August 2007 Archives

cell phone madness

| | Comments (7)

have we all just completely lost our minds? for a short while there cell phone dependency was a humorous idea, but i'm beginning to think that somewhere along the line the devil got involved and this is a serious addiction that no one wants to admit. think about it...

you're in the midst of a delightful conversation with a friend when suddenly la cucaracha begins to emanate from your friend's purse. her eyes widen as she realzes it is indeed her phone techno-tronically butchering what was once a delightful margarita tune, she abruptly halts her end of the conversation as she lunges, at breakneck speed, for her bag. fumbling madly for her phone, her forhead begins to glisten with the first signs of perspiration as she twitters on apologetically, and rather nervously, that this call may be important. a barely audible squeal of triumph escapes her as she finds the phone. hello!?

i know that i am guilty of this myself -- and i admit it truly baffles me when i feel this undeniable urge to just answer the phone when it rings. even when i am in the middle of a conversation. why?

i do try to limit my answering to a call from smockdaddy, one of the smocklins, or -- gulp -- the school because (at least to my mind) these could be emergency calls. of course, more often than not they're "the-baby-has-a-poopy-d-and-she-took-my-grilled-cheese-sandwich-no-hon-i-don't-want-to-talk-to-the-dog-thanks" calls. and considering the alternative, thank heavens! but the question remains, when did the person on the ether become more attention worthy than the person in front of our face?


Quote for today


"'Tis the good reader that makes the good book; a good head cannot read amiss: in every book he finds passages which seem confidences or asides hidden from all else and unmistakeably meant for his ear."

------------- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Booking Through Thursday



There was a widely bruited-about statistic reported last week, stating that 1 in 4 Americans did not read a single book last year. Clearly, we don’t fall into that category, but . . . how many of our friends do? Do you have friends/family who read as much as you do? Or are you the only person you know who has a serious reading habit?

I probably read the most of anyone in my family, but my mother used to give me a run for the money. Zman is a reader, as well, but college reading takes up most of his time at this point. He doesn't consider that "real reading." He got to read some on the break between summer and fall semesters, and commented, "I had forgotten how good it was to just read. I miss it."

PapaC reads, but mostly magazines--First Things, Crisis, Touchstone, Sports Illustrated, National Review, and a host of websites that he keeps up with. He reads a book or two here or there, but not many. He is, very slowly, reading through Warren Carroll's history of Christendom series.

Many of my friends have too many children to settle down to read much. I envy that. I'd trade all the books I read for a few more kiddos to chase!

But one of my friends, another member of my book club, is a far more prolific reader than I. That makes me feel good. Sometimes I have to go into "full justification mode" for the amount I read, and with Ann I can feel like "maybe I don't read enough" and that is lovely.

Quote for today


“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”
-------------------------- Groucho Marx

Autumn Reading Challenge

| | Comments (3)

Went through my stacks of books last night to find the ones I wanted on my Autumn list. No particular thought process this time. Just an "Oh, that looks good" selection criteria.

The first three I have to read for my book club:

The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris
Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy by Rumer Godden
Light of Evening by Edna O'Brien

The next four are from authors I am fond of:

The Nonesuch by Georgette Heyer
Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O'Connor
Mohawk by Richard Russo
The New Woman by Jon Hassler

One from an author whose first book I thoroughly enjoyed:

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

One nonfiction, because I ought to read more of it and I don't:

Expressions of the Catholic Faith by Kevin Orlin Johnson

And three that I have heard of other places, and I want to see why everyone likes them:

Lake Woebegon Days by Garrison Keillor (Love his show on NPR, never read what he writes)
The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve
The Shipping News by Annie Proulx

There you have it. My goal for the fall.'s time to wrap up the Summer Reading Challenge. My list, with the ones I have read lined through, appears below:

Stones from the River by Ursula Heigi
The Golem by Isaac Bashevis Singer
Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton

Sights Unseen by Kaye Gibbons
Delta Wedding by Eudora Welty
The Ponder Heart by Eudora Welty

Lord Vanity by Samuel Shellabarger
Captain from Castile by Samuel Shellabarger

And the following Agatha Christie books:

What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw!
The Body in the Library
Death on the Nile
Murder on the Orient Express
The ABC Murders
Cards on the Table
Thirteen at Dinner

In addition, I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling, Isn't It Romantic by Ron Hansen, The Night is Far Spent by that lovely man Thomas Howard, and I reread Little Men by Louisa May Alcott.

Not a bad summer, though I didn't finish the Southern Reading Challenge. Ah well, there'll be another. And I'll still be reading.

I'll post my mini-reviews of the ones I haven't told you about yet, but I have miles to go before I sleep tonight......

Quote for today


"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example."

