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Speaking in MA this Saturday

~A Morning for Mothers~

Please join in celebrating Candlemas with

Simcha Fisher

 on Saturday, February 2, 2013

from 9:30 am to 11:30 am

in the Parish Center at St. Bernadette Church

266 Main Street, Northborough, MA

~

A Catholic wife and mother of 9, author and speaker, Simcha writes

for several publications, including the National Catholic Register.

You can also find her at www.simchafisher.wordpress.com.

Simcha will give a talk entitled,

“Beautiful Stranger: Making Contact with the Mother of God.”

~

A light brunch is included. 

The cost is $10, payable in cash at the door.

 

Space is limited, so if you plan to attend, please contact Sheila Towne at

 townes9@yahoo.com

 

Download the flyer here:  A Mother’s Morning

 

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Have you met Freddy the Pig?

No Register post today, while I get caught up on a thing or two.  In the mean time, a quick reading recommendation.  We’ve been listening to an audiobook of Freddy the Detective by Walter R. Brooks in the car, and it is ridiculously entertaining.  (The link is to the print version of the book; there are links to the audio version and other formats if you click through.)

freddy the detective

The kids ask to hear it over and over again (it’s a full-length book, 270 pages), but I haven’t gotten tired of it yet.  The plot moves along nicely and has structure and logic, but you can drop in at any time and be amused by the nutty little descriptions and anecdotes that fill the story.  I laugh every time we get to the moment when Freddy the Pig realizes that Mrs. Wiggins (who is a cow, and more sensible than the other cows, Mrs. Wogus and Mrs. Wurzburger, but still a cow) has been contributing to the newest problem on Mr. Bean’s farm, which is that their new jail has become a little too popular:

You have probably never seen a cow blush.  And indeed, the sight is unusual.  There are two reasons for this.  One is that cows are a very simple people, who do whatever they feel like doing and never realize that sometimes they ought to be embarrassed.  You might think they lack finer feelings.  And in a way they do.  They are not sensitive.  But they are kind and good-natured, and if sometimes they seem rude, it is only due to their rather clumsy thoughtlessness.

The other reason is that cows’ faces are not built for blushing.  But as Mrs. Wiggins was so talented above her sisters in other directions, it is not to be marveled at that she could blush very handsomely.

Her flush deepened as Freddy spoke.  “Why, I– now that you speak of it,” she stammered, “I see that you’re right, but — well, Freddy — land’s sakes — I might as well confess it to you, I got to feeling sorry for those prisoners myself yesterday, especially those two goats.  It seemed such a pity that they couldn’t be jumping round in the hills instead of sweltering in that hot barn.  And I went out and brought them a nice bunch of thistles for their supper.”

Freddy frowned.  “That’s just it!”  he exclaimed.  “That’s just it.  Sentimentality, that’s what’s going to ruin our jail. I did think, Mrs. W., that you had more sense.”

The cow looked a little angry.  “If I knew what you were talking about,” she said stiffly, “perhaps I might agree with you.”

“Being sentimental?” said Freddy.  “I’ll tell you what it is.  It’s going round looking for something or someone to cry over, just for the fun of crying.  You knew you weren’t doing those goats any good.  You just wanted to have a good time feeling sorry.”

The nice thing about Mrs. Wiggins was that she always admitted it when she was wrong.  She did so now after she thought about it for a few minutes.  “I guess you’re right, Freddy.  I won’t do it again. . . “

Brooks fills his Freddy books with fully-realized animal characters — all believable, and most immensely likable.  Once you meet them, you will never forget Uncle Wesley, the pompous duck, and his easily-impressed nieces, Alice and Emma; the stout-hearted but sarcastic cat Jinx, the vicious rats, the emotionally fragile rabbits, the malicious fly, Zero, and dozens and dozens of others.

The human characters are also a hoot.  Freddy first discovers a robber’s hideout when he sees the two outlaws taking turns on an old swing, trying to shoot bricks out of the chimney when they get high enough.  And one robber is always knitting, and nagging the other one about not dressing warmly enough when he goes out robbing at night.

