Sunday, September 29, 2013

Fun, Feasting, and Beating the Devil With Swords: a Family Michaelmas

The first I ever heard of Michaelmas was in Pride and Prejudice and Middlemarch and other olden-timey English books. Apparently, it was one of the four days during the year on which servants were hired and rents were collected, so it comes up a lot in books. Also they always eat a goose, which made it particularly memorable.

Fast forward a few years, and I had kids, many of whom were boys, and we were trying to incorporate more of the feasts of the liturgical year into our family life. Since my boys were big fans of St. Michael, and of vanquishing the devil and whatnot, Michaelmas seemed like a good one to start celebrating. So we did.

It has since become (along with Easter, Christmas, the Assumption [aka Wafflesdaggen], and Fat Tuesday) one of the most anticipated days of the year in our house. We love it!

The kids mostly love it because of this pinata:

Grandad and the kids built it out of cardboard five years ago for our first Michaelmas party and it's still going strong. Each year we just make a new candy pouch to attach to his tummy, so the kids can wail on him with wooden swords all over again. We hang him from our backyard tree house, and he dangles beneath a cardboard St. Michael, who has cast him down from heaven. It's pretty awesome (thanks Grandad!) and is both the main activity and the main decoration of the party each year.

But it IS a feast, after all, so the food is the most important thing. I keep hoping that someday they will let me cook a goose. But so far I have been expressly forbidden to do so. The first year we threw the party I special ordered one from our grocery butcher counter, but I guess they thought I was joking, because it never came in and I had to make chicken, and there was great rejoicing in the Tierney house.

look how happy this guy is that he gets to cook this goose
Anyway, my compromise the last couple of years has been to make cornish game hens. They're a bit, well, game-ier than chicken and so seem a bit more exotic. And it feels old fashioned somehow to have a whole bird (or half of one anyway) sitting on your plate. Since I don't want to be stuck in the kitchen the whole time our guests are here I usually just roast potatoes and onions underneath the hens, and make a green salad with blackberries (more on that in a minute), and a vegetable (usually asparagus spears!), that's the whole feast.

But the fun part is the appetizers and desserts and drinks. Usually I ask our guests to bring something to share and we always get great stuff like deviled eggs, angel food cake, devil's food cake, etc. I also like to put out a bowl of flamin' hot cheetos and watch the kids dare each other to eat them. Hilarious.

The husband is in charge of the drinks. With dinner we have wine. This one is our favorite anyway, and perfect for the day!

As the guests are arriving we like to go old school and offer folks a cocktail . . . 

The husband made this up in 5 minutes last Michaelmas and calls it The Battle of Heaven (see Revelation 12:7)
Muddle 2 lime wedges and 3-4 small-to-medium mint leaves in an 8 oz jelly jar (or other extremely classy cocktail glassware)
Fill glass 2/3 full with ice cubes
Add 1 shot (1.5 oz) of blackberry brandy (we have used Hiram Walker's)
Fill remainder of glass with chilled club soda
Stir, garnish with 1-2 fresh blackberries, and serve
Enjoy and repeat
In the Battle of Heaven, we win.

and I make a blackberry fizzy punch for the kids:

blackberry juice, sprite, berry sorbet,
mint sprigs and fresh blackberries for garnish

Why all the blackberries you ask? Well, according to legend (according to Wikipedia):
Backberries should not be picked after this date. This is because, so folklore goes, Satan was banished from Heaven on this day, fell into a blackberry bush and cursed the brambles as he fell into them. In Yorkshire, it is said that the devil had spat on them. According to Morrell (1977), this old legend is well known in all parts of the United Kingdom, even as far north as the Orkney Islands. In Cornwall, a similar legend prevails, however, the saying goes that the devil urinated on them.
So, since the blackberries will be unfit to eat tomorrow, we eat a lot of them today!

When we host dinner parties, we don't usually have any activities planned for the kids. The grownups sit and visit, the kids run around the backyard like crazy people and everyone's happy. But for Michaelmas, we make sure to all recite the St. Michael Prayer before dinner, and after dinner we gather all the kids up and read them this book:

The Bearskinner: A Tale of the Brothers Grimm by Laura Amy Schlitz
I just adore this story. It's romantic for the girls and gross for the boys and shows the power of prayer in an extraordinarily beautiful way. And the devil gets his you-know-what handed to him, so it's perfect for Michaelmas.

