Saturday, January 31, 2009


Don't worry, the title doesn't refer to me! It refers to the "things" that I expected to settle down ten days ago when I last posted. I was expecting to be helping Arwen settle into life with two kids, having a great time hanging out with her and Rosie (and Bryan and Anthony) and the grandkids. But. . .

As some of you know from reading Arwen's blog and Twitter, it hasn't been quite that way. The week before Blaise was born, Camilla spent some time in the emergency room with croup. Since her oxygen levels were fine, they gave her steroids and sent her home. She was still feverish and sniffly for the rest of the week, but better by the weekend. Unfortunately, she had been playing with her cousins right before getting sick, and by the time Blaise was born, both Matthew and Daniel were working on "sick and miserable."

Arwen and Blaise were released from the hospital last Wednesday, and Katie and Tommy -- who had a bad cold of his own -- came down to pick me up, since Bryan had two weeks of paternity leave and the plan was (and still is) for me to spend the third week there. By the time they arrived, both of Rosie's boys were so miserable, and Rosie was so exhausted, that Katie immediately volunteered to stay and help. Which was good because...

On Thursday Matthew was admitted to the hospital with a rollicking case of RSV, which kept him there through Monday. Roger and I (and a sick Tommy, who spent most of the weekend exiled to the basement computer room) went down to help. We returned home late Saturday because Katie and I had a commitment to sing at mass. Meanwhile, Daniel was diagnosed with an ear infection secondary to the RSV and put on antibiotics. And Camilla, who was feeling bad again, also got antibiotics for a mild pneumonia.

Roger and I had a separate commitment out of the area for Sunday through Wednesday, and although Katie went down again Sunday evening through Monday, and Tommy missed school on Monday, we all heaved a sigh of relief that things were on the upswing. Until Thursday morning early, when Blaise was hospitalized (in a different hospital) with RSV. Roger went down again Thursday through Friday to help Rosie with the three recovering kids, and right now Bryan's mom is there for the weekend.

The good news is that Blaise does NOT have anything bacterial, and they have already been able to reduce his supplemental oxygen, which means that he's working on being able to come home. Since I am a realist rather than an optimist (when I can keep myself from being a pessimist), I predict that he'll be out of the hospital by Tuesday -- the feast of Saint Blaise. And I'll be down there to help this new family settle in.

And God willing, all our lives will be boring and routine for a long time to come!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Read the header!

Just stopping by quickly, since I am out of town and have reduced computer access. The reason is my wonderful new grandson Blaise Alexander _____, who was born yesterday mornig about 5:30 AM. I am hanging out with new big sister Camilla, and having a wonderful time. See you all again when things settle down!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

Despite the title of this post, I'm really not a fan of the song it also titles. It's just too . . um . . . maybe risque? (And whatever made the people at that website think it was a Christmas song?!!) But when the thermometer is hovering around zero for the second day and night in a row, and Tommy's school was closed today based on the wind-chill, I just keep humming it. So this post is an attempt to get it out of my head!

Usually I don't dare complain much about the weather, because George lives in Duluth, which is several hundred miles north-west of here (and at the tip of chilly Lake Superior) and his temperatures average 10 to 20 degrees colder than ours. But just for these few days it's warmer there, so I feel free to grump a little.

Last night Katie and I went to choir practice, and when we came home she had to hop out of my warm van to move her car off the street. (We live on a "snow emergency route", and during the winter months cars left on the street after midnight are ticketed.) She wasn't wearing gloves, and by the time she got indoors -- before I did -- she couldn't feel her hands. It was very temporary, but a good reminder. Tonight she's out with friends, and she made sure she had gloves AND a scarf!

I have a little bit of clothing shopping to do; I want to get a pair of pants to coordinate with a shawl/scarf that I got for Christmas. Normally tonight would have been a good time to go to the mall, since Roger is at a hockey game with a friend. But I'm here at my nice warm computer instead, because. . . . .

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Lentil-Sausage Soup

None of our kids have participated much in sports. Both boys played a couple of years of AYSO soccer, most of the girls did the middle-school cheerleader thing, and Maggie was on a competitive dance team for a year. But with the exception of Rosie, who just didn't like it, all of them have played both middle- and high-school Quiz Bowl.

