Sunday, September 23, 2007

Amy and Gloria

This month, two very special people whom I have met only through blogs, have passed away. I would like to share a little about each one so that you can be blessed as I was to know them.

Amy Wilhoite

Amy, a young mother, had battled leukemia for over a year. She kept a blog of her journey through cancer which detailed her faith in God and inspired all who read it. Her faith never wavered, instead holding fast and growing stronger while those of us who read daily were inspired while keeping a silent vigil, offering our prayers and leaving notes of encouragement for her. My hope is that she was as blessed by the prayers and words of strangers as we were to be a part of her journey. She died on September 10 while waiting for a second bone marrow transplant, leaving behind her husband and young son. Her story doesn't end there, however, as her husband plans to make her writings available in a book so that her story can reach others who didn't have the chance to know her while she was alive. Her legacy will live on through her words.

Gloria Strauss

Gloria, an 11 year old girl, had battled neuroblastoma for four years before succumbing to her illness on Friday, September 21, 2007. Gloria inspired all who knew her, whether personally or those like myself who read her story as written by Jerry Brewer for the Seattle Times. His words transport the reader and his touching tribute shows how Gloria has found her way into his heart and those of his readers. As I read her story, looked at the pictures and watched a video of the prayer vigil conducted in the ICU, I was amazed at her tenacity for life and the love of her family as they hoped for a miracle of healing for her. I was moved by her prayers for others even in the midst of her own suffering. After Amy's death, I prayed all the more diligently for Gloria, especially praying for the miracle that would be needed to keep her alive. I wondered if she knew just how many people from all over the world were also praying for her and thinking of her. She never gave up hope and through it all, she gave hope to those who are now left behind in a world without her. Her parents believe that this is only the beginning of Gloria's story. Her legacy will live on through her family and the many people who were touched by her and will never be the same.

It is odd how the internet can bring such people into our lives. People who we will never meet but whose lives touch ours in a way that is so personal and lasting. We are interconnected in so many ways: through modern technology, prayers, a belief in a God who loves us. Both Amy and Gloria are bright shining lights, now twinkling from Heaven to show us the way as we traverse our journeys through our own trials in this valley of tears.

Thank you God, for Amy and Gloria. Their lives are a beautiful testament of Your love.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Oopsy Daisy!

Is it any coincidence that I stopped blogging after we got the new puppy? I think not. I have been so busy working on getting her trained that I have had no time to sit and think about posting. Well, I did think about it but never got much farther than that. A puppy is fun but a lot of work. She is doing well with her training, even though there have been a few mishaps. Training a dog isn't that much different from training children. Really. Actually after raising two boys, I think the dog is a little easier. The key is consistency and sticking to a schedule. Sounds easy on paper, but carrying it out is the tricky part.

I just have one thing to say to any parent who is thinking of getting their child a dog, with the expectation that same said child will take care of the dog, walk the dog, feed the dog, play with the dog, train the dog. It doesn't matter how much they beg, plead and promise in the beginning that they will do all this--- the cold, hard fact is that the novelty wears off fairly quickly and what you have left is all the work while the kids get the fun part. What I have to say is, don't do it unless you are prepared to do the work yourself, while threatening the kids that if they don't help you are getting rid of the dog (seems cruel, I know but that is what happened) The kids do help with her but realistically, it should have been clear to me from the beginning that I was taking on this extra duty.

There are just more things to do now in my day. Things like going to the paint store to buy paint (specially mixed for exact color paint) for the decorative trim the dog chewed off in hopes of concealing it from hubby who would go ballistic if he saw it; things like spending hundreds of dollars at "Pets R Us" on every kind of chew toy in hopes of keeping her from eating the house; things like running down the street at 8:30 a.m. in my pink pajamas while all the neighbors watch the show. Things like screaming the word "DAISY" over and over while she runs further away. She has this annoying thing she does, when I get close enough to grab her collar, she bolts. Things like caring for, feeding, training, pretty much EVERYTHING.

But I do love her. She's gonna be a great dog.

So, if you are wondering where I've been or what I've been doing since July 21st, wonder no more.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Crazy for Daisy

We have been terribly busy lately, what with a new puppy and all. Going out with Daisy is like traveling with a rock star. She is irresistable to just about everyone, and now she knows more people in our neighborhood than we do. A puppy sure is a conversation starter, I can tell you that. The Kid brought her to our parish picnic where I found him just about constantly surrounded by a group of girls all smitten with Daisy.

I'm helping the Kid learn how to train his pup. She's still doing well with training, although we found that she pees on anything which is flat and happens to be laying on the floor, which is great if it is her training pad but not so great when it is a new play tent belonging to the Princess. We decided that between potty breaks outside, she can hang out on the back deck, which works out fine and keeps the carpet (and other things) from accidents.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Meet Daisy!

Daisy came to us in an unexpected way. By that I mean that we weren't exactly in the market for a new puppy, but well, these things happen. We were on a camping trip and it was when we stopped at a local little General Store that we met two young ladies who were trying to find a home for the pup. Immediately, I fell in love with the puppy, and so I talked it over with busywoodshophubby about whether it would be possible to consider taking her home with us. Being the good and compassionate hubby he is, he said it was up to me.

Let me back up a little. This week was the one year anniversary of losing one of our dachsie pups, Shiloh (7/16/06) and ever since then, my son has been asking and begging (and asking and begging!) for a new puppy. I suspected that he needed something to fill that gaping hole in his heart that has been there since losing Shiloh. Last summer, when he wanted a new puppy right away, I explained to him that he needed to take some time to grieve and how one dog just can't replace another. But, (and this is the real important part) that if he gave it enough time, one day would come along and he would be ready to love a new dog. A broken heart takes a long time to mend but when the time was right, I told him, we would know it.

I guess the time was right.

So we adopted her, brought her home and began the process of integrating her into our family. The first thing we needed to do was to introduce her to the other dogs. At first it looked like it was going to be difficult for the other two to accept her, but after only a day they were already playing and getting to know each other. I was glad that this part went so smoothly.

The next thing was finding a name for her. The Kid pondered possibilities, writing them down and trying to decide. Here were the other names he considered, in the order of most favorite: Tuesday, Lady, Charlotte, Sadie and Maggie. In the end, Daisy seemed to be the one which fit her the best.

The potty training is also going well. After potty training the dachshunds, which was an ordeal-- I wasn't prepared for how easy it could be with a different breed. Labradors are known for their intelligence and Daisy has not disappointed us. After only one day, she has consistently been going each time we take her to the lawn. I was very happy that she seems to be an easy and quick trainer.

Yesterday we took our first outing with her to PetSmart. We love PetSmart and other pet stores like it, because only there do you find other people who love animals as much as you do. Passersby nodded and smiled when they saw "The Kid" with his new dog. His grin from ear to ear was literally worth a million bucks. However, we got out of the store spending a "mere" $130 dollars.

