Thursday, July 24, 2014

Books to Love Whether or Not You Have a Big Family (but Especially if You Do)

One of the great things about a good novel is how it allows you to transport yourself into a place or time or situation completely unlike your own and see what that's like for a while. Great picture books can do the same thing, and help my kids delve into new and exciting characters and circumstances. Their minds can be expanded, their horizons broadened. All good.

But sometimes, it's also nice to have their own life experience interpreted and validated in the books we read. For kids growing up in a larger than average size family, it can a challenge to find books that can do that.

But I like a challenge. So I have made it a point to search them out.

Here are my seven favorite . . .

Note: Book titles are Amazon Affiliate links, clicking and shopping through the links will help support this blog. Thanks! Or get them from the library. That's good, too.

Would it be weird if I told you The Country Bunny is my role model? That deserves it's own post sometime. But she is. For me, this book is less a fictional story about how Easter Bunnies are chosen and more a parenting handbook for accomplishment-minded stay-at-home mothers of many.

The book began as a bedtime story Du Bose Heyward would tell his daughter, Jenifer. Little brown-skinned girl cottontail wants to be an Easter bunny (there are actually five, don’t you know), but is told by the “big white bunnies who lived in fine houses” and “Jack Rabbits with long legs” to “go back to the country and eat a carrot.” And “by and by she had a husband and then one day, much to her surprise there were twenty-one Cottontail babies to take care of.” Oops! But she doesn't defer her dream for long. She raises twenty-one industrious, self-sufficient little bunnies who both keep her house and help her nail her Easter-bunny audition. She then goes on to become an Easter-bunny legend for her bravery—bolstered and refined, of course, by raising almost two dozen rabbits. (more here)

Seriously, I want to be her.

But this was supposed to be about my kids, right? My kids love how each little bunny is given the right job for him, and how they help their mother. It's exactly the right blend of empowerment and domesticity, courtesy of 1939.

Not enough big families in picture books you say? Hey, how about a family with 999 children?

The illustrations are really stunning in this book by a Japanese author/illustrator combo, but so is the story.
"A Mother and Father frog smiled as they sat by a small pond admiring all their baby tadpoles ... all 999 of them! As the tadpoles grew, their small pond was simply too small for them and they began to complain mightily. They couldn't move, breath, and were sick and tired of being pushed around. Their Father stated, "We have a situation here," and it was decided that they needed to move to a larger pond. All 999 of the small frogs scrambled to the edge of the pond and began to hop away. Boing! Ribbit! Boing!"
The parents are loving to each other and their children. The sibling interactions between the tadpoles will be remarkably familiar to anyone with human children. The mother is nurturing, the father is brave, but it's the children (and the fact that there are so many of them), that saves the day.

We are big fans of the California Gold Rush story By the Great Horn Spoon! , around here, so when I saw this book, also by Sid Fleischman, on the dollar shelf at the used book store, I grabbed it. And, wow, what a lucky grab. We love it so much.

It's a tall-tale-style good ol' American story of Josh and Melissa McBroom and their eleven red-headed children: Will, Jill, Hester, Chester, Peter, Polly, Tim, Tom, Mary, Larry, and little Clarinda. They move west to Iowa to follow their dreams of having a farm, only to get swindled by an unscrupulous landowner, who sells them 80 acres stacked on top of each other, rather than the more traditional side-by-side arrangement.

The father of the family is loving, hardworking, and extraordinarily honest ("I'd as soon grab a skunk by the tail as tell a falsehood"). The whole family works hard together. And once they get that one-acre farm going, the results are not to be believed. It IS a tall tale after all.

It looks like a picture book, but it's really more of an easy-reader chapter book. It's long for a bedtime story, but good over a couple of nights, or as a long afternoon read, or for school-aged kids to read for themselves.

Looking into it for this review, I see that there are actually two more collections of McBroom stories McBroom's Wonderful One-Acre Farm: Three Tall Tales and Here Comes McBroom: Three More Tall Tales , that just went into my Amazon cart.

Tops and Bottoms is a traditional "trickster" tale, with roots in European folktales and slave stories of the American South, but everything about it feels clever and new.

You can't help but notice that the book opens top to bottom (see what they did there?) rather than side to side as usual. The painted illustrations are rich and vibrant.

