Friday = Macaroni & Cheese!

Given that we still observe the meatless Fridays, this recipe is a go-to one especially when the day is going faster than I can catch up with it and dinner time appears out of no where! I never cared for Macaroni and Cheese when I was growing up until I discovered the major difference in using ‘real’ cheddar cheese and not the processed stuff! If you want to sneak in some vegetables, steam and puree a cup or so of cauliflower and mix it in the cheese sauce! A small can of diced chilis (mild or hot) makes an interesting change of pace. In fact, you can substitute the bread/panko topping with crushed tortilla or corn chips.

Macaroni & Cheese

2 cups grated, sharp cheddar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon dried mustard
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
1 pound macaroni, just cooked. It should be a tiny bit underdone as it will finish in the oven.
1 cup milk. You might need a bit more
1/4 cup butter
Panko or bread crumbs

Toss the cheese with the dry ingredients.

Gently heat the milk and butter until very warm. Add the cheese mixture and keep stirring until it is melted and well combined. If the sauce seems too thick, add spoonfuls of milk until it reaches the consistency you want.

Pour the sauce into the prepared macaroni and mix well. Top with either the Panko crumbs or bread crumbs. Instead of drizzling melted butter or margarine on the topping, I just spray it with vegetable spray. It cuts the calories and helps it brown.

Put into a preheated 350 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes or until bubbly and hot through.

For variety, I like to mix in a can of drained, diced tomatoes into the dish.

Church and Children

Church and Children
By Barbara Barthelette

I am of the opinion that, if at all possible, families should be together at Mass, even with toddlers! This is not without some pitfalls so parents should be forewarned of the possibility of storms they may have to weather in the pursuit of a shared family Faith.

Remember, the longer you can keep your toddler from realizing that his legs can work on church property, the more attention you can pay to Mass. A sore back is little enough to bear in comparison to the exercise you may get chasing down an inquisitive child. At two and a half, my son discovered his church legs. His first escape took place in the Children’s Chapel a.k.a. the cry room at church. Initially unnoticed by the occupants, he dived under a row of folding chairs. We watched in anguish as each person popped up in surprise as he crawled under them.

Nursing mothers should start moving gradually back in the church as the baby grows older. I was sitting in the front row one Sunday when my hungry one year old obviously wanted to hear the sermon better. He threw back our privacy blanket much to my embarrassment and the priest’s surprise.

If all efforts at calming a child fails, do stand to the side of the church or in the back. I learned from experience, however, that you should take heed of your surroundings. Always make sure there is not a Holy Water font in the vicinity. They hold a lot of water in spite of their small appearance and they are easy to dump. You may know your skirt is soaked with blessed water. Other people may not be as charitable.

Four and five year olds should be prepared for Mass. Sometimes though it is better not to tell them too much in special circumstances. Julianna knew we were going to a funeral and her sole interest throughout the Mass was the ‘box’ up front. She was audibly verbal about, “I want to see inside now! Maybe he’s not inside! Let’s open it up now!

Sitting in the front row of the Children’s Chapel isn’t always a good idea. In some churches you will find that the congregation in the main body has a fish bowl view. . . and you are the fish! One Sunday I reached down to pick up one child who inadvertently pulled opened the front of my blouse as he climbed up. I immediately turned around only to have the second child flip up the back of my skirt.

You have to learn to ignore small disturbances. A crying baby is often helpful in covering up the name your child is calling the other one. You can be hopeful that the people in your immediate area are staring at you because they are in total awe of your parental management capabilities.

The discovery of manual dexterity almost always occurs during Mass when your two year old wears sneakers with velcro fastenings. The bells at Mass never quite cover this sound as your toddler gleefully opens and closes his shoes.
Always frisk your children before Mass. In the event a contraband fistful of marbles hit the floor during a particularly quiet moment during Mass, just keep staring prayerfully ahead and pretend you didn’t hear it.

The most import fact of life is this. . . There are only two parents to a family. When you exceed the one-to-one ratio with the arrival of your third child, you are on your own. Figure out your own rules!

The Untimely Death of Charlie Gard

A baby died in England this week. This baby’s death shouldn’t go unsung because a tiny infant showed the world what becomes of the humans of the world when the ways of the world have come to a pass that full-term, living babies can be deprived of necessary treatment and not allowed a chance at life.

Although little Charlie Gard seemed in perfect health his first couple of months of life, he suddenly started failing and ended up in a hospital with a diagnosis that could be considered a definite death sentence if left untreated. Although it was a chance, at best, Charlie’s parents researched options, begged for financial help, and got in touch with an American doctor who said he would examine the baby. Seems like a ray of home in what was being touted as a no-win situation.

