Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Back onto the Volunteer Path

If you’ve been following my blog you might think I am down on volunteerism. I think if you have the calling, and you have enough time and energy AFTER fulfilling your duties to your family, it is a natural fulfillment of the “works” part of our faith. What I am down on is exhausting oneself in too many avenues so that there is not enough left for the family at home, as well as one’s own spiritual development.

Sometimes it is necessary to pull back in some of these areas. Maybe a child needs some extra attention, or you or a family member are ill. In the past, I have had the tendency to accept too many commitments, and I had to go cold turkey when my fourth child was born. It’s kind of like my obsession with books. I have way too many, and know I am incapable of walking into a book store without buying more – so I try to stay away from book sales of any kind, unless I have a real need for a specific book. For three years I have avoided any kind of sign-up sheet, knowing just one more thing could put me over the edge. (Read about the bake sale that almost broke this camel’s back.)

After the birth of each child, it takes me a bit longer to get used to all the extra responsibilities, before I feel like I’ve gotten into the swing of things and can take on more. Almost three years later, I am finally ready to take on the commitment of catechist once again. I really feel great about this, mostly because I get to be my own child’s teacher in preparation for her Confirmation.

When I taught the sixth grade religious education class, I found that I learned as much from the experience as my students did. I loved to hear what questions they had, even if I didn’t know the answer yet. I would write them down and eagerly research a response. In the preparation of my classes I would dig deep into scripture, the Church documents, and the lives of the saints, and found myself developing spiritually as well as in my knowledge of the Church.

The religious education director at my parish sees me quite often in a variety of capacities, especially now that I have a son ready to make his First Communion. She answered the bell today, asking how she could help me. Usually I have some kind of request for the pro-life group or a question about the Communion. I was here to help her, I replied. Relief washed over her face. I had thought I might have trouble with my request to teach my daughter’s eighth grade class, but she happily gave it to me.

It was with great excitement that I walked out of the religious education office with my hefty teacher’s manual, food for thought over the summer. I’m ready to order myself an official copy of The Catechism of the Catholic Church and give myself a good education. And I will be tuning in to EWTN as often as possible to see what those great teachers have to offer my soul.

Painting above: The Calling of St. Peter, Hans Suss von Kulmbach, 1514-16

Monday, April 27, 2009

“My Vocation, Love: 1896”: Chapter 9 of “The Story of a Soul”*

I have been reading “The Story of a Soul”, by St. Therese of Lisieux. (See below for links to my previous posts on this book.) This chapter is comprised of what had been known as “Manuscript B”, and is written in the form of a letter to her older sister, Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart.

Therese narrates a dream she had in which the Venerable Mother Anne of Jesus told her that she did not have long on this earth, and that God was very happy with her.

She speaks of the great vocations she wishes she could fill. Her greatest dream is that of martyrdom. She writes: “When I think about all the torments that will be the lot of Christians at the time of the Antichrist, I feel my heart leap, and I would like for those torments to be reserved for me.”

How many times have I feared having to raise my children in the end times? Yet we are not to be afraid. That she would welcome suffering for Christ is so mysterious to me. Yet aren’t we told, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for My sake?”

Then she describes how she came to the slow realization that she could fill all these vocations by embracing the vocation of Love.

“…I understood that Love contains all the Vocations, that Love is all, that it embraces all times and all places…in a word, that it is Everlasting! Yes, I have found my place in the Church, and that place, my God, You have given me…In the Heart of the Church, my Mother, I will be Love…That way I will be everything…that way my dream will become a reality!!!”

How many times have I heard other educated stay-at-home moms say things like, “I got a Masters’ Degree for THIS?” Our parents gave us a good education and encouraged us to pursue our dreams. Then we decided not to use it in the work force. Sometimes we wonder what we could have done if we had stayed on the career path. I know I still have lofty dreams of vocations I would like to fill in the future, while also continuing my writing: missionary tops the list. I once thought I might want to be a nun; I guess it’s too late for that. But Love is the Vocation of all mothers. In that we can accomplish all things.

Yes, I have found my place in the World, and that place, my God, You have given me…In the Heart of my Home, I will be Love…That way I will be everything…that way my dream will become a reality!!!

*The chapter divisions differ from translation to translation. The one I am reading is translated and edited by Robert J. Edmonson, Paraclete Press, 2006. The writings that have come down as “Manuscript B” comprise the ninth chapter of this book.

For my reflections on the first eight chapters, please see my previous posts:
Chapters 1-4
Chapters 5-8

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Guest Post by Bear Midnight Miller

Today was a horrible, terrible, no-good, hot dog day afternoon. The worst possible thing that ever happens to me, happened. My people caught me, hosed me down with cold water, scrubbed me with baby shampoo, and then tied me up on the deck so I couldn’t go roll in the dirt. My mom didn’t participate in it but she was complicit to some degree. She felt sorry for me and tried to give me a treat but I was so upset I wouldn’t take it. I knew there was no sense in crying to the others so every time I saw her look at me I cried. I knew she wanted to untie me. I smelled a really good chicken smell coming out of the house and had to sit outside while all my people ate. Then my mom brought me out some really good fatty skin and I ate it. Then the really little girl brought me some treats and kept me company for a while. Finally the biggest girl came out and untied me. When it was all over all the kids ran around with me outside for a while and I forgave them, but I can’t forget. The good news is this probably won’t happen again for a really long time, but I will be on my guard whenever the hose comes near.

This picture is from August 2006. The children built a Little People town around Bear while she was sleeping. When she woke up they pretended she was a monster in the middle of their town.

Friday, April 24, 2009

More Reflections on the Little Flower: “The Story of a Soul” Chapters 5-8*

I have been reading “The Story of a Soul”, by St. Therese of Lisieux. For my reflections on the first four chapters, please see my previous post.

The first four chapters dwelt on Therese’s early childhood. The next four chapters detail her desire to entire Carmel and the trials she had to endure in order to be allowed entry into it at the early age of 15. After her beloved “second mother”, her sister Pauline, entered Carmel, her next oldest sister Marie became her confidant. Marie soon followed into Carmel, and she and her sister Celine kept each other company.