----------------Mark Twain

A review....


.....of the last Harry Potter book, and really the whole series, by Alan Jacobs of Wheaton College. And how can I not love something that quotes extensively from G. K. Chesterton?

Mr. Jacobs takes a unique slant--comparing them (and as a favorable comparison!) to the "penny dreadfuls" of 100 years ago. They were much despised then, especially by the cognoscenti, and none other than GKC rode to their defense. Here's a snippet of Jacobs, quoting GKC:

"There is no class of vulgar publications about which there is, to my mind, more utterly ridiculous exaggeration and misconception than the current boys' literature of the lowest stratum." Chesterton is perfectly happy to acknowledge that these books are not in the commendatory sense "literature," because "the simple need for some kind of ideal world in which fictitious persons play an unhampered part is infinitely deeper and older than the rules of good art, and much more important. Every one of us in childhood has constructed such an invisible dramatis personae, but it never occurred to our nurses to correct the composition by careful comparison with Balzac."

Jacobs goes on with what is a very positive review. Very interesting.

Look, Smock! Summa Shoes!

| | Comments (2)

So, the kids are back in school, Labor Day is next week, and it's only 95 degrees here in beautiful Texas. So what am I thinking about? Fall shoes! Soon enough it will be time to pack away my beloved flips and try to think of wearing something with my jeans and chinos. So, I decided to do a little internet window shopping and came up with three Summa worthy choices to go with those long pants that are coming sooner than we think:


These scream Summa Mama to me, and they are relatively inexpensive. Actually, all three pair that I've picked this time are actually cheap enough to consider!


Now, I love these--they have that touch of the classic with the chain embellishment, but they are modern because they have all three classics (chain, leather and piping stuff) all layered together. They're probably too "good girl" for the Smock, but I think they're cute.


And then there are these. Not even pink, but I love 'em. Since I'm a jeans and solid color t-shirt (or sweater) girl all winter, I think these would add a nice little kick of color.

A picture from last week

| | Comments (1)

First Day of School

Not in the picture? MamaT crying over McKid actually being old enough to go to school.

Sunday's hymns


Introit was this one:

From all that dwell below the skies,
Let the Creator’s praise arise;
Let the Redeemer’s Name be sung,
Through every land, by every tongue.

Eternal are Thy mercies, Lord;
Eternal truth attends Thy Word.
Thy praise shall sound from shore to shore,
Till suns rise and set no more.

Your lofty themes, ye mortals, bring,
In songs of praise divinely sing;
The great salvation loud proclaim,
And shout for joy the Savior’s Name.

In every land begin the song;
To every land the strains belong;
In cheerful sounds all voices raise,
And fill the world with loudest praise.

We actually sing to Old Hundredth, but it sounds good with other tunes as well.

Offertory was this one:

Christ is made the sure foundation,
Christ the head and cornerstone,
chosen of the Lord, and precious,
binding all the Church in one;
holy Zion's help for ever,
and her confidence alone.

All that dedicated city,
dearly loved of God on high,
in exultant jubilation
pours perpetual melody;
God the One in Three adoring
in glad hymns eternally.

To this temple, where we call thee,
come, O Lord of Hosts, today;
with thy wonted loving-kindness
hear thy servants as they pray,
and thy fullest benediction
shed within its walls alway.

Here vouchsafe to all thy servants
what they ask of thee of gain;
what they gain from thee, for ever
with the blessèd to retain,
and hereafter in thy glory
evermore with thee to reign.

Laud and honor to the Father,
laud and honor to the Son,
laud and honor to the Spirit,
ever Three, and ever One,
consubstantial, co-eternal,
while unending ages run.

We sang it to Westminster Abbey, but it is also lovely sung to Regent Square.

Communion hymn was this one (by my main man Charles Wesley):

Glory, love, and praise, and honor
for our food
now bestowed
render we the Donor.
Bounteous God, we now confess thee:
God who thus
blessest us,
meet it is to bless thee.

Thankful for our every blessing,
let us sing
Christ the Spring,
never, never ceasing.
Source of all our gifts and graces,
Christ we own;
Christ alone
calls for all our praises.

He dispels our sin and sadness,
life imparts,
cheers our hearts,
fills with food and gladness.
Who himself for all has given,
us he feeds,
us he leads
to a feast in heaven.

Sung to Benifold. But I can't find it online. Sorry.

Post-communion was one of my favorites!

Jerusalem the golden,
with milk and honey blest,
beneath thy contemplation
sink heart and voice oppressed:
I know not, oh, I know not,
what joys await us there;
what radiancy of glory,
what bliss beyond compare!

They stand, those halls of Zion,
all jubilant with song,
and bright with many an angel,
and all the martyr throng:
the Prince is ever in them,
the daylight is serene;
the pastures of the blessèd
are decked in glorious sheen.

