Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Quick Takes Third Friday of Easter



--- 1 ---

Well, nothing like starting your day realizing that you screwed up, royally, and need to make apologies and corrections to your blog.  While I trashed Beastly in my post yesterday, a gentle reader reminded me that it was recommended (though in my defense, I did not happen to do the recommending, but I re-printed someone else's recommendation, not much difference) in my post called More Books for Middle Schoolers and Up.

Mom blog/book review:  fail.
--- 2 ---

On a good note, so many good people out there are offering prayers and sacrifice for my sweet, suffering sister and her wonderful husband.  Keep 'em coming folks.  

--- 3 ---


Today is Grandparents Day!  Our parish school celebrates this event with an all school Mass, followed by a concert in the gym, cookies, flowers, and finally the dreaded Scholastic book fair. 

I already took Edmund, and we came home with I Survived:  The Shark Attacks of 1916, by Lauren Tarshis.  This is a neat series of historical fiction that includes such titles as The San Francisco Earthquake, 1906, The Bombing of Pearl Harbor, 1941, Hurricane Katrina, 2005, and The Sinking of the Titanic, 1912.  Lucy brought some of her own cash, not sure where it came from, and bought Matched by Ally Condie.

--- 4 ---
The Happy Mother, Mary Kate of Why YES I Am Crazy, Thank You For Asking and Anne of the Bazin Chronicles actually participated in the 11 things game.   Their answers and questions are funny and thoughtful.  Plus, Anne got a very cute haircut and she has asked me to write a guest post on her blog about the time I removed her from a urinal.   Everybody loves a good urinal story.  Apparently, this story even has a board game now, not currently available from Target.

--- 5 ---



Whoa!  Good Morning! 

Post Grandparents Day, I finally got to eat lunch (it was nearly 3pm), take a two hour uninterrupted nap (Huzzah!), and drink a venti mocha frappucino, all courtesy of the Chef.  He went to Starbucks and got me the Roasted Tomato & Basil Panini which I had heard was the best Friday lunch you can get from a drive-thru. 

I don't normally drink coffee, but when I do, it's medically needed for everyone's safety, and it must taste like ice cream. 

The Chef is the greatest husband in the world.  

And that Roasted Tomato & Basil Panini is the best meatless sandwich. 


Now.  I am ready to be that weekend warrior with a track meet, three baseball games, one benefit dinner, one cast party, and one Cub Scout rocket launch.  Prepare for take-off!


--- 6 ---



 Speaking of sandwiches, it's little, but it's life-changing.  Wait for it...

In addition to my nearly daily BLT on whole wheat toast, light on the light mayo, I have been adding sliced avocado.  BLAT.  It's my new fave.  Good fats, fiber, potassium and more.  I'm eating my way through a Costco sized bag of avocados every ten days now. 

**Coffee Induced Brainwave:  Next time I get that Roasted Tomato & Mozzarella Panini, I might have to add some sliced avocado.

Why don't I drink coffee more often?  Bounce, bounce, bounce...

--- 7 ---

"Hola, Lola!" is still stuck in my head one week later.  I wish I knew how to make upside down exclamation points.


I LOVED Dear Edwina the musical.  Seriously, AWESOME!  (Note coffee induced use of ALL CAPS.)  It was probably because my kid was in it, but the music and the story were cute and funny, and some of the songs KNOCKED my socks off.  Those kids are very talented, and I'm not just talking about my kid either.  Though she was definitely the best.  Or at least in the top three.  She's the one in the tutu.

Can't wait to see what St. Genesius Productions does next, rumor has it that it could be Seussical the Musical....
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Beastly vs. Beastly

I enjoyed Alex Flinn's Cloaked, so my friendly neighborhood librarian thought I might enjoy Flinn's previous modern day fairy tale, Beastly.  She also mentioned that there was a movie of Beastly, so I reserved a copy of that too.  But being a book person, I ALWAYS read the book first.  I think everyone should do that.

Except in this instance.


Beastly (both print and film versions) is a re-telling of the Beauty and the Beast story.

Book Version:

See that cover above?  That's the book I read, but in the book, rather than being transformed into a skinhead with some weird cysts, Kyle Kingson is transformed into a hairy, claws-and-fangs monster. 

Also, the book seems to be geared toward the high school set, not that I would let my high schoolers read it.  There's plenty of making out, sleeping around, and crotch grabbing.  Also, Kyle makes a lovely comparison between proms and prostitution.  If his dad is shelling out for the limo, and he's getting all dressed up etc., he better "get some." Too bad for Kyle, as prom night is the night that he ticks off Kendra, the seemingly overweight tattooed witch/classmate, so much that she changes him into a beast.  This event de-rails his sexual activity for the evening.

Like a darker version of Shallow Hal, Kendra is actually a beauty, and Kyle has two years to find someone to love him and to love, just the way he his, or the curse is permanent.  His dad is a network TV star, and has plenty of image issues as well.  Kyle's dad basically abandons him after learning that the curse cannot be corrected with cosmetic surgery.

In the end, Kyle, who chooses the new name, Adrian (meaning dark one) kind of kidnaps the nice-but-plain girl, Linda.  Well, he blackmails her druggie dad into giving Linda to him in exchange for the surveillance tapes of the dad breaking and entering Kyle/Adrian's fortress of solitude.  Oh, and Kyle gives him back his baggies of dope too.  Linda eventually learns to love Kyle/Adrian.  Kyle learns that looks are not the most important thing in life, but he gets his good-looks back in the end anyway.


Movie version:

Mary-Kate Olsen plays Kendra the witch, so there's no weight problem.  Kyle doesn't turn all hairy, as you can see.  And surprisingly for Hollywood, the film version is way less sexy.  Disney starlet, Vanessa Hudgens plays Linda, and she's not kidnapped, but staying with Kyle for safekeeping.  A dead drug dealer's brother is looking to kill her, because her druggie dad shot the dealer.  Makes much more sense than kidnapping.   It's so much easier to win a girl's heart if you're protecting her, not holding her hostage.

Anyway, the movie is PG-13, and I agree with that rating.  There's no crotch grabbing or comparisons to prostution, or comments about "getting some."

Surprise, surprise!  The movie wins.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

It's What We're Reading Now Wednesday...Foodie Edition



Occasionally, the Chef reads a book.  For fifteen years, he would alternate between The Brendan Voyage by  Tim Severin and Airborne by William F. Buckley.  Both are memoirs of sailing voyages.  Does this mean the Chef has some deep longing to go on a sailing voyage?  Unless that sailboat has a bartender and some Carribean tunes, count me out.



When I started working part-time at our local library, I started picking out other books for the Chef.  Oddly enough, he started reading them!  I still do that for him, as he goes to the library only to pick up stuff for me, like my kids or something.  I mostly stick to the two niche genres that I know he loves:  non-fiction books, possibly memoirs, about major league baseball or chefs.  Yep, baseball and chefs.  That's what he likes to read about.


He's currently reading Blood, Bones & Butter:  The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton.  He says that it's quite well-written, but that the author's life was ruined when her parents divorced when she was ten years old.  The rest of the book is about her messed-up life.


I did better when I shared this book with him a few summers ago.  Mostly True:  A Memoir of Family, Food and Baseball is by chef and restaurant critic, Molly O'Neill, whose brother happened to play right field for the New York Yankees.  Chef, memoir, and baseball.  Home run. 


I think A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle was the first chef/food oriented memoir the Chef ever read.  First published in 1989, this book was one of the first of its kind, before Gourmet Cooking for Dummies changed our lives, and we became foodies in the late-nineties.


The Chef heard Anthony Bourdain talking about his book, Kitchen Confidential on the radio.  He bought it, read it, loved it, and he's read or watched everything Anthony Bourdain has ever done since.  I, too, enjoy his travel show, No Reservations.  Who doesn't enjoy watching a grown man eat the still-beating heart of a cobra in while on vacation in Vietnam?  Anthony Bourdain brings his wry sense of humor all around the world while tasting local cuisine.

I so want to do that someday, minus the beating cobra hearts.  I royally screwed up my Rome semester by frequenting every European McDonald's plus a Chi-Chi's in Luxembourg.  What was I thinking?!



Heat:  An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany  by Bill Buford is one of the Chef's favorites.  Buford begins his book with a detailed description of one night of feasting and debauchery with his friend, Mario Batali, and then agrees to be Batali's kitchen slave to learn more about cooking.  Buford ends up going to Italy to study the art of butchering from Batali's relatives.  I think the Chef would love to live this adventure.  The man has an obsession with meat.

Well, this post is long enough, and I've written about food so much, that I'm starving.  I'll have to write about the baseball books read by the Chef another time.

By the way, in Sunday's homily, our Italian deacon mentioned the following foods:

"robust" spaghetti
ravioli
roast beef
roast chicken
hamburgers
buttermilk pancakes
French toast
and homemade bread.