On the way out of the store, The Kid decided on one last purchase. He thought that Daisy needed a tag. I found it interesting that he chose the big red heart tag, which confirmed to me that his heart was really and truly ready to love another dog. He had it engraved with her name and our phone number in case she is ever lost, which is hard to imagine since he's with her every second. Purchases in hand, we left the store, all set with every thing a little puppy's heart could desire.

It is nice to see The Kid so happy about a dog again. I am a firm believer that every boy needs a dog. It's a rite of passage and a time of their life that they will always remember, and when he is grown, he will look back with fondness for this time he spent with his special friend. In the meantime, I look forward to lots of happy days watching Daisy grow and my son growing up along with her.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Photo Friday

We hiked up to the lower falls bridge, about a quarter of a mile. The top of the falls is another mile, I wasn't interested in pushing a stroller all the way up there! The number of people out on a Friday afternoon all doing the same thing we were was incredible. It was shoulder to shoulder all the way up and on the bridge, everyone wanting the same photo spot.

It was a perfect day for an outing, the weather was perfect-- not too hot and a little breeze. If you can get past the traffic and all the other people, the nature part was worth the effort.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Business 101

There's nothing like a lemonade stand to teach your kids about business. I felt like Donald Trump with all the wisdom I was imparting. Yes, I am a huge fan of "The Apprentice", and I always loved his common sense bits of information that were peppered throughout each episode. He would preface each with, "In life, as in business....." I took that format and ran with it. The kids just want to make a quart of lemonade and sit at the end of the driveway, make a few bucks and call it good. I, on the other hand, am trying to use this experience to teach them a little about how business works. After all, don't most successful entrepreneurs get their start from a humble roadside lemonade stand?

First of all, every business owner needs "seed" money-- the old adage, "You have to have money to make money" holds true for any business. They didn't have to fill out tons of paperwork for their business loan, it came from a mom who can spot a good investment when she sees one. (let's see, they are busy doing something productive, working together, making some money, and providing material for a blog post. Not a bad investment at all.) We were off to the store to buy cups, ice and lemonade.

The second lesson they learned was that the success of your business comes down to marketing and pricing (why yes, I did learn that from the Apprentice, why do you ask?) We found out something very interesting. When the price for a cup of lemonade is set at 50 cents, the customer is more likely to wait for their change back. BUT, when the price was only 25 cents, about one in three customers would give them a whole dollar and tell them to keep the change. Why, I don't know but that's what happened. It would certainly make a very interesting study for a doctoral thesis, don't you think?

Having a cute little stand helps to bring in customers because it catches their attention, and that my friends, is marketing. It doesn't really matter if you have the best lemonade in the world if nobody stops to buy any, am I right? (oh The Donald would be so proud!) The kids borrowed our little Tiki stand from last year's Survivor Party and transformed it into a very cute little stand just by turning the Tiki Bar sign around and finding some stickers to spell "LEMONADE".

Another thing the boys learned is the value of a cute little sister. She can bring in the customers like nobody's business, just with her little princess wave and her cute little voice saying, "Lemonade for sale, 25 cents." If you can drive past something like that without stopping and buying a cup, then you have a very hard heart and bigger problems than lack of a quarter and a little thirst.

The next thing they learned is that said little sister works fairly cheaply, although she will insist on drinking a few cups of lemonade. Each time she earned a quarter, she would turn around and buy another cup.

They learned that fireman ALWAYS stop for a drink and a little conversation. It seems they have a soft spot for kids who run lemonade stands. They were the best customers ever.

Another thing they figured out is that you can make your product stand out simply by using fancy descriptive words (this is the generation of kids who have been marketed to from the time they were born, after all) They are good at it. "This lemonade is made from the finest quality water, includes the cup AND ice!"

The best thing to come out of this is to see the kids earn their own money and have the satisfaction of a reward for their hard work.

Never mind that the supplies cost mom $10.00, while the kids earned $8.00. Those two dollars have an important function--- they are an investment in future entrepreneurs.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Before and After



As you can see in the "before" picture, the rhododendron is overgrown and blocking the bay window. We decided to remove the entire shrub, unfortunately it was just too big and not right for this space. It was a beautiful plant but in the wrong location. Then, as you can see in the "after" photo, we added a small fountain, boxwoods along the foundation, and a fuschia and ornamental grasses that do not get very big and like dry, shady areas. The camilla shrubs were trimmed. For flowering trees and shrubs, the best time to prune is after they flower but before they set their new buds for next year. We also fertilized afterwards to help it overcome the trauma of all the cuts. We think it looks so much better. Now, when we open our dining room window, we can see out and hear the water running! It is so relaxing.

The Lovebirds Fountain up close:

Friday, June 22, 2007

Photo Friday- The Last Time You Were This Happy

What could be happier than a boy with his dog?

This picture is one of my favorites of Wild Thing and Shadow.

How about this one?
Princess and her friend enjoy a summer treat

For more Photo Friday, go to

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Pneumonia, Kidney Stones, Allergies, OH MY

What do all these have in common? Nothing, really except that this week our house has seen all three. Allergies are a given--- every year from April to at least July, and again in the fall. There are good days and then flare ups every now and then. Friday was my flare-up day. Still, it's not the worst thing in the world.

Then there is pneumonia. Yes, that is what caused our early morning jaunt to the emergency room the other night, except we were busy thinking it was appendicitis. Here's a saying they tell medical students regarding diagnosis-- "When you hear hoof beats, think HORSES not ZEBRAS." But here is a saying that is not so popular and should be also taught in medical school: "When a child has a severe stomach-ache in the middle of the night, think PNEUMONIA, not APPENDICITIS." It certainly would have saved us some trouble. I brought Wild Thing to his follow up doctor appointment two days after our ER visit, since he still was feeling terrible, and still complaining of a stomach ache. We brought him in, and after relaying the symptoms to the doctor who immediately suspected pneumonia, either because by virtue of being in family practice, they tend to know what is currently going around, or because of having appendicitis ruled out by previous e.r. visit-- or possibly because this doctor had learned the other saying in medical school. In any case, a chest x-ray cleared up the matter and we knew why Wild Thing felt so terrible. A bottle of antibiotics and we were on our way. The next day he was practically back to himself, a miracle of modern medicine.

No sooner had Wild Thing gotten back on his feet, than Busy Wood shop Hubby (BWH) had fallen ill. Naturally, since his symptoms seemed so similar, we thought he had pneumonia as well. However, when we brought him to the after care facility (we never seem to get sick during office hours), the doctor determined that a kidney stone was to blame. We thought it was an odd coincidence, but then again, stranger things have happened. However, after days of suffering and sifting (don't ask), no kidney stone materialized and BWH is finally feeling better. We still think that the after care doc was thinking Zebra when he should have been thinking Horse, but in any case, all is finally well in our household again. Well, except for those darned allergies. Two out of three isn't bad.

**EDITED March 7, 2009*** please click on this entry: Searching for another post regarding pneumonia and kidney related problems

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Things my Father Taught Me

(This was written a number of years ago and given to my Dad as a gift for Father's Day)

Things My Father Taught Me

That you can hit the snooze button as many times as you like, but eventually you will have to get up and greet the day.