As you can see, the language is at a high level, but is wonderfully clear and lively.  It’s full of ideas, but it never even comes close to being preachy.  It’s an extraordinarily good-natured universe that these animals live in.  My 3- and 5-year-old kids seem to follow the plot perfectly well, and the older kids (girls and boys) are as amused and entertained as I am.

There are 26 Freddy the Pig books in all!  Do check them out — I can’t imagine anyone not liking Freddy the Pig and his friends.  If you can get your hands on the audio version, we think narrator John McDonough does a great job of changing his voice to bring out the various characters.

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Goodbye Kitty!

Look what I got in the mail today!

my new hat

It’s a gorgeous, soft, handmade winter hat, just for me, with no Hello Kitty on it!  I don’t know if you can see it, but the mailer is sealed with Hello Kitty tape. This cracked me up and absolutely made my morning, and I’m going to be wearing this hat nonstop.  I love it.  Many, many thanks to reader and talented knitter Suzanne Andrews.

Boy, between this and my amazing boots (not to  mention those fabulous cookies), I think I might actually not die this winter after all, thanks to my generous readers.

Also of possible interest in this picture, just so you don’t think I’m making stuff up:  on the windowsill is a green candle in the shape of a sled, which, in a fit of doomed existential rebellion, I agreed to glue back together.  It’s “still drying.” The wooden thing behind me is a medicine chest I found on the side of the road which doesn’t seem to fit anywhere else in the house; and the white tube just visible over my right shoulder is my progesterone cream, which my children keep begging to use because it smells like horseradish.  Here’s hoping no one has the technology to blow up whatever is displayed on the computer screen.  I don’t actually remember going to any hideously embarrassing websites, but if I did, you can be sure I’d capture it on film and put it online.

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One reason I love Facebook . . .

is that you sit down at your computer with your morning coffee and read something like this.  From Leticia Ochoa Adams:

Today is my blue eyed boy’s 13th birthday. Daniel was 5 months old when I found out my birth control failed and I was pregnant with my third child. I was working at Hooter’s and my ex-husband was a drug addict who threw me around anytime I wouldn’t give him money when he asked for it and I knew he was going on a binge. That is why I was on birth control, to make sure I didn’t get pregnant. So when I found out, in the bathroom at Hooters, that I was I was scared. Probably more scared than when I found out I was pregnant with Anthony. One girl mentioned abortion and as soon as she said it all the other girls and my manager said “you don’t have to do that. We will help you.” That’s why I love my time there. And why I am proud to say I was a Hooters Girl. Because they supported me when I needed them. When I told everyone else I was pregnant I didn’t get any congrats, or YEY another baby, or anything. I got that look. Anyone who has had kids 14 months apart or closer knows the look. Jessica Simpson is getting that look and tone right now because she is pregnant again and her baby is “only 8 months old”.

But let me tell you what the world would be missing if I had had abortion and Gabe wasn’t alive right now, if my birth control had not failed the world would be missing a wonderful human being. He has always been my little man. He was my hope when things seemed so hard. He cried for me when I would leave him. He’s the only one of my kids who ever cried for me. He is the only one of the grand kids with blue eyes. He has a wicked sense of humor. He is so smart. He started talking at 6 months old and walking at 9 months. He was so tiny walking around and talking. Mark Gabriel Jacobs is the light of my life. The world would not be the same if he was not in it. The last 13 years of being his mother have given me awesome memories and I wouldn’t trade then for the world.

I sit here today thanking God that He knew better than me and gave me this child when it made no sense for a responsible person to get pregnant. I thank Him for all my kids. If I wasn’t a mother, I would be nothing.

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For your marriage

I had to cut this detail out of today’s post, but my husband would like it known that the sports radio station he favors regularly hosts photo caption contests.

On the radio.

But he always ends up there because at least it’s not the news, which I understand.  When I can’t stomach the news anymore, I’ll listen to anything, even a cassette tape of someone named Long John Baldry reading a dubious “origins” story about Winnie the Pooh.  Most of the story is taken up explaining how he got the name “Winnie,” but my favorite part is toward the end, when he says, in his rich, plummy, British voice, “But where does POOH come from?  We-heh-hell,  that’s a story for another day!”

