Wednesday, August 31, 2005

How Can I Help?

Click here to download Our Sunday Visitor's pamphlet on how Catholics can respond to disaster situations.

Our Prayers Continue

I was able to speak with my baby sister Brady, the bravest woman in Mississippi, last night and am feeling much better for having talked with her. As a management employee of Mississippi Power, Brady had to report for "storm duty" immediately after Katrina passed through her hometown of Gulfport.

On her special cell phone last night, Brady spoke with me for an hour about her initial impressions...everything from learning that her storm duty location on Highway 90 was completely destroyed, to driving her truck over tree limbs and around power lines, to all of the the incredible people she's working with to help restore power to Mississippi. She told me about one employee who wandered in to work with a dazed look, explaining that his home had been completely destroyed and that he'd just walked several miles to report to work. The efforts are herculean, and the people who are undertaking all of this hard work have lost everything but are just happy to be alive. Brady and other Mississippi Power employees are on the job.

I warned Brady - my petite five foot two inch, size two sister - not to don any hardhats and start climbing up power poles, but I wouldn't put it past her. My prayers for her safety and for that of all of the rescue workers continue.

I thought I'd share the following, which landed in my mailbox this morning:

Prayer Attributed to St. Augustine

Watch, dear Lord, with those who wake or watch or weep tonight, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend your sick ones, O Lord Jesus Christ, rest your weary ones, bless your dying ones, soothe your suffering ones, shield your joyous ones, and all for your love’s sake. Amen.

Thanks to Julie at for this lovely angel.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

To Help

To make a donation or learn more about Catholic Charities emergency response efforts for Katrina, click here.

As Hurricane Katrina continues to make her trek northward, Catholic Charities agencies from around the region, such as agencies in Florida and Baton Rouge, are poised to send technical assistance teams to help the local Catholic Charities in the impacted areas with their response efforts. Once the all clear is given that it is safe to return to those communities hit by the devastating hurricane, the damage and needs assessment will begin.

First off, let me say that my family who live in Gulfport are alive, and for that we are counting our blessings as we pray for the repose of the souls of those lost and for the brave people out searching for the missing.

The devastation is difficult to take in...I find myself at a loss for words. We don't know the condition of my parents' or my sister's home, but have fears that my brother in law's law firm (also my daddy's employer), may be badly damaged to the point of total destruction. My brave sister Brady, who works for Mississippi Power, is out and about today working with her teams to restore power. Please pray for her safety.

It appears that among other things, my family's beloved church is destroyed:

St. Thomas the Apostlic Catholic Church, which sits on U.S. 90, celebrated its 100th anniversary in August. It is now gone.

When Camille hit in 1969, Long Beach residents were able to hold Mass in St. Thomas School gym. There is nothing left of that but the superstructure.

For more information visit the Sun Herald.

I don't know what else to say besides asking everyone to pray with me today...thanks!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Running from Katrina

Right now, members of my family living in the Gulfport, MS area are busy scurrying for safety and I've become a compulsive Weather Channel junkie.

We arrived home from Eric's game last night (a 45 to zip romping over poor Los Banos) at 11:30 and I flipped on the W.C. to check on Katrina. Seems things had upgraded a bit since we left home! My family has begun the evacuation process, headed towards safety, except my poor sister Brady who works for the power company. She's headed over to Mobile and will then have to report to work immediately after the storm to help assess and deal with the damage. Please join me in praying for her safety and for all of those in the path of this storm.

Thank goodness for the technology that permits us some advance warning in order to get out of the way of these hurricanes! As a California girl, the thought of my Mom and Dad "hunkering down" with 145 mile per hour winds headed their way is terrifying. Safe travels to all and prayers for all!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Odds and Ends

5 days of school down, 175 days to go...

Photos from last weeks football games can be viewed here Eric, my big guy, is number 66. He's largely unseen in the photos as linemen are usually under a clump of bodies somewhere within two seconds of the play commencing. Last week's games were scrimmages and I thought the guys looked pretty good, but today will be the true test as they play their first "real" game tonight.

