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Archive for July, 2011

I admit it, we get frustrated with our kids.  I imagine that all parents do, especially those who have only younger children.  They are just so……needy!  We are still in the stage where drinks and snacks and games and hygiene often if not always require parental assistance and that can be wearing.  Of course we are teaching them to be more self-sufficient, as all parents should, but it is a slow process and in the meantime we search for ways to combat the drain on parental energy.  The weekends, especially, can be hard.  Having both mom and dad around and available ramps up their energy and they seem to have a difficult time containing themselves. 

 Tonight I sensed that we were in for some wild times, so after dinner I suggested a spontaneous outing to our local park.  The great thing about this park is that it has a lovely area to walk along the river where you can watch boats go by or airplanes landing.  It also has a good playground and the entire property is small enough that even small kids can have a sense of freedom.  The weather was hot, but not too humid and there was a cooling breeze coming off the water.  We first walked all along the river with the kids running ahead (and then running back and then running ahead again)  and stopping at various places to gaze into the water or watch the geese.  When we got near the end, there was a small secluded (and shaded!) area where we paused to say our evening rosary.  While I would not go so far as to say that the kids were extra attentive, they were pretty well-behaved and participated nicely.  Then we walked up to the playground and stayed for a while longer while they wore themselves out.  By the time we came home, they were ready for a couple of stories and straight to bed.  No big battles ensued and a pleasant evening was had by all.  It was such a relief and I think we can expect to do this again soon!

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Not everything on there, but a good cross-section:

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The Complete Plays of  William Shakespeare by William Shakespeare  (somewhere around $1.99 I think)

I love Shakespeare.  I love to read his plays and I love to perform them.  I even spent a summer in high school in Lenox, MA, learning from and performing with Shakespeare and Co., a regional group dedicated to performing both the popular and obscure plays.  When I was there they had two outdoor stages and two indoor stages.  The main stage was outdoors in a wooded area.  It was a simply fabulous place to perform.  Right now I am reading Richard III.  I read it in high school and didn’t get a ton out of it so I decided to read it again with a little maturity.  The problem is that I just don’t have a grasp of the literal history of the time.  So…………..

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Richard III: Makers of History by Jacob Abbott (free)

This is a fascinating read.  It is mostly dry as dirt, but I don’t mind that.  I love reading history and this is no exception.  It was written in 1901 and the author seems to have written several biographies/histories of England.  Now the really crazy thing is that although this book is about 99% straight fact (he married her and they had this child who was nth in line for the throne, blah blah blah) every so often this author comes out with some outrageous statements.  Check this one out:

“Military exploits have been, in fact, generally, in the history of the world, gigantic crimes, committed by reckless and remorseless men for the benefit of others, who, though they would be deterred by their scruples of conscience or their moral sensibilities from perpetrating such deeds themselves, are ready to repay, with the mot extravagant honors and rewards, those who are ferocious and unscrupulous enough to perpetrate them in their stead.”

Really?

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Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (free)

This is next on my list.  I have never read it and my knowledge of what is in it only extents to common cultural knowledge and a viewing (or two) of Man of La Mancha.  I am looking forward to it.

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The Complete Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (around $1.99)

I plan on reading this to the kids.  My mom read these books to me in order when I was around seven or eight.  It was a special time and I loved these stories from the get go.  The kids have not seen the movie yet and I am so excited to introduce them to Ozma and Button Bright and the Hungry Tiger before they are influenced by the Technicolor version. 

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Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Again, this one I read in high school, but I had no real appreciation for it.  I am definitely liking it more this time around, but my bias remains.  I just don’t care for Russian literature.  It is cold and depressing.  Interestingly, this extends to most literature written from and about places that are cold and often desolate.  I don’t like stories about Russia or Scandinavia or even Alaska.  The one exception is a novel that takes place in Canada called Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman.  That book is a treasure and one I recommend wholeheartedly.  Crime and Punishment is worth reading as well.

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Why We Get Fat: And What We Can Do About It by Gary Taubes

An excellent and important book.  I cannot recommend it enough.  The answer, by the way, is carbs, especially sugar.  It is the science that is the real eye opener.  This book was instrumental in changing my life and the way I look at food.  Also, watch FatHead (it is available for free on both Hulu and Netflix instant watch). 

