Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hallowtide . . . It's How We Roll: All Saints Day Costumes for Awesome Kids Only

Happy All Hallows Eve, Feast of All Saints, and Commemoration of All Souls everyone!

Here's how we celebrated/are celebrating/will celebrate.

For Halloween, we carved pumpkins and went trick or treating around our neighborhood. It was lovely. The weather couldn't have been nicer and there were a TON of other families out. We had a great time!

For All Saints Day, we'll be back in costume first thing in the morning and off to Mass then to our Homeschool group's All Saints Pageant and Carnival. The kids will each give a few clues about their saint then the other kids guess who they are. Then the teenagers throw a carnival for the little kids, with saint themed games. My kids look forward to it all year!

Then for All Souls, we usually go as a family to a Catholic Cemetery to say a rosary and pray for the dead, but more on that at the bottom.

For now, you need seven of something. A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned the costumes we were planning for this year. Let's see how they turned out shall we?

Bobby was St. Maximilian Kolbe for All Saints, and an escaped convict (or guy in his pajamas inexplicably in handcuffs and a ball and chain) for Halloween. Looking at these pictures, I am totally going to shave his head in the morning. So please imagine him to look even more authentic.

Anita was St. Gianna Molla/a doctor and now I want to do her hair like that every single day.

Betty was St. Joan of Arc. She used a set of armor Jack and Grandad made for Jack's St. Nuno costume two years ago, along with a new frilly red skirt (thanks Nana!) and a battle standard that I made according to the description St. Joan of Arc gave of it during her trial. Except she probably didn't use google image search and inkjet iron on transfer paper for hers.

Betty clank clank clanked around the whole neighborhood very authentically while we were trick or treating!

And now, if you're thinking to yourself, "Wow, those costumes were really in good taste. I wasn't offended at all." You might want to just stop there.

Don't say I didn't warn you . . . 

Gus was St. Lazarus of the parable. Jack made him the crutch, and Gus pretty much couldn't have been more into it. He insisted on being very serious for his photos.

For trick or treating he was a zombie. That face is a combination of him trying to be a zombie and not liking how the fake blood tastes.

Perhaps you're saying, "That wasn't so bad. St. Lazarus did have leprosy after all." Well, it's only going to get worse.

This is where we ended up on the St. John the Baptist head on a platter costume. Jack and Grandad designed and built it. And it turned out awesome!

Jack was a huge hit trick or treating. He would kneel and set the table down on each front porch, with the cover lowered over his head. Then when the door opened, he could pull a little lever under the table and open up the cover! One house announced that Jack had won their costume contest and gave him a full sized candy bar. Only him. Not the other kids. It was like his personal dream come true.

I can only imagine the folks at the Saints pageant will like it too. Yes?

Okay, now I'm serious. Do not scroll down any more. Don't do it. It will only make you mad.

I tried to warn you. But look how cute he is! And how cooperative he was for the photo shoot! Firing squad ready, this one.

For trick or treating, he was a junior businessman, which was especially funny since his pants kept falling down.

Well, if you made it through that you get to see the grownup costumes!

Jim was business casual Abraham Lincoln.

And I was Lori from The Walking Dead. I am mildly obsessed with that show.

So, like I said at the beginning, we have some traditions that we usually do as a family for All Souls, like baking soul cakes and saying a family Rosary at a Catholic Cemetery. But this year the husband and I are heading up to Santa Barbara for our babymoon this weekend. Nana and Grandad are in charge of all the kids (well, I guess I'm bringing one with me!). So I'm sure they'll get to Mass and the Rosary, but I'm not sure where they'll do it. 

Me, I plan to be scandalizing the good people of Santa Barbara by having a glass of wine with dinner (yep, I do that), visiting Mission Santa Barbara (and its cemetery for our Rosary), and spending some quality time with my fabulous husband.

In case you were wondering, there are many awesome ways to gain indulgences this week:

"Throughout November the Church prays for all who are in the purifying fires of Purgatory, waiting for the day when they will join the company of the saints in heaven. The celebration of Mass is the highest means the Church can provide for charity for the dead, but we can also relieve their sufferings through our prayers, sufferings and penances. We can also help the Poor Souls by doing acts and prayers that have indulgences attached to them. There are many indulgences, applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory, that can be obtained during the month of November. . . . 