And, I had not eaten yet.  Don't they teach deacons not to preach about food at the early Masses?  Seriously.  I had to go straight to Dunkin' Donuts and buy all the vanilla long johns. Vanilla long johns are the bomb.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Because I'm Cheap...and Lazy



I breastfeed because I'm too cheap to buy formula and bottles and I'm too lazy to heat the formula and wash all the bottles.  Plus, I would probably go out for an all-day excursion and forget something critical to the operation, like a bottle, or the formula, or the baby.

Also, I like the excuse to sit down for a couple of hours a day, with my feet up and a good book.  Oh, how I love a good book.




I sleep with my babies because I'm too lazy to get up in the middle of the night and go to another room to nurse a baby, and I'm too cheap to buy a baby bed.  If I bought one, I'd have to make it, and then there would be more sheet changing and sheet-folding and laundry.  I'm too lazy to sign up for more of that.  In fact, I've been known to throw a bath towel under the damp spot, under the baby, in the middle of the night.  Yup.  I'm that lazy.

Nursing a baby while sleeping is something I've gotten really good at.  Also, I really, really like the smell of a baby's breath.  And the top of a baby's head.  Or the back of a baby's neck.  Falling asleep next to my baby helps me to practice gratitude at the end of most days.



We don't believe in circumcision.  This is the part of the post where I could go into Natural Law and male mutilation, but I'm too lazy.  Plus, circumcision is expensive, and I'm cheap.



I don't buy baby food, because I'm too cheap, and you guessed it, too lazy.  It's easier for me to cut up some of our food or throw a handful of goldfish (the whole grain kind, cause that's the healthy kind) at her and let her feed herself than for me to take the time to spoon feed her.

I'm way too busy spoon feeding myself.



When I did an image search for "no schedule,"  this image came up.  It speaks to me.


I don't put my kids on "schedules" because I'm not that organized to be on a schedule myself, again with the laziness.

Also, if she was on a schedule, and I wanted to party til midnight, then she wouldn't want to party with me, and she certainly wouldn't want to sleep til nine the next day.   Of course, she wanted to sleep til nine today, because she wanted to party til eleven last night.  Sometimes, she picks the parties.  I'm cool with that.  I can drink caffeine.



So, that's my parenting style, lazy and cheap, with lots of self-sleeping and self-eating, and some baby sniffing, reading and caffeine.

Please, don't judge me.  I'm way too lazy to judge you.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

How many cars will you own in your lifetime?

Cari, of the 11 Things post, also wrote a beautiful post on generosity called On Being Open to Life.  Cari writes lots of beautiful posts.

"The point of re-running this article isn’t even to add to the NFP discussion, per se.  It’s more meant to explore an aspect of being open to life: namely that being “open to life” means all life- not just the the possibility of new life.  NFP certainly helps us connect reason to biology in the area of fertility, but it is, in and of itself, a neutral thing.  It is not a virtue, nor is it a vice.  The real virtue lies in learning how to trust God’s plan for our lives, and agreeing to participate in that plan."
She says it so well.  And that's just part of the intro to the real article.

The Chef used to answer the question, "How many kids are you going to have?" with the perfectly just answer, "None of your &*$% ing business."  But he has since tempered justice with charity, and has crafted a more creative response, by responding with a question.  "Do you know how many cars you will own in your lifetime?"  We don't know the answer to either one of those questions.

But when it comes to the question of roller coaster or merry-go-round, we agree with Grandma.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

11 Things

Cari at Clan Donaldson tagged me in an "11 Things Post."  Who can resist posts that can be mostly copied and pasted from someone else's site.  Is that plagiarism?

Rules:
1.  Post these rules.

2.  Post a photo of yourself and then write 11 things about your life. 

3.  Answer the questions for you set in the original post.

4.  Create 11 new questions and tag people to answer them.

5.  Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you have tagged them.




This is one my favorite pics of me.  That's Eduardo Verastegui, star of the movie Bella.  He kind of looks like he wants to get away from me, but I've got him.  The Chef hates this picture, because people always think it's him, but the Chef has blue eyes. 

So, already I'm confused.  At this point, am I supposed to write 11 things about my life?  That's not how Cari did it, or the blogger that tagged her, so I'm going to skip that part.  Plus, I wrote 7 things about my life yesterday and 7 things last Friday so that's fourteen things.  


I will throw out these two little known facts.  


I was briefly our high school mascot, the Rebel dog, who looked just like Pluto.


I took organ lessons at Church.  I got to slip quietly up to the choir loft after school, when the church was dark and quiet and peaceful, and fill the space with organ music.  Of course, lots of the time, I was filling the space with organ mistakes.  Playing the organ is like playing the piano (which I also used to know how to do) but you use your feet much more, and you take your shoes off to play.  I never got good enough or brave enough to play at Mass.  I preferred playing in a dark Church, with only one Listener.



11 Questions from Cari


1. Throwing a party, or attending a party, which do you prefer?

Easy.  Attending a party.  Attendees don't have to clean up, and attendees get to go to bed whenever they choose.  I strongly suspect that the Chef prefers party throwing though.







2. Scariest Animal on the Face of the Planet- what is it?

blobfish.  I once happened upon directions on how to knit one of these.

Still pretty scary.



3. Best piece of advice your mom ever gave you?

Ah, there's so much to choose from there.  But I have to go with: 

Wear eyeliner every day or you look tired. 
 
4. You have $500 to blow on a single clothing item/accessory.  What is it?


Oooh.  This is a hard one.  I started to put down Burberry trench coat, but those are like $1200, so I'll go with sunglasses.  I have these super awesome Maui Jim sunglasses that I got as a corporate gift on a trip with the Chef.  I've had them even longer than I've known Eduardo.  When they break, which they just did for the second time, I send them in to be repaired, because I cannot afford the cost of a brand new pair.  


5. Habit you have that you suspect people find most annoying

Talking about myself too much, and not listening to others' talk about themselves enough. She said on her blog where she talks about herself all the time.  No loss of irony here.



6. Habit other people have that you find most annoying

Saying, "Just sayin'. "  after a statement.  Erggh.


7. Strangest thing you ever learned on a documentary/educational show

Survivorman makes a distillery so that he can drink his own urine.
 
8.Website you visit most often


My Google Calendar page.  Five kids, three schools, 2 baseball teams, 3 plays, one soccer team, altar serving, life.  Every week I drop the ball on something.  Google Cal limits the ball-dropping somewhat.


9. Movie/book/or song you profess to hate, yet secretly enjoy




Cari asked me specifically for a book.  My hypocritical book love is The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenberger.  

That book is raunchy. 

And by raunchy, I mean the original meaning of the word which is sexually explicit, not the colloquial meaning I grew up with, which is  smells like rotting garbage. In my parents' home, it is not uncommon to hear things like, "The fridge smells raunchy," or "There's something raunchy in your lunchbox," or "Dad loves that raunchy cheese."

That book also uses bad language.  Very bad language.

But I devoured all 518 pages of it, and cried like a baby at the end.  It has always stayed with me as a great romance, in spite of the raunchiness, as well as one of the best books dealing with the complications of time travel.  



10. One social media outlet you would never ever give up


I have been a Facebook person for-evah.  I gave it up for Lent this year, and wouldn't you know, that's exactly how and when my idiot brother chose to announce his and his wife's pregnancy.  I found out three weeks later from the Chef, who certainly should be finding out these things from me.

So, now I'm irritated about how much we rely on Facebook, and I use it less than ever.  Facebook is the still the social media outlet I use the most, but I don't like it anymore.


Final answer:  Does email count?



11. Favorite ethnic food


Mexican.  I heart Mexican.  Just like Cari, I like anything with a side of margaritas.

Now for my 11 Questions:

1.  If you were a saint, what would you be the patron of?
2.  If you weren't Catholic, what religion would you be?
3.  If you could only eat one kind of animal for the rest of your life, what would it be: beef, pork, or poultry?
5.  If you could only eat one cuisine for the rest of your life, what would it be?
6.  What is the one movie that you are embarrassed to admit you've never seen?
7.  What is your dream vacation?
8.  Who is your fantasy dinner guest?  Must be a living person.
9.  Who is your fantasy dinner guest living or dead?  Can't pick Jesus or Mary, and can't pick the same person you picked for #8.
10.   What was the best book you read or were read as a child?
11.  If you had to emigrate to another country, I don't know, you're a fugitive from the law or something,  what country do you go to?


And my victims.  Anne of The Bazin Chronicles because she doesn't blog enough, Mary Kate of Why Yes, I AM Crazy.  Thank you for asking because she has a brand new baby, so I'm sure she has nothing better to do, The Happy Mother because she's pregnant and needs distractions, and Charlotte at Waltzing Matilda because she's just like me:  we both went to UD, married UD grads, both have five kids, both like Downton Abbey. 


May the Games be ever in your favor. Mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha.
 