There is the throne of David;
and there, from care released,
the shout of them that triumph,
the song of them that feast;
and they who with their Leader
have conquered in the fight,
for ever and for ever
are clad in robes of white.

Oh, sweet and blessèd country,
the home of God's elect!
Oh, sweet and blessèd country,
that eager hearts expect!
Jesus, in mercy bring us
to that dear land of rest,
who art, with God the Father,
and the Spirit, ever blest.

Sung to Ewing.

I'm invisible.......

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?"

Obviously not. No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, "What time is it?" I'm a satellite guide to answer, "What number is the DisneyChannel?" I'm a car to order, "Pick me up right around 5:30, please."

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude -- but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again.

She's going ... she's going ... she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well.

It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, "I brought you this."

It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: "To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees."

In the days ahead I would read -- no, devour -- the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals-- we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam
that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it."

And the workman replied, "Because God sees."

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no
cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over.

You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become."

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand-bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table."

That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home.

And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, "You're gonna love it there."

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

I am probably the least fashionable person you will ever meet. However, I love fashion illustration (and fashion shows, fashion week, Project Runway, etc). Go figure. Anyway, I found these two images and was quite taken by how something beautiful could be shown in such a few lines and washes of color. The artist is Tara Gamel.

Blue Dress I


Blue Dress II

.....and this Mercy Me song just touched my heart so much. It's been a not-so-easy time the last year or so, and this song just reminded me of what I want to be headed toward:

"Bring The Rain"

I can count a million times
People asking me how I
Can praise You with all that I've gone through
The question just amazes me
Can circumstances possibly
Change who I forever am in You
Maybe since my life was changed
Long before these rainy days
It's never really ever crossed my mind
To turn my back on you, oh Lord
My only shelter from the storm
But instead I draw closer through these times
So I pray

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain

I am Yours regardless of
The dark clouds that may loom above
Because You are much greater than my pain
You who made a way for me
By suffering Your destiny
So tell me what's a little rain
So I pray

Holy, holy, holy
Is the Lord God Almighty

Yep, if it's rain I must have, then bring it.

Warning, there is some nudity in the pictures. We did not see the large crouching boy or the pregnant woman. But I think we saw everything else shown in this Washington Post article about Ron Mueck.

Booking Through Thursday



When growing up did your family share your love of books? If so, did one person get you into reading? And, do you have any family-oriented memories with books and reading? (Family trips to bookstore, reading the same book as a sibling or parent, etc.)

My mother has always read a lot, and I suppose I inherited the love from her. She was an only child, with parents who were not terribly warm and affectionate. I think she lost herself in books. I always loved to read--it was the highlight of my first grade year when it hit me that I knew what those marks on the page were without thinking about it!

And I can remember looking at a page of print and trying to make it go back into just scratches on a page, and I couldn't. Literacy was here to stay. What a funny thing to remember!

I read my mother's Nancy Drew books--those written in the forties, where Nancy had "plump friend Bess" (and that was considered OK), and a sporty blue roadster. Oh, how I wanted to be her! I also own my mother's copy of the Emily Post Etiquette book from back in the day. So, if any of you want to know how, exactly, to have the headings engraved on the stationery that you use at your country house, I'm your girl.

One of the things I liked best of all about being a homeschool mom was sharing the books that had meant something to me with my son. And my proudest accomplishment is that I raised a young man who loves to read. That was the main reason I jerked him out of school. We were dangerously close (even in the first grade!) to that "Reading isn't cool" thing. And I cannot bear that.

I read out loud to Zman every day at lunch from the time we started homeschooling (2nd grade) until he was in high school. It is a very precious memory to me. When we read the sad parts in The Hobbit or something, I would get choked up. He would take the book from me, read the sad part, then hand the book back for me to continue. What a guy.....

ewwwwwwww. okay ladies, is this the ultimate ick rite of passage or what? i have started to grow things out of my chin. and not just cute little fuzzy stuff -- today i found something very light, but very hard!


i'm too young to have hairs grow out of my chin. only old ladies with gray buns and "granny beads" get hairs on their chins, right? not hot young mommas who still sport sexy stilettos. old women with hip-replacements need the tweez, not hip young women who can still shake their shimmy! #$%#&! i'm still in the fairly desirable demographic range of "between 35 & 55" -- why is my chin all the sudden turning on me and thrusting me into the "between 65 & death" category of facial hair? i mean, it's not braidable or anything. no one is calling me mrs. burnside yet; but still, this is really putting a damper on my hip-factor.

so the question is pluck or bleach? any advice will be greatly appreciated.


