Monday, June 30, 2008

It's Officially Summer Now

And how do I know?

Because the counselors are at the park. And so are all the "regulars". The counselors start work at nine. My kids were there about ten of. When I looked over about quarter after I spotted most of the kids that hung out there last summer. So now it's official. We're in summer vacation land.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Universal Church

That's what the Catholic Church calls itself - that's what 'catholic' means after all. And I find it comforting that wherever I attend Mass on any given Sunday - or weekday - the Mass itself will be the same. The music choices may be different, the sermon will be different, but the prayers and the readings - and most importantly the Blessed Body and Blood of Christ will all be the same.

Generally speaking we attend just one church now. Occasionally we'll go to another local church if circumstances warrant - but we don't tend to venture too far afield. And when we've gone on vacation with the kids it's often a Monday to Friday vacation and we're back home for Mass on Sunday.

But there was a time when we traveled more - and attended Mass in various places.

When I was fifteen I spent a month with my cousin in Germany. I attended Mass in their small and very ornate - with wonderfully decorated ceilings - church. Perhaps it was the same church my ancestors once attended (I'll have to check with my cousin.) Of course going to Mass in Germany meant that the Mass was in German (for the first time in my life I understood why Latin might be handy.)

I didn't understand what was being said during most of the Mass. But I knew what was going on nonetheless. I knew when the readings were being read and that the responsorial psalm was being sung. I knew when the Gospel was being proclaimed - and of course I stood for it. I did know some of my prayers in German so was able to say the Our Father and the creed. I knew when the petitions were being made and was able to respond "Bitte fur uns" with the congregation. And of course I knew when the miracle of transubstanation had occured and that Jesus was present in the Body and Blood of Christ.

I didn't know the words - but I knew the Mass.

Most Masses I've been to since then have been in English (actually, probably all of them). And while each one is the same - in that is The Mass. There are also differences. And that's what makes going to other churches so interesting.

When my husband and I used to travel more on weekends we often ended up having to go to Mass in the local church. We had some wonderful experiences.

There was the church in Watkins Glen, NY where a priest had just gotten back from Rome and had blessed medallions that we was handing out. We declined to take any - figuring we were just visitors - but the person next to us in the pew insisted. We each kept those medallions for years (both were eventually lost).

There was the church in Montana where the congregation was so small that the priest knew everyone. So when a contingent of people (in town for a wedding) came in - he noticed - and asked us where we were from. And welcomed us heartily to his parish.

There was the church in Colorado where instead of a crucifix behind the altar there was a wall of glass. And beyond that wall - the Rocky Mountains. As we participated in Mass we could see the wonders of God's creation - including an eagle swooping by.

There was another church in Colorado - that we attended for the Feast of the Assumption. It was a Thursday - we were on vacation - we weren't exactly at our best dressed - but when we got to Mass everyone was dressed up. It didn't take long to figure out why. It was the Graduation Mass for their parish school. Yup, a special Mass for the three boys who were graduating from eigth grade. It was the most touching ceremony - I ended up with tears in my eyes - and I didn't know a person in the place.

And one of the best Masses - was in the Cathedral of the Pines. And where is that you ask? Why on my Uncle's property in the hills by the New York Fingerlakes. There beneath the canopy of pine trees, my grandparents renewed their wedding vows at a special outdoor mass in honor of their 40th wedding anniversary in 1975.

One time, though, I attended Mass in a church while away from home (I won't even say which state) and I got a particularly bad feeling while there. The odd thing was that there was nothing about the Mass that I could pinpoint as wrong or bad in any way. A baptism was performed and people were joyful about it. They sang nice songs. The sermon was okay. But I had a distinct feeling of uneasiness the whole time I was there - as if there was evil lurking there. That had never happened to me before - and has never happened since. I know nothing about that parish - I didn't try to track down if there was something amiss there (I'm no super sleuth). But I felt evil pushing in on me while there.

Overall though, my experience with visiting other parishes has been positive. I recommend it to everyone. When on vacation, go to the local church. You never know what treasures might await you there.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"A" my sentence is ....

We created a new game today.

Pippi was reading The Emerald Tablet by PJ Hoover and came across this sentence:
"And apparently addictive," Andy added.

"Every word starts with an A," Pippi pointed out. "Do you think she did that on purpose?"

We don't know if that sentence was intentionally "a"full, but we tried to see if we could come up with a sentence that made sense, starting every word with B.

"Bother!" barked Boris.

or C?

"Cute cats," cooed Carl.

We got all the way up to R before we were at my Mom's and we ended the game.

