Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Religious Liberty

I'm proud to direct you to an article at NRO concerning recent attacks on the Catholic Church and religious liberty. Don't Know Nothing is co-authored by my brother, Michael, and Fr Thomas Berg.

Monday, March 30, 2009


I don't know if he means it or not, but Micah definitely says "Maa-Ma," now. I like to think he means it.

Just had to share...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Lawn Boy


Micah and his pear tree.

Was I the only one who Didn't Know that? vol. 2

Adding lemon juice to vinegar improves its cleaning power.

OK, so Kristen says to add lemon juice to your vinegar to make a stronger cleaner. I just squeezed one lemon into a spray bottle and mixed in about a pint of vinegar. I reapplied this to the cushions and set them in the sun. While I can't say with certainty that it isn't due to a second application, they do seem to be improving even more. They are very nearly brand new looking now. The lemon juice improves the smell as well and since I understand leaving the vinegar on will prevent mildew from returning, the improved smell is big plus. Thanks Kristen!

Was I the Only One Who Didn't Know That...vol.1

...Vinegar cleans mildew stains?

My patio furniture is looking much better now that I've learned this. I used vinegar on our outdoor cushions that sit through humid summer days here and had many dark stains left over from last year despite my having scrubbed them, soaked them and laundered them all twice. I poured the vinegar straight on the stain and let it sit. The stains broke up and faded right before my eyes. The cushions don't look brand new, but they are much, much improved. These cushions will certainly serve us another year. Alex got a whiff of this and asked, "Why do I smell chips?" I'll most likely need to launder that smell out now.

We're getting the porch ready for eating outdoors again and reading nights on those newly brightened cushions. I love spring.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Park Pics

Monkey Bars and Elbow Scabs

Through the Bars

Higher Up

The Sky's the Limit

Photo Credit: Jeremy

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Needless Anxiety

I nearly flipped the other day when the boys came rushing to me in the kitchen pale as ghosts, "There's something wrong with Micah's head. We didn't mean to do it." It made me nearly sick until I realized the concern. The science lesson for that day was how perfectly normal the fontentelle or "soft spot" is on a baby's head. They thought they'd somehow done that to him. Good grief.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

It's Spring Again

So, while I'm scrubbing in the laundry room and bath, I'll try to remember this article from 2007.

Zachary Turns a Whole Hand!

Wow, Zachary, you're five! In a way, I'm surprised you are five already. I remember the wide-eyed, happy baby you were and I can't believe how much you've grown. In another way, I can't believe you are only five. You are so smart, you truly amaze us. You read so well you've started chapter books. You are just as good with numbers and while you say you can't draw, I love your art. You took off just this week on your bike without training wheels,too. I see you zooming so far ahead so fast. I won't stop you, sweetheart, but please promise me you'll look back every now and then to see your mother standing proudly behind you.

I love you, sweet Zachy. We all do. Happy Fifth Birthday!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Zachary Learns About Footnotes

Reading "Leonardo the Terrible Monster," Zachary wondered about Tony who was said to have 1,642 teeth. Zachary counted Tony's teeth on the opposite page and found they came up short. There was a footnote and I pointed it out to him. We followed the asterix...

*Note: Not all teeth shown.

"I get it," Zachary said, "but it should be called a tooth note."

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Few of My Favorite Things vol. 3

Food and food gadget edition:

1. Jazz apples. They are a fairly new variety of apple grown in New Zealand, France and Washington state. Growing in popularity and availability, they are a blend of Braeburn and Gala and they express the best qualities of each. They've been called "aromatically succulent" and "jicima crisp." They are the perfect fresh eating apple and I call them "yummy."

2. Orville Redenbacher's Natural Popcorn line. My husband loves the Buttery Salt and Cracked Pepper variety and I go for the Garden Herb and Olive Oil. Good stuff.

3. Am I the only one who was unaware of can openers that work without leaving that deadly sharp edge on lid or can? We've broken a series of can openers lately (I don't know why) but in the end we got a Kuhn Rikon safety can opener and I love this thing! I understand many other brands make these safety can openers, too. My mother in law is the one who turned me onto these. She said Good Cook makes them. Anyway, this a good one even if it took me a while to figure out how it worked. I actually opened a can of beans on both ends before I realized I had opened it at all. Ha!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Surreal Moment of the Day

Nursing the baby to sleep in a dark room, Jacob comes and reads a book about cookies to me by the light of a glow in the dark jellyfish.