Hare is a father of many who lost his land to his neighbor when that race with the tortoise didn't work out like he planned. Bear is a lazy landowning bachelor, who is letting all that land go fallow while he naps on his porch.

Hare comes up with a clever scheme to offer to do all the work planting the land and split the crops with Bear, fifty-fifty. He lets Bear choose tops or bottoms, then plants accordingly, taking the edible half for his family and leaving Bear with the inedible half of the plants.

It's a story that shows that the hard work of a big family can really pay off. Plus, it teaches kids which parts of which plants are the edible parts.

And although the story is all in good fun, it's an excellent jumping off point for a discussion with kids about the moral implications of Hare's actions. He never lies, but he does trick Bear. But that ends up teaching Bear a valuable lesson. And Hare's cleverness and industry raise his family out of poverty. So, all's well that ends well? Or not? It's a good discussion to have.

Mrs. Peters might just be the anti-Country Bunny. But I still love this sweet and hilarious rhyming tale about the very real joys and challenges of having a big family. And so do my kids. One can hardly stop them reciting the entire story along with one.

Even as poor Mrs. Peters is driven to distraction by the picky eating of her seven children, she's a beautiful example of hard work and self-sacrifice. And in the end, not only does everyone find a meal they can enjoy together, she didn't have to make it. And she's back to playing her neglected cello.

Old Grandfather Bunny would approve.

Sweet and gentle and funny and whimsical and old-fashioned and fun, there's a lot to like about it. And there's something extraordinarily soothing about the soft brown illustrations of this 1941 classic.

Mr. and Mrs. Mallard swim and fly around Boston looking for a safe place to nest, but they are always met with imperfect conditions, be it lack of peanuts to eat, or heedless bicyclists who threaten to mow them down as they stroll innocently down the sidewalk. Finally, a spot near Boston's Public Garden offers them an adequate home — no foxes or turtles to vex them, lots of peanuts from kindly park-goers, and the benevolence of a local police officer. (more here)

Once the eight little ducklings are hatched (Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack), Mr. Mallard goes off in search of a better home for their large family. He finds one, then Mrs. Mallard must (with the help of a friendly neighborhood policeman) navigate the streets of 1940s Boston with eight children in tow to reunite with her husband.

Simplicity abounds, and you may even learn a thing or two about ducks.

And my newest favorite for last. We discovered this book at a friend's house just a few days ago, I bought a copy for us as soon as we walked in the door back home, and I just knew I had to share it with you guys. It's that good.
The Acerra family had sixteen children, including twelve ball-playing boys. It was the
1930s, and many families had lots of kids. But only one had enough to field a baseball
team . . . with three on the bench! The Acerras were the longest-playing all-brother
team in baseball history. They loved the game, but more important, they cared for
and supported each other and stayed together as a team. Nothing life threw their way
could stop them.
This extraordinary true story is told in a unique, journalistic style, complete with quotes from the brothers.

It's inspiring but never preachy.

The retro-feel illustrations could not be more perfect.

It's long, and the subject matter is more complex than most picture books, but that meant it kept the attention of even my twelve year old son, especially him actually. It's really a story for the whole family, toddlers to grandparents.

So, those are my favorite picture books about big families, did I miss any that you love?


The Littlest Apostolate, or: Why I Let My Kid Pick Up Trash

I let my kid pick up trash. Other people's trash. In public places. It's our own weird little apostolate.

I didn't always, of course. I was a first time mom once, too, trailing after my kid at the park, saying, "No, no, honey. Don't touch that. That's yucky."

But I've had enough kids and they've asked enough questions that I have had to evaluate exactly WHY I was spending so effort much keeping my children from picking up trash and throwing it away. Because, for whatever reason, picking up and throwing away trash is a thing each of my toddlers has been really interested in doing. Really, REALLY interested.

I would SAY, "No, that's yucky," but, for me, that wasn't really the reason. I don't have a thing about germs. Some folks do, I just don't. If you have a thing about germs, then this probably isn't the best little apostolate for you.

But, for me, that wasn't the reason. For me the reason was: There must be someone else to do that.

