Domestic Bliss Report

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

Monday, March 24, 2008

Wonderful Grandma

I'll admit I have ambivalent feelings about my mother. She's a much more affectionate, fun, loving grandmother than I remember her being as a mother. I suppose that's okay, the burden is off of her. I try to remind myself it's like the moonlight--her love for me, while not directed at me, is reflected in her absolute adoration of her grandkids. And my husband reminds me that I'd rather she show them than me; it's that mother/sacrificial thing. It helps.

But there are times when her love and understanding of my situation come shining right through. One example is Sunday, chaufferring the big two to Mass. She's also come over weekly for dinner and stayed with Rachel while I took the others to swim class. More than once she's shown up right after lunch, instead of 4:00, by surprise. These have just coincidentally been bad days. What does she do? Take charge of lunch and shoo me off to a shower or nap. Nice days, she'll take them for a walk and let me stay home and catch up on chores or just enjoy the quiet. Mom had three kids, the oldest was 26 months old. She has an idea of how isolating, how mind-numbing it can be some days.

So today, when she dropped by just after 4, I wasn't terribly shocked to see her. We'd visited SuperShelly for lunch and stayed to chat and let the kids play, but I was still missing the sunshine. Her words before she took off her scarf were, "Have you taken them for a walk yet today?"
"No, but I will now!" I knew she meant to stay with Louie and let the rest of us out. And what a walk it was, cold and clear and refreshing. I thanked her before we left.
"You've said that three times already," she chuckled.
I thought for a second. "Mom, if someone you knew and trusted had just dropped by on a day like this, when your son was five or six months old, and said, 'Why don't you go for a walk with the girls and I'll stay with him?' what would you have done?"
"I'd probably still be thanking them."

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She even does side dishes!

I admit I haven't tried this one, but I will be this week. My mouth is watering...

Sweet Potato and Apple Bake
6 large sweet potatoes, peeled, sliced, boiled
6 tart apples, peeled and sliced
1/2 c margarine
1/2 c brown sugar

Grease casserole with part of margarine. Layer potatoes, dot with margarine and sprinkle with brown sugar, layer apple slices. Repeat, ending with potatoes, margarine and brown sugar. Bake 30-45 minutes at 350 or until potatoes are tender and browned. Serves 8-10.
From Coffee and Cale's Four Ingredient Cookbook.

Doesn't that just sound scrumptious? I'll admit, though, I probably won't peel the sweet potatoes. The only thing I peel for my kids is bananas, but when baking I'll peel apples. I tried to make apple crunch once without peeling and it made it difficult to portion out.
And yes, before you ask, I'll try to remember the apple crunch recipe next week.

UPDATE 4/11/08: Read this first. Six sweet potatoes and six apples is enough to feed a small army. A more reasonable amount is probably two of each. That should fill an 8x11 pan. You may want more butter as well, but the brown sugar should still be enough.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Gift

Easter isn't the time we think of gifts. For me, this Easter and last have brought the realization of priceless gifts.
Last year, it was my husband's forgiveness. Perhaps it was him acting as Christ, reminding me of the infinite nature of God's forgiveness. That act, a gift in itself, brought about another gift: our son Louis. A strong, healthy, happy little guy, a brother to our older son, a "bundle of joy."

This year, the gift was different. You see, I haven't been able to attend Mass as often as I have in the past. We've been reluctant to take Lou out in the brutally frigid weather of winter; less than 15 meant we stayed home. Then he had a bout of RSV and we stayed home on doctor's orders. The third reason was the demise of our Venture. Daddy attended alone last week; I read the Gospel to the kids at home.

Because the search for a minivan continues, I was coming to grips with the idea of not attending Easter Mass as a family. I pleaded to rent a minivan for two days but cost put that out of the question. It didn't make sense to my husband to pay $200 for a minivan for two days; he'd rather have that money for one we'd have a lot longer. But then, my husband solved the problem.
My mother has been over more often than usual to allow us to do some vehicle shopping. (It's tough to go minivan shopping without a minivan.) This morning, Grandma had passengers for Mass. She picked up Madeleine and Dale, the two most independent and cooperative. Daddy and I drove with Rachel and Lou and we all sat together as a family. The pink and yellow chrysanthemums, the white lilies, the incense, the music... I forgot how I'd missed Mass.

Then Communion time came. I thought of last year and what a gift that had been; this year I recognized the Gift was Christ Himself. Like every Mass. I just finally noticed it this year.


Another reason to like country music.

Happy Easter!