This quote landed in my email box this morning:

Serving God isn’t about burning yourself out. It isn’t about action motivated by guilt or obligation. It comes from a deep realization that every bit of our daily work (and play) should be aimed at serving God.

I went to lunch with a group of friends yesterday, and then to go donate blood with one of my best friends. We normally do this several times during the school year. Giving blood is a great way to help someone's free, it doesn't take very long, and it can help to save someone's life. Unfortunately, I learned yesterday that our trip to Costa Rica has me banned for a duration of one year. So now I've decided I need to motivate at least five people to give blood this year in my place. Click here to learn more about how you can give the gift of life by donating blood.

Today's Saint is Saint Monica, Patron Saint of of the ultimate Catholic Moms. Her longstanding prayers for her son, Augustine, seemed to work out after much patience. Click here to learn more about St. Monica and let's all pray, through her intercession, for our sons and daugthers.

Speaking of sons, I received a very sad email from a friend who lost someone special in Iraq this week. Please join me in praying for the repose of the soul of Tim, for his family, for all of our troops, our world leaders and for lasting peace in our world.

We have an away football game today, so our family will be taking a little road trip to Los Banos - best known for being the place you stop to buy gas on your way to San Francisco if you're from the valley. We have a few spare hours there, so we're going to explore around town a bit and I'll report back on the game and fun stuff to do in Los Banos. Please pray for no injuries!

Sorry for being a neglectful blogger this week and thanks for all of your support and encouragement. I'm hoping to be more on top of things this coming week. I have great Book Club picks for September, some fun new articles and columns to share and much more. Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, August 26, 2005


Thursday, August 25, 2005

Putting the Wheels Back on the Cart

OK, I got overconfident a bit too early. On Tuesday evening, I was congratulating myself for how smoothly this transition week seemed to be going. The boys were back in school with relatively few traumas, the schedule seemed to be going ok, and my own personal "situation" seemed to be progressing well.

By that I mean that I've been attempting to restore some order to the parts of my life that take a back seat during summer vacation. You moms know what I mean...our "routines" fall apart. The things that we take time to do while the kids are in school suddenly go undone during summer vacation. For me, these routines include my personal reading and prayer time, going to the gym, time spent in conversation with my girlfriends, haircuts, going to weight watchers, etc. Also sadly neglected have been my web responsibilities for (thus the stacks of books and mail sitting around my office). During summer, time with my family takes priority over everything else.

Anyway, on Tuesday night as I was drifting off to sleep I thought I had things pretty well under control - and then yesterday hit. Yesterday was the first full day of school, and it reminded me about how crazy our schedule is for nine months of the year. I won't go into all of the gory details, but will just say that there was lots of driving, too many activities, too much homework, bad meal planning and implementation (i.e. cereal for dinner for 3/4 of the family), an overdose of stress and a lost book resulting in an hour delay in the already too late bedtime...

So apparently I don't have it all under control and it's going to take a little more work and a lot more prayer to ease the transition to the chaotic school year schedule. This morning, I'm setting aside some time to desperately attempt to get organized and to find that book (something Eric needs that remains lost despite repeated pleas to St. Anthony - I think he's trying to send me a message that I need to get my act together).

If you're facing the same issues around your home, please know that I'm praying for you as I pray for my own peace of mind. If, unlike me, you do have your act together, would you please say an extra prayer for a crazy woman in California and for that lost book? Thanks!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Book in Question

A few people have written me this morning requesting more information on the book I mentioned in my St. Rose of Lima post. You can take a look at it at Amazon...the only disadvantaged is that your version won't come pre-underlined by my Daddy!

A Rose for Today

One of my greatest pleasures is sitting in the quiet of the morning, when everyone is still asleep except the cat, the hamster and me, and doing my morning reading.

I must admit to being less than disciplined when it comes to this practice, but on those days when the stars align and I make the time, pearls of wisdom found in the daily scriptures and the other books I read give me food for the journey.