My kids saw a mess that needed cleaning. They saw a job that needed doing. They know trash when they see it. They know what we're supposed to do with trash. They wanted to do it. They saw a little way they could help.

But I saw something that wasn't our job. Something that, well, wasn't that just a little beneath us? To pick up other people's trash?

Don't they hire people to do that?

And other such grown-up-type thoughts. But grown-up-type thoughts aren't always the best thoughts. Sometimes, maybe more often than I'd like to admit, my children's childlike thoughts are way better.

At some point, I realized that if I didn't have a good answer to the question, "Why Mom? Why can't I throw it away?" Then the answer should be, "You can. That's awfully nice of you."

So now that's what we do. If they want to pick up trash, they may pick up trash. If they get sticky I wipe them off with a wipe. I might even tell them to go rinse their hands off in the drinking fountain. But I don't carry soap or hand sanitizer and we've never gotten any diseases. My kids don't get sick a lot in general anyway.

It's a little thing. A very little thing. But we get plenty out of it. The family that shows up at the playground after us gets a tidier park. I get to NOT say, "No" to something my kid wants to do. I get to teach my kids (or they get to teach me) that we're not so special that we can't do little things for other people. Even "yucky" little things.

And I get a good reminder that if something around me needs doing, who better than me to do it? When better than now? It's . . .


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Dear Newlywed, You're Probably Worried About the Wrong Thing

Dear Newlywed,

Congratulations! You're embarking on an exciting new chapter of your life. You've got hopes and dreams and plans. Plans, plans, plans. You've got the next few years mapped right out. You're going to finish school and you're going to pay off school and you're going to achieve your professional goals and you're going to make the world a better place.

THEN you're going to have just the right number of kids.

That's exactly where I was, thirteen years ago. My husband was starting graduate school. I was going to work until he was done with that, then we were going to have some kids. Probably four.

It didn't work out quite like that. We had kids right away, and lots of 'em.

You look at me and my kids. All my kids. All my so, so many kids. And maybe you think whew, plenty of time for that later. Or maybe you think, jeesh, I could never do that. Or maybe you cry a single tear, because "the environment," and "me time."

But, suffice to say, whatever your reasons, you don't want kids right yet. And anyway, you know that if you don't take steps to stop them from coming, you will have twelve children. Maybe fourteen. Maybe sixty-nine. Everyone knows that. 

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage. It's right there in the song. So, you'll have to do SOMETHING or you'll have a perfectly ridiculous number of children. Everyone knows that.

So, you learn NFP. And you do NFP. Or, maybe you decide that the having and not having of children is too important to trust to the old-fashioned teachings of the Catholic Church. So you resort to other measures to make sure you don't have all those children.

But here's the thing. It's actually pretty unlikely that you were ever going to have as many kids as I do. 

What I observe is that it's MUCH more likely that you won't have as many children as you'd like to have.

I get emails every week from women who always thought they'd have children, or more children. I get requests for prayers, and for support, and for sympathy. I get stopped in stores by women who tell me they wish they could have had a big family, but they weren't able to.

There is a general perception that the only thing keeping every woman of childbearing age from having fourteen children, is some method of family planning. But the facts really don't support that perception.

The total fertility rate in the United States after World War II peaked at about 3.8 children per woman in the late 1950s. In 1999 it was at 2 children, almost exactly the same total fertility rate as the period of 1930-1939. Certainly, there were forms of artificial birth control available then. The Lambeth Conference in the Anglican Church, which took place in 1930, ushered in Protestant acceptance of birth control. But it took a long time for that teaching, which they intended to be narrow, to be accepted and implemented by everyone. So it's likely that, for the majority of American women at that time, two children was just all they were able to have.

I have seven children, yes. I expect I'll have another couple before this part of my life is done. You never know, of course, but it seems likely. But I, and every other crazy passenger van mom you see, we are the exception. Not the rule.

In this generation of my immediate family, there are four happily married couples. None are taking steps to prevent pregnancies. My husband and I are just taking them as they come, not seeking to achieve or avoid pregnancy. But the other three couples, who have been married for between four and nine years, are actively pursuing the having of children. 

And those other loving families have two children, and two children, and zero children. 

Wanting more children -- or any children at all -- has been something I've watched my sisters struggle with for many years.

