Friday, June 27, 2014

7QT (Vol. 92): Dominicans, Bad Music, Skirts, and Flossing

A friend from my Catholic moms group recently sent a group email asking if anyone was interested in learning more about becoming a lay, or Third Order, Dominican. The possibility of joining a Third Order or similar apostolate had never crossed my mind. Not that I'd thought and dismissed it, it just had never occurred to me. When I read the email, I was immediately interested. I read about the Dominicans, Franciscans, and Carmelites. As much as I am drawn to the idea, I am also hesitant. It has only been two months since my husband and I made our consecration to Mary. I am concerned that jumping into another (though complementary) commitment may indicate a desire to check spiritual boxes rather than actually grow in holiness. Also, we are taking on another big commitment in the fall (see quick take #2), so I think this may not be the season in my life to take up the discipline of the Dominicans, as much as their charism appeals to me. But maybe this is the time for YOU!

Tomorrow afternoon, my family will meet a young lady from South Korea whom we will be hosting for the '14-'15 school year. I'm not sure if she wants her name online, so for now I will simply use her first initial. H will be going into her sophomore year of high school at Aquinas, my alma mater. She went to 8th grade downstate, then joined her current program for high school. This will be our first time hosting a student; we're glad at least she has some experience with cultural exchange. ;-) Anyway, she will visit us tomorrow briefly and drop off some of her belongings, rather than paying to ship them home for the summer and back again in the fall. We're excited!

I know many wives, myself included, who are grateful for the spiritual leadership their husbands provide. It is tempting sometimes, though, to be disappointed if our husbands don't lead perfectly. As usual, the fault is in ourselves. Part of humility is accepting imperfect leadership! Lift up your husband in prayer. Encourage him to find supportive Christian friendships. Forgive any failings; we're not perfect either. You know who was perfect? Mary. And Joseph, her devoted, loving, protecting, leading husband, was not. But we can be sure she did not resent this saintly man! Let us strive to follow her example.

Speaking of great husbands and fathers, I read a fantastic article titled, "On Daughters and Dating: How to Intimidate Suitors".
Instead of intimidating all your daughter’s potential suitors, raise a daughter who intimidates them just fine on her own. Because you know what’s intimidating? Strength and dignity. Deep faith. Self-assuredness. Wisdom. Kindness. Humility. Industriousness. Those are the bricks that build the wall that withstands the advances of Slouchy-Pants, whether you ever show up with your Winchester locked and loaded or not. The unsuitable suitor finds nothing more terrifying than a woman who knows her worth to God and to her family.
Read more here to find out why women like this might be considered "too strong" by Christian men.

Still here? OK, go read this one instead: The Hidden Hand Behind Bad Catholic Music. But come back, because I want to know what you think. I agree with the sentiment that liturgy is at times in danger of losing a sense of the sacred. With the author, I'm not crazy about a publishing company having such a huge influence on Mass. But I don't think "contemporary" music destroys Mass. I've heard that many "traditional" hymns share tunes with drinking songs popular at the time, so where would one draw the line?

When we go to Mass, Anne and I wear skirts or dresses; Peter and Jeremy wear pants. Everyone has shoulders covered. In the beautifully warm weather we've had recently, this means immediately changing out of pants and shawls/cropped sweaters when we get home, but to me it is worth it. It's not a modesty issue for me, but simply respect. In our culture, clothes like the ones we wear to church convey respect. I think I'll do a post some time soon about why I don't even think skirts are more modest (and why the current modesty dialogue may be harmful), but that's too long for a quick take.

Alright, one take just for fun. Peter got spinach caught in his teeth tonight (after ASKING to have spinach for dinner!), so had his first experience with dental floss. Seeing him, of course, Anne wanted a turn, so he tried to floss her teeth for her...
"No, Anne, don't stick out your tongue."
"Anne, when your tongue is like that, I can't even see your teeth."
(puts her in a headlock) "Anne, stop eating the dental floss; it's not food."
Maybe now he knows how we feel. :-)

Read more 7 Quick Takes at Conversion Diary

Monday, June 23, 2014

Best Big Brother

Peter is such a sweet boy. This past weekend, he wanted me to fix his train. I asked him to bring it to me, then ducked out of the room briefly to help Jeremy. When I came back, Peter was in tears while Anne looked on, concerned.