That a great way to get a sleepy teenager from hitting the snooze button again is to put your ice-cold, just-cleaned-the-pool-filter hands on her neck.

That you should never judge a book by its cover, it may just be the best book you ever read.

That a dad can always tell how the dent in the car got there, no matter how much his teenage daughter sticks to her story.

That the saying, "This will hurt me a lot more than you" is true even when it precedes a spanking.

That you are never too old to have a teddy bear.

That one man's junk is Dad's fortune.

That the cows will always know when the electric fence is down, and it is always when dad is out of town on business.

That the tractor should never be driven by a girl who doesn't know which pedal is the gas and which is the brake.

That the early bird gets the worm, and worms are good protein.

That you can never give your dad too many socks or Old Spice cologne sets.

That a dish towel left near the lit burner will catch fire 99 percent of the time.

That it is better to give than receive, especially when it is a well-deserved spanking.

That daughters should always listen to the wisdom of their fathers.

That little girls grow up into big girls but they will always need their Daddies.

Daddy's girls

Happy Father's Day!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The 2 AM Red Eye

Waking in the middle of the night with a 9 year-old who has a severe stomach ache, right in the spot where appendicitis would be is not what most people think of a 2 a.m. red eye. Let me explain what happened. Since he had been complaining of a worsening ache for quite some time, earlier in the afternoon, I naturally logged on to Web MD, typing in the symptoms and finding that, sure enough, they all did fit the scenario of a possible appendicitis. Or a number of other things, all of which are much less of an emergency. Being a mom, though, of course, I'm already running that worst-case scenario through my mind. (What if I am wrong and it isn't just a tummy bug?) I was a little worried. Ok. A lot worried. I told him at bedtime to wake me if it got worse.

Fast forward to 2 AM. He wakes me, says his tummy is much worse, he can barely stand up and walk, so I of course jumped out of bed and called the advice nurse. That took a while, since I dialed the number, got a recording which told me to dial another number-- I dial that number which tells me to dial the number I had just dialed. I guess managed care means that if you manage to get any care, you're lucky. I finally managed to get a nurse on the line, answered all her questions and she determined we were worthy to proceed to the next round: the emergency room.

Since most of our friends are sleeping at that time of night, we decided to wake the other kids and take them with us. The more the merrier, right? Meanwhile, Busy Woodshop Hubby is brushing his teeth, older brother is getting dressed, Wild Thing is getting increasingly more uncomfortable, and I am hurriedly getting the Princess dressed and gathering things together. We are trying to hurry, but at 2 o'clock in the morning it is not easy to find pants, a top, and two shoes. I was quickly putting in my contact lenses when my eyes started burning like crazy. I look at the bottle of my new solution and suddenly, I remember that the instructions say to keep the lenses in for at least six hours. Believe me, when they say six hours, they MEAN six hours. Apparently, the solution needs enough time to neutralize, and four hours just doesn't cut it. I immediately removed them, rinsed out my on fire eyeballs and decided glasses might be safer for now and quicker at this point. After a few times of running up and down the stairs, bumping into each other in the hallway, and taking the dogs out for a quick walk, we finally get everyone in the car.

We get to the ER, which is almost completely empty except for the guy with the horrid looking infection on his leg that we made sure not to sit anywhere near. We were confident that we would be helped in a timely manner, which, as far as an emergency room goes, we were. Wild Thing is taken back and has a battery of tests while I stay in the waiting room looking lovely in my nice red eyes and just-got-out-of-bed hairstyle. Somehow, it wasn't at all like you see on T.V. We wait for another little while, I read all the magazines, do puzzles with the Princess, fish around my purse for change for the vending machine, and then after all the adrenaline is used up, we get cozy in the chairs for a little 4 am nap. I look over at my older son and notice that in the frenzy of our getting out the door, he somehow had the presence of mind to bring his laptop. He's not one to pass up an opportunity for free WiFi, not even at 2 a.m. in the ER waiting room. Gotta love that brotherly kind of love, doesn't it just make you all teary eyed and all? I know it did me. Or maybe it was the acid I put in my eye.

In any case, a few labs and a CT scan later, we find that Wild Thing doesn't have appendicitis after all. Which is good, of course, wonderful news. So we're home now, BWH went on to his day job, The Kid went to school, I'm sitting here with my bloodshot peepers, the Princess is napping and Wild Thing? Oh, he's feeling so much better that right at this moment, he's sipping chicken broth and watching Spongebob.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Late Spring Field Day

Welcome to the Pink Victorian Late Spring Field Day! I'm glad you stopped by!

The tour begins at the front door, where you can see that our yard has a lot going on. Since this is our second year here, I know that all those plants which I was sure had died during the winter will spring to life and start to bloom. I get so excited when I see everything coming back to life. Then, the work begins! This yard takes a lot of upkeep, with three lawns to mow and a completely landscaped acre which needs constant watering, weeding, trimming, fertilizing, mulching and preening. There is a creek and a pond on the side yard, along with a large variety of trees, bushes and flowers everywhere! When we have a moment, we like to pour a nice glass of iced tea and relax on the front porch and this is what we see:
The pathway leading to the front door winds around to the driveway, and goes around the front garden and back to the porch-- a perfect little 'race track' for the Princess and her bike. She loves to ride it around and around while I water the plants.

Here is another view from the porch:
I have been wanting to do this for a long time. Finally I have a hill for a canvas! Take a cedar planter, lay it on its side, fill with a little dirt (to keep it from rolling away) and then plant flowers in a spill pattern. It really looks very cute:This bush is always buzzing with bees. I have never seen so many bees in one place, at least not in my yard!
Isn't this a beautiful color? We have just about every color of rhododendron, but this one has to be my favorite:
When you live in a Victorian, you need some topiaries. I thought it was fun to trim these little bushes. I felt almost like Edward Scissorhands. You can also see the beautiful peonies in this picture.
Here is part of the front garden, where there are lots of bushes, I have planted some tall flowers in the middle to give it a cottage look. There are lamb's ear, sweet william, carnations, columbine, bee balm, bearded tongue and delphinium:
A memorial for our little puppy, Shiloh, who was hit by a car last summer:
A quiet spot to enjoy the yard

Here is the pond in the side yard, which currently needs a little work. We will need to drain it to pull out the cattails which have taken over, and install a liner for easier maintenance. Since this picture was taken, we have started on this area. Another view of the side yard--- a weeping cedar and some juniper bushes (we call them bunny bushes because that is where they like to hide their babies)

Taken from the pond, towards the house. The big tree is a magnolia tree. If you look really closely, you will see the little door is the 'secret entrance' to Dexter's laboratory (or Busy Woodshop Hubby's workshop, as it's known around here)

And, what would late spring be without Little League practices and games?