Finally, we let the kids whack on the devil until he spills his candy guts and a good time is had by all.

Happy Michaelmas everyone!


And here's what I wore to Mass and for the party (except I'm probably going to change to flat shoes!).

Dress & Sweater: J Crew Library
Shoes: Kenneth Cole reaction
Necklaces: family pearls, new old key
Bump: 31 weeks

Thanks to the good ladies at Fine Linen and Purple for hosting yet another What I Wore Sunday. Head on over to check out what everyone else wore to Mass today!  


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Same Church, Same Hat, Same Message: 7 Quick takes XXVI

I think it's clear that for whatever reason some people in the "mainstream media" are willfully misunderstanding Pope Francis. They seem to have decided that anything Pope Francis says is awesome and revolutionary, while everything that Pope Benedict said (or says) was/is backwards and repressive.

But, I happen to think it's good that the Pope is in the news and hopefully it will lead more people to investigate what he's really talking about. Mostly, it doesn't surprise me that people who don't understand Catholicism don't understand Pope Francis' message. 

However, I am a bit frustrated with people who should know better who maintain that Pope Francis has a responsibility to choose his words in such a way that they couldn't possibly be misrepresented by anyone. That's just not possible! 

Pope Francis is speaking the TRUTH in a loving, non-radical, non-progressive way. It's HIS way. And it seems to be reaching people.

I still have a great fondness for Pope Benedict. Pope Benedict's way is really more my personal style. But I do like how the love shines through in everything that Pope Francis says.

And as much as people on both extremes of this debate would like to claim that Pope Francis is saying something new, may I offer you this? . . . 

Exhibit A:

"We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time. 
The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently … 
We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow. 
I say this also thinking about the preaching and content of our preaching." 
--Pope Francis 2013
Exhibit B:

"I remember, when I used go to Germany in the 1980s and '90s, that I was asked to give interviews and I always knew the questions in advance. They concerned the ordination of women, contraception, abortion and other such constantly recurring problems.

If we let ourselves be drawn into these discussions, the Church is then identified with certain commandments or prohibitions; we give the impression that we are moralists with a few somewhat antiquated convictions, and not even a hint of the true greatness of the faith appears. I therefore consider it essential always to highlight the greatness of our faith - a commitment from which we must not allow such situations to divert us.

In this perspective I would now like to continue by completing last Tuesday's reflections and to stress once again: what matters above all is to tend one's personal relationship with God, with that God who revealed himself to us in Christ."

--Pope Benedict XVI 2006
So . . . different years, different Popes, same Church, same hat, same message.

Dwija at House Unseen, Life Unscripted wrote a beautiful post called The Love Comes First in which she reminds us (with her own personal story) that Pope Francis' style is one we would all do well to remember, as people are rarely converted by throwing a bunch of rules at them.

The rules are there (and the rules ARE love), but as she points out, the love and understanding and Christian charity have to come first. 

Here are some other Popey (Papish?) links from the last week or so, if you need to catch up . . . 

From the horses' mouth (the highlights): An Interview with Pope Francis
The whole kit and caboodle: A Big Heart Open to God
Fr. Frank Pavone clears up some misunderstandings: I was having dinner with the Pope when worried pro-lifers started contacting me about his interview
R.R. Reno promotes some misunderstandings: Francis, Our Jesuit Pope
Tracy Trasconos, Ph.D. defends Pope Benedict from the out-of-context brigade: Did Pope Benedict Really Dismiss Evolution as ‘Science Fiction’?
Calah Alexander helps us understand how to "get" Pope Francis, and why some folks just don't: A Tale of Two Popes

Nella from Is There McDonald's in Heaven? is asking for your prayers. So give 'em to her.

This lovely quote made me think of her . . . 

“When I first found out I had cancer, I didn't know what to pray for. I didn't know if I should pray for healing or life or death. Then I found peace in praying for what my folks call, 'God's perfect will.' As it evolved, my prayer has become, 'Lord, let me live until I die.' By that I mean I want to live, love, and serve fully until death comes. If that prayer is answered, how long really doesn't matter. Whether it's just a few months or a few years is really immaterial.”

