Thursday, September 17, 2015

New Things

Or, things that should be old by now but are new for me. And , no I am not talking about any new technology. Though speaking of technology, for some reason blogger is not talking to my One Drive, and I am really not interested in sorting out any more petty squabbles and digging into 'he hit me first' stories that can, and do continue for days. So I'm going to ignore it until they sort it out themselves. Sadly, the internet is the loser as I can't post cute pictures of my super cute kids. But no pictures does not preclude me from poking the keyboard for a bit, as I actually have a few minutes  before somebody draws blood and I have to clean it up before the stain sets.(Hydrogen peroxide for all your children's activities. Works on urine too.)

Fiona is napping so I was going to read more of Fr Spitzer's book, but the 'atmosphere' is not conducive to thinking so I figured I could let the gelatinous gibberish that is my brain's offspring lately coagulate here for a bit instead. My apologies. Especially since I can't make it up to you with a (Fi)cture.

I really don't know how other moms find time to write. Or eat. Or brush their hair. I have yet to find a way to facilitate any independent, as in just me, activity that does not necessitate copious amounts of hydrogen peroxide, bleach, or new wall board. Or toilet seats.

Speaking of toilets, Shane, who was consoling a naked Malachi as he was pining for his brother's tape measure,   just leapt off the couch and exclaimed,

"What is that on your finger?!" Then proceeded to have the couch and  his, Shane's, pants sniff tested to make sure 'that' was not anywhere else. It wasn't. We, or rather Shane, scrubbed Muffin's hands and put a diaper on him. Apparently, he had used the toilet (yeah!) but still needs some help in the clean-up department.

I just stayed back and watched the whole event. I had been typing for three minutes so I figured some catastrophe was bound to happen any minute. It's not so bad when you can look at such events as a disinterested third party. Or highly entertained by it because its always fun to see people freak out about what you spend most of your day dealing with.  Not that Shane freaked out. He's used to it by now.

It also helps if you do get called in for the clean up. Yesterday I decided to get a jump on the clean up and went out to buy new toilet seats. (Sorry for the toilet-themed post. That's just a consequence of having little boys.) Also a consequence of said boys having difficulties trying to pee in that microscopic basin that keeps moving all over the room just as you lock on to it. Every visit to the bathroom is a like new game of Asteroids. So off to the hardware store I went to try to restore some decency to the bathroom. (You are welcome.)

I had no idea there would be so many choices in the toilet seat department. Also, I had absolutely no idea they made some with built in night lights! Seriously? I don't need another thing to keep supplies with batteries.  Of course I took a picture to show Shane.

 His response was,

"Really? That's so cool! Did you get one?"

Needless to say I did not get anything that would encourage more nighttime activity. Or boys guzzling gallons of water before bed to increase their trips in the dark. Just like 'free' time, sleep is a highly valuable and scarce commodity these days. But maybe I'll remember when it comes time to fill Shane's stocking.

He's earned it this year. Especially for taking care of the poo finger.

I was going to share our academic plans for this year but this post has taken me 5 hours, as many cups of coffee, twice as many diaper changes (for the kids), and  every other sentence I get questions like 'what's for dinner?' 'do you know where my book is?' 'what's the air speed of an unladen swallow?'

In a nut shell we are doing less. I signed the kids up for lots of classes and the week before we were to start I cancelled them all. Except two. The little kids are continuing piano, and as this is Audrey's last year for Drama and Trudy offered to take her to that, we kept that as well. But nothing early in the morning!

I can't believe I didn't so it sooner. As in years ago. It takes so much energy to leave the house with all, or even some, of the kids. And even though Shane's mom has been doing the driving most of the last couple years, it is still an effort to make sure everyone is up and breakfasted and has TWO shoes in the morning. Matching was optional. Plus, I was realizing that outside classes were taking up all the schooling energy I had and leaving us with nothing for the work I would like to be doing with the kids.

Add to that two toddlers, dentist appointments, grocery shopping, and occasional doctor appointments, I'm swamped. As energy is scarcer and scarcer these days and ignoring that fact turns me into exhausted,grumpy, none-fun mom, I finally felt it was time to speak up.

I brought it up to Shane a week before we were to start, bracing my self for the talk I had given myself every time I felt overwhelmed, and honestly, scared, by it all. He listened and then said,

"OK. I do think we need a more family centered and directed school year , not focused or restricted by what classes are available. And something that will not suck all your energy. Let's do it."

None of the,

'oh come on. Don't be such a wimp! My mom's been doing all the driving any way so its not really any effort on your part. This is what we are supposed to be doing now, for the kids.'     Which is what I had been expecting.