Friday, June 8, 2007

Warning-- Things May be Farther Away Than They Appear

Have you ever noticed when those weight loss ads say things like, "I lost 60 lbs using XYZ" and then in the teeny tiny print it says, "Results not typical"? What I want to know is, just what ARE the typical results, then, if these aren't? Did you also notice that the person in the After picture never really looks like the same person in the Before picture?

I have noticed that weight loss is big business (no pun intended!) and the ads prey on people who think that all they need to do is this one thing and poof-- instant After. Even with only 15 pounds to lose, I find it gets easy to get sucked into wanting to find a quick fix. What? You mean I have to really EXERCISE? I have to SWEAT? It's gonna HURT? I can't eat FATTENING FOOD? Are you serious?? The reality is, there is no fast, easy way to lose weight other than, maybe, liposuction. If I could only come up with a Chocolate and TV weight loss plan, I'd be a millionaire.

I suppose you get out of something what you put into it. But why is it that as soon as you commit to losing weight, things conspire to keep you from reaching your goal? The fat grams of the world have united and mock my efforts by making themselves even more appealing. I'm trying to ignore them, but it isn't easy.

Nonetheless, I've started tracking my points and try not to get discouraged when, after I type in my breakfast, I only have 12 points left for the day. I can see that the Weight Watcher's plan is balanced and provides a lot of motivation, but I have to do the work part myself. I'm finding that it is a daily challenge to eat healthier and to increase activity levels. There really is no easy way to do it, it just takes determination and constant vigilance. Oh, and will power. That really helps.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Summer Reading

Pope Benedict XIV -- Jesus of Nazareth

From the book jacket:
"This book is.... my personal search for the face of the Lord." --Benedict XVI

This is the Pope's first book written as Benedict XVI. I picked up my copy yesterday.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Strategic Planning for Summer

Just having finished mapping out the summer for the kids, I have to say that it takes one part secretary, one part strategist, one part mathematician, and one part crazy mom determined that her kids will get the most out of their time off. Using the local Parks & Recreation guide, Summer camp guide, and Community education guide, I was able to piece together a plan for the entire summer.

Sounds easy? This was me the last two days: coffee in one hand and phone in the other, guides spread out all over the table. I circled the things which sounded interesting (which was just about everything) Then, I got a calendar out and started filling it in, week by week until the summer started to take shape. It seemed easy at first, until I had to start changing things around as many of the camps conflict with each other. For instance, Science Camp sounded like it was right up their alley, (featuring a frog dissection! how cool is that?) but unfortunately, it conflicts with Vacation Bible School, which is already paid for and non-negotiable. I phoned for the Golf camp and it was already full, so what am I going to do with that week, now? So on it went.

Finally, after much wrangling, the schedule was all filled in and the kids have something to do just about every day. They will be spending some time doing lots of arts and crafts, nature walks, games, activities, outdoor fun at a local community park; tennis lessons; a week at the Humane Society's critter camp; guitar lessons; and the one I'm looking forward to the most-- two weeks of drama camp with a production of The Lion King!

In addition, they will be participating in the local library Summer Reading program as well as the program through their school. We have a chemistry set and other science kits and models to build that we didn't have time for during the school year. They are also going to continue with their at home guitar and piano lessons, as well as having a chart of chores and responsibilities which is kind of new in our house (mom realizes she needs to delegate!)

On the days and times between all these fun camps, we will be exploring our local area bike trails and hiking trails; their personal favorite--berry picking, and of course a zoo day or two. A local museum is hosting a once-in-a-lifetime viewing of the Body Worlds 3 exhibit, which we will be attending as well. All in all, it looks like it will be a fun and productive summer.

Friday, June 1, 2007

The Month of June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Consecration to the Sacred Heart

A wonderful devotion encouraged by the Church is devotion to the Sacred Heart, especially by consecrating our families to the Sacred Heart. Here is one version of a consecration.

Place a picture or statue of the Sacred Heart in a conspicuous place in the home, or in the place of honor on the family altar. In the evening the whole family gathers there before the altar on which a number of candles (the baptismal candles may be used) are lighted as symbols of faith and love of the members for the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Here is the official form for the private devotion of the Enthronement:

O Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thou didst reveal to the blessed Margaret Mary Thy desire to rule over Christian families; behold, in order to please Thee, we stand before Thee this day, to proclaim Thy full sovereignty over our family. We desire henceforth to live Thy life, we desire that the virtues, to which Thou hast promised peace on earth, may flower in the bosom of our family; we desire to keep far from us the spirit of the world, which Thou hast condemned. Thou art King of our minds by the simplicity of our faith; Thou art King of our hearts by our love of Thee alone, with which our hearts are on fire and whose flame we shall keep alive by frequently receiving the Holy Eucharist. Be pleased, O Sacred Heart, to preside over our gathering together, to bless our spiritual and temporal affairs, to ward off all annoyance from us, to hallow our joys and comfort our sorrows. If any of us has ever been so unhappy as to fall into the misery of displeasing Thee, grant that he may remember, O Heart of Jesus, that Thou art full of goodness and mercy toward the repentant sinner. And when the hour of separation strikes and death enters our family circle, whether we go or whether we stay, we shall all bow humbly before Thine eternal decrees. This shall be our consolation, to remember that the day will come, when our entire family, once more united in heaven, shall be able to sing of Thy glory and Thy goodness forever. May theImmaculate Heart of Mary and the glorious Patriarch St. Joseph vouchsafe to offer Thee this our act of consecration, and to keep the memory thereof alive in us all the days of our lives.

Glory to the Heart of Jesus, our King and Our Father!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today is the day the Church honors the event we read about in the Gospel, where Our Lady visits her cousin Elizabeth. This is where the Rosary prayer comes from, in the words of Elizabeth, "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus."

Gospel: Luke 1:39-47

At that time: Mary rising up went unto the hill-country with haste, into a city of Juda; and she entered into the house of Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth. And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost; and she cried out with a loud voice and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord. And Mary said:"My soul doth magnify the Lord; and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour."

This gospel passage has special meaning for me, as I found myself in a 'surprise' pregnancy only five months after the birth of our daughter. Sadly, it ended in miscarriage at 10 weeks, only a few weeks after I found out we were expecting. The night before we lost the baby, it was revealed to me in a dream that the baby was a girl, and the priest in my dream even named her. Her name? Mary Elizabeth. She would have been born in May.

Today is also the 10th anniversary of my enrollment as a member of the St. Maximilian Kolbe Militia of the Immaculata.

Things to Do:
Read Luke 1:39-47, the story of the Visitation. Read and meditate on the words of the Magnificat and the Hail Mary, two prayers from this feast. For those with children, depending on the ages, assign memorization for these prayers. Also discuss the meaning of the text as a family.

This feast reminds us to be charitable to our neighbors. Try to assist some mother (expectant or otherwise), visit the elderly or sick, make a dinner for someone, etc.