Friday, April 20, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday: Second Friday of Easter



--- 1 ---

"Gay nights make sad mornings."  
So true, so true.  Last night, the Chef, Baby J and I wined and dined at the downtown Sheraton.  Fr. Barron was given an award at the University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein Seminary dinner.  I was mildly concerned about bringing my nursing-yet-nearly-one-year-old baby, but the other award recipients were Mike and Jackie Winn.  Most of their eight children, as well as most of their fifty-seven grandchildren were there.   Baby J was not the youngest person in the room.

I love that the Winns were honored last night with Fr. Barron.  The Winns have been long time supporters of the schools where we send Peter and Susan.  I love that this amazing couple spoke of themselves as "ordinary Christians."  I love that they spoke of their support for the Cardinal and the bishops in opposition to the HHS mandate, and that they are praying for the Cardinal, specifically for the virtue of fortitude.  And I loved watching the look on the humble Cardinal's face as they spoke of this.

Amazing people in amazing times.

Plus:
Full.  Orchestra.
Halibut. and. Filet.
Baby J. met. the. Cardinal.  
I.  Am. So. Very. Tired. Today.

--- 2 ---
Every year, Peter's school takes a trip to Wrigley Field to see a Cubs game.

Perhaps that sentence above does not bother you the way it bothers the Chef and I and all of our respectable family members.  (I'm sad to say that the Chef has some less than respectable family members.  I can only justify their support for the Cubs as a penitential exercise in the virtue of hope.)

See, I'm from St. Louis.  I bleed Cardinal red.  The Chef is a White Sox fan.  It was a per-requisite to our marriage.  Cards fans don't marry Cubs fans.  It just doesn't work out.

Me, the Chef, Baby J's first World Series:  Game 7, Oct. 29th, 2012

So, when the Chef received the email reminding us to send in Peter's registration for the field trip, he sent this reply.



Subject: Re: All-School Trip: Registration Required - Autoforwarded

To whom it may concern:

Why don't you ever attend a White Sox game?  Especially, considering how the Cubs are very bad at playing baseball and have been for over 100 years.

It makes sense to expose impressionable young men to examples of success, not to expose them to models of mediocrity and failure.  For this same reason, we study the lives of the saints and not those of nominal Catholics.

I strongly recommend allowing the boys to view a proper baseball team in a proper stadium.

Best regards,
The Chef

Well, he didn't sign it "The Chef." This is the response he received from the school.


Subject: FW: Response




The Chef,

As headmaster, the most urgent and sensitive of messages are forwarded to me for my immediate response.  Being such a mission driven school, we are gravely concerned about the apparent disconnect between your perspective on life and that of (our school's).  It is my sincere hope that over the next seven days you will be able to engage in some serious soul searching.  While you may be lost, perhaps hope still remains for Peter and the rest of his siblings.

I will be anxiously awaiting the attendance of Peter at the excursion next Friday.  I will also gladly set aside a ticket for his father should he be able to break away from work and enjoy a game at the best venue in the major leagues.

Regards,

The Headmaster
I do like Wrigley Field.  They let you bring your own food and drinks in, which they don't allow at US Cellular or Busch.  That's the only good thing I can say about all of this.  It is a dilemma, but we allow Peter to go, as an act of charity.

The Cutest Rally Squirrel at Busch Stadium, Game 7 and her ball from Texas Rangers' catcher, Mike Napoli. 

--- 3 ---
The head of Susan's school was also at the fabulous dinner last night.  She came over to our table to tell us what a wonderful daughter we have.  If I do say so myself, Susan is a much better fourteen year old girl than I was.   In fact, while we were out very late on a Thursday night, not only did she feed people a very creative form of left overs, and make certain that Edmund went to bed at a decent times, she folded ALL of the LAUNDRY!  Yes, she is a treasure.

The head of our school also said something about how she has "an appropriate amount of sassiness."

Hmmm.

--- 4 ---
Lucy told me at least three times this morning, that she is SO excited for tonight!  Tonight is her St. Genesius stage debut* in the musical Dear Edwina Jr., a musical about manners.  I am so proud of her. 

*must remember to buy flowers.
--- 5 ---
 Cari at Clan Donaldson tagged me in an 11 Things post.  That is like a blogger's chain letter.  It means that I need to post again real soon and answer all of her questions, plus think of my own witty questions and the bloggers I would like to inflict them on.  Stay tuned...

--- 6 ---


Edmund may or may not be a hypochondriac.  He likes to tell me about every weird bump, or scaly patch of skin, or mild abrasion, etc.  A recent example of this is, "When I scratch this bruise on my leg, my ear itches."  I never said he was normal.


Yesterday, he called me close to him, and said, "I have these things sticking out of the sides of my eyes."
"Yes, they are your eyelashes."
"Well, mine are long.  I have girl eyelashes."
"You have beautiful eyelashes.  The girls will love them.  You have Zac Efron eyelashes.  You are very lucky."
Silence...

"Leave them alone."

--- 7 ---


Last night, while driving around downtown, I couldn't help but notice the uncontrolled numbers of hipsters roaming the streets, with little to no regard for traffic laws.  I told the Chef that there's a new game, "Clip a Hipster, Win $50."  

The hipsters we saw had much less head hair, and an excess of weird facial hair.

No Hipsters were hurt during our discussion of the game or the Hipster phenomenon.
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

It's "What We're Reading Now" Wednesday!

sigh.  The stack of completely-read-and-waiting-to-be-blogged-about-and-returned books is quite large.


 The sequel to Matched, Crossed is the second book in Allyson Condie's trilogy.  I loved the first book, but this one was dark and depressing as Cassia goes to the Outer Provinces in search of Ky.  She finds him, and though she has risked her life to be with him, she will abandon him if he will not go with her in search of The Rising, a rebellion against The Society.  Also, even though she still can't figure out if she loves Ky or Xander, she does give Ky the "just one night" that he asks for.  Just one night without worrying about what they will do next, or thinking about The Society.

Now this one night is not described at all, and it may have been completely innocent, but then why bother putting it in the book at all?  Ky and Cassia have this night in a cave with at least two other people sleeping nearby.  It's kind of weird.  And there's loads of kissing.   Susan read it, and she brought that scene up voluntarily.  It made her uncomfortable, uncomfortable enough to mention it to me. 

It seems since the ending gives the notion that The Rising might be the same or worse than The Society, that I may have read this story before...and it was called Mockingjay.  Disappointed.


Cloaked by Alex Finn was way better.  This mystery masterfully interweaves several fairy tales including the Elves and the Shoemaker, the Six Swans, the Frog Prince, the Valiant Tailor and several more.

Nice boy, Johnny, helps out his single mother by working in their shoe repair shop in the lobby of a Miami hotel.  When a mysterious and beautiful princess comes to the hotel, and asks Johnny to help her find her brother who has been turned into a frog, in exchange for piles of money and her hand in marriage, how can he refuse?  With lots of great characters, and an adventure in every chapter, this book was fun to read. 


When a friend asks me to read a particular title, I am happy to oblige, and this one was a request.  The Obsidian Blade by Pete Hautman is largely a tale of time travel.  In the first few chapters, fourteen year old Tucker witnesses his dad's disappearance into a disk-shaped shimmer of air, while repairing a shingle on the roof.  An hour later, his dad reappears walking up the road accompanied by a mysterious girl and her cat.  He appears unchanged, except for one significant fact.  His dad was a Christian minister, and the first meal after his "episode" he says, "There will be no more praying in this house.  It is all lies."

Turns out, these "diskos" connect specific moments in history that are considered to be "the terrible, the horrible, the irreversible," such as the top of the World Trade Center on 9/11/01 and the murder of Jimmy Hoffa, and even the crucifixion of Jesus, which is referred to as "the death of a prophet."

Some diskos connect to a Mendicant hospital, Mendicants are people who communicate in numbers and are very advanced healers.  Johnny ends up getting stabbed in the chest, and sent to the Mendicants.  They heal him, but not for free.  Turns out, they drugged him and had him working an assembly line in a factory for a few years to pay the bill.  Johnny wakes up at least twenty years old with no memory of what happened in the intervening years, save some vague dreams.

In the book, Jesus is placed in the tomb and conveniently there is a disko to the Mendicant hospital.  At this point, I became very confused because Johnny's father tells Johnny that the Mendicants couldn't heal "Josua" and that the resurrection never happened.  He knows this because he joined the Essenes and waited around for weeks anticipating Christ's return.  BUT THE RESURRECTION DID HAPPEN! To his credit, Johnny does not give up his belief in God, and continues to pray periodically throughout the story.

Somehow Johnny's father ends up a bad guy, in charge of the bad guys in fact.  The first half of the book is very interesting and is well-paced for suspense, but the end of the book was like jumping off a cliff while the author shouts things like, "And he's going to try to kill his Johnny!  But the girl is going to save him!  And one of the bad guys has an obsidian blade!  Tell you more about that next book!"

I'm completely baffled as to who did what and why, as is this reviewer. Plus, I don't like authors taking liberties with my religion.  I wonder how Hautmann's book would be doing if he had chosen to distort or destroy Muslim tenets of faith in his work of fiction.  Don't be messin' with my Jesus.