To be able to gain an indulgence, one must have the intention to gain them, and perform the works at the time and in the manner prescribed.
The traditional conditions to attain a Plenary Indulgence:
A Plenary Indulgence can be gained only one per day. The faithful must be in the state of grace and these three conditions must accompany the prescribed act:

  1. the faithful must receive the sacrament of confession, either eight days before or after the pious act is performed,
  2. receive Holy Communion on that day
  3. and recite prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father (one Our Father and one Hail Mary is the minimum, but any other additional prayers may be added).
All attachment to sin, even venial sin, must be absent. If one's disposition is less than perfect or if some of the above conditions are not fulfilled, the indulgence becomes partial"

Happy weekend and Happy Hallowtide everyone. And if you're reading this on Friday remember, it's a solemnity -- you have to have dessert!

If you'd like to keep track of ALL the feasts of the Catholic liturgical year, I've created a wall calendar to help you do it!

It features the all the feasts and fasts of the Universal Calendar and then some, illustrated with images featuring the traditional Catholic monthly devotions. It's an easy visual way to bring liturgical living into your home. You can keep track of the feasts and fasts and seasons of the Catholic year, and be reminded to focus your prayer on a different aspect of our faith each month.
January:The Holy Name of Jesus 
February: The Holy Family 
March: St. Joseph 
April: The Blessed Sacrament 
May: Mary 
June: The Sacred Heart of Jesus 
July: The Precious Blood 
August Immaculate Heart of Mary 
September: The Seven Sorrows of Mary 
October: The Holy Rosary 
November: The Poor Souls in Purgatory 
December: The Immaculate Conception 

As the Church year begins with December, so does this calendar. You get December 2017 through December 2018, thirteen months. Available for purchase here. Thanks!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Halloween Movies to Spook the Whole Family

I've already posted about some of the spooky books we like to read/listen to around Halloween, but there are also some shorts and movies we like. Here are five of our favorites, then I need YOUR advice for where we go from here!

1. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

The Disney version of this classic book is a perennial favorite of kids and adults alike at our house. The short cartoon is very faithful to the spirit of the Washington Irving book, but a good deal easier to understand.

I also happen to think than any story would be greatly improved by being narrated and sung by Bing Crosby. He's the BEST.

This short is really funny, and also has some genuinely scary parts. I think that's great for Halloween, and I approve of it for my kids in general. We have already watched it this year and my two and four year olds watched it along with us, and loved it.

You can watch it on YouTube here.

But if yours scare easy, perhaps you should just move on to . . . 

2. It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown

Honestly I don't know why. This one doesn't have the truth and beauty of the Christmas Pageant scene of A Charlie Brown Christmas. Nor does it have the commentary on the commercialization of a Christian holiday. Frankly it's pretty odd (what is with the Snoopy vs the Red Baron part?!), and the kids are awfully unpleasant to one another, and I think it's making fun of Santa. But my kids love it and think it is totally hilarious. 

I do love the scenes where Charlie Brown gets rocks in his trick-or-treating bag and doesn't get to kick the football. Again. 

4. Winnie the Pooh's Halloween Stories

Fun and sweet and a tiny bit spooky, this one is appropriate for all ages, probably even for more sensitive-type kiddos.

3. Toy Story of Terror

New this year, this short from Pixar showed on ABC. Our whole family watched it and even the grownups were entertained. It's a spoof on horror story conventions, but never really gets scary itself. Combat Carl is hilarious (and motivational) and it's nice to see the focus on Jessie in this one.

If you have cable, you've got a couple more chances to catch it, otherwise keep an eye out for it next year.

5. The Nightmare Before Christmas, etc. 

I like stop-motion animation, and there is something about it that is particularly well suited for spooky movies.

I know it's not for everyone, and it's certainly not for all kids, but I really enjoyed this movie as did my kids, and I found the subject matter and presentation to be entirely appropriate, and lots of fun. It's refreshing to not have a bunch of extraneous pop culture refrences thrown at me while I'm trying to watch a movie.

It's actually quite similar in feel to classic Christmas stop-motion like Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer. It's just that everything in this town is Halloweenish. Things aren't jumping at you and trying to scare you, there isn't suspenseful buildup and big scary moments, it's just that the people and things in this town are all creepy. 

I love how they all, but especially Jack Skellington, really are just trying to help, but everything goes terribly wrong. I know the feeling.

