Tag Archive | humor

Somebody’s watching me


Whenever we have the opportunity, we try to take Nonno and Deedaw a treat, simply because they are Nonno and Deedaw and, while they expend a great deal of time, energy, and funds doing things for other people, they very rarely indulge themselves.  In this instance, Grandpa had instructed me to do something for Nonno and Deedaw on his behalf; he had wanted to send them flowers or a fruit basket after Nonno’s surgery, but after I advised him they had both in such quantities they could set up a florist shop and a fruit stand, he asked my husband and I to find something appropriate, something that would bring a little happiness to their day.

Since Nonno and Deedaw are big fans of all things crustacean, we decided that some lobsters and crab legs would brighten their day, and would also fit within the budget we’d been given by Grandpa.  After a quick call to Deedaw to ask her not to make any meat for Sunday dinner, we headed to our local grocery (which has a pretty good seafood department) and, after a brief wait for the steamer, exited with two large, warm boxes.  Our surprise had the desired effect of making Nonno and Deedaw smile, and the added bonus of causing them to rain down prayers for Grandpa and Nana.

When we sat down to dinner, it just so happened that the lobsters were facing Bugaboo.

As she was demolishing a plate of pasta (no matter what else we may have to eat, pasta is always the first course at Nonno and Deedaw’s, and salad the last), Bugaboo kept eyeing her dinner companions suspiciously.  As she was finishing her radiatore, she finally burst out, “I do not like the way those lobsters are looking at me!”

We all laughed, including Beanie and Mr. Man.  Nonno and I turned the lobsters so they couldn’t “see” Bugaboo any longer, and we all enjoyed a feast together.  As we were eating, however, Bugaboo continued casting sidelong glances at the lobsters and, after she had finished everything on her plate, she looked up at Nonno and inquired, “May I touch the lobster?”

“Of course you can touch the lobster.”  She reached a tentative finger towards the one remaining steamer; when she had all but touched it, Nonno suddenly erupted, “Ouch!”

Beanie and Deedaw nearly fell out of their chairs laughing.  My husband and I bit our lips as our oldest daughter drew herself up to her full forty-one inch height and shook her finger at her grandfather, sternly admonishing him, “Nonno, you should not frighten little girls like that.”

At that point, we joined in the laughter, too.  It was a merry dinner, indeed.

Here’s the song reference.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, we gathered together in Your name, on the day of the week consecrated to You, to share food and fellowship with our family.  Thank you for the hearts and lips that overflowed with laughter, and for the blessing of two families coming together in love.  Help me teach Your blessings that, because You claim all of us through Your Son, we have family wherever we find love for You, but that we honor our parents and grandparents with an especial love.  Your love letters honor them in the book called Proverbs, and remind us that “gray hair is a crown of glory (Pr 16:31);” please help us honor them as You exhort us to do.

And, Lord, thank You for all of our senses of humor.

It’s the little old ladies from Baltimore


We had a cheerfully chaotic day yesterday; Grandpa was visiting from the Eastern Shore, and Grandma was down from Baltimore.  Since the tribe knew my parents were both coming to see them (it’s rare for both of them to be here at the same time), the early morning hours simmered with excited anticipation, with Beanie and Bugaboo both zipping out of their room before 6:30 to inquire about Grandma’s projected arrival time.  Mr. Man and Baby Guy opted to sleep until Grandma arrived around 9, at which time they joined in the little festival of hugs and cheers that generally heralds the beginning of a visit.  After we stowed her overnight gear, we loaded the kids into the van and headed off for Beanie’s second-to-last soccer game of the season.  Grandpa met us at the field; it was the first time he’d been able to see either of the girls play, so his camera was constantly clicking.

Beanie did manage to stay focused on soccer for about half of the time, which was astounding given that Grandma and Grandpa are two of her favorite people, and she’d much rather hang around with them than follow instructions from anyone else. Fortunately, Grandpa was able to convince her that he’d be really happy if he could see her run and kick the ball, so that got her moving in the correct direction.  We came home for lunch after soccer, put the boys down for naps, saw Grandpa back off, and settled in for some quiet time with the girls.