"Gadzooks," gasped Gloria, "Great Game!"

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Last Day

We've finally done it. We've gotten to the last day of school. Is there anyone going later than us? It doesn't seem possible. (And I looked at next year's school calendar - and discovered we're scheduled to go until June 25 next year - I hope that's wrong.)

They went to school, played games had a party, Pippi watched a movie: Toy Story 2. Honestly, they could have been home. They probably would have learned more. (Not that I expect learning the last day, but honestly, the past week has been like this.)

We stopped to chat with the crossing guard on our way home. We've been passing Miss Caroline's corner now since Pippi was in pre-school. Next year Pippi will go a different way to Middle School - it's the end of an era. Of course, Pippi will swing by the elementary school on her way home, to collect Harry - so she'll still see Miss Caroline in the afternoons.

It's the end of an era - the first of my children to finish elementary school. It doesn't seem that long since she started kindergarten. Heck, even pre-school was just last week (or so it seems). I remember before she started pre-school, we were visiting a friend who was going to go to the same pre-school. Pippi said with enthusiasm "we can do our homework together!"

And next year she'll be in Middle School. We already got her lock for her locker - she wanted to practice. We'll need to buy clothes that meet the new school uniform dress code requirements - but that can wait.

Now it's time for summer vacation. Tomorrow we head to Ammy's and the pool!

Tuesday's Proverb

By me kings reign, and lawgivers establish justice; By me princes govern, and nobles; all the rulers of earth.(Proverbs 8:15-16)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

I Can See Right Through You

I don't remember how it came about, but I suggested once to Pippi that a good alternative to swearing (especially at another person) was to simply use a normal word in another language. And I gave her the example "Fenster" - which is simply 'window' in German. Nothing offensive there.

Fenster came up in conversation today (yes, I'll admit it seems to be one of the few German vocabulary words that I can remember consistently) (and yes, we do have odd dinner time conversations.) Not sure what led to this but Harry wanted me to spell a German word for him. I spelled Fenster.

Pippi shouted, "Window" and reminded me of my hint to use that as a 'curse' if necessary.

Then she turned to her brother, pointed at him and said "Fenster! I can see right through you!"

Friday, June 20, 2008

She's Wired

Or perhaps I should say "wireless".

Today was the promotion ceremony for the fifth grade. They still have two days of school left, but today was the big day in terms of awards and all that.

We went out to dinner to celebrate - and we got Pippi a gift.

Her own cell phone.

She is over the moon.

It's a pay-as-you go plan and that's what we'll keep it as for the time being. If in the future another plan looks like a better fit - we'll switch. We've explained it's for emergencies and times she needs to contact someone and isn't near a phone. If she's home she's to use the regular phone. If she wants to talk to a friend who is within shouting distance - she's to shout. :)

This is not something she has ever asked for. She's never hinted for one or sounded envious when friends of hers had phones. I wasn't even sure if she really wanted one. But judging by her delighted reaction - she did want one. So I'm glad we were able to make her day. A kid who works as hard as she does deserves a nice reward now and then.

(Oh, and of course now Harry wants a phone too. But he's just going to have to wait till he finishes fifth grade.)

The Edge of the Forest - June Issue is Up

Once again, Kelly has outdone herself with this issue of The Edge of the Forest. Be sure to head on over and check out all the great content.

And that content is (lifted directly from Kelly over at Big A little a)
Okay, now here's the scoop on the June issue:
The Edge of the Forest will return the first week of August with our July-August issue and a technical redesign.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Summer (Almost) Fun

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After school today (at least it was a half day) we went to Ammy and Grampy's to see the twins who are spending the night there. Harry and Pippi love spending time with their cousins (who we'll call Princess and Spidey.)

A Little More Baseball

At the last baseball game of the season, last Friday, Harry got to pitch again. No strike outs this time - but he had fun with it. And I'll say this about that game - the weather was beautiful. It seemed that most of this season it was either too cold or too hot (or rained out). This was one of about two games where you could say the weather was just right!

I think if you want to see the video clips you need to click on the picture and let it take you to Picasa Web.

It's Almost Summer

The daisies are waving their bright and cheerful heads at me. My children would be bright and cheerful too if we were in summer vacation yet. But we're not. I'm beginning to think we're the last school district to get out for the summer. June 24th - anyone go later? (For your sake I hope not).
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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tuesday's Proverb

Mine are counsel and advice; Mine is strength; I am understanding. (Proverbs 8:14)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Gossip and Rumors

I don't consider myself much of a gossip. I'm not sure that's because of any overwhelming virtue on my part, or because I don't often know too much that is going on. I do know that stories once started are hard to stop and that rumors can take on a life of their own.