I used to look at a family with two children and think, "Well, they got their two, I guess they're done." Or I looked at a couple with no children and thought, "She must just really be focused on her career." And if the place I saw those families was in Mass, I most likely made some unfair assumptions about what they were up to. May God forgive me, I know better than to do that now.

I know that many of those families would gratefully have accepted more children. That many of them wished dearly to do so. That many of them had endured miscarriages, and treatments, and surgeries.

I have watched my sister-in-law gracefully field question after question about why they haven't started a family yet, knowing that's the thing she'd most like to do.

I'm not interested in fear mongering. I'm not trying to scare you. I'm not trying to tell you, or any other particular woman, that you won't have children, or that you won't have the number of children you wish to have.

But I do want you to know that, in general, our society is worried about exactly the wrong thing. We are worried about getting pregnant. We are told we should fear having children too soon. We are told we should fear having too many children. We are told it's the thing that will ruin our lives. That's what everyone says.

It's a lie. 

The true heartbreak lies in infertility, in subfertility. But "they" won't tell you that.

When I was a newlywed, it never would have occurred to me that I wouldn't have just as many kids as I could possibly want. And I have. But I know enough now to not take it for granted. I've brought hundreds of prayer requests from readers along with us on our pilgrimages, and almost HALF of them have been prayers for a child, or another child. 

It makes me grateful, now, for those times early in my marriage, when everything was still new and nothing was settled, when I sat there in tears over a pregnancy. Or another pregnancy. Because, despite all that conventional wisdom about how we were too young and too poor and too newly married and too unaccomplished to start a family, it all turned out all right. Better than all right. It all turned out so beautifully. Those early babies made my marriage stronger and made me a better person.

I now know dozens of women who have struggled with infertility and subfertility and secondary infertility and miscarriages. Most of them felt blindsided by the fact that getting pregnant and having many children wasn't automatic. Marriage can be hard, parenthood can be trying. I've certainly known many women who would say that. But I've never known a woman who wished she had fewer children.

You're just married. Maybe this really isn't a good time for you to have a baby. There ARE good reasons to wait. Reasons that even an old-fashioned church approves. NFP is a very useful thing to know. Understanding how your body works is helpful no matter which part of the journey you're on.

But just know, from me, that if you turn up pregnant despite your best efforts, it's likely to be the best thing that ever happens to you. Every single time. And if you don't turn up pregnant, despite your best efforts, it's likely to be the biggest cross of your life.

"They" won't tell you that. But you should know. So you won't be worried about the wrong things.

So much of this isn't in our own hands anyway, of course. Maybe, hopefully, you can learn not to worry about anything at all. 



Monday, July 21, 2014

Introductions and Greetings, Likes and Dislikes

I made a vlog for the about page. But in case there are some of you who don't check my about page for updates on a super regular basis, I'm going to put it here, too.

If you're particular about comprehension, I'd suggest clicking that little cc button on the bottom right to turn on the captions.

For more vlogging fun, check out . . . 

Bonnie: Vlog Review of Something Other Than God



Saturday, July 19, 2014

Answer Me This . . . Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

Ahoy, you landlubbers! And a very warm welcome to Answer Me This . . . the internet's favorite virtual cocktail party* in which I ask six totally random questions and we all answer them and get to know each other a little better. 

Isn't that nice?

*this statement may not be true.

So, here goes this week's edition:

1. What’s something you've won and how did you win it?

I once took first place in a "modeling contest" at the mall. I won a (partial) scholarship to the Barbizon School of Modeling, which is, as you can probably guess, TOTALLY legit and not AT ALL a money grab.

And . . . look what my mom found. And you guys thought Kelly was the only one with the guts to put embarrassing photographs of herself on the internet. I see your award-winning DEVO picture, Kelly, and I raise you: headband, slung leather jacket, smolder, crazy dangly airplane earrings.

Moving on. 

I won some track and cross country races in high school.

And my dad built some really exceptional dioramas and science projects that I won some awards for in school. But I was THERE when he built them. It's just as well my kids are homeschooled otherwise that shoe would probably be on the other foot right now. 

Update: I almost forgot to mention my Sheenazing Award for Smartest Blog 2014! Not very smart, that.

