Thursday, August 30

How Do You See the World?

The other night The Soccer Dad was putting out the trash when he called out to us from the front yard.

"Wow! Check out the moon!"

It was just breath-taking! Full and round and golden in was just becoming fully visible over the treetops. [Try as I might, I was unable to take a picture of it. I really ought to see if my father is still willing to give up his old (and currently not-being-used) 35mm camera.]

Both girls ran outside to look at the moon, and Little Girl exclaimed, "It looks just like the Eucharist!!!"

I've noticed that my daughters have this very Catholic worldview, and it comes through strongly with Little Girl, especially. One night, I'd been drinking a glass of wine. Little Girl snuggled in close, gave me a kiss, and murmered happily, "Mmmmm...your breath smells like Jesus!"

Photo Printer Contest

I was checking some clippings I saved in Bloglines, and I came across a blog I used to read more often. Whilst there, I noticed that yet another blog is giving away an HP Photo Printer.


The drawing is September 10, so you can go over to 5 Minutes for Mom and read about it as well as register to win.

Wednesday, August 29

It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over

All people can say about the Yanks at this point is that they might - might - get the AL Wildcard spot. They are currently five games (or is it still six?) out of the AL East spot. Tonight, they tied with the Mariners for the Wildcard slot.

SportsCenter just reported that they have twenty-six games to play in the season.


Heck, don't talk to me about the Wildcard. Talk to me about bumping the BoSox the heck out of first place in the AL East!

Wildcard my foot.
[picture: AP source:]

Give Yourself a But Check

Today Little Girl was finishing her flip-book for the Ten Commandments lessons we've done in religious education. (We have been schooling year-round now, taking breaks when we travel - which is frequently.) Her book from Seton explains what each of the Commandments means to a child of five or six. We read each commandment and what it meant, and Little Girl illustrated her book to show the meaning "for her."

Well, today was the last page of her book. When we talked about the Tenth Commandment ("Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods"), I started to give an example by citing Shiloh, the movie based on the book. We'd watched the beginning of the movie yesterday, leaving off in the middle to watch the rest today. In the story, a boy finds the new hunting dog of a local man. The boy believes the man is abusing the dog and tries to find a way to purchase the dog from him. However, the dog runs away, and the boy winds up hiding the dog and practically stealing it. I told the girls that it was an example of coveting. The boy was willing to steal the dog in order to "save it from its cruel master."

This progressed into a discussion of the meaning of "the ends don't justify the means" and "the road to Hell is paved with good intentions."

Big Girl did not like the idea that the hero of the story was committing a sin. Not. One. Bit. I actually had her in tears over it. "He didn't mean to covet! He just wanted to save the dog!"

But, still, it's a hard lesson to learn. In big things, the girls understand that they should not sin to get to something good. But when they look at this story - a boy hiding someone's animal from him because he believes it's being mistreated - they have a difficult time accepting that it would not be right for the boy to act the way he did.

It's going to be tough going to help them to understand that even this is not right in God's eyes.

But, then again, it's tough for adults to see it, too. And none of us are innocent in this regard.

"I know I'm speeding, but I'm on the way to church."

"I know the cashier gave me too much change, but it was such an aggrivation to do the return that I won't say anything."

"I know I shouldn't gossip, but I really think she needs to know the details of this."

"I know we aren't supposed to contracept, but I have such a hard time when I'm pregnant."

"I know we're supposed to go to Mass every Sunday, but we're on vacation and we don't know where the church is."

One thing that can help us in discerning if something is, indeed, morally right is to give it the But Check.

If you start off with "I know I'm not supposed to [fill in the blank] " and then proceed with "...but..." then you really do know what you are to do. It would be morally right to not do the thing before that But.

So to do what's right, just check your But.


Okay, all, this is a late request. I'm wondering if anyone knows of a good place to eat in New Bern, North Carolina. Nathan and I are going (it feels funny not to call him Hubby now), and I keep forgetting that we are leaving Friday morning. *sigh* It's just the two of us, and we are planning on eating local on Friday night and all day Saturday.

I know we'll probably eat at The Flame (a steakhouse) on Saturday night, just for something nice, but we want to try out other places in the area. We're not heading to the lighthouses or anything - just wandering the town alone.

Anyone been there who has a suggestion? Or a warning?

The kicker here is that I'd need an answer in the next 24 hours (about 6 on Thursday).

Thanks in advance for any assistance!

Tuesday, August 28

Bleg (Updated)

Okay, I tweaked my blog's template and now Firefox people say there's no background to the text on posts. I can see one with IE7, would be nice if everyone could.

Here's what I'm looking for. I want my blog to have the static background image, which it now does. I also want the textbox-background portion of the posts to stop at the bottom of the last post (or at the bottom of the last sidebar item).

I am only knowledgable enough to make myself dangerous here. Anyone who can point me in the right direction for a quick instruction on how to fix my template to make it nicer for the Firefox people will have my gratitude.

Thanks in advance to the nice computer geeks who have enough patience to help me with this. :)

UPDATE: I think I figured it out. I looked at the old template and guessed which thing it was that I took off that made the difference. Oddly enough, the page looks no different to me on IE7. Go figure.

Oh. My. God.