This was brought home to me today. I was on the playground with my kids before school and another mother made a beeline for me. "You would know if anyone would," she said, "Did Rose R. break her leg?"

Now, Rose is one of my best and dearest friends, and I had last spoken to her on Tuesday. I certainly hadn't heard that she had broken her leg - but if she did, I'm not certain calling me and telling me would be one of her top priorities.

"The crossing guard told me that Rose R. was in the hospital with a broken leg," this mom continued. There was another mother there who was supposed to be meeting Rose that morning. She hadn't heard anything either. "See who drives her car-pool" someone suggested.

And a few minutes later, there was Rose, letting kids out of her car on two perfectly good legs.

By the time I talked to her (after the flag-day ceremony) she said she'd been hearing this story from multiple places. She doesn't know how it got started. "I can be forgetful sometimes," she said, "but I'm pretty sure I would have remembered if I'd broken my leg." The stories she heard even involved her seventh-grader making the call to 911.

"Who do you think did break a leg?" I asked her.

"There's Rose S., she has a daughter in the middle school too - I hope she didn't break a leg," Rose said, "but maybe it's her."

So I don't know if someone named Rose is suffering from a broken leg this morning - and if she is I wish that person a speedy recovery. My thoughts on this though go back to gossip and rumor. No one involved in this had anything less than Rose's best intentions at heart. If something was wrong they wanted to know so they could help - and they wanted to pass the information to friends who also could help. Now Rose didn't need any help (at least with her leg, she'd be quick to point out). But look how quickly a false story spread through the playground moms. How many questions is Rose going to have to field about her non-broken leg?

It just drives home the point, that even if you think you have your information from a reliable source it may not be completely accurate.

And trying to un-tell a rumor is like trying to gather all the little puffs from a dandelion.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Start of Something Wonderful

Forty-three years ago these two youngsters got married. Four kids and 6 grandchildren (with one on the way) later they are still happily married. Their love for each other has been a wonderful example for my brothers and me to follow as we raise our own families.

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for everything.

And Happy Anniversary.
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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

New Mattress

Life imitates art around here. Or maybe art imitates life. All I know is that today Pippi got a new mattress, and she made sure that her dollhouse family got a new mattress too. See them removing the old mattress, while the kids look on. See Pippi's old mattress going out the door. See the dolls with the new mattress, rady to put it on the bed? See Pippi's new mattress. Cool, huh?

She likes to make the scenes in her doll house imitate life. I wish I'd gotten a picture of the scene she did when she was struggling with an essay she didn't want to write. One of the dolls was sitting in the dollhouse kitchen with crumpled up paper all over the floor around him.
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Tuesday's Proverb

(The fear of the LORD is to hate evil;) Pride, arrogance, the evil way, and the perverse mouth I hate. (Proverbs 8:13)

Monday, June 09, 2008

Yeah - It's Hot

When it's pushing 90 at 8:30 in the morning you know you are in for a brutal day.

The school district called for an early dismissal due to excessive heat.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Bookworms' Reviews

I know a couple of bookworms. They read everything they can get their hands on. And now they are trying something new. They are going to review what they read as well. Book reviews by adults are wonderful tools to let people know what to expect from a book. These will be book reviews by the kids the books are aimed at. Adults tell us if they like a book and if they think children will like the book. These kids will let you know what they think.

The reviewers in question are my children. We know them here as Pippi and Harry. They are eleven and eight. You might expect more thoughtful reviews from the eleven year old, but that doesn't mean the eight year old won't speak his mind as well.

There are already two reviews on the site - and more will come. Once they get out of school in a couple of weeks they'll have even more time for reading and reviewing.

The blog is Bookworms' Reviews. You can also link to it by clicking on the picture up top. I'll try to make a button at some point that also has the text on it. (I need the other computer for that, but it's comfortable here in the room with the air conditioning, so I'm not moving.)

Saturday, June 07, 2008


Some play. And some watch.
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Friday, June 06, 2008

Poetry Friday - Buckingham Palace

When I spent a semester in London many years ago my friends and I ended up not doing a lot of the touristy things you might expect. And one of the things we never saw was the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. We did see the palace. We saw the guard there, but never were there for the "changing of the guard".

Yet, this poem by A.A. Milne reminds me of that time.

