Friday, August 29, 2014

Moms, You Don't HAVE to Keep That. 50 items to trash or give away guilt-free.

Before school started up this week, I did a major tidy up of the playroom and the desks in the kids' rooms. We do our twice yearly clean outs during advent and lent, in which we select things we don't love or use all that often to donate. That's not what this was. This was me, alone and unsupervised, well past bedtime, getting rid of useless stuff that was cluttering up our counter tops and our lives. 

With seven children living here, five of whom are of independent-craft-doing age, a lot of what didn't survive the purge was crafts. We do a lot of melty beads. We do a lot of rainbow loom. And, although I appreciate that those and other crafty pastimes keep my children occupied and quiet and enjoying themselves, completed melty bead and rainbow loom projects had created a gentle layer of detritus, covering the surfaces of my home like silt in the hollows of a sunken ship.


And I, ladies and gentlemen . . . I THREW THEM AWAY. Just like that. I threw away the melty bead shapes, and the rainbow loom bracelets, and the completed coloring pages, and the magazine clipping collages, and the popsicle sticks with yarn glued to them. 

The rooms look so much tidier. And, five days later . . . the kids haven't noticed.

It inspired me to look around at my own stuff. What would *I* not even notice if it was gone? I've been on a bit of a tear ever since.


Throwing things away or bagging them up to donate is liberating, but scary. So, in case you need it, I, a certified person on the internet, hereby give you permission to rid yourself of the following fifty items. You're welcome.






  1. most of the melty bead creations 
  2. most of the rainbow loom bracelets
  3. all of the fast food toys
  4. things you have just because they were expensive
  5. things you have just because they are religious (don't throw away blessed items. bury them, burn them, or drop them off at a church)
  6. toys just because they are wooden
  7. toys just because they are educational
  8. gifts
  9. mostly completed activity books
  10. ripped out pages of coloring books
  11. most kids' art projects that are more than a month or two old
  12. most birthday cards that are more than a month or two old
  13. toys you like but your kids don't
  14. toys your kids like but you don't
  15. single socks
  16. your favorite pants from before you had babies
  17. movies you should like but don't
  18. books you should read but won't
  19. catalogs full of things you can't afford
  20. tapes and CDs if you don't have a player
  21. scratched DVDs
  22. plastic storage container bottoms without tops
  23. plastic storage container tops without bottoms
  24. participation trophies
  25. old sports uniforms
  26. kitchen appliances that only other types of moms use
  27. anything "fancy" that never gets used
  28. probably 90% of anything in a storage unit
  29. incomplete decks of cards
  30. board games with missing pieces
  31. those piles of stuff you're saving for a thing you saw on Pinterest
  32. old calendars
  33. restaurant menus 
  34. all those empty jars
  35. the spare buttons that came with shirts you no longer own
  36. broken items that you plan to (but probably never will) fix
  37. art supplies that are too messy to use
  38. colored pencils that are less than two inches long
  39. pencils with no erasers
  40. broken crayons
  41. cute and/or expensive baby clothing that isn't functional
  42. items that may be useful for the next child but will sit years in storage in between
  43. probably half of your digital photos
  44. vacuumed up Legos
  45. canned goods that have been in your pantry for over a year
  46. picture books you don't enjoy reading
  47. shoes you love but don't wear
  48. clothes in your closet that still have the tags on them
  49. equipment for sports in which you do not participate
  50. outdated and replaced technology
p.s. First week of school in the books. Seven kids, five grades. There was barfing. (But we're better now.) There were clogged toilets. (Unrelated to, but on the same day as the barfing. Terrific.) There were potty training successes. (One of which was the cause of ANOTHER, separate, clogged toilet incident.) But we did it. And we looked GOOD doing it.


Update: In response to a couple of comments below . . . yes, we homeshool in uniforms! I have found that it cuts down on morning drama over what to wear and saves us time. It also cuts down on my laundry. The kids each have two shirts or dresses and wear them each two days, then play clothes for parkday on Friday. I also happen to think it's pretty cute. It's what works for us.

