Domestic Bliss Report

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

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Tired, but an accomplished tired.

This is going to be a long post with the infinitesimal details of my weekend. You're warned.

Thursday afternoon in a regular email to my beloved, I listed all kinds of things we wanted to accomplish in the next three days. Grocery shopping, a dinosaur field trip, a date, lawn mowing, a trip to DIA for him and a couple friends, a trip to a plant nursery to finish our garden, Mass, Costco, shopping for summer clothes for Madeleine, all on top of the usual daily chores of laundry, meals, and dishes. We also knew we would want to watch the hockey games too.

Can you already feel the fatigue? Well, when two people decide to work together and a little bit of neighborly intervention occurs, it can really work out. Spectacularly.

I realized coming home from our parish Moms' Club Thursday that I could, really, go grocery shopping on Friday morning rather than wait for the weekend. I've done it before with all the kids; weekdays aren't nearly as crowded, either. So, there I was at 10 AM at Meijer, list in hand and kids in tow. They wanted new toothbrushes--fine. Oh, Daddy's birthday is Monday, can we get him presents? Sure, as long as you agree on what. Oh, and cards too!
They also talked me into strawberries for shortcake, which I promised we'd get on the way out if they were good. They were, with the overlooked exception a truncated tantrum in the cereal aisle when one lost the coin flip and we got Cookie Crisp instead of Apple Jacks--along with Mini-Wheats, Raisin Bran, and Caramel Delight Fiber One.

Upon getting home, I discovered one of our neighbors in our backyard... with a lawnmower. Okay, when we first moved in almost eight years ago, I had no intention of socializing with any of our neighbors--this was the "bad part" of our town, too far in the south end. I've said before when God serves humble pie, He always remembers the sugar. Yet another occasion to add to that list.

The kids loved the dinosaur field trip. It involved digging in sand for dinosaur bone replicas, carrying them inside a building, and turning them in to an expert who did her presentation while putting them together. She was right at their level and they loved it.
Friday night was Date Night, where we went to see Star Trek while Grandma indulged the kids with too much TV. Ten kinds of awesome was the movie with clear nods to the original series (including Kirk trying to get it on with a green-skinned chick). I did expect Bones to grow out a beard and ride a horse, I admit: Rohirrim!

Saturday I managed to get away with just Rachel to the nursery. It took two stops, but we got both a lilac bush and tomato plants. (I had to order the roses I wanted online since I didn't feel like driving all over God's green earth looking.) I have wanted a lilac bush outside my kitchen window for years. I've put it off since this was to be our "starter house," but we've been in this house twice as long as we've planned already with no change really in sight. Bloom where we're planted, right?
Now, if the wind is right, I get a lilac-scented breeze all the way into our living room. It's only a dwarf plant and will top out at about four feet tall, but when the lady described the regular ones as "invasive," I thought dwarf would be better. As to tomatoes, we got two "early girl" and two "big boy," which made Rachel happy.
Daddy managed his trip to DIA without incident. A couple of his friends who had never been to DIA were interested in the Rockwell show, and since this was the closing weekend, they got it in. I managed to nap with Lou while the other three kids were driving the neighbor crazy (okay, maybe just playing there, but still...).
Pizza for dinner, a walk afterward, and the hockey game (yay, the good guys won!) rounded out the day. Dessert of strawberry shortcake, where we used up the can of whipped cream purchased on the walk by spraying it directly into our mouths, was wonderful. And easy.

Mass was first on the agenda today. We made it on time, which is kind of unusual. Lou was fascinated by the procession. Father had a really good homily, combining Pentecost with the graduates on how we are called to spread the love of Christ too. After the announcements, when the graduates had introduced themselves and told where they were going to school, he commented, "All these graduates and none going to seminary. Perhaps next year?"
We then went to Costco, where the samples were enough to serve for lunch. After that stuff was dropped off and Daddy at the helm with three, I went out with Madeleine for summer clothes. She likes the same kind of stuff I would, mostly; she did talk me into a shirt for Rachel (so they'll match!) and a bathing suit for Dale.
Daddy grilled burgers for dinner per Dale's request earlier in the week; sides were baby carrots and celery sticks. My kids aren't fussy.
They played in the yard after, did a "show" that was more performance art/Ninja Warrior episode than anything else. Talking to Neema and Papa was fulfilling and their motivation for pajamas was the hockey pre-game.