When all the powers-that-be said “no” to her early entry into Carmel, she had the gumption to ask Holy Father for permission. Her doting father and sister Celine accompanied her to Rome, where her suffering was enhanced by a not-so-clear answer. But finally the answer came, and she was permitted to enter Carmel after her fifteenth birthday, and after Lent. Having to wait those three extra months was horrible for her. Rather than fill it with delightful activities that she would be unable to partake of once she was behind the walls of the convent, she used that time to mortify herself by breaking her will as much as possible.

Her first months at Carmel were stringent, allowing none of the comforts she was used to having. Mother Marie de Gonzague was a strict abbess, and she took that as a blessing. She thought it would have bode ill for her if she had been spoiled as the little one. Certain mysterious occurrences such as the replacing of her favorite water pitcher with an old, cracked one, and of her nice vase with an ugly one, were also accounted for as blessings. You might read between the lines to think that some of the sisters were persecuting her by taking away even these small luxuries. But she never speaks bitterly of the treatment she receives during this time, saying any suffering she received was embraced as good for her soul.

The day of the taking of the veil was one of great preparation, being the wedding of the young soul to Christ. Therese was a great lover of simplicity, and the fuss that went into the making of her garments for that day was special in that it was so unusual for her. But at the last moment she was suddenly filled with doubt, which she confessed to Mother Genevieve. This earthly angel soothed her fears, saying that she too had gone through the same thing, and Therese’s faith in her calling was renewed.

But her father was sick, and she was quite alone that day, having no family to witness the ceremony. Celine stayed with her father until he died. She too soon followed into Carmel.

Therese regained some freedom when she became one of the only ones who did not succumb to an outbreak of influenza. Mother Marie was often ill and for a time, her oldest sister Pauline, who had for so long acted as Therese’s “second mother”, replaced Mother Marie as the abbess, becoming known as Mother Agnes. This seemed to be the fulfillment of Therese’s calling to have Pauline as her mother in more than one way. She also had her three living sisters with her in the same convent. Altogether the siblings made eight, which at one point is described symbolically as the eight petals of a flower. In the present-day Little Flowers group, eight petals (badges for the virtues gained) and a center are sewn together to make a “wreath” of virtues.

It is remarkable to me how Therese embraced suffering. Rather than ask “why” when her father goes through a lengthy illness that included mental instability, with only her sister Celine by his side, she counts it all as one of the crosses she must bear. This part really touched me, as I have a father who suffers from multiple sclerosis, and he lives too far away for me to be with him for any great length of time. I also must accept that this may be the cross that he must bear, and that one day I will come to understand it. All of us have our own crosses, and we must ask for God’s grace to help us to bear them if that is His will, rather than to take them away.

*The chapter divisions differ from translation to translation. The one I am reading is translated and edited by Robert J. Edmonson, Paraclete Press, 2006. The writings that have come down as “Manuscript A” comprise the first eight chapters of this book.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Happy 86th Birthday Mother Angelica!

I posted yesterday about my new discovery of Mother Angelica, not even knowing her 86th birthday had just passed. Click here for Raymond Arroyo's tribute to Mother Angelica:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Walking on Water

When there are 900 channels on your Direct TV channel guide, it is easy to ignore scores of valuable channels among lots of junky ones. So I never knew I had EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) until I was channel-surfing late one night and stumbled upon it. Some of my more saintly (I mean that as a compliment although they are too modest to accept the description) Catholic friends say they received their deep education in the Catholic faith from this channel.

It must have been God’s divine plan for me to find the “Mother Angelica classic” episode from 1995 entitled “Walking on Water”. In it Mother Mary Angelica (the foundress of the channel), addressed many issues that had lately been on my mind: Saint Therese the Little Flower, the End Times, and how to “walk on water” during stormy times.

She read from the accounts of both Mark and John (Matthew and Luke also mention the incident) of how the disciples were rowing their boats in stormy water and were afraid when they saw Jesus walking towards them on the water. “Be not afraid; it is I,” Jesus said to them.

She spoke about how we all have to suffer in our own way, and all must bear Jesus’ words in our minds each day to have courage.
· When you are persecuted for Jesus’ sake
· When you or your loved ones face sickness and/or death
· When you, like the disciples that night, are just plain irritable with the day’s work at hand

I am not facing any grave crises at the time but do need the courage to ask for God’s Grace to handle all the daily demands of raising four children. He always brings me the words I need to hear, exactly when I need to hear them. I know that, had I come upon this program in 1995, I would not have been open to hearing them. God’s ways are so mysterious and awesome.

Please Read the Government Document on Rightwing Extremism for Yourself

Regarding the document entitled "(U/FOUO) Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicaliaation and Recruitment":

I encourage everyone to read this document for themselves. I interpret the point of the document is that they are looking for groups that have the potential for violence. But in doing so many people who are involved in innocent activities could potentially have their rights to privacy taken away as the government examines them looking for that potential activity. The Department of Homeland Security has the right to wiretap and read emails of people deemed suspicious. This * on page 2 of the 9-page document explains what defines rightwing extremism:

"* (U) Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration."

Download the pdf here:

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Demand for Retraction of Pro-Life Extremist Label

"Demand for Retraction

The Department of Homeland Security

As a pro-life citizen of the United States of America, I am gravely concerned by the inflammatory statements within the Department’s newly-released warning entitled: “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.”

To label pro-lifers as “rightwing extremists” and “domestic terrorists” is incorrect as a matter of law and wrong as a matter of policy. This type of unconstitutional language targets peace-loving, pro-American citizens of the United States and their fundamental First Amendment rights.

I respectfully demand an immediate and full retraction. It’s time to target the REAL terrorists — focus your attention on rooting out those people who are bent on causing harm to our country and REMOVE the pro-life community from this warning."

To sign this petition with the American Center for Law and Justice click here.

Beauty Queen Loses Crown on Gay Marriage Issue

“In my country, and in my family, I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman,” said Carrie Prejean as Miss California at Sunday night’s Miss USA pageant in Las Vegas.

I try to imagine what must have been going through her mind as she was asked how she felt about homosexual marriage. If I answer this honestly, I will lose. If I lie, I will be asked to live a lie for the entire time I wear this crown. Carrie chose to be true to her beliefs. I wonder if she was set up?

“It did cost me my crown,” Carrie told Billy Bush, who co-hosted the ceremony, on Monday. “I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I said what I feel. I stated an opinion that was true to myself and that’s all I can do.”
“It is a very touchy subject and he is a homosexual and I see where he was coming from and I see the audience would’ve wanted me to be more politically correct,” she added. “But I was raised in a way that you can never compromise your beliefs and your opinions for anything.”