And now for something completely different.

Worst of Friends:  Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and the True Story of an American Feud by Suzanne Tripp Jurman is a lovely picture book biography of one of the more interesting relationships among our founding fathers.  A friend of mine recommended this to me, after a discussion of the HBO mini-series John Adams that I had seen and enjoyed. 

You may or may not know that Jefferson and Adams, or Tom and John as I like to call them, were great friends around the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, but had a falling out later when they ran against each other for president. 

John won the first time, which was actually the second time there was a presidential election in these parts, well not these parts.  These parts was still Indian territory or French territory, or had mammoths and glaciers, I'm not sure.  Tom won the second time, which was actually the third election, but you already knew that by now.

Years later, after over a decade of silence between them, John wrote a simple letter to Tom, wishing him Happy New Year, and Tom wrote back.  They forgot their quarrels and resumed their friendship. 

On July 4th, fifty years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, they both died, John at his house, Peacefield in Quincy, Massachusetts, and Tom at his house, Monticello in Virginia.  Oddly enough, John's last words were, "Jefferson still lives."  His friend was on his mind even at the very end.  He was unaware that Jefferson had passed away earlier that day.  Miss Nora Ross, my high school history teacher, would be so proud of me right now. 

The deaths of these two statesmen are not covered in this delightful tale.  Worst of Friends ends on a much sweeter note, and includes fun tidbits of information that I did not know, such as how many books they each owned.



What!  A grown-up book?  Me?  Yes, well, sometimes I do check out things from the grown-up department.  I had read The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith, years ago, and was bothered by the abuse scene and the witch doctor part.  I was reassured by a friend that the rest of the series is not that graphic or disturbing, and so I read Tears of a Giraffe.  And you know what?  My friend was right.  Now, I'm reading the third, Morality for Beautiful Girls.  Two grown-up books.  But then, I'm going to dive head first into all of the newly announced Caudill nominees.

I love Rebecca Caudill's book and I love Caudill books.  There are sure to be some excellent reads in this list.  In fact, I'm already familiar with at least nine of these titles, including Black Radishes, which I reviewed here.  My family may never have clean laundry again.

Friday, April 13, 2012

7 Quick Takes Easter Friday aka Meat Friday


--- 1 ---

The Mantel is complete in all its glory.  Let's review.

Before, with the minimalist 4 inch deep windowsill-like shelf.

The new mantel!  8.5 inches deep for our decorating or drink-setting-down pleasure!


You have no idea how much trash and clutter I had to throw out of this shot.  Note the papa bear and mama bear chairs.  Mama Bear gets the ottoman, cause she needs to put her feet up.  See that bronze deer?  $7 from Home Goods.  It's cute, classy, and a home defense weapon.  Plus, Baby J is alternately enthralled and disturbed by it.


The Chef used all pre-cut wood and trim pieces.  All he used was a mitre saw and a finishing nail gun.

We are thinking about painting the bricks a taupe or grey color, to hide the smoke stains and bring out the mantel even more.  Any suggestions?

--- 2 ---


I bet you didn't think I had a patron saint.  I didn't think so either.  You never hear about a St. Jessica, but that Hebrew name can also be translated as Joanna or Junia.  She was one of the women who helped Mary prepare Christ's body for the tomb, and one of the women visiting Christ's tomb on the third day, only to discover the open tomb, no Jesus, but a nice angel who told her where to find the Lord.  Yeah, she's pretty awesome.  Bonus:  Her feast day is the month as my birthday.  Score!



--- 3 ---

I didn't realize that the threesome before Phil Mickelson's, last Thursday at Augusta National had the future winner, Bubba Watson in it.  I saw him, at the first hole on the first day!  You can watch him dancing in this goofy video.  

He's the one in the overalls.  I'm partial to men in overalls, because my dad has been known to rock a pair of Big Macs from time to time.  Of course, he puts his own spin on the outfit, because he like to sport a collared golf shirt and a pair of flip flops with his.  If you ever see someone dressed like this at a weekday Mass, chances are, it's my dad.  If the collar is popped, it's definitely someone else, and I would sit far, far away.




--- 4 ---

Lucy and I finished the second skirt which you can see in this Easter family photo taken late at night post vigil below.




--- 5 ---

I mean this picture:


We had a wonderful week down South and are everlastingly grateful to the insane family members who thought nothing of housing a total of fourteen people for Holy Week (while their house is on the market!), plus shuttling some of us to and from the Masters and letting us drag them all the way to Charleston for fried shrimp and siteseeing.  We are so blessed.


--- 6 ---

Baby J walks.  As in she walks into things, or walks up to heavy furniture or doorways until she pitches forward and adds another Easter egg colored bruise to her forehead.  Just when I thought I could enter her in the Baby Gap Casting Call too. 

--- 7 ---

Don't forget to Meat it up tonight in honor of the Eight Days of Easter.  We are going to our parish's 100 Anniversary Dinner Dance.  It's a Catholic parish, so of course, beef is on the menu.  It's a Catholic parish, so of course there will be booze there.  It's a Catholic parish, so of course, it's Ca$h Bar.

I'm looking for forward to the groovy tunes of DJ Patrick, fellow parishioner and my brother-in-law. (Lots of Patricks in this Irish Catholic clan.) If you live in Chicagoland and need some professional tuneage, DJ Patrick is the way to go.  He's done everything from corporate events and weddings to high school dances and Girl Scout Daddy/Daughter dances.

Enjoy the Feast!


For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Meat Fridays or Get Your Meat On!


The Chef is a carnivore.  The man loves meat.  He likes a good vegetable or potato too, but he would be perfectly content with an entree of beef, a side dish of pork, and assorted sausages for dessert.



He also loves the Church.  He studies liturgical nuances the way I shop for sales.  He relishes a good discussion on matters of faith and morals.  He prides himself on being the one that people call to clarify the Church's teachings on fast and abstinence.  (Chicken broth is ok.  Bacon bits are not.)  And he loves to announce Meat Fridays via his Facebook page.

Meat Fridays are Fridays, typically days of abstinence from meat, that are either solemnities (high feast days) or the Friday that falls with in the Octave of Easter.  And this Friday falls during the Octave of Easter, so, yup, you guessed it!  It's Meat Friday! 

According to the Chef, to eat or serve fish on a Meat Friday is as bad as serving meat on a Fish Friday.  He believes it is our duty as Catholics to consume meat, preferably multiple forms of meat, on these special days.

For your meat eating pleasure, I will now list the dates of the 2012 Meat Fridays in red, as well as other solemnities that do not fall on Fridays this year, but should they fall on Friday, they would indeed be Meat Fridays.

Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God, January 1st
Epiphany, January 8th
Saint Joseph, March 19th
Annunciation, March 26th
Easter Sunday and Its Octave (In 2012, this is Sunday, April 8th, through Saturday, April 14th, including Meat Friday, April 13th.)
Ascension, May 17th
Sacred Heart, Meat Friday, June 15th
Birth of John the Baptist, June 24th
Saints Peter and Paul, Meat Friday, June 29th
Assumption, August 15th
All Saints, November 1st
Immaculate Conception, December 8th
Christmas, December 25th 


So, defrost the fatted calf and celebrate the Resurrection! 

Friday, April 6, 2012

7 Quick Takes Good Friday




Seven Quick Takes Creed Style           

Staying with MJDMom, we were nonplussed to learn that they have neither cable tv, nor wireless internet.  So, I’m blogging Creed style, in a Word document.



1.     Georgia:  four songs come to mind. 
Devil Went Down to Georgia
The Night that the Lights Went Out in Georgia
Georgia on My Mind
And my favorite, Midnight Train to Georgia.

Who has two thumbs and saw Phil Mickelson on the putting green at Augusta National yesterday?   And again at the first hole?  Yup, that was me.  Rocking my visor at the Masters.  



2.     The Hunger Games the Movie:  I saw it last weekend in STL.   It’s dark, violent, has a mercy killing, but overall less scary than the movie.  I’d much rather spend two hours with the Muppets than with Katniss and the gang anyday.


3.     The Chef and I are watching North and South.  Not North and South, the Civil War miniseries, but North and South the BBC Production of Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel of the same name.  It’s about industrial northern England and southern gentrified England.  It’s so nice to see Bates on screen again.



4.     Susan FINALLY finished Anne of Green Gables Part 3, aka Anne of the Island and Anne Shirley FINALLY accepted Gilbert Blythe’s proposal.  So Susan is free to read a book of her own choosing and she is choosing …. wait for it…

Anne of Green Gables Part 4, aka Anne of Windy Poplars.  My plan worked!  She is hooked!  Huzzah!


5.     I overheard something interesting during Cousin Frenzy today.  When my kids play “Cops and Robbers,”  MJDMom’s kids are playing “Criminals and Lawmen.”

     6.  

