Thursday, January 31, 2013

the new game

Have you ever noticed that you can see faces in the silliest places?

A few weeks ago, no 5 was playing with a pair of craft eyes (we call them googly eyes).  She got busy doing something else, and forgot she left them on the dining room table.  I put them together on the end of my finger and casually asked no 1 if she ever felt like she was being watched. 
She looked puzzled and then I shifted my gaze down to my finger with the googly eyes on it.  She nearly jumped out of her skin and then fell over with a case of the giggles. 
Since then, whenever I see a face in something, (a pair of scissors, cloud formations, coins on a table, etc) I will just as casually ask her if she ever feels like she is being watched. 

I love it when she goes limp with laughter.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

yay her! yay me!

No 1 got back from her senior trip to Disney yesterday afternoon.
While she was away, somebody asked me if I missed her.
"No, not really," I replied.  "Mostly I am just so excited for her to have a wonderful time.  So even though I miss her, it's not nearly as much as I'm gonna miss her this fall," I said... surprising myself with a slap in the face from the cold, wet, rag of reality, then fighting back a gasp of emotion.

This was her trip.  I wanted her to completely enjoy herself.  I was so proud of myself that I refrained from being clingy (like I tend to be).  I didn't inundate her with phone calls and texts.  Nor did I insist that she touch base with me every day, although she did of her own volition.

But, y'know, it's funny how the trip had two main layers of meaning. 

  1. For her, it was the last childhood hoorah with friends she has had since Kindergarten.  The last hold on being a carefree kid.... I mean, it's Disney after all.
  2. For me, it was a trial run of being without her, something I thought I'd not be able to do, but at the same time, being graced with the realization that, really and truly, I am excited about what lies ahead for her.
I guess this means we're growing up, doesn't it?

what goes up must come down

In case you hadn't noticed over the past several years, no 4 gets pretty excited about stuff. 
Think: helium balloon

Late last week, he climbed into the car after school and could barely breathe he was so excited about the fact that the next day, his class was going to have a new student!  That would have been thrilling enough in itself, but the main reason he was over the top was that the student was coming from Poland! 

See, this is new and exotic stuff to a seven year old.

Immediately when we got home, he crashed through the door and got on Google translator.  He looked up phrases like, "Hello," and "I'm glad you are here," and then he got distracted and typed nonsensical words to see if he could stump the translator.  Then he decided he would bring his book about the Vatican to school with him the next day to show to his new friend.  We discussed the fact that PJPII was the first Polish pope, so, no 4 was going to point that out... y'know... in case the new kid hadn't yet heard.

So, yeah, um, the story gets a little anti-climactic at this point.

Next day's report:  "He talked with an accent, but can understand English pretty good."

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

special night

When I said my prayers this morning, I thanked the Lord for what was going to be a day filled with graces.  This was one of them:

The face of one
very excited young man
just before he made his
First Reconciliation!
I don't remember being quite as excited about my First Reconciliation as he was about it.... so much so, that, well, let's suffice it to say the span of time between my first and my second confession may have been a tad too lengthy. 
I have since learned that Reconciliation is a beautiful thing and that I should look forward to it with as much zeal as no 4 did this evening.

Monday, January 28, 2013

on becoming a culinary daredevil

After the rutabagas were such a hit recently, I figured this week I would try to sneak in another new vegetable.  

I remember back in 1980 or so, my dad had to have an emergency appendectomy.  Mom took me to see him in the hospital and his main complaint was that the hospital served canned beets every day.  I may have inherited a bias against beets from his hospital cafeteria experience.  
Several times over the past year or so, friends have raved to me about how yummy fresh beets are.  When they see me start to retch, they usually insert the fact that canned beets, like canned pineapple, are a whole 'nuther animal, and are not worth consuming.  Canned beets are surely what Satan must serve for dinner each night, probably alongside calf liver.  
I hope I never have to find out.

I decided it was high time I give them a fair shake, so three beets came home from the grocery store run.

....sounds like the start of a joke, doesn't it?  Three beets walk into a bar... 

After I scrubbed the beets thoroughly, I diced them, tossed them in olive oil, coated them in grated Parmesan cheese, wrapped them in tin foil, and baked them at 450 for about 40 minutes.  They were delicious.  King and I definitely liked them, the kids mostly loved them.  

After dinner we researched the health benefits of beets.  One thing I was happy to learn is that beets contain something called betaine, which lowers homocysteine levels in the blood.  The highly toxic homocysteine makes platelets clot and atherosclerotic-plaque form.  High levels of homocysteine in the blood lead to the development of heart disease & stroke. 