One of my favorite "daily books" is my Daddy's 1975 Illustrated Lives of the Saints book, which carries a beautiful inscription to him from his lovely wife, referencing 1975 as "One of the Best Years of Our Life!". I'm not sure when I stole that book from him, but I hope that the graces I receive from reading and praying with it overcome the fact that I snatched it! Holding that book, reading about the lives of the great men and women featured in its pages, and seeing my daddy's underlines in just the right places make me feel close to him, even though he's sitting 2,000 miles away! Conveniently for me, he's already underlined all of the most important passages - a fact not surprising, since he and I tend to think a lot alike!

Today's Saint, Rose of Lima, is a fascinating character. Although I could never withstand the mortifications she practiced, she appears to have been loved in her community for her emphasis on caring for the poor and needy. She is credited with having started Social Services in her native Peru - proof to me that the work of one humble soul can change the world around her.

Here's an interesting quote, attributed to St. Rose of Lima:

Our Lord and Savior lifted up his voice and said with incomparable majesty: "Let all men know that grace comes after tribulation. Let them know that without the burden of afflictions it is impossible to reach the height of grace. Let them know that the gifts of grace increase as the struggles increase. Let men take care not to stray and be deceived. This is the only true stairway to paradise, and without the cross they can find no road to climb to heaven."

God, grant each of us your strength and grace to continue our way along that climb to heaven...

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Back to School

The school supplies have been purchased, labeled and sorted by child. They are strategically organized in the new, compartmentalized backpacks.

The hair has been cut and there are shoes that fit properly and meet uniform code.

The number two pencils have been sharpened to dramatic points.

The white uniform shirts, ironed and hanging at the ready, will make their debut tomorrow and will, for one day, not have any stains on them when they are donned.

The forms, slips, questionnaires, and documentation have been filled out and have the appropriate checks attached (yep, my kids go to Catholic school - so half of this month's checks will be payable to their school).

The boys have been read to, prayed with and tucked into bed (the teenager did negotiate for a later bed time this year). They're not asleep - but they know that the wake up call will be approximately three hours earlier than they're used to tomorrow.

We're all ready...right?

I have a terrible reputation for hating "back to school". It's so bad that a few years ago, a local paper even did a news story about it! The article commented on one mom (me) who avoided all the other moms' gleeful first day of school celebrations in lamentation of the fact that she missed her kids too much.

It's so bad that at this morning's 9:30 mass some of my fellow parishioners checked in on my mental health status and told me they had Kleenex prepared for me for tomorrow.

I think I'm as ready as I'll ever be to send my first born off to 8th grade, where he and his classmates are looking forward to ruling the roost. I'm ready for a year of fun and learning, with teachers who are among the finest human beings I've ever met. I'm ready to see my friends in the parking lot and hear my kids' stories of reuniting with their buddies on the fields at lunchtime.

Blessedly, our school year always commences with an outdoor prayer service first thing in the morning on the first day. We gather as students, teachers, and a surprisingly large faction of parents, to pray for the Lord's intercession on this, another year of learning and living.

There will be songs, hugs, petitions, and yes, probably a few tears on my part. But there will also be the realization that my children are at a wonderful school, surrounded by teachers who love them and families who share our faith and values...and for that blessing I am grateful, and ready.

Friday, August 19, 2005

August Fiction Book Club Pick

I'm pleased to share the following letter to our readers from author Debra Murphy, who penned our August Fiction Selection, The Mystery of Things. For more information on ordering this book click here.

Dear Catholic Mom readers,

I’m honored and excited that The Mystery of Things was chosen for the August fiction read of the book club. But I have a little confession to make, which I hope will make your reading experience more fruitful and enjoyable: You, faithful Catholic mothers, many of you striving for holiness in your family life, were not the “target audience”, as the marketing people like to put it, of my novel: I wrote it primarily with college-age non-Catholics (or lukewarm Catholics) in mind—young people without a firm faith foundation seeking to make sense of their lives and our present troubled culture, often in the face of personal challenges, powerful temptations, and destructive ideologies. (Young people, in fact, like my protagonist, James.) This may help explain for some of you why the book was written with unusual frankness (for an orthodox Catholic novel) about some of those temptations and challenges. Young people nowadays pride themselves on wanting straight talk about the big and thorny issues of life, and I have tried to oblige them.