 Click on the link below to see a commercial for the new series, Downton Arby's


Happy Easter! 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Quick Takes Third Friday of Easter



--- 1 ---

Well, nothing like starting your day realizing that you screwed up, royally, and need to make apologies and corrections to your blog.  While I trashed Beastly in my post yesterday, a gentle reader reminded me that it was recommended (though in my defense, I did not happen to do the recommending, but I re-printed someone else's recommendation, not much difference) in my post called More Books for Middle Schoolers and Up.

Mom blog/book review:  fail.
--- 2 ---

On a good note, so many good people out there are offering prayers and sacrifice for my sweet, suffering sister and her wonderful husband.  Keep 'em coming folks.  

--- 3 ---


Today is Grandparents Day!  Our parish school celebrates this event with an all school Mass, followed by a concert in the gym, cookies, flowers, and finally the dreaded Scholastic book fair. 

I already took Edmund, and we came home with I Survived:  The Shark Attacks of 1916, by Lauren Tarshis.  This is a neat series of historical fiction that includes such titles as The San Francisco Earthquake, 1906, The Bombing of Pearl Harbor, 1941, Hurricane Katrina, 2005, and The Sinking of the Titanic, 1912.  Lucy brought some of her own cash, not sure where it came from, and bought Matched by Ally Condie.

--- 4 ---
The Happy Mother, Mary Kate of Why YES I Am Crazy, Thank You For Asking and Anne of the Bazin Chronicles actually participated in the 11 things game.   Their answers and questions are funny and thoughtful.  Plus, Anne got a very cute haircut and she has asked me to write a guest post on her blog about the time I removed her from a urinal.   Everybody loves a good urinal story.  Apparently, this story even has a board game now, not currently available from Target.

--- 5 ---



Whoa!  Good Morning! 

Post Grandparents Day, I finally got to eat lunch (it was nearly 3pm), take a two hour uninterrupted nap (Huzzah!), and drink a venti mocha frappucino, all courtesy of the Chef.  He went to Starbucks and got me the Roasted Tomato & Basil Panini which I had heard was the best Friday lunch you can get from a drive-thru. 

I don't normally drink coffee, but when I do, it's medically needed for everyone's safety, and it must taste like ice cream. 

The Chef is the greatest husband in the world.  

And that Roasted Tomato & Basil Panini is the best meatless sandwich. 


Now.  I am ready to be that weekend warrior with a track meet, three baseball games, one benefit dinner, one cast party, and one Cub Scout rocket launch.  Prepare for take-off!


--- 6 ---



 Speaking of sandwiches, it's little, but it's life-changing.  Wait for it...

In addition to my nearly daily BLT on whole wheat toast, light on the light mayo, I have been adding sliced avocado.  BLAT.  It's my new fave.  Good fats, fiber, potassium and more.  I'm eating my way through a Costco sized bag of avocados every ten days now. 

**Coffee Induced Brainwave:  Next time I get that Roasted Tomato & Mozzarella Panini, I might have to add some sliced avocado.

Why don't I drink coffee more often?  Bounce, bounce, bounce...

--- 7 ---

"Hola, Lola!" is still stuck in my head one week later.  I wish I knew how to make upside down exclamation points.


I LOVED Dear Edwina the musical.  Seriously, AWESOME!  (Note coffee induced use of ALL CAPS.)  It was probably because my kid was in it, but the music and the story were cute and funny, and some of the songs KNOCKED my socks off.  Those kids are very talented, and I'm not just talking about my kid either.  Though she was definitely the best.  Or at least in the top three.  She's the one in the tutu.

Can't wait to see what St. Genesius Productions does next, rumor has it that it could be Seussical the Musical....
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Beastly vs. Beastly

I enjoyed Alex Flinn's Cloaked, so my friendly neighborhood librarian thought I might enjoy Flinn's previous modern day fairy tale, Beastly.  She also mentioned that there was a movie of Beastly, so I reserved a copy of that too.  But being a book person, I ALWAYS read the book first.  I think everyone should do that.

Except in this instance.


Beastly (both print and film versions) is a re-telling of the Beauty and the Beast story.

Book Version:

See that cover above?  That's the book I read, but in the book, rather than being transformed into a skinhead with some weird cysts, Kyle Kingson is transformed into a hairy, claws-and-fangs monster. 

Also, the book seems to be geared toward the high school set, not that I would let my high schoolers read it.  There's plenty of making out, sleeping around, and crotch grabbing.  Also, Kyle makes a lovely comparison between proms and prostitution.  If his dad is shelling out for the limo, and he's getting all dressed up etc., he better "get some." Too bad for Kyle, as prom night is the night that he ticks off Kendra, the seemingly overweight tattooed witch/classmate, so much that she changes him into a beast.  This event de-rails his sexual activity for the evening.

Like a darker version of Shallow Hal, Kendra is actually a beauty, and Kyle has two years to find someone to love him and to love, just the way he his, or the curse is permanent.  His dad is a network TV star, and has plenty of image issues as well.  Kyle's dad basically abandons him after learning that the curse cannot be corrected with cosmetic surgery.

In the end, Kyle, who chooses the new name, Adrian (meaning dark one) kind of kidnaps the nice-but-plain girl, Linda.  Well, he blackmails her druggie dad into giving Linda to him in exchange for the surveillance tapes of the dad breaking and entering Kyle/Adrian's fortress of solitude.  Oh, and Kyle gives him back his baggies of dope too.  Linda eventually learns to love Kyle/Adrian.  Kyle learns that looks are not the most important thing in life, but he gets his good-looks back in the end anyway.


Movie version:

Mary-Kate Olsen plays Kendra the witch, so there's no weight problem.  Kyle doesn't turn all hairy, as you can see.  And surprisingly for Hollywood, the film version is way less sexy.  Disney starlet, Vanessa Hudgens plays Linda, and she's not kidnapped, but staying with Kyle for safekeeping.  A dead drug dealer's brother is looking to kill her, because her druggie dad shot the dealer.  Makes much more sense than kidnapping.   It's so much easier to win a girl's heart if you're protecting her, not holding her hostage.

Anyway, the movie is PG-13, and I agree with that rating.  There's no crotch grabbing or comparisons to prostution, or comments about "getting some."

Surprise, surprise!  The movie wins.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

It's What We're Reading Now Wednesday...Foodie Edition



Occasionally, the Chef reads a book.  For fifteen years, he would alternate between The Brendan Voyage by  Tim Severin and Airborne by William F. Buckley.  Both are memoirs of sailing voyages.  Does this mean the Chef has some deep longing to go on a sailing voyage?  Unless that sailboat has a bartender and some Carribean tunes, count me out.



When I started working part-time at our local library, I started picking out other books for the Chef.  Oddly enough, he started reading them!  I still do that for him, as he goes to the library only to pick up stuff for me, like my kids or something.  I mostly stick to the two niche genres that I know he loves:  non-fiction books, possibly memoirs, about major league baseball or chefs.  Yep, baseball and chefs.  That's what he likes to read about.


He's currently reading Blood, Bones & Butter:  The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton.  He says that it's quite well-written, but that the author's life was ruined when her parents divorced when she was ten years old.  The rest of the book is about her messed-up life.


I did better when I shared this book with him a few summers ago.  Mostly True:  A Memoir of Family, Food and Baseball is by chef and restaurant critic, Molly O'Neill, whose brother happened to play right field for the New York Yankees.  Chef, memoir, and baseball.  Home run. 


I think A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle was the first chef/food oriented memoir the Chef ever read.  First published in 1989, this book was one of the first of its kind, before Gourmet Cooking for Dummies changed our lives, and we became foodies in the late-nineties.


The Chef heard Anthony Bourdain talking about his book, Kitchen Confidential on the radio.  He bought it, read it, loved it, and he's read or watched everything Anthony Bourdain has ever done since.  I, too, enjoy his travel show, No Reservations.  Who doesn't enjoy watching a grown man eat the still-beating heart of a cobra in while on vacation in Vietnam?  Anthony Bourdain brings his wry sense of humor all around the world while tasting local cuisine.

I so want to do that someday, minus the beating cobra hearts.  I royally screwed up my Rome semester by frequenting every European McDonald's plus a Chi-Chi's in Luxembourg.  What was I thinking?!



Heat:  An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany  by Bill Buford is one of the Chef's favorites.  Buford begins his book with a detailed description of one night of feasting and debauchery with his friend, Mario Batali, and then agrees to be Batali's kitchen slave to learn more about cooking.  Buford ends up going to Italy to study the art of butchering from Batali's relatives.  I think the Chef would love to live this adventure.  The man has an obsession with meat.

Well, this post is long enough, and I've written about food so much, that I'm starving.  I'll have to write about the baseball books read by the Chef another time.

By the way, in Sunday's homily, our Italian deacon mentioned the following foods:

"robust" spaghetti
ravioli
roast beef
roast chicken
hamburgers
buttermilk pancakes
French toast
and homemade bread.