While Grandma was happy to time her visit to coincide with Beanie’s soccer game, the real purpose of her visit was to enjoy our Mother’s Day gift to each other.  Among the many things for which I owe a debt of gratitude to my Mom is the time and effort she spent nurturing my appreciation for the arts, taking me to galleries for Degas exhibits, to the symphony, the theatre, the ballet, and the opera.  She ensured that I would have an ear for the beaux arts and an understanding of proper dress and conduct while attending fine art performances or displays.

In addition to fostering my appreciation for high culture, my mother also spent a fair amount of time listening to other kinds of music with me; we both love jazz, Motown, 80s hair bands, beach music, big band, novelty songs generally, swing, early rap, British invasion bands, soul, and funk.  I draw the line at disco, she draws the line at (really) heavy metal, but we’ve never had any trouble agreeing on a radio station in the car. Because of our mutual love of nearly all music, I called her when our local concert venue released its 2012 schedule, with a laugh and a smile, and asked her if she’d like to catch a band for Mother’s Day this year.

She thought it was a grand idea, and we two little grey-haired ladies had a tremendous time at the Lynyrd Skynyrd concert last night.  I love that my 67-year-old mom can still rock with any crowd, and the people watching was excellent.  We danced, we sang, we laughed, and we belted out “Gimme Three Steps” waving three fingers in the air.  We also spent a good amount of time snickering at the large number of Confederate flags being waved about.  Hey, we’re from Baltimore.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You commanded us to honor our mothers and fathers.  Thank You for the opportunity to honor my parents by sharing what they love best with them.  Help me teach Your blessings that the gifts my husband and I will cherish most are not the things our children can buy in a store, but the time they freely give to share those pursuits that bring us happiness.  Thank You for the length of years You have granted Grandma, Grandpa, Nana, Deedaw, and Nonno, and, as their years advance further, help us set an example for Your blessings of how to love our parents by caring for them with happy hearts.  Kindle in us the grace of gratitude for the opportunity to serve them in love of them, and love of You.

By the numbers


Yesterday, as I was finishing up my morning phone calls, I called to the tribe to start putting away the playthings scattered about the girls’ room and the living room so we could be on time for playgroup.  A few moments later, I heard Bugaboo exhorting Beanie and Mr. Man, “Come on, guys, we have to get this cleaned up.  There’s a nine on the clock, and that means it’s almost time to leave.  You don’t want to miss playing with all our friends, do you?”  This was followed by a cacophony of wood and plastic gewgaws being flung into boxes and bins and a scurry of little feet running all through the upstairs looking for shoes.

As I was hanging up the phone, a woebegone Mr. Man toddled over to me, a little black croc in one hand; he shrugged his shoulders, held out the lonely footgear, and inquired, “Where shoe?  Help?” He knows that since he has two feet, he needs two shoes, and was having trouble locating the second one.  We had a little game of crawling around to find it (under the living room end table, which seems to be the preferred hiding place of his right shoe),  followed by a chortling Baby Guy, who found it rather amusing that all the people who could walk were choosing to go about on hands and knees instead.

Having gathered all the necessities for our playdate, I shepherded the tribe out the door, calling out my usual patter of reminders that the drill is to get in the van and start buckling seatbelts, no dandelions in the van, no pushing buttons in the van, no eating things we find on the floor of the van, no whining, and no diverting to chase the neighborhood cats.  It was a blessedly smooth load-in, for once, except when Mr. Man wanted the toy phone he spied on the floor near Baby Guy’s seat. Actually, his spying the phone wasn’t the problem; his being half buckled in to his car seat and trying to use my arm as a stepladder to get out of the car seat and retrieve the desired toy while bellowing, “PHONE!  PHONE!  PUSH BUTTONS!”, however, caused a bit of a complication.  After wrestling him into the seat, handing him the phone in response to his plaintive, “Phone peeease?” and closing all the van doors, I headed around to the driver’s side rubbing the sore spots on my arm, only to have my minor grumpiness relieved by hearing Bugaboo’s sing-song, “Okay, heeeeeead count!  One, two, three, four, and Mommy makes five!  All present and accounted for!”