Even with money in hand and a place to take their baby, the United Kingdom’s courts and doctors refused to allow the parents this option. There would have not been a single charge to the hospital for taking the baby to that one chance of help but the doctors said an adamant, unexplained ‘NO!’ and the courts backed them up on their say so. The time line for saving Charlie began in January when first diagnosed. At that point in time, the treatment just might have been beneficial giving the parents a feeling of hope in doing all they could for their first child. The doctors dragged on the process and the court trials didn’t get the immediate hearings you would think the situation merited so we end up seven months later with a baby slowly deteriorating in health.

Even in the condition he was in this month, the American doctor made the trip over to examine the baby and met with the UK doctors. A doctor in Rome offered his help on this as the Pope was also anxiously watching this turn of events. Everything was rejected and the courts sided with the doctors.

It got worse even after the parents realized that time had run out on treating their baby due to the doctors’ lack of action. They allowed that their son’s little life was fast running it’s course and only asked that they could take him home to die. This was refused. From what I read, they took the baby to an undisclosed place where the doctors removed him from his life support and Charlie died.

I only wonder how much celebration was enjoyed by those grown men who fought so hard for the death of this baby. I wonder if the judges breathed a sign of relief to have this pesky situation finally put to rest being glad little Charlie was finally being put to rest.

To basically recap: The parents of a sick baby had the wherewithal to transport him to the United States for experimental treatment. There would be no further cost to the UK hospital. The doctors refused to give the baby this once chance and regulated the time the parents could spend with the baby. When the parents persisted, the courts stepped in and took away their parental rights to do the best they could for their son.

You have to ponder what was going through these people’s minds to constantly refuse to move an inch on possibly saving this innocent child. Do these doctors have children? Would they appreciate a stranger telling them they couldn’t decide what was good for their own children? Yet, the doctors involved and the courts thought nothing of depriving this little family of their God-given free will and rather than have their word contradicted and take an ego bruising, felt it was better to get rid of the evidence . . . little Charlie Gard.

I’m thinking there are a great many people in the world today shedding tears for this family and not thinking well of how the helpless are treated under the medical guidelines of the medical health care system of the United Kingdom. A doctor vows to do no harm. I didn’t see any evidence of compassion in the events of the last few months.

Over the years, so many atrocities have been committed under the guise of medical treatment, especially in what unborn get to live and who are thrown away. It seems to follow, in a way, that if you get used to dumping aborted babies into the trash that helping a live baby to their demise would just be another day’s work. AND, if you have the backing of the court, it looks like one takes a huge chance in trusting their health and eventual outcome to the powers that be who want to run our lives.

Unfortunately, this is not isolated to the UK. People might remember Terri Schiavo who was deliberately starved to death because that was her husband’s wish with the backing of doctors in spite of her having a family who wanted to save her. Another case was the teenager, Justina Pelletier, who held by the Boston Children’s Hospital based on a doctor’s view that she wasn’t being properly treated medically. She went in a healthy young lady and finally left in need of much health care and rehabilitation from her time in that hospital.

Many prayers needed, today, for Charlie Gard’s family as well as other people/children who might be in similar situations and not allowed their freedom of choice.

Being Sneaky in the Kitchen!

When the children were younger, they had limited tastes when it came to dinner. If it wasn’t fried, pasta, or pizza there would be exaggerated sighs of resignation as they moved their food about the plate in interesting but uneaten patterns. I recognized a declaration of war and began arming myself through the meals I cooked. Meatloaf, which for some reason they would eat now included finely ground carrots which were browned a bit with the also finely chopped onions. No complaints and no reality checks from the peanut gallery.

The seasoned tomato sauce for the pizza had steamed and pureed carrots and green beans in it. Blended with the tomato sauce, the opposing dinner forces never caught on. Initially, I had finely chopped and steamed carrots but a slightly larger bit of carrot caught the attention of one of the dinner-time police and I had to retreat and rethink strategy.

Spaghetti was the number-one favorite among my panel of judges. When I made a meaty tomato sauce, I would get a can of pinto bean, drain, rinse, and them puree them with some broth and add that to the sauce. The sauce would be creamy, meaty, and rapidly devoured by the family.

Have I shared these tips with my now older children? No, because, someday, they will have to deal with little versions of themselves and I think they should enjoy all the splendor of that period in their lives.

Did You Happen to See Where My Budget Went?