Friday, May 25, 2007

From the shelf

Yesterday, I was spring cleaning in my daughter's room, and couldn't help but notice my old Raggedy Ann doll sitting on her shelf, amidst her most favorite toys and stuffed animals. Raggedy Ann is an old and very dear friend of mine, created lovingly by my grandmother, stitched by her hands and filled with her love. This Raggedy Ann doll, to any untrained eye, may look old, worn and ready for the trash bin, but to my eyes which look at her from the heart, she is just as beautiful as the first day I saw her. She is irreplaceable, a true original, a one-of-a-kind that cannot be duplicated or found in any toy store in the whole entire world. She is worth more than money can buy.

She isn't the prettiest doll. She is missing some of her red yarn hair. Her dress is wrinkled and she smells of cedar. She doesn't talk, walk, sing, eat, wet or cry. But what she does do is something no other toy can do. She is the last surviving vestige of my childhood. In another time, she was my best friend; sharing with me long summer days, lemonade and popsicles, swings on the old tire swing, romps in the grass, favorite books under the apple tree, warm summer breezes, climbing trees and playing tag with butterflies, cloud watching and flower picking, but most of all, she represents the love of my grandmother who made her for me.

I looked at my old friend, sitting silently on the shelf, I was taken back for a moment to a simpler time, a happier time when the days seemed endless; days of childhood that, in retrospect, go very quickly. I think of her now in the care of my daughter and hope for the two of them many happy days, new adventures and beautiful memories. Smiling, I finish my work, turn off the light and close the door.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A busy 11 days

I can't believe 11 whole days have gone by since I last wrote. It has been a real busy week and a half here. I have been trying to keep up with the yard work, which entails a lot of weeding-- despite the liberal use of Preen, those little buggers keep popping up EVERYWHERE. On Saturday, I spent the first half of my day weeding between the cinderblocks on the pathway which runs behind the house. It is about a half mile long (or seems like it when I'm trying to get those blasted weeds out from between those small spaces!) I enlisted the kids to help, which lasted about five minutes and then they were off to do something more exciting (you know, like using the garden tools as weapons.) I was trying to make a game out of the weeding chore to make it seem more appealing, but they are just way too sophisticated and caught right on to my transparent ploy. Luckily, at least the weather cooperated and it was overcast and breezy-- a perfect combination when doing this sort of work. It looks really nice now and I find myself looking out the window at odd times of the day to admire it. I am still planting the PTO sale plants I bought, I am not sure I will ever finish. One flat of verbena had gotten a little neglected and had the nerve to die just because I forgot to water them for a couple days. The rest of the plants are still kicking and waiting to go in the garden beds, which I do plan on doing this weekend, as a matter of fact.

Besides the constant planting/watering/weeding going on in the yard, I have been busy taking "The Kid" to his baseball practice and games, interspersed with carpooling the kids to school, and then keeping up with the usual housecleaning, cooking, laundry, bill-paying, organizing (or some semblance thereof) and homework duties. Here's a sample of my fifth grader's math puzzler that I personally could not figure in less than a half hour: "If the girl-scouts had a cookie sale, saved 1/6th of the money, spent the remaining 1/2 and had $100.00 left over, how much money did they earn?" (the answer, if you were wondering, was $240.00) I think I would have just eaten all the cookies and forgotten about the whole thing.

Honestly, though, I could use a couple more hours in my day to accomplish a few more tasks. My week has been a blur, so the blog had to suffer. However, I thought I would try a new tactic and today I will try multi-tasking and writing while drinking my coffee (which really is a feat for me!) Hopefully I won't knock my cup over on the keyboard. Don't laugh-- it has happened before when I was working in an office and frequently killed my ten-key with a coffee bath. Wish me luck, I'm living dangerously this morning.

The first order of business is announcing my new button over on the side bar-- I am officially a Catholic Mothers Online member. If you have a moment, you can click on that to read other Catholic mother blogs and also to join if you would like. I have a lot of blogs to read these days, it's a wonder I get anything done, really!! I enjoy reading them as much as time allows, and proud to be included with this wonderful group of women.

I am still learning the ropes of blogging so be patient with me while I change things around as I learn new tricks. Blogger is very user friendly for a first time blogger like me but it does take time to get up and running. Way back when, I had a Geocities address and started my own webpage, and through the years of computer/internet use I have learned a few html tags, but it wasn't until I started this blog that it became clear how very primitive my knowledge is of computer things (see, I don't even know the technical jargon) I hope that when my one year anniversary rolls around that I can look back and laugh at my amateur attempts and see how much I have learned. In the meantime, remember that I'm a newbie so if there are any problems with my layout or any other comments or tips you may have for me, feel free to leave a comment (please be nice, though!)

Now that I've taken care of that, I can get on to my business of random thoughts and comments of my own. I have emerged from the week of season finales of my favorite shows. On Grey's Anatomy, I was sad to see Meredith and Derek break up, Burke leave Christina at the altar (although that was a bit of a surprise!), not one of the front-runners getting Chief of Surgery position, "Ava" leaving and George not passing his intern exam. I thought there was too much trainwreck in this episode and not enough "warm fuzzies" for me. It was beyond disappointing, not only to me, but to other Grey's fans (I was reading the comments on a Grey's discussion board--- most felt like I did) It was not the way I would have written it at all, but then again I like happy endings, which apparently doesn't make for good TV.

I was equally as disappointed with the season finale of Desparate Housewives, although it seems to have regained some of the campiness that made the first season so enjoyable. I hope they keep that up. I loved the wedding of Susan and Mike but the rest was kind of a let down. There are a lot of possibilities plot wise, so we'll just have to wait and see where it all goes next year.

Scrubs was very funny and all in all, a great finale. I was happy with that show and with The Office which has me laughing so hard I'm crying a lot of the time. Steve Carrell is so funny, and his delivery and comedic timing is perfect.

The last big season finale for me was last night on Dancing with the Stars. This show is a real bright spot in my week, it is always a great show, no matter who wins. I always feel like dancing when I'm watching. I really enjoyed seeing how Laila Ali has grown as a dancer and couldn't help but notice how she has lost quite a bit of weight since the beginning of the competition. She is fun to watch, and I love the combination of her with Maxim. I was hoping they would win last night, but on that show at least, everyone is a winner. I think it's one of the best shows on TV at the moment.

Speaking of losing weight, I have just joined Weight Watchers , and I am excited to start going to meetings and be inspired to eat healthier and achieve a 15 lb weight loss goal. I'll keep you posted on my progress!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Your Mother is Always with You


Your mother is always with you...

She's the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street.

She's the smell of bleach in your freshly laundered socks.

She's the cool hand on your brow when you're not well.

Your mother lives inside your laughter.

She's crystallized in every tear drop.

She's the place you came from, your first home.

She's the map you follow with every step that you take.

She's your first love and your first heart break...and nothing on earth can separate you.

Not time, Not space...Not even death...will ever separate you from your mother...

You carry her inside of you...

~Author Unknown~

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Morning Run

Wild Thing woke busy woodshop hubby (BWH) up at 6:30 this morning to go running at the local track. Track season just ended, and as a first track season, he did very well. He likes the 200 and 400 meter the best, and in another year will be able to compete in the 800. BWH says that Wild Thing will be unbeatable if he keeps up his training regimen. He needs to learn to pace himself, and now that he has a feel for the races he wants to run, he can work on his endurance. He is bound and determined to train all year so that next year he can be more competitive in his age group.