Hrm... I might just be following a trail of beet juice here, but since my dad died of heart related issues, my guess is that he should have learned to love beets!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

ps - real men (and kids) love quiche

So... quiche was what was for dinner tonight.  I made it with a store brand pie crust.  In slicing it, the crust got all crumbly and came off.
Oh darn. 
Falling on the sword with martyr-like bravery, I ate the crust rather than serving slices of quiche surrounded by messy pieces of crust all over the plate. 

No 5 came tipping into the kitchen and peeked around me to check the empty pie pan, then inquired,

"Where's the stem to my quiche?"


I always hated the song "Amazing Grace" when I was a youngster.  Then I grew up and recognized that I was the blind wretch who had been saved.

Now the song reduces me to tears.

Friday, January 25, 2013

very nearly... if only we were playing horseshoes

"Hey Mom, remember that place we used to go to called Sidetrack?"

Sure do.  Yum, they have great hamburgers.

"Yeah, and they had that fun game, Neato."

I think you mean Keno. 

"That's right.  How do you play it anyway?"

Well, it's sort of like Bingo, except you pick the numbers.  And you can win money, sot of like in Poker.

"Oh, I get it.  Sort of like Texas Hold 'Em Up."

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

a stone in my shoe

Presentation Ministries' One Bread One Body daily reflection is in my inbox each morning when I check my email.  Today's was like a stone in my shoe...

....Jesus is also calling you to repent. You want Him to drop the subject, but He loves you so much that He will confront you and bring to a head your rebellion against Him. As the Lord calls for your repentance, what will you do?
Jesus is too insistent on repentance for us to ignore Him for too long. We must either repent or get rid of Him. If the Lord would only "mind His own business" and stop insisting we repent, He wouldn't have to be crucified again (see Heb 6:6). Instead, He keeps bothering us. If He only would shut up, we wouldn't have to shut Him up.
What will you do? What will you do to Him? Will it be your repentance or His crucifixion?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

never fully grown

It's easiest to say the question was put upon my heart...
......but truthfully
it appeared in the "knowing place"
where the Holy Spirit writes upon my soul.
The Conversation Room, I'll call it. 

Is your faith growing? Specifically, how has your faith grown in the past five years? 

Imonna be honest, it's a tough one to answer.  Sometimes I feel as though I am either stagnant or moving backward.  Am I going to Mass more often?  No.  Am I reading the Bible more?  Sort of, but not measurably.  (I am in a group that is studying Scott Hahn's course Our Moral Life In Christ) 

I guess the most growth (albeit reluctant) has been in the times that God has gently reminded me that He is in control.  He has shown me I need to
1) step out of my comfort zone and step onto a stepping stone, the "thin air" of faith - ie going along with King's crazy idea of increasing our tithe by 25% during a year when we need to be socking money away for a quickly approaching tuition due date.
2) step away from anything that distracts me from glorifying God
3) say "no" and not feel guilty about it
Erg, I am such an Israelite stuck for so long in a big desert.  This may take awhile.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

pure genius postscript

A Pinteresting math problem:
empty toilet paper roll
 + dryer lint (we have an endless supply)
fire starter for our new fire pit! 


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

happy hum drum

So each day I check on my new fran, whose name is Pinterest. 

And every. single. day.  I remark how the incredible people who post things on Pinterest are simply genius.  The creativity (I only go on Arts and Crafts/DIY) that these people have been gifted with is mind boggling.   

I mean, a mirror that looks like a chrysanthemum made out of plastic spoons?!?! 


I just got some more brains on my computer screen from my mind being blown away (again). 
"These people are genius!"
my kids keep hearing me say. 

You won't even believe what all you can do with an old incandescent light bulb, or how easy it is to free yourself from the dreaded popcorn ceiling.

But, I will say that Pinterest doesn't talk to me.  I do miss checking on and chatting with my real frans on Facebook.  But, truly, my life has just received an influx of time.  I almost don't know what to do with it.

There is a ribbon of loneliness though, Imma just be honest.
Mostly 'cause that's how I roll.

I am cooking each  night with some of the grand (yet easy-as-pie) recipes my new fran tells me about. 
We eat by candlelight now.  The kids think it is so cool.
Fancy Dinner they call it.
(We connect so much better by candlelight somehow.)

The TV is not on as much anymore either.  Unless it is our fireplace dvd, which is groovy, since our tv is in inside a fireplace mantel. 
Hard to explain, but there is a new-found peace.  We all feel it.  Things are much less..
Not that they really were, I guess...  there's just a happy hum that wasn't audible before.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

cute things kids say

"Salad is so good with Treasure Island on it."

