Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Miller Family Update

We are busily preparing for:
another houseguest expected to arrive today,
as well as a small Whiz Bang Science Experiment Party for my son’s classmates tomorrow,
in addition to my two daughters’ participation in the Sound of Music production at our church,
on top of education fair projects for all three school-age children, all due on the same day!

I figured I might get sidelined by all this and not be able to blog through this coming weekend, so I wanted to give you some promised updates.

1. The baby is sleeping through the night, and napping too! I appreciate this all the more, for the struggles we went through with this, and which I chronicled for you all over the past few months.

2. I am still working on getting into shape, and found two great programs on the Fitness channel. Bodies in Motion and Total Body Sculpt with Gilad. The first is more aerobic, and the second focuses on muscle training.

3. The demerit system is working! The children have been faithfully making their beds each morning, and seldom leave clothes lying on the floor. This also worked to eliminate any nagging or yelling on my part. I simply leave a demerit in the offender’s room and tally it on my notepad.

Sadly, we received news yesterday that an old friend of ours died of a drug overdose this week. He was only 40 years old. We would appreciate prayers for his family.

Finally, I had to reinstall my internet software and have temporarily lost the ability to upload pictures! I hope to have this fixed next week.

Allelujah! He is risen!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Our Family's Easter

Easter Sunday had its ups and downs, as do all days.

It started at a little after midnight.

When my little brother and I went food shopping on Saturday night, we picked up six half-gallons of ice cream. He put them on the conveyor belt in a pyramid, hoping to cheer up the cashier, who was in a grumpy mood. It didn’t work; she was ready to sign off work and her smiles had been completely worn out.

I figured we were safe to give up our Lenten ice cream fast after the sun had gone down, but I waited until after midnight anyway. It was my favorite kind: Edy’s Chocolate Chips. And it tasted twice as good for having given it up for 40 days.

Fast-forward eight hours to morning. For the third year in a row, my eggs came out soft-boiled and were not edible. They certainly were pretty, though.

We got to the 11:00 Mass ten minutes early, but still could not find a pew where we could all sit together. There was a run-over service in the parish hall, so we went there. My toddler would not stop talking in church and I spent most of the mass out in the hallway. The few times I tried to go back in, she would say something and I was given some looks that could kill. My seat had been taken as well. My only consolation was my remembrance of that beautiful Good Friday Mass I had been able to thoroughly enjoy.

I had asked our good friends to be at my house promptly at 1:00 so that we could have an early dinner. They were there on time, but we did not eat early. I had gotten an eleven-pound smoked ham, which I had thought was precooked and just needed to be heated up. When I peeled off the instruction sticker, I realized with horror that it would take 4 hours at 350 degrees to cook the ham.

I called my mother, who had taught me the quick way to bake a foil-wrapped turkey. It turned out she had made the same exact mistake as me, and she too was waiting for her ham to bake down in Tennessee. She was not sure if the turkey trick would work with pork. I put a cover on my baking pan and upped the temperature to 400 degrees.

My friends had brought The Sound of Music on DVD. It was perfect for the waiting time; dinner was ready in three hours. I apologized up and down. My friend was happy she had finally been able to get her husband to watch The Sound of Music.

After dinner, the kids went exploring in the woods while I got ready for dessert. They had an awesome time!

My brother had a 7:30 AM flight out of LaGuardia, so we watched a late movie, took a power nap, downed some English Breakfast Tea, and drove to Queens at 2:30 in the morning. The drive was easy, with no traffic in the middle of the night, but I was still nervous about encountering drunk drivers. It turned out I mostly shared the road with truckers, which was just fine with me. I was very happy to be home.

I put on an Alfred Hitchcock film and fell asleep on the couch around 5:30 AM. The kids were on vacation and helped me take care of the baby until I woke up for good around 11:30.

Fast-forward to evening, when I was able to enjoy yet another bowl of my favorite ice cream!

Allelujah! He is risen!

Artwork above:
Fra Angelico, 1400’s
The Resurrection,
San Marc Museum, Florence.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Trembling Before the Cross

[I am a few days off schedule with my blogging due to an unfortunate computer virus I contracted over the weekend. The upside is I finally ordered DSL and virus protection! I wrote this post prior to my internet problem.]