I wrote more about it here:

WHY I HOMESCHOOL LIKE THAT

Also, I asked the kids for suggestions for a name for our school this year, and then they voted on it. By a majority vote we are now the Queen of Heaven Finishing School for Young Ladies (only). The boys were particularly enthusiastic about it.

The original suggestion by the girls was Queen of Heaven Finishing School for Young Ladies and Gentlemen. The boys amended it, then it passed by a vote of 6-5 (the five votes being mine). Both boys and girls were quite happy with the name until it was discovered that the boys would, in fact, still have to do schoolwork. They were shocked. SHOCKED.


Happy weekend everyone!


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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Peace Be With You, Dinosaur: Age Appropriate Goals for Mass Behavior

I've written about kids in Mass. A lot. My thoughts are well known on whether churches should have cry rooms (against it) or breastfeeding (for it). But when Haley asked me to be a part of a blog carnival about kids in Mass, I just KNEW that if I really thought about it, there must be more to share on the subject.

And there was.





So, without further ado, here are our family's expectations for the behavior of our children during Mass, things we look out for, and our coping strategies, broken down by age group. 


(Note: My kids are the only ones I've ever parented. Your kids may vary. I promise to refund your entire purchase price if this doesn't work for your kids.)

Zero to Six Months

Goals: 


  • Reasonably quiet, ideally sleeping.

Things That'll Get Ya: 


  • General baby grumpiness. 
  • Forgetting something important like the carrier, or a nursing cover, or wipes. 
  • Diaper blowouts.

Things I Don't Sweat: 


  • Going past people, even multiple times. 
  • Low to moderate level baby noises. Babies aren't capable of silence, but they and I have as much right to the Mass as the next guy. Until the noise level gets past coo/gurgle/fussing we stay put. 
  • Being late. All we can do is our best.
  • Missing parts of Mass for diaper changes or inconsolable moments. Caring for an infant is a valid excuse for missing Mass entirely, it's certainly a valid excuse for missing parts of Mass, even the important parts. All we can do is our best.

Strategies: 


  • Feeding. I always plan to nurse my babies in the pew during Mass. It keeps them quiet and occupied. 
  • Walking. If I can't nurse them to sleep, I try a baby carrier and walking back and forth in the back of the church. 
  • Sitting in the front of the church so I don't see if people are craning to look at us.


Six Months to Two Years

Goals: 


  • Reasonably quiet, mostly in the pew.

Things That'll Get Ya: 


  • The collection envelopes. So brightly colored, right at eye level. My kids aren't allowed to touch them, but they really want to. 
  • Keeping toddler voices at a whisper.
  • Keeping toddlers in a confined space. 
  • Cry rooms . . . if there's one in your church, some folks are going to expect you to sit in it.

Things I Don't Sweat: 


  • Quiet talking, or attempted quiet talking, even if it's not perfectly successful. 
  • Moving around within the pew. 
  • Going past people, even multiple times.

Strategies: 


  • Quiet, not messy snacks. 
  • Sitting up front where toddlers can see what's going on. 
  • Whispered explanations of what's happening in the Mass or who that is in that stained glass window. 
  • Quiet, soft toys. 
  • Nursing if possible, but many of my babies are awfully distractible after six months and have trouble nursing in interesting environments.


Two Years to Seven or So 

Goals: 


  • Quiet, following the Mass. 
  • Sit or stand or kneel as required.
  • Stay in the pew alone (or with a sibling) quietly during communion or if I have to take the baby out.

Things That'll Get Ya: 


  • That they're probably sitting next to a sibling. 
  • Potty "emergencies." 
  • Children's liturgies. We avoid regularly attending a Mass with a children's liturgy, because we'd really rather be together as a family for the Mass. But, at this age, we do let our kids go if we happen upon one. 
  • Snacks, toys, books, and Mass bags . . . for us these don't work. They make my kids noisier than they would otherwise be, and they keep them from participating in the Mass. We bring "stuff" for kids under two, but two and ups in our family don't get things in Mass. They just get the Mass.

