Friday, December 28, 2007
Just as expected, more pox broke out today! We have two more definite cases and one suspicious kid! Mister Thorns will be bringing home more acetaminophen (which I believe my readers across the pond call paracetamol), we are amply supplied with benadryl, calamine, oatmeal and baking soda and Popsicles. I have been blessed, though I doubt my 'itchers' will agree in a couple of days. Pray for the poor wee ones who will be suffering. Your prayers are apparently very efficacious, we may be finished with this in the first month of the new year!
Be sure to click on the dots image to see where you can buy this lovely wallpaper!
Monday, December 24, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
If you were a fly on the wall today you would have enjoyed a little conversation between 7 year old son and myself. First you should know that I do in fact encourage belief in the "Mom has eyes in the back of her head" philosophy of parenting. It is quite good at keeping your children honest. They never know what you may be 'seeing' or hearing for that matter. I always love to have an opportunity to exhibit my skills to my children to reinforce this adage.
Today my son asks me, "Do you really have eyes in the back of you head, Mom?"
"Of course I do."
"How did you get them?"
"When I became a mommy."
"Do all mommy's have them?"
"Do Daddy's get them too?"
"Do you think your Daddy has them? Does he always know what is going on in this house? Can you fool Daddy?""
"No, Daddy doesn't always know, and we can fool him."
"Do you think Daddy has them?"
"No. But why doesn't Maria (six year old sister, pox sufferer at the moment) have them? She will be a mommy someday."
"Well, if she is a mommy she will get them, but not until."
"Well how come Daddy's don't get them?"
"Because only Mommy's do."
"Why can't I get them?"
"Because you are not a mommy."
"Do you see better with the eyes in the front or on the back?"
I anticipate more questions on this in the future. This is my analytic philosopher son. LOL. He is so smart about some things, but this one apparently offends his sense of justice, and his sense of reason. He is, rather amusingly, quite stumped. I have demonstrated enough to him, apparently, that I do have these eyes to make his little mind spin off track. He won't let up until he solves the mystery, which we all know of course, he never will. Insert evil mommy laugh ;-)
Monday, December 17, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007
One child is mildly afflicted. This is the child who had the direct exposure. I only know this because I've been watching like a hawk since my last post on the topic. We have 7 red marks with little blisters, and the start of a temperature...very likely the pox. I would like to see more so it can definitely be labeled as the pox, but I recall from our first bout with this (over 10 year ago) even a mild case is still a case of the pox and it counts. I will be giving the children a very long bath shortly, that ought to serve to promote the appearance of the pox!
I will keep you posted.
For those interested, if you would like to visit and expose your own children you are welcome to do so, contact me through my email. Izzarina, you are invited to call if you are up to the drive! You know how to reach me!
Monday, December 10, 2007
This is a list I sent to Listoff in June. He did post a few of them on his blog. I thought I would put up my full list today for your enjoyment in this season where everyone is harried and could use a good laugh!
What Three Year Olds Do For Fun
- Swing from the curtains/climb the curtains until the rods bend
- See how many different things will fit inside the VCR or DVD player, until it won't work any more
- See how many CD ROMs can fit into the computer at one time
- Spread 'armpit perfume' all over big brother's room
- Pretend the dog is a horse and try to ride it.
- Wake teen siblings at 6am by throwing water at them
- Rub magnets on the computer screen to watch all the pretty colors
- Pick flowers for mommy out of any garden they want to
- Rubber stamp art on the walls and furniture
- Hide big sister's cell phone and blame it on the dog
- Paint the wall with lipstick
- Flood the bathroom
- Paint lamp with nail polish
- Spray an entire can of blue silly string (which stains, by the way) all over the living room
- Tell mom, "I made lunch" and serve chocolate chip sandwiches to everyone
- Use bathroom cleaner for hairspray
- Cuts own hair with nail trimmers
- Cut all the hair off big sister's American Girl doll so it will look like Harry Potter
- Use white out to paint the floor
- Torture the cat by locking it or zipping it inside any container that it fits in
- Eat all big sister's Easter candy
- Enlists a five year old sibling to assist in stacking enough objects so someone can reach the cookies on top of the refrigerator
- Lock siblings out, because she can now reach the lock
- Uses permanent marker to decorate herself
- Hides so well in the house that Grandma is ready to call 911, until the giggling gives her away
- Uses baby powder to make it snow inside the house
- When Mom is cleaning for company, uses honey to decorate herself, the dog, and the kitchen, and then sprinkle pretty sugar on top
- Gets naked as the door bell rings to go stand next to Mommy as she answers the door
- Picks gum off the underside of the church pew to eat it
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Two new additions for you to check out!