Jean has put up this prayer request, and I'm passing it on. Please pray for this family. They need our help.

Adam, 29, and his wife are rebuilding their home in New Orleans after Katrina demolished it. Today he was working on it, and sent one young son up to the house (which is on stilts) to fetch something. When the boy didn't return, he sent the next youngest son up after him. Curious as to why they weren't returning, he went up after them, and found both lying face down in the dirt, both bitten by a poisonous snake. He called 911, and they told him it would be quicker if he drove the boys himself to the hospital. So he grabbed both under each arm, put them in the truck, and in his haste and panic, drove over and killed his 3-year-old child. Both boys ended up dying from the snake bite, so this man and his wife lost all three of their children today. Please ask the Lord to overwhelm them with graces and faith.

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself. Amen.

[icon source]

[prayer source]

Monday, August 27

One-Word Meme

No explanations. Seen several places, finally decided to do it after seeing at Digital Hairshirt.

1. Yourself: Allergic.
2. Your spouse: Fantastic.
3. Your hair: Brown.
4. Your mother: Sparkly!
5. Your father: ThePaPa! (had to do the article in there)
6. Your favorite item: Computer
7. Your dream last night: Strange.
8. Your favorite drink: Margarita (rocks, please)
9. Your dream car: Viper.
10. The room you are in: Family Room
11. Your ex: Bitter.
12. Your fear: Spiders.
13. What you want to be in 10 years: Healthy.
14. Who you hung out with last night: Daughters.
15. What you're not: Feminazi
16. Muffins: Apple-Cinnamon.
17. One of your wish list items: Storage.
18. Time: Afternoon.
19. The last thing you did: Taught.
20. What you are wearing: Skirt.
21. Your favorite weather: Spring.
22. Your favorite book: One????
23. The last thing you ate: Crackers.
24. Your life: Wonderful.
25. Your mood: Happy.
26. Your best friend: Hubby.
27. What you're thinking about right now: Hubby.
28. Your car: Minivan.
29. What you are doing at the moment: Smiling.
30. Your summer: Pool.
31. Your relationship status: Married.
32. What is on your TV: Nothing.
33. What the weather is like: Hot.
34. When was the last time you laghed: Yesterday.

I am not tagging anyone in particular, but if you feel like doing this, go on and leave me a link in the com boxes.

This Weekend's Update

I heard from my uncle again over the weekend, and I am dutifully passing on his update on my aunt. Thank you (again and again and again and again) for your prayers.

Howdy, all.

Greetings from Texas. Things continue to go well for B*****. Occupational and physical therapy are hard, but it's a "good" hard because it's time well spent. Her control of her arm continues to improve and a couple of days ago she managed to kick her physical therapist. The leg that was dormant is now becoming a dangerous weapon, it seems. She also told me that she’s wiggled her large toe, once, and that when she first wakes up she can stretch her leg and flex her ankle. As she gets tired, some of that control goes away but it’s definitely coming back.

Her therapist asked her what her goal was re. in-patient therapy and she said she wanted to walk out of the place - she doesn't want to go back home in a wheelchair. I am not betting against her. The physical therapists love it when someone has that attitude. As far as her arm is concerned, she’s pointing toward being able to hold our grandson, who should be born in just a little over a month from now.

In case I've not mentioned it, her “normal” schedule starts at 0700 for breakfast. Then Occupational Therapy runs from 0800-0900, followed by Physical Therapy from 1000-1100.

She receives a couple of chemo pills around mid-morning and then heads to the Cancer Center around 1100 for her radiation therapy. Back to the Rehab Center by noon for lunch, after which they let her rest until 2PM when she has therapy in the pool for an hour. Walking, deep knee bends, and lunges, mainly to work the legs and improve balance. Then it's back to her room for a shower and a short break until dinner at 5PM.

All this, plus occasionally being awakened in the middle of night by nurses, leaves her pretty tired in the evening. I’d thought she’d be “good” until around 9PM or so for calls, but some days she just wants to take a nap when dinner is finished. If you’ve tried to call and been unsuccessful in getting through it’s probably because she’s recharging her batteries after an active day. One thing that really puts a smile on her face is to get cards, esp. those that are sent directly to the rehab center. She’s going to be here at least through next week, so any cards you could send would brighten both her day and her room.

Her address:


As for the rest of us, we’re still enjoying the very generous gift from St. ******* Catholic School that has K***** and C***** as two of the most recent high school’ers. Classes started this past Wednesday, and along with academics the boys are diving into other activities. Football for C***** (#55 on the varsity team), and band and cross country for K*****. We’re still working out the uniform requirements and the guys are learning the ropes, day by day.

There’s not much to report for R***** and S***** [ed: oldest son, the Marine, whose wife is expecting]. They’re doing fine. K***** [ed: S*****'s wife] had a doctor visit this past week, including an ultrasound, and everything looks great on that front.

Tomorrow (Sunday) will be spent partly at home. Sunday is a “rest day” for people in rehab, and B***** likes to rest up at home. If she feels up to it, we may first go to Mass. I predict she’ll take advantage of the Church’s long-standing policy of allowing women to wear hats. I don’t know whish one it will be, but I doubt it’ll be the USMC “boonie cover” that S***** gave her. Once we get home, she’ll be the dogs’ center of attention. Once that wears off she’ll probably enjoy a nice nap or two on the couch or maybe even in her own bed. It’s still a little to warm here to spend much time sitting on the porch, so that activity will have to wait for a cold front to swing through town.

