Friday, August 29, 2008
One last thing...
We're excited here about McCain's choice of pro-life champion, Sarah Palin, for his running mate.
This little Hummingbird flew into our garage and Alex has coaxed it to perch on the end of a broom. They were even able to hold him a bit and got him to feed from a bowl of sugar water before helping him find his way out. Hummingbird sounds. OK, now we're really going.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
"Neat," Zachary said. "Now click on the frogs at the top of your blog and make them croak."
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
We found Darth Vader appropriate pants. I also repaired his slightly chewed light saber. I bought a sound effects sword for my Crusader and convinced Prince Philip not to wear Aladdin's turban with his costume. My youngest firefighter thinks he should wear a backpack and carry a drill. I'm OK with that.
We've also found All Saint's Day costumes for the kids whose costumes won't convert (pun absolutely intended) into Saints. That party is on Friday. We like Halloween. We like All Saint's Day. We celebrate both.
Well, this was originally followed up by my husband's response...
I kept thinking of you. I mean, I was really nervous. It was like Whoa, Nicholas OK look, but stay back, you know what I mean? If I was nervous, I just kept thinking you'd have been a wreck. It was just good that you were at home. That's all. I'm really glad you weren't there.
After a chaotic "formal" Christmas Eve dinner.
Me: I'm glad we're so far along in the wrapping because I am wiped out tonight.
Jacob: Yeah, boy, I sure am glad we wrapped your ipod today.
Then there's this...
There is a boy standing in my doorway holding his new "Grow Your Own Crystals" kit. He's looking at me and I'm just going to keep looking at this screen.
We eventually did grow those crystals.
Me: Uh, they don't really...well.....blue.
Lastly, I found this after bedtime conversation snippet that never went anywhere...
I do, Zachary, but not very often.
When you were a little girl?
Yes, when I was a little girl. Do you have nightmares?
Yes. I do. That's why sometimes I don't want to sleep.
Your nightmares are that bad? What about?
Well, about a big angry pumpkin that follows me around, I've had some. (eyes water) Also, I dreamed I was caught in that machine at the bowling alley that the balls come out from and I disappeared and didn't come out again. Neither dead, nor alive. (shrugs shoulders) I just didn't see me come out.
Oh Zachy, I'm sorry. That's scary.
Yeah, (lip curls) also once I dreamed I was lost to you and lost to Papa and I was driving the van and I didn't know how to stop it because I was still only three years old in my dream.
Oh Zachy, you need to think happy thoughts before going to sleep. Think about flowers and butterflies and your favorite toys. Think about Papa coming home from work and about playing games with your brothers. Ask your guardian angel to help you think about things that make you happy.
And also sleep in your bed.
Yes. I never ever have nightmares when I sleep in your bed.
Then you come sleep in our bed, OK? Whenever you want.
Lastly, and to start the school year off right, I'd like to renew our commitment to our motto:
Monday, August 25, 2008
This last Sunday Alex came downstairs dressed for church. His shirt looked fine, but the pants were horribly wrinkled.
Me: Why are your pants wrinkled?
Alex: I don't know.
Me: Because you aren't putting your clothes away in your drawers correctly. When I give you your laundry to put away you don't always keep it folded, but let it get all balled up in your drawers.
Alex turns to Simeon for support, but the older brother isn't much help.
"Wow," he says to Alex, "She's good."
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Two men were here selling wholesale meat products (there is no end to door to door solicitation here). One gentleman saw that I was skeptical and thought he could sell me by talking about his famous recipe for "Chicken Fried Steak" that he'd throw into the deal free of charge. At least I think that's what he said.
Chicken Fried What? How about Duck Roasted Shrimp? Or Turkey Baked Lamb? I laughed to myself because it reminded me of that Saturday Night Live skit where Jessica Simpson advertises "Chicken of the Sea brand tuna--America's #1 non-Chicken brand fish." Then Nick Lachey asks "But...what if you wanted tuna that is chicken?" He then offers her "Tuna of the Dirt brand chicken--100% top-grade tuna-free canned chicken" and it just gets sillier from there.
At this point, the second gentleman noticed his partner's angle wasn't working on me and said to the first, "Do you hear her accent? Stop talking about yer cookin' and offer her some NY strip!"
Just so you know, I don't have a NY accent though most of my friends here do.
Friday, August 22, 2008
It is a deer path and it probably has been there long before our house was here or the site was cleared across the road. These deer have most likely seen many changes since our development began construction. I wonder what they make of it all. Recently, without thinking, we added yet another obstacle to their path. Our new sandbox, a great big hexagonal sandbox, is right in the deer's path. We didn't even think of it when we put it in. It just seemed the perfect place for a sandbox, surrounded by trees and shaded most of the day, far enough from the house to shake off the sand, but still visible from our screened-in back porch.