On Good Friday, I was able to leave the children at home with my little brother and attend Mass by myself, for the first time in perhaps over a decade.

I was able to pick up the reading and really let the words sink in.

Last year, there was a large wooden cross, before which you would genuflect or kneel briefly, then be on your way. Today the altar server held a medium-size crucifix. I saw the people ahead of me all bend and kiss it.

I started to get nervous about kissing the crucifix. It seemed to me so much more weighty an act then kneeling before a plain wooden cross.

As I approached, my entire body started to tremble, and my eyes filled with tears.

I kind of kissed it with my nose, so as not to get lipstick on the cross, and went back to my seat with tears streaming down my face.

Happily, I did have one tissue in my pocketbook, and was able to pull myself together before receiving Communion.

I took the Host and felt my entire self fill with its Wholeness.

It was a blessing I will not soon forget.

Hallelujah! He is Risen!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Things We Found in the Freezer

My little brother arrived today and we immediately launched into a frenzy of Easter activity. We colored eggs and made chocolates. Some of the molds were from our childhood home when the entire family lived on Long Island.

As we shifted things around the freezer to prop up the cooling chocolates, we found some interesting items.

1. A snow bunny. About 8 inches high, my nine-year-old had created this from our one good snow and put it in the freezer for preservation.

2. A tooth in frozen milk. When above-mentioned child lost a tooth and we were uncertain as to whether it was a baby tooth or adult tooth, I hastily put the tooth into a small container of milk and stuck it in the freezer – just in case.

3. A small container of dead fish. When some aquarium fish died over the winter, we put them into a container so that we could later bury them, when the ground was unfrozen.

We all had a good long laugh. The items are still in the freezer. They will still be good for another laugh at a later date.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Merry Heart: This Mommy is so Gullible!

I had a beautiful time yesterday, doing Easter errands on a lovely day with my toddler in tow. The one thing I hate about driving with her is that I have to keep her in the backseat, where I cannot frequently look at her. It was worse when she was under one year and had to face backwards. Now, at every red light I look back and we exchange smiles.

During the silent drive, I thought of a funny incident from the night before.

My nine-year-old daughter is a dreamer with quite an original sense of humor, colored by the depth of her imaginative abilities. While she was making lunch the other evening, she said, “We had a new substitute teacher today.”

“Oh?” I asked.

My husband sat at the table silently, doing a crossword puzzle.

“Her name is Mrs. Cowshack.”

(I am changing the names slightly for this story.)

My older daughter added, “Not Mrs. Koshak – this is a different one.”

“You’re kidding, right?” I asked.

“No,” said my nine-year-old, “This one has short, curly, blonde hair, and she always wears a dress. Today it had a really poofy skirt.”

“Oh,” I said, “How interesting.”

“Do you believe me?” she asked.

“Of course,” I answered, seriously.

“I was just kidding! It was just Mrs. Koshak.”

The girls burst into giggles, and my husband let out a loud guffaw. I had to laugh, myself.

I always believe my children. I never lie to them – not even about light matters such as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy. I believe that by being honest with them truth will be embedded in their souls and they will return the favor by being honest with me.

But this was intended to be a joke – on me.

What is it about tricking one’s parents that gives kids such a thrill?

Or catching us in a mistake, usually one of verbal wordage.

I think, especially in more authoritative homes, where Mommies and Daddies are respected as Knowing Everything, it gives them a welcome break from being the low people on the totem pole of Knowledge.

As I recalled the scene, I laughed so hard that tears came down my cheeks.

I moved my rearview mirror to catch another glimpse of my littlest one.

She may be the littlest, but certaintly not the least.

“Laughter is the heart’s best medicine.”
Proverbs 17:22a

Drawing above:
James Tissot, 1896-1900, David Dancing Before the Ark

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Mental Illness and Abortion

Royal College warns MPs that women should be warned about risks of mental illness after abortion. Read the article here:

Monday, March 17, 2008

What's Red and White All Over?

I suppose it happens to every mother at least once.