Alex's Jokes Make Me Laugh...

...though I'm never sure why exactly...

Alex: What does Flash say when he runs off to get something quickly?


Alex: I'll be back in a second.

Alex: What does Flash call a taxi?


Alex: Slow.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Saint Joseph

St Joseph has many names-- patron of workers, of fathers, of families, of house hunters and many more. He has interceded for us under many of these titles, often teaching us spiritual lessons along the way and providing for us beyond our expectations. More than any other Saint, St Joseph is near and dear to our hearts.

A little more than a year ago, I was praying this remarkable novena to St Joseph. I love the daily "visits" with the holy family this novena requires and the simplicity with which it is prayed. I was praying for a new baby and the circumstances necessary to handle it well. After Nicholas' birth, I had a bout of PPD and it took me a long while to fully recover. Although I felt well again, I worried a new baby might throw me off.

It wasn't long after completing this novena that we learned we were expecting and when I dated the pregnancy, I discovered it was March 15th. If you remember, the solemnity of St Joseph was moved to the 15th last year as the 19th coincided with Holy Week. I was overjoyed to see St Joseph's mark on this pregnacy and took it as a good sign.

I went into labor a few short days before Christmas. Labor was strong, but sporadic through one long night. I was alone in the livingroom by the light of our nativity scene. I thought of Mary and the long ride she had on a donkey's back and all the bumps she must have felt along the way. I passed in and out of sleep. I thought of St Joseph and his concern for Mary as he searched for fitting shelter. I passed in and out of pain. I thought of Mary and how her view must have been St Joseph's back as he led that donkey. I watched him with her, the sway of his robes, the curls of his hair, the arch of his strong neck. What a comfort he was that night, leading the way.

By morning, I was ready to go in to the doctor's office and there we were told to get to the hospital quickly. When we arrived, there were no beds in Labor and Delivery. They sent us to triage. Labor picked up and the doctor came by, "There's no room at the Inn," he joked. No words could have been more comforting to me at that time. St Joseph's mark was on this delivery and Micah was born two short hours later in triage.

Micah was born on the 19th as though St Joseph wanted to reaffirm that this blessing came through his intercession. So, today, Micah Benedict Joseph turns three months old. Though I am sad to say he is no longer an official newborn, I am thankful because these last three months have been among the very happiest of my life. Thank you, St Joseph!

Solemnity of St Joseph!

Happy feast of St Joseph, Everyone. No time to write about him, we're too busy enjoying his day. I hope you are, too.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sometimes I feel as though I have Six husbands

Like when I'm drinking a glass of wine and Simeon asks, "Are you sure you can have that?"

Or just about anytime something needs assembly and Alex is all over it or telling me I'm using the wrong tools when I try it myself.

Or whenever Micah cries on Jacob's watch and Jacob says, "Micah's hungry!"

Ummm... Nick.

Nicholas: Mama, what is my nick name?

Updated to add: I actually like to call him "Nick Knack," but I couldn't resist the simple answer.

Three Cheers For Matt!

Matthew Archbold of CMR fame has been guest blogging at Faith and Family and he's had me laughing and crying all week. Three cheers for Matt!

What I Learned in the Waiting Room
wake Up, Dad!
The Longest Nine Seconds of My Life

What About Them Catholics?

Great conversation going on in the comments of this post, first in a series of frequently asked (strange) questions. Here, Shaun tackles the strange question "Are Catholics Christian?" and answers it with rare insight.

Barbara Curtis responds in part:

My pro-life work and reporting (for Focus on the Family) has taken me into many places where evangelicals and Catholics work together against our true enemy. It breaks my heart that instead of joining arms and creating a solid godly front in the face of a degenerate world, that small minds persist in these ridiculous games of judgment. Timothy 2:19 tells us that the Lord knows who are His. That should be enough to enable us to get on with the work He has for us - to use use our energies for His glory and to not allow ourselves to be distracted by the enemy.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Simeon Recommends

"The grass grew, and so did business."

When a twelve year old boy receives a riding lawn mower from his grandmother, he puts it to use mowing lawns and learning the complexities of free-market capitalism. "Lawn Boy" by Gary Paulsen is an easy read, it's short (99 pages) and filled with boyish humor.

