Sunday, November 30

And Why Would I Want to be Doing That?

We took the girls out bowling last Sunday (an expensive proposition on the weekends, so it won't be a common activity), and now we have started playing the bowling game on the Wii.  But I wasn't prepared for Little Girl, as we discussed various topics unrelated to the Wii or bowling, to say the following:

Little Girl:  Mommy, I know how you can bowl me.  (Sticks her first and middle fingers in her nostrils and her thumb near her lips.)  Put your fingers in my nose and your thumb in my mouth.

Jesse Tree: Introduction

I mentioned before that we'd made ornaments for the Jesse Tree.  This year, we decided to use our Christmas tree as the Jesse Tree and create dough ornaments that will last for years to come.  The results of the ornaments are beautiful!  I've taken a picture of each one and will post it with our readings and theme for each day's readings and ornament.

The Jesse Tree's history can be read here and here.  In short, it's a way to look back through our salvation history and see the anticipation of the Savior that was held throughout history, just as we anticipate the coming of our Savior, Christ Jesus, at the end of time.  One day, He will come, and all the world will be judged.  As today's Gospel warns us, let us not be caught sleeping when the Master returns!

Saturday, November 29

Black Friday

Black Friday...the day our society shows how much it loves its god, Mammon.

I don't like to shop that day.  Not even for groceries (even less so now that most of my grocery shopping is done at Walmart).  But last year, I went out late on B.F. afternoon for something and noticed that the local Walmart wasn't too busy.  So if I time it right, I can head out for a gallon of milk or something, right?

Anyway, this year I didn't see that in my day at all.  I needed to work the phones.  Required time, 4 hours.  Requested time, 8 hours.  Ugh.

So Travel Man worked from home, breaking from work when I did, and keeping the girls busy with some chores or small jobs that they could do while we both worked.  And between my shifts - when I didn't wind up working through my breaks! - they made meals, washed dishes, and made things nice for me.  It was fantastic, really.  I am so blessed.

Wow, I can tell already this is a rambling post.

Well, I had a big break between 4:00 and 8:30, for things like dinner and such.  And we sat, discussing the girls' favorite recent topic: when they could shop for the Wii that they'd saved up for all year.  Pinching pennies, socking away nearly all of their birthday money, doing extra 
chores for extra allowance (commission, for the Dave Ramsey fans).  And they did it.  They'd saved enough for a Wii and extra remote set!  Suddenly, at about 4:35, I slammed my hand on the table and said the words that nearly made Travel Man fall off his chair.

"Let's go out and let the girls get their Wii!!"

Like a shot, they'd put on shoes, pulled on coats, and run out to the car for a shopping expidition!

We drove past Walmart (busier than last year, but not awful), past the Re-Play Games, and on to the bank.  The girl each withdrew $170, I packed the two envelopes in my purse, and went back to Re-Play Games.  The girls walked in, looked the man behind the counter right in the eyes, and asked, "Do you have any Wii's?"

"Yup," he answered.  "Right there."  He pointed at a row of game consoles above his head.

Big Girl cried, "I'll take one!"

"WAIT!" I said.  "How much is it, Big Girl?"

"Oh."  She looked at the man again.  "How much is it?"


Emotion took over again.  "I'LL TAKE ONE!"

"WAIT!"  She looked at me, and the look on her face was slightly annoyed, slightly confused.  They have one.  I have the money.  WHAT IS THE PROBLEM, PARTY-POOPER MOTHER OF MINE???

I looked right at the man behind the counter.  I noticed his nametag: Jason.  "Sir, does that include extra controllers or anything else?"  I looked back at Big Girl.  "That's $30 more than the usual price, honey."

The man looked at the girls and back at me.  "I know.  It's $30 more than the retail price, but it doesn't include anything extra.  Because this is such a small store, we could only order a few - four, actually - so I think he's trying to make some money on the few he could get."

Travel Man put his hand on Big Girl's shoulder.  "Sweetie, let's see if Walmart has any, okay?"

Jason-Behind-the-Counter looked at me and said, "I work at Walmart, too, and they had a huge stack this morning.  And when I left this afternoon, they still had a bunch.  Want me to call them for you?"  I think my face must have shown the shock I felt at this statement, and he continued, "I don't get any of the profit here, but I do there.  I'll call them right now."  And he nearly winked at us.