"I'm sorry, honey, I asked you to bring it to me and then I left."
(wails) "That's not what it is!"
"What's wrong?"
(wobbly voice) "Anne keeps wanting to touch my train but it has a pointy screw on it and she could get hurt! So I have to be mean to her and keep her away!"

Here is another example:

Ultimately, he wasn't able to get her sandals on her feet, but he tried for a few minutes and then politely apologized to her.

It's no wonder she adores him!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Fairport Canal Days

First corndog!

On the Colonial Belle - thanks, Mrs. Conlogue!

Visiting Red Bird Market

Start of the Duck Race
We cheered well for our duck, Swim - whose nickname is "Swimmy Swim" - but he didn't win. Still, he is grateful just for the chance to compete.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Healthy Chocolate Cake

I'm not quite to the point where I think chocolate cake for breakfast is a complete meal, but this is pretty delicious. And it includes avocado, so that makes it healthy, right?

3 c all-purpose flour (plus a little more for dusting the pan)
1/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 medium soft avocado, peeled with pit removed
2 c water
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 c granulated sugar
1/4 c pure olive oil
1/2 c powdered sugar (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9x9 baking pan with cooking spray and dust it lightly with flour.
2. In large mixing bowl, mix flour, cocoa, salt, and baking soda.
3. Using a blender, puree avocado, water, vanilla, granulated sugar and oil. 
4. Pour wet ingredients into mixing bowl. Blend until batter is smooth, then pour into prepared baking pan.
5. Bake the cake for 35-45 minutes. Allow cake to cool to room temperature, then sprinkle powdered sugar on top. 

We decided not to top our cake with anything, since we were using a candle. (It was the Church's birthday cake, so we put a Spiderman candle on it. Obviously.) Blowing out a candle would mean powdered sugar everywhere. Cream cheese frosting is another option, but we enjoyed it just the way it was.

Dastardly chocolate goatee

Friday, June 13, 2014

7QT (Vol. 83): Memories of Fathers

My Dad
Maybe 12 years old, playing summer soccer. On the way home from our second or third practice, I announced that I disliked one of my teammates. Dad countered that I barely knew her. I knew enough, I said, I knew what she liked and that she was too into boys. You are making snap judgments based on one conversation. My snap judgments are always right, though. Maybe that's because once you judge a person negatively, you never give her a chance to prove otherwise.

My Kids' Daddy
On a walk because Mommy is overwhelmed. He keeps a careful eye on them as they careen down the sidewalk, one on a tricycle and the other pushing a child's shopping cart. He answers 49 questions, most of which are, "Why?" The walk back seems long, so he carries one of the toys, holding Anne's hand as she toddles along.

My Godfather
Arriving at a family reunion. I know everyone likes me, but it's still overwhelming. I sneak in quietly and stand awkwardly on the sidelines. But my godfather catches sight of me, gives me a hug, and includes me in the conversation. He is welcoming, giving of his time and attention.

Peter's Godfather
Another visit, at least 6 months since the previous one. Peter has again completely forgotten Ryan as a person, though he knows that name belongs to his godfather. Ryan sits quietly with him, slowly integrating himself into Peter's world through play. In time, the bond is reconnected. Letters follow, bringing Peter delight.

Anne's Godfather
Big world, tiny girl. Uncle Keith takes the time to show her the little things she finds fascinating. A leaf, sparkles of water, a bug. The outdoors is more engaging because of this special attention. At home, she points to his picture on the wall and babbles in excitement.

My Father-in-Law
An extra full-size bed. He offers it to us, but we don't need it. A friend could use it, though. From 100 miles away, he packs the mattress, box spring, frame and bedding on his trailer. He drives it out, delivering it to a family he has never met. It was an excuse to see the grandkids, he says, putting them at ease.

Thank you to these strong men and so many others who give fatherhood a good name!

Read more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bedrooms and Play Room

Anne's room

Crib mattress on the floor

She loves being able to look out the window!

Peter's room

What this doesn't show are the dancing fairies around the top foot of the walls...