And, I had not eaten yet.  Don't they teach deacons not to preach about food at the early Masses?  Seriously.  I had to go straight to Dunkin' Donuts and buy all the vanilla long johns. Vanilla long johns are the bomb.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Because I'm Cheap...and Lazy



I breastfeed because I'm too cheap to buy formula and bottles and I'm too lazy to heat the formula and wash all the bottles.  Plus, I would probably go out for an all-day excursion and forget something critical to the operation, like a bottle, or the formula, or the baby.

Also, I like the excuse to sit down for a couple of hours a day, with my feet up and a good book.  Oh, how I love a good book.




I sleep with my babies because I'm too lazy to get up in the middle of the night and go to another room to nurse a baby, and I'm too cheap to buy a baby bed.  If I bought one, I'd have to make it, and then there would be more sheet changing and sheet-folding and laundry.  I'm too lazy to sign up for more of that.  In fact, I've been known to throw a bath towel under the damp spot, under the baby, in the middle of the night.  Yup.  I'm that lazy.

Nursing a baby while sleeping is something I've gotten really good at.  Also, I really, really like the smell of a baby's breath.  And the top of a baby's head.  Or the back of a baby's neck.  Falling asleep next to my baby helps me to practice gratitude at the end of most days.



We don't believe in circumcision.  This is the part of the post where I could go into Natural Law and male mutilation, but I'm too lazy.  Plus, circumcision is expensive, and I'm cheap.



I don't buy baby food, because I'm too cheap, and you guessed it, too lazy.  It's easier for me to cut up some of our food or throw a handful of goldfish (the whole grain kind, cause that's the healthy kind) at her and let her feed herself than for me to take the time to spoon feed her.

I'm way too busy spoon feeding myself.



When I did an image search for "no schedule,"  this image came up.  It speaks to me.


I don't put my kids on "schedules" because I'm not that organized to be on a schedule myself, again with the laziness.

Also, if she was on a schedule, and I wanted to party til midnight, then she wouldn't want to party with me, and she certainly wouldn't want to sleep til nine the next day.   Of course, she wanted to sleep til nine today, because she wanted to party til eleven last night.  Sometimes, she picks the parties.  I'm cool with that.  I can drink caffeine.



So, that's my parenting style, lazy and cheap, with lots of self-sleeping and self-eating, and some baby sniffing, reading and caffeine.

Please, don't judge me.  I'm way too lazy to judge you.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

How many cars will you own in your lifetime?

Cari, of the 11 Things post, also wrote a beautiful post on generosity called On Being Open to Life.  Cari writes lots of beautiful posts.

"The point of re-running this article isn’t even to add to the NFP discussion, per se.  It’s more meant to explore an aspect of being open to life: namely that being “open to life” means all life- not just the the possibility of new life.  NFP certainly helps us connect reason to biology in the area of fertility, but it is, in and of itself, a neutral thing.  It is not a virtue, nor is it a vice.  The real virtue lies in learning how to trust God’s plan for our lives, and agreeing to participate in that plan."
She says it so well.  And that's just part of the intro to the real article.

The Chef used to answer the question, "How many kids are you going to have?" with the perfectly just answer, "None of your &*$% ing business."  But he has since tempered justice with charity, and has crafted a more creative response, by responding with a question.  "Do you know how many cars you will own in your lifetime?"  We don't know the answer to either one of those questions.

But when it comes to the question of roller coaster or merry-go-round, we agree with Grandma.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

11 Things

Cari at Clan Donaldson tagged me in an "11 Things Post."  Who can resist posts that can be mostly copied and pasted from someone else's site.  Is that plagiarism?

Rules:
1.  Post these rules.

2.  Post a photo of yourself and then write 11 things about your life. 

3.  Answer the questions for you set in the original post.

4.  Create 11 new questions and tag people to answer them.

5.  Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you have tagged them.




This is one my favorite pics of me.  That's Eduardo Verastegui, star of the movie Bella.  He kind of looks like he wants to get away from me, but I've got him.  The Chef hates this picture, because people always think it's him, but the Chef has blue eyes. 

So, already I'm confused.  At this point, am I supposed to write 11 things about my life?  That's not how Cari did it, or the blogger that tagged her, so I'm going to skip that part.  Plus, I wrote 7 things about my life yesterday and 7 things last Friday so that's fourteen things.  


I will throw out these two little known facts.  


I was briefly our high school mascot, the Rebel dog, who looked just like Pluto.


I took organ lessons at Church.  I got to slip quietly up to the choir loft after school, when the church was dark and quiet and peaceful, and fill the space with organ music.  Of course, lots of the time, I was filling the space with organ mistakes.  Playing the organ is like playing the piano (which I also used to know how to do) but you use your feet much more, and you take your shoes off to play.  I never got good enough or brave enough to play at Mass.  I preferred playing in a dark Church, with only one Listener.



11 Questions from Cari


1. Throwing a party, or attending a party, which do you prefer?

Easy.  Attending a party.  Attendees don't have to clean up, and attendees get to go to bed whenever they choose.  I strongly suspect that the Chef prefers party throwing though.







2. Scariest Animal on the Face of the Planet- what is it?

blobfish.  I once happened upon directions on how to knit one of these.

Still pretty scary.



3. Best piece of advice your mom ever gave you?

Ah, there's so much to choose from there.  But I have to go with: 

Wear eyeliner every day or you look tired. 
 
4. You have $500 to blow on a single clothing item/accessory.  What is it?


Oooh.  This is a hard one.  I started to put down Burberry trench coat, but those are like $1200, so I'll go with sunglasses.  I have these super awesome Maui Jim sunglasses that I got as a corporate gift on a trip with the Chef.  I've had them even longer than I've known Eduardo.  When they break, which they just did for the second time, I send them in to be repaired, because I cannot afford the cost of a brand new pair.  


5. Habit you have that you suspect people find most annoying

Talking about myself too much, and not listening to others' talk about themselves enough. She said on her blog where she talks about herself all the time.  No loss of irony here.



6. Habit other people have that you find most annoying

Saying, "Just sayin'. "  after a statement.  Erggh.


7. Strangest thing you ever learned on a documentary/educational show

Survivorman makes a distillery so that he can drink his own urine.
 
8.Website you visit most often


My Google Calendar page.  Five kids, three schools, 2 baseball teams, 3 plays, one soccer team, altar serving, life.  Every week I drop the ball on something.  Google Cal limits the ball-dropping somewhat.


9. Movie/book/or song you profess to hate, yet secretly enjoy




Cari asked me specifically for a book.  My hypocritical book love is The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenberger.  

That book is raunchy. 

And by raunchy, I mean the original meaning of the word which is sexually explicit, not the colloquial meaning I grew up with, which is  smells like rotting garbage. In my parents' home, it is not uncommon to hear things like, "The fridge smells raunchy," or "There's something raunchy in your lunchbox," or "Dad loves that raunchy cheese."

That book also uses bad language.  Very bad language.

But I devoured all 518 pages of it, and cried like a baby at the end.  It has always stayed with me as a great romance, in spite of the raunchiness, as well as one of the best books dealing with the complications of time travel.  



10. One social media outlet you would never ever give up


I have been a Facebook person for-evah.  I gave it up for Lent this year, and wouldn't you know, that's exactly how and when my idiot brother chose to announce his and his wife's pregnancy.  I found out three weeks later from the Chef, who certainly should be finding out these things from me.

So, now I'm irritated about how much we rely on Facebook, and I use it less than ever.  Facebook is the still the social media outlet I use the most, but I don't like it anymore.


Final answer:  Does email count?



11. Favorite ethnic food


Mexican.  I heart Mexican.  Just like Cari, I like anything with a side of margaritas.

Now for my 11 Questions:

1.  If you were a saint, what would you be the patron of?
2.  If you weren't Catholic, what religion would you be?
3.  If you could only eat one kind of animal for the rest of your life, what would it be: beef, pork, or poultry?
5.  If you could only eat one cuisine for the rest of your life, what would it be?
6.  What is the one movie that you are embarrassed to admit you've never seen?
7.  What is your dream vacation?
8.  Who is your fantasy dinner guest?  Must be a living person.
9.  Who is your fantasy dinner guest living or dead?  Can't pick Jesus or Mary, and can't pick the same person you picked for #8.
10.   What was the best book you read or were read as a child?
11.  If you had to emigrate to another country, I don't know, you're a fugitive from the law or something,  what country do you go to?


And my victims.  Anne of The Bazin Chronicles because she doesn't blog enough, Mary Kate of Why Yes, I AM Crazy.  Thank you for asking because she has a brand new baby, so I'm sure she has nothing better to do, The Happy Mother because she's pregnant and needs distractions, and Charlotte at Waltzing Matilda because she's just like me:  we both went to UD, married UD grads, both have five kids, both like Downton Abbey. 


May the Games be ever in your favor. Mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha.
 