The one exception to this is when the character Oogie Boogie kidnaps Santa Claus. There is the feeling that Santa is emperiled, which could be scary for kids, but it all works out and Santa comports himself with great dignity throughout.

Also in the stop-motion genre, I like Corpse Bride (but it's really a movie for grown-ups that just happens to be animated) for the way it presents marriage vows as something REAL that once said, mean that the world is different. I also like Curse of the Were-Rabbit, which is silly fun and not really scary and is appropriate for kids, although as usual with Wallace and Gromit there are jokes that go over the kids' heads.

And now I need your help . . . 

We were thinking about watching Frankenweenie this year, Stephen Greydanus gave it a positive review. And I wanted to see Coraline, since we just listened to the book, but Cari says it's no good and takes great liberties with the source material, so perhaps we'll skip that one.

I'd love to show the kids some old school horror films, but I haven't seen any of them myself and I don't know how they hold up. Has anyone seen the old black and white Frankenstein or Bride of Frankenstein? Or the 1920s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (we just listened to that book as well)? How about Nosferatu, the vampire movie from the Vatican Film List?

And for all of my waxing on about zombies, I haven't seen any of the old zombie movies, or even Shaun of the Dead. But I'm pretty sure none of those would be appropriate for my all-under-twelve-set.

Hopefully none of you guys is as forgetful/naive as I was and think it would be a good idea to watch Ghostbusters with your five year old (this was years ago with my oldest). Yikes! What the heck was up with all the movies when I was a kid? Ghostbusters has scenes that are totally not appropriate for my kids (Goonies too, sad face). But maybe E.T. is okay? I've been scared to try any more 80s movies after being burned by those two. Maybe I just need to get better with my muting skills.

Anyway, I hope you all have a fun Halloween, however your family celebrates, and a blessed All Saints and All Souls. 

And thanks to the lovely Hallie of Moxie Wife for hosting Five Favorites. Since there are FIVE of these, I'm linking 'em up.

No, wait, today it's Jenny from Mama Needs Coffee, who as you might remember lived in Rome and got to meet Pope Benedict and us. So, ya know, pretty big year.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Baby Steps to Living the Liturgical Year as a Family

My Catholic faith journey has been all about baby steps. God never knocked me off my bicycle, blinded me, and gave me a talking to. It's been slow and steady the whole way. And making the feasts and fasts part of our family's day-to-day life has been no different.

For me, the liturgical year stuff all started with a book, a few books actually, but the first one was The Year & Our Children by Mary Reed Newland. I had a couple of kids and the sense that we ought to be trying to have our faith be part of our home life for more than just Christmastime. I looked for a book to help me get started and found The Year & Our Children.

I read it and decided that living the liturgical year was apparently not for me. One of her suggestions for quiet activites for rambunctious boys on Good Friday involves shoveling chicken manure. I didn't have any chicken manure. She talks about cutting liturgical symbols into loaves of bread before you bake them. And I was like, "What are liturgical symbols?" and "You can BAKE bread? At your HOUSE?"

I was very overwhelmed. And gave up on the whole idea.

But that nagging feeling wouldn't go away. I knew that we demanded more of our children in the way of faith than other families. We expected good behavior in Mass and for them to sit (relatively) still for the Rosary. We went to Mass even when it made us late for the beginning of the Bears game. We didn't eat meat on Fridays or go to Easter egg hunts on Holy Saturday. We were careful about the TV shows they watched and the toys they played with. It seemed like we had all the stern stuff covered for our kids, but I felt like we were presenting an unfair picture of our faith to our children. All the discipline and none of the joy. All the fasting and none of the feasting.

I had to keep trying. The second book I found was more of a success. It's Guiding Your Catholic Preschooler by Kathy Pierce and Lori Rowland and it has a more accessible approach for beginners. I liked many of the activities they suggest and was able to begin incorporating some of their suggestions. But it was just a here-and-there, when-I-thought-of-it kind of thing. I still needed one more book.

The book that finally taught me how to make our faith a part of our lives everyday wasn't a guidebook at all. It was a Nobel Prize-winning trilogy of novels detailing the entire life of a medieval Norwegian lady. Of course, right? Kristin Lavransdatter is an extraordinary book, and deeply Catholic. If you have any stomach for "real" literature at all, you really should read it. (But if you read it while pregnant you should know that you will probably cry a lot.) I loved Kristin's story: her weakness and rebellion, her passion and despair, her strength and redemption. 