― Sister Thea Bowman, F.S.P.A.
(December 29, 1937 – March 30, 1990)

Golly, am I ever SERIOUS this week. Changing gears . . . 

In case you've been doubting my geek-cred, I would like to present to you our two geekified by me iPads . . .  

Hobbit iPad:

Back: Map of Middle Earth by Daniel Reeve
Front: Runes
Lock Screen: Hobbit Panorama by David T Wenzel
Home Screen: Conversations With Smaug by J.R.R. Tolkein

Doctor Who/Hoo iPad:

Back: Doctor Hoo by Pu-sama at Deviant Art
Front: Same concept, longer scarf
Lock Screen: T.A.R.D.I.S. wallpaper
Home Screen: It's BIGGER on the Inside!

The coverings for the front and back are just big stickers that I custom made at skinit. They help protect the iPad from scratches and whatnot, but mostly are just super-fun. 

And if, hypothetically, you dropped your one-day-old iPad on the bathroom floor and shattered the corner, this would hide any evidence of that.

This week we went on a really awesome field trip to Riley's Farm
in Yucaipa, CA. If you live anywhere in Southern California I cannot recommend it enough.

They have a Living History program with costumed re-enactors who were knowledgeable, funny, and always in character. There were tons of guided activities for the kids, plus I got to buy a delicious chicken pot pie and apple pie to bring home on the way out. There's nothing like letting someone else cook dinner after a busy day.

The farm is pretty far out of town, but we didn't hit much traffic, which in LA is really saying something. On the way home, however, I had another run-in with my arch-nemesis: California Freeway Signs.

I needed to get on the 10 West (I know you people in Chicago think it's weird to call it THE 10, but that's how we roll) to get home. I know because my GPS told me. But when I got to the on ramp, my choices were not 10 East or 10 West, they were "Beaumont" or "Lancaster." 

Now, I am the first to admit that I am not an expert navigator. In fact, it is possible that I rely on my eleven year old son to find places if my GPS fails. But REALLY, I'm supposed to know if I want to get home via "Beaumont" or "Lancaster"? I have no idea where either of those places is! And I grew up in Southern California. How in the world are tourists supposed to navigate?

Anyway, I had a 50-50 chance. I picked right. We got home. But I was still kinda mad.

Have a great weekend! We're planning our annual Michaelmas party at which there will be feasting and beating on the devil with swords. Check back Sunday for all the details!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

How to be the Boss of a One Year Old

I'm going to start this by saying that plenty of people do not discipline as early as I do. Which is fine. I am a firm believer in doing what works for your family. I also believe that the level of discipline in your home is up to you and can be changed at any time, by just being clear about your expectations and consistent in your follow-through (and of course, always meaning what you say).

That said. I, personally, do not wish to have to physically restrain my young toddlers in order to be able to get them to, say, not pull everything out of the pantry while I'm cooking, or not run full speed into the parking lot.

Because one year olds are all:
But I'm like:

('cause God says).

But maybe you're all:

That's aDORable (or acceptable, or he'll grow out of it, or whatever) and you'd prefer to put a child safety latch on the pantry and one of those beepy alarm things on the front door and maybe a kid harness on the toddler. And just deal with it at a later date. Totally fine by me. 

I personally know multiple families who pretty much can't take their toddlers out of the house or leave them unsupervised at all because they will full-on run away at the park or climb into the dishwasher, but have absolutely lovely and well behaved school-aged children. It's a parenting choice.

But *I* don't personally want to live in fear of what they might be up to while I'm in the other room or be unable to go to Costco or the playground, let alone Europe, with my toddlers. 

So . . . if you ever wondered if it was possible to get a one year old to do what you say using just your voice (and the force of your will), I'm here to say: yes it is. 

And to tell you how I do it.

My mothering could probably be best described as kangaroo-style. I practice total attachment parenting for about nine months, then they get kicked out of the pouch (nest) and have to start fending for themselves. And I'm only exaggerating a little bit.