These are the cupcakes I made for McKid's birthday party last month, sitting in my freezer, the day of her party. The funniest thing, though, was that when you opened the freezer door, they all shook (since they're springy things). They looked like they were shivering!

Fine Art Friday, just for fun

| | Comments (3)

Since we've been talking about cooking and recipes and the like, I found two images that I thought exactly captured the Smock and I and our cooking skills.

First, me. An advertising poster for cooking with gas:


I even think it looks like me!

Next, this one's perfectly the Smock. Or at least her Smock-persona. It needs to have dark hair, but everything else, including the jewelry, is perfect:


Happy Friday, ya'll!

.....because I am so organized, alpha mom, you know! Not!

One book at a time? Or more than one? If more, are they different types/genres? Or similar?

(We’re talking recreational reading, here—books for work or school don’t really count since they’re not optional.)

I have largely broken myself of the habit of having a lot of books going at once. Now, I try to keep it to two: one for spiritual reading and one for outright pleasure.

Currently I am reading Thomas Merton's Seven Story Mountain both for spiritual reading and for my book club. For fun I am reading Samuel Shellabarger's Captain from Castile. Edited, because of a good catch on author by JulieD!

How 'bout you?

Quick and easy, from our newspaper

| | Comments (5)

With school about to start around here, the food section of our newspaper put out a call for easy weeknight recipes. Pansy and Peony are looking for something new to eat, and we always are around here, too. These are the ones I think will hit my "to try" file.

This recipe is from Margarite Anderson of Tolar, TX. Her comment? "Why does everyone love it so much? Heck if I know--it is pretty basic, really. But I guess that is what makes it such a great weeknight meal." It originally came from a Southern Living cookbook, Our Best Easy Weeknight Favorites.

Upside-down Pizza

2 pounds ground chuck
1 cup chopped onion (can be omitted if kids are onion-phobic)
15 oz can tomato sauce
1.25 oz envelope spaghetti sauce mix (Mama T says - just make your own seasonings, here!)
8 oz carton sour cream
2 cups (8 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese
8 oz can refrigerator crescent rolls

1. Brown ground chuck and onion in large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring until meat crumbles; drain and return to skillet.

2. Stir in tomato sauce and spaghetti sauce mix, cook over low heat 10 minutes, stirring often.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

4. Spoon beef mixture into a lightly greased 13 by 9 by 2 inch baking dish; top with sour cream and sprinkle with cheese. Unroll crescent rolls (don't separate! leave in one sheet!) and place over cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes.

Another recipe was submitted by Kathi Henson of Arlington. She says her 7 year old and 4 year old picky eaters will eat this. She got this recipe from a home ec teacher at the school where she taught. Since 8th graders could make this, she decided she could too. She's made it ever since.

Ranch Parmesan Chicken

1-oz package Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing and Seasoning Mix
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9 by 13 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Mix dressing mix and cheese in zip-top plastic bag.

3. Rinse off chicken breasts and place them in bag; shake to coat chicken with cheese mixture.

4. Place coated chicken in pan and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, turning chicken after 15 minutes.

And finally a recipe from Chris Macomb of Fort Worth. This is another Southern Living recipe, and it's a good use of canned beans, which I think ought to be a staple in anyone's pantry. (Well, maybe except for Smock's, since they probably don't eat beans!) They're the ultimate for stretching soup or chili or stuff like that. And on Fridays, they can be a lifesaver! Chris likes it because "it does not require the use of the oven, and it reheats well in the microwave (if there are any leftovers)."

Easy Red Beans and Rice

1 lb smoked link sausage, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 15 oz cans pinto beans, drained
16 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Hot cooked rice (if using regular, and not quick cooking, start it before you do the rest of the recipe)

1. In a large skillet or pot, cook sausage over low heat 5 to 8 minutes. Add onion, green pepper and garlic; saute until tender. Drain any oil that has accumulated.

2. Add beans, tomatoes and seasonings. Simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes, and serve over rice.

And I say YUM!


My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden,
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.
And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm:
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree.
He has filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich He has sent empty away.
He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy;
As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His posterity forever.

....For the time being only regarding the issue of cooking.

I cook for my family.

There. I said it. And you know? I'm happy about that.

I am not a gourmet cook. But I can put a nice balanced meal on the table, night in and night out.

I'm also not a "from scratch" purist, either. I've never been known to turn up my nose at help from any quarter! I don't care if a recipe starts out with 7 different cans of stuff (like my taco soup recipe). If it's good and we like it, its worth doing.

I'm not a talented cook--like Erik K--who can just wander through the supermarket and decide what to do with all that lovely stuff. But give me a recipe that uses that lovely stuff, and I'm a whiz. In general, if I can read it, I can make it.

