Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness."

In light of yesterday's post about the dangers of the "silliest time in one's life", I wanted to share this quote from St. Augustine on his feast. In his famous Confessions, he spoke of his love of created things and how they kept him from the love of God. 
Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you!  You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you.  In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created.  You were with me, but I was not with you.  Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all.  You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness.  You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness.  You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you.  I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more.  You touched me, and I burned for your peace.

from The Confessions of St. Augustine 

May all the flashing, shining, lovely things in our life point us to the One Who loves us first and best.

Happy Feast of St. Augustine!

So, my son called me yesterday. 

For the first time. 

No he isn't away at college---he's only nine for goodness sake. 

But he heard Father at Mass yesterday, on the Feast of St. Monica, mother of St. Augustine, give everyone some homework: 
call, write, hug your mother. 

So he picked up the upstairs phone and dialed my cell phone just to tell me that he loved me and that he would give me a hug as soon as he saw me. 

I was downstairs. 

And he asked first. 

What a good boy!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Narnia, Nylons and What's Wrong with the World

We are almost done reading the Chronicles of Narnia, and there are so many great parts that we have talked about...or I have talked to the kids about. But yesterday there was a part that I could only begin to rant discuss with the kids before their eyes glazed over. So, I saved my lecture thoughts for you (and for them when they read this in ten years).  

SPOILER ALERT: You may learn stuff about the series that you don't want to if you haven't already read it. You can always skip the quotes and go right to my rant..umm opinions. 

Nine going on thirty.

Towards the end of "The Last Battle" we meet up with all the Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve that have ever been to Narnia, except one. 

Susan is missing. She is "no longer a friend of Narnia."

Why? Jill begins to explain: 
"She's interested in nothing nowadays except nylons and lipstick and invitations. She always was a jolly sight too keen on being grown-up."

But Lady Polly clarifies a bit: 
"Grown-up indeed," said the Lady Polly. "I wish she would grow up. She wasted all her school time wanting to be the age she is now, and she'll waste all the rest of her life trying to stay that age. Her whole ideas is to race on to the silliest time of one's life as quick as she can and then stop there as long as she can."
Wow! So this infatuation with the teen years, the time that is meant to be a transition from childhood to adulthood, is nothing new. Even in C.S. Lewis time, racing to the young adult stage, and then never wanting to leave, was a problem. We just need to replace nylons with racey underwear, lipstick with tattoos, and invitations with tweets and it could be our world. 

Today we have, first of all, a name for this new (since sometime in the late 50's) stage: "Teenager." Next everything must be focused on that time in your life. Children younger than 13 were first called "pre-teens" they are "tweens". 

Once they have arrived at "Teenager" they have whole industries vying for their attention and telling them what they should do, wear, think, eat, say, want, etc.

We spend tons of money on their high school experience: sports, clubs, dances, the Prom, social experiences of all sorts. Forget the disappointment they will feel when they can't afford a limo and a wildly expensive dress for every special occasion in their life.

Then, they go off to college where they are still called kids (until they are 26 and FINALLY kicked off the parent's health insurance) and they get to have "the college experience" which is apparently about four years of financed play, with some learning tacked on---or at least some classes endured in the hopes that learning will happen. 

Now, apparently college graduation doesn't end this focus on the World of the Teenager. For the rest of their lives they will mourn their passing youth, recapture those good old days, shop at Forever 21, and strive for their teen-age figure. Eventually, they will learn to live vicariously through their own teenagers. 

I know...not everyone does this. But you can't deny that TV, film, radio, and fashion all conspire to convince us that TEENAGER is where it's at. 

This is why I am all in favor of abolishing the high school. I say, give them internships and then let them spend their spare time studying what they need to know to get into a university (though I could make an argument against the university too---at least most of them). 

And I am only being slightly humorous here. Let's face it, when it comes to my opinions on education I am counter-culture even to those who are already considered counter cultural. 

For more insight into my radical opinions, read Anthony Esolen, wherever he may be found.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

They Let You Do That?