Things I Don't Sweat: 


  • I don't usually have to take kids over two out of Mass for behavior, but if I did, I would. 
  • Kids saying they have to go to the bathroom, because mostly they don't. 
  • Moving around between seats or between parents.

Strategies: 


  • Always taking them to the bathroom before Mass, so I don't have to stress about not letting them go during Mass.
  • Sitting up front.
  • Following along in the missalette.
  • Bribery. Never underestimate the power of the donut.


Eight (or First Communion) and Up

Goals:  


  • Follow along with the Mass. Sing the songs, recite the responses. 
  • Sit up, kneel up, stand up straight.
  • Pay attention to, and be able to recall, the readings and the homily. 
  • As an altar server . . . Be reverent. Pay attention. Know your job. Do your job.

Things That'll Get Ya: 


  • Children's liturgies. Our communicants do not leave the Mass, even though sometimes well-meaning parishioners encourage them to do so.
  • Siblings.
  • Kids forgetting that there's no where on the altar that the people in the pews won't notice nose picking. 

Things I Don't Sweat: 


  • Some fidgeting. My boys have tics. So, they look fidgety, but they can't help it. 
  • Some whispering. Until I can make myself stay quiet for the whole Mass, I can hardly expect the kids to be able to.

Strategies: 


  • Same as above, plus my boys really love altar serving and it's very motivational for them.




Please click over and check out the other posts in the blog carnival . . . 

Sarah at Two Os Plus More, Mass Effect: Why We Bring Our Kids to Church

Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas, 27 Books for Your Mass Bag (And Tips for Dealing with Little Ones in Mass)

Abbey at Surviving Our Blessings, Surviving Mass with Little Ones: Our Top Ten Tips


Christy at Fountains of Home, Survival Skills for Mass with Kids


You might also like these other posts about kids and Mass at this blog:

SO, YOUR TODDLER IS TERRIBLE IN MASS . . .


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Monday, August 25, 2014

Babies and Discipline: When, Where, and How Much?

It's our first day of school! So . . . I'm going to throw up a question from the mailbag, since it's already typed up. Perhaps it would be of interest to some other newish mamas out there.

Question:

(it was a long one so I'm going to excerpt it here . . . )

Dear Kendra,

We're getting to the stage where discipline needs to begin and I was hoping you could share your advice. I know many things depend on the child, but I'm curious at what age you start the "crying is for babies" timeout and hand-spanking? I know Andy, our nine month old son, is starting to realize right from wrong but I'm unsure if I say "not for babies" and he does it anyways and then I put him in his crib that he will "get it". What have you found?

Also, I'm curious from your experience, do children feel like hand spanking is a punishment? Do you hand spank relatively hard?

Do hand spankings help if a child is throwing a fit in a public place? I've read that you should just threaten to leave that place but that seems like more of a punishment for me. I don't want to have to leave the grocery store because my child is having a tantrum.

Warmly,
Betsy




Answer:

Hey Betsy,

Lulu is just about at this same age, she's eight months, and for me it's a transitional time. I've started saying "not for babies" and "not food" to her, and I remove the thing she shouldn't have from her, even if she gets upset about it. But I don't yet do hand spankings or time outs in the crib. She doesn't seem to me to be doing things intentionally yet.

But, once I get that feeling from her, once she starts looking me in the eye and doing it again, then I'll start consequences. I want to give her time to gain an understanding of what the words I'm saying mean. I think she's just starting to get that understanding now. But not quite yet.

At this age I start by saying "not for babies" and following through by taking the item away from the baby or moving the baby away from the item. That way, she'll begin to associate the words "not for babies" with an action "not doing that anymore." Later on, sometime between 12 and 18 months, I expect the baby to be able to not touch things that are "not for babies" even if I leave the baby and the item right where they are.


