Friday, February 26

I Just Gained Ten Pounds Watching This

When I re-join the YMCA in March, can I start cooking like Ree?

And, golly, I think she'd be fun to meet. :)

Great Line of the Morning

Bill Hemmer (Fox News): We watched the summit - all 7 1/2 hours of it ...

Dave Camp (R,MI): I'm sorry.

Blustery Day

It's been our plan to meet as a family on Fridays during Lent to pray outside our local Planned Parenthood. It's a part of 40 Days for Life.

Today, Travel Man and I decided it would not be a good idea for us to go outside this afternoon, especially for the girls. Here's why:

So we'll be meeting in spirit instead.

Big Girl is altar serving at a funeral Mass that begins at 11, and then we'll stay at the chapel - near Christ in the tabernacle - to say a Rosary for the success of the 40 Days campaign.

Think that prayer doesn't help? Or that standing outside Planned Parenthood, merely praying, won't do anything?

Think again:

Learn more about the 40 Days for Life, and please join us, even if only in prayer.

Seven Quick Takes: Second Friday of Lent

Jen is our lovely hostess; please head over to her blog and check out all the Quick-Takers!


My Lenten reading is going pretty well. I am surprised at how deep the Mother Angelica book has turned out to be. Here I thought it would be lighthearted and fun to read. Well, it's lighthearted for sure, but it's no easy-reader. It definitely makes you think about Scripture in new ways.

I really do like how she encourages us to imagine ourselves in the story. I heard a Franciscan talk about this once, years ago, and have used it many times to really internalize the Gospel (and the rest of the Bible). It really came in handy when we read a few Sundays ago about Jesus reading in the synagogue in His hometown, then sitting down and basically saying, "That Scripture - the one about God? Yeah, it's about Me, you know."

Imagine the cacophony!!


Big Girl is nearly done with basketball this season. She has improved even over the last two months, and even though her team hasn't won a game yet (they've got another chance tomorrow evening), I am really proud of her. She also learned to do a layup! THIS is a big deal to me. Layups are a good foundational play to know, especially if you're small in stature. I used to be pretty decent at layups when I was her age.

If she scores in the game tomorrow (and she is putting a lot of effort into accomplishing that), I might have an aneurism. Or heart failure. Or both.


Travel Man said if they win, he'll have an aneurism.


My girls repeat these things and don't know what an aneurism is. I think I keep forgetting to have them look it up in the dictionary.


Tomorrow (I'm writing this on Thursday night), we are supposed to be getting our tax refund. I actually spoke to a lady at the IRS about my refund, and that was what she said. "Your refund should be direct deposited on Friday."

Something really special will happen on Saturday if that money hits tomorrow.

We are going to go to the bank and pay off the last debt we have that isn't on our home.

We will be debt free.

I cannot wait to call Dave Ramsey on Freedom Friday.


I discovered that iPhoto has a really nice photo printing feature. I was looking for a button (duh) and realized that I only needed to look under "File" to find "Print." Kind of like every other program on my computer.

Yes, I used to sell these things. But I was never Apple Care. So there.

Anyway ...

I printed off a gazillion pictures and put them up on our display area in our upstairs hallway. I need to get new artwork from the girls, but here's our 5x7" lineup:


Here's your Meat-Free Friday Dinner! (Or at least a link to it.) I will freely admit that I haven't made this ... yet. But I will. It looks so yummy! It's going on the menu for March, for sure. But if you're looking for your meat free dinner for tonight, get some shrimp and fettucini and go to town. Then let me know how you liked it, if you please.

Thursday, February 25

I &hearts Mac

Dear iPhoto,

I cannot believe that I didn't think to look under "File-Print" for options on printing. You have a beautiful interface for taking digital photos and printing them for framing (or for our nifty wall display)! I am now printing far more pictures than I actually need for the display, which will mean that some of my children's artwork will need to move.

No worries, though; I think they'll forgive me and we'll move things around again later.

I love you, iPhoto! Keep being awesome!