2. Do you save old greeting cards and letters, or throw them all away? Why?

I am a thrower awayer of all the things. But especially mail. 

If you have ever mailed something to my husband and didn't receive a response, it's because I threw it away in a fit of cleaning. Probably because we were having a party. Probably because I scheduled a party to make myself clean off the counter tops, but then it got away from me at the last minute there.

I keep Christmas cards for the entire Christmas season, all the way through Candlemas, but then I toss 'em. I have a couple of sweet cards from the husband stashed away, but that's it. 

3. When you’re at home, do you wear shoes, socks, slippers, or go barefoot?

We don't have any shoe-related policies at my house. No, that's not true. We don't have any shoe-related policies that would apply to ME.

prefer to be barefoot or in socks at home, but if I have shoes on already, I don't usually bother to take them off.

4. Who’s the most famous person you have ever met? 

I met Richard Nixon on an airplane once. I was eleven.

Wow, my crack research team (my mom) is really tearing it up this week.

Bobby took his first steps in a Pottery Barn at the Galleria Mall to Jimmy Kimmel. 

I was in a hotel elevator with Coolio, who told me he's got more kids than I do. About which I shall assume the best and not look him up on Wikipedia.

I know documentary star Blythe Fike, her brother Kenny of The Head and the Heart, and Hope and Justin of The Hope and Justin Band (who should definitely be more famous than they are.)

And I've met James Fulton Engstrom, miracle boy. More than once!

5. What has been your best work of art?

Hmm, that's tough. There's my book. I do like it. (And so does Julie of Happy Catholic*! Although we disagree about some parts of it.)

And I really like making birthday cakes. This one, for Anita's 3rd birthday, is probably the most detailed one I've ever done:

Or there's these guys (plus Jack, minus Venerable Fulton Sheen):

Each one a work of art. Each one, just look at lucky number seven.

6.  What’s your strongest sense?

Smell. I can smell all sorts of crazy stuff that the other people in my family claim doesn't have a smell. Squished ant, for instance, has a kind of sour spicy smell that only I notice.

For next week I'm tagging two more of my fellow Blessed Is She writers:

Gina at 
Someday (hopefully) They'll Be Saints. Post to check out:

And Jacqui at Mexican Domestic Goddess. Post to check out:

Next week's questions for Gina and Jacqui and you are . . .

1. What’s your favorite thing on YouTube?

2. Who taught you to drive?

3. What’s your favorite thing to cook?

4. Are you a hugger or a non-hugger? Why?

5. Where do you pray best?

6. When is the last time you saw/spoke to your grandparents?

Next week's installment will go live at 10pm Pacific Saturday night, and will be open until 10pm Wednesday night.

So, please, answer this week's questions for yourself in the comments. If you have a blog, answer the questions there, link back to this post, and link your blog post up below. For bonus points, you can even tag a couple other bloggers so THEY can play along too! So fun.

But always remember, in Answer Me This . . . there are no rules, and the points don't matter.


On Marrying Young: How to Marry a Man You Just Met

Just to continue my inexplicable trend of nonstop posting about a movie I say I don't particularly care for . . . here's a post I originally wrote for my friend Mandi's blog. But she's taking early retirement, so I'm moving it over here, just so it's not lost forever.


I was 24 when I got married. Not as young as some certainly, but I still had a lot of growing up to do, so I'm going to go ahead and say I married young. But I also married fast. We were engaged within ten weeks of meeting, and were married in nine months.

Ever since Frozen burst onto the pop culture scene, folks have been sagely nodding their heads in unison about how refreshing it is to see Disney finally telling it like it is:

But here's the thing . . . Yes, getting married is a VERY serious decision. And sometimes, putting it off is the right call. But not because postponing marriage will ensure that you really know the person you are marrying. Because you can't. No matter how long you date someone, you can't know exactly who he is, because who he is will change. You can't know how he'll react to parenthood, or losing his job, or illness, or your baffling inability to input multiple kids' sports schedules into iCal properly.

You will change too.

When we met, I had a job, two cats, and clean and dirty piles for the laundry.

My husband was a Marine Corps officer working at Boot Camp. He used an unzipped sleeping bag as a comforter on his bed for efficiency and ate a plain peanut butter sandwich for lunch every day.