Anyone who homeschools can probably chronicle the crazy questions they get about their "strange lifestyle". We have gotten many questions both here and in the UK, and lots of funny looks. 

But by far the scariest, and most revealing, was the question from the grocery store check out guy in California. He asked about the kids being out of school (which I think is so odd in itself--why do they think they deserve a justification for why my kids are with me?) and when I told him that we homeschooled he looked at me in shock and said...

 "They let you do that?"

THEY let you do that?

They LET you do that? 

They let YOU do that? 

Anyway you look at it, it's frightening. 

THEY: Who are they? I presume he meant "the government". The all-powerful THEY; un-named, impersonal. In an avowed totalitarian regime (as opposed to one pretending to be something else--ahem.) he may have looked over his shoulder first, and then whispered his question. 

But instead, he looked at me shocked. 

It wasn't a question he thought about--it just came out. 


LET: Whoever "they" are, they have the power to LET you do things, or not LET you do things. They apparently have the power to LET (or not LET) me make choices about my own children's best interest. THEY decide what I may do with my own children's education.

YOU: "You mean they let YOU take care of your OWN children?" Enough said. 

"But," the reasonable person says, "but what if someone wants to neglect their children, or teach them evil, subversive things!" 

We don't want that, do we? 

So we are willing to ASSUME that most parents are likely to neglect their children, or to teach them evil things. Therefore, THEY have to take control. 

  • Set up schools that will raise kids the RIGHT way. [common schools/public schools]
  • Demand require compel parents to bring their children to the government schools. [compulsory education]
  • Allow the parents to bring their children to other schools only if they are approved by the government. [accredited private schools]

Does this sound crazy to anyone else? 

Am I the only one who shivers in fear when someone asks a question like that? 

This reminds me of a story.
When I was an undergrad at CSULB in southern California I had a night class. I was a commuter and drove from my parents home about 40 minutes away. The campus was pretty big and the walk from class to your car could be quite a ways…in the dark. It didn't always feel very safe. At the time they had a program where you could call security from a campus phone and ask for an escort--a male volunteer who would walk you safely to your car. When I was told this, my first response was "How do I know I can trust the escort?"


Apparently, most parents will fail to provide a good education for their children so we must require them, by law, to turn their children over to the government appointed educators, who, by their very nature will care more for the future of the children than their own parents. 


And how have these people earned the right to be of such great influence in the lives of children? 

THEY (the government) say that the teachers are good, and the school is good, so therefore, it must be true. 

The assumption is that parents will tend to be a bad influence on their kids and the government will tend to be a good influence. 

I never thought like this before. I used to be one of those teachers---I was a good one, approved by all the right people. And I sincerely worked to help my students learn what I was told they needed to learn. I loved them---it was a love inferior to their parent's love for them, but it was love. 

But from the moment my first child was born I began to see "the authorities" 
(the first one being the medical community--soon to be a real branch of the government) 
as a threat to my child, and to my relationship with my child. I was immediately struck (and frightened) by the fact that THEY had to LET me take my baby home from the hospital. MY BABY!!
This is not my first baby. By the time this little redhead came along I was a bit more savvy. 
We couldn't wait to get her home. And since that day we have made decisions about our family that are entirely our own. 

We treat THEM (the government), and all their related THEY's with great suspicion. We read forms that we sign at the doctors office more and more carefully. We watch laws and lawmakers and how they couch all of their rhetoric about "the best interest of the children". 

I am so happy to live in a country in which I am free to choose my religion as I see fit, free to school my children as I see fit, free to eat what I want, free to move from place to place according to my own understanding of what is best for me and my loved ones, free to work hard and make all the money I want, free to give some of that money to the charity I want, free to spend the rest on whatever I want. 

But I fear that we may lose all of this freedom. The grocery man's question frightened me because, in his ignorance, he ASSUMED that I wasn't in charge of my children's education. 