Friday, April 20, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday: Second Friday of Easter



--- 1 ---

"Gay nights make sad mornings."  
So true, so true.  Last night, the Chef, Baby J and I wined and dined at the downtown Sheraton.  Fr. Barron was given an award at the University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein Seminary dinner.  I was mildly concerned about bringing my nursing-yet-nearly-one-year-old baby, but the other award recipients were Mike and Jackie Winn.  Most of their eight children, as well as most of their fifty-seven grandchildren were there.   Baby J was not the youngest person in the room.

I love that the Winns were honored last night with Fr. Barron.  The Winns have been long time supporters of the schools where we send Peter and Susan.  I love that this amazing couple spoke of themselves as "ordinary Christians."  I love that they spoke of their support for the Cardinal and the bishops in opposition to the HHS mandate, and that they are praying for the Cardinal, specifically for the virtue of fortitude.  And I loved watching the look on the humble Cardinal's face as they spoke of this.

Amazing people in amazing times.

Plus:
Full.  Orchestra.
Halibut. and. Filet.
Baby J. met. the. Cardinal.  
I.  Am. So. Very. Tired. Today.

--- 2 ---
Every year, Peter's school takes a trip to Wrigley Field to see a Cubs game.

Perhaps that sentence above does not bother you the way it bothers the Chef and I and all of our respectable family members.  (I'm sad to say that the Chef has some less than respectable family members.  I can only justify their support for the Cubs as a penitential exercise in the virtue of hope.)

See, I'm from St. Louis.  I bleed Cardinal red.  The Chef is a White Sox fan.  It was a per-requisite to our marriage.  Cards fans don't marry Cubs fans.  It just doesn't work out.

Me, the Chef, Baby J's first World Series:  Game 7, Oct. 29th, 2012

So, when the Chef received the email reminding us to send in Peter's registration for the field trip, he sent this reply.



Subject: Re: All-School Trip: Registration Required - Autoforwarded

To whom it may concern:

Why don't you ever attend a White Sox game?  Especially, considering how the Cubs are very bad at playing baseball and have been for over 100 years.

It makes sense to expose impressionable young men to examples of success, not to expose them to models of mediocrity and failure.  For this same reason, we study the lives of the saints and not those of nominal Catholics.

I strongly recommend allowing the boys to view a proper baseball team in a proper stadium.

Best regards,
The Chef

Well, he didn't sign it "The Chef." This is the response he received from the school.


Subject: FW: Response




The Chef,

As headmaster, the most urgent and sensitive of messages are forwarded to me for my immediate response.  Being such a mission driven school, we are gravely concerned about the apparent disconnect between your perspective on life and that of (our school's).  It is my sincere hope that over the next seven days you will be able to engage in some serious soul searching.  While you may be lost, perhaps hope still remains for Peter and the rest of his siblings.

I will be anxiously awaiting the attendance of Peter at the excursion next Friday.  I will also gladly set aside a ticket for his father should he be able to break away from work and enjoy a game at the best venue in the major leagues.

Regards,

The Headmaster
I do like Wrigley Field.  They let you bring your own food and drinks in, which they don't allow at US Cellular or Busch.  That's the only good thing I can say about all of this.  It is a dilemma, but we allow Peter to go, as an act of charity.

The Cutest Rally Squirrel at Busch Stadium, Game 7 and her ball from Texas Rangers' catcher, Mike Napoli. 

--- 3 ---
The head of Susan's school was also at the fabulous dinner last night.  She came over to our table to tell us what a wonderful daughter we have.  If I do say so myself, Susan is a much better fourteen year old girl than I was.   In fact, while we were out very late on a Thursday night, not only did she feed people a very creative form of left overs, and make certain that Edmund went to bed at a decent times, she folded ALL of the LAUNDRY!  Yes, she is a treasure.

The head of our school also said something about how she has "an appropriate amount of sassiness."

Hmmm.

--- 4 ---
Lucy told me at least three times this morning, that she is SO excited for tonight!  Tonight is her St. Genesius stage debut* in the musical Dear Edwina Jr., a musical about manners.  I am so proud of her. 

*must remember to buy flowers.
--- 5 ---
 Cari at Clan Donaldson tagged me in an 11 Things post.  That is like a blogger's chain letter.  It means that I need to post again real soon and answer all of her questions, plus think of my own witty questions and the bloggers I would like to inflict them on.  Stay tuned...

--- 6 ---


Edmund may or may not be a hypochondriac.  He likes to tell me about every weird bump, or scaly patch of skin, or mild abrasion, etc.  A recent example of this is, "When I scratch this bruise on my leg, my ear itches."  I never said he was normal.


Yesterday, he called me close to him, and said, "I have these things sticking out of the sides of my eyes."
"Yes, they are your eyelashes."
"Well, mine are long.  I have girl eyelashes."
"You have beautiful eyelashes.  The girls will love them.  You have Zac Efron eyelashes.  You are very lucky."
Silence...

"Leave them alone."

--- 7 ---


Last night, while driving around downtown, I couldn't help but notice the uncontrolled numbers of hipsters roaming the streets, with little to no regard for traffic laws.  I told the Chef that there's a new game, "Clip a Hipster, Win $50."  

The hipsters we saw had much less head hair, and an excess of weird facial hair.

No Hipsters were hurt during our discussion of the game or the Hipster phenomenon.
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

It's "What We're Reading Now" Wednesday!

sigh.  The stack of completely-read-and-waiting-to-be-blogged-about-and-returned books is quite large.


 The sequel to Matched, Crossed is the second book in Allyson Condie's trilogy.  I loved the first book, but this one was dark and depressing as Cassia goes to the Outer Provinces in search of Ky.  She finds him, and though she has risked her life to be with him, she will abandon him if he will not go with her in search of The Rising, a rebellion against The Society.  Also, even though she still can't figure out if she loves Ky or Xander, she does give Ky the "just one night" that he asks for.  Just one night without worrying about what they will do next, or thinking about The Society.

Now this one night is not described at all, and it may have been completely innocent, but then why bother putting it in the book at all?  Ky and Cassia have this night in a cave with at least two other people sleeping nearby.  It's kind of weird.  And there's loads of kissing.   Susan read it, and she brought that scene up voluntarily.  It made her uncomfortable, uncomfortable enough to mention it to me. 

It seems since the ending gives the notion that The Rising might be the same or worse than The Society, that I may have read this story before...and it was called Mockingjay.  Disappointed.


Cloaked by Alex Finn was way better.  This mystery masterfully interweaves several fairy tales including the Elves and the Shoemaker, the Six Swans, the Frog Prince, the Valiant Tailor and several more.

Nice boy, Johnny, helps out his single mother by working in their shoe repair shop in the lobby of a Miami hotel.  When a mysterious and beautiful princess comes to the hotel, and asks Johnny to help her find her brother who has been turned into a frog, in exchange for piles of money and her hand in marriage, how can he refuse?  With lots of great characters, and an adventure in every chapter, this book was fun to read. 


When a friend asks me to read a particular title, I am happy to oblige, and this one was a request.  The Obsidian Blade by Pete Hautman is largely a tale of time travel.  In the first few chapters, fourteen year old Tucker witnesses his dad's disappearance into a disk-shaped shimmer of air, while repairing a shingle on the roof.  An hour later, his dad reappears walking up the road accompanied by a mysterious girl and her cat.  He appears unchanged, except for one significant fact.  His dad was a Christian minister, and the first meal after his "episode" he says, "There will be no more praying in this house.  It is all lies."

Turns out, these "diskos" connect specific moments in history that are considered to be "the terrible, the horrible, the irreversible," such as the top of the World Trade Center on 9/11/01 and the murder of Jimmy Hoffa, and even the crucifixion of Jesus, which is referred to as "the death of a prophet."

Some diskos connect to a Mendicant hospital, Mendicants are people who communicate in numbers and are very advanced healers.  Johnny ends up getting stabbed in the chest, and sent to the Mendicants.  They heal him, but not for free.  Turns out, they drugged him and had him working an assembly line in a factory for a few years to pay the bill.  Johnny wakes up at least twenty years old with no memory of what happened in the intervening years, save some vague dreams.

In the book, Jesus is placed in the tomb and conveniently there is a disko to the Mendicant hospital.  At this point, I became very confused because Johnny's father tells Johnny that the Mendicants couldn't heal "Josua" and that the resurrection never happened.  He knows this because he joined the Essenes and waited around for weeks anticipating Christ's return.  BUT THE RESURRECTION DID HAPPEN! To his credit, Johnny does not give up his belief in God, and continues to pray periodically throughout the story.

Somehow Johnny's father ends up a bad guy, in charge of the bad guys in fact.  The first half of the book is very interesting and is well-paced for suspense, but the end of the book was like jumping off a cliff while the author shouts things like, "And he's going to try to kill his Johnny!  But the girl is going to save him!  And one of the bad guys has an obsidian blade!  Tell you more about that next book!"

I'm completely baffled as to who did what and why, as is this reviewer. Plus, I don't like authors taking liberties with my religion.  I wonder how Hautmann's book would be doing if he had chosen to distort or destroy Muslim tenets of faith in his work of fiction.  Don't be messin' with my Jesus.