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

every parent needs to read this article

One of my favorite cousins sent me this article.  While owning a blog is narcissistic in its own rite (hm..guilty as charged), this really hits the nail on the head with what is going on in our current society on so many levels.

We are Raising a Generation of Deluded Narcissists
by Dr. Keith Ablow

A new analysis of the American Freshman Survey, which has accumulated data for the past 47 years from 9 million young adults, reveals that college students are more likely than ever to call themselves gifted and driven to succeed, even though their test scores and time spent studying are decreasing.
Psychologist Jean Twenge, the lead author of the analysis, is also the author of a study showing that the tendency toward narcissism in students is up 30 percent in the last thirty-odd years.
This data is not unexpected. I have been writing a great deal over the past few years about the toxic psychological impact of media and technology on children, adolescents and young adults, particularly as it regards turning them into faux celebrities—the equivalent of lead actors in their own fictionalized life stories.
On Facebook, young people can fool themselves into thinking they have hundreds or thousands of “friends.” They can delete unflattering comments. They can block anyone who disagrees with them or pokes holes in their inflated self-esteem. They can choose to show the world only flattering, sexy or funny photographs of themselves (dozens of albums full, by the way), “speak” in pithy short posts and publicly connect to movie stars and professional athletes and musicians they “like.”
We must beware of the toxic psychological impact of media and technology on children, adolescents and young adults, particularly as it regards turning them into faux celebrities—the equivalent of lead actors in their own fictionalized life stories.

Using Twitter, young people can pretend they are worth “following,” as though they have real-life fans, when all that is really happening is the mutual fanning of false love and false fame.
Using computer games, our sons and daughters can pretend they are Olympians, Formula 1 drivers, rock stars or sharpshooters. And while they can turn off their Wii and Xbox machines and remember they are really in dens and playrooms on side streets and in triple deckers around America, that is after their hearts have raced and heads have swelled with false pride for “being” something they are not.
On MTV and other networks, young people can see lives just like theirs portrayed on reality TV shows fueled by such incredible self-involvement and self-love that any of the “real-life” characters should really be in psychotherapy to have any chance at anything like a normal life.
These are the psychological drugs of the 21st Century and they are getting our sons and daughters very sick, indeed.
As if to keep up with the unreality of media and technology, in a dizzying paroxysm of self-aggrandizing hype, town sports leagues across the country hand out ribbons and trophies to losing teams, schools inflate grades, energy drinks in giant, colorful cans take over the soft drink market, and psychiatrists hand out Adderall like candy.
All the while, these adolescents, teens and young adults are watching a Congress that can’t control its manic, euphoric, narcissistic spending, a president that can’t see his way through to applauding genuine and extraordinary achievements in business, a society that blames mass killings on guns, not the psychotic people who wield them, and—here no surprise—a stock market that keeps rising and falling like a roller coaster as bubbles inflate and then, inevitably, burst.
That’s really the unavoidable end, by the way. False pride can never be sustained. The bubble of narcissism is always at risk of bursting. That’s why young people are higher on drugs than ever, drunker than ever, smoking more, tattooed more, pierced more and having more and more and more sex, earlier and earlier and earlier, raising babies before they can do it well, because it makes them feel special, for a while. They’re doing anything to distract themselves from the fact that they feel empty inside and unworthy.
Distractions, however, are temporary, and the truth is eternal. Watch for an epidemic of depression and suicidality, not to mention homicidality, as the real self-loathing and hatred of others that lies beneath all this narcissism rises to the surface. I see it happening and, no doubt, many of you do, too.
We had better get a plan together to combat this greatest epidemic as it takes shape. Because it will dwarf the toll of any epidemic we have ever known. And it will be the hardest to defeat. Because, by the time we see the scope and destructiveness of this enemy clearly, we will also realize, as the saying goes, that it is us.

Dr. Keith Ablow is a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team. Dr. Ablow can be reached at
 Here is a link to the original article

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

small steps

Today is Try A New Vegetable Day at Chez Drool.

So, this morning, I got on Pinterest (uh oh! are you noticing the trend, too?) and saw some clever mom who was putting together something like 34 crockpot-ready meals and freezing them. 
What the What?
Yeah, that's what I said, too.

I read and read and then I decided that her meals were basically for a small family and that I would be 78 years old by the time I finished dicing just the zucchini for that many meals. 

So I started smaller.  I found a couple of cheap, easy, yet healthy meals and made a grocery store list.  I planned on getting ingredients for one meal and meat for three other meals. 