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Home Education by Charlotte Mason, Classic Children’s Books: All 12 of Andrew Lang’s Fairy books by Andrew Lang, This Country of Ours by H.E. Marshall, and Among the Farmyard People by Clara Dillingham

All these are books I downloaded for free and hope to use in our home school this coming fall.  A couple came from Amazon, but there are other places to download Kindle friendly books for free or close to free.  I like Project Gutenberg, The Baldwin Online Children’s Literature Project, and Heritage History.  I know people have had great success with Google Books as well.

So, that’s a small sampling of what’s active on my Kindle these days.  What about you?

And don’t forget to pop over to Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

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Yesterday I decided to run a few errands with the hope that the baby would nap in the car and we could all enjoy some extended blasts of a/c.  I am lucky and have had great car nappers with all four of my kids.  So we set out.  I had to stop by my mom’s house to check on some outdoor stuff, get gas and drop a form off at our pediatrician’s office.

By the time we were on our way to the doctor, Jude was napping so nicely and it was so hot that I realized I really didn’t want to turn the car off or wake him out of his car seat.  I weighed my options and decided that my six-year-old (almost six and a half!) was plenty old enough to run in and give the form to the receptionist.  Plus, I decided it would be good for him;  he is often shy and reluctant to try new things.  He was agreeable to the situation and as an afterthought, I called the office so they would be expecting him.

What I didn’t expect was a diatribe from the woman on the phone about how irresponsible I was to even think about letting a child under 18 come into the office unaccompanied!  I was flabbergasted.  I fully intended to pull up to the door and the desk is literally eight feet at most from the glass doors.  Not only would he not be getting out in the parking lot by himself,  but I would stand at the door and watch him hand in the form.  I argued my points and she argued nonsense and eventually put me on hold to speak with a supervisor.  When she came back she tersely informed me that it would be allowed, but I would have to handwrite a permission slip, signed and dated, to hand in with the form. 

I won, but it doesn’t feel like a victory.  It feels like a sad revelation of a society that has no room for allowing kids the freedom to mature.

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Friendship

“What a friend we have in Jesus” goes the popular Bible school song. But what is a friend? Lately I have been inspired to explore friendship and all its intricacies.

 As a child I had a difficult time making friends. I was in many ways old for my years as I grew up in a household of teenagers and adults. I was certainly more cerebral than most other children and I never had the popular toys – or if I did it was one My Little Pony or one Strawberry Shortcake doll. I did not have fourteen ponies and twelve dolls like the other girls I grew up with and I certainly did not have any accessories to go with them. Honestly, I wouldn’t have known what to do with them if I did. My childhood was spent in fantasy of my own making and in creating works of “art.”  I wasn’t exactly popular in elementary school, but there were a few girls who were happy to enter the worlds of my creation. 

When I hit middle school all that changed.  My imagination was now deemed “childish” and I had zero interest in stylish clothes and popular music.  My tastes were very much influenced by my much older siblings; so while the girls my age were just starting to explore big hair and makeup, I was listening to punk rock and longing to dye my hair pink (sadly my parents did not agree).  My other interests were varied, but they never seemed to mesh with those of my classmates.  Of course it didn’t help that I was attending a very small private girls school.  Perhaps in a larger class I would have found more diversity.  I wanted to sing and to act.  I wanted to stand out and be silly and crazy.  That didn’t work in a group of very conservative girls.  So I learned to adapt and be what other people wanted me to be.  Of course that didn’t work either – then I was “trying too hard.”  Which was true, but I was desperate for friends. 

I survived middle school and moved on to a public high school where I found the diversity I craved.  Unfortunately, the effects of my experienced lingered.  I had learned to hide essential parts of myself and to keep private the things I held dear.  No one could laugh at my love of Star Wars if they didn’t know it existed.  No one could shoot down my dreams of acting on a real stage if they didn’t know I had them.  I went so far as to refuse to audition for school plays even though I wanted more than anything to take part in them.  And eventually I hid these things even from myself.  Oh, I had a few friends in high school that truly knew me and liked me, and I am lucky because they are still my friends today. 

It has been a struggle my entire adult life to both rediscover myself and to put myself out there.  I often realize I am censoring myself in conversations and having a sort of double speak in my head where I edit myself while I talk.  Frankly, it’s exhausting.  It has caused me to experience a great deal of social anxiety because I simply cannot get past the old roadblocks in my head.  [can I say that?  is it stupid?  will people laugh?  do I say what I really think or do I go for the laugh?  Am I talking too much?  Not asking enough questions?]  I think that sometimes I am perceived as shy or overly reserved.  In a way that is true; I find conversation uncomfortable. 