The Mystery of Things can be read on many different levels: as a whodunnit/whydunnit mystery; as a re-working of the St. George-and-the-Dragon myth in a Midwestern setting; as a love story; as a Bard-lover’s concoction of Shakespearean plots and themes dressed up in contemporary clothes. But it is also a novel about the Theology of the Body and a horror story about how the abuse of sexuality leads to the Culture of Death. Like the familiar frog-in-the-water-over-a-bunson-burner experiment, too many of our young people are so inured to the everyday horrors around us that they don’t see the connection between their personal morality and that Culture of Death. The Mystery of Things was written in part to awaken them to those connections, and to offer a powerful alternative: self-sacrificial love.

I hope you all find the story a good read and a satisfying tale. Oh, and when you’re done, pass it along to one of those twenty-somethings—we all know some; sometimes they’re in our own family—in need of some frank talk about Dragons.

God bless,

Debra Murphy

Thursday, August 18, 2005

True Love

True Love has driven a station wagon, a motor home, a mercedes, a pink cadillac, a "little toughy", a minivan, or a 20 year old convertible mustang and knows that the best road trips are always the ones that take you to unplanned destinations along the way...

True Love has lived in a one bedroom apartment, a duplex, a tract house, a near mansion, a house with no oven in the kitchen, an Urban condo, on a country club and everywhere in between, and knows that the best home is wherever a family lives together in happiness...

True Love always keeps sufficient wine in the rack and diet coke in the fridge...

True Love listens to John Denver eight tracks, tapes of little girls singing church songs, Charlotte Church, Celine Dion, Olivia Newton John, the Grease Soundtrack, or any free concert in the park...

True Love likes sitting in a hot tub, talking for hours on end...

True Love rides along in the golf cart just for fun because someone likes golfing so much...

True Love has had no money, lots of money, a little bit of money, more money, less money, and has always given to Church first and known that God will provide...

True Love has raised five children, who've found five awesome "significant others", all of whom would rather hang around with their parents than their friends...

True Love will fly across the country for a babysitting gig or eat leftovers for a month to send Nana where she's most needed...

True Love has always put faith in God at the center of their marriage, providing a shining example for family and friends of what happiness should look like...

True Love never leaves one good party in search of another!

Happy 43rd Anniversary to my favorite married couple! I love you tremendously and thank God everyday for giving me the perfect example of what marriage is all about!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Return of Frogdor

This little guy has moved into our pool!

Last week, when the VIPs were in town and we were all lounging by the pool, Adam screeched in delight when he found this little frog swimming in the shallow end. Thankfully, mom was not in the pool at the time. I have to admit to being a little squeamish about frogs.

He was christened "Frogdor" (the VIPs got that reference, but mom didn't...) and ceremoniously released into the wilds of the backyard, ostensibly to return to his natural habitat.

Now, a week later, it turns out Frogdor thinks our pool is his natural habitat. He appears to have doubled in size and seems quite content living in the deep end. Adam swears that this is, indeed, the same Frogdor (I'm not sure if he has some identifying scar or what, but I'll take Adam's word for it!).

At the rate he's growing, I'm relatively certain that he'll be a choice entry for next year's title as "Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County". Adam is begging to have him as a pet:

"I promise Mom, he'll be an outdoor frog!"
(Yeah right, like I'd agree to an indoor frog!)

In typical Mom fashion, I have given him the classic "We'll see..." answer and am hoping, once again, that Frogdor will be heading home to his true habitat, which I'm assuming is the nearby river.

In the mean time, Max the hamster (VP for Filing) is considering hiring Frogdor as Receptionist for

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Hearing from a long lost friend!

