Short and sweet

It takes about 90 minutes of brisk walking to work off the calories in 2 oz of chocolate.

Get moving.


Thanks to Peter, we now know the opposite of “gooder” – meaning “more good than”.


My spell check is freaking out.


Do your kids play the “Punch Buggy” game?

Mine do, but Mary is a little off. 

For her, it’s “Punch Billy.”

“Punch Billy, Yellow!” she’ll say.

My husband responds, “Punch Billy, Black!”

My line is “Punch Billy, Blue!”


In New Jersey, road-side stands on Holy Saturday are filled with potted spring flowers: lillies, tulips, daffodils and hyacinths.  Every color imaginable.  Grocery stores compete.

I got very used to that when we lived there, but I’ve not seen it anywhere else since…at least not to that extent.  I had a hard time finding any spring flowers this past weekend, and I paid a boatload for the 4 plants I did purchase.

I don’t ever plan to live there again, but I can sure miss the state once a year.


I managed to surprise my husband yesterday and gave him a small party in honor of his completing his Master’s degree.  Yesterday, I had a meeting on post, and I typically go out to lunch with him afterward.  I had planned the surprise with his administrative assistant to occur at lunchtime.  On Easter Sunday, I casually asked if we could have lunch on Tuesday.  He said, unfortunately, that he could not because of an urgent meeting that had been set up on Friday at the last minute.  A few more questions proved to me that this was no ruse by his coworkers to cover the surprise.  I had a few moments of panic, but decided that we would have to hold the party at 11 am whether I was there or not.  Fortunately, my meeting ended early and all was well.


Lastly, I have a prayer request.  My BIL is supposed to leave some foreign land to come home for R&R very soon.  Unfortunately, the timing is off on his travel, and he will likely be home and have to leave again just a few days before his son’s confirmation.  Poor weather, perfectly timed to delay just the right flights, would be very convenient.  His safety demands my vagueness, but God will know who you mean and what he needs.  Thanks!

Ready or Not…

…the Triduum is here.

I confess, I am mostly not.

I think a late Easter, now coming in the full swing of kids’ sports and other activities hasn’t helped.  Neither has living in this part of the country where spring comes early and the outdoors is calling.

Neither has two straight weeks of house guests helped.  But, I assure you, sister, extended relatives, and friends, it is worth it to see you.

So, my house is not top-to-bottom spic and span spring cleaned.

So, tonight we have our quirky not-Passover meal with lamb and matzohs where we talk about the symbolism of Passover and what it means to us as Christians, and celebrate the birthday of the Church…only I don’t happen to have lamb or matzohs yet…and the kids are old enough to know what today is and what we always do and won’t be happy or fooled with substitutions. 

So, I don’t have any Easter candy purchased, except for the expensive, good stuff made at a local family, chocolate shop which is definitely not for the kids.

So, the kids will not be in matching or color-coordinated outfits this Easter.

So what.

We have prayed, we have sacrificed, we have confessed.  The important things are done.

Have a peaceful, stress-free Triduum, as I plan to.  And have a blessed Easter.

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

Linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter.


Last fall, the landlord asked my husband if we really liked this rose bush because he was thinking of cutting it down.  Why?  Because he likes things to be symmetrical, and this lone bush in the front of our asymmetrical house didn’t offer the right balance.  My husband knows I love this bush, so he strongly urged the man to spare it.


Getting ready to sing me “Happy Birthday.”  I had a fabulous day…enough spoiling to last until my 50th.


Mary and Peter were having some sort of war game.  I just love how Mary needs to dress appropriately for battle: light sabre, beret, fancy dress.


My gray hairs.  I tried hard to take this picture myself, but couldn’t get it right.  I asked my husband, and he only did it under duress.  “Why do you want a picture of your gray hairs?” he demanded.  He insists that I am perpetually 18 – the age when we met.  He just feels guilty for causing the gray.

This is also real, but prettier – I had Fritz take one of my sister and I while I had makeup on, hair curled, and contacts lenses in.  I think I took the contacts out right after this.  They bother my eyes so much.  My sister, who is 5 years younger than I am, was getting a bit distressed that several times we’d been asked by strangers if we were twins “Do I look 40?” she moaned.  The appropriate response is that we both look 30.  Right?

Celebrating Birthdays during Lent

Even if nobody in your immediate family has a birthday in February, March or April, chances are, at some point, extended family or friends will have one during that time period.  And since birthdays mean celebrations, this often becomes a touchy subject if you are trying to observe an austere Lent.  What is a proper way to “celebrate” something during a time period where many family and friends give up sweets, eating out, and other fun activities?  What should you do if you or your children are invited to participate in such festivities even though your family is trying to set aside Lent as a more reflective season?

In my family there are two of us with possible Lenten birthdays.  Billy, a February baby, and I, born in April, have birthdays that are usually in Lent.  Two years ago, Billy’s birthday was on Ash Wednesday.  Mine has been on Good Friday.  Since these days are strict days of fasting and abstinence, it is pretty clear that any celebrating needs to be shifted to a different day.  Excepting these days, let’s consider the rest of Lent.

I am one who shuns “parties” during Lent.  If you’ve read my blog for an length of time, you probably realize that I am the sort of person who will find any excuse to get together with friends and alcohol and a good guacamole.  Nevertheless, when Lent rolls around, I close up the liquor cabinet, put away the martini glasses, and shove the tonic water to the back of the pantry.  So, when an invitation comes for a birthday party, my inclination is to decline.  It’s not in keeping with the season of prayer and introspection.

But is that fair?

