Tuesday, August 31, 2010

In the Woods

Here for a few weeks, strikingly visible around just one tree on my walk, and now completely gone.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Saturday Afternoon

They put on their best puppydog faces--big, eager eyes, batting lashes, winning smiles--"Please take us to the log."

I didn't want to go. Grownups have so much to do. Sigh.

Why can't Rebecca stand up straight?

She didn't heed Mommy's shoe advice, and feels insecure in flip flops.
The tempting view from the log bridge:Their coup: getting me to wade. Suddenly they felt free to venture farther and farther up the creek.Heading for home.SOME girls had to change their clothes after this little expedition. :-) No, not me!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Gone But Not Forgotten

David and his bike mechanic shoes have been leaving their marks this summer. Somewhere between packing and leaving, they managed to blaze a trail from the basement.
We'll be sure to remember our darling frequently. ;-)I'm not the best photographer. Believe me, these footprints are much more impressive in real life.

Friday, August 27, 2010


My second baby is off to college . . .
The waterfront at Saint Mary's College of Maryland.
Loading the car wasn't tough. David has a room (not a suite), and shares a hall bathroom, so he needed fewer furnishings than Lauren started school with.Shopping with David is a pleasure. He has strong opinions about electronics, instruments, bikes, and tea, but is relatively easy to please about everything else. And QUICK!
We look at shower caddies: "Sure, that's fine. Does it come in black?" I call from the store, listing prices and qualities of fans: "I'll take the small one. The black one." We peruse the desk lamps: "That looks okay. Does it come in black?" Etc.
We're off!

The dorm is no-frills cinderblock.

The room is small, basic, and cinderblock,

with a view of the courtyard.Unpacking continues . . .Some essentials:Cookies from Grammy
Tea kettle from Mimi and Granddad (no microwaves allowed!)
Technology (mostly black)
Eclectic book selection (Descartes, Plato, Dante, Sherlock Holmes, Calculus, Ophelia Joined the Group "Maidens Who Don't Float": Classic Lit Signs on to Facebook)
I'd say I handled the day and departure well.
Today is when I'm feeling it--choking up when I gave Lauren's birthdate to the dentist's office, wistfully considering stopping the woman with the tiny baby in the Costco parking lot to tell her, "It goes by so fast," (I DIDN'T!), feeling emotionally drained and wishing for a nap (Oh, wait--that happens every day!).
Launching our children, first to college, then into the wider world (not yet . . .) is both beautiful and terrifying.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Small Successes


"It’s important for moms to recognize that all the small successes in our days can add up to one big triumph. So on Thursday of each week, we do exactly that."

I don't think I've done any school planning this week, but that doesn't mean I didn't accomplish anything:

  1. Preparing for Lauren's departure, we celebrated Thanksgiving in August. There's a large, empty space in my freezer now! Last night we ate turkey soup for dinner.
  2. I decluttered a bit with the help of Freecycle.
  3. Preparing for David's departure (this morning!), I wrapped a pile of "Remember that we love you" treats for him to open at school.

Are you enjoying your last days of summer? See how other moms are succeeding over at Faith and Family Live.

And now we're off!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


My mom instituted our family's tradition of "sursies." I think the name is based on "surprise", but that's not the full definition. A sursie is a little, "just because" sort of treat given to someone who needs a lift or that you're thinking of or who would appreciate this little something you've just found. A cherry pitter, holy card, sticker book, or bit of chocolate could be a sursie.

Inspired by a friend, I collected treats for Lauren when she went away to school. I wrapped and labelled them so she could open something from me every other day for a month.

Tomrrow we're driving David to SMCM, so I just finished wrapping his sursies.When he saw the dates he wondered what would stop him from opening them all at once. Yes, I'm relying on the self control of an 18 year old away from my supervision...

And that's why I won't yet tell you what exciting gifts are in those appealingly wrapped parcels. David reads this blog, and I can't spoil his surprise now, can I?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Model Mom

Ouiz has a beautiful post reminding us that we moms are every day setting the stage for our children, teaching them what home is and who God is.

Some quotes:
By virtue of my office, I dictate what home is for ten people.

I'm not a master chef, and yet the way *I* cook is the way my children think things are supposed to taste.

The atmosphere I create here forms what my family considers to be home.

It covers much more than simple homemaking, however. Many, many times I have caught a glimpse of my children watching me as I pray, or read the Bible, or participate in Mass. What are they seeing in me? What sorts of lifelong perceptions of God have they formed in their heads because of my actions?

May the Lord repair what I've done badly, and may He bless all the good that has been done in this family!

Read her whole post here.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Thanksgiving in August

For as long as I can remember, Thanksgiving has meant 30 plus people at my parents' house, eating, drinking, eating, praying, eating, and socializing.

This year, for the first time, one of my babies will be missing. Lauren will be in Europe for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years'. Waah...That (plus the 20# turkey sitting in my freezer) was my motivation for yesterday's Thanksgiving feast. I prepared a scaled back version of the traditional dinner, but it hit the high notes: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cran-raspberry sauce, and veggies. No sweet potatoes, no homemade rolls, and one dessert choice instead of a dozen, but what we had was yummy.

