling too well. According to some surveys, about 90 percent of professed Catholics reject the Church’s teaching on birth control. Even among priests, fewer than one in three considers artificial contraception to be “always” sinful.

So let me propose a new rallying cry: “Use NFP: It Doesn’t Work!”

You think I jest.

The case for NFP should, by rights, be the case for more babies. To have them is good. Not to have them is to be deprived. Every wife deserves to be a mother, and every mother’s son deserves a brother and a sister. And since a cat-o’-nine-tails has nine tails, surely having nine children is the proper way to scourge selfishness right out of one’s family.

As a slogan, “Use NFP: It Doesn’t Work!” has many strong arguments in its favor. First, it is true. NFP proponents tout its 99 percent effectiveness rate, but they neglect to mention that this is true only if the husband is in the Navy and assigned to extended, uninterrupted sea duty of three-year tours or longer. Otherwise, for most Catholics I know, NFP means a baby every two years or so, though the rate can slow with age, as the couples learn a proper respect—that is, fear—for each other and are too tired in any event for what Catholics call “the conjugal act.”

AMEN! read the rest of this totally coolmoe and shamelessly lifted article at crisis magazine online.

thanks for the heads up, enbrethiliel.

prayer request from a friend

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"Bret ___ has been diagnosed with carcinoma, which is a cancer involving his organs and has spread to his lymph nodes. His type of cancer is so rare that it has been sent off to Milan, Italy for pathology readings to determine which organs are involved and what stage it is in. According to his body scan, it is widespread and this is such a shock because he is such a fit and healthy person and went to the doctor because of bronchitis and a swollen lymph node on his neck. He is such a wonderful guy and even after they partially took one of the tumors out of his neck for pathology, he told everyone in recovery that God will be glorified no matter what the outcome. We are all in agreement that nothing is too big for God and that he can be healed. His onocologist is holding off chemo and radiation until they get the results back from Milan so they will know where to focus. [His wife] is also looking into another treatment that a doctor does overseas. Please pray for Bret and [his wife], their four daughters, and all of the doctors involved in his care. Please pass this on to your prayer circles. Bret said that the most comforting thing to him right now is knowing that people all over are praying for him."

This is geeky cool:

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You can hear what pi might sound like here.

You assign notes to integers, and then it cycles through pi and plays the notes you've assigned. Too neat.

Stole it from Don at Mixolydian Mode.

A book game

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TSO (link to the right) has posted a list of books that he got from Julie at Happy Catholic who got hers from Erik. The game is to remove authors who you do not have in your library and replace them in bold with ones you do have. Here is mine:

1. John Galsworthy
2. Shusaku Endo
3. Jon Hassler
4. Jane Austen
5. CS Lewis
6. JRR Tolkien
7. Peter Kreeft
8. Richard Russo
9. Mark Salzman
10. William Shakespeare

what's wrong with you people?

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went to get my blood drawn last week -- the state has to make sure i have plenty o' time to kill the wee one in my womb if it's found to be an undesirable, you know -- and the woman drawing three vials of blood from my arm is making chit-chat. three vials takes awhile. anyway, she asks me, "so is this your first?" and i smile and reply (somewhat sheepishly -- if you can imagine that from the smock -- as i've found this usually gets the best response) that no, in fact this is my fifth child. and this professional phlebotomist who i assume should have some sense of professional decorum, responds "DaaaaAMN!"

the day before yesterday, a lady at a hyperbigsuperjumbomart was standing in front of me waiting in a fairly long line and so she decided to make the usual smalltalk, "when are you due? is it is a boy or a girl? this your first?"
sheepish grin, "no it's our fifth."
"YIKES! I bet that wasn't supposed to happen!" yuckyuckyuck
"what do you mean?"
"the pregnancy. you didn't want five did you?"
"are you serious?"
"well..." losing steam, "yeah."
"actually, we view children as a blessing, not a liability."
"oh well, if you can afford it..." and she turned around.

it makes me madder than a skillet full of scorpions when people say that. i'm seriously considering telling the next person who is so glib, "actually, i'm just waiting for our tax return to have an abortion, but people don't usually like to talk about the death of an infant so up close and personal."

On Epiphany:

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Journey of the Magi
by T.S. Eliot

"A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter."
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires gong out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty, and charging high prices.:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we lead all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I have seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

I don't know how any of us, as committed Christians, can read this poem and NOT nod our heads in silent agreement. Don't you feel that you hear the voices singing in your ears--the voices of the world--"saying that this was all folly"?

And the last stanza is perfect. Once we have stepped out and met the Christ, never again can we be "at home" here in our world. I echo the voice of the magi: Oh yes, I would make this journey again, oh yes. It is the only journey worth making. But it is a death for us. And no death comes painlessly.

But what a wonder follows!

I will do it!

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Would you like to know how many times I heard these four words today? In the McKid's lovely little 2 year old voice? They are currently her favorite 4 words. Followed closely by a wonderful six word phrase: "I will do it! ONLY ME!!!!!"


10,000 times. That's how many times I heard it.

At a minimum.


....but I am SO ADDICTED to this show! Zteen and I watch it (or tape it) every Tuesday night, and spend an hour watching and yelling at the television. That is how sick we are.

Look, I've never watched any other reality show more than one time. But this one is different.

And, if you're another TAR6 fan, then I just must say this: I hate Johnathon with the hatiest hate it is possible to feel for someone you don't even really know.

There, I feel better.

It's kind of like a twelve step program: My name is MamaT, and I'm an Amazing Race Junkie.