The season has rolled around again, and this year Tommy is playing varsity. Although for some reason few people think of Quiz Bowl as a spectator sport, I admit it -- I'm a Quiz Bowl junkie! I even went to the local tournament last year although none of my kids were playing. (Tommy was still on JV, and Katie dropped QB to take the role of Marian in the school's production of The Music Man.) So naturally I try to travel to all of the meets when I actually have someone on the team.

The only problem with this is dinner. The meets start at 3:30PM, run for three 30-minute matches (which with breaks and switching opponents etc. stretch to about 45 minutes each) and include a snack break catered by the hosting school. Add in an average of 40 minutes travel time and that means that Tommy and I don't get home until 7 PM or thereabouts. And since Roger's schedule tends toward an 8PM bedtime -- he gets up at four -- I need to have dinner ready ahead of time, waiting on the stove. This week it's going to be:

Lentil-Sausage Soup.

(This recipe is my adaptation of one from the More-with-Less cookbook.).

In a large kettle over medium-high heat cook 1 pound loose pork sausage and 2 medium onions, chopped, until meat is brown and onions are tender. Drain off water and fat. Add to the kettle 2 cups lentils, 1 large can (28 oz) diced or crushed tomatoes, 1 can water, 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram, salt* and pepper, and 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce**. Simmer at least 30 minutes***, until lentils are tender.

Slice Italian bread****. Place a slice of bread in each bowl, and serve soup over bread.

* I actually add about a tablespoon of salt, but you might want to start with half that and add to suit your taste.

**The hot sauce is only enough to make the soup savory, not spicy. I add the 1/2 t. of Frank's sauce, but if I only have Tabasco I use less.

*** The beauty of this soup is that it's done in half an hour, but can simmer all day if you need it to. I will probably make it in the late morning, simmer on medium until the lentils are tender, and then leave it on low until we get home.

**** The original recipe calls for Italian bread, but any good white bread is fine. We have used Italian, French (with 2 slices per bowl), and just homemade white. And it's just as good if the bread is somewhat stale.

This makes a large pot, but leftovers reheat and/or freeze very well. Also, this recipe is a great way to introduce lentils to committed meat-eaters. The sausage provides the flavor, and the lentils provide the bulk. And you could probably do variations by using Italian sausage and changing the seasonings. I've just never tried it because this hits the spot so well.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Blog Year in Review -- 2008

I've seen this done at a few places, including Heart Speaks to Heart and The Summa Mammas.

The idea is to post the first bit of the first post from each month of the previous year. This is the first year I've been able to do it, since last year was the first year I had even one post for every month.

So --

Christmas makes you feel emotional ....

...and it also makes you really tired! I've been working on this post for a week; the original opening paragraph is below.

Roger and I have a tradition that goes back at least five years and maybe longer.

I am working on my third post about Katie.

Coming soon.....

To a blog near you (or one you've almost forgotten about) -- ten days of meme!

I would try to explain why the Katie#4 post is still not done, except that anything I said would be an out-and-out lie ("Giant tarantulas ate our house!") or a rationalization ("Well, um, I'm not sleeping very well because of the hot flashes, and so when I sit down to the computer I really NEED to play more Peggle because that rests my brain and anyway... You get the idea.)



I'm not sure how many of you are familiar with the acronym that titles this post. Most of you probably do know URL, which stands for "Uniform Resource Locater", and is what any techno-geek you may know will call the address of this blog, or anything else on the internet.

I have an actual post percolating, but I hurt my finger while trying to modify a $6 lampshade to fit an antique lamp that only $60 lampshades fit, and I'm typing with three fingers instead of my usual four.


I Should Have Known Better...

Somehow I believed that even though I am spending the week at Rosie's house helping her with Daniel and Matthew since Anthony is done with paternity leave, I would be able to post.


Down the River We Go. . . .

The title of this post is from a song that was in one of the music books my elementary school used. I don't remember which grade, but the series was published by Silver Burdett, before they merged with Ginn.

Tommy went to his first semi-formal dance last night.

Technically this should be a "Sloppy Saturday" post, but since November first is All Saints' Day, I'm going to talk about that instead.

This is by way of being a catch-all post, keeping me in the habit of semi-regular posting.

And there you have it; a set of first lines that encapsulate my year. I am pretty sure that (aside from posting more often when it's not November) the thing I need to work on most in this new year is not sounding so apologetic, Or maybe those two things go together. . .

Some of the lines include links to the actual post, since it appears that I like to use the title as part of my first sentence. For the rest, the posts are not hard to find, if you care that much about what I was talking about.