Christine the Soccer Mom

On the Menu ASAP

Our family was supposed to be going to a fish fry on Friday night at our parish, but it turns out we've got a basketball game instead. Phooey. But, that means I might be trying this recipe out instead, which seems a very good thing. If not this week, though, for SURE in March.

Healthified Lemon Shrimp Fettuccine



  1. 8
  2. ounces dried whole wheat or spinach fettuccine
  3. 2
  4. teaspoons olive oil
  5. 4
  6. cloves garlic, minced
  7. 1
  8. pound medium shrimp in shells, peeled and deveined (tails left on, if desired)
  9. 1
  10. cup Progresso® reduced-sodium chicken broth
  11. 1
  12. cup frozen peas, thawed
  13. 2
  14. medium plum tomatoes, finely chopped
  15. 1
  16. teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
  17. 1/2
  18. teaspoon ground nutmeg
  19. 1/4
  20. teaspoon salt
  21. 2
  22. teaspoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  23. 4
  24. slices whole grain baguette-style French bread (optional)


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic; cook and stir for 30 seconds. Add shrimp and broth to skillet. Cook and stir for 3 to 4 minutes or until shrimp are opaque. Stir in peas, tomatoes, lemon peel, nutmeg, and salt. Add pasta; toss with vegetable mixture. Heat through.
  3. To serve, divide pasta among four shallow soup bowls. Sprinkle with parsley. If desired, serve with bread slices.
Search, share, and cook your recipes on Mac OS X with SousChef!

Wednesday, February 24

This is Apparently Written Without Irony

Planned Parenthood Strives to Get Chemicals Out of Its Clinics:

Physicians promise “to do no harm,” but they are often doctoring in the presence of materials that are dangerous to human health. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, which operates 23 offices in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, has joined a growing movement of medical providers seeking to reduce client exposure to such toxic chemicals. “Health Care Without Harm” recognizes these substances have been linked to cancer, infertility and low-birth-weight babies.

I wonder ... do they really not see anything ironic here?

I'm ... Stunned ...

The first place winner drew Jay-Z.

The second place winner drew President Obama.

The third place winner drew Michelle Obama.

None of the winners drew any of these influential Blacks (click on any picture for their Wikipedia bio):

Too long ago? How about the second half of the 20th Century?

(There's REAL musical talent!)

Or what should be some VERY obvious late-20th Century figures:

I can see the president (and, I suppose, the First Lady), but, again, let's look at the winning picture. What do you notice about it? Because, aside from the fact that the child obviously sees a rapper as a role model (warning bells!!!), did you happen to notice what I saw about the picture?

Can someone please tell me why that is an acceptable thing, let alone something to reward with a $500 prize?

[image sources: contest pictures, all other pictures from Wikipedia, hotlinked on each photo individually]

Last minute update before posting:

I decided to put up a video clip of Marian Anderson singing because I was certain she'd be worth it. What do you think? Was she?

(In the video above, she begins singing at about 2:15.)

Follow the links for more.

The Lucky Gift

The Anchoress is right. No extraneous comments are necessary, except to say that we need to be thankful (in all things) every day.

No one knows when "their time" will be.

Go and read. (Grab tissues, ladies.)

Wordless Wednesday: Sugar-Frosted Trees

Tuesday, February 23

Adrenaline Rush

Dear IRS Agent Miss Jordan,

You were very nice to me and very calm as we figured out why our money was delayed. I'm glad our money will be put back into our account this week (God willing), and I will be very sorry to see you unemployed should the Fair Tax be passed.

You really were pleasant, but I'd still like the IRS to go the way of the 8-Track, but with fewer good memories.

Christine the Soccer Mom

Monday, February 22

Travel Man Did It

I clicked, he answered. I only knew two answers for sure on my own.

Proof that Chesterton Was Right

G. K. Chesterton famously said, "When people cease to believe in God, they don't believe in nothing; they believe in anything."

This story is proof of that. The best Captain Obvious Line™ is this:

He also jokes about the Apple store being the closest thing to a church he has “because I am not religious…[but] I loved everything Apple.”