A few moments later, he got off the phone and said, "They've got about 15 of them behind the counter in electronics.  Go get them.  Use the money you save to get an extra controller for yourselves.  But you can come back for the games.  Our used games have a lifetime warranty."

After profuse thanks, our family walked out in wonder.  We picked up the Wii and extra remotes (no wait, no mark-up) and headed home.

Today, we'll pack up Travel Man's X-Box and games and go back to Re-Play to exchange those for Wii games. 

I've got to say, it was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for my children.  Jason is my hero of Black Friday.

And my day?  All nine hours that I wound up working?

Well, I have to say that working the phones on Black Friday is much better than working in the "real world."  Most people were happy, they didn't mind waiting (up to half an hour, some of them!), and they were in the mood for computers and iPods.  It was a successful day (sales-wise --- let's face it, I am in sales, and I have to sell to keep my job), and not as stressful as I thought it would be.  Of course, that also was due to Travel Man and the girls doing everything they could to let me relax between shifts.  I barely lifted a finger!  I even took a quick nap after lunch.

So this was the best Black Friday I've ever had.  And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to make my Mii on the new Wii.

Wednesday, November 26

Advent Coming

In preparation for Advent, we will be setting up our Christmas tree and using it as our Jesse Tree.  Since the ornaments will stay on the tree, we made new ones using bakeable dough.  The girls formed them with surprisingly little help from me, then painted them by themselves with absolutely no supervision.  I only made a single suggestion - that Little Girl possibly add some yellow and orange to the sun, which was bright red.  Little Girl liked the idea and added swirls of sparkly yellow paint and swirls of matte orange paint to her sun.  

Oh, and the reason it's surprising how little help they had from me while molding the ornaments is because I am a total control freak when we do art.  So I had my guardian angel help me stand back and watch.  I really gave little assistance, and only after asking first.

The ornaments are beautiful, and the only thing left to do is to tie ribbons on each one.  I've even written the Scripture verses on the back of each one.  (Um...I just realized I left on numbers.  So I don't know the order.  I guess I have two things left to do, eh?)

Every night from December 1 through Christmas Eve after "Midnight" Mass, we'll read a verse from Scripture that teaches us about the coming of the Savior, then place the ornament on our tree.  We won't decorate the tree with anything else until Gaudette Sunday, when we'll go crazy decorating that weekend.  

I've got pictures of the painted ornaments, and I'll post them throughout Advent.  I'll try (really, really try) to do daily Advent posts, but it really depends on if I have time to set them up, you know?  I'm working retail, kiddies, and starting Friday - Black Friday - my Advent style will be a bit cramped.  If I can set it up in late-night hours, you'll be in luck.  I'd love to do the readings with the pictures of each ornament, but please don't be too sad if I can't set it up this year.  (I might beg Travel Man to help me with it.  I'll cry, maybe.)  If you want the readings I used last year, you can see my "Advent" category (click below or on my sidebar at the blog).

"Does Anyone In Your Party Have Fear of Heights or Claustrophobia?"

From our trip home.  We went to the Arch in St. Louis, and, yes, I have claustrophobia and a fear of heights.  But I love my family, so we went to the top of the Arch.  More pictures hosted here on MobileMe.

Friday, November 21

Did You Know?

That Copernicus was a PRIEST?

Me neither.  

Thanks, public school, for hiding the fact that some of the greatest scientific minds have been priests.

So much for the Church hating science, huh?

More information on books about Catholic scientists here and here.  (Giveaways no longer available.)

Maybe So...

... but I guarantee he's in touch with Mother Church, and that is what's important.  The Church isn't some kind of democracy - it's guided by the Holy Spirit, not popular opinion.

Planned Parenthood Calls Cardinal O'Malley Out of Touch with Catholics

Planned Parenthood today sent along a response to criticism of the organization from Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Boston.

"Truth is not determined by a majority vote"
-Cardinal Ratzinger [Pope Benedict XVI]

Hat tip on article: The Kaaaaniggits of Columbus

Thursday, November 20

It's Almost Time Again

... for my favorite movie.

International Annointed First Starbucks of the Northern Valley

I saw this at Crummy Church Signs, and I have to say it really did remind me of the days when I dabbled with Evangelical stuff.  Never left the Church, but I certainly wasn't attending Mass regularly at the time.  And it's funny, but I think about this couple and what they are looking for, and I think about the Mass, especially at my parish.  People are there to open the door and greet everyone (I remember when we first visited the parish while we were house hunting).  Folks talk to you, but no one pressures you.  We certainly don't talk about goals of bringing new people to Mass, though we have been encouraged to bring people.  It's just not a game or a goal.  There is a constant announcement in the bulletin that if you have been attending Mass and are drawn to the Church, please call and enquire about RCIA.