In closing, thanks so much for all your prayers and kind thoughts. It is very motivating and uplifting to know that so many people are praying for B*****'s recovery from cancer and for her continued physical rehabilitation. Some days are tougher than others and those prayers count in more ways than you can imagine. We know that God hears them. While praying for B*****, I also pray for all of you. It’s a prayer of thanks.

Take care – B***** and the gang

Again, I'll be pointing my aunt and uncle to this page, so if you'd like to leave any well-wishes for them, I'm sure they will see them and appreciate it.

Humor for Monday: Animals on Parade

Two jokes today, since I'm positive I'll forget next week. :)

First, from Good, Clean Funnies:

After buying her kids a pet hamster, after they PROMISED they would take care of it, Mom, as usual, ended up with the responsibility.

One evening, exasperated, she asked them, "How many times do you think that hamster would have died if I hadn't looked after it?"

After a moment, her youngest son replied quizzically, "Once?"

This next one is just an old joke I heard once, long ago.

A blind man walked into a store with his guide dog. He navigated to the middle of the establishment and stopped. Suddenly, he grasped the dog's leash and started swinging it over his head like a lasso. The dog, still attached to the leash, was whirling above the man's head.

Distressed, the manager of the store ran over to the blind man and shrieked, "WHAT IN TARNATION ARE YOU DOING??!!??"

Calmly, the blind man stopped swinging the dog around and answered, "Oh, just having a look around."

[guide dog puppy picture source]


This is one of those quotes that just makes my jaw drop. Amazing. (Hat tip to Jean at Catholic Fire.)

"Sex divorced from love, instead of raising man by taking him away from himself, drags him down to the hall of mirrors where he is always confronted with self. Sex does not care about the person, but about the act. The fig leaf which once was put over the secret parts of man and woman in sculpture is now put over the face. The person does not matter."

~ Servant of God Archbishop Fulton John Sheen (1895 - 1979), Those Mysterious Priests, 1974

Saturday, August 25

Hello from the Soccer Dad

This is the less intelligent, less Catholic and less parental half of the Soccer Parents. (And definitely less feminine).

I am however heavier, nerdier and smellier.

You can expect future posts that are as scintillating as this one!

Friday, August 24


I did it!

Static background picture: check.

Better background picture: check.

Differnt background on the sidebar: check. (I thought the grey was very dreary.)

Improvement of the sidebar text colors: check.

The only improvement left to do is to add Hubby as a contributor. And that will, I hope, happen this weekend. Then I'll be changing the subtitle to the blog from "motherhood" to "parenthood." Cuz Hubby is not a mom. But I think you all knew that.

Anyway, please stop by, in case you are reading on an aggregator, and let me know what you think.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the background picture is of my backyard (sky and trees, though you can't see the Fall foliage the way it is on the page), and the sidebar picture is a view from the unit we stayed in at Daytona Beach this past February.


I Figured It Out!

I've been admiring all the nifty blogs with static images in the background, wondering all the while how I can get my daisy picture to stay put.

And now I know.

I went here and poked about until I found the post that gives the code to make the image static. Not hard, once I figured out where to stick it in the template!

Now I might look for a better picture, something a bit brighter, for the background. Stay tuned!


Big Surprise!

I'd seen this in a couple of places, but finally decided to do the test. (I will have to get Hubby to remind me what his results are, too.)

Let me tell you, that first line is absolutely no surprise to me at all. And I don't think this has changed too much since college. (Though I admit that I might have been more feeling back then. But I can't be sure.)

Click to view my Personality Profile page


Thursday, August 23


With Hubby out of town and the girls in bed, I am stuck with little to do. I have things on the DVR, but nothing I want to watch at the moment. I could sit at the computer again, but I'd like to do something else.

So I decided to watch a movie that I can't watch with the girls. And, since I won't be sleeping any time soon while Hubby is away, I'll not be limited by the length of the movie. (Last night, I finished watching The Bells of Saint Mary after midnight, then stayed up for SportsCenter so I could see how the AL Wildcard race is going. And, by the way, why don't they make movies like that any more? Such a beautiful and kind portrayal of Catholics! These days, I cringe any time a movie has someone Catholic, and especially so if they're in a habit or clerics.)


After weighing my options, I've decided to go for Monty Python and the Holy Grail over Blazing Saddles. Because I haven't watched The Holy Grail in ages.

(In case you wondered, the keywords at IMdB for Holy Grail are Severed Arm / Corporeal Mortification / Eccentric / Severed Leg / British Film)

Oh, and don't ask me how my pining for more movies that portray Catholic religious in a good light squares with this Monty Python movie. 'Cuz I don't know.


"Too Perfect a Tool for the Devil to Use to Lead Us Astray"

Jen, who writes at et tu?, never ceases to amaze me with her clear understanding - and, even better, clear explanations - of the Catholic faith. I have learned more about the Faith I grew up in by reading her blog than I have from most of my time in the pew. Really.