And - okay - here's the full story about our trip to Buckingham Palace. We were doing our 'let's be tourists' for the day thing - and we had a pathetic little tourist map and very little information. We came to a large building opposite a large statue of a woman (Queen Victoria as it turns out). We went up to the fence of the building (you'd think there'd be signs or something saying "This is Buckingham Palace" but there weren't - I guess you're just supposed to know, kind of like the White House.) But the guards were there and there were signs that indicated what time the "changing of the guard" took place. This resulted in some consultation between us and we decided that, yes, it was Buckingham Palace where the changing of the guard took place - so that must be where we were.

Without further ado:
Buckingham Palace
by A. A. Milne

They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace -
Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
Alice is marrying one of the guard.
"A soldier's life is terrible hard,"
Says Alice.

They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace -
Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
We saw a guard in a sentry-box.
"One of the sergeants looks after their socks,"
Says Alice.

They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace -
Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
We looked for the King, but he never came.
"Well, God take care of him, all the same,"
Says Alice.

They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace -
Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
They've great big parties inside the grounds.
"I wouldn't be King for a hundred pounds,"
Says Alice.

They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace -
Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
A face looked out, but it wasn't the King's.
"He's much too busy a-signing things,"
Says Alice.

They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace -
Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
"Do you think the King knows all about me?"
"Sure to, dear, but it's time for tea,"
Says Alice.

The Poetry Friday Round Up is by Sarah at just another day of Catholic Pondering.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Band Concert

The other day I posted video of Harry playing his guitar. Well, he's not the only musical child in the family. Pippi has been playing the clarinet for two years and tonight was her band concert. Twice the second year clarinets had songs all to themselves. They did a great job. They have a wonderful band director, who unfortunately was out most of last year battling cancer. He's back now and seems to be doing quite well.

If the above slide show works like I think it should if you click on the video pictures it should bring you to Picasa Web Albums and you can hear the clarinets play Tequila and Aura Lee (Love me Tender).

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Tuesday's Proverb

I, Wisdom, dwell with experience, and judicious knowledge I attain. (Proverbs 8:12)

Monday, June 02, 2008


I got a new toy today. A new digital camera that also takes video with sound (I know most cameras do that nowadays - but our camera was several years old already - a dinosaur by technological standards.)

So - I tried a video. It's Harry playing his guitar before bed. He's just started learning Freebird.

Okay - after a few false starts I got the video here. You have to click on the picture - possibly more than once and it will play in Picasa Web Album.


And the Question is?

Once upon a time when I read the five books in Douglas Adam's hitchhiker trilogy I was delighted to learn that there was an answer to Life, the Universe and Everything. It was a very simple answer. Of course the book was quick to point out - that's the answer - but what's the question.

And why do I bring this up today? Because the answer is 42. And although I don't know what the ultimate question is - I do know that's how old I turned today. I think I should feel wiser.

And in parting - here's a birthday picture from many years ago.

Tourist in Aisle Six

New Jersey has a lot of tourist attractions (no, really - it does). There's the fabulous Jersey shore, there are the mountains in the north, the pine barrens in the south. There are historic villages and fun museums. And when you are at these tourist attractions you expect people with cameras.

Where I don't expect people with cameras is my local supermarket (and it's not the one that had the truffles, this is the other one). But that's what I saw today. And although it may be stereotypical, I must say - it was a group of Japanese tourists. They were taking pictures in the produce aisle - picking up the broccoli and admiring it and taking a close up; the snack food aisle - really any where and everywhere.

It was a little disconcerting. But it did make me look at the super market with new eyes. It's a pretty nice place with a lot of variety and all attractively arranged. I don't think I'll be taking pictures of it anytime soon - but I will be sure to appreciate it.

And lest you think I'm joking and they weren't tourists - their Skyliner charter bus was in the parking lot.

Though, I do have to wonder - with all the great things to see and do in New Jersey - what the heck were they doing in Shop-Rite? I hope they go someplace a little more fun later.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Jazzy Sunday

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Today we went to a Jazz Festival. We took the train in order to avoid both traffic and the search for a parking spot. There were three stages with music playing pretty much continuously. Food vendors, craft vendors, games and a scenic river view. The festival was held in a park next to the boat club my family used to belong to. At one point, while listening to one of the bands, we watched the sailboats come in from the Sunday afternoon races, and enjoyed the delightful river breeze.

We had wonderfully healthy foods like mozzarella sticks and zeppoles (gotta love zeppoles). The kids got 32 oz sodas in souvenir tin cups. (For the first time I can remember they actually thought they had too much soda - and when we went out to dinner neither wanted any more.)

So - great music, scenic location, fun food, beautiful weather. It all adds up to a fantastic day.

And we are all very tired.