Anyway, it's funny, and I especially love the coffee angle.  I always love the coffee angle.  ;)

Tuesday, November 18

Oddly Non-Judgemental Article on 12-Year-Old "Food Critic"

I'd be more concerned about a 12 year old out alone for dinner in NYC than his burgeoning taste buds.  (And notice that it's not the first time, and that he has been as young as 11 and asked to dine - OUT - alone.)  

But maybe that's just me, protective parent that I am.  (Oh, and since when is it a bad thing to protect our children?)  I still find it strange that no one seems to question that this kid is left alone and to go out to eat by himself in New York City.  I find that a bit ... disturbing.

Hat tip: First Things

Ah, Julie! I LOVE You, Girl!

I just love the stuff Julie finds all over the place.  Why should I spend days on YouTube, when all of those lovely bloggers on my sidebar do the heavy-lifting for me?

(I'm sure my family is grateful.)

Found here.


I saw a post somewhere ... I can't recall where, or I'd go there myself! ... that said there is a catalog that summarizes monastery offerings.  I buy coffee from the wonderful monks in Wisconsin, and I'd like to do more of the same.  

If you know of a website or a paper catalog that summarizes who has what, please pass it on in the com boxes.

Thank you!

Monster-Long Shoelaces

Big Girl bought some of those spiral shoelaces for her sneakers last night.  She couldn't STAND her laces any longer becuase (a) they came untied constantly, and (b) they were WAY too long.  As in when she took them out, they were more than 4 feet long.  (I promise to take a picture and post it.)

She cried, "I don't understand why they make them long enough to have a rodeo with them!!!"

Monday, November 17

Big Night for Little Girl

Tonight is Little Girl's First Confession.  She is really nervous about speaking to the priest (she is incredibly shy around adults), but is looking forward to being forgiven.  Unfortunately, children making their first Confession at our parish do not have the option of an anonymous Confession; they must make a face-to-face Confession.  I sincerely wish that they weren't forced into that (not to mention that it would make it easier for me to partake of the Sacrament tonight if I could go into the Confessional - er, Reconciliation Room - and sit behind a screen).  I know Little Girl is probably more nervous because of the face-to-face nature of the whole thing, as well.  

If I were a better parent, I would have advocated three years ago for an "in the box" Confession option at the First Reconciliation Service.  I'll have to make the suggestion to the DRE for elementary kids for future years.  Honestly, if I'd been away for years (and I have been, at times), I'd be hard-pressed to sit face-to-face with a priest.  I'm nervous enough as it is!  I am completely flustered when I can't be behind the screen!  (And, yeah, I miss the box.  Everyone seems to make fun of it these days, but I like the box, thankyouverymuch!)

Besides, the children actually have the right to an anonymous Confession.

Anyway, I have a page set up with her examination of conscience and a small card with the Act of Contrition (what the religious ed. department here would call the "adult version") for her to bring tonight.  And I'll be praying for her.  Bunches.  If you could, please send up a prayer for her, too.  It's not easy for a shy child to talk to grown-ups.

Message to my seven(!) readers

I spent nearly two weeks away, and spent (during that time) about 15 minutes on Bloglines. 

If you tagged me for something, please leave me a message.  I just deleted about 400 posts in Bloglines because I simply cannot read it all.


[By the way, thanks to the "followers" widget from Blogger, I know now that I have seven whole readers.  (See my sidebar for what that is.)  And none of them are even family members, who actually don't read my blog much.  For some strange reason, they expect phone calls and emails for updates about the family.]

Gas (Updated)

I noticed that gas is at $1.78 at the lowest (between here and Wal Mart, anyway), and we saw it as low as $1.63 in the land of corn. (Virginia has up to 10% ethanol, just like in the corn belt.)

I'll be posting again on the price when I get back from dropping off my gas bill.  Before we left, prices were dropping by nearly a nickel every single day for more than a week.  On Halloween, I spent an hour at the hairdresser's and gas prices dropped two cents while I was there!

I am grateful for the drop, especially when the local electric company is threatening to raise prices an average of $15-20 a month.  (Well, that's for an average bill.  I don't know where I fall on that, since I conserve as much as I can most of the time.)  But I never thought I'd see the underside of $2 a gallon again!  Thank God!