Here's to a better 2009 in review!

(And to my learning more HTML so I can make the darn thing look right!)

Monday, January 05, 2009

Musical Monday -- Epiphany hymns

Today is, depending on who you ask, either the day after or the day before Epiphany, the celebration of the arrival of the magi in Bethlehem to offer their gifts to the baby Jesus. A discussion of why the day is in flux would be lively, but it's not going to happen here, at least not this year. But I am going to post a couple of my favorite Epiphany hymns.

First, obviously:

We three kings of Orient are;
Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.

O star of wonder, star of light,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain
Gold I bring to crown Him again,
King forever, ceasing never,
Over us all to reign.


Frankincense to offer have I;
Incense owns a Deity nigh;
Prayer and praising, all men raising,
Worship Him, God most high.


Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone cold tomb.


Glorious now behold Him arise;
King and God and sacrifice;
Alleluia, Alleluia,
Sounds through the earth and skies.


The MIDI of a rather nice synthesizer arrangement is here. ( I didn't link to CyberHymnal because they've been having some URL problems, and besides, even they had a slightly "modernized" set of lyrics. As someone who always learns all the verses of hymns, especially Christmas carols, I'm annoyed by that. Feel free to ignore me.)

My second offering is one many people think of as a "Christmas carol", but if you look at all the words (this is me we're talking about), you'll see that it's also really for Epiphany.

The first 'Noel' the angels did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay;
In fields where they lay keeping their sheep,
On a cold winter's night that was so deep.

Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel!
Born is the King of Israel!

They looked up and saw a star
Shining in the east, beyond them far;
And to the earth it gave great light,
And so it continued both day and night.

Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel!
Born is the King of Israel!

And by the light of that same star
Three wise men came from country far;
To seek for a King was their intent,
And to follow the star wherever it went.

Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel!
Born is the King of Israel!

This star drew nigh to the northwest:
O'er Bethlehem it took its rest;
And there it did both stop and stay,
Right over the place where Jesus lay.

Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel!
Born is the King of Israel!

*Then did they know assuredly
Within that house the King did lie;
One entered in then for to see,
And found the Babe in poverty.

Nowell! Nowell! Nowell! Nowell!
Born is the King of Israel!

Then entered in those wise men three,
Full rev'rently upon their knee,
And offered there, in his presence,
Both gold and myrrh, and frankincense.

Nowell! Nowell! Nowell! Nowell!
Born is the King of Israel!

*Between an ox-stall and an ass
This Child there truly borned was;
For want of clothing they did him lay
All in the manger, among the hay.

Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel!
Born is the King of Israel!

Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord
That hath made heaven and earth of nought,
And with His blood mankind hath bought.

Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel!
Born is the King of Israel!

*If we in our time shall do well
We shall be free from death and hell,
For God hath prepared for us all
A resting-place in general.

Nowell! Nowell! Nowell! Nowell!
Born is the King of Israel!

*Often omitted in modern performances.

I prefer the spelling "Nowell", but this version, which I found at Wikipedia, was inconsistent. But the extra verses, which I had never seen before, are reason enough to forgive them! (They link to several musical versions.)

Finally, this one, which I loved as a child but rarely suggest to our choir because the updates in our hymnal are just too awful.

As with gladness, men of old
Did the guiding star behold
As with joy they hailed its light
Leading onward, beaming bright
So, most glorious Lord, may we
Evermore be led to Thee.

As with joyful steps they sped
To that lowly manger bed
There to bend the knee before
Him Whom Heaven and earth adore;
So may we with willing feet
Ever seek Thy mercy seat.

As they offered gifts most rare
At that manger rude and bare;
So may we with holy joy,
Pure and free from sin’s alloy,
All our costliest treasures bring,
Christ, to Thee, our heavenly King.

Holy Jesus, every day
Keep us in the narrow way;
And, when earthly things are past,
Bring our ransomed souls at last
Where they need no star to guide,
Where no clouds Thy glory hide.

In the heavenly country bright,
Need they no created light;
Thou its Light, its Joy, its Crown,
Thou its Sun which goes not down;
There forever may we sing
Alleluias to our King!

(The MIDI of "Dix", which is the tune I grew up with.)

I hope to be showing up here a couple of times a week this year. Wish me luck! (or wisdom and grace if you prefer ;-D )