Consider the child born in the middle of March.  That child is always going to have a Lenten birthday.  Imagine of she were told, “Sorry, honey, no cake for you!” or “We’ll have a party for you in April after Easter,” or “Everybody said they couldn’t come to your party because we only have devout Catholic friends who strictly observe a 40 day fast,” or “Because it’s Lent, we’re serving tuna fish sandwiches and sugar-free ice cream at your birthday dinner.”

It’s not the child’s fault for being born during Lent. 

Now, some people simply move a celebration to the closest Sunday.  That’s fine.  I have done that, especially when my birthday has fallen so very close to Easter.  That one year, we celebrated Billy’s birthday on Mardi Gras.  However, a birthday is a birthday.  I don’t typically move birthday celebrations for my non-Lenten birthday children and don’t think the Lent birthdays should always have to be relocated.

At my home, your birthday, generally, means that you pick dinner and you pick dessert.  Sometimes we include other people in our celebrating.  Sometimes we allow the child to pick a restaurant.  This year, for Billy’s ordinary time birthday, I treated 3 other families (10 additional children) to ice cream at our favorite local shop.  He picked steak for dinner. 

Had his birthday been in Lent, I would have done the same thing, although I would not have made steak on a Friday.  It’s a special day. 

A friend called me a few weeks ago, uncertain how to handle her young children’s piety.  It was a early in Lent, and she was hosting a modest celebration for a friend who was turning 50.  50 is a big deal.  That March birthday person should get a cake on his birthday when he turns 50, and friends and family should celebrate with him in his honor.  It’s not much fun to eat cake alone.  My friend’s little boys declared that they would not eat cake, having given up sweets for Lent.  I suspect, a month later, that perhaps they would be less resolute.  My friend’s littlest boy, though, said that he would eat cake.  This was a great opportunity to teach the boys about keeping penances to oneself, both as an act of mortification, and so as to not make others feel guilty for being less gung-ho.

It’s also a good time to consider that voluntary penances are not morally binding and may be lifted without guilt for special reasons.  In other words, having a slice of cake to honor someone on their birthday is not a bad thing, even if you gave up sweets for Lent.

Now.  If you, the mom, made a three layer triple chocolate fudge cake with mint icing (serves 40) for your family of 4 to celebrate your baby’s first birthday, and then justified eating the leftovers for the next week and a half because you didn’t want to waste it, I’d have to disagree.  Plan ahead. 

I, often, make cupcakes for Lent birthdays and put the unfrosted leftovers in the freezer until Easter.

Sometimes, I make a big cake for Mardi Gras, freeze the leftovers, and use that for my birthday cake.

Sometimes, I freeze my birthday cake and use the remainder for a cake on Holy Thursday.

Usually, I try to make sure that there are enough people or the cake is small so that there are no leftovers.

This year, I ordered an ice cream cake (from our favorite local shop).  Any leftovers will do just nicely in the freezer.


Speaking of this year, TODAY is my birthday.  I am 40.  I am really quite happy about that. 

So far, this week has been fabulous, and today’s plans include a lot of spoiling of me.  My sister is in town, and she’s coordinating a perfect day.  She will flog children who don’t treat me like a queen.  I will do another post on how wonderful my friends and family are and what we are doing to celebrate.  The bottom line is that today, just today, Lent is on hold…at least Lenten sacrifices.  We are eating good food and having a relaxing day.  40 just seems to be a big deal and deserving of special attention.

Name that Drink

In honor of Laetare Sunday, we’re taking a bit of a break from our Lenten sacrifices. 

I had bacon for breakfast.  Yum.

And we had after dinner drinks.  Can you guess what?

All the ingredients are shown.  But the Triple Sec is slightly hidden.  And we only used one kind of rum.

Command Presence

Yesterday we went into Savannah to see the Privateer Lynx before it heads north.  If you are along it’s route, you may find it interesting.  Bill, who has just finished the Patrick O’Brian series set (mainly) during the War of 1812, and Billy, who has been reading about the same time period for history, found the tour especially interesting.

Bill was in the front of the boat, just past the galley.  I was in the middle near the entrance to an area below deck.  Mary was playing near the galley door where a crew member was working.  The kids were heading below deck, and I was going to follow them, so I attracted Bill’s attention to Mary.

“You need to keep your eyes on her!” I ordered.

He nodded.  I went below deck.

Later, he came up to me and said that the woman in the galley thought I was telling her to watch Mary.  When she saw Bill, she asked if she was relieved of that duty and could get back to her real job.

I did go and explain and apologize to her.

My husband’s comment: “I wish I had your command presence!”

Breakfast ideas

I’m going to the grocery store and making my list. 

Confession: we eat cereal here.  I know there are so many of you supermoms out there who make nice hot breakfasts (and lunches) for your deserving families.  You are wonderful people.  I do not do this.  Yes, sometimes, I feel guilty about it.  But generally, I just feel relieved that I have one less task to do.  And for most of my children, I don’t even serve them, breakfast or lunch.  And we don’t sit down as a family for those meals either.  Self-serve, eat when you are hungry (within reasonable parameters).

Dinner, though, is usually a family affair.  And yummy and hot.

So, back to grocery shopping.  And list making.  I usually buy cereal with coupons, because there are lots of cereal coupons every week in the paper.  I have a coupon for Frosted Mini Wheats.  But Katie doesn’t like FMW, the brand; she prefers the Malt-O-Meal equivalent.  Whatever.  With a coupon it’s probably the same price, or the MOM is cheaper anyway.

Peter, though, likes the flavored FMW.  The coupon reminds me that he had asked for that kind, so I asked him to confirm his request.

“What flavor?” I wanted to know.

“All of them,” he said.

“Well, the coupon is only for two, so that’s all I’m going to get.  What do you like best?”


He is my son.  For the record, they don’t have that flavor (Peter was disappointed to learn this), but I’m wondering what Kellog’s thinks of that idea.  I’m wondering if they can include caffeine…