Today, she once again touches on a part of her conversion. She discusses how her decision to become a Christian might have affected her friendship with people who live a homosexual lifestyle. (Some day, I think her blog posts will make a really wonderful book.)

Here is a bit of the beginning of her post on the topic:

Back in what I suppose you could call "Phase I" of my conversion, when I had been looking into Christianity for a while and, to my great surprise, found it more and more compelling, there was one concern that weighed heavily on my mind: what would this mean for my relationships with my gay friends?

Three of my husband and my very dearest friends and many of our acquaintances are gay, and live gay lifestyles. And though I didn't know many of the details, I knew enough about Christianity to be pretty sure that if I were to become a Christian I would be part of a belief system that said that there was something wrong with the homosexual lifestyle. It gave me pause. On the one hand, so much seemed true about this religion's teachings. It seemed on so many different levels that I was on the right path here. But I just didn't see how I was ever going to make sense of the teaching that homosexuality is wrong. The gay couples I knew didn't seem to be doing anything all that different than the straight couples I knew. It didn't feel right to say that Julie and Tom's relationship was somehow superior to David and Mark's when the sole difference between them was that Julie and Tom are of opposite genders and had a piece of paper from the state saying they were "married". Who cares?

Something about the whole thing felt wrong. It seemed that what I would essentially need to say to my gay friends based on my newfound belief system (as I understood it) was, "As a person who is attracted to the opposite sex, I get a sort of 'get out of sin free' card as soon as I commit to sexual monogamy through marriage. Sex is a gift God gave us for pleasure...but only heterosexuals can indulge in that pleasure." Based on that view, it made heterosexuals sound like some kind of chosen people. If God's law is such that sexual acts between two people of the same gender are always wrong, even if those same acts might be committed by a heterosexual couple with no problem, it kind of makes it feel like God has something against people who are attracted to the same gender.

All of this nagged at me for months, and was a real sticking point for me in moving forward with Christianity

The road to her understanding of how Christians see this (and especially Catholics) was not a straight one, but reading about how she came to this understanding is eye-opening.

(And, Jen, thanks for the links you put in there, too.)


The Key to High Bids at eBay

Amy of Modern Commentaries found a listing for Pokemon cards. I will only post a little bit of it, so head over to read the rest. She maxed out on posting comments and sold a pack of 44 Pokemon cards for more than $140!

And, I think I might have a new blog to add to my blogroll.

Here's the sampling:

I'm selling a bunch of Pokemon cards. Why? Because my kids sneaked them into my shopping cart while at the grocery store and I ended up buying them because I didn't notice they were there until we got home. How could I have possibly not noticed they were in my cart, you ask? Let me explain.

You haven’t lived until you’ve gone grocery shopping with six kids in tow. I would rather swim, covered in bait, through the English Channel, be a contestant on Fear Factor when they’re having pig brains for lunch, or do fourth grade math than to take my six kids to the grocery store. Because I absolutely detest grocery shopping, I tend to put it off as long as possible. There comes a time, however, when you’re peering into your fridge and thinking, ‘Hmmm, what can I make with ketchup, Italian dressing, and half an onion,’ that you decide you cannot avoid going to the grocery store any longer. Before beginning this most treacherous mission, I gather all the kids together and give them “The Lecture“.

“The Lecture“ goes like this…

MOM: “We have to go to the grocery store.”

KIDS: “Whine whine whine whine whine.“

MOM: “Hey, I don’t want to go either, but it’s either that or we’re eating cream of onion-ketchup soup and drinking Italian dressing for dinner tonight.”

KIDS: “Whine whine whine whine whine.“

MOM: “Now here are the rules: do not ask me for anything, do not poke the packages of meat in the butcher section, do not test the laws of physics and try to take out the bottom can in the pyramid shaped display, do not play baseball with oranges in the produce section, and most importantly, do not try to leave your brother at the store. Again.”

OK, the kids have been briefed. Time to go.

Once at the store, we grab not one, but two shopping carts. I wear the baby in a sling and the two little children sit in the carts while I push one cart and my oldest son pushes the other one. My oldest daughter is not allowed to push a cart. Ever. Why? Because the last time I let her push the cart, she smashed into my ankles so many times, my feet had to be amputated by the end of our shopping trip. This is not a good thing. You try running after a toddler with no feet sometime.

At this point, a woman looks at our two carts and asks me, “Are they all yours?” I answer good naturedly, “Yep!"

“Oh my, you have your hands full.”

“Yes, I do, but it‘s fun!” I say smiling. I’ve heard all this before. In fact, I hear it every time I go anywhere with my brood.

We begin in the produce section where all these wonderfully, artistically arranged pyramids of fruit stand. There is something so irresistibly appealing about the apple on the bottom of the pile, that a child cannot help but try to touch it. Much like a bug to a zapper, the child is drawn to this piece of fruit. I turn around to the sounds of apples cascading down the display and onto the floor. Like Indiana Jones, there stands my son holding the all-consuming treasure that he just HAD to get and gazing at me with this dumbfounded look as if to say, “Did you see that??? Wow! I never thought that would happen!”

I give the offending child an exasperated sigh and say, “Didn’t I tell you, before we left, that I didn’t want you taking stuff from the bottom of the pile???”