Read Fox New’s follow-up interview here.

Carrie has had 2,000 Facebook Friend requests since the incident. Show her your support! There are already several Facebook groups showing support.
One is “Supporting Miss California Carrie Prejean

Monday, April 20, 2009

Small Things

I spent much of Easter break involved with small things.

Small school assignments: small book reports, small research reports, baby steps towards the completion of three science fair projects.

Small yard projects: small leaves to be raked out from the borders, small leaves to be dredged out of the pool cover, multiple small balls to be also plucked out from the same, small flowers to be planted, small insects to be dealt with.

And small things to be sorted: marbles, doll shoes, beads, puzzle pieces, legos, cabin logs. This last project is one that has been in the making for several years. While homeschooling, it was impossible to keep all of these things in order. Thinking that all girls love to organize things (because I did when I was little), I containerized the clutter, thinking that when they were six or seven they would love to sort all the objects. This never happened. What did happen is that my children learned my habit of containerizing clutter. The result is an uncountable number of containers of unsorted small objects throughout the house.

Many mothers will throw out games that are missing parts. When sweeping, they will throw out beads, game pieces, and other small objects along with the dirt. You might think I’m a glutton for punishment, but I believe I am showing my optimistic spirit when I pick up these small pieces, believing that one day I will get them together with their partners.

If you are shaking your head in disbelief, you do not know the joy I found when attacking my second large bin of clutter in one week and finally putting together all the pieces of a Winnie the Pooh matching game! And with what happiness my toddler is now carrying around a small collection of hearts (“t-tines”, her word for Valentines) and flowers in her pocket. Finally, my eleven-year-old, who recently found a love of small containers for the purpose of keeping like-with-like small objects, has her small baseball beads and gemstone collection back. And my son has more legos and cabin logs with which to build. I also painstakingly matched up dozens of pairs of baby socks, who had been separated for many months from their twins, and brought smiles to the faces of the ladies at the local Birth Right center.

If you walked into my house you would not know how many hours were spent in these small details. It does not look any cleaner (except that I just steam-cleaned the living rug after the dog threw up her lamb chops) or more organized. If you open up my closets, you will see that I have a huge amount of stuff yet to go through. I will, bit by bit, and with love.

“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”
Mother Teresa

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Prolife and other Opinionated Bloggers Beware: 1st Amendment Rights in Jeopardy!

According to a report that outraged members Congress on both sides of the aisle, the Department of Homeland Security may be targeting people who express opinions opposed to the agenda of this administration. Top on the list are pro-lifers, proponents of gun ownership, those opposed to gay marriage, and returning veterans. Read the story here:

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Divine Mercy Sunday

April 19, 2009 is Divine Mercy Sunday. I found this lovely blog, Prayerflowers, which tells about the Feast of Divine Mercy and the Novena leading up to it in detail.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Comedy of Errors

I have written about all the pre-planning that goes into the spring sports season, with three children playing softball and baseball in three different divisions, at three different locations, and a husband that works late.

Certain things I can have control over: commitments outside of sports, meal-planning, and my attitude, to a certain degree. I don’t have control over: the weather, the game schedule, and school assignments.

I know some mothers of multiple children who don’t seem to plan ahead for anything. Their lives seem to be in constant chaos as they realize they are supposed to be somewhere and then run around like chickens without their heads, trying to get everyone together. I really don’t know how I could live like that. That kind of disorder would make my brain explode, but I do have a special admiration for those who can pull it all together at the last minute, on a daily basis.

I have a color-coded dry-erase board which I consult religiously, and refer all questions to the board. “Don’t ask me about the schedule,” I scold, “I can’t possibly keep it all in my head. That’s what the board is for.”

All day Monday I felt like something was gripping my heart. I was so nervous about how I was going to really handle this season, now that it really was upon me. We have a triple header every Saturday starting this weekend, I explained to my husband. “I can help out with that,” he said calmly. “Yeah, but what about the weeknight games? So far I only have our daughters’ schedules and already there are 3 conflicts. What if I have 3 in one night? I feel like I’m going to have a heart attack,” I whined.

“Do you ever hear about women your age having heart attacks? You probably just pulled a muscle. You’re over-thinking – and over-feeling,” my husband cautioned.

“No, I’m planning ahead,” I argued, “That is how I manage to get a nutritious meal on the table every night at 4:00 and keep a certain degree of order around here.” Really I was just trying to make him feel bad about his schedule, which he cannot completely control either.

“Maybe we should take them out of sports, so you don’t have to deal with it,” he said, with his poker face.

“You know that’s not an option. They get too much out of it to not do it.”

It’s too bad I hadn’t had my voice of reason around earlier in the day to calm me down, but at least he brought my blood pressure down before I lay myself down to sleep.

Last week went okay, with a few laughable errors on my part. None of them really mattered in the long run, although I did feel that I looked foolish. I was just glad to have everyone home in one piece at the end of each night.

It was cold and drizzly all week, and practices were (thankfully) spaced so that each child was playing on a different night. Monday morning I picked up the telephone when the manager of my eldest daughter’s softball team called. My throat was filled with flem, the way it is every morning during allergy season. “Ribbit?” I answered the phone. “Um, hello?” “Ahem, ribbit, I mean hello?” I felt like I had to explain myself when I met her. “I’m sorry I couldn’t talk the other morning, I had really bad allergies, you must have thought I was dumb or something,” I blurted out. (“Did I just say dumb? Now I feel even dumber,” I thought to myself.) “No, I didn’t think that at all,” she said, kindly. (“Oh yeah, she’s just being nice, now she really thinks it,” I thought, and ran off to the playground with the other kids.)

The next day it was my son’s turn to practice. There were about a dozen teams playing on the field, with first-come-first-take being the policy for obtaining a field. I asked my daughter to help her brother find his team, and brought my other two daughters to the playground. About ten minutes later, she was back. “Did he find the right team?” I asked. “Well, the coach said, ‘Hey big guy’, and he said it was his team,” she answered. A few minutes later I ran into another mother from the team, whom I had met on Saturday morning. I pointed to where the boys were playing, “No, they’re over there,” she said, pointing in another direction. Upon close inspection, I saw that she was right. So I hiked across the fields, found my son, and interrupted practice to explain to the coach that this was not his player. “You’ve been traded early,” the coach joked, good-naturedly. Then I brought him to the right team, late for the second time. (We’d also been late on Saturday morning because he couldn’t find his glove, and he wound up showing up with a t-ball glove, which the coach rightly explained to me was not safe to use in baseball.)