If Andy "gets it" then it might be time to start consequences. I start with very very very light hand spankings. For some kids the shock of the IDEA of it is enough to change their behavior. For other kids, it actually needs to hurt to make a difference. You'll get to know what works for your kid.

I've had kids who were really bothered by hand spankings and some who didn't appear to be bothered by them one bit, but in both cases, I've still found it to be effective in changing behavior if it's used calmly and consistently. My kids who acted like it didn't bother them still preferred to NOT get one. But that's more of an issue with preschoolers, not babies.

I try to introduce concepts in discipline early, before I expect them to be able to understand completely, in the hopes of catching that understanding as early as possible. So, if Lulu grabs my shopping list and puts it in to her mouth, I'll say, "not food" and lower her hand from her mouth for her. I know she doesn't quite understand yet, but she's right there in front of me in the cart, so I can just keep saying "not food" as often as she puts it in her mouth. It's just introducing the concept at this point, no consequences, no drama.

Once I think she's ready for consequences, we try it to see if it works. If she doesn't seem to understand, if the consequences aren't changing the behavior, then we'd give it a month and try again when she's a little older. All of our kids have been ready for discipline, both hand spankings and time outs, and we saw changes in behavior because of it, by 12 months.

I wrote a whole post on how we handle discipline with one year olds, you can read it here:

HOW TO BE THE BOSS OF A ONE YEAR OLD

For a nine month old, I really focus on trying to avoid situations that are going to cause a meltdown in the first place. So I make sure she's getting plenty of sleep, I always bring snacks for her (which I don't do with the older kids) and I gauge how she does with errands as I plan my day. Lulu loves being out and about and between smiling at people from the cart or snuggling with me in the Ergo, she doesn't mind errands. Frankie was different, I had to pretty much just do one errand, then come home, or I risked a meltdown.



I think you're right to start thinking about discipline now, but I'd start slowly, focusing mostly on consistency and communication and appropriate expectations.

As my kids get older, I expect them to be able to control their behavior more.

We've really gotten to the point where we don't have meltdowns in public. I've probably just jinxed myself, but I can't remember the last time I had a kid freak out in a store. They just know better. It's important to me that my kids learn to keep their emotions under control. They are allowed to be upset or frustrated or mad, but they're not allowed to freak out.

Frankie was a shrieker, and I had trouble getting him to be quiet enough for places like church and the library, but it wasn't an issue of tantrums. He was just a really noisy kid. I make a big deal with my kids of behaving properly in public. Even if they've hurt themselves a little. But I mostly just do it by talking to them. Eye contact. Huge gasps of surprise that such a nice little boy would behave like that. Strong voice. "We do NOT behave like this in a store. You need to compose yourself right now." That sort of thing.



I mostly use hand spankings at home to stop repeat behaviors. "No slamming doors. If you slam a door again you will get a hand spanking." Mostly, for me, there aren't situations in a store that would necessitate a hand spanking. Mostly things in a store are "No shrieking. If you can't use an inside voice, I'm going to put the mini wheats back and get plain Cheerios." Or "You must stay next to Mommy or you'll have to be buckled in to the cart." 

Hand spanking in public is tricky. I'm not against it, and I've done it, and I'm not going to limit my parenting choices based completely on other people. But I do know of a handful of people who have had to deal with lots of unpleasantness and inconvenience based on other people's opinions of their parenting. So, you do have to exercise judgment on your public parenting decisions.


Cheers,
Kendra


Disclaimer: I am not a theologian, nor am I an official spokesperson for the Catholic Church. (You're thinking of this guy.) If you read anything on this blog that is contrary to Church teaching, please consider it my error (and let me know!). I'm not a doctor or an expert on anything in particular. I'm just one person with a lot of experience parenting little kids and a desire to share my joy in marriage, mothering, and my faith.

If you've got a question, please send it along to catholicallyear @ gmail . com . Please let me know if you prefer that I change your name if I use your question on the blog.

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Now for THE LAST TIME, Answer Me This . . . !