None of those things is true of either of us anymore. We have both changed in both superficial and fundamental ways.

Circumstances change and people change with them. Who he is with you as a single guy on a romantic night on the town is not a good indicator of who he will be when you're facing a crisis. But you can't vet him in every possible situation. At some point you just have trust.

So, here's how to marry a man you just met:

1. Be compatible

We all have our quirks, the things about us that might drive some folks up a wall. The trick is to marry someone whose quirks don't bother you. Or better yet, whose quirks you don't even notice. It doesn't take years, or even months, to know that you feel really comfortable around someone. Sometimes it can all come out in one magical night when you realize you like the same movies, and you hate the same pop songs, and have the same general worldview. And he doesn't even notice that weird thing you do when you chew.

My husband and I are the same in some ways and compatible in others. This was true on the evening we met and on our first date and on the night we got engaged. It's true now. It will still be true on our deathbeds.

2. Be committed

As spouses, it's important that you generally enjoy each other's company, and are committed to each other. But it's even more important to be committed to the IDEA of marriage. If you go into a marriage utterly committed to not only your husband but to marriage itself, as an indissoluble union -- and he does the same thing, well that's most of the battle won already.

Because people change, and circumstances change, but the institution stands. If you never entertained any concept of a marriage failing, then you've got to be more likely to have yours succeed.

My husband and I are blessed to both have happily married sets of parents, so growing up, we both had real life examples of what marriage looks like. It's not a prerequisite to a happy marriage, of course, but it helps. We also have surrounded ourselves with friends who take their marriages seriously. And none of that could have been changed any by dating longer.

3. Answer to a higher power

And when the institution of marriage itself isn't inspiring enough, we are inspired by faith. Our faith calls us every day to be better spouses and better individuals. It calls us to be self-controlled and self-sacrificing. It calls us to give ourselves completely to the other. If we are willing to love our spouses as we are called by God to do, we cannot fail. But this isn't something that comes from going on a certain number of dates.

And, honestly, when we were dating neither one of us knew how much we would grow in our faith, as individuals and as spouses. The beauty of a sacramental marriage, is that it gives you the grace you need to live it. When you need it. Not before. And not dependent on any particular timetable.


So, I'm going to side with Cinderella, not Elsa. I'm going to say you can marry a man you just met, and you can marry young, and you can marry poor, and you can have kids right away, and you can have too many kids. And you can do all those things even though some folks say they aren't responsible. You can weather moves, and job changes, and health scares, and tragedies. Not because you really knew each other before you got married, but because you trusted in God and in each other and you choose to love each other anew each day.


This post originally ran as a guest post at Messy Wife, Blessed Life on Feb. 5, 2014.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

In Which I Solve EVEN MORE Problems

The world is full of real problems. But since I've got nothing to offer for those except my prayers, (and who could do more than that, right?) I'm going to solve some significantly less important problems for ya. I've done it before. I'll probably do it again.

1. PROBLEM: Last summer I threw a bit of a hissy fit over that one terrible, horrible, no good, very bad song. You agreed with me, really you did, but you just found the tune really, REALLY catchy, and no matter how you tried you just couldn't stop humming it.


Problem solved by "Weird Al" Yankovic by combining five of my all time favorite things: grammar, graphic word art, cheesy pop music, "Weird Al" Yankovic, and GRAMMAR. Now you can sing along. Out loud. In front of your kids.

2. PROBLEM: People hate children.

Seriously, they do. I had no idea.

Haley wrote an excellent follow up piece to her post about her regrets about not inviting children to her wedding. This one was addressing the push for child-free zones, and pointing out that children are just small humans, and, "Unfortunately, humans are inconvenient. But it doesn't make them any less worthwhile."

She, and I, and all people who don't hang out in the deepest dankest corners of the internet were surprised when her post was shared on anti-child message boards.

Not boards for people who have chosen not to have children. Not all people are meant to have children. That's a discernment you're allowed to make. These are boards for people who pretty much think children should not be suffered to exist.

Do these people maybe really NOT know how wonderful children are and how much we love them and their messes and their sticky inconvenient selves?