[H/t to Kathy Shaidle.]


Friday, March 21, 2008

This explains a lot.

Like why it's so hard not to get your kids toys. Or something like that.

Money CAN buy happiness... but not for yourself.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

I think prayers of gratitude?

I just got a phone call that has inspired me to ask for prayers of thanks. Privacy and anonymity were required and details are still being worked out, I think. More by Saturday, I'm told.
I'm reminded that you never know who is watching or reading--in the most benevolent sense.

I'm feeling quite literally touched by grace right now. The verses that are coming to mind are Matthew 6:2-4. "Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you."

And a blessed Triduum to you, as well.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What shall I feed you today?

I was asked about something Irish for Menu Monday last night. Two problems with that: 1) My husband has had an awful week beginning last Wednesday, which is why this is late; and 2) British cooking is awful. Absolutely terrible. There's a reason Brits are a skinny, pale people. And when was the last time you heard of a British restaurant? They boil EVERYTHING. Directions for a British meal: Take your food. Boil to the point of not recognizing it. Simmer five more minutes. Serve and try to eat. Have salt on hand.
Except breakfast; they do well for breakfast.

Since Easter is coming and so many folks have ham, I thought this might timely. It's from Coffee and Cale, Four Ingredients.

Hawaiian Baked Pork
4 pork chops
2 c crushed pineapple
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 Tb brown sugar

Layer pineapple with juice in greased baking dish, with sweet potatoes sprinkled with the brown sugar on top. Then place the chops on top. Bake covered at 350 for an hour, uncovered 450 for ten minutes.
It's been a while since I made this one. I remember putting the chops in first but I think it took longer.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Guess what's going on!

We're going for the intercession of St. Christopher (patron of travelers), St. Joseph (patron of the Holy Family), and St. Jude (patron of desperate or lost causes).

Guesses in the combox.
More details here.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

I'm such a fan-girl.

The first book I got about homeschooling was the Catholic Homeschool Companion. I think I heard Maureen Wittman at one of the (two) conferences we've attended. I link to her blog (see the sidebar) and have commented there a few times.
But she looks at mine too! She commented! Eek!

Another bit: In our Kolbe Academy Homeschool catalog, there's an excerpt about classical education by Robert Spencer. I noticed a couple websites my husband reads have an author by the same name.
So I emailed the guy asking if he's the same one. Before I could log in to my email account, I had a reply that yes, it is.
It's SO tempting to send back a squealy fan-girl reply: OMG, I thought so! I was so excited! That's so neat! It would probably be nicer than a lot of emails he gets, not to mention with better grammar and spelling. I will refrain, though. I'm a grown-up. I'll just share it with you.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

They were doomed from the start.

We should have known from the movies their parents watched or the books they read. Heaven knows television viewing habits can tell you something about a person; these people were no different.
I mean, our kids know The Muppets better than Sesame Street. They quote Monty Python. They get the joke when Daddy says, "Lou, I am your father."

They're geeks. There is no escape.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Kid-inspired varia

Madeleine thinks Yoda sounds like Fozzie Bear. She's pretty smart, I think.

Harry Crocker described the Dark Ages forests in Eastern Europe something like, "dark enough to drive men mad."
Considering this, it makes sense that so many fairy tales are so dark. Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty... We've got cannibalistic witches, evil stepmothers, murderous queens, and a whole castle going missing for a century. Brothers Grimm, indeed.
Makes me wonder if native American tribes had similar tales. The Big Woods of Wisconsin couldn't have been too different, probably. And we've found Macchu Picchu. Well, not us, but other experts.
Oh, and I learned recently from Maureen Wittman that the Cinderella story is told in lots of different cultures. I can get that, too. I don't remember whether it was her blog or her book, For the Love of Literature.

Quick science question: What kind of rock is turquoise? Not sedimentary, I'm sure. I'm guessing metamorphic but it could be igneous. A certain budding geologist has asked.

I've heard of 'zero tolerance'....

but I think this is really going too far.

Skittles? Skittles?


California better watch out.

Chuck Norris is pro-homeschool.

So is the Terminator.

Who's next, Jack Bauer?


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Speaking of praying for patience...

Louie is over his RSV, so this morning he finally got his two-month shots. He did take a good nap this afternoon, but now... It's not pretty.

Tylenol just isn't cutting it.

Good thing we're having leftovers for dinner. Having to set him down to prepare anything would wreck me.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Oh, yeah. That food thing.

This is what we had tonight, except for one change which I'll tell you at the end.

