What a privilege it was to speak with Monsignor Vincent Topper, the oldest priest in the United States! Monsignor celebrated his 104th birthday just two days ago, on July 28th. Read his inspiring story here.
Here’s the first article I ever had published. I think it’s an apropos post for this time of year.
Last summer I decided that, childbirth having taken its toll, I needed to get into shape. The program that follows is the one I used when I took up exercise walking. It can be adapted to suit the needs of any mother-of-many; just change the names and other variables as appropriate.
1) Children need exercise, too, so bring yours along — all eight of them. Before venturing out on your first walk, however, make sure that the baby is properly shielded from the sun. The quarter-hour that you spend searching for her bonnet, and retrieving it from the bread box, are minutes well spent.
2) While in the bread box, grab a few slices to feed to the pigeons at the park. Then, grab a slice for Dominic, who has just decided that he needs a snack. Get one for Helen, too, but make sure that Leo tears Helen’s slice into bite-size pieces. Reward Leo for his services by spreading jelly on his slice.
3) Now that each of the children has eaten a slice of jelly bread, it’s time to set out! Instruct each of the older children to hold hands with a younger sibling. Even if their hands are sticky with jelly. Have the children walk two abreast, so that they aren’t hogging the sidewalk. Walk slowly at first, then gradually pick up the pace.
4) Have Clare help Rose to get up from the sidewalk. While splashing Rose’s scraped knee with water from the baby’s bottle, ask her to please stop screaming. Instruct the children not to stare at the elderly gentleman who is squinting at them from his front porch. Be sure to point out that the pretty lawn with the “No Trespassing” marker also belongs to the elderly gentleman.
5) Remove Vincent from the pretty lawn. Continue walking, but at a slower pace, so that Rose-of-the-Injured-Knee can keep up. While strolling, encourage your children to take note of the lovely flowers.
6) Call to the children to run away from the bumblebee who was disturbed as they were taking note of the lovely flowers. Seize Clare, who is allergic to bee stings, and dash to the next corner. Try not to glare at the lithe young mother effortlessly propelling a jogging stroller.
7) Once the young stragglers have caught up, it’s time to regroup. Have Grace carry Helen, who is tired of walking. Insist that Ben hold Dominic’s hand, even if Ben’s friends are across the street, and might see him. Order Leo to stop frightening Clare with buzzy bee sounds. Tell Rose that she will have to recover without the aid of an ice cream cone. You don’t have to say or do anything to Vincent, since he is not there anymore.
8) Locate and remove Vincent from the site of an excavated ant hill. Flick the ants off Vincent. Flick the ants off your walking shoes. Resume walking. Stop. Flick the ants off the hysterical Dominic, who has just learned all about fire ants from Ben. Shush Leo the Nature Lover, who is loudly denouncing Vincent for destroying the ants’ home.
9) Mention to Leo that Nature includes the border of zinnias which, in his agitation, he has squashed underfoot. Initiate a brisk marching game; it will give your thigh muscles a good workout, and will hopefully put distance between your group and the limp zinnias before their owner suspects anything.
10) Time for some family fun! Have a contest to see which child can pick the most dandelions from the sidewalk cracks.
11) Thank Vincent for the dandelion bouquet. Assure Rose that her bouquet is every bit as pretty as Vincent’s. Assure Leo that, yes, dandelions gone to seed count, too. Even if Ben has blown away their seed heads. And knotted their stems. Suggest to Grace that she pick a dandelion for Helen, who is tired of both walking and riding. Fish out a tissue from your pocketbook for Clare, who is allergic to pollen. Fish out a bread slice from your carryall to calm Dominic, whose dandelion was found to have an ant on it. Fish out yellow petal shreds from Helen’s mouth.
12) Time to practice the relaxation technique which is essential to optimal wellness! Breathe from the diaphragm. Inhale, exhale. Inhale. Cough up the gnat that got sucked in through your nostril.
13) Turn and head for home. Ignore Grace’s remark about some old gray mare not being what she used to be.
14) Once home, put into a vase the two dandelion bouquets and the headless bunch of knotted stems. Hang the baby’s bonnet on the clothes rack. Throw the bread slices to the dog. Apply a bandage to Rose’s knee. Give Clare a fresh tissue. Reprimand Ben for having teased Dominic and Leo. Reprimand Leo for having teased Clare. Reprimand Grace for the implication in her “old gray mare” remark. Find the receipt for the walking shoes, and put it and them into a shopping bag.
15) Call and order two pizzas. With the works.
16) Lie down.