When PapaC finished school for the second time around (at age 40!), we decided to see if I couldn't find a way to stay home with our kiddo. (Homeschooling was only a thought at that point!) It was obvious, since we were dropping my VERY good paying job (I'm an ex-accountant by trade) that economizing was going to be not just a theoretical "good idea", but a practical necessity. What that meant, for us, was a commitment to eating at home.

Even eating cheaply, a dinner for the three of us at your local fast food joint (and who wants to eat that all the time? Not me, and I love it.) costs between $10 and $12. I can put a screaming meal on the table for that amount of money. For the money it costs the three of us to go to Chili's or somewhere on a level up from McD's, I can feed us all steak. I mean, really, the costs are not even close.

When I started cooking at home, I hated it. I didn't know what I was doing. We'd always eaten out a lot. I wasn't used to the very daily-ness of it.

I was also trying to do too much.

I had to learn that a yummy casserole or hearty soup, paired with a salad, is dinner enough. If you add a cornbread muffin or a crescent roll? Well, that's high cotton! Good food doesn't have to be hard. It doesn't have to be 15 different things at once. Sunday (or Saturday or whenever) you can break out and do something fancy. The rest of the time? Think SIMPLE.

I started keeping a recipe book--our family cookbook, if you will. Things we tried, liked, and have eaten time and again all go into the book. Back in our homeschooling days, it was a lot of soups and casseroles, with a lot of cookie recipes (my favorite!) thrown in for good measure. Now that I'm not running a Cub Scout den, or schooling a kid, I have more time, so there are a few more recipes for grilling or for stir-frying, etc. Your mileage may vary. But if you can find 15 recipes that are easy enough to make and that your family loves, you are on your way to cooking Alpha-momdom.

I can hear Smock now--"but we're all picky eaters, and picky in different ways!" That, I can't help you with. We all eat what's on the table around here. The things I am pickiest about (hello, asparagus!), I just don't buy at the grocery. That's the benefit of being chief cook and shopper. The other things that aren't my favorites, but the boys like? I just schedule them on a night when I'm going to book club or Women at the Well meetings. The rest of the time? Eat it, it's good for you.

In the interest of boosting all your Alpha-mom chops, I'll give you a few recipes over the next few days that are yummy, easy, and fast.

Uber easy, and uber delicious, this one may have come from Weight Watchers, since it specifically calls for skinless breasts. I will say, you can really use any pieces that you like. They all work.

Peerless Poultry

1 6-oz can orange juice concentrate, thawed (NOT MIXED WITH WATER!!!)
1 pkg dry onion soup mix
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Mix the thawed OJ concentrate with the dry soup mix.
Pour half of that mixture into a baking pan large enough to accomodate your chicken pieces.
Place chicken pieces on top of sauce and pour the rest of the sauce on top.
Cover and bake at 400 degrees for one hour.

This is delicious served over rice. It comes with highest recommendations from Zman, who used to think this was the "best dinner ever, Mom!"

well that's just boloney!

| | Comments (2)

no way mamaT and i are this polar. but i do contend that, as a grilled cheese of course, i'm yummier!

You Are a Grilled Cheese Sandwich

You are a traditional person with very simple tastes.

In your opinion, the best things in life are free, easy, and fun.

You totally go with the flow. And you enjoy every minute of it!

Your best friend: The Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

Your mortal enemy: The Ham Sandwich

You Are a Ham Sandwich
You are quiet, understated, and a great comfort to all of your friends.
Over time, you have proven yourself as loyal and steadfast.
And you are by no means boring. You do well in any situation - from fancy to laid back.

Your best friend: The Turkey Sandwich

Your mortal enemy: The Grilled Cheese Sandwich

We are very happy around CasaS, because the McKid has been accepted to one of the charter schools here in our hometown. It has an accelerated program (which I think we need to keep her busy and out of trouble) and a wonderful new facility. We applied in March, were put on the waiting list (pretty far down on that waiting list), and we've been waiting ever since.

Until last Wednesday. That's when we got the call to come in and do pre-admission testing. Thursday morning. Woo hoo! And I would have driven over there on Wednesday night, just to get it over with.

The testing wasn't much, and 10 minutes after we arrived on Thursday morning, we were being stacked up with admission paperwork, fundraising paperwork, etc, etc, etc. Oh, and informed that the annual all school picnic would be Saturday morning.

Saturday morning at 10. When the temp was already in the 90's and heading upward by the hour.

Let me tell you, it's hard to concentrate on "Meet our Fine Staff!", when sweat is dripping off the end of your nose and you have to wipe your hands on your shorts before you shake hands with people.