“No. You said that you didn’t want us to take a can from the bottom of the pile. You didn’t say anything about apples.”

With superhuman effort, I resist the urge to send my child to the moon and instead focus on the positive - my child actually listened to me and remembered what I said!!! I make a mental note to be a little more specific the next time I give the kids The Grocery Store Lecture.

A little old man looks at all of us and says, “Are all of those your kids?”

Thinking about the apple incident, I reply, “Nope. They just started following me. I’ve never seen them before in my life.”

Believe it or not, it actually gets BETTER!

I am so going to rethink how I list things on eBay!


Wednesday, August 22

R.I.P. George Bailey, Hello Skitty!

A while back, our betta fish George developed a case of dropsy. Basically, this means that his swim bladder was infected, and he couldn't swim straight. He started tipping over, and one afternoon, he actually swam directly into the filter! (WHACK! Faceplant!) Anyway, we tried to medicate him with a broad antibiotic, but the gal at PetSmart said that bettas don't recover well, if at all, from dropsy.

George was no exception. He seemed to be making a comeback when he suddenly just died. And immediately started to decompose. (Bettas are not very pretty when their fins dissintegrate. ick.)

After a while, we decided that we'd make another go of it. Maybe when Santa brought George Bailey to our house on the sleigh, George caught cold and wasn't very healthy to begin with. (We thought something was wrong when he refused to eat anything but bloodworm, despite the PetSmart people insisting that all bettas eat those flakes.)

We packed the girls into the car a couple weeks ago and headed to ... PetSmart! (How did you know?) And we let them pick out a new betta, as well as some playmates. (Hey, maybe George was also lonely.) The girls chose a beautiful deep-blue male betta and four Danios. The Danios are school fish, so they are really smart. No! I mean they are school fish, so they like to be in groups of three and four. So the girls chose two Zebra Danios and two Leopard Danios. (Can you guess what the difference might be?)

The betta has been christened Skitty because he seemed a bit skittish. (Yup, the girls' description of him.)

The Danios, on the other hand, were tough to name. As you can see by the VERY blurry pictures, they are very fast swimmers, and kind of hyperactive. I decided that since they are "Danny-O's," they must be Irish! So they became "The Irish Fish."

Welllll ... one of the Irish fish is a bit bigger than the rest, and he's a bit on the aggressive side. Like, he bit the fins of the other Danny-O's (I like spelling it that way better), so I put him in time out for a week. After he lived in yuckier water and could only watch the others play through the sides of the tank, I decided his penance was over and put him back in the other tank. I think he's behaving a bit better. But due to his bad temper and violent ways, I decided that he was probably not just any Irish fish: he is in the IRA!

So now the big fish's name is Ira. The others are just the "Irish Fish" or the Danny-O's. (O'Malley? O'Connor? Don't know. My Irish grandfather was a Haugh. No "O" there.)

And that's the story of our new fish.

Oh, and Skitty eats the flake food, just like the Irish Fish do. Which is nice, because freeze-dried bloodworms are a bit pricier!

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More on the Deck

I know I have got to be boring some people with this, but you just can't imagine how excited I am about the beautiful deck my husband has created for us. (I know it's mostly a refurbishing, but he did extend the deck and create new space for the lower area, which makes it much more usable than it was.)

I just found this picture from early last summer, when the upper deck was in its old condition. You can see where the steps, etc. were that Hubby tore out. Not long after this, I believe, the hose coming from under the skimmer (at the end of the pool, near the first step, and under the deck) burst. You can also see where the pool pump used to be, before Hubby moved it onto the new section of the deck he created that is level with the lower portion of the deck.

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For All Those Jersey Bloggers

My father, who is actually a New Yorker by birth, sent this to me in an email this morning.

Here are a few things that people not from New Jersey might not know -- no wonder they are proud of their state!

  • Highlands, New Jersey, has the highest elevation along the entire eastern seaboard, from Maine to Florida.
  • New Jersey is the only state where all of its counties are classified as metropolitan areas.
  • New Jersey has more race horses than Kentucky.
  • New Jersey has more Cubans in Union City (1 sq. mi.) than Havana, Cuba.
  • New Jersey has the most dense system of highways and railroads in the U.S.
  • New Jersey is a peninsula.
  • New Jersey has the most diners in the world and is sometimes referred to as the Diner Capital of the World.

  • New Jersey is home to the original mystery pork parts club (no, not spam) Taylor Ham or Pork Roll.

  • Home to the less mysterious, but the best, Italian hot dogs and Italian sausage w/peppers and onions.

  • North Jersey has the most shopping malls in one area in the world, with seven major shopping malls in a 25 square mile radius.

  • New Jersey is home to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

  • The Passaic River was the site of the first submarine ride by inventor John P. Holland.

  • New Jersey has 50+ resort cities and towns, some of the nation's most famous: Asbury Park, Wildwood, Atlantic City, Seaside Heights, Long Branch and Cape May.

  • New Jersey has the most stringent testing along our coastline for Water Quality Control than any other seaboard state in the entire country.

  • New Jersey is a leading technology and industrial state and is the largest chemical producing state in the nation when you include pharmaceuticals.