There is a point, and if you have multiple kids you probably know what I'm talking about, when babies go from having nothing but needs to all of a sudden also having preferences. The exact time when this happens varies from baby to baby but for most of mine it has been in the six to nine month range.

My babies need food and love and sleep and attention and eye contact and snuggles. So I give those things to them. My babies want to touch the TV and throw sand and take their diapers off. But I don't let them.

And the ways I don't let them are these:

1. I believe that they are capable of learning.

This is probably the biggest hurdle I faced at the beginning of my parenting journey. All I saw when I looked around were people distracting their toddlers ("Okay, give Mommy the Fabergé Egg, look here's some candy!") or lying to them ("No more egg, egg went night-night.") or just giving up on them entirely ("Yeah, he breaks priceless stuff, what're ya gonna do?").

But my eldest was a real stinker in a lot of ways (also wonderful and a gift from God and all that, but a stinker). I knew he was smart and I had the distinct sense that he knew exactly what he was doing. And for goodness sakes, if this guy can get cats and owls and octopi and flies to do what he says then I figured I could leave that egg right where it was and just get my one year old to not touch it.

2. I am consistent and always mean what I say.

I start with "Not For Babies." I say this a lot, and I ALWAYS mean it when I say it. I start saying it before the babies could really be willfully doing anything, but it teaches them what it means. So if baby has the remote or Great Aunt Gertrude's cane, I say "not for babies" and take it away. Every single time. Even if he fusses about it.

I use "Not Food" in the same way. If baby has something she shouldn't in her mouth, I say "not food" and take it away. Every single time. Even if she fusses about it.

In this way, they learn the concept that, despite their whims and desires, there is such a thing as something they may not do.

Then I move on to "No," or more often a weird "ch-ch-ch-chhhh" sound I make, or their name, but in a sharper-than-usual tone.

Here's how it goes at first . . . 

Frankie: about to touch the TV
Me: FRANKIE! No, no don't touch the TV, not for babies.
Frankie: pauses, maybe looks at me over his shoulder, touches the TV

But, eventually, and more quickly with some kids than with others, he will learn that I really do mean it. And if I told him he can't touch it, he really can't. So after that hand-extended pause, he puts his hand down and doesn't touch the TV. Now maybe he turns and flings himself into the couch face-first in despair (we are still getting a good bit of that around here), but very, very often, almost always, he does NOT touch the TV.

Frankie is still less than two, and as much as his behavior and general attitude have kept me on my toes, he mostly doesn't touch the TV. He also doesn't run off at the park or go out the front door without a grownup or big kid with him, or rifle through the pantry. He DOES, however, stab one of his siblings in the arm with his fork at almost every dinner. He's a work in progress.

But . . . how do we get from the touching the TV to the not touching the TV?

3. I calmly use age-appropriate consequences.

The important thing is to use consequences, and be consistent about them. It is less important which consequences you use, as long as you do use them and you are consistent.

The consequences I have had the most success with for 9 month to 2 year olds are: time outs in a crib or pack n' play and (here's where I make the internet mad again) spankings.

I have not had good luck with "normal" time outs, like sitting in a corner or in a time-out chair (at first). I find that young toddlers don't always stay in them and that the situation can escalate, because now he needs to be reprimanded for the original offense, plus getting out of his time out. They do eventually learn this skill, and it's important that they do, but until they understand the concept of discipline, I use a confined space.

Time outs in a crib or play pen avoid the escalation, plus allow mom a moment to calm down if she happens to be taking it personally that her one and a half year old just stuck his chubby little finger in each new little rectangle of eyeshadow.

Because here's where the calm part comes in: toddlers mostly know that they shouldn't be doing something (you can tell when you walk in on them and they jump or immediately burst into tears), but they really can't tell the difference between something they shouldn't be doing and something they REALLY shouldn't be doing. So it doesn't do much good to get especially upset, even if it was an especially bad thing.

I just gasp loudly (the gasping really seems to get their attention), and do an exaggerated knit-brow frown, act utterly shocked that such a good little boy as him would do such a naughty thing, say "No, no, not for babies. That is Mommy's nice make-up. You mustn't touch it. Not for babies." Then dump him in the crib for a time out. And leave him there until he and I have both settled down, which is usually between five and ten minutes.