We only thought of it the other night when we were eating dinner on that back porch and saw a doe come running. Oh no, I thought for a split second, but when she reached the sandbox she did not stumble. She leaped silently into the air with astonishing grace. She seemed to pause a moment, hovering midway in a breathtaking pose, to glance at the "herd of humans" starring back at her from their caged porch. She cleared the sandbox with fluent perfection, prancing off into our woods, her white tail punctuating the motions like notes on a musical scale. And she was gone.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Ironically, it was this friend of Alice's that loaned me my first copy of Alice's new book, A Haystack Full of Needles as we were driving together to a meeting and registration for the home educator's group in this new area. Two friends of Alice's that she had brought together, driving to our new Catholic home educator's group with the hope of meeting others, talking about Alice's new book about how to meet and interact with other Catholic home educators. Who'd have thunk it?
I read the book, poolside, in a weekend and I loved it! I shouldn't have been surprised, but when I heard that Alice was writing this book I imagined it would be full of charm and grace, all the beauty and richness of faith that overflows every corner of life at the thatched cottage that is Alice's home on Long Island and that she chronicles at Cottage Blessings. And it is. But it is also a very practical guide to making and keeping friends and organizing activities in the setting of Catholic home education.
Alice (I know this is something of a review, but I just can't bring myself to call her "Gunther") offers, as to a friend, her proven methods of organizing activities. She suggests the best times, places, and structures and all that she says rings true with my own experiences both of the activities we have successfully arranged and those we've attended and most enjoyed. Alice also offers sage advice on how to meet and keep true friends. She suggests we pray for wholesome friends for our children and once we have them, to guard our tongues against the poison of gossip and backbiting.
Lastly, this book is a wealth of wonderful ideas for the events themselves. From St Martha's Homemakers class to St Luke's Art Class, to gardening club, to chess club to organizing and performing a Shakespearean play, A Haystack Full of Needles has it all and more. This book is a tremendous resource for Catholic home educators. It is an invaluable opportunity to bring some of the abundant blessings found at Alice's cottage into our own lives and homes. Thank you, Alice!
Thank you also, Alice, for introducing me to your friend. She is every bit the treasure you said she would be.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
"Can I take the new baby and show him the sandbox?"
"No, you can't do that," Alex was quick to answer. "He'd just eat the sand."
Yeah, and then there's the minor consideration that he's not born yet either.
The tempter is not so crude as to openly suggest to us directly that we should worship the devil. He merely suggests that we opt for the reasonable decision, that we choose to give priority to a planned and thoroughly organized world, where God may have His place as a private concern but must not interfere in our essential purposes.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
When I returned from the store, the boys were so excited. They sorted their gear and changed in a flash.
"Look!" Alex exclaimed, "My shin pads match my shorts, match the stripes on my shirt, match my ball!"
"He thinks it's a coincidence," I said to my husband, "but while they're thinking sports, I'm thinking sporting fashions."
They really do look cute!
No one knew, really, what was wrong with her, or what she might be capable of.
"She was everything we didn't want," Bernie [her adoptive father] said.
But they couldn't forget those aching eyes.
Friday, August 15, 2008
"Mama," Simeon said with the practical wisdom of a boy, "You don't ALWAYS have to look beautiful."
I suppose I don't.
But the Mass was beautiful, the Gospel was beautiful, the sermon was beautiful and I thought this hymn was beautiful...
Mary the dawn, Christ the Perfect Day;
Mary the gate, Christ the Heavenly Way!
Mary the root, Christ the Mystic Vine;
Mary the grape, Christ the Sacred Wine!
Mary the wheat, Christ the Living Bread;
Mary the stem, Christ the Rose blood-red!
Mary the font, Christ the Cleansing Flood;
Mary the cup, Christ the Saving Blood!
Mary the temple, Christ the temple's Lord;
Mary the shrine, Christ the God adored!
Mary the beacon, Christ the Haven's Rest;
Mary the mirror, Christ the Vision Blest!
Mary the mother, Christ the mother's Son
By all things blest while endless ages run. Amen.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Casti Connubii, 120-121
If, however, for this purpose, private resources do not suffice, it is the duty of the public authority to supply for the insufficient forces of individual effort, particularly in a matter which is of such importance to the common weal, touching as it does the maintenance of the family and married people. If families, particularly those in which there are many children, have not suitable dwellings; if the husband cannot find employment and means of livelihood; if the necessities of life cannot be purchased except at exorbitant prices; if even the mother of the family to the great harm of the home, is compelled to go forth and seek a living by her own labor; if she, too, in the ordinary or even extraordinary labors of childbirth is deprived of proper food, medicine, and the assistance of a skilled physician, it is patent to all to what an extent married people may lose heart, and how home life and the observance of God's commands are rendered difficult for them; indeed it is obvious how great a peril can arise to the public security and to the welfare and very life of civil society itself when such men are reduced to that condition of desperation that, having nothing which they fear to lose, they are emboldened to hope for chance advantage from the upheaval of the state and of established order.
Wherefore, those who have the care of the State and of the public good cannot neglect the needs of married people and their families without bringing great harm upon the State and on the common welfare. Hence, in making the laws and in disposing of public funds they must do their utmost to relieve the needs of the poor, considering such a task as one of the most important of their administrative duties.