And now for something completely different.

Worst of Friends:  Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and the True Story of an American Feud by Suzanne Tripp Jurman is a lovely picture book biography of one of the more interesting relationships among our founding fathers.  A friend of mine recommended this to me, after a discussion of the HBO mini-series John Adams that I had seen and enjoyed. 

You may or may not know that Jefferson and Adams, or Tom and John as I like to call them, were great friends around the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, but had a falling out later when they ran against each other for president. 

John won the first time, which was actually the second time there was a presidential election in these parts, well not these parts.  These parts was still Indian territory or French territory, or had mammoths and glaciers, I'm not sure.  Tom won the second time, which was actually the third election, but you already knew that by now.

Years later, after over a decade of silence between them, John wrote a simple letter to Tom, wishing him Happy New Year, and Tom wrote back.  They forgot their quarrels and resumed their friendship. 

On July 4th, fifty years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, they both died, John at his house, Peacefield in Quincy, Massachusetts, and Tom at his house, Monticello in Virginia.  Oddly enough, John's last words were, "Jefferson still lives."  His friend was on his mind even at the very end.  He was unaware that Jefferson had passed away earlier that day.  Miss Nora Ross, my high school history teacher, would be so proud of me right now. 

The deaths of these two statesmen are not covered in this delightful tale.  Worst of Friends ends on a much sweeter note, and includes fun tidbits of information that I did not know, such as how many books they each owned.



What!  A grown-up book?  Me?  Yes, well, sometimes I do check out things from the grown-up department.  I had read The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith, years ago, and was bothered by the abuse scene and the witch doctor part.  I was reassured by a friend that the rest of the series is not that graphic or disturbing, and so I read Tears of a Giraffe.  And you know what?  My friend was right.  Now, I'm reading the third, Morality for Beautiful Girls.  Two grown-up books.  But then, I'm going to dive head first into all of the newly announced Caudill nominees.

I love Rebecca Caudill's book and I love Caudill books.  There are sure to be some excellent reads in this list.  In fact, I'm already familiar with at least nine of these titles, including Black Radishes, which I reviewed here.  My family may never have clean laundry again.

Friday, April 13, 2012

7 Quick Takes Easter Friday aka Meat Friday


--- 1 ---

The Mantel is complete in all its glory.  Let's review.

Before, with the minimalist 4 inch deep windowsill-like shelf.

The new mantel!  8.5 inches deep for our decorating or drink-setting-down pleasure!


You have no idea how much trash and clutter I had to throw out of this shot.  Note the papa bear and mama bear chairs.  Mama Bear gets the ottoman, cause she needs to put her feet up.  See that bronze deer?  $7 from Home Goods.  It's cute, classy, and a home defense weapon.  Plus, Baby J is alternately enthralled and disturbed by it.


The Chef used all pre-cut wood and trim pieces.  All he used was a mitre saw and a finishing nail gun.

We are thinking about painting the bricks a taupe or grey color, to hide the smoke stains and bring out the mantel even more.  Any suggestions?

--- 2 ---


I bet you didn't think I had a patron saint.  I didn't think so either.  You never hear about a St. Jessica, but that Hebrew name can also be translated as Joanna or Junia.  She was one of the women who helped Mary prepare Christ's body for the tomb, and one of the women visiting Christ's tomb on the third day, only to discover the open tomb, no Jesus, but a nice angel who told her where to find the Lord.  Yeah, she's pretty awesome.  Bonus:  Her feast day is the month as my birthday.  Score!



--- 3 ---

I didn't realize that the threesome before Phil Mickelson's, last Thursday at Augusta National had the future winner, Bubba Watson in it.  I saw him, at the first hole on the first day!  You can watch him dancing in this goofy video.  

He's the one in the overalls.  I'm partial to men in overalls, because my dad has been known to rock a pair of Big Macs from time to time.  Of course, he puts his own spin on the outfit, because he like to sport a collared golf shirt and a pair of flip flops with his.  If you ever see someone dressed like this at a weekday Mass, chances are, it's my dad.  If the collar is popped, it's definitely someone else, and I would sit far, far away.




--- 4 ---

Lucy and I finished the second skirt which you can see in this Easter family photo taken late at night post vigil below.




--- 5 ---

I mean this picture:


We had a wonderful week down South and are everlastingly grateful to the insane family members who thought nothing of housing a total of fourteen people for Holy Week (while their house is on the market!), plus shuttling some of us to and from the Masters and letting us drag them all the way to Charleston for fried shrimp and siteseeing.  We are so blessed.


--- 6 ---

Baby J walks.  As in she walks into things, or walks up to heavy furniture or doorways until she pitches forward and adds another Easter egg colored bruise to her forehead.  Just when I thought I could enter her in the Baby Gap Casting Call too. 

--- 7 ---

Don't forget to Meat it up tonight in honor of the Eight Days of Easter.  We are going to our parish's 100 Anniversary Dinner Dance.  It's a Catholic parish, so of course, beef is on the menu.  It's a Catholic parish, so of course there will be booze there.  It's a Catholic parish, so of course, it's Ca$h Bar.

I'm looking for forward to the groovy tunes of DJ Patrick, fellow parishioner and my brother-in-law. (Lots of Patricks in this Irish Catholic clan.) If you live in Chicagoland and need some professional tuneage, DJ Patrick is the way to go.  He's done everything from corporate events and weddings to high school dances and Girl Scout Daddy/Daughter dances.

Enjoy the Feast!


For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Meat Fridays or Get Your Meat On!


The Chef is a carnivore.  The man loves meat.  He likes a good vegetable or potato too, but he would be perfectly content with an entree of beef, a side dish of pork, and assorted sausages for dessert.



He also loves the Church.  He studies liturgical nuances the way I shop for sales.  He relishes a good discussion on matters of faith and morals.  He prides himself on being the one that people call to clarify the Church's teachings on fast and abstinence.  (Chicken broth is ok.  Bacon bits are not.)  And he loves to announce Meat Fridays via his Facebook page.

Meat Fridays are Fridays, typically days of abstinence from meat, that are either solemnities (high feast days) or the Friday that falls with in the Octave of Easter.  And this Friday falls during the Octave of Easter, so, yup, you guessed it!  It's Meat Friday! 

According to the Chef, to eat or serve fish on a Meat Friday is as bad as serving meat on a Fish Friday.  He believes it is our duty as Catholics to consume meat, preferably multiple forms of meat, on these special days.

For your meat eating pleasure, I will now list the dates of the 2012 Meat Fridays in red, as well as other solemnities that do not fall on Fridays this year, but should they fall on Friday, they would indeed be Meat Fridays.

Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God, January 1st
Epiphany, January 8th
Saint Joseph, March 19th
Annunciation, March 26th
Easter Sunday and Its Octave (In 2012, this is Sunday, April 8th, through Saturday, April 14th, including Meat Friday, April 13th.)
Ascension, May 17th
Sacred Heart, Meat Friday, June 15th
Birth of John the Baptist, June 24th
Saints Peter and Paul, Meat Friday, June 29th
Assumption, August 15th
All Saints, November 1st
Immaculate Conception, December 8th
Christmas, December 25th 


So, defrost the fatted calf and celebrate the Resurrection! 

Friday, April 6, 2012

7 Quick Takes Good Friday




Seven Quick Takes Creed Style           

Staying with MJDMom, we were nonplussed to learn that they have neither cable tv, nor wireless internet.  So, I’m blogging Creed style, in a Word document.



1.     Georgia:  four songs come to mind. 
Devil Went Down to Georgia
The Night that the Lights Went Out in Georgia
Georgia on My Mind
And my favorite, Midnight Train to Georgia.

Who has two thumbs and saw Phil Mickelson on the putting green at Augusta National yesterday?   And again at the first hole?  Yup, that was me.  Rocking my visor at the Masters.  



2.     The Hunger Games the Movie:  I saw it last weekend in STL.   It’s dark, violent, has a mercy killing, but overall less scary than the movie.  I’d much rather spend two hours with the Muppets than with Katniss and the gang anyday.


3.     The Chef and I are watching North and South.  Not North and South, the Civil War miniseries, but North and South the BBC Production of Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel of the same name.  It’s about industrial northern England and southern gentrified England.  It’s so nice to see Bates on screen again.



4.     Susan FINALLY finished Anne of Green Gables Part 3, aka Anne of the Island and Anne Shirley FINALLY accepted Gilbert Blythe’s proposal.  So Susan is free to read a book of her own choosing and she is choosing …. wait for it…

Anne of Green Gables Part 4, aka Anne of Windy Poplars.  My plan worked!  She is hooked!  Huzzah!


5.     I overheard something interesting during Cousin Frenzy today.  When my kids play “Cops and Robbers,”  MJDMom’s kids are playing “Criminals and Lawmen.”

     6.  

 Click on the link below to see a commercial for the new series, Downton Arby's


Happy Easter! 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!