But what if we're eating dinner, or at the park, or at a store, or in a parking lot? Time outs are inconvenient and impractical in those circumstances. Punishments that will happen sometime in the future are just not useful for kids less than two. But kids are known to disobey in all sorts of inconvenient places.

So, what I use to discourage bad behavior and disobedience, is spankings. Usually hand spankings, but occasional bottom spankings (at home) combined with a time out for older toddlers for bigger offenses.

I know this doesn't feel right for many mothers, and I'm not telling you you must do this or your kids will never behave, but here's why *I* do it: hand spanking is immediate and effective. I don't have to yell at my child. Or resent him and his behavior. A baby who understands what he is doing, like looking right at me while throwing a handful of sand into the face of another kid at the playground, again, can also understand consequences. Especially if those consequences are immediate and unpleasant.

Physical discomfort is how God chose to discourage certain behaviors. It's bad for me to burn myself or eat a whole pie, so God made it physically uncomfortable for me to do those things. So, I think it's appropriate to use a similar technique for my children who are too young for other punishments to be effective.

I have found that it is much less traumatic to have a quick hand spanking over and done with than to attempt other, more drawn out punishments. Some things get an immediate punishment (like running into the street), but most things get a warning, "If you throw sand again, you'll get a hand spanking." In either case, I give him a hand spanking, and he bursts into tears and raises his hands to me to be picked up and comforted, which I do. I don't have to stand over him glaring in a time out, or just give up and let him make me and other parents and children miserable. 

It's immediate and effective. It's been, in my experience, completely non-traumatic, because it allows me to correct behavior in a non-emotional way and not hold grudges.

But again, that's what works for me, and if something else works for you, you should do it.

I'm just here to say that, if you always had a sneaking feeling that you could get a one year old to do as he's told, almost always, well, you probably can. I do. And I feel like it's made eleven years of constant toddler-parenting a LOT more manageable.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

On Not Wearing Maternity Clothes

After last week's What I Wore Sunday post, my friend Mandi pointed out that it seems like, even at the pretty darn pregnant phase in which I find myself now, I don't really wear maternity clothes. 

And she's right, I don't.

It's not really something I set out to do intentionally, but it's definitely where I've ended up.

 It probably started back when I found out I was expecting my first, and made some truly tragic maternity fashion choices.

I had a vision in my head of how pregnant women were supposed to dress, I think based mostly on Princess Diana and Darling from Lady and the Tramp. So even though I was 25 -- and it was 2002 -- I ordered a box of the goofiest maternity clothes ever. Giant denim overalls? Check. Tent-shaped sleeveless shirt? Check. Enormous chambray button-up? Check. Even though none of that is stuff I would wear in real life. I didn't have a sailor dress or anything polka-dotted and with a giant bow on it, so I can only assume that they didn't offer those options at Gap Maternity.

I guess it's nice that I was embracing the whole being pregnant thing, but, really, dressing like you're at a costume party isn't something that's sustainable in the long term. And as other Catholic moms before me have discovered, for many of us, being pregnant isn't a novelty -- it's a way of being.

Because after pregnant, came nursing, then ten months later came pregnant again, then nursing, then . . . well, you get the idea.

So at first, I had my maternity clothes, and my nursing clothes, and there in the back of my closet, my "regular" clothes. Just hanging there taunting me . . . making me feel badly about my changing body, and making me covet my own stuff, which is a pretty unique sin to be able to commit.

I also had a crisis of conscious every time I made a clothing purchase. If I bought regular clothes in between pregnancies, I felt badly that I might turn up pregnant again soon and not fit into them. If I bought maternity clothes, they were probably overpriced and I probably didn't LOVE them, since there are so many fewer options in maternity clothes, and I hate spending money on clothing pieces I don't really love.

But eventually it occurred to me that if I just looked for regular clothes that could double as maternity or nursing clothes, I didn't have to get so stressed out about buying things. It just so happens that I like the look of clothes that can pretty easily do double duty. And it's much easier to find a good selection and good deals away from the maternity department.