Geez, I never would have guessed they weren't religious. /sarcasm

"Because It's Actually a Government Program They Pay Into..."

Dear FSA Account,

Every time it comes up, you sound like a good idea. But it's not so great to have a handy debit card for my prescriptions when said card will not work at my pharmacy. And, no, I don't want to ditch my pharmacy where they know my name (and voice over the phone) for the big place that doesn't know my name or even care enough to say, "Hey, here are some meds that are covered better so your co-pays are less; ask your doctor."

Don't be offended when we run away screaming next benefits enrollment period when the words "FSA Account" are uttered. Because we decided you are not All That, after all.

Christine the Soccer Mom

Test Post of a Recipe

I'm testing out my Sous Chef program to see how it posts recipes. I might use this and then link to recipes I use for Lenten Fridays.

Mac Daddy Salad

Macaroni Salad


  1. 1 pound elbow macaroni
  2. 1 large onion
  3. 1/2 large green pepper
  4. 1 tbsp. white vinegar
  5. 1 tbsp. BBQ Sauce
  6. 1/2 tbsp. fat-free Catalina dressing
  7. 1/2 tsp. salt
  8. 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
  9. 1 tsp. paprika
  10. 2/3 cup fat-free mayonnaise
  11. Lowery's Seasoning salt to taste


  1. Cook macaroni according to directions without adding salt or fat.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Chill before serving.
Search, share, and cook your recipes on Mac OS X with SousChef!

Searching for the Garden of Gethsemane

I was looking for pictures or maps of the Mount of Olives, and I discovered a site called Jerusalem Shots. It's a site of photos of Jerusalem, and apparently it's organized by site. (Beautiful pictures, too.)

Well, I hit upon it while searching and found a picture of a beautiful tree from the Garden of Gethsemane. There are trees there that Our Lord prayed beneath during His Agony.

© Pes & Lev

But what really got me was the caption beneath the picture (emphasis mine):

The Mount of Olives (also Mount Olivet, Hebrew: הר הזיתים, Har HaZeitim; Arabic: جبل الزيتون, الطور‎, Jebel ez-Zeitun, Jebel et-Tur, "Mount of the Summit") is a mountain ridge to the east of Jerusalem. It is named from the olive trees with which its sides are clothed. At the foot of the mountain is the Gardens of Gethsemane where Jesus stayed in Jerusalem, according to tradition. The Mount of Olives is the site of many important Biblical events.

In the Book of Zechariah the Mount of Olives is identified as the place from which God will begin to redeem the dead at the end of days. For this reason, Jews have always sought to be buried on the mountain, and from Biblical times to the present day the mountain has been used as a cemetery for the Jews of Jerusalem. There are an estimated 150,000 graves on the Mount, including those of many famous figures. Just a few of these include the tomb of Zechariah (who prophesied there), Yad Avshalom, and a host of great rabbis from the 15th to the 20th centuries including Abraham Isaac Kook, the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel.

I am completely blown away.

God is so awesome. Just. So. Awesome.

The Dolorous Passion I

I've been reading The Dolorous Passion as my main Lenten reading. The beginning, as I mentioned, is not difficult to get through. It's amazing how much detail there is in the book. No, it's not Scripture or inspired. It's merely a private revelation, which the Church always gives us the option of accepting or not. Catholic Answers gives us a bit of an explanation (full text is at the above link):

"Throughout the ages, there have been so-called ‘private’ revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium [collective sense of the faithful] knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church. Christian faith cannot accept ‘revelations’ that claim to surpass or correct the revelation of which Christ is the fulfillment, as is the case in certain non-Christian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such ‘revelations’" (Catechism of the Catholic Church 67).

These visions, then, are left up to us as to whether or not we wish to accept them. Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, however, was bound by them, since she was given them. (This site provides much more detail, and New Advent has information on the topic, as well, though their depth often proves a bit much for me. EWTN also has some information on private revelations here.)

Since we've declared Sundays in Lent to be (nearly) electronic-free - no computer, no Wii, no TV - I haven't posted yet on what I've read. I read through the first part of the book, which contains descriptions of the preparation for and the celebration of the Pasch. It ends with Jesus and the eleven (Judas had gone on to finish his betrayal of Our Lord) leaving the Upper Room and going to the Garden.