Well, probably not for the last time EVER. But, unless there is GREAT public outcry, I'm going to retire it as a weekly thing. I've really enjoyed doing it, but I want to have a little more flexibility on what I post. Perhaps I'll bring it back for holidays or once a month, or over the summer. We'll see. The suggestion box is open below.

But now, here are this weeks's questions . . . 




1. What is your favorite picture book?

I am a big, big fan of picture books. I love a picture book with truth and humor and good illustrations. I love it when we accidentally learn something when we read one.

I have quite a few posts on picture books:


PICTURE BOOKS: THEY DON'T HAVE TO BE PRE-WWII TO HAVE A MESSAGE WORTH SHARING

And we always read another one of my favorites on Michaelmas (coming up next month): 


FUN, FEASTING, AND BEATING THE DEVIL WITH SWORDS: A FAMILY MICHAELMAS

And this post has my favorite books for soon-to-be big brothers and sisters:

I should actually update that post, because I found this at a used book store over the summer, and it's my NEW favorite:


My New Baby by Rachel Fuller. It covers everything big brother or sister needs to know, plus it has just the most perfect illustrations of breastfeeding, which all my other books have lacked.




I have too many favorites. I'm almost done.

I'm going to give you a long time favorite:



This version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears has been a favorite of my kids for years. Instead of drawings it has the most amazing photographs of intricate woodsy and cottage-y tableaus created with lovely dolls. And it's a fun retelling of the classic story as well.

And a new new one that I JUST got in the mail today from the author illustrator himself.



Catholic Churches Big and Small is beautiful and fun and informational. I loved it so much that I'm going to do a whole post on it, with an interview with the author and giveaway for you. But I just couldn't wait to share it.

If you buy it now, then win the giveaway, you'll have a copy to share!

All links are Amazon Affiliate links, if you click through my blog and shop at Amazon, I get some cents to spend on schoolbooks for my kiddos!

2. Are you a boycotter?

I'm not. I know that people absolutely have a right to spend their money as they choose, and I know that I have a moral obligation not to give money directly to support evil. But as for boycotting businesses owned by people who disagree with me. THAT, I don't do. When all that went down with Chick Fil A a few years back and the other guys were boycotting a guy who shared my beliefs, it felt wrong to me that folks would be trying to put him out of business for disagreeing with them. It felt like bullying.

I'm not going to give money directly to support things I don't personally support, but I'm not convinced that boycotts based on the personal views of business owners are the best way to change hearts and minds. I have friends who disagree with me on important matters. That's allowed.

Of course, you might disagree . . . :0)

3. How do you feel about cheese?

I am strongly in support of cheese. Almost always and on almost everything.




4. How many pairs of sunglasses do you own?

Four? I think. I have very light colored eyes and I'm pretty sensitive to the sun. I have a pair in the car and one in my purse and a couple of others lying about.

5. How long has it been since you went to the dentist?

Six months. I'm going in for a cleaning next week. And hey, I'm not pregnant so I can have x-rays!

6. If you could visit any religious site in the world, where would you go?

I've been lucky enough to get to see many amazing sites: Guadalupe, Mexico; the Vatican and all over Italy; Fatima, Portugal and Spain; Lourdes and France. I'd most like to see the Holy Land with my family. I went as a high school student and it was very moving. I'd love my husband and kids to see it. I'd also like to go to Poland some day and visit the JPII sites there, with my Jack who is named for him.


No installment next week, so if you've always wanted to play along . . . THIS is your moment. These are your questions. Tell the world how you feel about cheese while you have the chance.

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.




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Friday, August 22, 2014

In Which there are Seven Free Printable Prayers and so many other things . . .

I've had some more requests for printable prayers from good folks like Sarah and Charlotte and Robin. And, in honor of the Feast of the Queenship of Mary, and in celebration of the monumental events of the day (more on that below), I decided to take an evening off of organizing school supplies and do another round of printables. For you.