  • Jersey tomatoes are known the world over as being the best you can buy. (This one made my mouth water...what I'd do for a good supply of Rutgers Tomatoes!)

  • New Jersey is the world leader in blueberry and cranberry production (and here you thought Massachusetts?).

  • Here's to New Jersey - the toast of the country! In 1642, the first brewery in America opened in Hoboken.

  • New Jersey rocks! The famous Les Paul invented the first solid body electric guitar in Mahwah in 1940.

  • New Jersey is a major seaport state with the largest seaport in the U.S., located in Elizabeth. Nearly 80% of what our nation imports comes through Elizabeth Seaport first.

  • New Jersey is home to one of the nation's busiest airports at Newark Liberty International.

  • George Washington slept here. Several important Revolutionary War battles were fought on New Jersey soil, led by General George Washington.

  • The light bulb, phonograph (record player) and motion picture projector, were invented by Thomas Edison in his Menlo Park, NJ laboratory.

  • We also boast the first town ever lit by incandescent bulbs.

  • The first seaplane was built in Keyport, NJ.

  • The first airmail (to Chicago) was started from Keyport, NJ.

  • The first phonograph records were made in Camden, NJ.

  • New Jersey is home to the Miss America Pageant held in Atlantic City. (I don't actually think they have it there any more, though.)

  • The game Monopoly, played all over the world, named the streets on their playing board after the actual streets in Atlantic City.

  • And, Atlantic City has the longest boardwalk in the world.

  • Not to mention Salt Water Taffy.

  • New Jersey has the highest cost of living.

  • New Jersey has the highest cost of auto insurance.

  • New Jersey has the highest property taxes in the nation. (Hey, when did this get so negative?)

  • New Jersey has the largest petroleum containment area outside of the Middle East countries.

  • The first Indian reservation was in New Jersey, in the Watchung Mountains.

  • New Jersey has the tallest water-tower in the world. (Union, NJ!!!)

  • New Jersey had the first Medical Center, in Jersey City.

  • The Pulaski SkyWay, from Jersey City to Newark, was the first skyway highway.

  • NJ built the first tunnel under a river, the Hudson (Holland Tunnel).

  • The first baseball game was played in Hoboken, NJ, which is also the birthplace of Frank Sinatra.

  • The first intercollegiate football game was played in New Brunswick in 1889. (Rutgers College played Princeton.)

  • The first Drive-in Movie theater was opened in Camden, NJ. (But they're all gone now!)

  • New Jersey is home to both of "NEW YORK'S " Pro-Football Teams!

  • The first radio station and broadcast was in Paterson, NJ.

  • The first FM radio broadcast was made from Alpine, NJ, by Major Thomas Armstrong.

Okay, so it's not all good. (No one likes the taxes and high auto insurance.) But it is a pretty cool list, and I always was fond of annoying people and calling the Jets and Giants "New Jersey" instead of "New York."


A Fluffy Little Teddy Bear vs. Chuckie

Found via Dawn Eden, who also has links to blog posts with similar themes.



Tuesday, August 21

Maybe It Does...

Tonight, Big Girl said the following on our way back from the co-op meeting:

"Mommy, do you think that the holster-holder thing for the Blackberry Pearl phone looks like an oyster?"

[picture source]


Another Sidebar Update

I put up a slideshow of the pictures that have been posted at this blog since it started. It will automatically update as pictures are added, too. I thought it would be interesting to see what's been put up here. I've got everything from pictures of Little Girl's baptism to Bon Jovi to Alf (yuck) to sunsets. I'm sure as I see some of them come up, I'll wonder what the heck I was doing posting THAT.

Anyway, if you stop by the blog (as opposed to reading the aggragated feed), check out the new slideshow feature on the sidebar.


The First Test

Today was the first time we've had rain since last Thursday, and so it was the first time our staining job was tested. (Sorry to seem obsessive, but this deck has been such the project, and I am so grateful to have gotten so much done!)
Here is the approaching storm. I thought the clouds were just beautiful! (Thank You, God, for the beauty and the rain!)

And it looks like the deck beaded up pretty well from what I could see.

Happy, happy, joy, joy!



Today, I decided to move a couple of chairs onto the newly-stained deck. (I want to use it a bit this week!)

I found out that we have a visitor. I saw this "little" guy yesterday from the balcony, but couldn't get a close enough look at him because I couldn't walk on the deck until today. I tried a picture, but it wasn't close enough, nor was it clear enough when I cropped in on the subject.

Wikipedia says this about the praying mantis:


Praying mantids, with their huge compound eyes mounted on the triangular head, have a large field of vision. They use sight for detecting movement of prey and then turn their mobile head to bring their prey into their binocular field of view. They are able to turn their head 180 degrees for excellent vision and hearing. Their antennae are used for smell.


Praying mantids can be found in all parts of the world with mild winters and sufficient vegetation. Praying mantids will spend most of their time in a garden, forest or other vegetated area.


Being a carnivorous insect, the mantis feeds primarily on other insects. However, it is not uncommon for larger mantis to consume small reptiles and even small birds.[2]
To capture their prey, mantids use their camouflage to blend in with the surroundings and wait for the prey to be within striking distance. They then use their raptorial front legs to quickly snatch the victim and devour it.