I mentioned it before: this part is the easiest to read. You are drawn into the story and drawn into the celebration. How could the Apostles have really known, even if Jesus Himself was trying to tell them, that so much could go so "wrong" in such a short time? No wonder they couldn't believe Him!

Some of the details were interesting, such as there being a portion of the Blessed Sacrament left and that it was stored - with a lamp lit nearby - in a space within the Upper Room. This setup gives the impression that perhaps that was the first church and that there was a Tabernacle there. I found this idea intriguing. It also reminded me of our own Holy Thursday Mass, when the priest consecrates enough hosts to remain for Good Friday services. (Good Friday and Holy Saturday are the only two days of the year that there are no Masses celebrated in any Catholic churches in the world. The Easter Vigil, because it begins well after sundown, is considered to be an Easter Mass.)

One thing that is standing out for me during this reading of the book is that Judas is presented as one who has been more and more dissatisfied with Jesus' non-action. To our human eyes, it doesn't seem that He is establishing His Kingdom: the House of David that will never fall, the Kingship that will never end. And Judas' impatience has driven a wedge between him and God.

How often are we this way? I know that there are times when I am impatient with God, when I want Him to just HURRY UP and do something. When I pray for something - something good and wonderful and right - only to be told, "Wait."

I don't want to wait. I'm like a small child in Toys R Us, pitching a fit and kicking on the floor, screaming, "I WANT IT NOW!!!"

But God's time is not ours, and we must all remember that. We can't be like that child. We can't be like Judas, trying to force our timing on God. Patience.

I've begun the next part of the book, as well, which begins with Jesus and his Apostles arriving at Mount Olivet, where Jesus begins to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane. This is where it becomes difficult and emotionally exhausting to read.

First, let me explain a little about that.

When you watch the movie The Passion of the Christ, there are visual elements you might miss. You can't see everything at once, or you might close your eyes at a painfully difficult part of the movie. But when you read about the Passion, you can't avoid it. It's all there, and it's all laid out in front of you.

When you're confronted with Jesus in the Garden, His soul nearly crushed with sorrow over our sins, it's painful to see. He suffers in Gethsemane because He sees the sins of humanity: from the fall of Adam to the end of the world. And when Sister Emmerich says that she sees her own sins among them, you realize that your own sins are there, too.

For me, I realize that my sins are there, and it hurts me to know that I've caused Our Lord this suffering. When Sister Emmerich speaks of those who reject the Faith or the Church, of those who blaspheme, of those who remain in the Church and yet wound her from within, I realize that I'm there. She sees my sins, too. Surely she did not see them as clearly as her own, but there they are.

And the thought that I would see my sins, laid out before me, knowing that they were a cause for the lashes on the back of my Savior, the nails in His hands and feet ... that is nearly unbearable.

When Jesus goes to his Apostles - Peter, James, and John - and finds them exhausted from fear and sleeping, I know this is how He finds me most of the time. Sleeping.

He is anxious, but still, He is their Shepherd. And He is gentle when waking them. "Could you not stay with me but an hour?"

Am I so gentle when I find my own children doing something aside from what I left them to do? This comes up and practically slaps me in the face. Even these great saints, these Fathers of the Church, were not perfect. Why do I expect more from others? Why do I expect so much less from myself?


I'm still in the garden, as far as my reading goes, and it is rather difficult from here on out. I'll update again when I can. I need to take breaks from this book at times, and that's when I'll update from the other books I'm reading this Lent.

Have a blessed and fruitful Lent!

Saturday, February 20


Big Girl: There's a new Webkinz. It's a warthog and it's ugly.

Little Girl: It's so ugly that I did a screenshot of it and then I put the picture in the trash and then emptied my trash!

Friday, February 19

There is No Good Reason for Posting This Video

Except that I saw it and it cracked me up.