But the thing that really struck a cord with me was the way they lived their faith. It wasn't something they did at Christmas or on Sundays. It was the rhythm of their everyday lives. The liturgical seasons told them what they should eat and wear and what chores to do. They set contracts and meetings based on feast days. They shared their celebrations with their whole community and had an understanding of true charity and love of neighbor. The seasons of fasting were painful but the feasts were filled with plenty and great joy.

I finally understood what living liturgically looked like. And I wanted it.

But, not living in a medieval Norwegian village where everyone was living the liturgical year meant I still had to figure out how to do it myself. Here's how I did it:

1. I hung up one of those calendars they're always giving out free at church.

For me the main shift was a mental one. Just being aware that there is a liturgical year was an important step. Then, I tried to align major household tasks that repeat every year with a particular liturgical season. So, I didn't do "spring cleaning" anymore, I did a "Lent cleaning" instead. (There is an amazing description of a MUCH more thorough version of Lent cleaning than what I do in Around the Year with the Trapp Family, a great, but also intimidating, out of print, but possible to find book.)  We also do a big Advent Purge, where we clean out clothes and toys in anticipation of the baby Jesus's arrival. We pick all the apples off of our apple tree and can/freeze them on St. Bartholomew's Day. Etc.

2. The way to my family's heart is through its stomachs.

I made an effort to be mindful of the feast days in a particular week when I was meal planning. I'm going to make dinner anyway, but if I plan ahead a bit that dinner can can have meaning. We eat pretty internationally anyway. I have recipes that I use regularly that are Spanish, Mexican, French, Thai, Italian, Japanese, Polish, etc. Then it's just a question of knowing when the feast of the Mexican Martyrs is and making Mexican food that day and not Italian.

I'm really looking forward to Haley's book of Recipes based on the liturgical year, which will be available as an eBook this Advent.

I also stopped serving desserts on non-feast days. It's not like we NEED to be having desserts every night. Every Sunday is a feast day, so we have a dessert every Sunday, plus on days that we celebrate a feast. Treats really make things memorable for my kids.

3. I didn't really want to read Moo Baa La La La again anyway.

We also worked on our library. We're going to eat dinner every night, so I try to make it more meaningful, same goes for story time. I love fun, new story books (and have posted about them here and here) but on a saint's feast day, it's just as easy to spend story time learning about that saint. There are some really beautiful and fun and informative picture books about the saints and I've enjoyed collecting them over the years. If we don't have a book about the saint, I just pull some information up on him on the iPad and use it for dinner discussion.

4. We do things for the liturgical year that fit into our existing daily routine.

There are lots of great crafts and coloring pages available that would be a lovely compliment to any celebration of a saint's day. But since crafts are not usually a part of our everyday routine, I don't often incorporate those into our celebrations. Sometimes I do, and I did more when I had all younger kids and we weren't so busy with school and sports. But I've found that just tweaking our everyday routine to be more French on the feast of St. Bernadette has been easier to sustain long term.

5. We started very, very small.

The first saints' days we started celebrating were our children's namedays. (We also celebrate baptism days and birthdays, for more on that see here.) Then we added another saint here and there to which we had a particular devotion. Then I decided we should make a point of aknowledging every solemnity. And now, we end up celebrating a feast multiple times per month, and occasionally multiple times in a week! We often invite other families to share our celebrations, but sometimes it's just us. I do NOT, however, attempt to celebrate every single feast. there are just too many saints on the calendar to hope to celebrate them all, so we still pick the ones that have the most meaning for us. Just more now than we used to.

6. Our kids can handle the feasts and the fasts.

We also observe the fasts and the seasons of preparation of the church, even our little kids. Since it's something we do as a whole family, they can't help but participate. 

During Advent and Lent we eat more simply. I try to use those seasons to clean out all that food in the back of the freezer and the pantry. I don't buy meat or processed foods, just dairy and fruits and vegetables and ingredients. We eat a lot of soups. We don't snack.

We don't watch TV or listen to the radio. I don't shop for things other than food and absolute necessities.

As much as we are able without being rude, we decline to celebrate Christmas and Easter before their time. So we mostly wait on Christmas treats and Christmas decorations (we have seperate decorations for Advent, and Lent as well) and Christmas shows until Christmas has actually arrived.