So, at the crack of dawn this morning, BWH and Wild Thing headed out to the track and took the dogs out with them. Shadow is our mini-dachshund, and rather, um-- shall we say, rotund? He also has the handicap of having these short little legs and it is quite comical to watch him try when he tries to jump on the couch. He has to take a few practice heaves before he can actually make the jump!! Just to give you the idea of how big he is, most people think he could double as an ottoman (and he could, if he weren't so short!) Despite his extra baggage and short legs, bless his little doggy heart, he ran four times around the track, keeping in front of both BWH and Wild Thing the entire time. He even stayed in his own lane, much to the amusement of Wild Thing. Wild Thing has a very good sense of humor, so the two of them together are pretty entertaining, to say the least. Here we have a perfect match: a dog needing to lose weight who likes to run, and a boy needing to practice his endurance. Let the training begin!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Been meaning to post this

I've been wanting to write about procrastination, but I keep putting it off. This is perhaps the reason you don't see more published on the subject. I often wonder why there isn't a "PA" (Procrastinators Anonymous), but then I realize that it would never work as the people who need to be there would never come, because they would be putting it off for another time. Procrastinators are nothing if they are not predictable.

Here are some general misconceptions about procrastinators. The first misconception about us is that we are lazy. While it may be understandable that some people might confuse procrastination with laziness, there is an important distinction. What is the distinction, you ask? A procrastinator has intentions of doing things, while someone who is just plain lazy has none. See the difference? It is all in the intent, and while the end result may still look similar, there really is a *big* difference.

The second misconception about procrastinators is that we are always making excuses. We aren't, it's just that we have to constantly justify our reasons for never having things done.

The third misconception about procrastinators is that we are inconsiderate. Again, we really aren't. We happen to know that it will get done, we just don't know when.

Another common misconception is that we do this on purpose. We don't. Procrastination can actually be a genetically inherited trait, passed down recessively, of course.

So, how do you know if you are a procrastinator? Do you find yourself with a 'To-do' list that never gets crossed off? Are you constantly saying things like, "I've been meaning to....." "I'll get around to it eventually" or (my personal favorite) "Better late than never!" If any of this sounds familiar, then you just might be a procrastinator.

I know I am in good company. If procrastination weren't a societal problem, then there wouldn't be so many "Belated Birthday" cards to choose from in the stores. There wouldn't be "Last Chance" sales. There wouldn't be a need for fines for overdue library books, because there wouldn't be any overdue books. And there certainly wouldn't be expiration dates on coupons.

If that isn't enough to convince you that there is, indeed, a large population of procrastinators, then consider this. There are in existence "Procrastination Societies"; groups which gather other like-minded, well-intentioned, genetically challenged people together-- although one club claims that anyone attempting to become a member will actually exclude that person from membership (as, after all, a true procrastinator would never take the time to sign up in the first place!) They even have a newsletter that sometimes goes out when they can get around to writing it. I don't know, because I never get it-- I haven't signed up yet.

However, it is without hesitation, if you will, that I say, if I could say only one thing about my fellow procrastinators, it is that they are the most optimistic people you will ever meet. Think about it: Who else but a procrastinator can have so much faith that there will be a tomorrow in which to put off the tasks which should have been done today?

Monday, May 7, 2007

A Novena for Heather

Today I begin a novena for the intercession of St. Gianna for our friend, Heather. If you haven't yet met Heather, you should.

St. Gianna is a saint for mothers, and Heather is a young mother in need of a miracle. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor and just last week went through surgery to have it removed. Her prognosis is 3-5 years. I pray that through St. Gianna's intercession, Heather will recover fully and have the opportunity to see her children grow up and live a long life. Heather has been such an inspiration to many through her blog where she shares her enthusiastic love of God, and where her steadfast faith shines brightly and is an inspiration for others. She has been a gift to all who read her beautiful words. Because of Heather, the blogging community has come together to help through financial and spiritual means, which in itself is so very inspiring to witness, the outpouring of love of so many people who have never met Heather in person.

Please pray with me for St. Gianna's intercession:

Novena To Obtain Graces Through Saint Gianna Beretta Molla

God, our Father, you have granted to your church the gift of Gianna Beretta Molla. In her youth she lovingly sought you and drew other young people to you, involving them, through apostolic witness and Catholic Action, in the care of the sick and aged, to help and comfort them. We thank you for the gift of this young woman, so deeply committed to you. Through her example grant us the grace to consecrate our life to your service, for the joy of our brothers and sisters.

Glory be …

Jesus, Redeemer of mankind, you called Saint Gianna to exercise the medical profession as a mission for the comfort of bodies and souls. In her suffering fellowmen and in the little ones, deprived of all support, she saw you. We thank you for having revealed yourself to this servant as “one who serves” and who soothes the sufferings of men. Treasuring her example may we become generous Christians at the service of our brothers and sisters, especially those with whom you deign to share your Cross.

Glory be…

God, Sanctifying Spirit, who love the Church as your Bride, you poured into the heart of Saint Gianna a share of your Love so that she could radiate it in her family, and thus cooperate with you in the wonderful plan of creation, and give life to new children who could know and love you. We thank you for this model wife and, through her encouraging witness, we beg you to grant to our families the serene and Christian presence of mothers committed to transform them into cenacles of faith and love, rich with generous activity and sanctifying service.

Glory be…

O God, Creator and lover of mankind, you were close to Saint Gianna when, affected by illness, she was in the painful dilemma of choosing between her own life and the life of the child whom she was carrying in herself, a gift long-awaited. Trusting you alone, and aware of your Commandment to respect human life, Gianna found the courage to do her duty as a mother and to say “yes” to the new life of her baby, generously sacrificing her own. Through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Jesus, and after the example of Gianna, inspire all mothers to welcome with love the sparkle of new life.

Grant us the grace we are praying for: The full restoration to health for Heather and the joy to find in Saint Gianna who, as a model spouse and mother, after the example of Christ, gave up her life for the life of others.

Hail Mary…

God our Father we praise You and we bless you because in St Gianna Beretta Molla you have given us one who witnessed to the Gospel as a young woman, as a wife, as a mother, and as a doctor. We thank you because through the gift of her life we can learn to welcome and honor every human person.

You, Lord Jesus, were for Gianna a splendid example. She learned to recognize you in the beauty of nature. As she was questioning her choice of vocation she went in search of you and the best way to serve you. Through her married love she became a sign of your love for the Church and for humanity. Like you, the Good Samaritan, she cared for everyone who was sick, small or weak. Following your example, out of love she gave herself entirely, generating new life.

Holy Spirit, Source of every perfection, give us wisdom, intelligence, and courage so that, following the example of Saint Gianna and through her intercession, we may know how to place ourselves at the service of each person we meet in our personal, family and professional lives, and thus grow in love and holiness. Amen.