This is the play room with 10 kids in it. My kids aren't in there for this picture.

"Who are all these people!?"


I was going to take photos of our bedroom, too, but the camera is dead. I'm sure the suspense is driving you crazy. :-) Maybe when I post them I'll include pictures of the toy room in its less chaotic state.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Personality Differences at Mass

When Peter was first able to sit alone, I could sit him next to me in the pew and mostly leave him to his own devices. He would sit quietly, turning pages on his books or watching the altar. When I was complimented on his behavior, I would say thank you, but he was born this way. Quiet, sensitive, introspective. That's my boy.

Anne, on the other hand, is outgoing and generally unafraid (except of animals and loud noises). She loves a challenge and wants to see everything. She loves playgrounds and climbing, but has a harder time sitting still in church.

12 foot high slide? No problem!

Now, when Peter was around one year old, I "Mass-weaned" him. We have never brought snacks into the sanctuary, so once I knew he was old enough that he wasn't seriously hungry, I stopped nursing him during Mass. That was my plan with Anne. And sure, at 17 months, she's quite capable of getting through without nursing. But... sometimes we both just need a few minutes of quiet without her trying to escape.

Friday, June 6, 2014

7QT (Vol. 82): Water Play, Canal Days, and Ducks

Recently, I wanted to keep both kids awake during their usual nap time, so they would fall asleep early at bedtime. Somehow bedtime just creeps later and later, so every now and then I need to reset it. Anyway, I gave them each a tablespoon and turned the faucet on just a tiny bit. I figured this would buy me half an hour or so before I'd need another distraction. TWO HOURS! Occasional squawks of protest if one invaded the other's area, but overall a peaceful two hours.

Photographic evidence.

We made more friends today! After First Friday Mass and Adoration, the local homeschool group had their end of the year picnic. I am thankful to be part of such a welcoming group. Both kids attracted some babysitter-age admirers and had a blast. Anne was asleep within about two minutes of settling down for rest time with her brother not far behind.

Tonight was the kick-off of Canal Days, the major festival in our small town. We heard the local concert band and an a capella group perform; both were quite talented. The venue was about 20 feet from the railroad tracks, so the freight trains occasionally interrupted the music. The concert band adjusted by playing Chattenooga Choo-Choo every time they came through. It amused me each time.

One of the things I like about living here is the level of autonomy given to kids. It is common to see groups of kids out riding their bikes in the afternoons, maybe around age nine and older. Tonight at the festival, there were many groups of middle and high schoolers out enjoying themselves without adult supervision. The kids, in turn, lived up to the expectations that they could behave appropriately. 

This week was zoo week. We haven't done much official school work, but we did go to the zoo! He learned about wood ducks and even fed a mallard. He has since been pointing out the mallards he sees on the canal. Yesterday, we even saw a mother duck with six tiny ducklings. Maybe I'll just call this duck week, instead.

When we got back from the picnic today, Peter did not want to go to bed. 
P: "But Mommy, I want to play more. Please?"
me: "No, it's rest time. We can play later."
A: "More! More! More! More! Peeeeeeeeease?"
And so it begins...

Read more 7 Quick Takes at Conversion Diary

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Playing Dress-Up

Not a diaper cover, a hat to show her pigtails

Monday, June 2, 2014

Spending Parties

Jewelry. Cooking ware. Wall designs. Toys. Cleaning products. Essential oils. Make-up. Body care. How do you balance supporting your friends with managing your budget and your home? I have been invited to parties to introduce me to all of these things. The invitation usually comes with an assurance that I don't need to feel guilty if I don't buy anything; she (always a she) just wants to have people attend.

To a certain extent, I believe it. The hostess doesn't expect every guest to buy something. But if no one does, why throw the party? (Unless you won it and aren't particularly interested in the products.) Also, many of these invitations have come not merely from hostesses, but from saleswomen. They are trying to earn an income. I certainly want them to succeed.

Ultimately, I've decided only to buy things in which I am already interested. For invitations I've declined, I've let my friends know I'm not interested currently, but that I'll come to them if I consider that product in the future. They have been gracious. I don't have bills and items I don't want. But I still feel a little bad. :-/

Besides, why would I need cleaning supplies?