No mishaps in my middle daughter’s softball practice. I had been 0-for-3 last week and wound up batting a thousand this Thursday night, the first night with scheduling conflicts that I had been worrying about on Monday. I dropped one off at 5:55, the other two at 6:00, went to get the first one at 7:15, and was back at the second field at 7:20 for the other two, just as practice was closing out. And all with a sick toddler in tow. Phew! I was so glad to have them all together in one spot again! We all consumed massive quantities of chocolate bunnies and chocolate pudding pie that night, with extra whipped cream.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Pro-Life You-Tube Video Contest for Youth

"The SBA List is pleased to announce the launch of our 1st Pro-Life Video Contest!

Many of you have probably already seen the YouTube sensation of a precocious 12-year old girl giving a speech against abortion. This speech has quickly been forwarded from inbox to inbox as many have been struck by this young lady’s inspirational defense of the unborn. Her speech was even responsible for convincing some real women to choose Life!

I have the great pleasure of introducing this young lady to you: Lia Mills is an everyday 7th grader who decided to give a speech on abortion for a competition. Despite initial resistance from her teachers and the competition organizers she was allowed to give her speech on abortion. She won her classroom and school competitions, but lost in the regionals.

Lia’s mom decided to videotape Lia reciting her speech for friends and family to see, but within a few weeks hundreds of thousands of people had seen the video. Last month we honored Lia with our Susan B. Anthony Young Leader Award. Now she is joining us to find the next up-and-coming generation of pro-life leaders.

Lia’s Challenge is our new pro-life video contest for youth. We’re asking young people across the country to post their own pro-life videos just like Lia’s on YouTube. There will be two winners, and each will receive a $1000 scholarship.

Please spread the word about the contest to your friends, family, neighbors, schools and fellow church members. I also hope you would consider contributing toward the scholarships for our winners.

The Susan B. Anthony List is committed to doing all we can to encourage the next generation of leaders to defend women and the innocent unborn.

It is vitally important that these young people have the support and the tools to use all the resources at our disposal to advance the cause of Life. The Pro-Life Video Contest will encourage young people to use their minds, hearts, and talents to advance the culture of Life.

Please help us to support future leaders who wish to raise their voices in support of Life. Please donate to the Pro-Life Video Contest Today!

With our support and cultivation we can build a new generation of pro-lifers equipped with the skills to spread the good news of Life on the internet and beyond!

For Life,
Marjorie Dannenfelser
Susan B. Anthony List President
Check out the SBA blog:"

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What Kind of Intelligence Do You Have?

I enjoyed taking this quiz. Click on the link below to take it yourself. These are my results:

Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence

You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.

An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.

You are also good at remembering information and convincing someone of your point of view.

A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.

You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

How to Pray

As I continue in my reading of “The Story of the Soul”, I realize that I have been supplicating the wrong way. St. Therese talks about the crosses people must bear and how suffering can be good for the soul. In fact, she is quite unusual in that she embraces suffering for the blessings it will bring. I realized I've been praying for God to relieve people of their crosses when really I should be asking Him to shower them with graces so they can better bear their crosses. So that will be my new prayer for my friends and family. If it be His will to remove their crosses as part of their graces, so be it. Really this is a much easier and simpler way of praying, instead of intercepting my own thoughts into what should happen for other people, when I clearly do not know God’s plan for them. When someone pops into my head, I pray, “Lord, please shower so-and-so with some graces today.”

Monday, April 13, 2009

One Not-So-Fine Easter Monday

Just when I think my day couldn’t get any worse, I get splashed in the face with stagnant pool water.

It was one of those really awful Mondays when all of one’s responsibilities seem to crash down on her at once. We came home to a messy house last night, and my allergies caused me to crash in bed early. So I woke up to an even messier house, as the children had finished up their breakfast with an Easter grass fight in the dining room. Laundry from the weekend was piled up by the garage. The kitchen floor was filthy.

I ran out to the store to buy science fair boards and found they came in two different sizes. I didn’t know which size to buy for my son, so I got one of each. The girls will reuse their boards from last year. We stopped at the library for research report books. This week we will complete three science fair projects, two book reports, and a musical report on Beethoven. So much for Easter vacation.

I open up my email and find the softball schedule for my second daughter. I compare it to the schedule for my first daughter and have the heart attack I had been preparing myself for all winter. And I didn’t even get my son’s baseball schedule yet.

I go to the mailbox – there is an Easter egg waiting for me, which the kids hadn’t found on Easter morning. I put it in my pocket, look up, and suddenly smile. There are yellow-and-violet hybrid cold-resistant pansies on my porch, where I had left them on Saturday, and planting them will make me very happy.

Once the toddler is in for a nap, I plant my pansies in the deck planters. While up on the pool deck, I decide to get one-up on the pool season and remove some leaves from the pool. I locate the pool leaf rake and start scooping. It is really hard work, and I am happy to be burning off the calories from the post-lunch chocolate splurge I had allowed myself.

My son is taking a break from scooping up dog-poo, hitting baseballs towards the woods. One of them lands in the pool, a few feet away from me, and I am covered from head to toe in filthy pool water.

That fit in with my day very well. I head to the head for an emergency shower. I am not a super-clean freak, but don’t like the idea of strange organisms in stagnant pool water sitting in my hair.

Once clean, it is time to heat up some leftovers for a quick dinner before softball practice. The coach announces a practice for Thursday, the same time as the practices already schedule for my other daughter and my son. The scheduling nightmare begins.

It is more difficult to get the kids to bed when there is no school in the morning, and I finally have them in their rooms by 10:00. I open up my email and there is a reminder from my friend that there are 40 days of Easter, 40 days to celebrate, to match the 40 days of Lent. I’ve started it all wrong, but (as Scarlett O’Hara loved to say) tomorrow is another day.