So the next day, I joyfully wrote cancellation checks to all the teachers and only had to rip up three of the five, for clerical errors. not sure if it was just the fact I had to write so many numbers that tripped me up or if I was just excited to be unsigning up for the stress that would have accompanied all the classes. Plus, knowing I would not have to do all the tuition checks again in a month was pretty exhilarating.   Either way, every time I realized it was not going to happen I was thrilled and over the next week felt more and more assured we were doing the right thing, planning the activities and subjects we would be doing instead. Shane felt the same way, so I must be right. And the first day of nonclasses while the other mom's were scrambling to get kids in cars and diaper bags and lunch bags packed, I was still in my pajamas drinking coffee. Not because I was being lazy but because we had the crappiest night of sleep we'd had in a long time with both babies waking up just before midnight and not going down again until 2:30am. But the entire time Kateri and I were tending to the babies , Shane still had work in the morning so I thoughtfully did not bug him, all I could think and rejoice about was the fact I didn't have to drag all the kids out of bed in a few hours.

I had always felt resentful of the schedule I had forced us into in years past. I felt a tension between what the baby(ies) needed and what participating in the kids' classes required i.e. being away from home all day. Camping out in the car for hours. Coming home exhausted at dinner time with no energy to cook or clean. Finally recovering just as the next week started. Looking back at those years I  think what an idiot I was. Or maybe that is just the Now Me imagining doing it. Maybe the Then Me did have more energy and a bigger brain. Definitely had better hair.

My definition of homeschooling has definitely evolved over the years. And I am sure it will continue to do so. Right now our plan feels a comfortable fit for the family. I'll share some more details on curriculum etc later. Shane took the kids outside to play so I want to use the time to get dinner going and if the post got any longer I think we would all die of boredom.

Oh, look at that! Shane, the peace broker, finally got things talking to other things, resulting in my being able to post a picture. This was from last week. My dad's sister, Sister Judit, was here visiting for a short time and we got to host her for lunch. She is a nun with the Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart ofJesus  (see if you can spot her). She was previously in Hungary and before that Taiwan so it was great to see her here again. Now she is in California, they get sent wherever there is a dire need, so hopefully there will be more opportunities to see her.


Thursday, September 10, 2015


....just because its how its been done for years doesn't mean it's the best.

I thought the story of the girl making a roast for her mom was great illustration of this. The girl invites her mom over and decides to make a roast for dinner. Her mom is watching as the daughter takes out the roast and readies it for the oven. The girl takes a knife, slices off an inch from each end, and throws the scraps in the garbage.

Bewildered, the mom asks,

" Why are  you wasting good meat?"

Having seen her mom make roasts over the years, the bewildered daughter answers,

"Because that's how YOU always made roasts!"

To which the mother responds,

"Yes, but I only did that because my roasting pan was too small."

Speaking of Tradition, capital T, there has been a lot of buzz about Pope Francis' visit to the US, with people trying to predict what he will do and say to try and get with the 'in' crowd and modernize the 2000 year old behemoth of a Church. As if it needs to be turned   into a place where people can do whatever they feel like and still pretend to be part of the Catholic Church. Because, if not, someone might be offended  or feel excluded, or heaven help us, think about it and change their behavior. Why change yourself  when you can just re-write the Ten Commandments? Oh, that's so much better. Its so refreshing to be unfettered by the  Truth, given by, you know, God HIMSELF, and which the martyrs have been dying for years to protect and hand down to people foundering and struggling to find their way as best they can in this crazy world.

Yes, lets just rearrange the directions on our compass and see where it gets us. Well, spoiler alert, but guess what? IT'S NOT HAPPENING!

Here's the deal. There is Truth. If you accept It and promise to live by It to the best of your abilities, welcome to the Catholic Church! If instead, you would like pick and choose your favorites or throw out your non-favorites and continue to live like it's all optional, welcome to the 30,000 and growing other denominations. If you can't find one that's just right for you, don't fret. You can start your own.

 You cannot change Truth to fit your liking, comfort level, or wedding plans.

Abortion?- Killing is still  a no-no.

Contraception?- See above. Along with the teaching on sexuality, fertility, and people are not to be (ab)used as recreational, or occasionally useful means to whatever end I think will make me happy at this particular moment, but which has, in reality lead to a mutual disrespect for women and men, a devaluing of children, and the disintegration of the family. Happiness? Not so much.  Heartache, misery, abandonment, lack of respect and de-humanization of everyone? Just read the news.

There is a lot of confusion about freedom these days. In most people's minds freedom means freedom from. Freedom from responsibility, restrictions, morals, ethics, standards, and pretty much anything a person doesn't like or want to do. Sounds like a 2-year-old's fantasy playland. But, also like a 2 year old with no boundaries,  there are serious consequences. For society and the individual. And despite all the shiny rhetoric and glossy promises, you will be  a slave to so many masters you can't tell up from down. But you are free, man. To be yourself. In all your self-indulgent, self-destructive, egocentric ways. But someday you can get all upset about immigrants not having a place to go to escape real abuse. Like someone trying to KILL them. So, you know. You care. Obviously. And you can relate. Totally.

Perceived slights remedied with misguided  charity is all the rage these days. With disastrous effects.

If you need help figuring out what/how your testicles/ovaries were created for there is help. 'Gender reassigning', sterilization, putting on new clothes, demanding people call you by a different pronoun depending on your mood and a host of other 'solutions' will not help you understand who you and your place in the universe . Sex/sexuality is huge. So huge in fact, there are rules around it. To protect the person. The persons. And the person who might exist as a result. It cannot be manipulated without disastrous outcomes. That is how BIG it is. And that is why the perversion and misuse of it is so toxic. To all of humanity and to the struggling individual grappling with the understanding and implementing of their God-given sexuality.