I pulled the white wash out of the drier late last night and repeatedly moaned, “Oh no. . .oh no. . .oh no. . .”

“What’s the matter?” my husband asked.

“Somebody must have left a red crayon in their pocket. . .”

Every single item was streaked with red lines. The drier, too, was streaked red inside the drum.

After examining each piece, I realized there were no pockets in any of them.

“The baby must have stuck a red crayon in the laundry basket,” I said.

“Go ahead, blame the baby,” my husband joked.

I put everything back in the washer, and dumped a few cups of bleach in, letting it soak for a half hour and hoping for the best. I let the machine complete the cycle before going to bed.

When I woke up this morning, I again pulled each piece out, one by one. A few socks had been spared, and the dish towels were worn ragged to begin with, but all the undershirts, and especially all of my son’s uniform shirts, were irreparably harmed. I found the real culprit, a pair of Spiderman undies with a red waistband. Who in their right mind would invent such a horrid thing?

I tried one more wash with about a quart of bleach. Some pieces came out a little better, but my son was going to need a whole new set of uniform shirts. Good thing he has gym tomorrow, and will need a white shirt for only one more day before Easter vacation. He was growing out of that size anyway, I further reasoned, trying to mentally minimize my loss.

Today is the traditional day to go to confession before Easter, and I thought my laundry problem could physically represent the need to have our sins washed away by the Blood of Jesus. We can do all the good works we like to wash our dirty laundry but only He can take those red stripes of sin away. By His Stripes we are healed.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrightousness.”
I John 1:9

Painting above:
No. 33 Scenes from the Life of Christ: 17. Flagellation
Fresco, 200 x 185 cm
Cappella Scrovegni (Arena Chapel), Padua

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A New Blogger is Born!

Check out this new blog, “There’s No Place Like Home”, by Loren Elizabeth Christie.
Loren is a Catholic stay-at-home mother of three with a journalism background. She has also taught English Literature, and it shows in her quite literary style. She is active in youth ministry and the pro-life community here on Long Island. Her writing is both insightful and humorous! I have met two of her children and can tell you they are quite a hoot, as you will see from her stories.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Continuing in Our Fasts

Following my husband’s lead, the entire family has given up ice cream for Lent. Kevin and I have replaced our late night bowl of dairy delight for popcorn – lots of popcorn. We are really getting sick of it! Lately I have been having this vague desire to drive to the food store and pick up some ice cream.

Now I have a great excuse of having an ice cream–loving houseguest arriving next week. I plan to go food shopping on Saturday night, and was toying with the idea of abandoning our fast and stocking up on ice cream. Only so that our houseguest could feel at home, of course.

Kevin said no. We had made this commitment, we have stuck with it thus far, and we were not going to give up now.

After exploring my reasoning I realize I really want to buy ice cream for myself, not my houseguest. He would be equally happy with my homemade cake, cookies, or – yes – popcorn.

Perhaps we can allow ourselves a celebratory meal (in honor of our guest, of course) one day next week and go out for ice cream, but we will not bring it into the house.

I pray I can keep my resolve and walk quickly past the frozen dairy case this Saturday evening.

Whenever I talk about fasting, I always put this up as a reminder, especially for many of my readers who are pregnant or nursing.

Those who are excused from fast or abstinence:
Besides those outside the age limits, those of unsound mind, the sick, the frail, pregnant or nursing women according to need for meat or nourishment, manual laborers according to need, guests at a meal who cannot excuse themselves without giving great offense or causing enmity and other situations of moral or physical impossibility to observe the penitential discipline.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

If you enjoyed this post, or you are faltering in your fast, you might enjoy reading my post on “Failing in Our Fasts”.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

One Million Rosaries for Unborn Babies: A Letter from St. Michael the Archangel Organization

"And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them in like
manner." (The Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, according to Saint Luke, chapter 6, verse 31)

P.O. Box 41257
Memphis, Tennessee 38174
(901) 725-4115

Dear Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller,


I am writing to let you know about the Saturday, May 3rd, 2008 ONE MILLION ROSARIES FOR UNBORN BABIES prayer event.
The Saint Michael the Archangel Organization of Memphis, Tennessee is coordinating this prayer event which is designed to have at least one million people throughout the United States pray the Rosary within one particular hour for the following intention: For an end to the surgical and non-surgical killing of unborn babies.