Happy Hearts at Home
Alexandra is a lovely Catholic mom who has an awesome blog featuring many great values for the frugal homeschooling family.
Catholic Mom of 10
Jackie is a mother from across the pond in the UK, with ten children, whose blog is faith filled and informative as well as entertaining to read!
Stop in to see them, and tell them Lily sent you!
We are going to have bad weather again today. I’ve posted a couple of times about the winter wonderland we live in, out of the last seven days we’ve had snow or wintry mix weather for six. My four wheel drive is getting a real work out after snoozing all summer. Considering the mountainous drive to go to the TLM and the snow clouds in the sky, then factoring in that the children all have colds and my husband is not home today, I opted to go to the local church for Mass. It is good for me to do so as it reminds me of why I travel ;-).
Today, the priest was promoting the new missals he is encouraging us all to buy. Last year he ordered for anyone who wanted and paid for, the St. Joseph’s Sunday Missal for $5. This year, he suggested that everyone purchase the hard cover 3 year Missal for $20. He will place the orders for anyone who wants them, he suggested purchasing them for FHC and Confirmation gifts, etc. Then to encourage people, because $20 per Missal is a bit pricey for most families this time of year, he added, “You will only need to buy it once. It will last forever, unless you lose it or break it somehow which is unlikely because they are well made. (Pause) Or, unless the Church decides to change things again. Of course, Vatican Councils don’t happen very often, so that seems unlikely too.”
My first thought was that he needed to get in a dig at the way the tide is changing, and perhaps because I’ve asked him to say the Latin Mass and he flat out told me he never would. Upon further reflection (I’ve been stewing on his attitude) I decided that this may be a good sign. A couple of years ago, the possibility of the Latin Mass making a comeback would never have crossed his mind. Now he’s adding little jabs in his everyday address, or in his Sunday announcements. Methinks this may be a good sign. Perhaps this priest is a little nervous about Benedict XVI. Liberal priests should be nervous. It seems Benedict is looking to return to the core teachings of Catholicism, the things that the implementation of Vatican II seemed to have dropped. Now, this is the priest who removed the tabernacle from the main church because people should not focus on the tabernacle but on the priest during Mass. The tabernacle was distracting people from what he (the priest) was doing. I guess he should be nervous. And there is yet to be a crucifix in the middle of the altar.
There is another hope, as our liberal bishop is soon to retire, perhaps over the next 3 years. Maybe, oh just maybe, we’ll get someone who is less ‘the new springtime’ and more traditional. One can always hope, and pray. In our diocese we have been asked to say at every Mass, the prayer in time of change. Of course no one says the prayer to St. Michael anymore.
PRAYER IN TIME OF CHANGE
Beloved Jesus, anoint us to do your will.
May the joy of your dwelling in us draw us closer to each other.
Expand our vision to recognize your plan;
warm our hearts by the flame of your Love;
open our lips so that we can speak your Word;
extend our arms so that we can embrace each other as your
speak to us so we can discern the role you have for us, your
Body, your Church.
Fill us with your Holy Spirit, empowering us to become vital
expressions of growth in your changing Church.
Your Kingdom is now!
Help us to discover and live your will.
Deacon Warren A. Dorsch
Pastoral Associate Jackie Jefferson
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
There is a Chicken Pox Panic in our town! Excellent news for this mom who does not vax against the pox. I'm certain one of my littles was exposed, her friend has come down with it! Hmmm, with the likelihood of successive cases instead of concurrent cases (nothing is ever easy with childhood illnesses, I have memories of 6 weeks of stomach flu) we could be dealing with the pox in the Thorns household through February or March. But it will be time well spent! I would rather deal with it as an immune parent of sickies than have them deal with it as sick adults. I cannot tell you how happy I am that this is panicking the town!