My only consolation is that now these people have seen me at about my worst, with my hair plastered to the back of my neck and McKid with white salt rings around the neck of her shirt (note to self: never make McKid wear a navy t-shirt to an August picnic). PapaC looked a little better, but then he stood under the shade and watched while I stood in line to pick up fundraiser packets, spirit shop stuff, dad's club info (why wasn't he in this line?), and Griffin buck info.

And McKid's only question? "How come if it's a picnic, there's no picnic blanket to sit on?"

excuse me but your reasoning sux


i'd be hardpressed to find a current news headline that would immediately make my blood pressure jump a dozen notches more than this one:

Man Sues Florist for Revealing Affair

the adulterer's attorney claims, "This is not a moral issue." oh really, counselor?
the mouthpiece goes on to claim "The issue is, is 1-800-Flowers in the business of causing divorce or are they in the business of sending flowers ... ?" what? are you high? seems to me the whorehound brought about his own divorce.

what makes me want to vomit is the fact that this lothario and his shyster are ignoring the absurdity of their case. and what really rashes my chaps is the fact that the letch is projecting his own immorality onto the florist -- and begging fidelity and trustworthiness. can anyone say extreme irony?

chalk this one up as another case of no good deed going unpunished.


as the summamamas' resident "avon lady" i'd like to be the first to announce that avon just named their first global ambassador last week. she's my favorite shmoopy-star the mega-beautiful and mega-kind and mega-talented mommy reese witherspoon. she recently held a press conference with avon ceo andrea jung (pictured with reese above) to anounce her new position.

"avon calling!"

not surprisingly, forbes magazine just named reese one of hollywood's "ten most bankable stars." kevin frazier [of entertainment tonight] asked reese if she'll be selling door to door. "what do you want?" she asked. "i'll take your order!'

mom: drink your milk.
dewey: it‘s lumpy.
mom: then chew it.
~malcolm in the middle

the other day an acquaintance of mine told me that she takes great pride in the fact that she's fooled her entire family into thinking she can cook. she uses boxed and frozen foods exclusively, but her family thinks everything is made from scratch. when i told her, "but, you do cook. that's cooking." she was floored and a little depressed. she thought she'd been getting away with something.

but then it was i who became a little depressed. i began to think, i rarely even box-cook for my family. everything we eat is drive-thru, carry-out or delivery. of course, it doesn't help that when my children see me whip out an apron, they groan and say, "you're not cooking again are you, mom?" okay, i'm using poetic license -- i don't even own an apron. but the smocklins do moan and they do emphasize the word "cooking" as if they're doing me a great favor using the word so loosely whenever i start hunting for cooking equipment. where's that flat black thingy with a handle again? the thing for the top of the oven ... er, thing with the red circles, what’s that thing? the stove!

i once admitted to another mom that i’d stapled the hem of my daughter’s skirt as she was running to the car -- late again -- for school. the woman didn’t even blink. she winked. masking tape works wonders, too. the first time our principal sent home a note about excessive tardies -- back when I still thought that all good catholic moms had to be true smock moms -- i was mortified. last year it got so bad the principal sent us a letter informing us that he was going to charge us $5 per tardy slip. i emailed him and asked if that fee was “per family” or “per child” -- he never responded.

i found out that there is a “label” for moms like me: beta mom. the “beta” doesn’t mean we’re being tested, although i think many of us would say we are … daily. and, to the max. rather than being a term that attempts to define what we are, it defines what we certainly are not, which is an “alpha” mom. some ladies took great exception when the word was first introduced, but i sorta liked finally having a label. it gave me a sense of camaraderie. oh, i’m not the only sucky mom on the block. cool.

some of you may be asking yourselves, is this posting a boast or a plea for help? it’s neither really. i just think that if more beta moms spoke up the others wouldn’t feel like they had to beat the crap outta themselves daily. and they wouldn’t feel the need to pretend. trust me, i know more than my share of beta moms who pretend -- badly -- to be alpha moms. they just can’t seem to pull it off and, really, it demeans us all. when you tell me, rather proudly, that you spent an entire morning building a chicken coop all i can think is ... well, why? i don't want to be ugly. i just don't understand it. and i know there are great alpha moms out there thinking, you poor woman. but really, more than once i’ve had to bite my tongue with fellow beta-wanna-be-alphas. i want to say, just go with the flow, honey. i brought the same "homemade-tasting" cookies from the same super target. and that macramé with the “made in china” sticker you missed isn’t fooling anybody.

don't get me wrong. i greatly admire truly domestic women. and, i’ve tried to be more domestic myself. truly i have. i’m just not good at it and i’m beginning to think that at the age of 36 and with 6 wee ones afoot, not much will change any time soon. i think it was albert einstein who once said “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” that pretty much sums it up for the smock.

Booking through Thursday

| | Comments (1)

Here are the questions for today, followed by my answers:

Do you have multiple copies of any of your books?