Now they're all in bed, probably asleep. I'm going to have some Nutella toast for my own dessert and revel in a weekend well-spent.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Oh, great. Another website to go broke on.

I'll admit that one of the more challenging subjects to homeschool well is science. Even if you have a terrific text (we do), even if you visit the library for supplementals/rabbit trails (we do), even if you have a membership to and visit local science museums (we do), even if your kids have a natural curiosity (they do)... it's the experiments. The hands-on stuff. Let's be honest--the fun, interesting stuff. It's one thing to take advantage of observing a dead squirrel that lost to someone's front bumper; it's another to get hold of owl pellets. Ants and worms are easy to find and observe, and we've found a praying mantis on our window unit one summer day. But mealworms? Not so much.
So... there's this place. No, this is not a paid post; I don't get paid for blogging which is why it happens when I feel like it. Just check this one page out for the young set--pre-K to second grade. Rachel would love the flower book; Dale would treasure the bug set. Poke around some more. It's like Science Geek Heaven.

Yeah. Like Amazon. "Oh, that would be so cool!"

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Coupla links for ya

On why I've discovered an affection for country music, here's this one from Catholic Exchange. Toby Keith's Unleashed was the first album I got--because of Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue.

And this one on the alleged Missing Link. This is going to get lots of folks I know all atwitter; some will be, "Wonderful! Now will you stop your meaningless weekly rituals to your imaginary sky god?" At least one, though, will surely be tactful enough to refrain from saying something like that. Others I know will be saying, "Fraud! It was coated in resin! Carbon dating is inaccurate! It's all a fake!"

I've been mulling this topic for a while and this announcement is as good a reason as any to post about it. My thoughts? To start: there is nothing inherent in Catholicism that conflicts with evolution. Godless evolution, sure; but evolution per se not so much. You see, if God sees fit that wolves can be selectively bred by humans over thousands (millions? I don't know how long amateur AKC folks have been working on this) of years to create this kind of creature, who's to say that He in His infinite abilities couldn't do the same on a larger scale? As Mark Shea is wont to say, "God in a scientifically controlled environment will do whatever He pleases."
I haven't gotten into a discussion of evolution with anyone ever, but one question plagues me on it. Scientists have proven the idea of spontaneous generation false, right? We know flies lay eggs on rotting meat, it doesn't just sprout maggots on its own. We buy vacuum-packed food because it's not going to spoil; all the germs are either absent or dead. They won't just grow out of the strawberry seeds in the jelly. Life does not arise from non-life, even on a microbial level.

When Earth came into being six billion years ago or so, there was no life on it. Now, there is. I don't think anyone disputes either of those premises. But... At some point in the past six billion years, there had to be one moment where life didn't exist and the next it did. So we have one occasion where we have life springing from non-life. On the microbial level.

Now I'm going to braid a seven-year-old's hair and then coax a 17-month-old into taking a nap. Back to the grind.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Daddy kept his poker face.

This is a real conversation that happened after dinner tonight; my beloved husband and I were talking after the kids had left the table.

Dale comes back and picks the drain cover from the coffee maker out of the dish rack and puts it to his lips.
Me: "Dale, that doesn't belong near your mouth."
Son, looking at it: "What is it?"
Husband: "Something we use to clean the cats' butts."
Son, quietly: "I'm going to wash my lips."

We'll tell him the truth eventually. Like puberty, high school graduation, his wedding...

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Guess what! A book review!

Yeah, and since for reasons I'll choose not to reveal, I'm pretty sure it's going to be a traffic-generator. Not like combining some celebrity with a synonym for "unclad," but still.

I received last Tuesday Mark Shea's new trilogy Mary, Mother of the Son. I finished the first volume yesterday, which gives you some idea of how difficult a slog it wasn't. Mark's new books are well-footnoted and researched but not a laborious read thanks to his engaging and witty style.