Well, considering that our kitchen was suddenly over-run with tiny ants - who apparently live under our deck and didn't like the pressure-washing and staining processes - I think this is a welcome bug. I hope the frogs don't eat him, though.

Big Girl and Little Girl are off on an adventure to locate the praying mantis. They are on the phone with Older God-daughter, using the speaker on the cordless phone, and as the girls walked outside, I heard Big Girl say, "We're going out to find the praying mantis now. I wonder if it's praying to a Muslim..." (and then the door closed).


The Golden Compass Points Children Away From God

There's been more discussion of the upcoming movie The Golden Compass. I cannot stress enough that you need to keep your children away from this movie. ALL of them, teens included. It is Pullman's goal to pull children away from God, and especially away from the Catholic Church.

Jean at Catholic Fire has put up a post with links to other sources, including an older post on Pullman from Against the Grain. The former has quite a lot of information and links.

Thomas, the American Papist, had a post up yesterday with lengthy quotes from the Amazon website's reviews of Pullman's series. He includes a clip of the movie's trailer in the post. It is worth watching. Of course, the "evil Magisterium" stuff should be a big red flag to us all.

Also posted yesterday: Ignatius Insight's Carl Olsen's take on the movie, as well as on Nicole Kidman's apparent ignorance of the anti-Catholicism contained in the three-part series that she has signed up to be in. He's got a plethora of links for you to check out. I must take a snippet from this post, too. This is what he found a Phillip Pullman's site:

Some of the articles and talks I've written are to do with the subject of religion, which I think is a very interesting one. The religious impulse – which includes the sense of awe and mystery we feel when we look at the universe, the urge to find a meaning and a purpose in our lives, our sense of moral kinship with other human beings – is part of being human, and I value it. I'd be a damn fool not to.

But organised religion is quite another thing. The trouble is that all too often in human history, churches and priesthoods have set themselves up to rule people's lives in the name of some invisible god (and they're all invisible, because they don't exist) – and done terrible damage. In the name of their god, they have burned, hanged, tortured, maimed, robbed, violated, and enslaved millions of their fellow-creatures, and done so with the happy conviction that they were doing the will of God, and they would go to Heaven for it.

That is the religion I hate, and I'm happy to be known as its enemy.

From time to time I have a new thought on the subject. When I come up with something worth writing down, I'll put it here.
Hopefully, this helps you realize that Pullman is indeed an enemy of your children - or at least their faith - even if you are only slightly attached to your faith.

Keep an eye open here. And please warn parents about the anti-Christian (and especially anti-Catholic) themes in these books.

[picture source]


Monday, August 20

"The Rabbits Rush Around the Brush..."

I spoke to my mother today, and she said that she had the opportunity to talk with my aunt on the phone yesterday. Uncle (Aunt) B****** said that she loves the blog posts I've put up, and I am very glad that she does. I'm also still very, very grateful for all the prayers that everyone has been saying for our family. We do still need them, but my uncle's most recent update did have some very good news at the end.

Without further ado, I give you the weekend update from Texas:

Howdy, all.

Greetings from the St. ****** Rehab Center. Today's report:

B****** is doing well. She's had three radiation treatments (performed M-F) and four chemo treatments (pills, 7 days/week). She's tired, but there’s no way to determine whether that's from the cancer treatment or from the rehab.

Rehab continues to go well. She'll be here at least through the coming week, putting in three 1-hour therapy sessions each day except Sunday. She's getting more control over her left arm and hand, and her leg is getting a bit more responsive, too. She is not able to walk on her own yet, but she's way ahead of where she was just a week ago. Physical rehab includes "pool time", and she must be dizzy from walking in circles in the pool for an hour. I told her (and the two rehab people who were assisting her) that they were going to be great NASCAR fans, since they kept going in circles, counter-clockwise. B****** was not amused. [ed: I think that's hysterical!!]

I'm sure that we have tons of stories to share, but here's one that ended our week on an absolutely uplifting note:

Our youngest son, C*****, needs 1/2 of a semester in Latin to complete the state's two year language requirement. This past January, following our move, we enrolled him in a good school, but one that does not offer Latin. B****** had arranged for C***** to take the Latin course through a state university's distance learning program, but she thought it would proceed better if there was a Latin tutor available who might be able to offer some assistance.

On Wednesday, B****** was visited by our parish Monsignor during therapy and she asked him if he knew anyone who might be able to help. He suggested contacting our parish (St. *******) high school's Latin teacher. Yesterday (Friday) B****** encouraged me to take a break from the rehab facility and so I left for a while to take care of a few of the many tasks that have been accumulating over the past 3+ weeks. Among other things, I visited St. ******* High School and asked if I could talk to the Latin teacher. I was told that she was out all day, involved in "in service" training in preparation for the upcoming semester, and that she'd call me if I left a number.

Well, that had me stumped for a few seconds because I wasn't sure just where I'd be. I explained this to the woman in the office and gave her minimal background on our recent situation. Timing is always amazing, and in our case B****** developed her neurological symptoms the day before she was supposed to start working on campus. A major motivation for her job search was to allow us to put the boys in St. ******* H.S. – tuition for two students adds up. I explained that we had no idea what the financial “hit” was going to be for B******'s medical and rehab services, but that we assumed that it would be a whopper. So, we were just interested in helping C***** complete the second part of Latin II. The woman asked what grades my sons were entering (9th and 12th), and said that the Latin teacher would give me a call at home.