Playgroup was a blast, although Mr. Man has hit that phase of the terrible twos where his response to another child wanting to share his space or his toy is to push him or throw something at him.  It is actually possible to put a two-year old boy in time out in a folding chair in a room full of other children.  After one time out for shoving his friend L (who wanted to play in the table fort he’d made) and another for throwing a toy at a different friend (which caught the hapless Baby Guy squarely in the cheek, to his very vocal dismay but no apparent injury), he figured out that playing nicely was probably a better idea.  Now, if I can just convince him that playing in front of the swinging doors to the restrooms is unwise, we’ll have it made.

At the end of playgroup, Bugaboo and Beanie passed the moments, while we waited for one of the lovely parish office ladies to lock up, by skipping around the room belting out, “One, Two, Buckle my Shoe” at full volume.  As we headed home, the CD in the van stereo played, “The Five Finger Jive,” and my rear-view mirror was filled with flailing fingers.  I laughed.  Yes, I know the slang meaning.  It’s a children’s counting song.  If you’re not familiar with it, listen to the sample; I’ll try to get the tribe to sing it and post a video.

When Mr. Man started counting the plates I was flinging upon the table for lunch, it became apparent it was a numbers kind of day.  There’s nothing wrong with those; there are many good reasons to count things, and many things to count.  As we were finishing lunch, Bugaboo chimed in, “It must nap time for Mr. Man and Baby Guy.  They’re cranky, and the clock says it’s after twelve.”

Two diaper changes, two little boys in their cribs, two dogs let out to answer calls of nature, two little girls ensconced on the couch with two cups of milk, one pillow retrieved from our bed and one television tuned to channel 257 for a little Tom and Jerry break later, we all settled in for a little midday rest.  I have discovered that 45 is a “magic” number for me; if I’m able to be horizontal for that many minutes in the middle of the day, my mood is significantly improved.

Since yesterday was a playgroup day, our schoolwork time was in the afternoon.  I believe the girls prefer doing their assignments while their brothers are asleep; the house is quieter, and Mr. Man does not attempt to climb onto their chairs with them to observe their progress.  We breezed through the coloring pages and talked about the Prodigal Son parable some more; Bugaboo managed to figure out that the cause of the father’s great rejoicing was not the son’s mere physical return, but his repentance and changed heart (more on this tomorrow), then moved on to her math assignments.  She identified all of the numbers up to 100 and finished her place value exercises without any help from me, and was literally jumping in her chair with the joy of her achievements.

Beanie definitely responds to the sticker workbook as an incentive to finish her coloring pages.  I also discovered that it’s helpful to ask her, when she gets distracted, “What color will you use now?  What will you color with that?”  She flashes a big smile and gets back to her work quickly.  Since her math assignment yesterday featured a relatively complex color by numbers picture, and she really dislikes being told HOW to color, I had no small amount of trepidation about the length of time it might take to get her to complete her work, but she did quite well; actually, she surprised me when I opened her book to the color by numbers exercise and she looked at it, looked up at me, and told me what colors of crayons she would need for each number.  Granted, it’s not that hard to decipher, but I usually have to get her to focus on the page first.  Yesterday, she leaned over as soon as I opened the book and explained to me what her assignment would be, instead of the other way around.

By the time Mr. Man and Baby Guy awoke from their naps, the girls were already outside playing.  While yesterday started out rainy and cool, the midafternoon hours brought increasing sunlight and a notable lack of wet stuff falling from the sky.  Mr. Man decided to stay inside so he could supervise my dinner preparations and see how many toys he and Baby Guy could fit on the living room rug, instead of joining his sisters outside.  When I sat down on the loveseat to catch up on Words With Friends, he sidled up to me, pointed at the tiles, and advised me of the point value of each.  “Thas a E.  Thas a one.  Thas a N.  Thas a two.”  Suddenly, figuring out what word I would play next wasn’t nearly as interesting as seeing Mr. Man puzzle his way through each letter and number.  He also helpfully informed me, with regard to the shape of the tiles, “Thas square!”

Today’s prayer:  Lord, Your blessings enjoy quantifying the world around them, and they are learning to use numbers to determine how much, which is more, and which is less.  The older one already know that You are One God in Three Persons, that You gave us ten rules, and that You had twelve best friends, one of whom turned out not to be such a good friend after all.  Thank You for their intelligence and fascination with learning new things.  Please help me teach them wisdom, and that the greatest wonders are innumerable and unquantifiable.