In how many other areas of life does he (and other like him) assume the government should take care of things? What other freedoms is he (and others like him) willing to give up? 

Let's wake up folks! Let's not be the proverbial frogs in the pot of boiling water. 
Nuff said. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

{pretty, happy, funny, real} Summer Memories Edition

All pictures courtesy of Mary at Counting Gifts of Grace

Isn't Mary a great photographer and aren't our kids cute!! I LOVE this picture! This is from our field trip to the zoo last May (or maybe it was early June). We were so sure it would be fairly un-crowded. After all, school was still in. 
{happy, funny}

Aren't they cute little monkeys?
When we got to the zoo, we were welcomed by a big sign that said something like: WELCOME ALL YOU MILLIONS OF KINDERGARTENERS TO NATIONAL KINDERGARTEN FIELD TRIP DAY! much for uncrowded. Homeschooler's nightmare, right? Well it actually went quite well, when we saw a crowd, we let them pass (those kindergarten teachers move fast). We avoided the playground area--no problem there since our kids took one look at the crowds and turned the other way. We even found a nice quiet place to have lunch.
So, despite the crowds we had a GREAT time
(as you can tell by the smiles). 

 These pictures are from our nature walk in June. 
Say cheese! Maybe YOU will be in our next {phfr} post. 
Can you tell how hot we all were? Lucky we had frozen water bottles (although we melted faster than the frozen water!)
and turkey jerky!

And what is more REAL than a pretty leaf. I love this picture too!
*update: I forgot to add my linky and remind you to go see a cute new baby girl and some other great {phfr} posts at Like Mother, Like Daughter. So click below and enjoy!

round button chicken

Monday, August 19, 2013

Favorite Quotes from my Weekend Reading

Some days we laugh and relish. 
Some days we are just glad we survived.
Rachel Balducci
We relished these days.
I looked all through my pictures for a day we "survived"---apparently we don't take pictures of those days. 
<  >
Faith in men is for slaves.  
Faith in man is for fools.  
Faith in God is for men.
Anthony Esolen from his series "Life Under Compulsion". 

It looks to some like "Faith in men" but it is truly "Faith in God". 
St. Anthony, pray for us. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Give Pollyanna A Break!

Today I read this line in a blog post: "To be clear, it isn’t a Pollyanna version of positive thinking we’re going for." *

We all know what the blogger meant. "A Pollyanna version of positive thinking" is unrealistic, blindly optimistic, simplistic. 

Who really knows Pollyanna? If we have any idea who she is, most of us probably picture Halley Mills in the Disney movie. And that was a delightful film. But, as usual, nothing compared with the book. 

"Blind optimism" is not what the real Pollyanna (in the fictional story) promoted with her "Glad Game". 

In the book, Pollyanna tells the story of how her father invented the "Glad Game". Her father was a preacher, his wife had died and he was raising his daughter alone. The two of them relied on donations for most of their possessions. 

One Christmas, Pollyanna was hoping a doll would show up in the missionary barrel that they knew was coming their way. But the barrel, which was usually filled with whatever was available to pass on, did not contain a single toy, let alone a doll. 

It did contain a pair of crutches, though. 

You can imagine what a therapist, or modern novel writer would make of that. Tragedy. Hoping for a doll, getting crutches. 

A typical story accused of being too "Pollyanna" may have had some wealthy person (or "virtuous" government program that would take her from her father since he obviously couldn't provide for her) bringing her a beautiful doll. 

A typical story trying hard NOT to be "Pollyanna" may have had the little girl go on to a horrible life of crime and drug addiction--she couldn't help it, her childhood was so sad!

But, Pollyanna's father knew that growing up in poverty didn't have to be tragic, if you had the right attitude. So he invented the glad game. There is always someone worse off than you. There is always something to be glad about. The game is to figure out what that is. 

What was there to be glad about when you got a set of crutches instead of a doll for Christmas? 

