Domestic Bliss Report

Motherhood is hard work. If we don't stick together, we'll all fall apart.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

I'm memed!

From dear husband: If you could meet and have a deep conversation with any five people on earth, living or dead, from any time period, who would they be?" (Explaining why is optional.) Name five people from each of the following categories:

Mary Magdalen
Madeleine Sophie Barat (Maddie's current favorite)
Winifred (is the myth true?)
Don Bosco (Rachel's current favorite)

Those in the Process of Being Canonized
John Paul II
Mother Theresa
Padre Pio
Does my dad count?
Kateri Taekakwitha

Heroes from your native country
Harriet Tubman
George Washington
Harry S. Truman
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Patrick Tillman

Anne Rice. I've been a fan for so long, and this is hypothetical anyway, right?
Victor Hugo
Bill the Bard
Mark Twain
Douglas Adams

Marilyn Monroe
William Wallace. Yeah, the Scottish guy.
Vincent Van Gogh
Cyndi Lauper
Ty Cobb. In Dad's opinion, the best baseball player ever.

And now, to Mom with Brownies, SFO Mom, Catholic ponderer. Your turn!

What I want for my kids

Some friends visited while we were on vacation. One of them I've known since elementary school, so we've seen each other through some changes [understatement!]. We got into a discussion where she correctly pointed out that fifteen years ago, we would have agreed, whereas now we differed. Heatedly, on my part. She admitted that her impulse was to call me a hypocrite (she didn't). She said, "You've changed." She's right.
Why I couldn't tell you. Maturity, marriage, kids? Who knows? I admit I wandered pretty far afield in the day, though not as far as some. I think I got close enough to the abyss to tell it was pretty damn dark down there and back the hell up.
What did I back into? The faith my father gave me. An Evangelical mother-of-a-friend asked me, "Is he willing to be Catholic? I know your faith means a lot to you." My husband's insatiable desire for knowledge and patient instruction have taught me more than eight years of CCD classes. Someday, when he's confronted with the hostile "Why did you become Catholic?" he wants to be able to answer in honesty and charity.
His example has inspired me. My faith has been hard-won, and I know I still have a ways to go.
I want my kids to avoid the abyss that I peered into. I know they will have to learn of its existence, but if I can spare them from the mistakes I made, I'll have done something right.

All that by way of introduction. In the effort to provide better for my kids than I had myself, I have compiled this list. Mentally and in the past twelve hours, so it isn't binding, but it's a start. In no particular order, I want my kids to...

a. have a healthy sense of patriotism and history, our nation's founding principles, and a recognition of how those principles are employed for both good and evil in our country today.

b. have a curiosity about and respect for our universe, the creatures in it, and how it works.

c. understand why sex should be reserved for husband and wife in unconditional acceptance of each other, and not a recreational activity with someone you think is "cute."

d. know that people are more important than things and quality is generally better than quantity.

e. learn at their own pace on our schedule, not one imposed by tourism.

f. be taught all that is true, good, and beautiful, instead of trendy, generic, and banal.

g. know that the high point of history is when God Incarnate walked the earth, but saints are in all shapes, times, and colors.

h. know that right and wrong exist regardless of time or place.

A very simple, short list. It's not asking too much, is it? No problem.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Again with the Larry King...sort of

This is a little embarrassing, but I'll come clean: I'm starting to develop a degree of respect for both country music and NASCAR. I think it's the unashamed (and seemingly frequent) references to God in our increasingly anti-Christian world.

I finished Dumas' Count of Monte Cristo, the 1462-page version. There were entire characters left out of the condensed versions I read years back as well as the recent film version, and I suppose they could be left out, but I found this one much more satisfying. How he rewards those who were kind to him or his, anonymously, I really liked. Then how he proceeds for revenge by their own faults is spectacular. How some of his collateral damage hurts the innocent, and thus helps him realize that he's not God and thus tempers his thirst for vengeance... I don't think I need to write a review of it; Dumas probably doesn't care (see Python, Monty: Decomposing Composers). But if you haven't read it, do. What's next?

I don't understand Glamour Magazine's take on abortion. A couple months ago they were heralding Cecilia Fire Thunder, then the next month they were describing the abortion practices in India as "terrifying" and "a genocide." (see August 2006, p. 172) Which is it? Abortion-on-demand for whatever reason here in the United States is okay, but sex-selection abortion in India is bad? I have to believe that there are more abortions here in the U.S. for sillier reasons than "my husband will divorce/abandon/beat me if I have [another] girl."

The kids are fine. Madeleine is reading (not Dumas, but she's taking steps toward Seuss), Dale is getting clearer in his speech, and Rachel is learning that volume does not mean victory. She who screams loudest is more likely to get nothing than her way. It's a tough lesson for an almost-two-year-old.

That's the news here. Anything exciting elsewhere?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A rare political post

I don't often comment on politics because I am aware of great gaps in my history and political science background; what little I learned in college is now 13 years behind me. But I have a question:

Which of these groups pose a greater threat to our safety, happiness, and American way of life: these guys or these guys?

To rephrase: Whose values are more different from those we as a nation hold, this one or that one?

Hint: Who's been in charge for the last, oh, 200 years? And came up with this: ""Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

That is all.

New blog

This one had just updated as I was logging in to Blogger; I had it mixed up with another one.