Women wanting to be priests will be disappointed too. Again. As they are every time and always will be. Amen. Not sure if or why this might make it into a family-focused event, but disgruntled women seem to keep trying so it might.

Marriage will not be redefined to 'include' anything and everything attempting to mimic the first God-given sacrament.

Homosexual behavior  will not gain equal status with married behavior. Individuals with homosexual inclinations will be reaffirmed as people, deserving of love, respect, dignity, and their place in the world, as they always have been and just as every other person deserves as well. Also, not sure if/why this topic might try to make an appearance but everyone wants to try and steal the spotlight so it might happen.

Divorce will still be not-an-option. Just to clarify annulment is not Catholic divorce, but a declaration that this never was a marriage in the first place. Maybe one party was already married. Or was planning on not keeping their marital promises before they were even said, lied, to the other.

So I am sure there will be lots of disappointed parties to bemoan the fact that 'The Church hasn't changed in 2,000 years!!!'

And it won't in the next 2,000 years either.

In breaking with some tradition, we've decided to structure our school year a little, or a lot, differently this year. I'm hoping it will allow for more time for focused work at home and more energy for me to facilitate the work. It has already reduced a fair amount of stress felt in former years by the old way of doing things. And was actually suggested by my mom several years go. Slow learner, I guess.

I thought this article on melatonin and MS was super similar to this one, written by yours truly.

See, I wasn't making it up. There may have been lots more published in the past few months, but as my Surface is lately being occupied playing The Croods , or Despicable Me 2, I was not able to see the news feed Shane set up for me to peruse the latest templated articles. Not sure how much of a loss that is. But I'm a big fan of both The Croods (seriously a lot of life lessons  in this one) and Despicable Me 2 (what is NOT funny about yellow twinkles with that make sounds just like my 1 year old and have the same sense of humor as my 2 year old) so in the end I think I got a good deal.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Litany of Fi

It is heartwarming to see how much Malachi dotes on Fiona. At first I was a little sad his infancy ended so quickly, but seeing how he responded to a tiny baby, being not much more than a not so tiny baby himself, the was never any sibling rivalry. I am sure that will develop over time, like as soon as she is the same height, but until then he is the super protective, doting, older brother.

His morning greeting and exclamations upon seeing her have become a bit of a ritual. He sees her and runs over to give her a hug. Then says,

"Baby so cute."

Everyone present responds,

"Yes, baby is so cute."

"Why baby so cute?" Malachi continues.

If the attending persons are distracted by a hot sip of coffee or something and the silence is too long,  he is happy to  nudge them by stating the answer as a question.

"Because God made baby so cute?"

Coffee or other distraction finished, all present repeat:

"Yes. God made baby so cute."

If it is a special Fi(st) day, or if he just wants to use his favorite three letter word, so pretty much every time, he adds:

"WHY God make baby so cute?"

Then because they are all  movable Fi(st) days, there are a variety of appropriate responses. Depending on what cute thing she is doing at the moment.

Then Malachi pats her hair and gives her a kiss. Fiona picks up a f"oam Nerf sword and hits him on the head,  the benediction is concluded, and everyone is dismissed. Due to be repeated whenever Malachi feels moved by the spirit to do so. So every time he sees Fiona. Which we totally get as she is pretty much the cutest thing in the world.

It is refreshing to see how much he adores her, and sort of offsets his more rough (aka pooping on things that are not toilets) side.  We're still working on that. I got him big boy undies and he likes them. Not so much to wear. Yet. And he is pretty scrupulous about making sure the toilet seat is set to HIS seat when he empties the contents of his diaper into it. But it's not a vent so no complaining here. Baby steps.

Speaking of non-baby steps, Fiona  is learning a ton from Malachi, thankfully not the vent trick, yet, and her baby years are already feeling fleeting. It seems every day she is performing a new feat of awesomeness. Climbing up the stair railing? Got it. Opening doors? Thank goodness the doors to the outside were already gated. Climbing up the playset ladder? (I actually nailed that one. With repurposed rabbit cage wire walls to block the escape holes So even though I refer to them as 'the babies,  we really don't have a baby anymore. Which is bittersweet. I thought this really summed up how it feels to watch your babies grow. I am sure when I pack up all her baby clothes I will ache for my stinky Fi at the same time celebrating all her milestones and new found abilities. The 'roll it' part in her 3am pat-a-cake routine gets me every time. I have yet to video tape it, a hazard of not being the First Born, but now that I'm thinking of it and as she is just up from her nap maybe we'll give it a try.

Also, if you haven't, but wanted to enter, leave a comment here to get a chance at winning copy of Fr. Spitzer's new book, Finding True Happiness. I got a few more pages read and am looking forward to reading several uninterrupted, in like 5 years, pages. But so far I really like it and will probably write more about it someday.