That’s what Muhammad Ali might have called the two-day IHM National Homeschool and Parent Conference that’s taking place at the elegant Fredericksburg Expo and Conference Center in Fredericksburg, VA. Two different parent tracks will feature a total of seventeen speakers, each giving a talk related to parenting and/or homeschooling. Talk titles include How to Keep a Sense of Humor, the Catholicism of The Hobbit, Cultural Issues Facing Teens, and 5 Simple Steps to Improve Your Prayer Life. I’ll be speaking on Beating Mompostor Syndrome: How You Can Defeat Self-Doubt, Take Back Your Vocation, and Save the World.
It’s going to be an action-packed conference, but I hope that you’ll find a moment to stop by and say hello. I’ll have a free fridge magnet for you, and you’ll even get to see That Gaudy Gold Charm Bracelet. (Don’t know what that’s about? You’ll have to come to my talk to find out.)
I’ll see you at the IHM National Conference!
Hot diggity dog! There will be other conference freebies, too! Click on the images for details.
Most often featured in a supporting role on burger platters, or as a stand-in to bulk up a meal, the potato takes center stage in this production. And why not? It’s a versatile crowd pleaser that plays well opposite assertive flavor divas like pesto and barbecued onions. With all that it has going for it, the potato deserves a wider audience, so let it star in a Potato Bar. Set the stage with a mound of baked potatoes and an assortment of toppings, and let everyone serve himself. The fans will be clamoring for more.
Select hefty potatoes for this recipe. Scrub them clean, then dry them. Rub a little oil into their skins. Prick the potatoes with a fork to allow steam to escape. Bake the potatoes at 350 degrees for 1 to 1 1⁄2 hours, or until tender. Remove potatoes from baking pan and allow them to cool for a few minutes before handling. Choose your favorite from the toppings below, and proceed according to directions given.
Cheese and Seeds
Pile cottage cheese atop potato. Sprinkle with roasted sunflower seeds.
Baked beans and grated Cheddar cheese
Invented by the same folks who brought us fish and chips, this combination is uniquely English. Spoon out soft insides of cooked potato and mash with fork, adding butter, salt, and pepper to taste. Add baked beans and cheddar and spoon the mixture back into the potato jacket. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
If you don’t already have some on hand, improvise creamed spinach by combining finely chopped cooked spinach with seasonings of your choice, plus just enough heavy cream or evaporated milk to give it a creamy consistency. Flavor and thicken the spinach with a little Parmesan cheese. Follow above directions for “Baked beans and grated Cheddar cheese,” substituting creamed spinach for the beans and cheese.
Slice a small white onion and saute until tender. Add 1⁄2 tablespoon bottled barbecue sauce and continue cooking until onion is limp. Mound onion atop potato.
Pesto and egg
Make a crossshaped cut in the top of the potato. Squeeze sides of potato to widen the cut, and spoon some pesto in and around it. Press a hardboiled egg through a coarse sieve and top pesto with the egg bits.
Photo by ClkerFreeVectorImages (2014) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain.
Except for things made of pixels, there’s nothing that speaks to kids as effectively as does food. That’s why it’s a good idea to celebrate liturgical feasts by serving symbolic dishes.
Inspired by Scripture passages, here are a few suggestions for foods to serve on the Feast of Pentecost:
“And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them.”
- Fire up the charcoal grill and cook burgers over the flames. Admittedly, this is a stretch, but your kids will “get it.” And isn’t that the point?
- Prepare fire-roasted bell peppers.
- Cook up some tongue:
One 4-pound tongue, skinned and sliced into pieces 1/2″ thick
2 quarts water
1 teaspoon butter
1 carrot, chopped
2 slices bacon, cut into very small pieces
1/2 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon chopped parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup vinegar
1 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons pine nuts
2 teaspoons raisins
Place tongue is saucepan. Add water, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Cook, covered, about two hours. In large skillet, combine butter, onion, carrot, bacon, garlic, and parsley. Cook five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tongue and continue cooking until tongue is lightly browned. Sprinkle tongue with flour, and add salt and pepper. Turn slices and add vinegar and broth. Add sugar, bay leaf, pine nuts, and raisins, and simmer gently for 10 more minutes, or until tongue is savory and sauce is slightly thickened. Place tongue on serving plate and pour sauce over. Serves 8.
“Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”
- Serve chunks of bread with an olive oil dip.
“…and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form, as a dove, and a voice came from heaven, “Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased.”
- Break out some Dove ice cream bars.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”
- Prepare a Nine Fruits Salad by combining fruits of your choice and dressing them with a simple syrup.
For dessert, a birthday cake would be most appropriate on this birthday of the Church. Hand the kids tubes of icing and have them decorate the cake with symbols of the Holy Spirit.