Update, November 18, 11:40 a.m. EST: Last night, on the way to dinner, I found gas for $1.74!  And one price had dropped two cents from Sunday night.  I'll be headed out today again.  I'm so fascinated, and also a bit annoyed with myself for not thinking of taking pictures when prices started to plummet.

Also, I'm not completely certain that it will go up so dramatically next year.  The president has less control over what happens at the gas pump than we like to think (and I'd say the same about McCain - I pointed that out to the girls during the campaign season).  OPEC has a lot more to do with it, as does the hungry emerging nations like China and India.  Supply and demand is a great portion of it.  

I'll expound more on Obama at the Soccer Mom site, which is where I tend to leave my politics.  Right to Life issues reside here, too, since that is also a matter of living my Faith out as a Catholic Christian.  But the bulk of my political ponderings (if you care about them) are at the other blog.

Fascinating Water Fountain in Japan

This is WAY cool, and I'm saving it here to show the family later.

Found at Shoved to Them.


Found at Amy's place.

By the way, this song is in my iTunes library.  ;)

By the Way

Our family trip turned out differently than we thought it would, since God saw fit to put down more than 4 feet of snow in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  We cancelled the rental minivan and the hotel rooms and settled in for a week of visiting in Yankton and Wessington Springs, where Travel Man's mother and grandparents are located, respectively.  Turns out that the cousins all had Monday and Tuesday off from school, so everyone got to play together.  And we ate nearly all the leftovers from Saturday's Thanksgiving dinner.

I'll be posting a TON of pictures when I get a chance to upload them.


President-Elect Obama has promised to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, something that would wipe out all Pro-Life advances with one penstroke.

Find out more here, and sign the petition to stop FOCA.  (The site has the video to go with the text below.)

Sign the Fight FOCA Petition

Over 100,000
150,000 signatures!

Barack Obama is now the incoming President.

And he made a promise to Planned Parenthood last year they expect him to keep.

The first thing I’d do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That’s the first thing I’d do.

Cabin Fever Silliness

The afternoon of November 5, our family packed up Travel Man's magic Matrix with our vacation supplies and left for South Dakota.  We spent two and a half days in the car on the way out, then three days in the car on the way back.  We were a bit stir-crazy, and some of the things we said were absolutely bizarre.  I include myself in this, though I have to say that I didn't seem to write down anything Travel Man said.  Hmmmm...  Maybe that's because he's used to the travel thing.

Anyway, here's a sampling of the weirdness that is my family.

While discussing Big Girl being old enough in a couple years to babysit, and the First Aid course that the Red Cross offers to babysitters:

Big Girl: First Aid?  Does that mean you have to do mouth-to-mouth resurrection on babies?

While waiting for an elevator, Travel Man and the girls frequently play "which elevator will arrive first?" and stand in front of the one they think will arrive first.  Big Girl has discovered that frequently elevators will beep as they leave the floor adjacent to the one we are on, so she cocked her ear, heard the faint beep (I was the only other one to hear it), and stood in front of the right elevator.  Once inside, this exchange happened:

Travel Man: How'd you know this was the one?

Big Girl: Because it beeped.

Travel Man (who did not hear): What?

Big Girl: Because of my awesome mind powers.  [winks at me]


Me (as we drive through Ohio): I can't wait to see Ireland.

Travel Man: I don't think we're going by there today.

Me (noticing signs for cities named after lots of European cities): I'm sure we'll pass through a Dublin ... especially as we get to the old French territories.

Me (as Big Girl reads quiz questions to us): Wait!  We weren't listening.  You can't just plow ahead!

Big Girl: That's why I expect you to pay attention.

Me (as Big Girl plays her travel Tetris game): The song on that game is making me crazy.

Travel Man: ... -er.

Me: Whatever.  It makes me waht to ... [laughing hysterically] ... I nearly said, "Claw my eyes out," but I guess that wouldn't help, would it?


The girls were watching Animaniacs on the DVD player in the back of the car when they asked how soon we'd be home.  Travel Man announced that we'd be home in less than an hour.  

Me: We'll be home by 5!  Three cheers for Daddy!  HIP HIP...

[dead silence]

(Apparently, Pinky and the Brain started talking again and they didn't hear me.)


Some parents might question allowing our girls to watch the DVD player in the car.  While we don't give unlimited usage (they went all day Saturday without it), we are kind of liberal about it.  Here are a couple examples why.  I call this section of the post "Things I'm Glad My Children Didn't See on Our Trip."