One of the world's best surprises is finding an email from a long lost friend, one you haven't heard from in quite a while. This happened to me today!

In the midst of my daily email slugging, I found a note from a friend I went to high school with, who decided to contact me out of the blue and found my email address online. I last spoke with her about five years ago at a reunion. I'm a terrible correspondent though, and sadly we lost touch after that.

It was such a fun surprise to hear from her today, and to get caught up on all that's going on in her life. At my age, she has a new 18 month old...that gives me hope that maybe I'm not too old!!! She also has one starting college, and a few in between - her note gave me a wonderful update on her own life and those of her kiddos as well. It was such a great way to start the day!

One beauty of the internet (which is also, perhaps its curse) is that it offers us a way to quickly, easily, and freely connect with one another. If you've lost touch with a friend, a relative or a teacher who meant a lot to you, why not drop that special someone an email and let her know you're thinking of and praying for her. I bet she'll be as happy as I was today!


The correct answer to the Pope Stamp Question is Israel...sorry for posting the wrong link! Not enough coffee I guess!
Here's the correct link!

Do you have a "poignant" make up story to share?

Stephanie contacted me today looking for the following:

I am working on a story for ALL YOU women's magazine (WalMart) at 400 words, about burying the hatchet, making up with a friend, relative, spouse, kid, boss...and how the person did it...after a major conflict that caused upset to both. Always the more poignant, the better... I'm seeking some moms, and ethnics are welcome.

The deadline is tight, of course (the way of journalism...) ...and I would ask for a photo of each person to be e-mailed to me for submission to the editor, so I'm looking for someone between 20 and 60 who presents herself well. I appreciate your help so much! Hope to hear from you. My contact is below.

With best wishes,
Stephanie Stephens
Laguna Niguel, CA & Cambridge, NZ
Office: (949) 388-8439
Cell: (949) 246-0075

If you're a Catholic writer...or want to be one...

You might want to order the CDs from the TAC writer's conference. For $30 you get five CDs with all of the conference speakers, plus the extremely helpful handouts given out that day. For more information contact

Yikes...summer cleaning!

Hi all! Just a quick note to ask for some prayers today. I've run into a "situation" with space management at - I am exceding my space alotment at my current host and need to do some reassessment of the situation. It seems I've outgrown the space I'm paying for yet again...

Please say a prayer for me this morning as I try to resolve this situation quickly! Sometimes, with frustrations like this, I feel like hanging up my keyboard and walking away - but the fact that the site is so busy and full of "stuff" must mean that the Holy Spirit is at work there somewhere. Thanks, as always for your prayers!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Feast of the Assumption

Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. For those who would like to read more about the history and meaning of this feast, visit Crossroads Initiative for a helpful overview. Marcellino also has a concise and interesting MP3 download which I'm planning to share with the boys later today.

From today's Gospel:

And Mary said:

"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever."


I was just exploring this site, which reguested a link from Catholic Mom, and noted that today is their monthly "Buy Nothing Day"...does this mean that I can, in good conscience, procrastinate yet another day on taking the boys Uniform and School Supply shopping?

Actually, it's an interesting concept - to take one day a month and buy nothing. There are probably many days I do that, but I wonder if I could actually do so if I were consciously abstaining from shopping? My only problem today is that Greg made the last of the coffee this morning, so I'd have to wake up really early tomorrow and head out and buy my starbucks...maybe I'll do "Buy Nothing Day" on the 16th!

Start Your Monday with Inspiration

Thanks to my friend Kathy for sharing this link which shares a great little flash movie on the inspirational "Children learn what they live". Warning: if you're at work, turn down your speakers first!

Can You Guess

The first country to come out with a JPII postage stamp? Click here to visit Crossroads Initiative and read the complete story.