Hearty Alphabet Soup
2 pounds stew beef
14 1/2 oz. can stewed tomatoes
8 oz. tomato sauce
2 cups water
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
16 oz. frozen soup vegetables
1 cup uncooked alphabet noodles

Put it all, except the noodles, together in the crock pot on low for about 8 hours. Add noodles, turn to 'high' for another half an hour.

If by chance your beloved husband gets home before you and adds the whole box of noodles, it's still good. Just heartier than you planned.


I think I have something to work on.

I wonder sometimes what I'm saying by my actions. I say I want to be closer to God, but do I really?
When I'm cross with my husband because he forgets his chores, or doesn't throw away some paper towels or packaging (again!), or doesn't notice when I wear the earrings or perfume he gave me, I don't pray for compassion or understanding. I get snippy or crabby or sulky.
When I'm impatient because the kids are loud or demanding or when they need help with school or reminding to put things away (again!), I don't pray for patience or kindness. I yell or threaten or growl.
When I'm feeling harried with chores or errands or running around, I don't pray for time. I rush and scatter and hurry. I don't have time to pray.
When I'm happy because the weather is beautiful or I'm feeling caught up on chores or the kids are doing well with school, I don't pray in thanksgiving or gratitude. I may laugh or enjoy a walk, but not pray.
Later on, when I realize I've been mean, impatient, rude, or ungrateful, I don't pray to ask forgiveness. It's too hard, too humiliating.

One would think this would be the first thing I'd do, right? It's free, after all, and can be quick. And it's easy, right? Well... sometimes.
Sometimes, I'm embarrassed to ask for help. To admit I can't do everything I'm supposed to, or know I should. Sometimes I don't feel worth someone else's trouble. Or I'm in too much of a hurry. Or I want to take the credit all on my own.

So I don't pray. Maybe I should.

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

I really am speechless.

This is beyond me.

Except... how will they be punished, exactly?

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California's government doesn't have enough to do.

Now they're trying to criminalize or ban or trouble homeschoolers. I don't think this would apply to us even in California because of Kolbe, but it's not good news, regardless.

Thanks, Mile High Mama.

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Good news from France

Naming a lost child.

We named ours last year. It's much easier to say a name than "the miscarriage." I've asked other mothers who have lost and they've given names, too.

I think it's like scattering ashes versus burial. If you scatter, there's no place to go to mourn. Not that I'm advocating daily trips to the cemetery, of course. It's as if the person never was and that seems wrong to me.

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

I got nominated!

Okay, I'm too humble to nominate myself but not too humble to run. The Catholic Blog Awards are up!

This blog is up in two categories: Best Individual (which I fully expect NOT to win) and Most Spiritual, which is rather unexpected. Dale's up in a couple categories too but I don't remember which. You can only vote once, not once a day. And for Shelly, you don't have to be Catholic to vote in them, but it helps. *wink*

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Monday, March 03, 2008

Who says it has to be dinner?

I told you I'd be posting easy recipes; I never promised they'd be dinner. This one is from Coffee and Cale's Four Ingredient Cookbook.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 package yellow cake mix
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients. Drop by teaspoonful on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes at 375.

It sounds quick and easy, good for these not-quite-spring muddy snowy days. We haven't tried this one yet but I have everything for it. Hmm... Thursday?


Sunday, March 02, 2008

Ideal house: technology ideas

I posted once upon a time about my ideal house. Here are a couple technological tweaks that I think could be popular in normal circumstances.

1. In the bathroom, I'd like a toilet seat equipped with a weight sensor and timer. No, not a scale; it wouldn't matter how much the person on it weighed. It would "know" when someone sat down and, say, three minutes later, start playing the Jeopardy! think music.
Hey, three minutes is pretty generous. I don't get two alone even including hand washing.

2. Throughout the house, I'd have a PA system wired up. I would have a remote control set up so when the kids ask a question for the zillionth time, I could just push a button on the remote and we'd hear the answer. Like:
A. "Whose day is it?"
#1, Madeleine's; #2, Dale's, #3, Rachel's.
B. "Can we watch TV?"
#4, After we finish school, #5, after the toys are put away, #6, No.
C. "Can I have another cookie?"
Same answers as above.
D. After seeing TV commercial: "Can I get that?"
#6, No.
E. "What are we having for lunch/dinner?"
#8, Lunch; #9, dinner. This one would have to get updated daily, but I'd still only have to say it once.

Do you see the potential for that? There would be volume control, too, for those moments when the children JUST AREN'T HEARING YOU.
Yeah. It would be great.

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