It is also a comic lesson in sound business sense. Chapter titles such as "Labor Acquisition and Its Effects on Capital Growth," and "Economic Expansion Combined with Portfolio Diversification" highlight the ascension of our young hero as he takes on laborers and invests in the stock market.

By the end of the book, this twelve year old has learned some important lessons and is worth half a million dollars. Not too shabby. Simeon says this book is hilarious and I think he's scheming. His father just happens to be buying a riding mower this weekend and a neighbor lady has asked if Simeon mows lawns. Hmmm....

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Three Random Pictures

A well stocked kitchen.

A drooly grin.

First sprouts in the garden.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Few of My Favorite Things vol. 2

I had such a great response from readers when I shared a few simple things that were making me happy that I thought I'd do this every time I can think of three. So here goes...

1. Canned seltzer. I've never been a diet coke addict, but I do like Hansen's soda and Jones' diet varieties. These and coffee were my main beverages during daytime hours, but neither is hydrating and that doesn't work well while nursing a rapidly growing baby. So, I've switched to canned seltzer. Looking back and considering the benefits to health, I wonder why I didn't do this sooner. Maybe because it isn't easy to find canned seltzer. Look for it not with soda, but where the seltzer is sold.

2. "Mitten Strings For God," by Katrina Kenison is a book about balance, quiet and peace in the home. It was recommended to me by my sister, Helene. Thanks, Helene! Most likely, all of you have been reading it and talking about it and I had my head in the sand. If so, sorry, ignore this and move on. Also from Helene, comes orisinal. Orisinal is to video games what Kumon is to children's workbooks. The graphics are appealing and the music is lovely. I've played some myself. I don't mean to brag or anything, but it turns out I'm pretty good at catching bumblebees in bubbles.

3. Since we enjoyed Animal so much, we went ahead and purchased Universe. It has not dissapointed. This book is such a wealth of information and amazing photographs. I expect we'll love the binding off of it.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


...so I had a dream last night that Micah was a six foot something grown man. He was still bobbling his head all around and needed propping, but he was six feet tall and I was sitting there wondering if it was really appropriate to be nursing him anymore.


If anyone was wondering at all if I've been wanting Micah to stay little as I watch him outgrow his diapers and pajamas, this dream should clear that right up. I'm glad he's growing. I am...just could we slow it down a bit? Just a bit?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What Does it Say...

...about my online shopping habits that Nicholas says we live in the "UPS of A?"

Sunday, March 08, 2009

More on Spring

Top to bottom: first frogs, Nicholas gardening, mailbox daffodils, and Nicholas with sailboats at the museum.


Wow...wow...wow. I am so impressed.

While I was out shopping for spring clothes for the boys, I misplaced my cell phone. I had it in a side pocket of the diaper bag where it could easily slip out. I'd been to a few stores and wasn't sure if it slipped out while I was nursing Micah in the back of one consignment shop, or if I left it in the cart of another. I searched the car and didn't find it. Since we use prepaid cell phone service, the loss of the phone also meant the loss of many prepaid minutes and I was starting to feel sick about it so I prayed to St Anthony the whole way home,

"Please, please, please St Anthony. I need to find my cell phone. Please don't let it be stolen. Please get it back to me. Please."

When I arrived home, I went to take Micah's car seat out of the back and there it was. My cell phone was lying there in plain sight on the floor of the car. How could I have missed it? I was relieved, very relieved and thankful, but felt more stupid than blessed by an answered prayer...

...but the story isn't over.

When I got into the house, I hung a few new blouses in my own closet. I took an old over shirt off its hanger to make room for the new things and felt something heavy in its pocket. I reached inside and found, to my great surprise, my old (as in very old) cell phone--a phone I misplaced nearly two years ago. Chills ran down my spine.

I'd given up looking for that phone ages ago. I never thought I'd see it again. I'd replaced it with my current phone. The old one is in good shape with pictures on it and video from our vacation in Cape Cod. We must have unwittingly moved it with us from Connecticut in that old shirt. I'm amazed, simply amazed. This may be a small thing, a seemingly unimportant thing but I think it happened to remind me of something very big and very important...

Prayer is powerful stuff.

Friday, March 06, 2009


...has returned.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Big Dreams

My Dad asked Zachary what he wants to be when he grows up. "A baker," Zachary said, "or an evil scientist."

Monday, March 02, 2009

Hello March

Grape hyacinths in the snow.

Well, looks like March in the south is no different than March in the north: Unpredictable.