Pray for us that we have sick kids soon, now they will not have to consider the vax as adults! Time to go stock up on comfort items! Maybe I should buy this book!
I will keep you posted, and if the throes of the illness gets me down, you can all remind me this is what I had hoped for! ;-)
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
"The best advice to those who are miserable together is not, however, to avoid divorce for the sake of the environment, but to find someone else as quickly as possible."
This seems to be advising people to jump from the frying pan into the fire! I cannot endorse encouraging divorce on any level, and I cannot understand telling people to rush into another relationship for the sake of the environment.
Divorce is one of those issues I cannot comprehend.
Editorial note: Be sure to read the post, "Divorce is Bad for the Environment" which is the post referred to in the first line.
Monday, December 3, 2007
Of all the reasons I could think of to remain married, this one would not come up on my top ten! What would be on my top ten list of reasons to stay married? In no particular order:
1. Marriage is a sacrament, divorce is NOT recognized by the Catholic church. To remain within the Church, you must remain married. Marriage is a VOW made before God, and it is not to be taken lightly, it is 'Until death do us part.'
2. Children deserve both parents at home. Children are a natural product of a healthy marriage. When you have a good marriage, with God at the center, you will be open to life and you will probably have children. Divorce is hard on everyone, parents of course, but can be devastating to children.
3. Divorce is emotionally draining.
4. Divorce is financially devastating.
5. Divorce is selfish, marriage is selfless. There are many divorced people in my extended family (currently, more than have remained married, and we are Catholic going back as far as we can trace our geneaology) and with one exception of abuse, most of the reasons are selfish.
Reasons I've been given, not that anyone need explain to me, yet they do, affairs (selfish), want a better provider so I can have better things (selfish), not happy (selfish), didn't love my spouse any more (selfish), cannot imagine staying with my spouse forever (huh? why did you get married? selfish), you get the idea. I don't know anyone who would say marriage is easy, always happy and always rewarding. But, over time, it has its rewards. Worst case, the rewards are not in this life but in the next. In most cases, there are more good times than bad. You just have to weather the storm. Like with any investment, there are 'market swings' and you need to hang tight and have faith. Why is marriage any different? If you say 'I deserve to be happy' I will say you are selfish. We all want to be happy, but happiness is only found through selflessness, not through selfishness.
6. Marriage is hard, but divorce is harder. If your spouse is working long hours and you are alone with the children pulling your hair out, it is still easier than trying to do it all alone. Even if you feel alone, you are never alone if you have faith, faith in yourself, faith in your spouse and, most of all, faith in God. Sometimes just giving your spouse that faith is the only thing required to get through the tough places. Reaching out, giving that leap of faith, may be all they need to 'rise to the occasion' and justify that faith, returning it to you in spades.
7. Divorce causes lonliness. Tearing yourself in half , marriage makes one therefore divorce leaves half, is lonely and painful. Friends of the couple must choose when there is a divorce. It is rare that friends remain friends all the way around.
8. Divorce causes depression. A harder life, loneliness, financial stress, unhappy children, separation from God, depression is only to be expected.
9. Divorce can make you sick. When you are sad, depressed, lonely and stressed, your immune system weakens. This is a most unfortunate occurrence as when you need strength to pick yourself up and move on, you are in your worst state of health.
10. Excepting cases of annullment, you cannot receive the Eucharist. This is really covered by number one, but this point bears repeating and deserves its own enumeration as it is so important. The inability to receive the Eucharist removes an important source of Grace.
There you have it, and nowhere on this list is the fact that divorce is bad for the environment.
Editorial note, be sure to read the post entitled, "Divorce Takes Toll on the Environment, Take Two" which is a follow up to this one.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Monday, November 26, 2007
I learned something new yesterday!