So, a couple of hours later I answered the phone at home, while washing pots, pans, etc. It was from a man at the school who said he’d heard that I’d been looking for the Latin teacher. I gave him a somewhat longer version of the saga than I’d given the woman in the office, and when I was finished he said, “Well, we can work on the Latin course but I’ve been authorized to offer your sons admission to school on a tuition-free basis. We think it’s important for them to be surrounded by people of faith at a time like this”.

What a wonderful, unexpected surprise. You can imagine how touched we were by this offer. We know that God is looking out for us, and He’s looking out for our boys. The gift we received from St. ******* H.S. was much greater than tuition, because it reminded us of how much care and love surround us.

And on that note, say your prayers, hug and kiss your family and friends, and work at being part of God’s unlimited care and love.

Love, B****** and the gang

This was such a fantastic note to get! I'm so excited for my cousins! Oh, and I also cannot believe that they are getting so old!! I mean, what is THAT about? How can they all get older, start getting married, go to college, etc. (remember that there are two older brothers for the two in the parochial school)...I'm not getting any older.

Anyway, thanks once again for the prayers! God bless you all! (Please remember to ask John Paul II for his intercessions, as well.)

Good night, all!


The "Evan Almighty" Project

For about a year and a half, Hubby has been working on rebuilding our back deck. Alone. Mind you, it was a pretty big thing to begin with, and he started by working on the lower level of the monstrosity. The upper level, which wraps around two sides of the pool (but used to wrap around three sides) is staying put for a couple of years. We're going to enjoy what we've got for now and save up for the major rebuilding of the upper deck.

What did Hubby do? Well, first, he took out a set of steps that turned out to be rotting, anyway. (Good move, honey!) Then he took out a portion of the upper deck that had been built past the skimmer. This enabled us to be able to get to the lower side of the skimmer without crawling under the deck. (Something that was necessary when, last summer, the hose exiting the skimmer burst suddenly - the day before a week-long vacation!) Then he added on to the deck so that you could walk from the existing deck all the way past the skimmer. To do this, he added two diagonal sections of decking, which you can see in the pictures below. Those steps on that side of the deck? Moved around to the side with new handrails and better footing. (Before, the wooden steps just rested on the ground. Not good for keeping them from disintegrating!)

On Saturday, he finished putting up the basics for the railings; that was a two-weekend project. Yesterday, we stained the deck. (It happened to have rained - the first time in more than two weeks - on Thursday. We needed two full days without rain before we could stain the deck, and if we didn't do it yesterday it would have been weeks before we could get to it.)

Both girls helped us out with staining the 4x4's, as well as the ends of the 2x6's. After that, they decided the pool was going to be more fun than helping us stain the floor of the deck. (Honestly, I argued in favor of this approach. It was easier for the two of us to get the entire floor of the deck finished without them.)

So here's the photo journal of the day!

Hubby's new steps.

Before the railings.

The railings start to take shape!

My hero!

The girls help sweep before we begin staining!

Ready for staining!

Hubby is ready, too.

If you look closely, you can see Little Girl bent over and painting the railing behind Big Girl. (I swear I was working before this; I had taken a break to drink something - it was 90 degrees! - and took this picture of my busy family.)

The change is easy to see!!

Nearly there!!!

As we were wrapping up, I realized that even though I'd done half the work on the floor of the deck, and a good portion of the railings and sides, there were NO pictures of me working. As I was finishing the step, I told Hubby, "Go get the camera and take a picture of me working, please. I've worked hard all day and there aren't any pictures of me doing anything!" Not that I look very good here, but let's face it: when you are in the middle of staining a deck this size, you really aren't out for a beauty prize, you know? ;)

Whew! Finished at last!

Here are a couple of pictures from this morning:

Next step: balusters! Hubby actually recycled about half of the wood on the deck, and he saved as many balusters as he could. They've been cleaned off and he's started drilling the pilot holes in them so that we can stain them all and attach them after they're dry. If we had attached them before the staining, I think it would have added 50% more time to the project. As it is, from the taping-off and sweeping to the clean-up, it was about a four-hour job. And if the girls had not helped us by staining the 4x4's and the ends of the 2x6's, I can't imagine how much longer it would have taken!

I'll take more pictures when we've got the balusters up, not to mention when Hubby gets the grill and the new bar and barstools set up. The last step will be getting toppers for the rails. We're planning on getting composite decking for that, with the exception of the diagonal next to the pool. For that, we're getting a 1x12 and making a small tray-like area for people to put drinks. That'll help keep the electrical socket out of sight, plus it will provide extra surface area.

I cannot express how proud I am of Hubby for working on this deck. With the exception of the electrical work and staining, he did this whole thing himself. And it was NOT easy, especially when he was trying to salvage as much of the wood as he could. (In case you are wondering, he flipped the boards over. The topsides were a mess, but the underside looked great on most of them!) This project has been so tiring for him, and at times it was overwhelming, but he kept at it and has achieved some really beautiful results!

Who are your heros?


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