I think this has been my greatest stumbling block in creating authentic friendships.  I am willing to give of myself completely to other people, but I am unwilling to share my self even partially with other people.  It isn’t deliberate, I just haven’t had any practice doing it.  And my friendships are all very surfacy because of it.  Very few people know me well enough to really like me and seek out my company and it is my fault.  How do you break past the fear that by revealing your true self you will lose even the superficial friendships?  I comfort myself with the fact that I do have many people I can call friend; it is only in the times when I remember what having real, deep friendship is like that I mourn for what I do not have.

And yet…Christ knows me and He loves me.  I can confide in him all my deepest thoughts, fears and joys and I know that he will never laugh at me.  I know I need not censor myself with him.  Perhaps I need to concentrate first on a deeper reciprocal relationship with Christ so that I can then go forth and form friendships with others.

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Just trying it out. It’s certainly not as easy as typing on my computer, but it has possibilities. For one, I am writing this as I nurse Jude down for a nap. Not possible while sitting at the computer. I will also be able to post while out and about with the kids. Yes, I think I will like this.

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Head over to Conversion Diary to read more!

 

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Today is the feast of the Most Sacred Heart.  I have a beautiful old Sacred Heart picture that belonged to my Grandmother.  I can recall easily how she used it for her morning prayers even when I was almost too young to notice.  It was always amazing to me how long she spent each morning moving about the house, effortlessly doing her routine while piously saying her prayers under her breath.  When I was older and a smug “orthodox” Catholic I disdained her routine, seeing it as rote and ultimately meaningless (yeah, I was a snot for many years) but as I actually matured and began to understand  in a deeper way the concept of devotion I saw it as a lovely way to start the day.  Now my Grandmother is gone, but her picture is hanging in my kitchen where I can daily see how worn and loved it was.  It reminds me of the mercy of God and to pray for our departed friends and family members; and as I wash dishes I can say whenever I see it, “Oh Sacred Heart of Jesus, have Mercy on us!”

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The one and only thing I like about summer?  Air conditioning.  That’s right, you heard me.  There is nothing better than having cold air blasting on you and then walking out into blazing heat.  Now humidity really ruins this effect, but on a relatively dry day (there are no completely dry days on the East Coast) it feels wonderful.

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Are my kids the only ones in the world who drink flavored seltzer like it’s going out of style?  I don’t allow juice, lemonade or even milk on a regular basis and if they have ever tasted soda  I couldn’t tell you when, so this is what they drink along with regular water.  In a family of six (although the baby doesn’t really drink it yet – fizzy drinks don’t do well in a sippy cup) we can go through almost 48 cans a week.  We are seltzer fiends.  That’s all there is to it.

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I love my new iPhone.  Seriously.  It’s kind of pathetic, I mean, I had an iPod Touch already but I am absolutely enamoured of what I can do with the iPhone.  Camera!  Video!  Face to Face conversations!  Streaming Pandora and podcasts in the car!  While driving!  Easy texting!  Not while driving of course!                                                                                                                                                                                                 Keep in mind that my last phone was purchased in 2006 and even then it wasn’t exactly top of the line so this is a whole new world for me.

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I switched my blog this week from blogger to WordPress and so far I am very happy.  It is easy enough to use that I am actually blogging on a regular basis.  I don’t think I ever managed a post three days in a row even when I was blogging fairly consistently.  I am enjoying uploading pictures and the dashboard is very easy to navigate.  That’s my 2 cents on that one.

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I feel like my quick takes have now been taken over by reviews.  And I’m not even being compensated!  Let’s move on then…if you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?  Personally if I had the choice I would never stay in just one place.  In 35 (yikes!) years I have lived in six different places in two different towns in MA, plus I have lived in PA, OH, MD and NJ.  I don’t really like the process of  moving, but I would love to have readily stocked houses in many places and be able to move from place to place effortlessly.  Great Britain, Italy, Greece, Vermont, Maine, and Massachusetts are all places I could frequent with ease.         

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My number four is by far my clingiest baby.  Although at 15 months he can play independently for a short span, he prefers to spend the rest of the time either firmly attached to me or getting into magnificent trouble (such as scaling the walls like spiderman to reach high dangerous places, or finding the smallest most dangerous object to stick in his mouth).  It’s kind of exhausting.  Or maybe I just don’t remember the older three accurately.  That is totally possible.

And with that, I’m outta here.

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