I have a friend, whose name may not be uttered on my blog,
because she gets sort of clumsy when folks mention her online,
and she and a friend of ours would get together on Sundays
and make a gazillion things to serve their families for the week.
I never could get that motivated.  But this morning I thought I'd give it a try.


Oh wait, sorry, I was going to talk about today's new veggie.  Well, I have never bought or cooked this veggie.  It is a root vegetable, apparently a cross between a potato and a cabbage.
It's a rutabaga.
Russian in origin.
Has all the B vitamins and most other vitamin and mineral that your body needs.
Isn't is so cute?
well, in an ugly kind of way.
It was an impulse buy when I was picking out onions.  From now until the time at which they are no longer in season I will be buying them, because, my stars, there are tons of good looking images for recipes using rutabagas.  Just do a Google search for images of them.  Oh, heck, here's what I'm talkin' about. 
Anyhoo, so I watched some youtube video of a lady named Anita who said that she preferred to cut them into chunks and steam them.  That's what I did this first time.... yummo.
So, yeah, super productive kitchen time, because at the same time that I peeled, diced, and steamed those adorable little 'rooter-baygrrs', I also browned ground beef for spaghetti sauce, for shepherd's pie, and made white chicken chili, which my friend Michele (it's my fault if you fall down the stairs since I mentioned your name) taught me how to make a couple of years ago.  Of course, I promptly forgot I knew how to after the first time I made it.  But today, Pinterest reminded me that it was tasty.  
Day 2 without Facebook:  better.  still missing catching up on my friends, but my new addiction ain't too shab.  at least i am more productive with the Pinterest crack.  still haven't signed up for an account. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

our recent scare with no 4

I will preface the story with this statement of fact:

I have always been petrified
(inside... where I hide my inmost thoughts and don't much talk about 'em)
that this child, in particular,
will become medically fragile. 

Friday, December 28th, his fever and energy level were both up and down all day (he had been feeling puny since Wednesday evening).  About 2:45 in the afternoon, he awoke from a nap and told King and I that he was seeing double.  His eyes were crossed. 

He could look left and he could look right  just fine, but when he looked straight ahead, his left eye turned inward.  I immediately called to see if we could get into the pediatrician's after hours clinic.  They told us to come right away. 

Even though our doctor was gone for the day, a nurse practitioner saw him.  She did a neurological exam and did not find anything alarming.  She determined that it was pressure from a sinus infection.  Ten days of Amoxicillin.  She also prescribed eye drops in case he had a touch of conjunctivitis.

He slept through the night and awoke Saturday morning unchanged.  His clever sister (the middle one) devised a make-shift patch and together they decided that he should switch it each hour.  He had a great day playing and running around.  A friend, who happens to be an ER doctor, decided she could "swing by" and check him out.  Another friend shared the phone number of an ENT doctor she knew.  He was expecting my call.  We discussed all the scary options that it could be and the symptoms to watch for.  But ultimately, were all equally stumped.  He added, before we said goodbye, a story about his nephew (about the same age), who was playing quietly by himself in his room and came out to tell his mother that he saw two of everything.  It lasted for 48 hours and went away just as mysteriously.  I prayed that no 4 had something akin to that (or better).

We went to Mass Saturday evening.  He was too embarrassed to wear his patch and decided to leave his toboggan hat, pulled down as far as he could so no one would notice his crossed eyes.  He kept very close to my side.  I encouraged him to go up with me at Communion to receive a blessing, but he chickened out at the last minute.  He continued to our seat, keeping his head down.

After Mass, we talked to two doc friends of ours- one an ophthalmologist, one a general medicine physician.  They were quite concerned (the nervous horror on their faces sort of gave that away) and encouraged us to keep close tabs on him.  Our ophthalmologist friend even said he would go into his office early Sunday morning to give him an exam, to rule out a "yet-to-be-diagnosed" vision problem.  We thanked our kind friends and started to make our way to the exit doors.

It was a very cold and windy evening, and the moment we stepped outside, no 4, who was still glued to my side, his hand clutched to mine, started shivering.  Not just an "gee it's cold out here" kind of shiver, but a "I've been in forty-below-zero degree weather for three hours and even my body's core is frostbitten" kind of shivering. 

Once in the car, everyone is reassuring him that the car will warm up soon.  I had not planned dinner, so I cautiously asked King if he thought it would be a good idea to go out.  I threw out an idea, "Mexican?" and no 4 asked for a bag.  Quickly I handed him a plastic bag and he promptly threw up neatly inside it.