Where I'm Wishing to Be This Week

Actually, I'm quite content just where I am, but if I could be one other place this week it would be in Germany, for World Youth Day. I'm hoping to be at the next one with my boys and a group of kids from our church. Sadly, our youth group hasn't been very active of late and I don't know a single kid who will be attending. Many of the other parishes from our area are sending large groups. My prayers go out for safe travels and a wonderful spiritual experience for all who are attending.
Click here to visit the official WYD website

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Teach a Man to Fish...

Adam, our ten year old, has been expressing great interest lately in learning to cook. It started with having access to pouring and preparing his favorite cold cereals. Today, he embarked on the journey to cooking the perfect fried egg.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for encouraging my kids to try new things, but I'm less enthusiastic about things that make a mess for me to clean up once they're done learning. That was the deal today with the eggs - how do you teach a kid to crack eggs, flip them at the perfect moment, and cook them to a state of readiness without either burning down the kitchen or leaving a gooey mess?

Fire didn't happen, but the gooey mess did...and I just smiled, congratulated Adam on his beautiful eggs, and cleaned it up. Inside my head, I was less than positive, but I tried really hard not to let it show.

Encouraging our kids to grow and become independent is our jobs, right? Then why does it have to be so tough sometimes?! I know cooking an egg and the resultant mess is no big deal, but these days it feels like my kiddos are racing to exert their independence more than ever. While I'm grateful for their efforts, a small part of me (or maybe not so small) would like to keep them in that stage where the mother/son bond is strong, love-filled and (she admits, filled with guilt) core to survival.

What I don't want to encourage is a bond based solely on I guess I'll keep letting Adam try new recipes, despite goo.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Get Ready for the Big Show Tonight

We'll be out in the back yard with a campfire and s'mores:

Every August, when many people go vacationing in the country where skies are dark, the best-known meteor shower makes its appearance -- the Perseids.

In 2005, the Perseids are expected to reach their maximum on August 12. Peak activity is unfortunately predicted for the daylight hours across North America.

Sky watchers are thus encouraged to watch during the predawn hours of Friday, August 12 and again during the early morning hours of Saturday

Click here for more information

Did You Miss Me?

Well, there's been a decided neglect of blogging lately, due to the fact that I've been busy enjoying time with the VIPs. On Tuesday, we saw "March of the Penguins" - it's hard to imagine being entertained for ninety minutes by nothing but penguins, but this movie was simply incredible! If you have a chance, make the time to see it. The film is beautifully photographed and features stunning scenery. The stars of the show, the empire penguins, are simply fascinating. The film describe one year in the life of a tribe of penguins, their march to find a mate, the monogamous relationships they pursue, the birth of their chicks, and the hardships the parents endure to ensure life and sustenance for their young. It's just a great movie - all in attendance loved it.

Yesterday, we took a day trip to Yosemite. I'm lucky enough to live an hour from the south gate - something I all too frequently take for granted. We spent the day tromping near waterfalls, taking gentle hikes, lunching on pizza and just generally enjoying one another's company. God's majesty is resplendent at Yosemite - both in the towering sequoias and powerful waterfalls and in the quiet breezes across the meadows filled with wildflowers. I should visit more's like taking a retreat!

The VIPs are off on their own today for a day trip to Monterey, and I'm already missing their company. It should be a good day to catch up on a few things, but I think I'm going to goof off with the boys instead. The lazy days of summer will soon be over, and there will be plenty of time for work then!

Monday, August 08, 2005

The VIPs Arrive Today!

Ready or not, my special guests arrive at our house later today. The guestrooms and bathrooms are relatively clean and I'm waiting with great anticipation.

I remember that in our childhood, when my grandparents would come to visit us from across the country, my siblings and I would wait outside on the curb all day the day they were expected. They always drove, and my parents must have had a vague idea of the time frame when they'd arrive, but to us kids it felt like we waited on that curb for hours.

The excitement would build as the time passed until we would see them pull onto the street. It's the same excitement I feel now whenever I open my home to family or visiting friends. You want everything to be ready for them, as if the cleanliness that greets them could relay to them how happy you are to have them in your home!