The Saint Michael the Archangel Organization's website contains much information, including: 1) how to register to be a participant in the ONE MILLION ROSARIES FOR UNBORN BABIES prayer event; and, 2) how a person may promote this pro-life prayer event. The website address is:

I do hope you will be able to register today to be a participant.(Just go to the above-mentioned website and click on "Register as a participant". It may take you about one minute to register.) Also, between now and May 3rd, I hope you will be able to do one or both of the following:

1) Forward this email to people you think would
be interested in the ONE MILLION ROSARIES
FOR UNBORN BABIES prayer event;

2) Print out the "Information Page/Bulletin Insert" that is
available at the above-mentioned website. Then, ask that
your parish: a) make copies of it; and, b) insert them into
the parish's bulletins.

You may go to the home page of the above-mentioned website to see the count of the number of people who plan on participating in the ONE MILLION ROSARIES FOR UNBORN BABIES prayer event. The count started on February 4th, 2008. Hopefully, by May 3rd, 2008, the count will be at least 1,000,000.

Please contact me if you need to:
(I am a parishioner at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in the Diocese of Memphis in Tennessee.)


Patrick Benedict, President
Saint Michael the Archangel Organization

p.s. While at the Saint Michael the Archangel Organization's website, please consider reading about and taking part in the petition effort to Pope Benedict XVI.

p.p.s. If you would, while at the above-mentioned website, please consider going to the "donations page." Presently, the Saint Michael the Archangel Organization could use some help.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Our Little Observers: Talking to Kids about Contraception and the Media

We had a respite from the cold weather early last week, with breezy fifty-degree sunny afternoons. I was able to get on my bicycle a few times, with my toddler in her safety seat.

I would check every once in a while to see how she was reacting to her ride. She was just taking everything in, quite calmly and peacefully.

Something made me think of the Peanuts cartoons, in which Rerun, Linus’ little brother, would be pictured sitting on the back of his mother’s bicycle. You never actually saw the mother, but she was there by implication.

Thwack! A branch would hit him in the face. Thunk! They would go into a hold in the road. Bunk! They would go over a bump in the road. There was nothing Rerun could do but choose a reaction to whatever was coming his way.

For some reason, I thought of this again as I puzzled over how to handle a commercial my children had unwittingly witnessed.

On Saturday afternoon, I chose a movie on the Women’s Entertainment channel for my children to view. I had seen it and considered it a family film, with a dog for one of the main characters. I was going to and fro, getting this and that done, when I passed through the living room and froze.

I was absolutely shocked that, on a Saturday afternoon, on a network included on my “family package”, they were showing a commercial for Mirena, an intrauterine device. I had seen the commercial myself late at night, and knew it by heart. I was coming in at the end, and it was too late to turn it off.

A big, beautiful house, two parents with three children and a dog are shown. “Not planning to have another child in the next five years? Have we got the perfect solution for you.”[paraphrased] Scenes are shown of the beautiful family having lots of fun in front of their big beautiful house. “And if you should happen to change your mind, it is easily removed.”[paraphrased] The family is shown with a new baby.

I really didn’t know how to handle this. My children were too young for terms such as “abortifascient”. Yet they were being thrown images that convey the idea that babies are an inconvenience, that having material things was more important than the spiritual, and that it is okay to place unnatural devices into the uterus God gave us in order to prevent pregnancy.

I hoped the commercial had gone over their heads. And if not, the life we are leading goes contrary to those messages, and should show them that they are false, right?

But later that night, it was still bothering me. Somehow these messages get into the subconscious and build there, so that if we don’t fight them, the children grow up with the media’s portrayal of sexuality as part of their psyches.

So during lunch after Church on Sunday, I said to them, “Do you remember that commercial that was showing during the movie…” describing the commercial. Vaguely, they did. I explained in children’s terms that we as Catholics do not believe it is good to place unnatural devices in our bodies to stop babies from being conceived.