As we cruised through East Saint Louis on I-64, we saw a humungous sign that read:


(with lots of truck parking, as the sign pointed out)

On the back of a pickup truck (on the tail gate), I saw a picture of a bull and a cow in a field with big, red letters asking:


Not to mention all the X-rated "Adult Superstore" signs along the interstates.  *sigh*  So glad they were busy with Yes and Know books and the DVD player.

Wednesday, November 5

Wordless Wednesday

We went hiking again!  What a beautiful area of the country I live in.  :)

See more of the hike here.

Monday, November 3

Test Picture

Just trying out my annotation function on the iMac.  (Click for a larger picture.)

Please browse my eBay items. Thank you.

Bad Grammar!

No...not that kind of Grammar...

...the kind the Red Inkwell shows off.

Light to Non-Existent Blogging Ahead!

We'll be headed to South Dakota for an early Thanksgiving on Wednesday night.  So, be good while I'm gone, kiddies.  Don't throw any big parties.  ;)


I have been undergoing a change lately.  I've been very drawn to the idea that a simple life might be better.  Yes, we still have two Macs and a PC laptop, three TV's, a DVR, and lots of other stuff.  But I'm actually paring down.  (And one of those Macs is actually a requirement for my job, as is my remaining PC.)  

When it was time to do the Seasonal Clothes Switch-out, I was dreading it mightily.  Four different sizes of people, two sets of clothes each.  Yuck.

But last Spring, as I was putting my sweaters away, I realized that I wasn't wearing some of the sweaters.  I put them aside.  Then, I packed them all up and donated them to a local community clothes closet: a place that gives away clothing and food to those in need.  Unlike Goodwill, people who need something can walk in and get it.  No money necessary.  While I was packing them up, I also looked at my gazillion T-shirts and decided enough was enough.  I didn't even wear most of them.  Into the box they went.  Dress clothes I haven't worn in more than a year?  In the box!  Hubby got into it, too, and dropped a bunch of clothes into the box.  (Okay, several boxes by now.)

Then I went to switch the girls' clothes.  Hmm...

I called my sister and asked just how much she wanted me to save for her two little girls who are four and nearly two.  "Just the best stuff.  Not a lot."  Okay!

Into the box!  I looked at the jeans Little Girl just grew into and realized that she had about ten (!!) pairs of GOOD jeans.  Yikes!  I saved her coveralls, I saved two other pairs of jeans, I saved the pants that she can wear to Mass.  The rest, INTO THE BOX!  Old winter coats?  INTO THE BOX!

I filled the back of my Jeep twice.

And, guess what?  I have less stuff to store!  Less to wash.  Less for the kids to put away. 

The simplicity isn't stopping there, either.  

Nearly a month ago, my dishwasher broke.  Travel Man can't figure out what it is (he pulled it apart, check online resources, and nada).  So it sits there, empty.  We are loathe to call to pay to have it fixed.  I mean, we could do it, but ... meh.  And to replace it means probably re-wiring something in the kitchen.  (It seems the previous owner spliced the wires for the dishwasher, attached a plug to it, and plugged it into the wall.  No, the home inspector did not notice it.  He also didn't notice most of the other non-code wiring all over the house.  I'm not sure what he looked at while he was here or what we paid him for.  But that's another story.)

Back to the dishwasher.  Not in the mood to pay for fixing it right now, not in the mood to rewire the kitchen and buy a new one, so Travel Man got me two dishwashers.  Big Girl and Little Girl.  I still have to wash some things, but the girls now help.

And I've discovered something.  We actually don't need place settings for twelve.  Or that many glasses.  Or that much silverware.  I used to wonder how the pioneers did it, with one plate for each person and a fork and spoon for each.  But when you wash up after each meal, it's easy!  I'm also very into trying to use as few pots and pans as possible to eliminate that mess.  My kitchen philosophy is changing little by little.

Now, when I see messes in the house, I find myself wanting to give more away.  Not just to de-clutter, but because I also realized that it's a blessing to others.  Our parish will be collecting winter coats for the very community clothes closet that I donated all those clothes to.  I think I actually have a couple of things I can still get over there.  I'm really looking forward to it now.

What have you done to make your life simpler?  Are you decluttering, too?  Hit that comment link and tell!

Who are your heros?


Blog Widget by LinkWithin