I’m sure it is, Long John Baldry.  I’m sure it is.

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A few things

First, our beloved Jen Fulwiler is stable, but not out of the woods yet.  She was back in the hospital, but has since been sent back home (or at least that was the plan last I heard).  BUT, life is going to suck for the next several months.  She says she can only breathe when she’s sitting still like a statue, and while she and her unborn baby boy are not in immediate danger, SHE CAN’T MOVE.  So, going home: yay!!!!  Figuring out how to live, take care of five little kids, and just deal with the normal stress of being pregnant plus knowing that your lungs are full of dangerous, unpredictable clots:  . . . I don’t even know what to say.

Jen says, “I can’t remember a time I felt more peaceful or closer to God than I do now,” and she attributes this to your prayers. and she reminds us to pray for another pregnant mom of many, who is in the hospital on bedrest.

And Jen’s longtime friend Hallie Lord has set up a PayPal account to help Jen’s family out.  As you know, money can’t buy happiness, but not knowing how you’re going to pay for stuff while you’re horribly sick can certainly buy unhappiness.  So, if you have a prayer or few spare bucks, you know where to send ‘em!  Also, they are setting up a Care Calendar account to make sure Jen’s family gets meals — more details on that when I get them.

Second, Susan Windley-Daoust, who blogs  as The  Ironic Catholic, is selling some of her family’s “overstock” items — so far clothes, but soon books and toys.  Gymboree, Land’s End, great prices, excellent cause!  Take a look!

Third, here

BoneSillyImage

is a fellow who has attached a camera to the end of his trombone, if you know what I mean.  (If you’re on Facebook, you can see the video here.; or you can go to his site and scroll down a bit to “GoPro Camera on Trombone.”)  1:46 long.  Start your Monday right.

Fourth, I’m collecting your favorite “March for Life” stories.  Funny, moving, unexpected, disastrous — I’ll take ‘em all.  Short (a paragraph) is best.  If you want to share, please email me at simchafisher @ gmail . com

Fifth, boy, do we need the graces of Epiphany right now.  I guess I’m asking for all kinds of prayers:  regarding health concerns in one family member’s family, health and travel concerns in another, worries about kids in another.  A sweet Facebook friend, Kelly Davignon, just gave birth to a tiny, sweet girl, Anna, at 29 weeks.  Kelly is in lots of pain, and baby Anna is in the NICU.  Here is the Meal Train for Kelly’s family in Grand Junction, CO. 

And it occurred to me that doctors and health workers could probably use some extra prayers right now.  My husband’s doctor said that his empty schedule became double-booked in a matter of minutes on the day that we went in (and my husband is doing much better, thanks!).  People are dropping like flies, and doctors must be exhausted.

Sixth, I still haven’t uploaded the Christmas pictures, but here is a picture of Benny on Dec. 8, the day she turned one:

benny birthday grin

Love dat baby.

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Really Nowhere Near 50 Books!

Happy stupid new year, everybody!  It’s supposed to be our first day back at school today, but we’re keeping everyone home, waiting for the phone to ring, hoping that the idea of nine kids coming in to the hospital to be tested for strep throat is just as terrifying for the doctor as it is for us, and that she will just call in prescriptions for everybody.  Maybe just a giant vat of penicillin, which I will pour into the tub, and we can just swim around in it for a while. I wouldn’t even mind the big pink cat ring, as long as we don’t have to go to the hospital.

We did this same thing last year (the strep, I mean, not the vat).  This photo is in the folder marked “Christmas 2011″:

meds

(Don’t worry, I wasn’t storing them in direct sunlight.  I just lined them up on the windowsill for dramatic effect.)  This year, my husband went from being sorta kinda sniffly to DYING VERY FAST, and it turned out he had an abscess on his tonsil.  EWWWWWWWWW.  I mean, awwwwwwwwww.  Poor guy. Isn’t that awful?