Budget, Children, and Uncooperative Husbands
by Barbara M. Barthelette

Budget has been a constant in our life as a one-income family. And even though we were offering up the ‘freedom’ of the outside workplace, God still saw fit to send us crosses particular to our station in life. I look back on those days with some nostalgia but am pretty sure I would rather not have to actually return to some of those mommy moments! Here is a particular memory on trying to maintain children and a budget!

We all have a sock basket of some sort. You know, the place we put the socks that come through the wash minus the mate they were made for! Our cross is that we will never match them all up, we will never get to the bottom of the sock basket and we will often find socks we don’t remember ever inviting into our homes. The size of the cross depends on the size of your sock basket!

Cooking can be a cross when it is days before payday and you have to be creative, not only in what you make but what you tell the children it is so they will eat it! That is why lids were invented for pots so family can’t come in and get preconceived notions about dinner.

Coupons for grocery shopping and special sales stretch the budget but can be a cross for the family. “Why do the fish still have their heads on?” They were on sale because they were cross-eyed. The store had to leave them on to make sure the customer knew this before buying. “How come you didn’t buy potato chips?” Goes back to the Irish potato famine. Still a shortage of potatoes. Check your history book.

Paper towels are a necessity in the kitchen. I usually end up with an empty roll and find ‘used’ paper towels all over the house. There were thirty paper towels, precisely separated and laid out on the floor from back door to bedroom. “We were pretending the floor was a deep river and the paper towels are stepping stones!” A sudden yell for help from the bathroom that there is a flood quickly tells me what they tried to use the rest of the paper towels for! They had used up the bathroom tissue to reenact The Mummy.

I keep trying to come up with time-saving, money-saving ideas to run my home happily yet frugally. I considered giving each person a sock basket of their own but quickly realized I would then probably have six or more baskets full of socks. I mean, what are the chances they would ever compare the contents of their respective sock collections?

I tried starting a rumor that potato chips were made from creamed zucchini, carrots and turnips but my gang figure that if it is fried, it can’t be all bad.

I tried assigning each their own roll of bathroom tissue. I thought I had a system figured out. I would keep written records and the stuff under lock and key. I would check out a roll to each person, initial and date the inside of the tube and make note of the distribution in my notebook. When they brought me their empty cardboard roll, I would check the first date, the date returned and give counseling on waste not, want not as needed. It didn’t get off the ground, My husband wouldn’t cooperate on this one. He said that if we weren’t a one-income family with mismatched socks and on a budget, he would take me on a long, long restful vacation.

Barbara’s Mommy Chronicles – Home Schooling is SO Easy . . . What Do You Do the Rest of the Day?

I home schooled all my children, three of them through high school. Although I understood the perks of giving them the real deal in learning, there were those days . . . As one child once said, “The best part of home schooling is getting to use my own bathroom.” See, I made and impact . . . in one category!

Every school year was a new beginning and we always anticipated great things being accomplished. Every year, there were many things I would have liked to hear as we began our studies but reality sets in around noon the first day of school at the kitchen table. I have the wished for thought and how it really went down.

1. Time for School! I thought we would take it easy but several of you little darlings sent me private notes begging to begin with math instead of art.

Reality translation: This is the third time I have called you to the school table. And you used up your art time when you crayoned in your new math workbooks.

2. Are you sure you wouldn’t like some fresh cookies and milk? It has been two hours since breakfast and you must be hungry. I promise we will still work on Geography, afterwards.

Reality translation: No, you cannot have something to eat. You should have thought about hunger when you refused to eat breakfast this morning. Yes, you have to finish Geography and no ad-libbing on the maps today. No undiscovered countries that only you know about.

3. I can’t believe how neatly you set up your insect collections for science. And to think I only assigned this term project yesterday and here you are, done already.

Reality translation: Smashed bugs don’t count for your bug collection even if you remember what it was before you squashed it. I don’t care if you weren’t the one who mashed the bug. You shouldn’t have put the bug in your sister’s bed to begin with.

4. How wonderfully you combined your poster paints to make a copy of one of the great masterpieces. And you didn’t get a drop of paint on the floor, table or mommy’s art book.

Reality translation: Look, it is a numbered dot-to-dot coloring page, What do you mean you don’t understand the instructions?

5. Sweet child of mine! No wonder you asked for an extra two hours of school, yesterday. You were busy composing this wonderful story for English class, double-spaced and typewritten, no less.

Reality translation: A three-page composition doesn’t count if written in crayon. It was supposed to be on what we did on our summer vacation. And, I did not spent it torturing you, but, don’t give up on the idea – there is always next year!