This raised the stakes for me.  We texted our general medicine physician friend who suggested we take him straight to the ER at the children's hospital.  I dropped King and the other kids and then couldn't get there fast enough

The nurse weighed him, checked his height, and before hooking him up to the blood oxygen and blood pressure monitors, she made him tell her what letters he saw on the eye chart.  "Cover your left eye and tell me the letters you see."  He did great.  "Cover your right eye and tell me the letters you see."  Again, he did fantastic.  He didn't get the very last row, but isn't that the row that tells you who manufactured the chart anyway?  :)
"Now, uncover your eyes and tell me the letters you see."  People turned and looked at me when they heard my heart hit the floor and splatter at my feet.  My poor sweet babykins can't see those letters for heaven's sake - he told you he had double vision. 

"Oh, dear!  I'm not sure if I can do that!" he said in a pitiful, wee voice.  But then he turned his head all the way to the right, and looking at those letters from the corner of his eyes, read that dreadful eye chart nearly as good as before.  (So he cheated a little?!  So what?  It was dumb of her to ask him.)

The first doctor came in and gave him the Follow My Finger test and then left. 
King arrived.  We were glad to see him (prolly especially me though).
Another doctor came in and gave him the Follow My Finger test and then told us she wanted to order a CT scan, but needed to check with a third doctor about whether or not it would need to be with contrast.

My chipper little mockingbird asked,
"What do you think is gonna be next, Mommy?"
I don't know, sweetie.  They might want to take pictures of your brain, but I'm not sure what they will decide to do.
"You don't know?  Hm.  Well, I guess it's gonna be a surprise then.  I love surprises!" he said with a melt-year-heart kind of smile.

He got to ride to the CT scan in his hospital bed (his favorite part of the whole night) - complete with elevator ride to the next floor!  He was very good and very still for the scan, which took about a minute.  I would have been curious as to what the machine looked like when it was humming, but he kept his eyes closed and "thought about what the machine was doing."

We wait.  He is extremely thirsty.  And hungry.  And tired.  And getting more frustrated by the minute that they won't let him drink any water or eat any food. 

We wait some more.

He falls asleep and we wait some more.

The very first doctor comes in and tells us that the CT scan looks clear (huge sigh of relief and "Praise be to God!").  Since there is a pediatric neurologist in the building seeing another patient, they want her to come take a look at no 4 before we go.

He is so sweet when he sleeps.
She finally comes into the room and we answer her questions before she wakes him to do her own Follow My Finger test.  She has him turned toward her.  He is sitting on the edge of the bed, legs from the knees down are dangling, his shoulders slump sleepily as he tries so hard to focus on her finger.  Her exam is taking longer than all the others.  He follows her finger, and follows it, and follows it.  She checked the points at which he saw double.  Over and over.  Probably ten minutes. 
"Do you notice that it is improving?" she asked.  We ran around to the side of the bed so we could see.   "His crossed eyes are barely noticeable to me," she added.
We had to admit, it did seem better.  Within a few minutes, he was no longer seeing double.  (Praise be to God!)  I don't know if he was more thrilled or if we were, but there was much rejoicing (h/t Monty Python).
We shrugged our shoulders and decided he needed a little radiation and a nap in the ER.  King and I agreed not to think about the nightmare of the upcoming ER trip bills that would have us seeing double!
And so just as mysteriously as it came on, it just as mysteriously went away.  Prayer, we figured, works wonders.
It has happened just one other time.  A couple of days afterward, New Year's Day, in fact.  We were pulling up in front of my sister-in-law's house (she lives about an hour away) when no 4 awoke from a short nap in the car.  "Oh nooooo," he moaned.  "My eyes are crossed again."  We were stunned.  His patch-making sister got him to follow her finger, hoping it would be just as magical as the pediatric neurologist's finger test was.  Within two or three minutes, his vision was back to normal.  He has not had another episode. 
Did I mention that I have always been petrified that this particular child would become medically fragile?  Still am.  Prolly moreso.


..... are all of a sudden called "Laughing Gas" around these parts. 

I guess with all the black-eyed peas in the New Year's traditional Hoppin' John, and the chili for Sunday afternoon's football games, we've given them a lot of... er... chances to come up with such cleverness.


Day 1 without Facebook:  lonely.  consoled myself with Pinterest, but don't have an account.  not planning on getting one.  just like to see how crafty people are.  even though i am not someone who recycles, i do enjoy seeing the brilliant ways folks r,r, & r.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

a little time away

Taking a break from Facebook for awhile.  I love my friends so much, but don't need to know their every thought, word, or deed.  Nor does anyone need to know about mine. 


Been thinking about it awhile.
It's prolly best,
but of that,
I'm not 100% convinced.
I mean, it is a super easy way to communicate.

Upside: I'll blog more?