As usual, you are welcome to save and/or download the images, and print them for your own personal use. If you wish to sell them, please contact me. They are formatted as 8x10, but the files should be large enough to be printed all the way up to 20x30. 

If you're not in the market for free printable prayers, just scroll on down for answers to your burning questions about where my two year old is (shut in the bathroom) and where my twelve year old is (attempting to summit a fourteen thousand foot peak) and where I am (Yes, there is more guest posting. I'm on a bit of a spree).

So, here they are. I'd love to know in the comments which styles you prefer, and feel free to make suggestions for the next batch.


1. THE HAIL MARY in blue (click here to download)



THE HAIL MARY in chalkboard (click here to download)


2. GUARDIAN ANGEL PRAYER version I (click here to download)


3. GUARDIAN ANGEL PRAYER version II blue (click here to download)


THE GUARDIAN ANGEL PRAYER version II light wave (click here to download)


4. PRAYER FOR VOCATIONS (click here to download)


5. ANIMA CHRISTI (click here to download)


6. OUR FATHER in clouds (click here to download)


OUR FATHER bokeh lights (click here to download)



7. And a quote: I PRAY BECAUSE . . . (click here to download)


For more Printable Prayers, see this post, and this post or this Pinterest board.

And now, the rest of the rest . . . 

I mentioned in my last post that potty training Frankie was not going all that well. In the comments, Amanda (of the best post ever written about Frozen, which I have now linked to three times) indicated that when her son couldn't be bothered to do his business on the potty, she just shut him in the bathroom at his usual time and left him in there until he'd done it.

It sounds crazy, right? Well, *I* figured -- I had already tried reasonable, and that hadn't worked. So . . . crazy it was. 

After Frankie's nap, I told him how this was all going down. I set him up on the little potty, with a mini-muffin tin and a bowl of multicolor pony beads to sort (hat tip to Cari for that idea) and, he happily hung out in there for forty-five minutes at the end of which . . . we had SUCCESS!



And ice cream was enjoyed by all.

So that's the glamorous life being enjoyed around here. Meanwhile, the husband, the father, and the eldest son are attempting to climb Mt. Whitney, the highest summit in the contiguous United States at 14,505 feet.



They set out on Wednesday night, to have plenty of time to acclimatize before they attempt to summit on Friday. Please say a quick prayer for their safe and successful return! 


Happy Feast of the Queenship of Mary!




Check out take two from this post from last year to see the Queenship of Mary Ice Cream Sundaes we usually make for this feast. My kids love making them and best of all, there's almost no prep work by mom!

And, last but not least, I'm continuing the "least effective blogging break in all the land" by showing up on someone else's blog. Again. This time I'm being interviewed by Iris over at The Starving Inspired (formerly Country Girl's Daybook). If you don't click over, you won't get to see the picture of the giant inflatable alligator costume I wore for three summers at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. Could you really live with yourself?

Linking up with Jen for seven quick takes, because that was surely seven of something.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Here's Where You'll Find Me Today

1. Trying to Figure Out Mac Computing



Well, we did it. We got a Mac Mini. Thanks for all your advice and encouragement on my last post. I marched myself and all seven kids down to the Apple Store at the mall, which is fine with them because the place is simply teeming with iPads. We figured out what I needed, and they were able to resurrect my old computer long enough to preserve all the baby pictures and college essays therein.

So now, here I am, trying to figure out exactly how to put my fingers on this track pad thingy to make it do what I want. I'm a little worried that I'll inadvertently offend it with the wrong hand gestures.


Anyway, I signed us up for the one-to-one program to get the data transfer, which also entitles us to one-to-one classes in the Apple Store for a year. Which means computer classes just got added to ye olde homeschool syllabus.


2. Trailing After Frankie With One of Those Parade Shovels





Potty training deserves its own post.


Potty training FRANKIE, maybe shouldn't be talked about at all. Ever. It's bad for morale.


But here I go anyway. He's ready. He CAN do it. But he just really doesn't care what I think enough to bother. So, he's happy to pee in the potty seventeen times in a day for seventeen m&ms, but he prefers nap time or the great outdoors for his, uh, daily constitutional. Which is not ideal.