Fencing


This morning dawned warm and glorious, with the result that as soon as the kids had wolfed down their breakfasts and finished their assignments, they mounted a coordinated campaign to be allowed to romp outside.  Since I had planned some basic skills reinforcement work for the late morning anyway, it seemed like a perfect day to play what we call “fence tag;”  that had been on the agenda for yesterday, but a series of minor disasters that required my attention took that option off the table.

“Fence tag,” for those unfamiliar, involves chalking letters, numbers, shapes, and sometimes words onto the boards of a stockade fence, then assembling the ambulatory members of the midget mob in the middle of the yard, calling off one of the things that’s chalked on the fence, and watching tiny people scatter in an effort to be the first one to find the desired scribble.  Whoever finds it first gets to call off the next one, and so on.  Usually, I end up having to give each child his or her own symbol to seek until everyone gets into the swing of it; after that, Bugaboo, Beanie, and Mr. Man take over and play by themselves.  Smudgie enjoys this games hugely, as he has a steady stream of opportunities to chase sprinting, shrieking small people.  In other words, a good time is had by all, and everyone gets some basic concept reinforcement, some fresh air, some sunshine, and some exercise.  There’s usually a fair amount of swinging on the swingset in between, to boot.

At any rate, while the tribe was picking up the indoor toys, I hastily chalked letters, numbers, and shapes on the fence with a giant blue sidewalk chalk, checked the immediate vicinity for Bo and Smudgie bombs, and hollered a reminder that wearing shoes is a requirement, not an option.  Moments after I finished the last number, three pairs of croc-clad feet pounded out the back door and into the yard.  If you’re up for a grin, watch the video (link will open in a new window).

Meantime, Baby Guy was watching the theatrics from the boys’ room, and enjoying the rare opportunity to have every single toy in the boys’ room to himself.  He’s improving his mad crawling skills, and he expresses his pleasure at his newfound mobility with random giggle fits.  He’s also talking more these days, so as I narrated the backyard goings-on for him, he sometimes echoed words back to me in his cheerfully grumbly baby voice — “go,” “one,” “Bo,” “door.”

It was just one of those mornings that makes me happy to be a homeschooling mom, with small, sparkling blessings too numerous to count, even if I did it by fives.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for the food that fills our stomachs, the bees that pollinate our fruit trees, the abundance of tools You have given us with which to teach Your blessings, and a glimpse of Your Heaven on an ordinary Tuesday morning.  To the eyes of the world, You were an ordinary carpenter, and that example teaches us that every ordinary thing can be holy if we have but the vision to see.  Help me teach Your blessings that going about the everyday, the mundane, joyfully and with thanks to You on our lips, is a prayer. If we sing while we do it, we pray twice.  Thank You for Your blessings and the delight they take in the world You made for us.

Careful


One of the most commonly heard words around our house is, “Careful!”  It is uttered in a variety of tones and many different volume levels, but it’s the rare hour that passes without at least one person in our family having it escape their lips.  Amusingly, it happens to be one of Mr. Man’s favorite words.  He’ll hurl some object, then gleefully exclaim, “Careful,” or fall down and morosely mumble, “careful,” shaking his wee fuzzy head in dismay.

On this particular evening, as on many evenings, we were winding down our day with an episode of the 1967 iteration of Spider-Man.  Daddy and I had actually planned to skip it tonight because of a generalized outbreak of hellionosity in the late afternoon hours, but were moved to a change of heart by Mr. Man pitifully pointing to the WiiMote and sobbing, “Spider?  Pease?  Want Spider?”  We set as the condition for the evening treat that Mr. Man, Beanie, and Bugaboo had to make sure all the toys were properly stowed — nothing shoved under the furniture.

Playthings were stowed with near-lightning speed.

Mr. Man’s face was positively glowing as the opening tune played.  He snuggled up in my lap with his cup of milk, catching a few extra snuggles.  That is rare for him; he normally zooms around the room during Spider-Man, doing what we believe is his imitation of his favorite superhero.  There is certainly enough jumping off couches, with arms outstretched and palms upturned, to justify that belief.  Tonight, however, he was content to cuddle, and from the safety of my lap to admonish Spidey with a solicitous, “Careful!” every time the web-slinger flew through the air on one of his webs.  When he got to the museum that was the target of the bad guys in this episode, he piped up, “Careful, not nice there!”