I went further, analyzing the tricky ways the commercial tries to convey images of materialism and values that go counter to our own. They caught onto my wavelength here, and had some ideas of their own to add. It was quite a fruitful conversation.

I will not be allowing WE movies to air in my home with the children’s viewing unsupervised again.

If you enjoyed this article, you might want to read my post on “Explaining Abortion to Children”.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Demerit System

I shook my head in dismay as I went into each of my school-age children’s bedrooms this morning. Each of them had neglected to open their blinds (to let their houseplants get sunlight) and make their beds. The girls had forgotten to pick their clothes up off their floor.

I have yet to find a punishment or reward system that will work to get the girls to clean their rooms. This seems inconceivable to me, as I always kept a neat room when I was a child. I loved to organize, and had always assumed that all little girls did too. My son, thankfully, seems to have a built-in organizational mind and tends to keep his things more or less in order.

A light bulb went off in my head. I sat down at my desk with some paper. “1 demerit,” I wrote, “Bed not made”. I cut a hole in it and put it on my son’s doorknob. For the girls I wrote, “2 demerits. Bed not made. Clothes not picked up.” This gave me an instant sense of satisfaction.

When the children came home, I greeted them with, “You’re not allowed to throw out your demerits.”

“Huh?’ they asked.

“I gave you demerits. They are hanging on your door.”

They rushed up to see. They all burst out into giggles.

None of my children have ever gotten demerits at school. It seems that they are seldom given out, and I always hear about it when one of their classmates gets one.

I, on the other hand, used to go to a very strict parochial school, where I got demerits on a daily basis. Passing notes, whispering, and being late to one’s desk were all causes for instant demerits. Three in a day got you detention. I served my time; as there was no late bus, my parents had to come pick me up late on those days.

“What do we have to do to get more demerits?”

“Does the person with the least number of demerits get a prize?”

As the questions came, I worked out the system out loud. One demerit equals ten minutes of time doing a chore, of my choosing, and most likely of the type they most disliked. The demerits would most likely be worked off on the weekend, but if I needed them to do something on a weeknight and their homework was done, it could be done then as well.

My nine-year-old finished her homework early and I asked her to take the baby while I cleaned up after dinner. She worked off her twenty minutes.

This could work out nicely! I am already thinking of all the things I can get them to do this weekend. I will be sure to let you all know how our new system works out!

Picture above:
Third prize winner of the National Messy Room Contest sponsored by Kodak.

Monday, March 3, 2008

My Next New Pair of Jeans…

...Will not be made by Levi’s.

I am not a fashionista. My favorite garb is a pair of jeans and a sweater or t-shirt, depending on the season. I was never loyal to brands either, until I met my husband.

Kevin is a no-nonsense, low maintenance, jeans-and-t-shirt kind of guy. In his profession he is able to wear his favorite jeans and sneakers all day long. This is one of the things he enjoys about being self-employed.

For some reason, he has always worn Levi’s jeans. It took a while for me to understand this. But after buying him a few different brands, I realized that Levi’s wore better than the other brands, and I never had to question whether or not a specific line would fit right. I started wearing them, and now that is all I have in my jeans drawer. Six pairs of jeans, in black and various shades of blue, all Levi’s.

I was in for a shock, therefore, when I read this month’s issue of Life News. It announced, “Life Decisions International (540-631-0390) has released its latest edition of “The Boycott List” (dated December 2007). Since publishing its prior list, Sears has been dropped from this list of companies funding Planned Parenthood Federation. A new edition to “The Boycott List” is Midas (mufflers). You can express your displeasure to Midas CEO Alan Feldman, 1300 Arlington Heights Rd., Itasca IL 60143. Whole Foods Market, Nike, Levi Strauss, and Clif Bar are among the corporations still on the list as contributors to Planned Parenthood.”

I have also been enamored of the Nike brand, since I started shopping at a local Nike outlet when I outfitted my children for their first season of track-and-field. No more Nike for us.

If you see us wearing these brands, it is because I simply cannot afford to replace all of our jeans and sneakers. However, I will not be buying these brands until these companies stop contributing to Planned Parenthood.