Zteen and I even have fantasies of entering the race together. Hey, there's been a father/daughter team....why not a mother/son team?

video meliora's STG (aka: Spanning the Proverbial Globe to Bring You the Constant Variety of Posts) could also stand for Scanning 4 The Globe, a frightening addiction that may one day lead to the original STG being labeled a controlled substance. of course, i can only write for myself, but to make TSO's list of quotes -- well, it goes straight to my head, making me all giddy and tingly and whatnot.

ah, but this could be a typical OTC, perhaps a simple antihistamine, you say.
no! i counter. it's much more than that; it's far too addictive. when someone you admire is quoted, that's OTC; but when your very own words make the globe, it's katy bar the door!

i'll admit that on more than one occasion, i've popped in at video with good intentions...a leisurely perusal of the day's comments, when before i know it, my mouse is click-click-clicking down the scroll bar as i quickly scan for the


that makes my heart skip a beat. ah-ha! okay, okay, let’s see. hmm...good one. ah, perfect! yes, very well said. oh, you rascal! wha?...oh she's goooood. a moment of easy agreement is soon followed by a heavy sigh, drat, i didn't make it in.

of course, shaking that goofy grin that rationalizes "of course i didn't make it -- look at who i was up against!" is easy enough, but when you hit the same spot two or three times a day to see if ... if by some miracle ... you've been added?

or worse, you actually do become immortalized ooo, i made it and you find yourself visiting and revisiting your own words. at first it's a simple pat on your own back, a quick toot of the old horn yes! i made it. but later that same day oh good. it's still there that slippery slope threatens still there, just checking to turn into Narcissus' reflection wow! that's really first-rate.

the good news is that after you've made it onto the globe a few times, the enormous swell of pride you like me! you really like me! turns into a bashful self-satisfaction aw shucks, tweren't much and the urge to scan for the globe lessens. somewhat.

but therein lies the rub. once you make it to the aw shucks stage, you think you’ve got it all under control. you’re soooo smooth. you can quit scanning for the globe anytime you want, quit sweating hours over your keyboard trying to birth a really quotable phrase. trust me, i know. because just when i thought i'd beat the rap, i find that now, heaven help me, i’m coveting the STG lifetime achievement award.

And yet another book list

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... from John O'Sullivan of National Review: John O'Sullivan on 2004 on National Review Online

Love these first paragraphs also:

People say that life is the thing," said Logan Pearsall Smith, "but I prefer reading." According to a recent biography, Cary Grant felt much the same. That witty sophisticate looked forward to an old age spent reading in bed.

Neither man was a mere couch potato. Reading is a way of getting around the world — and through time. If we only live, we know one life; if we read, we know innumerable lives in our own times and in several past periods. So get up and read.

An old age reading in bed? Yee haw!

And please note, Smock, the Michael Crichton book you recommended on the blog (below) is a major entry on his list!

A best books of 2004 list....


....from Christianity Today's Books and Culture guy: Books & Culture Corner: The Top Ten Books of 2004 - Books & Culture

You knew I couldn't leave the books alone for long, didn't you? Love the opening two paragraphs:

It was just this summer, you may recall, that the National Endowment for the Arts issued its solemn report "Reading at Risk," fuel for a thousand op-eds. (Surely with poet Dana Gioia in charge, the NEA might have been expected to come up with a title less nanny-stateish, less patently bureaucratic.) Reading at risk? Well, we wouldn't know about that, would we now? A more apt title for our kind would be "The Risk of Reading," or maybe "Risks Associated with Excessive Reading: An Assessment."

Think what I might have accomplished this past year if I hadn't had my nose buried in Writings of the Luddites (Johns Hopkins Univ. Press), the collection of letters, proclamations, and other documents edited by Kevin Binfield, and who knows how many more heterogeneous volumes: novels and books of poetry, piles of books on Islam, little books (like Oxford's series on the Seven Deadly Sins: look for Jay Wood's review of Lust in our May/June issue) and big books (like the Encyclopedia of the Great Plains from University of Nebraska Press, edited by David Wishart—a review of that is coming too), books that made me furious and books that made me laugh. Books that accumulate, inexorably, in my office and at home, stacked by our bed in serried rows, stacked in my study, threatening to colonize any flat surface in the house. Hee!

Anyway, his suggestions are worth a look. I've added some to my rapidly "growing beyond any hope of ever reading all of them" reading list.

Second, I'd like to know:

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....the answer to the question my mother just asked me on the phone. "Why are you always washing clothes? How can three people wear enough clothes that you are washing every time I call?"

Well, anyone have an answer to that one?

Off to change the laundry AGAIN.

(P.S. On the new HGTV Dream Home show the other night, they showed a spectacular house built about 120 miles from here--out at Lake Tyler. It was beautiful, but you know what impressed me MOST???? Two, count 'em two, washers and dryers. Now THAT'S genius!)

First I'd like to say:

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I will not buy any viagra, phentermine, or magic weight loss pills from you--EVEN IF I WANTED TO, WHICH I DON'T--because you keep putting stupid comments in our comment boxes.


as my dad would say: the early bird may get the worm, but it's the second mouse what gets the cheese.

Courtesy of the Bruderhof's Daily Dig

I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, Give me a light that I might go safely out into the darkness. And he replied, Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be more to you than a light, and safer than a known way.

M. L. Haskins

Here's mine:


Take the quiz: "What Historic Woman Are You?"

Katherine of Aragon
Daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, Katherine married Henry VIII of England in 1509 and, after 20 years of marriage and only a daughter to show for it, was displaced by Henry for a younger woman. She refused to grant him a divorce, even when he made her live in a shack with no funds or medical care. To her dying breath she refused to acknowledge that she was not the Queen. She was stubborn, brilliant, pious, and beautiful. Read more about her: http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/STUDENTS/Bracewell/Kofa.htm

That fits; I would consider myself Queen until I died. I actually DO consider myself queen, even now!



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