If so, why? Absent-mindedness? You love them that much? First Editions for the shelf, but paperbacks to read?

If not, why not? Not enough space? Not enough money? Too sensible to do something so foolish?

No, I do not have duplicate copies of books. If I find I have purchased a duplicate (because I have had a brain freeze or something) I almost immediately give it away to someone I think will love it.

Why no duplicates? Space, people, space! I don't have enough room for the books I have now, much less duplicate copies!

Sunday's hymns

| | Comments (1)

Introit was a gem from my main man, Charles Wesley:

Christ, whose glory fills the skies,
Christ the true, the only Light,
Sun of Righteousness, arise!
Triumph o'er the shades of night:
Dayspring from on high, be near;
Daystar, in my heart appear.

Dark and cheerless is the morn
unaccompanied by thee;
joyless is the day's return,
till thy mercy's beams I see,
till they inward light impart,
glad my eyes, and warm my heart.

Visit then this soul of mine!
Pierce the gloom of sin and grief!
Fill me, Radiancy Divine;
scatter all my unbelief;
more and more thyself display,
shining to the perfect day.

Sung at SMV to Ratisbon, though there are several others that work.

Offertory was this one, which was a perfect selection after the gospel reading and the related homily:

All my hope on God is founded;
he doth still my trust renew,
me through change and chance he guideth,
only good and only true.
God unknown,
he alone
calls my heart to be his own.

Pride of man and earthly glory,
sword and crown betray his trust;
what with care and toil he buildeth,
tower and temple fall to dust.
But God's power,
hour by hour,
is my temple and my tower.

God's great goodness aye endureth,
deep his wisdom, passing thought:
splendor, light and life attend him,
beauty springeth out of naught.
from his store
newborn worlds rise and adore.

Daily doth the almighty Giver
bounteous gifts on us bestow;
his desire our soul delighteth,
pleasure leads us where we go.
Love doth stand
at his hand;
joy doth wait on his command.

Still from man to God eternal
sacrifice of praise be done,
high above all praises praising
for the gift of Christ, his Son.
Christ doth call
one and all:
ye who follow shall not fall.

We sing it to the tune Michael, but I cannot find a midi of it, either at Adoremus or Cyberhymnal. The meter pattern is 87 87 3 3 7. So, if you're looking for it, that should give you some help.

Communion hymn was:

All for Jesus--all for Jesus,
this our song shall ever be;
for we have no hope, nor Savior,
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, her sons are gathered
one in love and one in thee.

Sung to (no surprise!) All For Jesus. Sorry the midi is not very good on this one, but it's the only one I could find.

And finally, the post-communion hymn was this one, which happens NOT to be a favorite of mine. It's always sung at "peace and justice" meetings, and those give me the heebie-jeebies most of the time. And trust me, it's not that I don't think the Church should be working for peace and justice. It's just where most of the unorthodox loonies gravitated to in a couple of the dioceses I have been acquainted with. Anyway, enough of my personal prejudices:

O holy city, seen of John,
where Christ, the Lamb, doth reign,
within whose foursquare walls shall come
no night, nor need, nor pain,
and where the tears are wiped from eyes
that shall not weep again!

Hark, how from men whose lives are held
more cheap than merchandise;
from women struggling sore for bread,
from little children's cries,
there swells the sobbing human plaint
that bids thy walls arise!

O shame to us who rest content
while lust and greed for gain
in street and shop and tenement
wring gold from human pain,
and bitter lips in blind despair cry,
"Christ hath died in vain!"

Give us, O God, the strength to build
the city that hath stood
too long a dream, whose laws are love,
whose ways are brotherhood,
and where the sun that shineth is
God's grace for human good.

Already in the mind of God
that city riseth fair:
lo, how its splendor challenges
the souls that greatly dare--
yea, bids us seize the whole of life
and build its glory there.

Sung to Morning Song.

Much sweat and tears, though no blood yet (by the grace of God), are being spent around here trying to teach McKid to ride a bike with training wheels. So today's Fine Art Friday seemed obvious. When I typed "bicycle" into the search engine, lots of lovely images came up, but I was especially intrigued by the vintage ads:

I love this one! Red hair, Art Noveau/Deco-ish. Lovely!

The most charming of the advertisements--and one that doesn't rely on sex to sell the bike.

Crescent moons and bicycles? Who knew?

Zman doesn't like this one, but I like it a lot.
This one looks like Cirque Soleil, doesn't it?

Oops! Nekkid lady plus bicycle. Sex has sold for a long time!

Fairies and bicycles?

Oh, look, honey! We've bicycled up the Alps! And it was so easy!

I do not think this woman has a bicycle on her mind. Do you?