“He that is of a merry heart heath a continual feast.”
Proverbs 15:15

Painting: Christ Appearing to the Virgin, c. 1475, by a follower of Rogier van der Weyden

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Eggs

The Junior Easter Bunnies were back again on Good Friday. The Master Mommy Easter Bunny simmered eggs (for 20 minutes this time, as the 15 minutes recommended in her Joy Of Cooking yielded soupy eggs the past 2 years; 2 cracked and we were happy to find they were perfectly cooked all the way through, and just-right creamy) and prepared 7 cups of different colors.

We used McCormick’s food coloring: standard yellow, green, and blue; and neon purple, pink, blue, and green; with one tablespoon of vinegar per cup of boiling water and ten drops of dye. A little salt added to the water during the simmering process gives the eggs a more realistic, grainy texture.

The JEBs did all the actual coloring. The MMEB will be up early to hide the eggs on Easter morning. They are so excited for the hunt. Happy Easter!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Hungarian Cookies

This is our version of “Non Plus Ultra”. We turned them into miniature sandwich cookies. The entire original family recipe appears in the classic by George Lang (1971), “The Cuisine of Hungary” (Crown Publishers, Inc., New York).

This is a multi-step recipe. First you cook the cookies for 15 minutes. Then coat one side with meringue and let them sit in the hot oven to dry for 30 minutes. Then you put the jam on the uncoated side and make the sandwiches.

In the family recipe by George Lang, you would cut out 2-inch cookies, then cut out a 1-inch hole in half of them. The whole cookie would go on the bottom, then the jam, with the disc on top so that the jam shows through the middle. You can use any kind of jam. We used strawberry.

I made the batter and meringue and my 11-year-old daughter did the rest of the work, to bring in to school as samples of Hungarian cuisine. The reason we made them so small is we had run out of eggs and could not make more batter!

My daughter saved me one. It was so flaky and moist that it melted in my mouth! If they didn’t take all day to make I’d make them everyday!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Easter Chocolates

Three Junior Easter Bunnies borrowed my kitchen today to make colorful chocolates. The Master Mommy Easter Bunny warmed several different colors while they painted and filled several different fun molds.

Some of them were so old that the Grand Master Grand Mother Easter Bunny used to make them many years ago. (That doesn’t make you old, GMGMEB; but the plastic does get brittle, especially if it’s been in the dishwasher one too many times.)

The MMEB then sent said JEBs to bed after extracting promises not to mention the chocolates to the little one, waited for the chocolates to dry in the fridge, trimmed them up (eating the scraps, of course), cleaned up all the molds and the chocolate drippings, wrapped them up, and hid them until MMEB comes back to put out the Easter baskets at 12:01 AM Easter morning.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Reflections on the Little Flower: “The Story of a Soul” Chapters 1-4*

I have been reading “The Story of a Soul”, by St. Therese of Lisieux, which I borrowed from my friend Loren Christie (who has been posting her own thoughts on the book on her blog). It is well that I finally get around to reading the story of my own patron saint.

You see, when I received confirmation through RCIA at the age of 15, I had a very cursory introduction to the Catechism and no education in the lives of the saints. I am reluctant to admit that I picked my confirmation name Therese only because I thought it was pretty.

Therese would understand, I think. She too was constantly confessing to crimes of vanity, and was thankful to have been saved from her own weaknesses by being sheltered by the convent. Her virtues she never takes credit for, believing them to be either part of her soul or ingrained in her by her parents (who were canonized last year) and sisters.

After reading the first few chapters, I now understand thoroughly the concepts behind the formation of the Little Flower group, of which I was a teacher for two years. I used to research for a whole week in preparation for teaching about one of the saints and their respective virtue. I was afraid to admit my own ignorance, for fear the other mothers would not think me fit to teach their daughters. I should have known their hearts were much softer than this. I learned so much in this process. The fact that I am doing everything backwards I think is part of God’s plan for my own formation. The lessons in humility as I am shown my own ignorance just keep coming.

The first chapter talks much of people as flowers, a symbol to be used repeatedly and in many contexts throughout the book, and she offers herself as Jesus’ “little flower”.

“…I understood that if all the little flowers wanted to be roses, nature would lose its springtime adornment, and the fields would no longer be sprinkled with little flowers…”

Therese’s older sister Pauline, who became her second mother when their earthly mother passed away, and later would become her Mother at the convent, made her a book to help in her preparation for First Communion. “…Each day I did a great number of practices that yielded as many flowers. I fulfilled a still greater number of objectives that you had written in my little book for each day, and these acts of love formed the flower buds…” In the modern Little Flowers group, young girls try to check off as many actions as they can toward forming one of the virtues. Humility, of course, was one of them.

I had another lesson in humility this past Sunday. While I was in church on Palm Sunday, I was conscious that I was thinking about how pretty we all looked. “Stop it!” I told myself, “How can you be thinking vain thoughts right now!” And then I started thinking about a good act that I was planning on performing that afternoon. “Pay attention!” again I reprimanded myself.

Circumstance prevented my planned act of charity. It was so obvious to me then, that God was preventing my doing something good if I was going to do it out of vanity.

Therese recalls seeing the Blessed Virgin smile at her, and her sister convinces her to tell the Carmelite nuns about it. She knew in her heart she should keep her secret, and that the telling of it would take away the happiness of it. She suffered greatly from this and learned a valuable lesson from it. “Soon God let me feel that true glory is the one that will last forever, and that to obtain it, it isn’t necessary to do outstanding works, but to remain hidden and to practice virtue in such a way that the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing [Mt. 6:3].”

Later I was thinking about my blog and of all the efforts a modern writer must go through to self-promote. Even good Catholics are not immune to these worldly necessities. It requires a constant self-reflection and prayer to be sure the motivation is a Godly one. For me, I want to utilize my God-given talent for his purpose. I also would like to be able to stay home forever, and be somewhat financially independent.

But in the past several years vanity has also played a part in how I define my role. Although I love being a stay-at-home mother, I am aware of the lowliness of my title in the eyes of many. I have often felt that I wanted to be seen as MORE than “just” a stay-at-home-mom. I wanted people to recognize me for all the other things I was doing.

All those things have been stripped away, as I have explained in past posts, with no book contract in sight, so I can’t even call myself a “writer” without explaining further. Now ALL I am doing is being “just” a stay-at-home-mom. St. Therese shows me that this is my calling at the moment, and what the world thinks of that is entirely beside the point. Thank you, St. Therese. As you wished, your being accepted into heaven has caused a continual shower of flowers to fall on those below.