Following a Cook's Illustrated recipe (from 2008), I cut the turkey apart. Saturday night I made broth with the back and wings, and on Sunday roasted the breast and legs (now just a little over 10#).Separating the pieces helps the dark meat finish cooking before the breast dries out, and the whole operation takes much less time. It roasted on a rack over onions, garlic, celery, carrots, thyme, and broth. The broth went into the gravy. Since we tend to serve our turkey already carved,there was no whole-bird tableside presentation to spoil.AND I didn't dry out the white meat! I've cooked only a handful of turkeys in my life, so getting it right is NOT a no-brainer.

Homemade cran-razz is an easy family favorite. I'll post the recipe soon.We didn't forget Dusty.Oh, the one dessert? Lauren and I decided on a pumpkin cake. I considered making pumpkin ice cream to accompany it, but Lauren was intrigued by a recipe for nutmeg ice cream in one of our cookbooks. That got my brain spinning, and I found a recipe for eggnog ice cream online. Yum!

It was eggier/more custardy (duh) than the recipe we had, and called for a teaspoon of nutmeg plus 2 Tablespoons of rum. This ice cream was quite popular, and a perfect foil for the cake.We'll miss our girl in November, so I'm glad we made the effort (Did you see the real, hand washed china?) to celebrate early.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Foolproof Recipe for Grit

No, I am NOT talking about breakfast food... Ingredients
1 dog with long fur and short legs
tall grass, sprinkled with dew (puddles are optional)1 unpaved trailProcedure
  1. Walk with dog along dew-lined trail.
  2. Return home.
Yield: One belly coated with grit.Hosing off is highly recommended before serving (allowing back in the house).

This dirt cannot be removed with just a towel! It's entwined in Dusty's fur and fastened by dampness. Left alone, it falls/rubs off as he dries, sometimes in a pile where he's resting. He doesn't like being rinsed, but resigns himself once I step on the leash.

The other day, as Len watered the garden, he wondered why Dusty ran away as soon as he picked up the hose. That was one question I knew how to answer. :-)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Who Deserves Help?

Right now I'm not thinking of the big picture, socially, politically, or whatever. I'm wondering about who deserves my help--financial, emotional, practical, spiritual--on an intimate, personal level.

Does he have to be grateful? What if the problem is her fault? Should he be sorry if he's brought this on himself? Does she have to ask for help? Will he learn his lesson? Does she need to pay me back (with a favor/help)? Etc. etc. etc.

I've struggled with these sorts of questions, including one day while my mind was wandering (an all too common occurrence) during the rosary. On a Friday. During the Sorrowful Mysteries.

So Jesus died on the cross for all of us sinners. He didn't wait to be asked. He knew many of us wouldn't be grateful, wouldn't care, might not even know what he'd done--didn't DESERVE his love. He suffered anyway, to save us all, you and me.

That must be my answer, the example I'm meant to follow. I already know it's not easy. Sometimes I care more about fairness than mercy. Lord, help me.

"But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Small Successes: Setting the Bar Low


"It’s important for moms to recognize that all the small successes in our days can add up to one big triumph. So on Thursday of each week, we do exactly that."

Some weeks my achievements are indeed diminutive. Take now, for example:
  1. I wrote a heartfelt, profusely illustrated blog post about . . . tablecloths.
  2. I made it to daily mass. Once.
  3. I pulled the 20# turkey from the freezer far enough in advance to completely thaw, in the fridge, by this weekend.
How are you doing? Be encouraged by my baby steps or inspired by other moms here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

In Praise of Tablecloths

Our kitchen table has grown with our family. It's now a 4' x 8' sheet of particle board (coated with polyurethane, edges rounded) lying on top of the original table. We can easily seat 12, so there is usually room to spare. :)Even when our tabletop was more attractive than it is now, I used tablecloths. Why? Two reasons: they look better and are easier to clean than a bare table.

I'm sure you agree that the cloths are attractive. The table looks dressier whether it's set for a tea partyor an ordinary dinner.And, oh my goodness, it's so much easier to tidy the table than it used to be!

Old Way:
  1. Get everything off the table.
  2. Wipe off the crumbs.
  3. Soap up the surface, or at least the grubby areas.
  4. Wipe off the soapiness (the worst part!).
  5. Put back candle, napkins, etc.
New Way:
  1. Get everything off the table.
  2. Roll up the table cloth.
  3. Shake off crumbs.
  4. Put cloth back on the table, or trade out for a clean one if necessary.
  5. Put back candle, napkins, etc.
Okay, it's the same number of steps, but shaking a cloth and putting it back is a hundred times easier than wiping the table, especially a big one that's hard to reach across (even for a grownup!). My children all prefer the "new way."

Are you convinced now?And please DON'T cover your cloth with plastic! It doesn't look better, and you'll have to wipe that thing off just like a plain table. Get some linens and toss them in the laundry when they get grubby. You're doing laundry, anyway, aren't you?Yes, this qualifies as grubby. ;-)

A pattern on the cloth keeps it looking fresh longer. I find most of my tablecloths at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. They've got expensive ones, but most of mine were $20 or less (60" x 120" !). Remember those awesome 20% off coupons!*

I do use a fuzzy cloth/vinyl liner between the table and the linens. It cushions a little bit and protects nice tabletops, only needing wiping after massively messy spills.

*I've never seen this advertised, but the BBBs around here will allow you to use one coupon per item, and they don't enforce the expiration dates. I keep a stash . . .

One more thing: I don't know if you noticed the candles, but we have wreaths and novena candles in the appropriate liturgical color of the day. You can read about that project here.