Making up for lost Lents

Yesterday, as we discussed what could and could not be eaten on Ash Wednesday (a favorite topic of DJ’s), DJ observed that I had not actually been bound by any Lenten fasting or abstinence rules for the past six years!?!

After thinking more carefully, I also realized that for one reason or another, I haven’t attended Holy Thursday Mass or Good Friday services for that same amount of time. What with one nursing baby or another*, I haven’t “done Lent” so to speak since before Jude’s birth in April 2008.

This year, I have no excuse, so I needed to do some serious thinking about what I’m going to do to make this season count. I liked Ellen’s Lenten round up from yesterday. It gave me a lot to think on, especially the part about just doing my duty in my house (so many blogs, so little time so dishes and laundry get kinda’ lost).

But then I think about this post from awesome nunblogger (that’s one word) Sr. Martha Mary who writes:

It would be great if you would stop biting your nails, but it’s not going to cut it for Lent. You’re not going to give up physical things for physical self help. You’re going to give up physical things for spiritual self improvement.

And atonement.

This makes me stop and think: I should be doing better in my house work stuff anyway. This isn’t something I should do for Lent, it’s something I should do all the time. Lent is a good time to get started, but doing my best by my house isn’t atonement for my sins: it’s my ding dang job.

I want to do something that will be a sacrifice that I can pick up again on Easter Sunday because it’s a joy. The feeling I get from doing it is something happy and not doing it during Lent will remind me about Christ and His sacrifice and being able to do it again on Easter Sunday will remind me that He is Risen!

Mmmmmm, rich and delicious Ovaltine.

Mmmmmm, rich and delicious Ovaltine.

So, I’m not going to spend money. Well, I am, but not on myself at all. That means I’ll go through the drive through at Dunkin Donuts for the kids, but not for me. I’ll do grocery shopping and pick up DJ’s bacon cheddar pretzels but I won’t buy my special treat (Ovaltine, for those of you wondering). I’m also going to refrain from watching my favorite British TV shows. Avoiding these things won’t put me in a bad mood (like abstaining from coffee certainly would) but they are things I now enjoy daily and giving them up will be a true sacrifice for me.

Added bonus of skipping by Tuesday and Thursday Dunkin Donuts treat: I will save at least $40 over the next six weeks.

Added bonus of skipping by Tuesday and Thursday Dunkin Donuts treat: I will save at least $40 over the next six weeks.

So, that’s Claire on Lent. Remember that my degree is in sociology and I lick my kid’s pacifiers when they fall on the floor so don’t take me as a spiritual authority or anything like that.

*You people do what you want, but in the Hazzard House Lenten rules on food don’t apply if you’re growing or nursing a Catholic.

Random Randomness

Look here, people. The other sisters have weighed in this week on important topics. Ellen covered birth; Rose covered entertainment and Aristotelian thought; Jane talked about living thousands of miles from loved ones.

Here’s the thing. I don’t have much of anything important to say. Well, it is important but frankly I’m so convinced I’m right about everything, I’ve little time or incentive to formulate cohesive arguments about anything.

For example, if you asked me “Claire, the world wants to know if you would give birth at home. If not, why?”

My first response to this question would be to snort at the outrageousness of it. Give birth at home? Anyone who has seen what happens during childbirth should be against this sort of thing. Birth should only happen in a place with medical-grade cleaning products readily available.

Also, safety and blah, blah, blah.

Other examples:

What did you think of the 2014 Winter Olympics?

I loved the Bruno Mars half-time show!

What is your favorite album of all time?

Bill Cosby comedy albums.  Seriously, all my internal conversations with the Almighty sound a lot like Bill Cosby’s imagined conversation between Noah and God: lots of protesting about how good I’ve been followed by arguments about how hard I’ve been working.

I hear you’re taking physiology. Why?

It’s awesome to be able to tell my kids “I can’t play with you right now, I have to study the cardiac pump.” This is so much better than “I can’t play with you right now, I have to, um, check my blogs?!?”