That way, those seasons of preparation FEEL really different than the seasons of celebration that come after them. We really have that feeling of anticipation.

But boy do we enjoy those feast days that fall during Lent and Advent!

We also make a point of sharing our fasts with others, so the kids really do enjoy those as well.

Living the liturgical year has certainly borne fruit for our family. Now, eight years after I first read The Year & Our Children, I totally get where she was when she wrote that book. I bake bread now (I still haven't cut liturgical symbols into it, but maybe this is the year!) and I DO have access to chicken manure, plenty of it! And she's right, moving it is an excellent thing for little boys to do on Good Friday.

So, if you're just starting out, know that it's okay to aim big, but start little. And, if you're like me, you'll get there eventually!

If you'd like to keep track of ALL the feasts of the Catholic liturgical year, I've created a wall calendar to help you do it!

It features the all the feasts and fasts of the Universal Calendar and then some, illustrated with images featuring the traditional Catholic monthly devotions. It's an easy visual way to bring liturgical living into your home. You can keep track of the feasts and fasts and seasons of the Catholic year, and be reminded to focus your prayer on a different aspect of our faith each month.

January:The Holy Name of Jesus 
February: The Holy Family 
March: St. Joseph 
April: The Blessed Sacrament 
May: Mary 
June: The Sacred Heart of Jesus 
July: The Precious Blood 
August Immaculate Heart of Mary 
September: The Seven Sorrows of Mary 
October: The Holy Rosary 
November: The Poor Souls in Purgatory 
December: The Immaculate Conception 

As the Church year begins with December, so does this calendar. You get December 2017 through December 2018, thirteen months. Available for purchase here. Thanks!


Sunday, October 27, 2013

I Moustache You a Question about Frankie's Birthday Party

Frankie is two. Look out world. (Oops, that wasn't a question. Sorry.)

He's still not talking a whole lot, so his brothers and sisters got to pick the theme of his party and they picked: Moustaches.

When I started looking around online for ideas, I found a lot of really cute but really fancy looking professional moustache parties, but not a lot in the way of homemade backyard moustache parties. We like homemade backyard birthday parties. So, with the help of Oriental Trading Company and a whole family effort (Mom's slowing down a bit!), here's what we did . . . 


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Naysayers Gonna Naysay: 7 Quick Takes XXXI

update: I've edited this post to remove links and references to other people's articles, for fear of having misrepresented the positions expressed within. You're stuck with just my opinion now!

I have witnessed a lot of back and forth recently about the appropriateness of devout Catholics celebrating Halloween. And I'm in a Catholic Homeschool Mom Facebook group and one of the current discussions there is about Santa and far and away the prevailing opinion is thumbs down on him too.

And I can't help but wonder why all these nice people think we can't have fun and celebrate the good parts of our culture's traditions and celebrations and still be good Catholics.

I'm sure they're all making the parenting decisions that they feel are in the best interests of their children, but it just feels to me like a case of being unnecessarily contrary.

It makes me think of this guy:

And then I feel better (thanks Keeley!).

There is a wrong way to do things. There is a wrong way to celebrate Halloween. But that doesn't mean that Halloween is wrong.

I think it's a more Protestant worldview to demand that everything be either-or. Either you are a Christian or you are a part of your culture. But Catholics have always been both-and. We can come into a country and adapt their traditions and culture to fit into Catholicism's big embrace. 

My favorite stop on my family's pilgrimage to the Holy Land when I was in college was The Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth.

The second floor is home to an extraordinary collection of mosaic portraits of the Blessed Virgin, from countries all over the world. It had never occurred to me to think of Mary as anything but light skinned and blue-eyed. But guess what, that's not how they see her in Japan:

Or Indonesia:

All of the Marys are beautiful, of course . . . 

with the notable exception of the one from America, which is, frankly, nightmarish (like I said, there are wrong ways to do things):

If you think it's just a bad photo, I can tell you it is just as horrifying in person (and Canada's is pretty weird too). Check them all out here, they're (mostly) amazing.

Mary's embrace of the cultural traditions of various countries isn't just in the minds of artists. When Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared in Mexico, she had Mexican features and wore Mexican clothing.