Wal Mart and Good Food

Travel Man found a link about how Wal Mart wrote a lovely letter to the president and first lady saying that they're SO excited that the White House is looking to get good food into the hands of more people who don't have access to it now. We're going to do everything we can to help you! they wrote. And I'm sure that the First Family was very excited to have such a powerhouse as Wal Mart on their side to help with their initiative!


Democrats and Lefties are quite good at trashing Wal Mart, at times even the people who shop there. They even work actively to keep Wal Mart out of the very neighborhoods that would benefit from the jobs and the low prices on food and other sundries that a Super Wal Mart carries. (I will admit that link is old, but it is typical of the way Wal Mart is viewed by the Left.)

None of this endears the Left to me - I, who shop at Wally World (and Sam's) about a dozen times a week. I, who shamelessly shop there to cut down on our grocery bills. And the clothes budget. And sports equipment bills. And decorating the home bills. (But not car parts. NEVER for auto parts.)

Don't trash Wal Mart to me, buddy. I'm a big fan of the Happy Face asterisk thingie. (My kids say it looks like the "loading" symbol on a Mac.)

So, anyway, apparently a foodie did a blind taste test with other snooty foodies, using Wal Mart organic foods and organic foods from Whole Foods.

On to the details: Kummer buys two batches of nearly identical groceries at Wal-Mart and Whole Foods. He has them prepared in a restaurant kitchen and invites taste testers to make a blind side-by-side comparison. The Whole Food grocery set cost $50 more, $20 of which is spent on top of the line chicken breasts (Wal-Mart didn't really offer equivalently high-end meat.)

I can tell you that the prices don't surprise me, but the meat thing ... well, I haven't had enough money to shop swanky, so I am find with Wal Mart's lower-end meats. They're better than our local Kroger, where ALL the chicken is frozen before they pop it into the fridge section. And is usually mostly still frozen. If I want to cook chicken breasts the same day I buy them, I'd better be shopping at Wal Mart.

A summary of the results can be found here. Short story is this: they can't get over their snooty selves and admit that Wal Mart does a good job bringing good food to people who can't afford to shop at high-end places like Whole Foods. (We shopped there when vacationing in Alexandria, VA, one vacation - before our Total Money Makeover days - and even then, when I wasn't paying attention to grocery costs much, I was just floored at the prices.) And that's too bad.

But I have a feeling Wal Mart is going to get their message out anyway. And that will be a good thing, overall. Because I think Wal Mart really is serious about helping, and I really think that they can do a great job at helping families eat better.

Seven Quick Takes: First Friday of Lent


Thanks, as always, to Jen for hosting Quick Takes.


It's Lent! I mentioned in previous posts that I'm reading instead of some of the more inane online activities I partake in. I'm planning a post for later today (if I can get to it) about what I've read so far in The Dolorous Passion.

One problem I am finding is that I'm doing other thing instead of the thing I gave up. And also instead of reading. Bad me. I have to really learn to rein in my tendancy towards laziness and wasting time.


So what am I doing? Writing Quick Takes. uh, huh...

But I like the way it focuses me a bit. So here I am.


We still have snow on the ground. The weatherman said that there were about eleven days in January where we didn't have snow on the ground (since mid-December, when we got our first big storm). Amazing! Parts of Virginia have more snow than Anchorage, AK - or at least that was so a couple weeks ago, anyway. Anchorage might have caught up by now.

The girls have mostly enjoyed the snow, too. (If you come by the site, you'll see a new header with a picture of them sledding together.) At one point, though, Little Girl was frustrated because it seemed that it was always snowing on Mondays, which made schools close on Tuesdays and, therefore, caused ballet class to be cancelled. This was not good. She told me one day, near tears, that she was tired of the snow and wanted it to go away.

What she really meant was, "I wish it would snow on WEDNESDAY, pleaseandthankyou."

But this week, she had ballet class, and, yesterday, all was forgiven and they took the morning to play in the snow while it was still here. A good time was had by all.


I chose a book to read for Lent that I cannot find right now. Has anyone seen my copy of Mother Angelica's Pithy and Private Lessons?


Rats. Guess I'll have to keep looking.