This next image is just a tad naughty. But I laughed out loud when I saw it. Something we all need!


When was the last time you rode a bike? Get out there and try!

Note to self:


Next time you are chasing a five year old on a bicycle, wear sneakers instead of flip-flops.

Ask me how I know this.

Booking Through Thursday


Have you ever written an author a fan letter?

Did you get an answer?

Did it spark a conversation? A meeting?

Yes, I wrote Jon Hassler (one of my all-time favorite authors) a fan letter-via email.

Yes, I got an answer from him, right away. I thought that was wonderful, since he is #1 a famous author and #2 suffers from Parkinsons. I printed it out and kept it.

The only conversation it sparked was in my book club, where everyone oooooh'ed and aaaaaah'ed over the note. Green with envy, they were, they were!

Oh, and PS: I've also written to Bill Luse, who is an author as well. And I am happy to say he wrote me back. So, I've written to TWO authors! Go me!

It was Summa Summit day. Smock and I had lunch together, and it was muy fabuloso! It had been a long time since we'd been able to do this. We talked about as fast as two Texans can talk (which might not seem all that fast to some of ya'll).

And the answer to the question? Two hours, and it shoulda been longer.

OK, ya'll have convinced me!

| | Comments (1)

I ordered Settlers of Catan and Phase 10 Dice (and I threw in Mille Bornes for good measure). Should be here by the end of the week.

My credit card thanks you. Shudder.

Highly recommended



As those of you have read the Summas for any length of time know, I am a Thomas Howard fan. Well, to be more accurate, I am a Thomas Howard fanatic. His books, Evangelical Is Not Enough and On Being Catholic, were instrumental in my journey to the Church and to the understanding (what little I have) of what it means to be Catholic. I have heard him speak several times, and have gotten to shake his hand, though he would not remember me. (Which is fine by me. I stand tongue-tied before those I admire most, anyway.)

The Night Is Far Spent is, as subtitled, a "treasury of Thomas Howard". It is a collection of his essays, separated into three parts. The first part is titled "Things Literary and Literary Men" and there are essays on, of course, C. S. Lewis. But there are also essays on Charles Williams, Brideshead Revisited, T. S. Eliot, Malcolm Muggeridge, and Dietrich von Hidebrand.

The second section of the book is entitled "Things Sacred". It has essays, taken from talks given at various venues, on sacraments, the marks of the Church, ascension, Joseph, and Catholic spirituality.

The third section is called "Existing Things: Self, Society, God". These are more personal essays dealing with gender, fatherhood, music, and self. The essay "Who Am I? Who Am I?" should be required reading for anyone who thinks their lives are much worth examining. And the final essay "On Being Forgotten" is a winsome and haunting look at a life (his own) in which he grapples with the lack of fame and its meaning. It makes me weep to read it, though it is funny at the same time. Though he would argue the point, I am sure, true humility shines through the words on the page.

Anyway, get the book. Then, I promise, you will want others.

A snippet from "Who Am I? Who Am I?" to whet your appetite:

If we look through ancient history, we find that the question "Who art Thou?" is much more lively than the question "Who am I?" Men seem to be troubled by the gods, who keep addressing them and presenting themselves to them and asking things of them. The Old Testament bears witness to this, too. Who art Thou, Lord? Alas, I am undone, I have seen the Lord. Where shall I hide from Thy Presence? I will not let thee go except thou bless me. The main thing seems to be to come to terms, not with oneself, but with what is required of one. There is, before very long, a whole Law, imposed by fiat from outside, describing in effect exactly how things will be, and demanding acquiescence on pain of death. Here is what we are to give our attention to. No one is asked for input. No one's convenience or comfort is considered. And there is not a syllable's worth of recognition given to any problems someone might have over discovering who he is.

Howard goes on to write, then, about the coming of Christ, and how it might change the above. Or not!

Ah. Now there is relief. The picture, surely, has changed. The demands will be relaxed. He knows our frame. He was in all points tempted as we are. He is afflicted in all our afflictions. Perhaps he will help us out of our dilemma. Perhaps, being the Word of God, he will speak comfort to us and affirm us in our sorrowful quest for ourselves. What does he say?

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Deny yourself. Follow me. Be kind. Be faithful. Blessed are the pure in heart, and the merciful, and those who mourn, and the peacemakers . . .

Yes. Yes of course. All that. But is there a word about my self-image? Can you tell me how to come to terms with myself? After all, I must find out who I am before I can do anything else.

Must you? To him that overcometh will I give a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. Your identity, perhaps, is a great treasure, precious beyond your wildest imaginings, kept for you by the great Custodian of souls to be given to you at the Last Day when all things are made whole.



About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from August 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

July 2007 is the previous archive.

September 2007 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.