He debunks the notion that the Marian dogmas are adopted from paganism quite adeptly. He just points out, with orthodox Catholic sources from the first two centuries of Christianity, just how little the original Christians cared about what was going on in the pagan world. To compare, it's like modern Presbyterians giving one whit about theological development in Sikhism. He shows how the likes of Polycarp and Irenaeus respected the Virgin Mary, and quotes their writings about her perpetual virginity. It wasn't something the Roman Catholic Church just made up a few decades ago; that belief has been around a while. Like a couple millenia, almost.

He puts down (as in "puts to sleep," not "insults") the theory of a parallel church. What's that? The idea that a parallel Christian church, an "underground" church, has existed since the death of the apostle John, but was just biding its time until the Reformation to come out so it wouldn't get crushed by Catholicism.
The Vatican keeps records. Copious, detailed records of what was going on when. Pope Pius XII read some aloud to von Ribbentrop in perfect German when the latter was trying to intimidate the Holy Father into keeping quiet about what was going on in Nazi Germany. Further back, there are records of how the Church tried (with varying degrees of success) to theologically combat the Albigensians, Arians, Marcionites, gnosticism, Henry VIII, Marxism, socialism, and Sunday blue laws. Okay, maybe not that last.
There are no records of this "parallel church," either within the Vatican or by the mythical organization itself. It's even more fictitious than the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

This book is like a bowl of chicken noodle soup. Not the condensed kind from a can, but homemade with big chunks of white meat, whole wheat noodles, and a pound of vegetables in two quarts of soup. It fills you up, the chicken melts in your mouth, and Mom adds just enough garlic and spices for zest. When you're done, you can feel the love from your mother warming you from the inside.
Or maybe it's the love from your Mother.

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

We have come to a decision.

We are bibliophiles in this place. All of us who can read, anyway, which leaves out the pets and Lou (but only temporarily). We do the best we can at the library but that whole "giving the books back" part we have trouble with.

And when I say "We have books," I'm not kidding. His alone would fill this thrice or four times over; I could probably fill that once. The kids, even though there are more of them, haven't had nearly as long nor do they know the intricacies of Amazon, though I'm guessing it's a matter of months before Madeleine gets the "one-click ordering" concept.

What is our decision? I'm getting a Kindle. That may seem backward, as he's the one with the real collection, but trust me. We've discussed this. His preferences lean toward the old and out of print. He has the whole of the translated works of Giuseppe Riccioti, and his recent favorite is Paul Heinisch. Try to find those at your local B. Dalton.
I, on the other hand, lean more toward stuff that is still in print--either because it's so new (Why GM Matters, by William J. Holstein) or because it's considered classic. I'm reading those to be prepared for the kids' curriculum. To drive home this point, Kolbe has literature courses for both upper elementary and middle school, to the tune of roughly 3 dozen books each. Nobody is expected to read all of them, but by the time all of the kids go through, I might have. There's no guarantee that all of the kids will choose the same ones from the list. Where are we supposed to store all of these books, as well as ones we choose to bring home? And don't say "library," since we can only renew once.

So, if I get a Kindle, I'll be loading it up with the classics I already have on the shelf that I've accumulated in preparation for the kids. I realize that I'll have to share the Kindle with the kids but I'm used to sharing just about everything else except my shower time. This will also leave him room for more of his obscure stuff he finds wandering the dusty shelves of used book stores, but it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.

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Monday, May 04, 2009

I feel sorry for Ron Howard.

He's just trying to make a movie. He had to secretly send in folks from the crew pretending to be tourists to get pictures of the Sistine Chapel so he could make a set; those mean controlling closed-minded Vatican officials wouldn't let him film within its walls! You'd think there really is a conspiracy they're trying to hide!

After all, there are no books of photographs of Rome. Or the artwork in the Vatican, and they're more protective than the Amish when it comes to images of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. And the skyline of Rome is more closely guarded film than the Zapruder. For sure, there are no websites his staff could have checked. Instead they had to rely on grainy unfocused pictures clandestinely taken with camera phones or the like.

Hm. I guess they didn't have Internet classes in Mayberry.

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