I was very motivated to finish my tax returns this year. Very. The IRS predicted it would be direct deposited today, but did not guarantee that. (And I wouldn't believe them if they did.) But there's a really awesome reason for being excited about it coming.

When it comes in, we'll take that and a small part of what was left in my business account and pay off the last of the debt that isn't connected to our home!!!

In two years' time, we paid off a massive amount of debt. We will be, except for our home, debt free! I did not think it was possible.

I've talked in the past about the Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover Plan. When we're done, I think I'll write a detailed story on our journey so far. Paying off the debt is only Baby Step Two. We have four more steps to go to really finish it.

But let me tell you what a relief it is to be able to say that we're nearly done with this step! Travel Man wanted to finish this step by the end of 2010. We're finishing early. When we started out, I thought he was insane. I didn't believe we could finish by 2015, let alone this year.

I'll leave the whole story to a post of its own. It deserves that, and it's a long story, anyway.

But in the meantime, celebrate with us! We're almost there!


We're also managing to get schoolwork done, though I still need to work on the discipline needed to really buckle down. That working from home thing really messed up our groove that we'd had going for a while. But we're getting better, and we're getting work done. I'm also hoping that my Lenten moritifications will assist me in making sure I do what I need to do in my vocation.

The girls, though, are getting to do more science than before, and I'm actually enjoying it. Whodathunkit? Turns out science books from Catholic curricula companies are fun to do.

(When I was a girl, I didn't like science classes because the books all made the assumption that God wasn't there. I did not like that at all. Why does the Emperor Penguin have that pouch? Because God put it there! DUH!)


Let's finish with a recipe for Friday, especially since it's Lent.

Our family keeps Meatless Fridays all year long, so I've learned to look for lots of recipes that meet this need. (Oh, lookit that - a pun!)


Anyway, during Lent I'll include a recipe for you in Quick Takes, in case you're looking for something aside from the Parish Fish Fry. (We're going three times to our parish's - Travel Man is Deputy Grand Knight, and we do everything we can to support the Knights, anyway.)

I know that everyone has Tuna Casserole for dinner during Lent, but I love this recipe for it! It's simple, and it's more sophisticated than Mom's recipe. (Sorry, Mom! I loved yours, but this one is better!)

Oh, man, that'll get me in trouble with Dad.

Okay, so here goes: Weight Watcher's (!) Tuna Noodle Casserole

  • 12 oz. uncooked egg noodles (For fun, you can also use shells or other pasta.)
  • 12 oz. water-packed tuna fish, drained
  • 2 cups button mushrooms, sliced (I usually buy the packages at the store in the produce section, and baby bellas ROCK in this capacity!!)
  • 1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
  • 16 oz. fat-free sour cream
  • 1/2 cup fat-free mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard (Honey Mustard also makes for a nice flavor if you prefer the sweet.)
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme (I skipped this for years because my kids weren't used to many herbs and spices in their food. They've developed a taste for it, though, and make sure I don't forget this part now.)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, or more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper, or more to taste
  • 1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat Swiss cheese or reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese (The Swiss is oh-so-creamy!!!)
  1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
  2. Cook noodles according to package directions without added fat or salt. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. (Or, if you're like me and lack a dishwasher, directly into the pan you'll be baking in. It's okay. You can do that. I won't tell.) Fold in tuna, mushrooms, and peas.
  3. Whisk sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard, thyme, salt and pepper together in a separate bowl; fold into the noodle mixture. Transfer to a 4 quart casserole dish (or 9"x13" pan or a half-sized warmer pan from Sam's - I am ALL ABOUT the easy clean-up, people!); top with cheese. Bake until top is golden and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Yields about 1 cup per serving.

Points (if you're counting): 6
Serves 8. Or, in my family, five, if the kids don't take thirds.

Enjoy! Next week, I'll find something new for you.


Have a blesssed Lent!

Keeping Desires in Check

Here is an explanation of "taking the discipline," a practice it has recently been revealed that Venerable Pope John Paul II participated in. Excellent education for us all! (Father Barron is with Word on Fire, where there are lots of wonderful videos on the Catholic Faith. If you have questions about Catholicism, it's a very good site to gain information and education.)