Well, as Pollyanna learned, you could be glad that you didn't need the crutches. {it is important to note that for Pollyanna it was never "I am glad I am not that person" but "I am glad for what I have"}

For Pollyanna, that put her circumstances in perspective and, as children often do, she took the lesson to heart. Most of the book takes place after the little girl's father has died and she has gone to live with a wealthy, emotionally distant and severe aunt. She is in a small town filled with many unhappy people, feeling sorry for themselves, nursing old grudges, gossiping about each other and caring more for public acclamation than actual good works. 

Being glad no matter what does not always come easy to Pollyanna. She often struggles to find the Glad thing in her situation. And it is often her determination in the face of difficulty that causes others to sit up and take notice. 

Ultimately, with her "Glad Game" and her cheerful life-loving nature, she teaches the town to see the good in each other and the joy in their lives. 

Far from being "un-realistic" and "blind", being a Pollyanna means humbly admitting that things can always be worse. And those things in my life that I have little to no power over---things like the age and developmental stage of my kids, the size of the pay check we have chosen to live under, the amount of work it takes to feed and clothe and love the kids God has given me, even illnesses and disability---those things are crosses to bear, but they are not unbearable. And to "bear" them means to carry them with JOY. 

Is that easy? Of course not. 

But lets give Pollyanna a break. Playing her Glad Game can help us avoid the traps of self-pity and negativity. 

To imitate Pollyanna you need not pretend as if nothing bad has ever happened to you, instead you move forward, changing what you can and taking joy in the cross that cannot be taken away. 

*(no need to link to the post--it was a good post, but not about Pollyanna and I don't want to criticize the blogger for a passing reference.) 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~  

Every Thursday, at Like Mother, Like Daughter!

I mentioned yesterday that taking pictures in not exactly my thing. So today I had planned to participate again in {pretty, happy, funny, real}but I have no idea what sort of material I have to work with. Did I take pictures this week? Was it with the iPod or the camera? Where is the cord for the camera? What if the pictures have nothing in common? What if none of them is pretty? Or funny? I am pretty sure I can get happy, and I know I can get real...hmmmm.

So I find the camera and cord but no luck getting my computer to recognize them. I try a card reader with the memory card in it....still no luck.

The pictures from my iPod will have to do.


I am pretending to be a "mom of many". When I added my two nieces and one of my nephews to the crew for this week I felt like some of my friends who have youth down to littles.
 I had a van full and I loved it!
This is us at a nearby koi pond. Can you tell we are all wilting?
 If you saw me you would be able to tell. 
 {funny, real}

Here is our first crop.
The one on the left is a watermelon, in case you can't tell.
The long whitish things are cucumbers. My nephew tasted the watermelon when I mentioned that I had heard (too late) that planting cucumber and watermelon together made the watermelon bitter. He said it wasn't bitter...but he wouldn't say it was sweet either. We haven't tasted the cucumbers.
In defense of our farming skills we really didn't set out to get a crop---we just randomly picked some plants at the nursery and put them in a planter just to get our hands a little dirty and get some practice keeping things alive in this climate. Maybe next year we will plant some stuff with a bit of a plan ahead of time.

Go see all the happy pictures on all the pretty blogs:
round button chicken

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Blogs and Feelings and Such

I just read a blog post that made say aloud: Ditto. Ginny over at Small Things is writing about "hard times, pretty pictures."

Example of my photography skills. 

I do not say "Ditto" because I have experienced what Ginny is experiencing. Though she doesn't share what it is, I know that right now, in my life, things are going along rather "swimmingly", not so much "sinking-ly". So I am not posting the good as opposed to the hard times, or tragic or painful times. But maybe as opposed to the messy, embarrassing, or frustrating.
Example of kid photography skills.

One of the ways I see my blog is as a record of things for my kids to look back on. A snap shot of their childhood. I am not good at remembering to take pictures, and I am not a talented photographer, but I know how to write. And so I try to put into words what we are doing and thinking now. 

Cousin seen through fingers.