If I wanted to be cleaning that up in the yard, I'd get a dog.


He's not three until October, and I'm not stressing. If we need to go back into diapers, we will. But I just feel like if I could get him to go on the potty JUST ONCE, it would be a great victory.




Sleep training him was one of the worst things that has ever happened to me. It was long and loud and just terrible. But we managed it, and he's a great sleeper now. I assume potty training is going to be a similar experience. Once more into the fray . . . 

Feeling singed a bit by Frankie, I had been putting off sleep training Lulu. But she just wasn't sleeping well with/on me anymore. Poor smiley thing had little dark circles under her eyes. So, I read through the book again (I use Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child ) to get my courage up -- put it off for one more day after we got back in town -- then I psyched myself up, walked her down the hall, nursed her, and laid her down in the crib for the very first time ever (at eight months and some). She rolled over, fussed a bit, was asleep before I made it to the door, and slept for nearly two hours. The next night she slept from 5pm until 7am when *I* needed her, so I woke her up.


Crazy.


3. Guest Posting for Gina at Someday (hopefully) They'll Be Saints about how a funny picture on the internet changed my whole exercise philosophy.




There it is. So, click on the link in the title there, and come say hi. Ya know, if you want.


4. Also being on other blogs.


Bonnie has a nice piece on what she learned in Kindergarten, in which I have a small cameo role.


Nancy at Reading Catholic has some book recommendations to help all parents, no matter what type of schooling they use, fulfill their obligation to instruct their children in the faith. (Spoiler: one of them is my book.)



Nell also did a lovely review of my book. But you should really go over to her blog to see all the cute baby stuff she sells on Etsy. Adorable!

5. And Being Discussed on the Radio


It still kinda blows my mind when, all of a sudden I get a flurry of emails and Facebook messages telling me that people are talking about me on the radio. But, there you have it. (My editor discusses how my book came to be at about 1:50 into the program on 8/18).


6. Trying Not to Blog


I am terrible about taking blogging breaks, but I really should be getting the school year organized, and my house organized, and my new computer organized. And the yard cleaned up.


We did all our school supply shopping yesterday, and Bobby made us a fabulous centerpiece. Our uniforms and some of our books haven't arrived yet though, so we're eeeeeasing in to this school year.


Happy Tuesday!

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Answer Me This . . . Home again, home again, jiggety jig

Hey! We're back in LA! Home again, home again, jiggety jig.



Can I just say, quick, that looking at this illustration makes me think I've got to come up with crazier chores for my kids. These children walked somewhere, purchased an animal that is bigger than they, and made it come home with them. I find that very impressive.

Anyway, we are home after two lovely months with my terrific in-laws in Chicago, where the weather was quite mild and I wrote a kind of ridiculous number of blog posts. We returned to a non-functioning one year old desktop computer, so I'm blogging atcha from the husband's old macbook. And we're going to go computer shopping this weekend.

We are thinking about making the switch from PC to mac. We're already an iPhone and iPad family, but I'm still worried somehow about making the desktop switch. I really do prefer to do my writing on the desktop, and I'm used to the PC. But we do not wish to have to replace the computer every year. So . . . thoughts?

Speaking of thoughts, it seems like I'm not the only one feeling a bit of bloggers malaise lately. There are so many heavy things happening in the world and on the internet and I'm not particularly qualified to comment on any of them. But it seems off, somehow, to NOT comment on them. And it's the end of summer, and real life needs some attending to. And this laptop is reeeeeally slow. But, I promised you an Answer Me This, so an Answer Me This you shall have.


Hi-diddly-ho neighbors. 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 is your favorite room in the house?

I like our kitchen. When we moved in to the house seven years ago (I think, maybe eight?), the thing I was most excited about was the weird ugly kitchen. The previous owners had done all sorts of tedious but useful remodels in a 60s era home, like replacing all the windows and removing the popcorn ceiling, but the kitchen was original. So we got to design a new one.