You’re constantly working on your house. What’s your latest project?

Hanging this sign above the kitchen sink (it was required by New York State’s Health and Safety laws):

photo copy 2

Are your children healthy?

Mentally or physically? This question is too complicated.

How are your children?

Prime examples of awesomeness. See below:


We don’t own a cat and Jude has never displayed a particular desire for one.

Let's be honest: All of us thank God for fruit snacks (and PBS children's television)

Let’s be honest: All of us thank God for fruit snacks (and PBS children’s television)

And, no picture of this, but Carmela took the initiative this morning to open the freezer and help herself to a chocolate-covered banana.

 Cheers, people of the internets!

Saint Saturday from McHusband # 3 (My friends just call me THREE)

This gallery contains 12 photos.

I recently became a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries.  If you don’t know what an actuary is I’ll save you some googling.  An actuary is the most important job in the world. In order to become a Fellow I needed … Continue reading 

Mouthy Mondays: Bad habits

So, Jackie made it pretty obvious that I go to Dunkin Donuts waaayyyyy too much. Last week, we pulled up to the drive through and the voice from the speaker greated us “Good morning. May I take your order?”

As I pulled up to the window to pay and get our donuts, Jackie piped up from the back.

“Mommy, that lady said it wrong!”
“What do you mean, Jackie?”
“She apposed to say, ‘Welcome to Dunkin Donuts. Can I take your order, peease?”

I think I ought to take a break from Dunkin Donuts for a bit.

The sad thing is, I made the switch to Dunkin Donuts a few years ago after Jude made it obvious that I was going to McDonalds too much. As I pulled up to the ordering window, he yelled from the back, “I’ll take a caramel frappe!”

He wasn’t quite two at the time. I don’t know why I thought switching to Dunkin Donuts would be better, but clearly my children have become just as addicted as I am. Time to switch it up again. The nearest drive through Starbucks is only a few miles away and if history is any guide, I’ll have at least another year before Carmela makes me feel bad about my coffee habit.

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Woe is me Wednesday

The tears are flowing freely in the Hazzard House because DJ is in Dallas until Saturday afternoon. I know other people have husbands that travel frequently or, like Grace’s husband, work long and odd hours. But my husband? My husband goes to work every day a bit after 7 and comes home a bit before 5.


None of us in the Hazzard house are used to having him gone so yesterday when he left in the morning, Jude started crying and then Jackie and then me and then, because she copies what every one else does, so did Carmela.

We did okay yesterday, though. Jackie had school in the morning and when Jude came home in the afternoon, we did homework and then I brought them across the street for a bit of McTime while I cleaned and made dinner (mac and cheese). I served the kids dinner by myself and got them to bed by myself and no one melted down or screamed and we didn’t watch too much TV.

Yesterday running smoothly made me think today, tomorrow, Friday and Saturday may run smoothly, too. But I wouldn’t want to do this all the time. No way, Jose. DJ is necessary for the smooth running of our household.

I like to flatter myself that I’m a person who recognizes my own limits and being on my own with our three kids through Saturday afternoon is straining those limits to the breaking point. Just to be clear, the problem isn’t the kids, it’s me. I have a temperament which allows me to handle my kids fairly well for about eight hours a day. The ninth hour starts to get dicey but then help arrives! DJ comes home just as my parenting skills are collapsing for the day and it is the favorite time of day for me and all three kids.

He’s my helpmate in more ways than one. My hats off to the ladies who deal with business trips and residencies and long lawyer hours (hello Jane!) but Saturday can’t come soon enough for me.


7QT: The one about Jane

Today is the eldest McSister’s birthday and, in celebration, we present the following 7 QuickTakes about our awesome big sister. This was a collaborative effort, Jane, so if you don’t like any one of these, you can threaten to kick all of us (total inside joke there).

