I won! We won! Everybody won!

Thanks so much, everyone, if you voted for me for “Funniest Blog” in the Catholic New Media Awards — I won!  I’ve been putting off announcing it because I felt a sudden, overbearing pressure to be, well, the funniest blog.  But when I sat down at the keyboard and was like, “Come on, brain!  Joke!” my brain was all, “Oh, um, ahhh!  Wocka WOCKA!”  My husband laughed, but I wasn’t sure I could put it across.

Anyway, lots of excellent choices were made:

The National Catholic Register won Best Overall Catholic Website and Best Group Blog!

Hallie Lord won Most Entertaining Blog for Betty Beguiles!

Jen Fulwiler won Everything for Most Everything Everything in the world — and I voted for her, darn it, because she’s that good!(Specifically, Conversion Diary won Best Blog By a Woman, Best Written Blog, Most Spiritual Blog, People’s Choice, Tallest Catholic Blogger, Fastest Catholic Typist, Nicest Catholic Teeth, and Most Insidious Subliminal Messages On a Catholic Blog, If You Read It Backwards While Stoned.)

The Anchoress, The Crescat, Creative Minority Report, Bad Catholic, That Strangest of Wars, and The Ironic Catholic are also favorites of mine which won awards from New Catholic Media.  Do check them out — that is, after all, the purpose of these awards:  to encourage people to read good stuff they may have missed.*

I spent all morning pushing to get a super secret project done (more details soon!), and then I went to the post-hurricane beach with the kids for several hours, in an effort to forget that people are still mad — mad! — at me for saying that Thomas Kinkade should be taken out and slowly beheaded with blunt sporks because of all the baby ducklings I hear he’s been torturing, or whatever it was I apparently said.  Then I made supper.

Anyway, what I’m trying to tell you is that I left someone off, or messed up all the links again, I’m just tired.  And if you sent me congratulations and I forgot to respond, I’m sorry — I’m just tired.  I know, we’re all tired.  We’re all Tiredest Catholic Bloggers.  We win!

*That’s to answer the implied question of my 12-year-old daughter, who just said, “Oh, you won?  And you won . . . a picture of a trophy?  Okay.”

Nose Newts

1.  Vote for me in the Catholic New Media Awards!  Voting closes Friday, August 26.  You have to register (that’s how they make sure people only vote once — you know how sneaky Catholics are), but it’s very fast and easy, and you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you helped me achieve something about which Vox Nova,in a statement entirely devoid of envy, snobbery, or tear-stained, puppy-kicking denial, says, “The absurdity of such awards should be self-evident.”

2. Vote for the National Catholic Register for best group blog!  Because, come on, it isthe best group blog.  Oh, and Best Overall Catholic Website, too!  Vote!  There are many other excellent blogs and podcasts worthy of your vote, too, but since I already voted, I can’t seem to see the list anymore.

3. Register Radio is coming!  Register Radio is coming!  This 30-minute program will launch on September 2, and will include all sorts of things:  news, interviews, Catholic views on entertainment and the media, and a “top blogger” spot, following up on whatever people got the most het up about in the last week.  I’ll have more information soon about how and when to listen.

4.  We finally received the replacement part for the broken kitchen faucet.  It wasn’t the worst thing in the world to fill a bucket with water from the bathtub and lug it into the kitchen in order to do dishes or clean anything, and then rinse soapy pots and pans off in the bathtub, and run the shower to get the coffee stains out of the bath toys that didn’t get put away, and constantly hear, “GET OUT OF DA BAFFWOOM, I’M FIRSTY AND I NEED A DWINK!!!!” and stuff.  For two weeks.  But I sure didn’t like it.

3.  I gots plenty more to say about Thomas Kinkade, but right now I’m so tired, I’m  having trouble completing the second half of blinking (the opening-my-eyes-again part).  Hope to follow up soon, but in the mean time, let me say that his work qualifies as shite entirely on its own merits — has nothing to do with Kinkade’s personal success or popularity, or with his personal loathsome behavior.  It’s all about the painting.  I’m willing to forgive people who enjoy his work, but I’m not willing to agree that there’s nothing to forgive.

6.  I just noticed that I numbered these paragraphs “1, 2, 3, 4, 3″ and “6.”

Seven Decorating Tips from House Horrible Magazine

We’ve had a lot of doctor’s appointments lately, so I’ve been reading a lot of dumb magazines.  My favorite features are the ones that show some enviable tableau from someone’s home, and then glibly explains how to achieve this effect.

I don’t mean to promote envy, but it occurs to me that my house is full of uncommon little scenes which you may or may not want to recreate in your own home, depending on how much crack you’re smoking.  And so I present:

Seven Quick Ways To Spruce Down Your Home



This effect can be achieved by allowing your teenage daughter to be the only one in the house with her own bedroom — the trade-off being that her room is the one everyone else has to tramp through on their way to their own rooms.  Her only recourse will be to hang a sheet in front of the most sacrosanct part of her living quarters, and to make that sheet as threatening as possible.  To prep for this project, expose your child to inappropriate movies and heavy doses of sarcasm at an early age.



These gorgeous gold footprint stencils adorning the back steps simply scream, “Yes, yes, spray paint anything you like, just let me finish this post!”  Or maybe that was me screaming.



This fin de siècle vignette captures the very moment when our family made its last stab at homeschooling, and then gave up and just taught the kids poker.  For an edgy touch, someone seems to have taken a bite out of the bulletin board.



You can achieve this effect by leaving the camera lying around unguarded.



Classic trompe l’oeil:  to the untrained eye, it may appear that Mama went to the bathroom for a couple of minutes or an hour or two, and the little ones got into the paper plates and glue.  But in fact, what you’re really seeing here is:  “I make a fwower for you, Mama!”



A progressive approach to decorating, with a twofold purpose:  one, to encourage creativity in your children; and two, to give parents plenty of practice rehearsing the phrase:  “He’s going to grow out of it at some point, right?”



You’ve heard of shabby chic?  This is happy bleak.  Tie festive balloons to your mailbox every time a kid has a birthday.  Never get around to untying them.  Feel shame daily.

Well, that’s it.  Now you know how you, too, can have . . . House Horrible.  Don’t forget to check out Conversion Diary for everyone else’s Seven Quick Takes!

Good Writing Is Not a Luxury

If there’s one thing that drives me bonkers (and there are actually about 53,429 things and counting), it’s when someone assumes that his own talent, hobby, or vocation is a moral issue for everyone else.  For instance, the women who loves decorating and cleaning and arranging is convinced that every wife and mother has a moral duty to put the beauty of her home over all other pursuits.  Or the guy who has conquered sloth and gluttony through serial triathalons is sure that the sedentary college professor is sinning because he doesn’t work out much.

Not so, hot shots.  God may be calling you to work out your salvation through one particular area of interest, but that doesn’t mean He’s calling everyone to the same thing.  Everyone has a vocation, a skill to develop for the service of God — but these skills vary as much as, of course, people do themselves.

Well, you can judge for yourself if I’m guilty of the same hobby-as-moral-imperative fallacy here when I say that it’s very important for Catholics to learn how to write.

You want pandas?

I learned something today.

I learned that it’s all very well for me to sit here in my semi-comfortable chair, pontificating about what’s wrong with this and what’s wrong with that.  But you know what?  That’s the easy way out.  Everyone can point out the problem, but no one wants to come up with the solution.

Well, that changes today.   The people have spoken.  We want a fun, child-pleasing program that will draw the kids in.  We want social consciousness.  We want empowerment of the weak and we want community invovlement.  We want non-profit, we want music and razzle dazzle.  And we want, I guess, for some reason, pandas.

Well, my friends, HERE.  YOU.  GO.

You are very welcome.  As I’ve said before, I’m basically a healer.

Seven Hot Takes

1.  Today, I offered cash to my 13-year-old daughter if she would please, please let me braid up her long, thick, wavy mane of hair, which she has been wearing down  (or even down and topped with a knit cap!) all summer.  When she heard the dollar amount, she looked startled, and then offered to let me do it for free.  Therein beats a human heart after all!

2.  The kids have been staying cool by eating ice cubes,wearing as few clothes as they can get away with, according to their station in life; and lying on their necks, gaping vacantly at reruns of Star Trek.  Star Trek is already nearly unwatchable to me, but the sight of those skin-tight polyester turtlenecks makes me want to put a pickaxe through the TV screen.

3.  When it’s very hot, the sticky, crumby, chaotic, sloppy piles of random belongings that we call a home, and which I normally find extremely tolerable and ignorable, make me INSANE.  And so, on the very days when I know I ought to be putting my feet up and drinking lots of fluids and conserving physical and emotional energy, I find myself scrambling around cleaning inside cabinets, under the oven, and around the dials on the washing machine.  This does not help.  But I can’t help it.

4.  You may recall that our house has a hose problem.  We now have a way of hooking up the hose, but I think our well tank was designed for an older, simpler time, when people were made out of paper, and didn’t consider large quantities of water something to be grasped at.

Being a mature and responsible homeowner, I have responded to the problem by deciding I really don’t care when we run out of water.

What happens is I let the kids use the hose, and I sit down to check out Facebook.  Eventually I try to do dishes or something, and discover that the water has run out.  I say, “Dammit,” and go back and check Facebook for a while.  The kids run in and out of the house as they play in the muddy grass, and I greet them with a motherly, “AGH, no hugs, get away from me, you’re all wet!  Get out, get out!  Look what you’re doing to the floor!”  (I’m pretty sure they know this means, “I love you.”)  Then I tell the kids it’s too hot to cook lunch, and they eat mustard and fig newtons or something, I don’t care.  Then I try to do the dishes again, and discover again that we’re out of water.

Then I check Facebook again, and get a “hey, how’s it going, boy it’s hot, what are you wearing” email from my husband.  Hearing from him reminds me that he’s not actually as fine as I am with not having water, and that I better go fix it before he gets home.  So I say “dammit” again, go into the basement, and push on the scummy little lever until it finds just the right spot, and water starts running again.  Then I go check Facebook.

5.  We also have a cup problem.  I shall demonstrate why with the following dialogue I just had with my seven-year-old son:

Son:  Can I make lemonade?

Me:  Uggggg, no.  Uggggg, yes.  I guess so, okay, fine, all right, yes.  Just don’t make a mess with the sugar, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Son:  Dang!  Never mind.  I forgot, all the cups are dirty.

Me:  WELL, you could WASH one!

Son:  Nah, I’ll just wait until the dirty ones get washed.


Son:  That’s okay, I’ll just make lemonade later, when there are more cups.

6.  The other day, while my husband and the older kids were out seeing Harry Potter and the Curse of the Humiliating Controversy, I thought the little ones and I would replicate one of my fondest childhood memories:  making giant bubbles.  I actually bought straws, string, and extra dish detergent ahead of time, so it would be a smooth, successful project, and we would All Have Fun.

Well, it didn’t work.  Of course.  I couldn’t get the proportions of soap and water right (how is that even possible?  This is NOT HARD!), and  – I don’t know, maybe it was the wrong kind of string or something.  We eventually made maybe half a dozen respectably large bubbles, but there was an awful lot more of this

and this

than there was of bubbles.  Some of us, however, managed to have fun anyway:

7.  And then of course when there is hot weather, there is plenty of beach, and silly bathing beauties

which makes it all worthwhile.

Don’t forget to check out Conversion Diary for all the other Seven Quick Takes.

Oh, and my post today at the Register, “Safe Playgrounds and Safe Sex” may or may not generate some heat of its own — you never know.

Stupid Ideas My Husband Is Willing To Pretend He’s Willing To Go Along With, Vol. 923

We have this wonderful fire pit in the backyard.  It’s the only successful outdoor project I’ve ever accomplished (never mind that you’d have to be carried off by wolves halfway through in order NOT to succeed at something so simple).  I just dug a wide, shallow hole in the grass and then ringed it with the biggest rocks I could find.

It’s so great to have a spot for a campfire.  Little kids roast marshmallows

medium kids loll around it feeling cool, and adults wait until the kids go to bed so they can relax with a couple of beers and finally have a chance to spend a little private time together, so we can . . . talk about the kids.

The only thing really lacking is a comfortable seating arrangement.  I know, I know — we’re outdoors, so how comfortable is it supposed to get?  But I figure when one is pregnant with one’s ninth child, one is allowed to seek out comfort pretty much all the time.

On the other hand, the last thing I want is more stuff cluttering up the yard.  Our property already looks like it’s waiting for FEMA  to come and assess the damage.  This situation is the result of my enlightened, progressive philosophy of radically unstructured childhood

which means that I can feel GOOD about snarling at the kids to go outside and play with their bits of wood because Mama is doing research.

So it was obvious to me that what we needed for the firepit was something like those library floor chairs

except made out of grass.  Lo and behold, there is actually a kit for such a thing!

But it seems to be out of stock.  So I says to myself, “Do I really want to pay for specialized cardboard anyway?  How hard could this actually be?”  And of course it turns out there are DIY plans for a grass couch, although the photo

is clearly a big fat, photoshopped lie.  On the other hand, any project that concludes, “Once the sod has taken root, remove the chopsticks” certainly sounds like something we would find ourselves involved with.  On the other other hand, it also seems to involve measuring stuff.  So that’s out.

My next idea — actually, my next idea was an in-ground trampoline

but we cycled through that terrain of stupidity pretty quickly and emerged unscathed on the other side (not that it’s not an incredibly awesome idea, which it is, but because the way it would work out at our house would have all of the usual jammed fingers and shattered clavicles associated with normal trampolines, plus a live burial or two).

But my next idea after that was to pick up one of those free couches from the side of the road and just cover it with dirt and chicken wire, throw some grass seed on, and see what happens next time it rains.

Usually, my husband considers it one of his primary duties to talk me out of bringing other people’s vermin into the house — so in the past, he’s been against the idea of one of these road couches.  But what if, this time, it was supposed to be covered with bugs?

But honestly, I don’t actually want a whole couch.  I just want a little back rest, so there will be something to catch me if I have a second beer.  So now I’m thinking, what if we pick up a couple of wooden kitchen chairs from a yard sale, chop off or maybe even bury the legs, and make some kind of stupid fortification around it with stakes and chicken wire, and then fill it with dirt and grass seed?  Huh, huh, what about that?

Someone either talk me out of this, or tell me exactly what I need to do to make this happen, please!  It’s either this or I start thinking about raising ducks again.

Speaking of Catholic Colleges!

Here is my article about Erasmus Institute of Liberal Arts, the new college founded by Peter Sampo and Mary Mumbach, who founded and ran my dear alma mater, Thomas More, for many years.

And this is why I vote for those useless Republicans.

CONCORD – The House voted today by the necessary two-thirds majority to override Gov. John Lynch’s veto of a parental notification law that requires an abortion provider to notify a parent 48 hours before performing an abortion on a minor.

Lynch is a decent governor and I believe he’s at least partially responsible for keeping unemployment relatively low in our state (although my husband, like many others, have found work in MA).  But his protest that the parental notification bill was unconstitutional because it didn’t provide exceptions for rape, incest, or emergency situations is completely unfounded —  the bill was crafted specifically to avoid those snags.  The Supreme Court has been really clear that it’s constitutional to require parental notification (not consent!!!  Just notification!!!  In a state where minors cannot get a fake tan or take an aspirin at school without parental consent).

And that’s why I vote for Republicans.  Gutless, unreliable, ineffectual Republicans.  Because they’re just like anyone else:  when there’s enough of them, they find the courage to do what they know they ought to do.  I honestly thought this pro-life wave would peter out after the midterm elections were over, but for whatever reason (coughlilarosecough), it seems to be gaining momentum.  Amazing times.

7 Quick Takes: In which I think I can garden, for some reason

1.  Never mind “you can never step into the same river twice”  — you can never dig the same garden twice.  This is my fourth year gardening in this Heraclitean yard, and every year I dig up something that wasn’t there last year.  Soccer ball-sized rocks, for instance, in a spot which was groomed and aerated to a fine, soft bed last year:

But also strange blue spoons, door knobs, legless action figures of obscure wrestlers, flattened marbles — and, unnervingly, what appears to be broken sections of sewer pipe.  Probably just some extra pipe that isn’t for anything in particular, right, heh heh heh?  Well, maybe I won’t have to fertilize this year.

2.  My kids are lazy.  L-A-Z-Y.  They get plumb tuckered out after tugging feebly at a piece of clover or two, and have to go put their feet up and watch Wonderpets with some ice water for a while.  I’d call them pansies, but . . .

3.  I actually admire pansies now.  I don’t generally care for floppy flowers, and the weird markings on their faces always reminded me of those irritating, simpering lap dogs:


But they are so tough!  They bloom from early spring to late fall, they live through snow, they perk up after being stomped on.  They just put their heads down and focus on being flowers.  So now I like pansies.

4.  I feel the same way about earthworms.  How wonderful to be designed so simply, and to do one thing so well for your whole life!  Or maybe I just can’t help identifying with something that’s really just all about digestion.



Go, worms!

On the other hand, I guess you could say the same about mosquitoes, and I do not feel the same way about them.  Stupid circle of life.

5.  If I were you, I wouldn’t go up to a worn-out grandmultipara who is feeling old, haggard, useless, baggy, and drained and ask, “Mama, what does ‘gone to seed’ mean?”  Even if you were just thinking about dandelions.

6.  Also from the Department of Taking Gardening Too Personally:  The seed packet says “thin seedlings when they reach a height of 3-4″.”  We’ll see, we’ll see.

7.  Some people truly don’t enjoy gardening, and do it out of duty or something.  Some people start out all enthusiastic

and then suddenly hate it very much.

Still others have this expression on their face the whole time they’re working in the dirt:


but they are very, very happy.

Bonus 8:  My daughter says she remembers how, last year, we used to go outside and EAT stuff, and that was FUN! And why we don’t have a venchable garden this year?  (She doesn’t consider basil to be a venchable, I guess.  What is this, June?  Maybe it’s not too late!)