*The chapter divisions differ from translation to translation. The one I am reading is translated and edited by Robert J. Edmonson, Paraclete Press, 2006. The writings that have come down as “Manuscript A” comprise the first eight chapters of this book.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

White House Confirms it got 2 Million Red Envelopes

"President's mail worker claims letter campaign 1 of largest in 35 years

The White House mail office has confirmed it received a "deluge" of as many as 2.25 million red envelopes symbolizing the empty promise of lives snuffed out in abortion in a massive campaign that was larger than most White House mailing
movements in the last 35 years."
- See World Net Daily for the rest of this story.

Just a reminder that the deadline to submit comments to the Department of Health & Human Services is midnight, April 9.

Here's a link from AUL Action that provides additional information about the proposed removal of conscience protection.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Elizabeth’s Chicken Extravaganza

This was a fun experimental dish that everyone really loved.

First, I made my own sauce. I seared red onions and garlic in olive oil, then added black pepper, kosher salt, and basil. I lowered the heat and then added a jar of crushed tomatoes. I let this simmer for a few minutes and then turned off the heat.

Then I coated a large baking dish with olive oil and poured in the tomato sauce. I sliced up boneless chicken breasts into long quarters and put them into the sauce.

I was going to make this just like that, covering it with foil and baking for a half hour before adding mozzarella. Then I thought of the spinach I had in my fridge.

My daughter watched with horror as I piled on a pound of fresh spinach leaves. She didn’t believe me when I said I always add a pound when I put it in the rice or pasta – you can’t see it all when it is thrown into a pasta pot, and it shrinks down to one-tenth of the size once it is cooked.

I had to snap a picture of how the spinach looked all piled on top of the chicken and sauce.

This I covered with foil before putting it in to bake at 400 for about a half hour. Then I removed the foil, added a pound of shredded part-skim mozzarella, and put it back in the oven for ten minutes.

Although the kids were skeptical when I served this, once they tasted it they agreed it was delicious! Oh, and they didn’t notice the red onions, which were cut up small and hid well in the red sauce. (Cooked red onions are great as a natural decongestant and we use it almost daily through the winter and allergy seasons.)

I served this with thin spaghetti, tossed with olive oil, salad, and homemade dressing on the side. No mustard sauce for me, thanks; I’ll stick with my Fennel and Flax Seed Vinaigrette.

Elizabeth’s Creamy Mustard Vinaigrette

For the version in the picture, I mixed about 1 tablespoon of mustard, 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise, and 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Experiment with proportions for the taste and consistency you are looking for.

I hate both mustard and mayonnaise, so it is an act of love to make this for my husband. I do it to keep him from going to the store and buying bottles of dressing that are filled with preservatives and inferior ingredients. He said it tastes a little like Burger King’s “special sauce”. On the Fitness Channel I saw another version of this, which replaces the mayonnaise with plain nonfat yogurt.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Palm Sunday 2009: The Week in Review

For the first time perhaps in our entire family history, we got to church early enough to get seats for Palm Sunday. I love it when we can get a whole pew for our family. Usually there is a solitary person sitting at the end of the pew, and they look like their peace was disturbed when all six of us trip past. Then they have to tolerate all the bumps and nonsense that occurs throughout the mass. Often the person disappears right after Communion. I wonder if they found a better spot or left entirely.

“Wasn’t it worth getting there ten minutes early?” I ask my husband as we leave.

“What’s the difference? We have to stand for most of it anyway,” he replies.

He’s not the one the little one usually goes to, so if we are forced to stand I wind up holding all 30 pounds of her, while wearing heels. Just knowing we can sit if we need to is a relief.

So I enjoyed our Mass. As soon as we got home, my ten-year-old daughter and I went to get our raggedy hairs trimmed. Then we all went for a bike ride.

The kids and my husband spent what seemed like hours washing the cars. They haven’t been cleaned for the entire winter, so there was lots of scrubbing to do. Meanwhile, I worked in the kitchen, making up my own special dish I christened Chicken Extravaganza, which will be featured in this blog tomorrow.

I also helped my eleven-year-old daughter with her Hungarian culture project. There was research to be done for the report, and for the class food sample we made these lovely little cookies that are similar to Linza Tarts. These also will be displayed on this blog this week.

We got some fun shopping last night. I am not big on shopping, but I do enjoy buying Easter dresses for my girls each year. I took my two older girls to Kohl’s where they each tried on about twenty dresses. They were really hysterical, laughing and commenting loudly to each other through the stall. I wondered how many people outside were listening to the songs they made up.

They finally settled on what they called “seaweed mermaid dresses”. They are matching, flowy, green and blue dresses with thick straps, which they will wear with white sweaters on Easter. They reminded them of mermaids because of how flowy they are, and of seaweeds because of the surreal mixed green and blue pattern.

This week at softball practice I commented to another mother on how cute the girls were at this age. She looked at me like I was crazy. She looked at my toddler and said, “I’d like to bottle them up at this age and keep them that way forever.”

What I thought adorable was the pure enjoyment that girls take in their friends and teammates. My girls have been playing in the same league since they were five, and have played with each of the other girls on the same team at least once, and against their team on the other years. When they met for the first practice, they literally jumped into each other’s arms, hugging one another.

God made babies to grow up, and watching them fulfill their potential as they grow through each stage is such a blessing.

Painting by Fra Angelico, 1450, Entry into Jerusalem

Friday, April 3, 2009

UN Commission Ends with Delegations Saying No to Abortion

"UN Commission Ends with Delegations Saying No to Abortion
By Samantha Singson

(NEW YORK ? C-FAM) As the sun rose on the last day of negotiations at the Commission on Population and Development (CPD) at the United Nations (UN) today, delegations were still embroiled in a contentious debate over language concerning ?sexual and reproductive health and rights,? which some radical NGOs and UN committees have interpreted and used to promote abortion. As UN member states came together at the closing meeting to adopt the document, delegations took the floor to define abortion out of the document.

Up until the eleventh hour, the contentious term ?sexual and reproductive health and rights? remained in the draft document. Just prior to adoption, Iran took the floor to object to the phrase which has never before been included in any negotiated UN document. Iran stressed that the term remained problematic for a number of delegations and urged the Commission to revert back to previously agreed upon and carefully negotiated language from the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Program of Action, which is understood not to create any right to abortion.