It's functional, between the table and the counter we can seat twelve or fourteen people pretty comfortably (the kids seem to have run off with two of the stools). I like the brick and the stainless and the wood and the blue. And, ya know how on Friends, Joey has a dream about a TV that appears as if from nowhere? MY dream was about a stand mixer that appears as if from nowhere. And it came true.


Now you see it . . .  now you don't.

2. Do you subscribe to any magazines or other periodicals?

I get the Magnificat, so I can follow along and hope to pay attention at Mass, and the kids get MagnifiKid, same idea, more colorful.

We also have gotten Disney Family Fun, but now that I think about it, I haven't noticed one in a while. I liked it though, it's got cute ideas, especially for DIY Valentines and Halloween costumes and upcycling-type crafts.

I kept meaning to subscribe to Verily, and never quite got around to it, then they ran out of money and stopped making a print edition, which is clearly my fault. So, sorry.

3. How do you feel about the sign of peace in Mass? Enriching? Awkward? Overdone? Just right? Some combination of the above?
After nine years of study and consultation, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments has told Latin-rite bishops around the world that the sign of peace will stay where it is in the Mass. (read more here)
Basically, they opted NOT to move or eliminate the sign of peace, despite concerns that the tradition wasn't being practiced reverently enough. They did advise, though, that there shouldn't be a song played, we shouldn't move from our places, and the priest shouldn't leave the altar. And, if the priest forsees that the sign of peace won't be practiced properly, he can omit it.

Here's my take on it: First, I think it's kind of adorable that it took them nine years to decide on this. Nine years. She's a slow church, God bless 'er. Second, I'm glad they left it right where it has traditionally been in the Mass.

When I read Four Witnesses, I was blown away by how familiar sounding were the Masses described by the early fathers of the church. It's the same Mass, it's the same church, as year one. That's pretty cool.

So, I'm kind of offended by the suggestion that *we* today, now, two thousand years later, *we* just can't handle the sign of peace. If there are abuses, let's reign those in. For sure. But don't tell me *I* can't handle it.

I think it's nice to make some eye contact with the people around me. Sharing a kiss of peace with my family is a lovely moment. And I still laugh about Frankie and his loud, "Peace be wif you dinofawer." Good times.

4. What is your least favorite sound?

It's a tie between shrieking children and jazz music.

5. What was your favorite TV show (or shows) growing up?


I was a big fan of Fraggle Rock, and the Cosby Show. And I remember watching them with my parents. It seems like with so many homes having multiple TV sets these days, there isn't much interest in making "family" shows anymore. The kid shows have gotten more infantile and the grownup shows have gotten more "adult." Which would be more of a problem if we had time for much family TV watching. Which we really don't.

Oops. I just remembered Saved by the Bell, which kind of negates my above point. No grownup ever watched Saved by the Bell. Also there were some cartoons that I really loved as a kid that fail utterly upon re-watching now. Jem (Why are they making a movie?!?), He-Man, She-Ra, the Smurfs. They're all pretty terrible. Lots of characters just standing around and blinking, and no one seemed especially concerned that the plots made any sense. Especially not Jem. That show was straight up crazy.

6. What are your favorite TV shows now?

What with Netflix (and Acorn) being the only way I watch television, "now" is a relative term. But these are shows I have watched and enjoyed over the past year or so (most of them thanks to reader suggestions!):
  • Doctor Who
  • Freaks and Geeks
  • The Walking Dead
  • Downton Abbey
  • Sherlock
  • Firefly 
  • Foyle's War

Next on my list is Jeeves and Wooster, and a new season of Downton Abbey is coming up, yay! Look, Sibbie!





Here are next week's questions:

1. What is your favorite picture book?

2. Are you a boycotter?

3. How do you feel about cheese?

4. How many pairs of sunglasses do you own?

5. How long has it been since you went to the dentist?

6. If you could visit any religious site in the world, where would you go?


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.



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