Below is a post from the Cross Reference blogspot, another new discovery which I will be adding to my blogroll. Do stop by and visit Jeff.
At the local church, I teach confirmation classes. I’ve remarked in the past that if I lived in a more populous area, with more resources in the parish, I would not be teaching this class. As it turns out, I was asked to do it, but with more resources available (as in humans) I would never have presumed. In fact, I think they would have told me, “Thank you for your interest, Mrs. Thorns, you are welcome to bring cupcakes for snack time if you desire.”
I’m not selling myself short here, for an average Catholic TODAY, I know quite a bit. But, would I throw myself up against some of today’s scholars? Not a chance! I’m a smart cookie and I can figure out how to get answers, I read quite a bit, and I have spent most of the last 15 years devotedly learning and researching the faith, which does give me a leg up on most of my peers as far as Catholic formation. However, fit to teach teenagers the faith and prepare them for Confirmation? Never would I have imagined it. Yet, God calls us to fulfill roles, and prepares us to do the job.
What did I learn? Here is a reprint of the post from Cross Reference, the title is a link:
Liturgy: What's in a name?
The technical (proper) term is extraordinary minister of Holy Communion. Why is this title correctly preferred over terms like...
* Eucharistic Minister
* Special Minister of the Eucharist
* Special Minister of Holy Communion
* Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist
Pick apart the name. See if you can figure out where it's right and the others are wrong.
I learned the fine difference in meaning between Holy Communion and Eucharist! I knew there was a difference, didn’t know what it was. More pearls to pass on to my students. Go to the comments section of this post, the answer is explained. While you are at his website, check out the two posts on the ‘Jenga Mass’ and the 'Jenga Mass Part Two' which are fascinating if you love the Liturgy and have read anything on the subject.
It seems to me that the young men of today are well prepared to be leaders speaking out on behalf of our beautiful Catholic faith. Deo Gratias! We need strong young men, well educated, and fearless. Whether laity or religious, strong, young men will lead the Catholic faithful of today back to the head of the mystical body, back to Christ’s Church, back to the basics of Catholicism. Much has been lost or forgotten. At least some remember, or take the time to learn correctly, speak up, and pass the information on.
We live in a true colonial home, about as old as the USA. As such, it required updating for heat, electric, etc. There is no heat upstairs. Living in the northeast, it can be quite chilly. We also get pretty good winds whipping around here in the mountains, and the wind can at times, whip right through the house and through you!
I love the four seasons, and wouldn’t give up the winter for anything, and I enjoy the cold weather. My philosophy is to just put on another sweater. But, when you go to bed, the room is cold, the sheets are cold, and changing into your bedclothes makes you cold.
My hubby always laughs at me and tells me that I married him for his body heat, as he is always warm. Last night, when I went to lie down, he was asleep on my side of the bed. I know he prefers the other side so I nudged him to move. He was over on my side to warm it, and I was able to rest in a nice warm bed, as he moved over to the cold side! The very cold side, our room is very chilly. What a guy!
So there you have it ladies! My husband is the greatest!
This is not a picture of my chilly house, lol, but I did think it was a good visual for how cold I am when I go to retire for the night.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Thanksgiving. It is not my favorite holiday. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy eating, food preparation, visiting, etc. But, this holiday is an observation of the thanks for the harvest that allowed our ancestors (well some of Americans can actually claim that) to survive. What is really on the minds of many on the occasion of Thanksgiving?
Well, I can only speak from my own experience. We had one of our smaller groups this year. At the table we had 13. For dessert we had 25 people. The focus was on football and shopping. There were discussions of food, jobs, school, the economy, gas prices, technology. Except for one discussion on Confirmation, there was no mention of God, religion, faith or thankfulness. None at all.
That leads me to wonder, what are we thankful for, in our society today? Fat salaries, small families, and the toys to spend the fat salaries on. The complaints from the Thanksgiving I attended were centered on how government is sucking away too much of our money, and how the high gas prices are making many things un-affordable. Yet, as I glanced around the room, I saw my relatives all decked out in designer clothes, with blue tooth devices hanging off their ears. I saw much gold jewelry and shoes that were so ugly that they must be high fashion, on the men in attendance. There were iPods hanging off of belt loops and expensive cars parked in the driveway.