But I like it. Check it out. I'm going to blogroll it soon...

Monday, August 07, 2006

Kids' birthday parties

I'm hiding from my sister, and since we have dial-up, this is effective. And it's a slightly lighter topic than the education post over at Amy's or Rich's. And I'm going to use names, as there are no innocent to protect.

My sister has two sons, born in May and August. She has birthday parties for them. As in plural. She'll have a party at a local pizza place for lunch and then a barbecue that evening, and expects attendance at both. The lunch time place has recently gotten more elaborate; I was kind of waiting for pony rides, but it may stop short of that.

My brother, it seems, has gone to the other end of the spectrum. I don't know if there was anything for his son's second birthday. His daughter had a birthday last month and it was a day for his daughter, wife, and mother-in-law. Doesn't get much smaller than that. And frankly, I kind of admire it.

We grew up with immediate-family-only birthday parties. Sure, our first we had grandparents and neighbors and cousins, and somewhere along the way we had one with friends (I remember my cake--it had a doll in it, but the frosting was awful). But year after year? And the next card I get from an aunt or uncle for my birthday will be the first since toilet training, and I'm 35.

Now let me make a clean breast of it. We've had parties for our kids; the girls' have always been here at home (and the only relevant time, it was a dual party). You can do that in September. The Boy's have been at a local pizzeria, necessitated by February weather and the previously mentioned small house.

But I'm getting tired of it. I worry about having enough food, enough places for everyone to sit, people finding their way, the lunacy of cleaning house for people who see it annually. Will the kids all get along, and more stressfully, will the adults? And it's not like the kids need anything, either.

This is coming out because we went to the barbecue yesterday for my nephew and we really didn't want to go to the pool party today. We gave the gift, we sang the song, yadda yadda. He's turning four. Today was a weekday, we were all looking forward to a restful evening at home, I wasn't a candidate for swimming due to feminine concerns (ahem), Dale didn't feel like suiting up after a day at work, we just saw them yesterday.

But their car is out of commission with a cracked head gasket and their truck only transports 3. So they wanted a ride. I hedged and then didn't call back. I suppose I'm feeling guilty, but why should I?

Anyway. Any thoughts on birthday blowouts for the under-6 set? Madeleine is talking about a Princess Party, involving all of her classmates from preschool (only one of which we've seen since May), and that would be next month.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Nobody sends me memes, but I can do this!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

They just don't know any better.

We live in a little house--880 square feet. Two bedrooms, obviously one bath. We have neither an automatic dishwasher nor central air conditioning. We have neither a basement nor a garage, and our attic is suitable for storage and nothing else. We get by with two window air conditioners: one for the living room (decorated in Early Fisher Price) and kitchen, the other for the parents' bedroom.
These are the circumstances you must keep in mind when we start talking about the heat wave of the past week. Upper 90's to 100 for highs, with comparable humidity. It started on Sunday, I think, and finally broke on Thursday.
Did you notice which room is not covered by air conditioning? Yes, that would be the kids' room. They sleep on our floor when the heat gets bad.
So, for four days a quarter of our already-small house was off-limits. It was used for diaper changes. Their clothes would be retrieved and the door would be closed. Walking in there was like walking outside, but with less air movement (despite the window fan).
In heat that bad, playing outside was done on a kitchen timer, either early in the morning or in the last half hour before bathtime. I would hang laundry in five-minute bursts, hoping against hope that there was less water in the air than in the clothes. Even the shade provided by our neighbor's tree didn't help.

On top of that, my mother's house doesn't have air conditioning either, so she was staying on our couch. Yeah.

Imagine it. Six people, one bathroom, 780 square feet. Five of said six sleeping in the same room (none snore). Three of said six five or younger.

You would think it would be Tension-and-Fight Central, but it wasn't. The kids were thrilled to sleep in Mama and Daddy's room, like a campout. Grandma is almost a celebrity; having her for a sleepover is a treat. No tantrums, no troubles, no squabbles over which spot was whose.

Thursday morning came; Grandma left and we went to a playdate. That afternoon, I was able to lay Rachel down in her crib when we got back. The other two played contentedly in the living room with Matchbox and Bob the Builder vehicles.

All of which makes me wonder. If we had 2000 square feet, a garage, a basement, two and a half baths, and central air, would my kids get along as well as they do?

Friday, August 04, 2006

TLC's What Not to Wear

is one show of which I've become a fan. Do I wait for Clinton and Stacy to sweep down on me and show me how ridiculous I look? No. Do I fantasize about five thousand dollars to spend on nothing but clothes for myself? Not really.
What I have discerned, though, is that it really doesn't take any more time or effort to put on clothes that flatter and fit (which I suppose is redundant) than it is to just throw on jeans and an old sweatshirt. One need not sacrifice comfort, either. There is also the subtext that flattering clothes are available within our price range, which does not involve jetting off to New York for $250 shoes or $400 suits.
It has affected how I dress, in that I've figured out that my shoulder seams belong on my actual shoulder, and not somewhere on my bicep (such as it is).
And T-shirts with holes from the guinea pig that died almost five years ago are probably past their prime.
And shoes that are older than my marriage could probably be replaced.

I've got a post brewing about living in three quarters of our house, with an extra person, without the backyard, and the five of us sleeping in our bedroom. All because of the heat.

See you in a couple days, and check out Dale's fisk while you're waiting.