From this it is clear that when social structures and economic conditions are such that they cause excessive strain on the family, it is not the duty of married persons to deprive themselves of the natural goods of married life in order to accommodate the State, but the duty of the State to make provision for and accommodate marriage and the whole structure of family life that results from it.
That is not to say that a married couple under duress may not mutually agree to heroically observe some form of "virtuous continence" in order to curb the harmful effects of grinding poverty upon themselves and their offspring, but to remember that it is wrong to require it of them.
Lastly, married couples who find themselves in such straightened circumstances should not be shamed for taking aid from a State that has not otherwise adopted appropriate social or economic methods that would have prevented their need from arising in the first place.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
This is a Red Spotted Newt in the luminescent, toxin-producing eft stage. He shed gills and teeth to become a terrain-crossing juvenile in search of a new pond where he will become an aquatic adult. He seems determined to accomplish this goal at all costs. He's a little guy on the move, unstoppable, and difficult to photograph--reminds me of my own little efts.
Alex: It's The Dangerous Book FOR Boys, not OF boys.
Jacob: Is there a pink book called The Dangerous Book For Girls?
Simeon: No, it would probably be The STYLISH Book For Girls.
Friday, August 08, 2008
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
We also have a Crepe Myrtle, a tree that I had seen around town and just loved for its colorful bloom. I even decided that we should get one before ours bloomed, making me realize that we... well...had one. You can see I am a brilliant botanist.
There is also a large rose bush I've been enjoying by the front porch. I think it's on its third bloom since we moved here in April. All of these are lovely, but they are having a hard time competing with my memory of our blossoming cherry in Connecticut, the climbing roses along our old sunroom wall, and the Tulip-lined picket fence. I find myself missing the cool carpet that is Connecticut grass and the rich dark soil we had, though not enough sun. Here there is sun enough, but the soil is clay that gets baked in its kiln and the grass is a sparse, needle-like home to biting fire ants.
We've moved often enough now to know that every place has its blessings and its curses and no two are the same. The trick is to wrap your memories around the place you are so that the place you were loses the sting of its hold. That is the thinking behind our plans to plant a tree, a Magnolia or a pear or some lovely blossoming, fruit bearing, joy giving thing in honor of the new baby. We will plant ourselves here.
I loved the idea as soon as my husband proposed it. "We should plant a tree for the new baby," he said and I agreed, but Zachary couldn't understand it. "I don't think the baby wants a tree," he argued, "Babies don't like trees. I know, why don't we get him a blanket, new bibs, or some toys?"
We awoke this morning to the first Sunday of Advent and the first snowfall of the season. The snowflakes were small and accumulation was slow, but they were snowflakes none the less and there was expectation in the air.
On the drive home from church I was running over all my first Sunday of Advent plans in my mind-- the Jesse tree we were to start today, the decorations I'd dig out from the basement, the Advent wreath and the manger. I thought we'd spend the day together, a fire burning in the woodstove, good things baking in the oven. I was planning a special dinner with appetizers for this the first candle lit meal of the season.
Well, I guess the Jesse tree came off OK with some children participating willingly and others reluctantly, but the real kicker came when my husband reminded me that he was going out to dinner with friends. He had told me about this sometime in the middle of last week, but somehow I'd forgotten it. It isn't often he meets up with with friends. I try to encourage it. Even so, I was disappointed. Our special dinner was off.
Later, as I cleared the table of frozen pizza crusts alone, I thought of something I read somewhere recently (and can't for the life of me remember where) but it was this,
"There is loving that is enjoying and loving that is serving and the first is its own reward."
This seemed a good thing to think about on the advent of Advent. I am always, and especially around the holidays, searching for new and better ways to enjoy my family and there's certainly nothing wrong with that. I hope and expect we will have plenty of that this season and always, but I understand, too, how it is its own reward.
Just yesterday, someone who met me for the first time and learned that we homeschool insisted that I needed to "get away" from my children in order to keep from becoming burnt out. This person only meant well. The truth is, a short get away with my husband would certainly be welcome, but I don't see how that could prevent burn out.
In my experience, the best cure for burnt out isn't escaping my children but really enjoying them--a family picnic or day at the beach, an evening walk, or bike ride. At those times I can sit back and take it all in, everyone getting along, trying new things, and having lots of fun together. We're a family with our own dynamic and when its working, it's a wonderful thing to see. At those times all the good feelings of motherhood rush over me, all the blessings of family and life. I can always go a long while on the juice a day like that gives me.
But I never thought that days like those were when the real work of mothering was taking place. You know, the stuff that trains my children for adult life. Days like those are the loving that enjoys and they are their own great reward for us all.
Most of my days aren't like that. Most days demand math drills, spelling tests, laundry, doctor's appointments, and discipline. Most days are dull and somewhat difficult and while they also have their joys, most days are not their own reward. Most days aim to achieve a much greater future reward.
So, while I didn't enjoy this first day of Advent, I think I've observed it well. After all, what better way is there to begin the season of expectation of the greatest future reward of all than with the love that serves?