In the meantime, Beanie and Bugaboo decided that neither of them had nearly enough Baby Guy time today; the girls spent most of their day playing in the yard, as we currently have an abundance of baby bluebirds, butterflies, and caterpillars populating “the back forty.”  They cajoled Daddy into helping them snuggle the wee fellow into their laps, and took turns cooing at him, tickling him, and seeing if they could convince him to babble.  Mr. Man frequently reminded them, “Careful!  No fall baby!”

It was a pretty awesome end to a really frenetic, but mostly joyful, day.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for little blessings who look out for each other, who understand that hugs and snugs are one of the best parts of being very small, and who delight in our company.  Thank You for their love for us, and for their belief that the good guys always win in the end.  Help me teach them that You are the ultimate good guy, who delivers us from every evil if we but call out Your name in faith.  You may not have slung webs or had a cool-looking superhero suit, but You triumphed over death, and the jewel You returned to us is Heaven itself.

Rock on


Mr. Man, of late, has picked up a habit of bringing me rocks from our back yard and presenting them to me with a smile brimful of pride and joy.  I hug him, and kiss him (and call him George, which happens to be his name), and thank him for his gifts.  There is a corner on one of our kitchen counters reserved for these treasures, each one of which he helps me lovingly wash in the sink.

It seemed like a good day to concoct a project with some of the enormous population of rocks in our back yard, so before lunch, I sent the kids out with big plastic cups and told them to fill them with rocks.  They happily did so, and brought me two full cups in a trice.  I washed them and spread them out on old newspapers to dry while we ate lunch (peanut butter and jelly is better on homemade bread — just sayin’).

After the boys had gone down for a nap, I cut pieces off of a cardboard box to use for sculpture bases and assembled paints, glue dots, construction paper, and artificial flowers.  The girls decided the first things they wanted to make were rock gardens.  Beanie used paint for hers, and Bugaboo used flowers. It took a few minutes to convince them to use their rocks and flowers to remove the glue dots from their backings, instead of using small fingers; fortunately, I did not have to remove any glue dots from anyone’s hair.

Beanie finished first, at which time I unleashed my paper-cutting skills, which only a preschooler could love.  Little triangles glued on either side of a painted rock became “rock candy.”

I decided to make a “rock guitar.”

We have pieces cut to make a rockfish, a rock lobster, and Peter (as in, “upon this rock I will build My church”).  We’re saving those for when Daddy gets home, as he wants in on this particular craft project.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You have blessed us with a world full of small wonders and nimble minds to appreciate them.  When I teach them to look at things commonly considered insignificant in new ways, I’m hoping to lay the groundwork for teaching them later that each person, each life, each event, has a value and a beauty that may not be apparent at first glance.  Please open my eyes, Lord, to the possibility inherent in each molecule of Your creation, and help me give You thanks for every ordinary thing with which You have graced my life.

Constructive criticism


One of the tougher things about homeschooling is making sure my criticisms of my wee pupils are phrased and delivered constructively.  It’s pointless to be passive-aggressive or outright nasty with a four-year-old, because she’ll draw the wrong pair of lessons — one, that it’s okay to be ugly to someone who is either learning a skill or has made an honest mistake and two, that learning is an ordeal to be suffered instead of a world to be explored.

I posted yesterday about Bugaboo and the nickels.  The lesson that ended up being the focus of our day turned out to be less about skip counting and more about the importance of honest effort and perseverance.  While I’d wager that my tone got a little sharper than necessary, I think she learned, in the end, that being honest and diligent saves her a lot of wretchedness in the long run.  Undoubtedly, she would rather have been playing in the yard with her siblings and the dogs yesterday afternoon; instead, she was stuck in a chair.  If you read the post, you know the rest of the story.