So, what exactly do I look for? When I'm pregnant, dresses. I look for empire waists, shift dresses, or stretch jersey. All seem to work well for me pregnant or not, and if the top of the dress buttons or pulls down or crosses over, it will work for nursing too. The secret, for me, is the belt.

These are dresses I bought from the overstock section
of eShakti. I put on a belt, and blouse up the top
a bit, and they work as maternity dresses.

Obviously you've got to have some maternity jeans. I do. But I mostly hate them. I feel like I spend all day tugging them up. Not cute. I find dresses much more comfortable. But I do wear maternity jeans. And it's pretty easy to find tunic or bloussant or empire waist tops in the regular section (or better yet, the sale section) to pair with them. And those will ALL still work after the baby's born.

I do NOT own any of these tops, but I would happily
buy any of these to wear for all three seasons. They're
also all from the 40% off overstock section of eShakti.
(They are not paying me to promote them either,
I just think their stuff is really cute!)

So, these days, I rarely buy any item of clothing that wouldn't work for at least two of my three states of life. And, besides jeans, I almost never buy maternity clothes at all. 

Pro Tip: Accessories. If they're looking at your awesome shoes they might not notice if you have pregnant face.


Happy Hobbit Day!

Today (in addition to being a Sunday, which is ALWAYS a feast!) is Hobbit Day, since September 22nd is the birthday shared by Bilbo and Frodo.

So, since we love The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings around here, we had a hobbit breakfast of Bilbo's Seedcake and sausage and eggs, and an afternoon snack of hobbit-style carrots (with the stems still on) and lembas bread (shortbread cookies) wrapped in leaves (lettuce, left out overnight to wilt a bit so it can be bent). If these kids ever get their playroom cleaned up, which is starting to look doubtful, we're going to watch one of the movies.


And . . . back to pregnancy fashion, here's what I wore Sunday:

Dress, sweater, necklace: Anthropologie
Shoes: Target
The dress and necklace were birthday presents from my darling husband. Along with a new kitchen faucet, which was at the top of my list beacause the old one wouldn't retract anymore and just dangled there. Bugging me. All day.

The kids each gave me a new baby chick, since our little backyard flock has been decimated by hawks. Sad face. They're majestic and all. And protected by a riduculously lot of laws. But hawks are a menace and I dislike them a great deal.

My birthday presents!

Thanks so much for everyone's good wishes on Friday. I had a great birthday. Hope your weekend was great, too!

And thanks to the good ladies at Fine Linen and Purple for hosting yet another What I Wore Sunday. Head on over to check out what everyone else wore to Mass today!  



Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Problem Solving Edition: 7 Quick Takes XXV

This week, I solve your problems. (I know, people hate that. But it doesn't bother me when *I* do it.)

Problem: You think cutting onions is unpleasant.

Solution: I hate cutting onions, too. They make me cry. And not in an awesome BBC period miniseries kind of way, in a Gollum-esque "It burns, it burns us" kind of way.

But I cook with them, a lot. I'm still not sure if he hasn't been just kidding about this for the last four years, but Bobby (7) claims that they are his favorite food.

So one day, as I was weeping and grimacing through cutting up an onion, Jack (11) saw me, ran to the garage, and came back with his swim goggles. I gave them a try. I look like a total goofball, but I can now cut onions with impunity.

Which came in handy on Tuesday, which was Bobby's name day. He got to pick what we had for dinner (for more on how we celebrate birthdays, name days, and baptism days, see here) and he picked . . . French Onion Soup. I used this recipe (and Jack's swim goggles) and it turned out great!

I cut up the bread into chunks and toast them in the oven under the broiler. It's easier for the kids to eat than a big piece of bread in there. 

Occasionally, The Onion can also make me cry with laughter.

Problem: You miss the musings of Jen from Epbot on geekery, girliness, and goofing off.

Solution: Jen is back (!) with a great post on how to avoid the types of frustrations that led her to take an extended break: 6 Things I Learned On My Internet Sabbatical.

Unfortunately, Allie from Hyperbole and a Half still (mostly) isn't blogging. But when she already wrote the funniest blog post ever, why should she?

Problem: Season 7 of Doctor Who Isn't on Netflix.

Solution: You can totally watch it FOR FREE, with no commercials at I do not know why. But you can.