I need to figure out a way to introduce all those super-creepy misguided people to Lulu. In pigtails. Preferably in person, so she can smile at them. But *I* don't really want to meet them. But we're kind of a team-package, at this point. So, I'll admit, there are still some details to work out. But I think it would work.

On the off chance I can't swing the introducing the message board weirdos to my daughter thing . . . maybe  I'll just try to share the positive things about parenthood too. Just to even things out.

Note: I've reworded the above take to prevent confusion and more accurately reflect my opinion.

3. PROBLEM: You wanted to download the St. Michael prayer, but you couldn't. Also, you didn't mention it, because you were trying to be polite, but you noticed that it might be missing a kind of important line.


I made a new one. This time it's downloadable AND has all of the words. You're welcome.

P.S. I'll do another round of them sometime in the future, so please feel free to make requests.

4. PROBLEM: The plot of Frozen doesn't make sense.

Okay. I KNOW. I'm sorry. I'm TRYING to just stop with Frozen. 

But if you were a person who is a writer and a reader and a known problem-fixer and all day long your children sang songs from a show that doesn't make sense, but could have. And if you threw a whole birthday party based on this movie. And if you just had to watch it FOR THE THIRD TIME. And if you had now listened to the second disc of the soundtrack (many times), containing the demos of outtake songs that explained many (but not all) of the plot holes . . . 

Maybe you wouldn't be able to let it go either. (Huh? See what I did there?)

Anyway, I've linked to Amanda's take on Frozen and Tangled before, but here it is again, because she's right. 


And here's how I would fix Frozen.
  • We NEED the prophecy. The whole movie doesn't make sense without it. The trolls, Elsa's powers, all of it is explained by the "ancient troll prophecy" we hear about in the outtakes. The ice cutting scene is lovely, but don't help the plot at all. Put the prophecy back in.
  • Hans and Anna's love song is absolutely adorable and yet it's all a terrible lie. Which really ruins the song. The whole flipping of his character is the worst piece of writing I've seen in a long time. All I can figure is that they changed the ending after his early scenes had already been executed, because there is NO foreshadowing.
  • BUT they want the act of true love to be sisterly and they want to make a statement about the whole "teenaged Disney princesses run off and marry men they just met" thing. Great. We can do that. Hans kisses her and, IT DOESN'T WORK. Not because he's secretly, psychopathic-ly, to his own detriment-ly evil, but because it can't be "true love," YET. It doesn't work, Anna is confused and heartbroken, runs off, saves Elsa from something (not Hans), that thaws her heart and breaks the curse. We have a quick moment in which someone, probably a troll, explains that it didn't work because Hans and Anna need to get to know each other and give their love at first sight time to grow and mature into true love.
  • Then, like Heather suggests, Elsa and Kristoff can make eyes at each other and then there'll be TWO weddings in the sequel. 

5. PROBLEM: (also Frozen-related, gah!) Your children won't stop listening to/singing the Frozen soundtrack.


Fight fire with fire.

If we're going to have near-constant singing of show tunes, we're at least going to have some variety. So the girls have also been learning all the lyrics to:

So . . . that's better?

6. PROBLEM: You wanted a once-and-for-all ruling from the bishops on whether the Girl Scouts are officially incompatible with Catholic faith and values.


That's mostly not how our Church works. The Catholic Church has a reputation of being pretty bossy. But that's true in only a handful of very specific areas of Church teaching, the so-called "non-negotiables."

On most other issues, we are trusted to consult our local priests and bishops and our own properly informed consciences to make decisions. That's where the bishops have left it this time.

Given what I know about Girl Scouting, and given the other options available to us (like the Little Flowers Girls' Club I host) I am very comfortable in our decision to eschew the Girl Scouts. But other people in other situations may, with the permission of the bishops, decide differently.

Here's my take on Boy and Girl Scouts:


7. PROBLEM: As a former teenaged girl (I'm assuming this applies to most of my readers) you love that toe-tapping, heart-melting, rebelliously romantic song that's inescapable this summer.

But the current, mother of children you (again, I'm thinking this is most of you) just can't put your finger on the problem you have with the song.


This guy knows what the problem is. It's that Dad mostly likely has a pretty good reason for being rude to whiny, skinny jeans, beanie guy. Although I do hope he's not actually going to kill him. I can't support that.