Friday, May 4, 2007

When life gives you lemons,

Then don't waste the opportunity--- offer them up! I learned about this Catholic practice from my mother-in-law years ago. It is a way to turn our sufferings whether big or small into a prayer that is offered to God for the purpose of uniting our sufferings to those of Christ on the Cross. It helps us to use the crosses in our own lives to realize that suffering has a purpose, and we can make good use of our own daily sufferings as a sacrificial prayer for others. Here is a definition I found on

Theology of Redemptive Suffering:
Sacrificial suffering is a rich Christian faith expression, modeled after Christ himself. It is a partial answer to the age-old question, "Why does God allow human suffering?" The Church has always taught that physical pain, mental distress, even minor annoyances, are not meaningless but are meant to be put to valuable use. As Jesus used the anguish of his Passion and the agony of Calvary to accomplish our salvation, so do our sufferings have supernatural value when joined to the Cross. By willingly accepting our struggles and presenting them back to God as a "burnt offering" for the intentions of others, we cooperate with Christ and become real participators in the mystery of his saving act."

By thinking of our daily trials and irritations in this way, it makes them easier to deal with. If we know that by patiently enduring all that comes our way in the course of the day, and that we can then unite these as small sacrifices with Christ in order to help others, then we may even learn to welcome them. The only difference between redemptive suffering and just plain suffering is the conscious act of our will to recognize that we can offer it up! It really seems so simple. Since we all suffer, then why wouldn't we want to take every opportunity to see our suffering in a positive and purposeful way? We can either be chronic complainers who are miserable in our suffering, or we can be joyful and prayerful offerers of our suffering.

I like to think of "offering it up" as the Catholic version of the old saying, " When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." I would sure take lemonade any day over those sour lemons. Through the offering up of our daily sufferings, we can put our faith into action each day. By doing so, we learn how to make the sweet lemonade of charity for others from the sour lemons of our daily human suffering. Truly, in giving we receive, because by helping others, we lighten each other's loads and recognize that God in His goodness has given us a way to create meaning from suffering. We are enriched in our spiritual life through the love of our neighbor and become more Christ like in our words and deeds.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

May is the month dedicated to Mary

"All generations will call me blessed"

The month of May has long been dedicated to Mary, Mother of God. In 1965, Paul IV wrote in his encyclical, "Mense Maio" about the reason for this month long tradition:

"For this is the month during which Christians, in their churches and their homes, offer the Virgin Mother more fervent and loving acts of homage and veneration; and it is the month in which a greater abundance of God's merciful gifts comes down to us from our Mother's throne."
Paul IV goes on to say, "We are delighted and consoled by this pious custom associated with the month of May, which pays honor to the Blessed Virgin and brings such rich benefits to the Christian people. Since Mary is rightly to be regarded as the way by which we are led to Christ, the person who encounters Mary cannot help but encounter Christ likewise."

That pretty much sums up why Catholics honor Mary. She leads us with a motherly love and compassion to her Son, Jesus. Any true devotion for Mary will lead to a deeper love and devotion for Jesus. To Jesus, through Mary.

I've been asked before by non-Catholic friends who misunderstand this very important point, whether Catholics "worship" Mary. We do not worship Mary. We give honor to her as the Mother of God and ask her intercession for us, to bring us to her Son. She brought Jesus to us when she said YES to God, and now she brings us to Jesus. We only have to ask. That is the beauty of a mother's love. Further, we know that in Mary we have the strongest of intercessors. Her Son will not turn away her requests. The wedding feast of Cana is an example of this fact. This was where Jesus performed his first miracle, at her request, and thus began His public ministry. Another important thing to remember is that in this same Scripture reading, Mary says to them, "Do what He tells you." So we know that Mary wants to bring us to a deeper relationship to Christ and the way to do that is, quite simply, to "do what He tells us".

The Catechism tells us, in regard to devotion and the motherhood of Mary,

971 "All generations will call me blessed": "The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship."513 The Church rightly honors "the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of 'Mother of God,' to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs. . . . This very special devotion . . . differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration."514 The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an "epitome of the whole Gospel," express this devotion to the Virgin Mary.515

Today, we attended a Mass at our parish in honor of St. Joseph the worker, the first day of the month which honors Mary. What a fitting way to begin our month of honoring the Mother of God, by also honoring her most chaste spouse, St. Joseph. After Mass, the Princess and I gathered materials to make a special prayer place to honor Mary in our home for this month of May (see photo above)

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Let's get Trivial

Now that the little strep bug is under control (see post below), I am feeling much better, one indication being that I am back to pondering odd things as is my normal habit. Anyone can tell you that I love trivia and especially obscure tidbits that would only be very helpful to know if you were ever called to be on a quiz show like Jeopardy or the 25,000 Dollar Pyramid. Usually these little bits of information just swirl around and around in the trivia cortex part of my brain-- waiting for an opportunity to be passed on, because, let's be real, trivia is meant to be shared. For instance, here's one you might not know, I didn't until I happened across this piece of information the other night: In the Major Leagues, brand new baseballs are seasoned with this special mud that can only be found in an undisclosed location in New Jersey on the Delaware River. It's called Lena Blackburne Rubbing Mud. It's true! I read it in the Baseball Field Guide.

It should be no surprise at all to you, then, to know that I love reading the Guinness Book of World Records, or that in the 80's I was huge fan of the TV shows Believe it or Not and That's Incredible! (remember those, anyone?)

Curious minds want to know, after all.

I was a whiz on those trivia games that were popular way back when. When hubby was in college, we loved to go to the neighborhood gathering spot and play trivia games on a big screen tv while visiting with friends. He always wanted me on his team, and we usually won.

But I have to ask myself, in the big scheme of things, what good will any of that information do me in life? I am quite certain that I will never be on a quiz show or in a Trivial Pursuit tournament. Hmmm, well, I guess that leaves writing about it in my blog.

But, being me, still I wondered how well I would do if I were on a quiz show such as the Newlyweds where they ask questions as to how well you really know your mate. Most people like to think they really know the person they married. Now, I have a great advantage to those newlyweds as I have been married to BWH (busy woodshop hubby) for going on 15 years. I know things about him that others might not know: Things like that he likes cinnamon in his coffee; he is listed in Who's Who 2002; he always remembers my birthday but has to ask me how old he is EVERY YEAR! I know lots of little things such as that but even after 15 years of marriage and 17 years of knowing him, I still find out things all the time that I never knew. He recently told me a story from his childhood that I had never heard before (and believe me, I thought I had heard them all! many! times!) I found out one day that his favorite jello flavor is cherry. Something so basic should be already in the trivia databank. Is it important to know these things? I don't know. I just know that there are still little bits of trivia to uncover even after all these years. I wonder about all the things I don't know, except I don't know what I don't know, you know? Luckily for me, love doesn't depend on knowing every last small detail. Maybe that's what makes life interesting, the little things we learn each day about those we love.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Something that's not so pretty

We just discovered something rosy-colored that's not so rosy to have. That would be the nice rosy color of a throat infected with Streptococcus A. Don't let the electron micrograph photo at left fool you. As pop art hung on the wall it may be beautiful, but when this organism takes up residence in your body, it is an entirely different matter. It has been a year since we last dealt with it, but we haven't forgotten how much mayhem this little germ causes. Last year two of our family members had it a total of seven times. That 's a lot of days of not feeling so great and a lot of antibiotic treatment. Not everyone exposed to Strep A will get strep throat, but we are finding that some people certainly have a tendency to get it if they happen to be exposed to it.