From Claire:

1) Jane always, always makes time for me when I call with stupid, inconsequential problems. Always. Never once has she made me feel small or silly and her responses and suggestions to me have always been loving and helpful

2) Jane was the fattest McBaby ever. Behold:


Jane is the baby on the left and the baby on the right, the normal-sized baby, is four months older than Jane.

From Ellen:

3. Jane has impeccable home decorating taste. Her style is classic and refined, but without being too stuffy! Of course, it helps that Jane is a consummate housekeeper, much like our beloved Grandma Ross. She works tirelessly sun-up to sun-down to keep her place sparkling (Ellen types as her elbows keep on getting stuck to her groady kitchen table).

4. Jane wore ironic super-nerd glasses before they were cool. No picture readily available of this, but enjoy instead this picture of Jane in costume ready to play one if the lead roles in her fourth-grade class production of HMS Pinafore.


From Rose:

5. Jane earns the Mom Medal for a million reasons, chief among them being that she has the most kids while living the farthest away from Mimi, meaning she’s doing it all without the abundant help that Claire and I have, and she’s been doing it that way for ten years. She’s got both boys and girls, and kids in elementary school, so there’s nothing the rest of us come up against that she hasn’t dealt with first, just like when we were growing up.

It’s great to have a sister who’s also a seasoned mom!

6. Jane is the only McMahon girl who has McMahon legs instead of Ross trunks. No fair. (Claire notes: I resent this, Rose. It’s true, but I resent it.)

From Claire:

7. I miss you, big sister.


Sweet baby Jane

Life or something like it

This is a post about nothing in particular and everything in general. The Hazzards have a lot going on these days: it’s not that we are busy or over scheduled, just that the everyday business of brushing teeth and making beds takes up more time than I ever imagined it would when we started our family six years ago.


Carmela is almost 1!?! In one month this little girl will have been out in the world for a year. She is our most expensive baby so far. In addition to spending thousands on formula, we’ve also had to lay out quite a bit on baby gates. The other two didn’t require fencing in but this one, wow — she moves and moves fast.


One of Jackie’s self portraits. She takes 10 or so pictures of herself every day and then reviews them all with a critical eye. Also, she calls Chapstick “chopstick,” and I hope she always does.


Jude’s class went trick-or-treating at the police station on Halloween. His brave teachers and one of our parish priests walked all 28 kids the half mile there and back. And see that kid in the left of the photo? The one dressed as a musketeer? His mom made his costume, including the appliqués on the vest and the shirt underneath. And she made matching costumes for his two younger brothers. Oh, and she just had a baby.

And to think I can’t find time to get beds made!

Daddy Dearest

Today, as reported by one local political blog, is McDad’s birthday. A day that will live in infamy! Seriously, though, it wasn’t supposed to happen since a doctor told Grandma to give up and adopt. But Grandma, showing the determination she passed on to her oldest, did not give up. After Dad was born, she used to walk him down the street that doctor lived on to show him he was wrong.

Dad is the man of a million names (Ed, Jim and Baba to name a few) but that’s fitting for a man with so many roles. It’s difficult to describe what Dad does for a living. We sisters have settled on telling people he’s a “wonk” which is a fun word that doesn’t really explain anything. He is very respected professionally, though; demanding hard work and honesty from everyone in his working life, whether it be an intern in his office or an AP reporter.

Those are the same qualities he asks for from his family, too. And while we sometimes complained about his toughness, it became clear to us sisters that the older we got “the wiser [our] father became.”

Plus, he’s not all that tough. At times of crisis, he is the level head who figures out a workable solution and calms us down. At one point in my life, when I experienced a particularly rough time and truly felt like life was over, it was Dad who found the perfect words to say.

There are many more things to say about Dad: he’s funny and genial and delights in his grand kids. What many of us appreciate most, though, is his faith. He has always lived it in word and in deed, which does not go unnoticed by his daughters who hope their own children will be able to say the same about them!