The worst part was that he only had me to take care of him.  I can be nurturing for as long as ten or eleven minutes at a time, but beyond that, I find sick people irritating.  As you can imagine, I then feel horribly guilty about that, and take it out on the sick people. So, the moral of this story is, get the hell away from me, with your pain and suffering.  I mean, would you like some orange juice?  Or tea?  No?  Well, then I guess I’ll go shovel the driveway ALL BY MYSELF, with no one to help me.

The other thing I stink at is doing fifty book reviews on the fifty days before Christmas.  I thought I would be really clever and have fun while raising enough Amazon credits to entirely pay for Christmas.  And dad gummit, I almost made it!  To tell you the truth, I made TONS of money in credits, and I am so grateful to you guys!  Lots of people went out of their way to use my links to buy all sorts of big ticket items.

The only catch was, there is a 60-day delay on payments, and so I’m expecting a huge credit  . . . any day now.  Le sigh.  But man, next Christmas is gonna be a doozy!  So again, thank you for going to the trouble.  I know shopping is complicated enough, without having to remember to make sure some lady on the internet gets her piece of the pie.

By the time Christmas came, I had managed to list 33 books, and have sort of organized them below.  (If you want to see the original posts, here is a list of them.)  I thought it would be fun to keep up a once-a-week book recommendation, too, probably on Wednesdays.  As long as no JERKS get SICK again and mess up my schedule.

Oh, and Christmas day itself was lovely at our house (the sickness really set in a few days afterward).  We went to Midnight Mass and spent Christmas day wallowing in wrapping paper and cinnamon buns, and everyone was happy.  There was a little bit of this

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

while we were preparing to go out in the cold in the middle of the night, but there was a lot more of this:

[yeah, okay, actually I haven’t uploaded the Christmas morning photos yet, but it was pretty great.]

Oh, one more thing:  please join me in sending up a prayer for Melanie Bettinelli, who was hoping to have her new baby Lucia in her arms by now, but had to postpone her c-section because she was so sick!

All right, here are the 33 books:

YA Fiction

Most of these were recommended by my 13-year-old and 14-year-old daughters.  I’ve starred the ones I recommend for adults as well as “young adults.”

The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud

Shooting Kabul by N. H. Senzai

The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson

The Name of This Book Is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch

 

Angels and Other Strangers:  Family Christmas Stories by Katherine Paterson

*The Golden Key by George MacDonald, illustrated by Maurice Sendak

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Leviathan by Scott Westerfield

 

*The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

 

*Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams

 

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

 

A Dog’s Life:  The Autobiography of a Stray by Ann M. Martin

 

*The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Patterson

 

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

 

Children’s Books

A Time to Keep:  A  The Tasha Tudor Book of Holidays

The Flying Carpet by Marcia Brown

Who Is Coming to Our House? by Joseph Slate, illustrated by Ashley Wolff

The Golden Egg Book by Margaret Wise brown, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard

The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivisas an illustrated by the wonderful Helen Oxenbury.

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe

The Golden Bible, Old Testament, illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky

It Could Always Be Worse:  A Yiddish Folktale written and illustrated by Margo Zemach

 

Non-fiction for adults  (I’ve starred the ones that are also suitable for teenagers.)

From Bauhaus to Our House   by Tom Wolfe

Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart by Fr. Jacques Philippe

God Help Me!  This Stress is Driving Me Crazy: Finding Balance through God’s Graceby Gregory Popcak

The Fannie Farmer Cookbook by Marion Cunningham

*Masterworks of Ukiyo-E: Hokusai Sketches and Paintings

*The Rattle Bag edited by poets Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes

*The Family of Man by Edward Steichen and Carl Sandburg

*and Hokusai, First Manga Master [for some reason, WordPress won’t let me turn this one into a link]

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005DI81I2/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=ihavtositdo03-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B005DI81I2

 

Fiction for adults

Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith

The Odyssey, the translation by Robert Fagles

*The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis

Wow, I can’t believe those are the only two adult fiction books on the list!  I guess I was trying hard to branch out, since I actually read mostly novels.