If you or your child happen to be one of the latter, here is what you can expect: You will notice a general feeling of malaise, and a marked decrease of activity-- which, for a parent, is a sure sign something is wrong with their child. This will be followed by a headache, possibly a low grade fever and a very sore throat. If your child has tonsils, you will see that they are swollen, very red, and may have white patches. The glands in the neck may also be visibly swollen as well. They may complain of stomach ache or have a noticeable decrease of appetite. These symptoms were personally observed by me as a mom, and also when suffering the same miserable symptoms myself. Now, these symptoms can also be indicative of other diagnoses, which is why you have to go to the doctor for a rapid strep test. If it is negative then antibiotics will not help. If it is positive, then you definitely have our sympathy and we hope that the following information is helpful.

Here are some tips that we have learned in dealing with this nasty little germ. First of all, get plenty of rest-- that is very important! Really, you won't feel like doing much anyway so grab a warm blanket, fluffy pillow, magazine, book or the remote and plant yourself on a very comfy couch. Then, you want to make sure you stay home and away from other people until after you have been on antibiotics for at least 24 hours--- especially stay clear of pregnant moms. Drink lots of fluids, and try to eat something. The best things for a really sore throat are things such as applesauce, popsicles, ice cream, chicken broth, juice, or anything that sounds good and can be eaten without a lot of discomfort. If nothing else, then please drink water-- it will help the healing process and keep dehydration away. The worst of this illness after antibiotics have been started lasts about 24 hours. My son was feeling much better day 2, he was up and talking, eating, playing and basically back to his normal, "wild thing" self --- a little less energetic but much better than the first day.

The next most important thing is to have separate drinking cups for everybody--- this should already be a general rule but one of my kids has a terrible habit of grabbing whatever glass is on the counter and drinking from it despite all my warnings. I got some plastic cups and wrote everyone's name and instructed the entire family to ONLY drink from the cup with their name on it. You will need to buy new toothbrushes for everyone (I would recommend this even for the non-ill family members) We discovered that the strep bacteria can live on a hard surface for up to 15 days. That's a long time, and enough time to finish a course of antibiotics and get reinfected. This step is important-- also throw out the toothpaste as well and buy a tube for each person (I scoffed at this but think about it-- if the toothbrush is infected and the tube of toothpaste is touched to the brush-- that's all it takes). Last year, being my thrifty self, I opted for running the toothbrushes through the dishwasher instead of buying new ones, and guess what? We had a re-infection and another 10 days of antibiotics, so it's not worth it. Another thing to do is to thoroughly wipe all surfaces with bleach-- doorknobs, countertops, the toilet flusher handle-- everywhere a child would normally touch should be wiped. Doing this can help get the bacteria out of your household.

Even the most vigilant cleaning parent can not control the germs that children encounter every day at school. Frequent hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer are a must especially for those kids like mine who manage to catch Strep so easily. However, don't feel badly if you do need a second or third time with antibiotics-- it could be that the first round just wasn't effective enough or it could be that as it makes its way through the school, your child is being re-exposed to it.

I have found a couple of good resources that have a lot of information about the causes and treatment of strep infections:

Saturday, April 21, 2007

When was the last time you....

Since I'm new in the blogging world (as an author, that is!) I thought I would join in the fun and fill out my very first meme. So here goes:

When was the Last Time You ...

When was the last time I ...
1. kissed someone? kissed my busywoodshop hubby goodbye this morning as he took Wild Thing to his track meet.

2. drank coffee? lol right now as we speak. I drink Folger's instant with Coffeemate Vanilla Caramel (it's an acquired taste)

3. read a book? Last night-- I read three stories for Princess and then read my book while I wait for her to fall asleep

4. cursed? If "darn it" counts, then every day just about.

5. had a nightmare? I always dream that I'm back in high school and can't open my locker and I'm late for class (is that a nightmare?)

6. checked your email? 10 minutes ago

7. had a crush? 17 years ago and still going strong!

8. drove a car? yesterday, to a Little League game

9. rode a roller coaster? A few years ago. Hershey Park with the kids

10. took a nap? Last Sunday. I like to catnap on Sunday afternoons.

11. went to the movies? Charlotte's Web

12. drank alcohol? last night *Mike's Cranberry Lemonade*

13. went to a party? Christmas

14. said “I love you"? every night to busywoodshop hubby before we go to sleep

15. cooked a meal? This morning, I made bacon, eggs, toast. I cook dinner every night, last night we had Sloppy Joe's.

16. exercised? What? I'm supposed to exercise??

Friday, April 20, 2007

Think Pink

Welcome to the Pink Victorian, where we see things through rose colored glasses, because, quite frankly, everything looks better that way!

It seems inevitable that with a childhood nickname such as "Rosie from Roseville" that I would end up living in a pink house, does it not? Living in a pink house is not for everyone, however, there are advantages--- such as you can say to people, "We live in the second house on the right, the PINK house." And guess what? So far, we have never had a guest who got lost. I suppose if everyone lived in a pink house that could be problematic, so fortunately for us pink houses are few and far between.

Pink is a joyful color. For example, in the liturgy of the Catholic Church, on the Third Sunday of Advent, we light a pink candle which symbolizes the joy in our expectation of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is called "Gaudete Sunday" which means 'rejoice'. It is on this Sunday that the faithful get a little preview of the joy that is to come on Christmas day. During Lent, there is Laetare Sunday, which also features the color pink (or rose, as our priest says-- he doesn't wear pink for crying out loud!) In the season of Lent, this Sunday uses the rose color as a special sign of joy meant to encourage the faithful through their penitential practices. It is another preview of the joy coming at Easter. It's as if pink is a little signpost showing us that the best is yet to come-- hang on!

That's why I love the color pink. It is a joyful, happy and calming color. Where would roses be without the color pink? Or sunsets? Or little piggies? Pink is the color of a lot of my favorite things; babies, cotton candy, bubblegum, kittens' noses, petunias and yes, even flamingos. Someday I will put one in my yard, just because.

Pink is even used in popular sayings, such as "Tickled pink" which means of course, happy. Or what about "In the pink" which means you're healthy.

Pink is also romantic. I carried a bouquet of pale pink roses on my wedding day. My bridesmaids? They wore pink, of course. The groomsmen and the groom wore pink boutineers.

So welcome to my blog, where the best is yet to be! Through my blog, I hope to add some joy to your day. Until we meet again, may all your days be pink ones!