My childhood home was filled with visitors - we lived in Southern California, close to Disneyland, so perhaps that added to our appeal as a destination. But I prefer to think that it was my parents' welcoming hearts and the warmth of their invitation that drew people for visits.

My daddy had a special tourist circuit that we'd take guests on - they saw all of the high points for Southern California when they came to our house! I don't remember my parents ever conveying the impression that guests were an imposition. They even entertained guests they didn't know, including a French youth I'd met during my European travels who showed up unannounced and indicated I'd invited him to visit if he was ever in the area. I don't think I was even living at home at the time - but my mom and dad welcomed him and showed him hospitality.

I hope our home is half as welcoming as the home of my childhood, and that we'll be lucky enough to continue to welcome VIPs!

Tomato Chocolate Cake???

This recipe arrived in my mailbox today. I didn't think it was possible for me to not like chocolate cake, but this sounds downright yucky. Has anyone ever done this?

Chocolate Tomato Soup Cake

Put one 18-ounce box of dry chocolate cake mix into a large bowl and add one 10-3/4 ounce can of undiluted tomato soup, one teaspoon of baking soda and two eggs. Mix well. Bake according to the cake mix directions. For a quick frosting, cover the top of the cake with marshmallows right before you remove it from the oven.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Meet My File Clerk

This is Max, the holy hamster! Max is the Vice President for Filing at - he also helps out with my laundry.

Adam and I have discovered recently that the big bathtub in mom and dad's bathroom is a great place for Max to run around. He can exercise and we don't have to worry to much about him escaping (which he'd like to do...he hates doing all that laundry!).

Today we decided to get a good picture of Max, which is touch to do when he's in his cage. Have you ever tried to get a hamster to stand still for a close up??? This is my best shot! He's not smiling in the picture...typical!

In Cast You Missed It The First Time Around

Click here to view my interview with Fr. Richard Devine, Medical Ethicist. I found his attitude on this difficult topic to be very Christ-like and positive.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Support and Encouragement for Adopted Children

Anyone who has participated in the adoption process (or is considering adoption) will want to take a look at my interview with Stacie Cahill, author of a wonderful children's book entitled Who Am I?. Stacie, a therapist and mom of three, shares her heart and her take on adoption in this interview. Click here to enjoy a few moments with Stacie.


Although it's less pertinent in summer, I always love Fridays! This week, I'm rejoicing because we've almost survived the first week of football intact, Greg and Adam come home tonight, and we have a relatively un-busy weekend.

In the waning days of summer, I treasure those unscheduled days when the hardest decision is when to go swimming and what to grill for dinner. All too soon, we'll be back into the hustle and bustle, running from school to sports practices, to homework and everything else. That's not to mention any "business" types of commitments...

For now, I'm reveling in the prospect of a weekend with my men! Hope you have a great one too!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Every Monday Morning

I get so many books to review, but every now and then a really special one comes along. That's the case with Every Monday Morning by Linda Hutton. It's written for kids, but I think that Linda's message of service to others will really resonate with grown ups too! Click here to read my review and think about sharing this with a special child in your life. It's always inspiring to read stories about people who go out of their way to do nice things for others!

Stack Management Day

I'm a stacker...everyone has their way of organizing things, and mine is to create piles of items that need to be dealt with - bills, laundry, books or cds to review, calendar items...I'm surrounded by stacks!

Every few weeks the stacks start to overtake my life and I have to spend a day or two doing "stack management" - this typically involves resorting the stacks, putting some things away, throwing others away, and recreating new (and hopefully smaller) stacks.

This "system" flies in the face of everything I've read about time management and efficiency. If you're a good time manager, you touch everything only once and deal with it immediately...there's no stacking involved because you've dealt with the item the first time you touched it and it's relegated to its proper place.

I've tried this, but it doesn't work for me. I have to be in the right mood/frame of mind for certain things. Frequently I'm not! Frequently I'd rather go for a walk with Eric, swim with Adam, play my violin, talk on the phone to my mom or sisters, surf the internet, or just goof off.