It doesn't work on mobile devices (or at least it didn't on my iPad), but it worked like a charm on the desktop.

So now I've FINALLY seen season 7. And I found it . . . kind of confusing. I mostly liked how they wrapped up the Amy and Rory plotline, and Clara is a cutiepie. But there was a lot going on. I was multi-tasking while watching, which I didn't do while watching previous seasons (but I didn't have the kind of to-do list then that I have now, see below), so that might explain it. But I felt like I never quite knew who everyone was or where they came from or why.

But, I'm long past being able to do anything but just blindly love Doctor Who. So it was awesome.

Thanks Reddit.

Problem: You are an introvert.

Solution: That's not a problem. 

I thought I had already sorted that one out here. But in case you need more, try Matt Walsh.

He wrote a post in response to an email that he received which read, in part:
“…The biggest problem with homeschooling is its failure to effectively socialize children. Public school teaches kids to be outgoing and extroverted. I’ve found that many homeschooled kids seem to be quiet and uncomfortable in social situations. The classroom environment could help these kids come out of their shell…”
Um, yikes. Matt does a great job responding, as is his habit. It's great to be reminded sometimes that introverts and extroverts are good at different things. We should all be striving to be our best selves, of course. And sometimes for introverts that means being more outgoing than we are naturally inclined to be.  But still, the idea that extrovert=the norm and introvert=something to be overcome is pretty bothersome.

And it's nothing new, check out this anti-introvert propaganda film from 1951:

Its goal seems to be to encourage extroverted kids to be more inclusive and introverted kids to make an effort to be friendly, which is good, of course. But I want to punch the narrator in the face. What is that guy's deal?

In conclusion, it is okay to be an introvert.

Problem: You are a woman.

Solution: Ummm, that's not a problem either. 

But from all the back and forth on the interwebs about whether us wiminfolk ought to go to college or work outside the home or stay home with the kids, it would be easy to start thinking that being a woman with a talent or an intellect is inherently problematic.

But you know what? I don't think it is.

I think the crisis is not in a lack of opportunities for women, or not enough social programs, or too much competition and not enough collaboration. I think the crisis is rather in a lack of discernment of our true vocations and a lack of confidence in our own choices. It's a crisis of constant comparing of ourselves to others and to a fictional what might have been.

As usual, Pope Francis said it pretty well: 

"Ask Jesus what He wants from you and be brave." Yep, that should do it.

More prayerful acceptance of where God wants us to be . . . be it in college or not or in the workforce or in the home, and less hand-wringing. Let's try that.

In case you missed them, here are some of the relevant links.

--- 6 ---

Problem: You're supposed to be having this baby in 10 weeks and your To Do list is SHOCKINGLY long.

Solution: Wow, we really have a lot in common.

Frankly, I'm less confident in my ability to help with this one. I'm getting the feeling that there are things on my list that are just not going to get done before this baby comes. But I shall give it a valiant effort. 

Perhaps some of these will help: 25 Productivity Secrets From History's Greatest Thinkers. (Ummmm . . . no thank you Ben Franklin, I don't think I will.)


Any problems I missed? 

One of the things on that To Do list is to get some extra posts written up in advance. This will be my first baby since being a blogger and, honestly, I'm not sure how it's going to go.

My main creative outlet pre-blog was sewing. Before a new baby came I would always finish up all my half-done projects, then a week or two before my due date I would tidy up my sewing area and not expect to get anything accomplished beyond basic household duties for a good six months.

I'm hoping I'll be able to type while holding a baby, but I'm really not sure. I'm a notably lousy typist. (The husband finds it a. infuriating, b. hilarious, c. adorable, d. all of the above. Go ahead, guess.)

Anyway, the list of topics suggested by readers and/or fellow bloggers includes:
  • How we deal with tattling and bickering amongst siblings
  • How we square away one-year-olds
  • How we organize a homeschool day (with four different grades, plus pre-schoolers) 
  • How we avoid the pitfalls of the Advent/Christmas season
  • My thoughts on maternity clothes
  • Why I don't make two dinners
Let me know if there's anything you'd like to see covered before I reserve the right to, but probably won't, disappear from the blogosphere for a while.


For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!