It is also a place to put down my thoughts, reactions, rants, musings...whatever. But I rarely share too much about the bad days. It isn't my style and doesn't help me deal better with them. 

Ginny says: 

And I guess I just need you to know that.  I post beauty, even when life is ugly.  For me, it’s the only way.

I see that in her blog. I admire that in her blog. And I am thankful for the reminder. 

Ginny also says: 

Blogs have a way of deceiving, but that’s only if you choose to read them that way.  It’s a choice.  You can read that I stopped for cherries, and make all sorts of assumptions, or you can simply be reminded that we all have our good moments–you and me. 

Again..."Yes Ginny, thank you for saying it." 

I know that there are some very beautiful blogs that I avoid because they make me feel---no---I choose to compare myself and then end up feeling bad, or stressed, or regretful. 

But I realize some people might have the same reaction to parts of my blog. And then I worry and think--should I be more real? Should I blog like Jen (whose words I love to read and chuckle at) about my life with kids. But I am not Jen. And she is not me. Nor am I Ginny

Finally, Ginny's blog post struck me with this line: 

I choose not to share the trials we face as parents here.  As our boys have gotten older, it has become far more obvious why it’s necessary that I don’t.  No matter the temptation to pour my heart out, this is the internet, and my heart is not the only one on the line.

I can see that my "funny kid stories" are increasingly only about the youngest, and that I am reluctant to share stories (even triumphs and good stuff) about the two older kids. 

Those are no longer only my stories to tell. As kids grow and become more self-aware those stories are entirely theirs. I may write about them in a more private setting, just to save the memory. But they don't go here anymore. 

More Kid Pictures: Puppy watches Cousin. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Why My Girls Won't Be Reading Anne of Green Gables Any Day Soon.

"Oh, don't speak about freckles to me...It isn't delicate when I'be got so many."

"Well, they didn't pick you for your looks, that's sure and certain"….She's terrible skinny and homely, Marilla….Lawful heart did any one ever see such freckles? And hair as red as carrots!" 
Mrs. Rachel Lynde.

My girls have freckles and red hair. They are beautiful little girls who will grow up to be beautiful women and their red hair and freckles will always be part of them. 

Anne of Green Gables also has red hair and freckles. But, she isn't happy about it. And neither are some of the people around her. 

We all know we are surrounded by a society that OVER emphasizes appearance and under emphasizes character. And this is especially problematic for girls. Girls tend to focus on BEING more than DOING. With that comes a focus on appearances. That isn't all bad…it is, in a certain way, how we are wired. 

The 7 year old comes down stairs in her pink leotard and tutu and asks for her hair to be put in a ballet bun. She wants to BE a ballerina---and looking the part is all she needs for now. Of course she doesn't care that her undershirt is all bunched up under the leotard, or that the tutu is hanging too too low. Someday she will attend to those details, and that will be appropriate, then. 

Both the 11 year old and the 7 year old are learning how to dress modestly. They usually follow our family standards for this virtue (not that there is anything written in stone, just a few rules for what sorts of clothes go together) without much discussion. They are both developing their own sense of style and opinions about what looks pretty. 

However, when they begin to look at the things that are "the way God made them"---their bodies, their physical features--I want them to be accepting and appreciative of the unique gifts that they are. For MY kids, that means freckles and red hair and it has never occurred to them yet to dislike those features. They often get comments from people that are positive--though I wish people would not do that. I know that they are just trying to be friendly and complimentary. But for some kids any attention from strangers is negative and embarrassing.

I read an interesting blog post last week about how to talk to your daughter about her body. I agree with the article but I also see the point of one commenter who said that not hearing anything about her appearance from her mom left her assuming it was because she wasn't very pretty. I have tried to not speak negatively about my own body in front of my girls. I have also not spoken to them about things like weight--we don't talk about foods as "fattening" but healthy or not-healthy, foods that give you good energy or those that don't. But, I also think there is a danger in pretending that they don't care about their physical features. They do. 