In an attempt to get consensus, the chairwoman from Mexico suspended the meeting and after twenty minutes, returned to the room and announced that Iran?s proposal would be accepted and that the term ?sexual and reproductive health and rights? would be removed from the text. The document was then adopted by consensus.

Several delegations, however, went further and made statements to explicitly define abortion out of the CPD document and to reiterate that the document created no new rights. Comoros, Peru, Poland, Ireland, Chile, the Holy See, Malta, and Saint Lucia spoke out against the other remaining reproductive health-related terms such as ?reproductive rights,? ?reproductive health services? and ?sexual and reproductive health? and emphasized that these could not be construed to ?support, endorse or promote? abortion.

Malta?s ambassador stated that his delegation was finding it more difficult in accepting the resolutions of UN bodies like the CPD where there were consistent attempts to expand ?reproductive health? to include abortion.

Saint Lucia made an explicit objection to the term ?safe abortion? because the term could ?give the impression that abortion was a procedure completely free of medical and psychological risks.? Saint Lucia also highlighted a provision in the CPD document which called on states where abortion was legal to ?train and equip health service providers and should take such measures to ensure that such abortion is safe and accessible.? The Saint Lucian representative stressed that her delegation understood this provision did not impact the right of healthcare providers to refuse to perform or be complicit in abortions as a matter of conscience, stating, ?Again, no new rights are created or acknowledged in this document, and the universal right to conscience can in no way be overridden or weakened.?

Only the representative of Norway expressed regret that the term ?sexual and reproductive rights? was not accepted in the text, saying that his country had widespread access to abortion and virtually no negative effects on women.

The CPD will next meet in April 2010. "

How I Lost My Balance; and How I Found it Again

Imagine you are a juggler in a circus act. You start out with one ball, then work your way to two, then three. You get so efficient that you are able to juggle twelve at once! Then someone ties one arm behind your back and you are expected to keep doing it. You wind up dropping half and struggle to keep up the other six. Then someone ties your other arm behind your back. In dismay, you look to the ground. How could they possibly expect the impossible? Then you realize you are just a side show that no one is really paying attention to, and you walk away unnoticed, kicking the balls to the side, and ask someone to help you untie your hands. Once your hands are free, you fail to resume the juggling. You go back and pick up your favorite ball and carry it home.

This is what I see when I think of my younger mommy self, circa five years ago. I was homeschooling three children, teaching religion at our church, teaching a Little Flowers group, leading a homeschooling field trip group of one hundred families, running an ebay store, notarizing and bookkeeping for my husband’s business, and bending over backwards to please my friends. I was NOT writing, or even reading. Every pocket of time was filled with activity. People told me I was doing too much, but I didn’t listen. I felt like if I COULD do it, I SHOULD do it.

Most days I was able to manage well, and was proud of all I was able to accomplish. I kept lists to show my husband all I had done around the house each day. I think I still felt like I had to prove I was doing my share, since we had mutually decided I should stay home with the children. This was all in my own head, having been employed for ten years before going cold turkey.

His response was, “What do you want, a medal?” He was not being unappreciative. He was trying to say I didn’t need to do all I was doing to impress him. All I had to DO was BE - Mommy and Wife and Me.

On my birthday, I always sit down and write resolutions, approximately ten, of what I want to accomplish in the next year. I remember when I turned thirty I wrote that I wanted to BE instead of DO. I changed my attitude toward activity in my life, but not my behavior. Soon thereafter I oversaw the installation of a dormer. I decreased the demands on my schedule so I could be home for the workers. When it was done, I painted the entire thing, inside and out.

The day I finished the painting, we conceived our fourth child, and everything changed. That January (she was born in July) I was so fatigued that I felt like I wasn’t fulfilling any of my roles properly. I was a terrible friend – or so I thought - I was too tired to even talk on the phone. I was a terrible teacher to my kids – I had a terrible cough, which was bringing on early contractions, and spent many days dictating from the couch. I wasn’t able to go on field trips because long drives would bring on contractions, and the group wound up folding. I was a terrible housekeeper – needless to say the cleaning was going by the wayside.

But I knew I was being the best mommy I could be to my children. I knew that by staying on the couch I was ensuring that I would not wind up in the hospital for an extended stay or go into early labor. I enrolled my children to help in whatever chores they could around the house.

I was able to put together my daughter’s First Communion, putting every last drop of energy into the preparations, and putting aside some money to hire someone to clean my house. I was able to finish off the year of religious education, giving notice that I would not be returning the next year. I was able to get the kids to all their ball games that spring, with their help carrying all their own stuff as well as my comfy chair across the fields so I could sit through them. I was able to finish off the school year, although it took me until August to complete our lesson plans; and they were enrolled into Catholic school.

The Little Flowers group folded because most of the families had to move away, due to the economic and social climate being hostile to larger families on Long Island. The homeschoolers founded another group to provide their field trip needs. The director of religious education found another teacher to fill my role for the next year. (As my Dad, a former businessman, says, “No one is irreplaceable, although they’d like to think they are.”) My kids were assigned great teachers at their new school. My true friends forgave me for having ignored them for a few months. My house got clean again.

I had my precious newborn baby, whom I had longed for, and I had the time to hold her, and nurse her, and stare at her for hours on end. She was colicky and had to be held and nursed nonstop. I really didn’t know how I would have been able to handle it if I still had all those other commitments. She got through that after the second month, and I felt like I could breathe again. When I cleaned, I could take the time to do the chore correctly, and actually relish it. When I cooked, I could put love and creativity into it.

I also found my new calling, in pro-life ministry. I kept bumping into people who were active in pro-life ministry, and making friends with them, not even knowing that is what they were involved in. It turned out they all knew each other, in different degrees. Little by little I kept doing more, as time allowed, and brought my daughters on board as well. I know I would not have found the time to fit this into my old life.

And I am writing now, more than ever! The time may come, when my youngest is in school, that I am able to take on more commitments. No more senseless juggling for me. Not that I regret a single activity that we partook in during those years – they were all valuable in their own ways. But I love my new life, and the new me, who is happy to actually be bored sometimes, because it is so very peaceful.