There's been a good bit of goofing off this week, so the rest of today needs to be spent in Stack Management Mode. The VIP guests arrive next week, and there are serious stacks littering their accommodations!

Usually in the midst of a day like this I make a resolution to stop procrastinating and get more organized. Maybe today's the day that resolution sticks...who knows? OK, off to deal with the stacks!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Getting Ready for Back to School

I know it's early, but according to this checklist there are some things we should be doing now to get ready. Click here if you're an organized Mom or Dad (or Nana!)
This is about the time every year that I start to seriously consider moving to Maui and homeschooling....

Rest in Peace Susan

To read a statement from Susan's family released at today's news conference, click here. Prayers for the family and baby Susan continue.

Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord.
And let perpetual light shine upon her.
May she rest in peace. Amen

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Susan Torres Update

Here's a link to the story indicating that Susan Rollins Torres has given birth to a little girl today - click here for additional details and please join my family in prayers and support for this family.

Arnold - Looking Good!

Take a peek at my birthday present..all new and improved! It's amazing what a great paint job can do!

Trials of a Football Mom

The party's over...with the dawn of August came the start of daily football practice for Eric (five days a week with equipment pickup on Saturday - they give us Sunday as a day of rest!). Adam and Greg left town Sunday for a weeklong trip to the mountains to meet up with Greg's high school friends. I could have left Eric with grandma or a friend, but I knew it was time to take up my duties for the season as Football Mom.

Football Mom is kind of like a toughened up version of Soccer Mom. I'm still learning the ropes, but these are some of the duties of a (Catholic) Football Mom:

* Spend the summer feeding son healthy doses of lean protein to add healthy weight in hopes that he'll be one of the bigger guys on the team (he thinks that's because you want him to start, but it's actually because you want him to be the smash-er instead of the smash-ee!)

* In the heat of a Fresno summer, run with him (or a few steps behind) and do those terrible two person sit ups where you pass the football between the two of you - I can usually do about 43 sit ups and then I just stand there and hand him the ball while he does too many for me to count. Do pushups with him...and no, you can't do the "girl" pushups. Even if you can only do eight non-girl pushups!

* Realize that once practice season starts, your personal schedule revolves around his football practice - football coaches don't seem to care about "family commitments"...those need to happen in July.

* On the first night of practice, you're not allowed to get out of the car to chat with other parents...if you do feel compelled to get out of the car for any reason, you must allow football player son to exit the car first, drive off as though you're leaving, park at least a block away where mom's car is not visible, and then sneak back to visit with other moms (who have all been given the same death-glare when they tried to walk their sons to practice).

* Up until this year, as a Football Mom I was allowed to walk around the high school track during practice. Apparently there's a new rule for eighth grade Football Moms: You must leave the grounds during practice. If you feel the need to watch, you must do so from a great distance and only if other moms are already present and watching. It's really better if you show up two minutes before practice ends with an icy beverage and an airconditioned car.

* There are two essential items that must be carried by a Catholic Football Mom at all times - a charged up cell phone and a Rosary...need I explain these?

Luckily, football season begins with a one week conditioning period in t shirts and shorts before the boys receive their pads and helmets. I'm pretty sure that the conditioning is for the Football Moms, whose skills have grown rusty and nerves have grown weak since last season...

Monday, August 01, 2005

One Stop Shopping for Sunday Gospel Activities

For some reason, one of the most popular features of is the weekly coloring page. Also popular are the word searches, crosswords and Mass Worksheets that are prepared to go along with each Sunday's Gospel reading. Preparing and posting these takes up a good chunk of time each week (that's why I take a break during the summer) and I've been looking for a good way to streamline this. I'm also working on making them more accessible and easier to find, so I've come up with this grid and I'll be working on getting the rest of this page better organized also. It's turned into a real mess! Say a prayer for me while I try to get it cleaned up (it's more fun than mopping my kitchen, which is what I should be doing today!). Inspiring and thought provoking blog posts may be limited this week as I take care of some of this web housekeeping stuff prior to the start of the school year.