Can I expect my girls to not notice that they have red hair and freckles? That ship has already sailed. They look in the mirror, they know. But what I hope for them is that they can grow up to accept their unique physical features as "they way they were made" and to resist the destructive thoughts that lead a girl to stand in front of the mirror and say "I hate my…". 

Maybe someday my redheads can read Anne of Green Gables and gloss over or laugh at Anne's insecurities. And they will see the young lady she grows up to be and all her other great characteristics. But for now, they do not need to be introduced to anything that might make them look in the mirror and question their beauty. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

{pretty, happy, funny, real} Video Edition

round button chicken

This great Thursday meme is meant to be a capturing of contentment in everyday life. Apparently I don't capture enough contentment in my everyday least not on film...because I could only find photo evidence of something that I had already blogged about
But Monday I used a photo 
and today I use a 
(see how clever I am!)

This video is {pretty}--wait till you see the pretty green plants and the very pretty little girl. 
This video is {happy}---because a crying, distraught little girl found a way (with the help of a great big brother) to make peace with the death of the beloved cricket that she imagined to be her new best friend. 
This video is {funny}---well, ummm....that pile of round white things are golf balls found in the backyard (wait, that's not the funny party) and once one of them was mistaken for a piece of "golf-ball-sized-hail" until we realized it wasn't melting like all the other hail on the ground around it and that it was ACTUALLY a golf ball. 
This video is {real}---because she really was SAD and had imagined the little cricket in a little jar with lots of leaves and she was going to watch it crawl about, but it died before she could get the jar from the kitchen to the backyard. 

Please go visit Like Mother, Like Daughter and see the new daughter with the pretty name and all the other {phfr} posts for today. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What We're Reading (and listening to) Wednesday

We continue to read St. Louis and the Last Crusade as well as the Far Blue Mountains in the evening.

We are also reading The Last Battle from the Chronicles of Narnia at lunch or tea time.

Our newest edition to the read aloud cast is our audio book for the car. We are about 18 chapters into Men of Iron by Howard Pyle and narrated by Jim Weiss. So far it is interesting and fun. It is a great introduction to medieval life and the life of a young knight-in-training.

I am still reading Theophilos by Michael O'Brien and still enjoying it. My problem is that I only seemed to get a few minutes before bedtime to read it, so it is slow going.

Normally I would bring Theophilos with me to M's class on Tuesday and Thursday but I keep forgetting it. So this week I had my Kindle with tons of stuff on it that I have mostly read and I decided to click on Common Sense by Thomas Payne. I had already started it before and can't remember anything from my first reading, but I decided to just pick up where I was. The part I read was a fascinating treatise on the flaws of the British system of government along with a criticism of Monarchy that included many references to Scripture. I recently read about how this little pamphlet changed the course of human history in an article that I can't, for the life of me, find!!

But, the story of this little booklet "Common Sense" is fascinating when you think about who it was written for (a bunch of farmers and shop keepers more than two centuries ago) and how it influenced the thought of the time. Many attribute the success of the revolution to the booklet and its influence.

Read it and ask yourself if you pictured a farmer in the 1700's being intelligent enough to read it, understand it and discuss it with his neighbor.

Then try not to get depressed about the current state of political discussion and education in this country.

I am also reading The Religious Potential of the Child by Sophia Cavelletti and am awaiting the edition addressed to ages 6-12. These books are the foundation for the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and they have my wheels turning about the fall.

And finally, though this doesn't count has reading, I am listening to Andrew Pudewa from Excellence in Writing. I can't believe I haven't listened to him before. I watched a little introductory video and heard him mention two of my educational influences Robert Doman and Oliver DeMille, not to mention Charlotte Mason and others. The audio download that I listened to yesterday was called Nurturing Competent Communicators and it was really great. Not only am I confirmed in all my efforts to including reading aloud in our routine, but I am inspired to do more.