Oh, and one more thing: Dad has the foresight a thousand men wish for. We’ve had only Macintosh products in our house since the mid 80s because he insisted it was the better computer platform. We grumbled as teenagers, but we all know now that Father really did know best.


Mouthy Mondays: They’re listening!

This isn’t a real funny or cute Mouthy Mondays post but I wanted to share what DJ and I heard yesterday after Mass.

We went to a late Mass yesterday — the 5 pm at the Cathedral. (On a side note, DJ always calls late Sunday Masses “the Sinner’s Mass.”) Carmela always makes the most noise during Mass so during the first reading I took her in the back and DJ was left to deal with the over-tired older two in the front.

When it came time for the homily, I was still in the back where Carmela was throwing her bottle down, enjoying the echo it made and DJ spent the homily eating a pretend gourmet meal Jackie prepared for him in the pew.

In other words: DJ and I were both super distracted during the homily, which is never good but especially when the priest is trying to shed light on one of the more confusing Gospel passages. Yesterday’s Gospel was one of those and while DJ and I both heard Father’s opening line, we didn’t quite catch one came next.

In e car on the way home, we both lamented we hadn’t heard the homily since neither one of us understood the gospel either. All of the sudden, Jude piped up from the back “Father was talking about the Lincoln guy!”

DJ and I looked at each other in complete confusion until we both realized Jude was remembering Father’s homily centered around Abraham. Jude had heard that and thought Lincoln! So, yeah, he confused the message a bit but, despite our frequent anxiety and complaints, he was listening during Mass! Hallelujah, Lord. Now that we know this, I’m going to see if we can get priests to work in messages about cleaning and bed-making into their Sunday messages.

Father of Freedom, not to be confused with:

Father of Faith.

Five Favorites: House goodies

Joining up with for Five Faves. We continue to make sssslllloooowww progress on our house. The previous owners actually built the house in the 60s and changed very, very little since then. When we moved in, the dishwasher was original (no, really) and the washer, while not quite that old was sporting some wood paneling so that dates it to at least the end of the Reagan administration if not before.

Of course, every time we complete one little project (or even one big one) we are already planning the next one! Of course, by “we” I mean just me because DJ isn’t like this but i like to spread the blame and shame around. Some things catching our (okay, my) interest as possible projects:

1. All the outlets in this house need to be replaced, and we’d like to replace some of them with these:

It’s a wall outlet with built-in USB chargers! So. Cool.

2) All the doors on the second floor of our house are the fabulous, hollow-core doors popular with cheap builders everywhere until the 90s, when fabulous six-panel hollow-core doors became the fashion. We thought about replacing them, but may take a stab at this first:


Photo from Design Sponge.

What is it? It’s a slab door painted and with molding added. These tutorials are all over the inter webs and I think the afters are pretty uniformly awesome. Also, some DIY sites call this door “augmentation,” which makes me laugh like a 12-year-old kid for some reason.

3) We’d like to jump on the board-and-batten bandwagon, but we live in a 60s side-hall colonial. One of my pet peeves is when I walk into a house where updates on the inside are not in keeping with the style of the house’s exterior. But still, I really like the way this dining room looks:


Image from here.

4) Soon the exterior of our home will have to be repainted. Actually, there is a pretty large section of unpainted siding on the rear of the house that we have to slap some color on. Currently, our house is a sort of bright blue, but I really like the idea of going darker.


This house (from here) is actually similar to ours because the bottom half of the house shown is brick, like ours.

5) The outside of our house, besides paint, needs some landscaping attention. I’d really, really like a weeping cherry with a small statue of the Holy Family beneath it surrounded by some sort if ivy or other ground cover like that. I keep thinking if I include the Holy Family in my landscaping ideas, they’ll somehow find the money for me to do it. I’m aware of how awful that thought process is.

Of course, none of these projects that cost more than $50 will be done anytime in the foreseeable future since the kids continue to suck up any and all “extra” money I seem to have. I just can’t believe how much and how often they all need to eat!