Today, we broke 0ut a bunch of nickels from the change jar, and made a game of practicing skip counting together.  Beanie found this fascinating, and would much rather have joined in our game than finished coloring her picture.  I wouldn’t have minded including her, except that she’s in that difficult period of learning to focus on her own work, regardless of what may be happening around her, and I’m concurrently trying to teach her that when it comes to schoolwork, there are times when my attention needs to be focused on only one tiny person at a time.  Since I really wanted to get Bugaboo invested in the idea that skip counting can be fun, I really wanted her to be my sole focus.

As usual, Bugaboo showed me she’d been paying more attention to the informal parts of my instruction than I thought.  She turned to her younger sister and said, “Beanie, Mommy’s helping me right now. The more times she has to stop to tell you to sit down, the longer it’s going to take me to do my work and the longer it’s going to take you to do yours.  If you let her finish, she’ll come help you next.”

I’d love to tell you that Beanie then parked her patootie in her chair and proceeded to finish the rest of her picture without delay while singing, “Jesus Loves the Little Children.”  That would, however, be a complete lie.  She did settle down enough for me to practice skip counting with Bugaboo long enough for her to master independently doing it up to 75.  I’m actually impressed — I’d have been happy if she’d gotten to 40.

The important thing, to me, is that the tiny people hear criticism, not condemnation, and they understand that properly delivered criticism can be a very loving thing.  I appreciate it when people tell me something that I’m not getting quite right, and appreciate it even more when they’re kind enough to offer me some direction on how I can correct my error.  If I can foster that same understanding in the tribe, I think I’ll have taught them something important.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, Your Son’s instruction to not look at the speck in our brother’s eye while ignoring the beam in our own is often misunderstood as meaning that we are to take no notice of the errors of others, and to take umbrage when others bring our own mistakes to our attention.  Please, Lord, help me teach Your blessings that when someone offers correction or instruction to them, they act from love, and help me set a good example of how to receive criticism with a grateful heart.  You took the time to correct us, and even left us an instruction manual with which we could teach each other how to love.  Please remind me to give and accept criticism with a humble heart and a loving tone, and when I receive it, help me be gladly grateful for the freely given gift of the giver’s time.

I don’t want to miss a thing


Around 5:00 this afternoon, this was the scene at our house.

It’s not an atypical mess for this time of day, especially a day that’s included me spending a lot of time on the telephone.  I try not to do that often, because the family chaos theory asserts itself, to wit:  the more distracted Mommy is, the more chaos the tribe will create, and the larger the resultant cleanup job.

However, I was not cleaning it up.

I was listening to Bugaboo and Beanie giggling on the swings outside, listening to Mr. Man tell me the names of all the shapes on his busy box (yeah, that language delay thing has evaporated over the last week), and blowing raspberries with Baby Guy.

On my first Mother’s Day with a living child, Bugaboo’s daycare sent home a little handprint with a bit of verse glued to it.

“So quiet down, dishes
Dust, go to sleep
I’m rocking my baby
And babies don’t keep.”

Yep.  The three who are becoming increasingly independent, to my alternating joy and anguish, are proof of that.  I left the mess be and tried to see how many ways I could find to make Baby Guy giggle.  Mr. Man decided to come join the fun, and the three of us made a joyful noise in the living room, while Bugaboo and Beanie continued making theirs on the swingset.

Did I mention Mr. Man got a haircut this weekend?

So it took us forever to pick up all the toys.  So I have a floor that still needs a scrubbing and dishes and laundry that still need to be washed.  I would not trade one moment of this afternoon for the extra hour of sleep.

And, for the record, we read almost all of those books that were scattered on the floor before we put them back on their shelves.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for the wisdom to recognize Your gifts, and the grace to accept them with a glad heart.  Help me teach Your blessings that You bestow Your most precious gifts without ribbons, paper, cards, balloons, or fanfare of any kind.  You sent Your Son to the humble mess of a stable, and You have blessed our mess of a house with four precious children.  Thank You for opening my eyes to the treasure of each moment, even the moments spent scrubbing bananas mixed with potting soil off the foyer floor.

Lepreconners


Since my heritage is more than half Irish, St. Patrick’s Day is a rather big deal at our house.  We celebrate the feast day of Ireland’s patron saint with prayers, reading a children’s history of the great man, corned beef, and plenty of shenanigans; we also attend the local St. Patrick’s Day parade which, this year, actually takes place on the day itself.