I highly recommend this talk to all my homeschooling friends. But also to my friends and family in the field in education. I wish I had heard it when I taught elementary school.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Here Lies Munch

Here Lies Munch.
A cricket. 
(we think)
Best friend of A. 
(at least for an hour or two before he perished)

Though small of stature,
(I could barely identify this bug insect on the ground though I crouched down and looked closely)

he (she?) merited a large grave. 

(not sure if there are any, do crickets have families?) 
and friends 
(the best friend, namely A) 
are handling this trauma drama quite well. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Weekend Links

One of my favorite type of blog post (especially when it comes from my favorite bloggers) is a Saturday morning list of article/blog post links. 

Like Mother, Like Daughter does their {bits & pieces} post every weekend. And today I got a new idea for cooking bacon. 

Jamie at Simple Homeschool also does a weekend links post and I enjoyed this article this morning, especially #1. 

Sometime last week, I found this link from someone on Facebook (sorry, I don't remember who it was!): Big Dreams.

I found it very interesting because it contains a story of a little girl making a robot out of paper and cardboard, glue and tape. And when she had worked so hard and was all done she asked her parents for batteries to put in her robot to make it work. Her parents were faced with a choice: give her the batteries and let her discover the truth or gently explain that they won't work. 

We have a little girl in this house who did that very same thing...exactly. We were caught by surprise when she asked for batteries and I really don't recall my reaction. I think I waited to see what she would do, but I do remember a slightly tear filled conversation about how real robots work. 

But, yesterday, when a certain boy announced plans to sew a stuffed dog just like Balto from the book he read, with fur and everything, I struggled to let the dream be. 

Read the article to find out what happens with the little girl and the robot in the article. It may change the way you approach your kids' big dreams. Come back and let me know what you think.

Friday, August 2, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday

Last night, we had the parish seminarian, who is already a Deacon, over for dinner. He is studying in Rome and at our parish for a few more weeks. We had a great conversation about Catholic family life, the Theology of the Body, catechesis, and many other things. And one reason this was so delightful was our kids' behavior. They are usually good kids but often have, shall we say, a lot to say. Yet, they were able to sit and listen and not interrupt. 

And then the miracle happened. Maybe I am slightly overstating it---you tell me:

When dinner was over, while we sat and talked with the Deacon, the two oldest cleared the table. But that was only the beginning of the miracle amazing thing---then D set to washing (by hand), drying and putting away every dish! I had my back to the sink, which was probably a good thing, and I heard water running, dishes being moved and I thought maybe he was filling the dishwasher---which would have been great. I expected to have SOME of it done when we finished talking with our guest. 
But it was ALL done. 
The leftover food was covered with foil. 
The counter top was wiped down. 
He even wiped the table while we sat and talked. 

Jim and I were over-the- top proud. 

We have been listening to a playlist on the iPod on the way to Mass each morning. It includes some music by L'Angelus (whom you must check out if you haven't already) and the morning offering, guardian angel prayer, and then some Latin: the Pater Noster and the hymn Adoro Te Devote. 

The kids love the music by L'Angelus, but were not sure about the Latin hymn. In fact, whenever it came on, M would complain. 
"Not this!", she would whine. 

But I persisted. It was on the playlist, I wasn't going to skip it. So we have been doing this for a few weeks now. 

Just the other day, when the Adoro Te Devote came on M sighed and said "That's beautiful!". 

Somewhere in there is a lesson-- about the power of truly beautiful music; about developing taste; about perseverance. Maybe I will blog more about it in the future if I can mull it over for awhile. 

Some of our extended family in Scotland are coming to visit this weekend. They will be here for two weeks. And during the second week my niece, who studies at University of Dallas, will come for a week of relaxation (we hope it is relaxing). 

It is going to be fun seeing The Cousins (as Jim's brothers kids in Scotland are called) again. We saw them briefly before we left California, but haven't had a lot of time with them since we lived in Scotland. And it will be fun to introduce The Cousins to Michelle, the oldest cousin (my sister's first born) on either side of the family. They have all heard of each other but never met. 