Found via Insight Scoop, where there are lots of excellent links for more information.

Thursday, February 18

Amazing Snow

I was fooling around late one night and found this post filled with pictures of extreme snow. Here are a couple of my favorites, but please click through - it's a very long post with some really awesome pictures!

Snowed under in the most epic way (somewhere in Switzerland):

Snow being cleared from the Trans-Labrador Highway in northeastern Canada:

Personal note from Soccer Mom: This puts those cars with a foot of snow on them in perspective. I still say, "CLEAN IT OFF!", though.)

There are also pictures of some beautiful ice formations:

Bizarre and Terror-inducing Icicles

Here is an impressive ice formation -
Hard Rime Ice, most often seen atop mountains in winter -

Go see more at Dark Roasted Blend.

What's Wrong with the World I

Not very far into this book just yet, but I definitely like Chesterton's beginning. I've read other books on fixing society - I do have a degree in education, you know, and education degrees contain nearly as much information on how to fix our students as how to teach them (or even content) - and Chesterton's observation that they start with all the problems and then lead up to the Grand Solution to Fix It All is dead-on.

However, he proposes that this is an incorrect way to go about fixing society. First, he says, we must know where we're going with society. What does a healthy society look like? If left to mere humans, we get about 4 billion different ideas. There must be a standard. After all, medicine has that standard of what a healthy body looks like, so doctors all have the same goal: get the body as close to that as possible.

I've yet to get into the second chapter here. I'm taking a little break this morning to work further into The Dolorous Passion. I'm still reading about the preparations for the Passover, so it's easier reading now. (Funny how we're gently brought into the story, and then it seems to go horribly wrong. That must be how the Apostles felt. Here we are, celebrating Passover. Jesus has really been talking about His death a lot lately, but this isn't a night for sadness! And then the Seder is different suddenly and Judas is leaving and John is more upset than anyone else and Jesus leaves before the fourth cup and we're going to the garden to pray. And the garden is quiet, but Jesus ... oh! Jesus what's happening to You? Why is Judas back...? And so reading this book is a lot like being present - a fly on the wall, if you will - at the Passion and Crucifixioin of our dear Lord. I'll write about it in its own post, as it deserves that.)

The weather is warming up here, and so I'm going to send the girls out to play before lunch - while the snow is still here - and take that opportunity to really start reading. A little music in the background, a cup of coffee by my side, and a book in hand.

Sounds about right to me.

Wednesday, February 17

"Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel."

Father Longnecker writes:

Sancte Pater has a nice collection of Ash Wednesday photos. Everyone from the Pope to Premiers and VPs and peasants all are dust and ashes. All receive ashes.

I love that everyone, from the Holy Father down to the least children in our parish, receive ashes today and get the same message:

Remember, Man, you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.

Torturous Ash Wednesday Post

Lenten Reading

I'm giving up certain parts of my online activities for Lent, and instead I'll be doing some spiritual reading.

First on my list is a book I've read before, but is very difficult for me to read (emotionally). It's The Dolorous Passion, which was the book that Mel Gibson read and used to "fill in" details between Gospel accounts when he made The Passion of the Christ (which we watch every Good Friday). Sister Emmerich was a mystic who had visions of Our Lord's Passion and Death and was asked to have them committed to paper before she died.

It is a very. tough. read.

So in between reading that, I'll be working on reading Mother Angelica's Private and Pithy Lessons from the Scriptures and What's Wrong with the World (Chesterton). This will be my first Chesterton book! (I'm a bit excited, especially after reading Dale Alquist's introductory book on Chesterton.)

Not that I think I'll finish all of those, but I do have a couple of other books on my list of things to read. First, there's The Imitation of Mary. It's another difficult read, if only that it forces me to face how far I have to go in order to be the kind of Christian I ought to be. Then I've also remembered that I've got another book that I started and sort of put aside: Introduction to Christianity, by then-Cardinal Ratzinger.