If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy a series my friend Loren Christie is doing called Balance Revisited, in which she explores the ways to find balance in her busy and productive life while raising three young children.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Coburn Amendment: Protect the Right of Conscience in Health Care Reform

"On March 6, 2009, President Obama rescinded important conscience regulations that President Bush put into effect in order to ensure legal protections for Americans serving in the health care field. The rule is enforced by the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Civil Rights in order to protect providers from discrimination or coercion based on their beliefs. Senator Tom Coburn has introduced an amendment to the 2010 Budget Resolution that attempts to stop President Obama's attempt to weaken conscience protections for health care professionals. Senator Coburn's amendment ensures that any funds used in the budget’s health care reserve fund will not be used to violate the conscience of health care providers or to allow government bureaucrats to make health care choices for patients, including which doctors they may see." - The Susan B. Anthony List

Go to the following link to send the following letter to your Senators:

I am writing to you today to ask you to support Amendment number 828 to S.Con.Res 13.

This amendment ensures that the funds made available through the budget’s health care reserve fund will not be used to violate the conscience of health care providers or to allow government bureaucrats to make health care choices for patients, including which doctors they may see.

The Department of Health and Human Services finalized a rule in January 2009 to clarify existing protections for Americans serving in the health care field.

The regulation, posted in the Federal Register on December 19, 2008, will reinforce current laws protecting health care workers who have a right to follow their conscience. They merely preserve the rights of individuals to refuse participation in abortion-related health care. Clarity of the current law is needed so people know their rights.

Unfortunately, on March 6th, the Obama administration formally moved to rescind this important rule. For this reason it is crucial that the Senate act to protect the right of conscience for health care workers.

In the face of increasing shortages of qualified health care personnel, these regulations will also help ensure that pro-life doctors, nurses and hospitals continue to provide valuable services to needy communities around the country.

Thank you for your attention to this matter, I would appreciate a response.

Susan B. Anthony List Activist

Preparing for First Holy Communion

As the date of my son’s First Holy Communion nears, I start to get more and more excited as I make preparations for our celebration. Spiritually, he is ready. Now we make the physical preparations in our home and yard. Every time I go out shopping, I pick up something that is needed for the party. Every time I go out in the back yard with the kids, I rake another pail of leaves out of the gardens.

I have a spreadsheet saved on my computer from the last two First Communions, for my two older daughters. This makes things mentally easier, as I have done this all before. I know what things we need, and from where to get the food, flowers, and other supplies.

The Communion outfit is not so fussy for a boy as it is for a girl. There is no pretty veil, no fussy hairdo (I remember waking up early for my daughters’ Communions, which were both at 10:00 in the morning, attempting to curl pin-straight hair which refuses to hold a curl – it was a disaster both times), no miniature version of a wedding gown, and no fancy white shoes.

We already have his suit, which I purchased for him when he was in my sister’s wedding last summer, purposely a size 8 so it would still fit him in May. And when I bought his school shoes, which he also wore for the first time to the wedding, I got them at the buy-one-get-half-off sale at Payless Shoes, putting away a second pair in a half size larger specifically for this day. I picked up a new white shirt and an arm bow last week.

Invitations were printed up on my own computer, on a nice stationery that has a picture of Jesus in a boat on a lake, overflowing with fish, with his disciples. On the right hand side I have the main information about the church time and place, with the after-party being at my house, and RSVP instructions.

On the inset I have the scripture from Luke 5:1-11 printed with the title “Call of the First Disciples”. Underneath that, with the title “The Holy Eucharist”, is the scripture from Matthew 26:26-29. The purpose of all this is (1) to remind non-practicing Catholics what this day is truly about: it is not just a rite of passage, or a requirement to remain Catholic in title so that our children can get married in the Church, or a reason to have extended family and friends over for a party: this is something sacred, which we take very seriously; (2) as a scriptural explanation to our non-Catholic friends and family, who may not understand why we make such a big deal of First Communion.

I have enough seating but no outdoor tables. I think we borrowed tables last time, from friends who have since moved away. Another table broke in the interim. I am planning on purchasing two wooden picnic table kits from Home Depot in the next month.

Over the years I have learned that simplest is best when it comes to party food. Some years I slaved over hot food, which takes time, is messy, has to be kept warm, and then has to be cleaned up and put away. Everyone seems to be just as happy with a circular hero that I order from our favorite supermarket, side salads, a vegetable platter, and a fruit platter. The leftovers are great for lunch the following week. Why fuss for no reason? I’m only one person, and I should be able to enjoy my son’s special day as much as everyone else.

We’ve always been lucky with the weather forecast, and I’m counting on it being a lovely day. The kids can play volleyball, croquet, and bocce ball. If I see rain predicted for that day, I will have to start making alternate plans. Until that time, I will keep my fingers crossed!

Painting by Sanzio Raffaello, The Miraculous Draught of Fishes, 1515.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Trust Your Child’s Instincts

I took my ten-year-old daughter shopping for a new softball bat over the winter. Every bat they had, she said it was too light or too short. When we described the length and weight she was looking for, the sales associate shook his head and said that wasn’t possible! I decided to come back when the spring shipment came in.

We went again in March, to a different sports store this time, and she found exactly what she was looking for, and in her favorite color green. Her older sister shook her head and said it was too long and too heavy.

Today was her first softball practice. It rained lightly, but we were able to practice at a field with dugouts so the parents could stay dry. When it came time for my daughter to hit, the coach commented, “That’s the longest bat I’ve ever seen! Maybe you should use that next year.”

Then he pitched two balls, and the second one went far into right field. “You proved me wrong on what I just said about the bat,” he said with a disbelieving grin. Two pitches later, she hit another one far into left field.

I was laughing over in the dugout. She knew what she needed, and I trusted in that. She proved the disbelievers wrong!

Dinner for Three Nights: Chicken Legs with Paprika

In anticipation of the first three nights of ball practice for three kids in different divisions, last night I made twenty oven stuffer chicken legs. We only ate seven, which means we can have leftovers on both Wed. and Thurs., with freshly made sides of pasta and vegetables.

Sprinkle chicken legs with salt, pepper, and Hungarian Sweet Paprika. Bake at 400 degrees for one hour.

Shown here with Barilla tri-color rotini, tossed with olive oil; and steamed string beans, also tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper.