October 31, 2014

7 Quick Takes - Vol. 96 (Tabernacle texting, maddening math, eerie dentist and more)


--- 1 ---

Here's what happens sometimes when faithful Catholic spouses text each other:

Yes, my wife really did text me from the tabernacle. But in her defense, her phone was already in her hand since she was reading prayers from the great Laudate app. And she was responding to a faith-related text. While I'm on the subject of faith, check out my latest post for Austin Catholic New Media.

 

--- 2 ---

My little one turned two recently. Here's a sample of the noisiest birthday card she received:

 

--- 3 ---

Sometimes when I'm packing my lunch to take to work I have to borrow components from my kids. This one is a popular choice because it's so easy to match the container with its cover. I wish it were this simple to find the correct lid for all our other plastic containers.

 

--- 4 ---

I spotted this dishwashing toy in the store the other day. Kids love playing kitchen when they are little, but it doesn't usually take very long before they are no longer desirous of washing the dishes. Too bad.

 

--- 5 ---

It's no secret that I'm not a math expert. I still use my fingers for simple addition and subtraction. But still, I would've expected to be able to help my older daughter with her third grade math homework. But they teach math so differently compared to when I was a kid. What in the world are "compatible numbers?" And who invented this "regrouping" business? Call me old fashioned, but I still prefer borrowing and carrying the "1."

 

--- 6 ---

One thing that hasn't changed when it comes to math is the way teachers want students to show their work. When I was a struggling math student, I always joked that it was nobody's business how I got the answer; the teacher should have just been happy that I answered the question at all.

 

--- 7 ---

Does anyone really want to go to the dentist more than twice a year? I thought it was silly when I received an email from my dentist's office inviting patients to a Halloween costume contest on the 31st. Thanks, but I don't make social visits to the dentist. I'll drop in the next time I'm due for a cleaning.

 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary.

 

October 29, 2014

It's the Pope, not a Horoscope [ACNM]

Sometimes evil is unavoidable. But if we strive to make good moral choices, the good clearly outweighs the bad. A simple story in priest's homily really helped put this into perspective.

Rev. Pedro Garcia-Ramirez, pastor of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church in Pflugerville, Texas, explained how his parish provides copies of a Spanish language newspaper to parishioners at Spanish Mass at 1:30 p.m. every Sunday.

One day the newspaper published a very thorough and informational story about Pope Francis not long after he was elected. The priest knew this would be a great story for his Spanish speaking parishioners to read because it provided great depth and perspective about Pope Francis that they might not get elsewhere.

After Mass, a visitor from out of state approached the pastor and was very upset that the parish was providing copies of this particular newspaper. The man pointed out to the priest that the newspaper included something sinful: horoscopes.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2116) tells us to reject "horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums."

The priest acknowledged that horoscopes are sinful but told the man we should not throw out something good -- in this case, a story about Pope Francis -- just because there was also something not good on another page.

Image Credit: presidencia.gov.ar

It reminded me of the Parable of the Weeds Among the Wheat from Matthew 13:24-29:

He proposed another parable to them. "The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field.

While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off.

When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.

The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’

He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them.'"

[To read the rest of this post, please click over to Austin Catholic New Media.]

 

Read more ...

October 24, 2014

7 Quick Takes - Vol. 95 (Dirty work, le menu, "jemmin" bread and more)

--- 1 ---

 

It was a dirty job, but somebody had to do it. Our parish held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new religious education building last Sunday. And while I always prefer to blend into the crowd, I had to take my turn shoveling some dirt because I was representing our pastoral council. To maintain some level of introversion, I avoided wearing a ceremonial construction helmet.

 

--- 2 ---

That was just one part of our exhausting Sunday. We usually attend 11:30 a.m Mass. But I had to go to 9:30 a.m. Mass instead because the pastoral council had corporate communion at that time. My wife and kids went to Mass at 5 p.m. on Saturday; they couldn't join me at 9:30 a.m. Sunday because my wife teaches religious education at 10:15 a.m. Then we returned to the church for the groundbreaking ceremony at 12:45 p.m. And that's not all. Later in the afternoon I had my monthly gig assisting with communion services at the county jail, and at the same time the rest of the family went to the fall festival at a different parish where my daughter goes to school. I thought Sunday was supposed to be a day to rest and not be so busy, but at least we were busy with "churchy" things!

 

--- 3 ---

Speaking of the pastoral council, my three-year term ends at the end of the year. You may be asking yourself how someone who claims to be such a huge introvert got himself nominated and elected to the pastoral council and wound up serving as the chairman for the past two years. It's a long story for another time.

 

--- 4 ---

I found something interesting buried in our pantry.

This is the candle for my older daughter's birthday cake. The problem is, she turned eight a few months ago. I suppose we can hang on to this until she turns 18, or wait until the little one hits eight in a few years.

--- 5 ---

My older kid opened a (pretend) French restaurant over the weekend. Check out the fancy menu.

 

--- 6 ---

Somehow our family got into a discussion about the Do-Re-Mi song from The Sound of Music. You know, it's the one that says, "Do- a deer, a female deer," etc. I admitted that when I was a kid, I totally misunderstood the line that says, "Te- a drink with jam and bread." I thought it was "Te- a drink with jemmin bread." I didn't know exactly what jemmin bread was, but it sounded important. On a side note, I've always felt that "La- a note to follow so" was a big copout by the songwriters. Couldn't they have thought of something better to go with la?

 

--- 7 ---

I've been known to make a mistake or two at the grocery store, like when I accidentally purchased unsalted saltines. Now it was my wife's turn. We got a good laugh this week when she realized that she mistakenly bought dairy-free macaroni and cheese. With all due respect to those of you who have (or prefer) to eat dairy-free cheese, all I can say is, YUCK.

 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary.

 

Read more ...

October 17, 2014

7 Quick Takes - Vol. 94 (Vile virus, don't argue, grape giggles and more)


--- 1 ---

Boy was I wrong last Friday when I said I wasn't going to get the stomach virus that everyone else in our household had. I'll spare you the splattering details of my weekend. All I'll say is that after dinner Friday night, the next time I even considered eating was Monday morning. And even now a week later I'm not eating as much as I normally would since my stomach is still a little ornery.

 

--- 2 ---

This was the first time since 2010 that a horrible stomach virus crippled everyone in my immediate family at the same time. So if this four-year trend holds true, it'll happen to us again in 2018. Maybe I should ask Siri to remind me to plan ahead:

 

--- 3 ---

Before the stomach issue hit, we were thinking about ordering Chinese food, and I found something funny. This restaurant forgot to finish filling in its website template and add its own "awesome company slogan."

 

--- 4 ---

Never argue with a politician, or at least a politician whose name is Argue. I know nothing about the race for Indian Trail Improvement District Seat 5 in Florida, but my brother sent me this amusing ad.

I wouldn't want to face Ms. Argue in a debate.

 

--- 5 ---

My eight-year-old suggested that we play grape and giggle. When we asked her what that was, she said, "Well, you eat grapes and you giggle." Makes sense.

 

--- 6 ---

My (almost) two-year-old daughter has a distinct way of looking for things. No matter what she wants, she will take the container, turn it upside down and shake it. Take a look at what she did recently to a big box of fruity snacks and a large container of crayons.

 

--- 7 ---

In my latest post for Austin Catholic New Media this week, I took a look at the similarity between priests and police officers. Check it out.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary.

 

 

Read more ...

October 15, 2014

Slow Down, It's a Priest! [ACNM]

Priests and police officers have a lot in common, and it isn't just the spiffy uniform.

Think about this: You're cruising down I-35 or MoPac, when traffic isn't bumper to bumper if that's possible, and in your mirror you notice a police car behind you. The officer isn't after you -- no lights and siren -- but what do you do? Slow down and drive carefully, of course.

Even if you're already a law-abiding citizen behind the wheel, chances are you are still going to be a little on edge and be on your best behavior when you are in view of an authority figure who can pull you over and slap you with a citation.


Image credit: Scott Davidson

 

And then what happens when the police car passes you and disappears into the traffic ahead? You relax a little bit, go back to normal, hit the gas pedal and pick up the pace again.

Now let's change the scenario from cop to clergy. After a long and hectic Friday at work, you decide to join your coworkers at happy hour to unwind. Your favorite Austin watering hole is crowded, and the tables are close together. Maybe you and you friends are complaining about the job or even your boss. The people at the next table leave, and a priest sits down. I think many people would be little more careful with their actions and words knowing that they're sitting right near a priest.

Image credit: openclipart.org

 

I love asking priests this question: When you are out and about in the community, is it noticeable how differently you are treated when in priestly garb compared to regular clothes? The answer is almost always a resounding yes. One priest even joked that he always wears his collar to the barber because he gets a free haircut that way. If he were just another customer, he'd be paying full price.

When a priest is in regular clothes and running a quick errand, to those around him he's just a stranger. But when he's dressed as a priest, many people shape up and act differently.

[To read this rest of this story, please click over to Austin Catholic New Media.]

 

Read more ...

October 10, 2014

7 Quick Takes - Vol. 93 (Unsalted saltines?, fashion faux pas, hamster ball and more)

 

--- 1 ---

I committed a major #ShoppingFail(ure) the other night. Our toddler was having trouble keeping things down, so I was tasked with going to the store to buy some saltine crackers. Easy task, I thought. But a few hours later I discovered my mistake. I accidentally bought saltines with "unsalted tops."

Who wants to eat unsalted saltines? Isn't salt pretty much the only flavor in a saltine? Anyway, as a consolation I had a good laugh about the "serving suggestion" on the box. Is serving saltines on a napkin the fanciest thing the cracker maker could think of?

--- 2 ---

I can always count on my children to keep an eye out for any wardrobe mistakes. As we headed out the door for a family walk, my eight-year-old daughter said, "Daddy, I hope it's windy outside so people won't see how wrinkly your shirt is."

--- 3 ---

As an introvert, I make a point NOT to list my birthday on Facebook to save me from having to respond to a zillion happy birthday messages. But that doesn't stop Facebook from telling me whenever other people have a birthday. No offense to anyone who has a birthday, but I don't need Facebook to remind me to death about it.

--- 4 ---

While National Night Out (observed in October in Texas due to excessive heat when everyone else celebrates it in August) is a good idea and fun for the kids, it's not terribly appealing to introverts. This year I had a legitimate excuse to skip the neighborhood party because I had a ministry meeting at the same time. But the wife and kids attended the gathering in the hood and had a good time.

--- 5 ---

It's always amusing to check the blog stats and see what search terms people used to find my site. Someone landed on my page after searching for "extroverts be all up in my hamster ball."

--- 6 ---

Long gone are the days when an educational children's show recommends finding out more about the topic of the show by visiting the library, or so I thought. But in the episodes of Curious George that my toddler has been watching, the voice of The Man with the Yellow Hat suggests during the closing credits that you can read more about George at the library. That's old school, man.

--- 7 ---

As I'm finishing up writing this on Thursday, the stomach virus that hit my toddler seems to be sweeping through our household. It's not as bad as the Great Valentine's Day Stomach Virus of 2010, thankfully. But at this point three people are down, and I'm the last one standing. Let the record show that I refuse to succumb to this illness.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary.

 

 

 

Read more ...

October 3, 2014

7 Quick Takes - Vol. 92 (Fried dessert, pizza stains, bank tie and more)

--- 1 ---

Brace yourself (and your cholesterol levels) for this first take. At our parish's fall festival last weekend, one of the food booths was selling fried Oreos. For fear of getting scalded by hot, spattering oil, I took this picture from a safe distance.

So I wonder who it was who stared at an Oreo one day and decided that it would be much more appealing by deep frying it. I've heard of restaurants offering fried bacon and, gasp, fried butter. So why not a cookie too? Apparently, fried Oreos are not a new invention on the culinary circuit. According to the internet, you can add some class to them by sprinking them with powdered sugar.

Image credit: abcnews.com

For the record, I did not eat one.

 

--- 2 ---

Speaking of artery clogging foods, check this out. I'm not usually the type of person who posts a picture of every meal on social media. (That would be my brother.) But I couldn't help snapping a picture of what was left of a Costco pizza that my family of four, two of whom are little kids, tackled for dinner the other night. Notice the authentic grease stains inside the box.

 

--- 3 ---

On a slightly healthier note, my 23-month-old daughter says her favorite restaurant is "Chicoway." (Translation: Chick-fil-a)

 

--- 4 ---

When I wore a new necktie recently, I kept staring at the design because it looked familiar. Suddenly I figured it out. I think the tie designer stole the logo from Chase Bank. When Chase's lawyers find out about this, they will probably sue the pants (or ties) off the tie maker.

Image credit: chase.com (Please don't sue me!)

 

--- 5 ---

Sometimes I have to get creative to convince my kids to take their medicine. I drew Larry the Cucumber from Veggie Tales and replaced his nose with a Zyrtec allergy pill. No, I'm not a professional artist.

 

--- 6 ---

It's a bit of a sad time to be an Atlanta Braves fan and watch all the other teams that made it into the playoffs. It's going to be a long off season. I've always wanted to send Christmas cards that say, "Off seasons greetings."

 

--- 7 ---

I'll be contributing every couple of weeks to the Austin Catholic New Media blog. My first post ran on Wednesday.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read more ...

October 1, 2014

Confession, Interrupted [ACNM]

[This is my first post for Austin Catholic New Media.]

The Catholic sacrament of reconciliation evokes a wild ride of emotions. Waiting in a long line outside the confessional feels like a roller coaster slowly creeping up a steep incline. You’re nervous and perhaps a little scared about what’s about to happen. But suddenly when you’re absolved of your sins you get that exhilarating rush of joy and grace, like the roller coaster speeding down the other side of the hill.

But what happens if the roller coaster gets stuck at the top and never makes it to the other side? Read on.

One Monday while I was at work I felt an urgent need to go to confession. I’d been meaning to go for a while, and I just couldn’t take it anymore. My home parish offers this sacrament on Thursday and Saturday afternoons. But the cathedral has confession each weekday from 11 a.m. to noon, and it’s only a few miles from work.

[photo]

So I ducked out of the office for an early lunch break and found a parking space a few blocks away from the cathedral. I’d been there before for confession; sometimes I’ve encountered a long line, and other times I’ve walked right in. The good news is, they always seem to have two priests hearing confession.

Now, the bad news. When I walked into the cathedral, there was a sign near the confession booths that said because there was only one priest available that week, he’d have to stop hearing confessions at 11:55 a.m. to prepare for midday Mass.

It was 11:30 a.m., and there were more than a dozen people ahead of me in line. I thought, "Oh no! I’ll never make it." But like a roller coaster, the speed of a confession line is often unpredictable. Some people are in and out in a flash, while others settle in for the long haul.

[To read the rest of this post, please click over to Austin Catholic New Media.]

 

Read more ...