Part of what has allowed Catholicism to flourish all over the world is our ability to embrace what is good in every culture and raise up saints from every land. (The other, slightly more important part of its success being that it's, ya know, True.)

It's okay for my kids to go trick-or-treating on Halloween and to sit on Santa's lap at Christmas. Those are good parts of our culture. I want both-and.

Some good Catholics seem to be making the assumption that you must choose one extreme or the other for holidays. Either you forgo trick-or-treating for a vigil Mass and a family novena for the holy souls in Purgatory OR you dress your son up as Jack the Ripper and your daughter as sexy Big Bird and drop them off in some back alley to egg the neighbors' houses and play with a Ouija board.

But as I tell my Little Flowers every month, virtue is found in the middle.

Courage is the virtue between recklessness and cowardice. Hope is the virtue between presumption and despair. Humility is the virtue between vanity and self-deprecation.

We will continue to celebrate our Halloween here in the middle, where the candy is.

I have the intention of someday writing a whole post on why we believe in Santa Claus. But I don't know if I'll get to it. I've already written on why we believe in leprechauns, and the reasons are pretty much the same.

But I cherish the memories of the joy I had in Santa Claus as a child so much that I can hardly fathom not allowing my children to have the same.

Nothing I write, of course, could ever approach the awesomeness of G.K. Chesterton's The Ethics of Elfland chapter in Orthodoxy.

Mr. Chesterton also has a lovely defense of Santa Claus in particular, explaining how, far from making him think his parents were liars and Jesus must be a fake, his own belief in Santa Claus prepared him for greater beliefs that were to come:

What has happened to me has been the very reverse of what appears to be the experience of most of my friends. Instead of dwindling to a point, Santa Claus has grown larger and larger in my life until he fills almost the whole of it. It happened in this way.
As a child I was faced with a phenomenon requiring explanation.  I hung up at the end of my bed an empty stocking, which in the morning became a full stocking.  I had done nothing to produce the things that filled it.  I had not worked for them, or made them or helped to make them.  I had not even been good – far from it.
And the explanation was that a certain being whom people called Santa Claus was benevolently disposed toward me. . . .  What we believed was that a certain benevolent agency did give us those toys for nothing. And, as I say, I believe it still.  I have merely extended the idea.
Then I only wondered who put the toys in the stocking; now I wonder who put the stocking by the bed, and the bed in the room, and the room in the house, and the house on the planet, and the great planet in the void.
Once I only thanked Santa Claus for a few dollars and crackers. Now, I thank him for stars and street faces, and wine and the great sea. Once I thought it delightful and astonishing to find a present so big that it only went halfway into the stocking.  Now I am delighted and astonished every morning to find a present so big that it takes two stockings to hold it, and then leaves a great deal outside; it is the large and preposterous present of myself, as to the origin of which I can offer no suggestion except that Santa Claus gave it to me in a fit of peculiarly fantastic goodwill.
This was the same experience I had. As a child, I loved and understood Santa Claus in a way that was more concrete than my belief in and understanding of Jesus could be. But loving Santa Claus opened up a Jesus-shaped hole in my heart, that stayed there, waiting, until I was ready for it to be filled.

But there's a right way and a wrong way to do everything, and I'm pretty sure the right way doesn't involve yard mannequins:


Changing gears here . . . I finished all the edits the publisher requested on A Little Book About Confession for Children, and then (totally out of the usual order of this kind of thing) received and signed my contract. It's supposed to go to the printers next week and be available in the new year!

I am super excited.

p.s. In case you were wondering, writing catechetical literature for children does not appear to be a very good get rich quick scheme.

Now for some quotes from my weirdo kiddos

Gus (5): I always eat my hotdog with RELISH. . . . Get it? 'Cause relish MEANS SOMETHING. 
and also  
Overheard: saddest playing house ever . . . 

Anita (4) -holding baby doll- to Gus (5): Our mother died just a couple of days after he was born. Now I'm all he has in the world.

Perhaps we should lay off the Dickens with her.

This is a little something for the naysayers who like to throw around the word 'brainwashing' when describing parents who are bothering to form their children.

Here's hoping I can do half as good a job at brainwashing my own kids as this teenager's parents have done.

Bronx Youth Poetry SLAM 2013, Ethan Metzger

Happy weekend everyone, I'm off to throw a moustache-themed 2nd birthday party for Frankie. It should be pretty awesome.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!