I'll try to post here about what I'm learning (and how I'm doing). I am really trying not to give myself too much to accomplish during Lent; as I learned a few years ago when I tried to do too much, that is just setting me up for failure. However, I am a voracious reader when I'm not occupying myself with time wasters online, so I do anticipate having enough time to get through at least the first three books, if not more. The biggie will be The Dolorous Passion. Like I said, it's a difficult read for me. It's emotionally exhausting. And it is an in-your-face reminder of why Jesus died and what He went through for me.

There are things I'm planning on doing aside from reading more. One that I've already made public is my commitment to participating more in 40 Days for Life. I plan on going (with the girls) to pray outside Planned Parenthood more often - hopefully once a week at a minimum - during this campaign. You, too, can participate in the 40 Days event, even if you aren't able to be there physically. We need prayers - lots of them - and those prayers can be quite powerful. If you can, pray and fast for us and for the 40 Days campaign. Really, you're praying and fasting for those mothers who are contemplating abortion, their children, and those people who work in the abortion clinics across the country.

[image sources: books, 40 Days for Life]

Tuesday, February 16

Too True!

Yes, I cried when I saw this. It's so true.

One of the best ads I've seen during the Olympics.

PW Loves Us All on Fat Tuesday

Oh, my. I might need to do this next year. Or on Easter. This is the full post (From Pioneer Woman's cooking blog) because I'm sharing straight out of Google Reader. And I'm lazy.

Cinnamon Bun Pancakes, and other Fat Tuesday Matters:

TPW_7998It’s Fat Tuesday, also known as Shrove Tuesday, also known as Mardi Gras, which means you get to eat and eat and eat all day today and you won’t gain even an ounce!

Wait…that’s not what Fat Tuesday means.

Okay, I remember now. Fat Tuesday is the day before Lent, the forty-day Christian season of prayer and fasting. Growing up, we called it “Shrove Tuesday” in our Episcopal church, and celebrated every year by having a big, fat, gnarly pancake supper in the parish hall. I loved the Shrove Tuesday Pancakes Supper more than anything. And it couldn’t have been simpler, as they only served two things: pancakes and link sausage. And I used to hide out in the kitchen, sneaking spare links here and there and stuffing them in my mom’s purse so I could have a late night snack when we got home, and…

Wait…did I just admit that?

Over on the Tasty Kitchen Blog, I just posted a step-by-step recipe for Cinnamon Bun Pancakes, submitted by Tasty Kitchen member sapeylissy. I served them two ways: with butter and maple syrup…


And with a white maple icing…


Here’s the recipe:

Cinnamon Bun Pancakes

If you’re serious about having a pancake supper tonight, here’s another Tasty Kitchen post from a couple of weeks ago, which contains many, many links for many, many different pancake recipe. Go crazy and make a couple of different varieties!

Pancakes Galore!

We’ll worry about penitence tomorrow.



As for our house, I'll be making pancakes and turkey bacon for dinner. The kids actually LIKE it better than pork bacon, they've eaten it so long. Sick, I know. Poor things.

Monday, February 15

40 Days of Lent - 40 Days for Life

40 Days for Life will be beginning on Ash Wednesday and going through Palm Sunday. If you are looking for something you can do (as opposed to merely giving up) for Lent, this is an excellent program to join.

How do you get involved? Well, there are a few things you can do. First, and most importantly, you can pray. You can fast, as well, but prayers are so needed. And, believe it or not, this is as important - if not more important - than being at the clinics bearing witness.

But you can do that, too. For 40 days, people across the country in 165 cities will be bearing prayerful witness outside abortion clinics. We will pray not only for the children lost to abortion each day, but for those children's families and for the clinic workers inside.

Don't doubt the power of the prayers we offer. Abby Johnson doesn't doubt them any longer. And she's not the only person who has been touched, whose heart has been changed.

We don't do that, you know. We can't. It's God's work. But we are His hands.

Join us, please. If you can't be physically present, please consider fasting and praying for the intentions of 40 Days for Life throughout Lent.

Who are your heros?


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