In the garden (I have a hard time calling it a garden---it is more like "a few pots in which we randomly planted seeds not thinking we would get much of anything out of it"---anyway, the garden is growing real stuff! I mean I have at least 4 cucumbers. They are kinda pale, but getting big. And at least 2 watermelons that are small but nicely green. I have little hope that anything will taste very good, but I am now feeling very attached to my garden. I watch it carefully to make sure it is watered. I check the fruits and veggies daily. Pretty fun!

Did I mention we did First Communion banners? No, we don't have a first communicant at the moment (hopefully next spring). But we never did them with M and D--mostly because I didn't know the cool kits were available till later (and maybe I thought banners were a 70's throw back because that was when I did them, back in the days when catechesis was collages and kumbaya)--But then I bought two that I thought we would do on the anniversary of their First Communion. That never worked out. After two years of the kits sitting on a shelf and being moved across the country, I decided to get one for A since she would be bummed not to do one. Then they say a little longer on the shelf.
Finally, I couldn't wait till next year (go figure! I already waited two years---why not one more?). Nope. 
D mentioned it one day and I seized the moment. They each did one last week. It was still July, and their anniversary is in July, so it was sort of the right time. 
They love the banners, and we plan to add some dates (but not with glitter glue because I hate strongly dislike glitter glue!!) at some point. 

Ummmm.....okay, you remember pagers? Well we have a few old ones laying around and one of the kids asked about it. So I said "someone would call your pager number and it would beep and show you a number and then you would go and call that number back when you got to a phone."
Do you remember when that was really cool? 
When only real business men (or, you know, drug dealers and stuff) had pagers? 
Me too. 
But now, it sounds really lame. Why would you do that? The kids had a sort of confused look on their faces. They decided to pretend it was a phone. Makes more sense. 
I can remember when cell phones were "car phones" and they were huge and they were attached to your car and it would run down your car battery if you weren't careful. 

We just started the last book of the Chronicles of Narnia. We finished the Silver Chair last week and are now reading The Last Battle. In case you haven't read it or don't recall the story starts with a donkey (named Puzzle) and an ape (named Shift) and a lion skin---all of which result in the men and talking beasts of Narnia thinking that Aslan has returned, though he doesn't act like Aslan. He does very un-Aslan-like things (like staying in a tent most of the day and refusing to see anyone; like ordering talking beasts to be enslaved and talking trees to be killed). The kids thought it was very clear that this could not be Aslan and why didn't the Narnian's see it. This led to a discussion of Faith, and how it must be nurtured and how important a personal relationship with God is. 
All from a story about a donkey and an ape. 
This is the value of fairy tale. 

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~  
Every Thursday, at Like Mother, Like Daughter!


I was trying to take a picture of the Lincoln Log cannons on the window sill (bottom and middle), but instead the camera caught what my eyes were not focusing on----my beautiful backyard! I can't believe I live amongst so many trees.
I am so blessed!
Last week was Name Day Week. We have not been very consistent with our name day celebrations over the years and we never noticed that we have three consecutive namedays in one week. The kids had fun decorating the table each day and having a special dessert. There was some hopeful hinting about gifts, but they quickly got the message that nothing material would be awaiting them that day.
And now I have a note in Evernote with everyone's nameday and I am beginning to add celebration ideas and prayers. 


My poor kids want a pet so bad they have made cages for their stuffed animals. It is ironic that I am the mom holding firm on the no pets rule--me, the former guinea pig/rabbit/frog owning kid.
Maybe that is why. 

But, who needs real pets when you have a great blue rubber elephant to sleep with? 
See, pretend pets are SO much better!
Don't look at that shelf behind her pillow...yes, the one filled with "junk". I searched high and low for beds with shelves (because I had them growing up and I thought they would be space savers--no need for a bedside table) but now I hate strongly dislike them. Any ideas on covering the shelf area?

I mean besides that yellow disaster zone tape--or is that crime scene tape I am thinking of---
oh well, same idea. 

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