Of course, we’ve told the tribe about leprechauns, the legendary wee folk of the Emerald Isle. They know that fairies and the like are just make-believe, but they’re still at an age where that doesn’t detract from the fun.  Each year, we build a “leprechaun trap,” in hopes of catching one of the tiny fellows and getting him to leave behind some “gold,” generally of the chocolate variety.

If you’ve never made a leprechaun trap, it’s very simple.  Cut a hole in a box.  Cover the box with green paper, leaving a flap over the hole so the leprechaun can enter.  Let the kids decorate the box with crayons, paint, stickers, or whatever else strikes your fancy.

Leprechauns are fond of flowers, pretty flying creatures, and shiny things.

Once the trap’s been constructed, set it either near a window or a bathroom, then put the kids to bed.   Once you’re sure they’re asleep, you get to play leprechaun.

The opening in the trap is small enough that the poor wee fellow can’t escape without lightening his load (in other words, put the loot in the box).  I should point out that your children will know if a leprechaun has visited your house before they even check the trap, because he will have lightened his load in another way, too.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for Your Saint, Patrick, who rose from being a slave to one who dedicated his life to Your service.  Help us teach Your blessings that there is no higher calling than teaching Your law of love to those who have not heard of it.  And thank You for the fun and chocolate with which they celebrate one of Your most faithful servants.

Mary Chaos


A sister alumna of mine recently embarked upon a new career as a Mary Kay consultant; as part of her training, she was told to interview a certain number of women.  Although my skin care regimen consists of Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap and the occasional baby wipe (during allergy season), I volunteered to be one of her interviewees.  This was particularly good for a couple of reasons — firstly, she and I keep up a correspondence through Facebook that includes some deliciously spirited political argument (she’ll never know how much I value that about her), neither of us had actually ever heard the others voice, and secondly, I was in dire need of another adult voice this morning, since I was awaiting one of those phone calls that could bring either good news or bad (good, for the record).

We had finished the interview portion of our conversation and were just talking, in that way that seems to be peculiar to alumnae of Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, discussing corporate philosophies and the importance of working for organizations whose goals and values match our own, when the tribe decided since my attention was on my conversation, they had a phenomenal opportunity to make mischief of many kinds.  Beanie decided to practice kicking Bugaboo in the face, which started a difference of opinion about the proper methods of expressing affection for one’s siblings that carried down the hallway and into the girls’ room; after a few minutes, I heard Bugaboo wailing pitifully.  She emerged into the living room shortly thereafter, flounced over to where I was sitting, chatting, and feeding Baby Guy to inform me that Beanie had hit her in the head.  I ran through the usual litany of questions (are you bleeding, is something broken, are you missing any body parts), ascertained that the worst injury was to her pride, and sent her off with instructions to explain to Beanie why Bugaboo did not enjoy being whacked in the head.

Moments later, Mr. Man entered the living room, grinning, and clutching a green plastic cup from his sisters’ set of miniature stacking cups.  He jumped up onto the couch to greet Baby Guy,  then clumped into the kitchen, muttering something about water.  The next time I saw him, he was still clutching the cup, but he also had a mouthful of water . . . which he proceeded to spit onto the floor.  I should probably point out that he was fetching water from the dogs’ water dish.

It’s kind of tough to carry on an intelligent conversation under those circumstances, so my sister alumna was on the receiving end of the play-by-play of Mr. Man running to the water dish, refilling the cup (which has three holes in its bottom, by the way, thus ensuring that I will drag out this story when he is of an age to understand the myth of Sisyphus), and either drinking or throwing the water.  As I explained to the lady, the floor was overdue for a cleaning anyway.

I wonder if she’ll take me up on that invitation to come down for a visit.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You gave us the strength and faith to bear a great trial today which had nothing to do with Mr. Man and water.  Thank You for the steady hands of Nonno’s surgeon, and for the steadfast love of our friends and family, who gently held us in their prayers for comfort and healing.  You told us that love bears all things, and we are grateful for those whose love for us helps bear our burdens, and we thank You for Your love, the greatest of all.  Even though the stresses of today were, by their nature, greater than those of yesterday, I managed to keep my words gentle with Your blessings, Lord, by Your grace.