Since it was the eve of black Friday, discussions centered on what everyone would be buying, and how early they were heading out. I must admit to going out twice in my middle aged years, and both times were for a unique item that was a planned purchase, and the price was so low I was lured. Since we got rid of the television, I no longer have any idea about what is out there, and since our income is much lower than average for our family size (due to numerous children and one income as I stay at home) I rarely go into stores, unless for something specific.
Of course, there were big inquiries into what all of my children wanted for Christmas and since we have no television, they really didn’t know. They do have some commercial desires, as do any children, originating from seeing what everyone else has. They do not develop great longings for random items because they are not bombarded with product advertisements. I would be overwhelmed if my children were to respond to that holiday question of, “What do want Santa to bring you?” with “Well, we’d like you all to return to the Church and our happiness will be complete.” Admittedly that is a fantasy given the young ages of my crew, but wouldn’t it be nice.
We read (I think on Digihair’s blog) that “Ho Ho Ho” is being banned in some places because it is offensive to women. Hmmmm, what do I think about that? Well, I suppose there is a certain type of woman who might be offended, but I doubt Santa will be the one to offend her. Any self respecting, honorable, modest, well behaved, chaste woman would never even think of “Ho Ho Ho” as offensive, but perhaps the commercialism he stands for may make a few of us cringe.
At Mass on Thanksgiving morning, the priest mentioned how this is not a religious holiday but as all things come from God, we should thank Him for all of our blessings. I wish that was remembered more, even amongst those I love the best in the world, it is sometimes lacking. The priest had baskets of rolls, all wrapped up individually, with a Thanksgiving prayer inside. What a beautiful gesture on a non-religious holiday. We were all to take the blessed bread home with us to have with our dinners. I enjoyed mine with my coffee before all the fuss of the day began.
Maybe I’m getting old (though I hope not), or maybe I’m getting more sentimental (that is possible, many births, the death of my mother, etc.), or maybe I’m just starting to get my priorities right (sometimes better than others), but I prefer simplicity, low technology (note not the absence of technology, just perhaps not so much), good home cooked food, hearth and home, to just about anything else. I would love to celebrate any holiday, if it could be done without so much commercialism. Why aren’t we focused on God anymore. He must weep when he is forgotten especially on a day of thanks.
Friday, November 16, 2007
This is actually our second snowfall this year, the first being last Saturday. Since that one happened while I was asleep, it doesn’t count for much. When I had to go out Saturday morning, and crested the mountain, there was snow on the ground. On the return trip home, an hour later, it had all melted. Thus far today we’ve had no accumulation, just flurries and a bit of hail at one point, of course I was outside for that, but it has been ongoing all day long. I actually love the four seasons, if I ever had to move to where there weren’t four seasons I think I would miss them terribly. That being had, I am not happy to be cold today! Even my fingers and toes are cold, inside the house. Living in a huge, old, drafty house makes these initial cold days quite a shock. The upstairs (where our bedrooms are) is f-f-f-f-freezing, but there is nothing like snuggling under layers of comforters to sleep with a cold nose! Maybe I’m cold because I’ve lost weight this year? Maybe I need to put some pounds on to stay warm for the winter, like a bear? Do you think the doctor would condone hibernation weight? I guess it is doubtful.
Between the shorter days and the colder weather my mood is starting to dip into the doldrums. It is a disease I’ve been plagued with for a few years now. It doesn’t mean I’m unhappy, it is just truly a seasonal case of the blues. Now it is time to hunker down with some good spiritual reading to stay on track and not get really blue. I will also start with my winter entertainments of needlework, everything from embroidery, to mending, to sewing, to knitting and crocheting. But, more than anything, the thing that keeps me happy all winter is baking bread. It is physical activity, a spiritual exercise, and it is olfactorily satisfying, not to mention delicious. Guess it is time to get baking bread!
I will post our favorite holiday bread recipe when I start baking it. As a hint, I’ve already prepared the vegetable puree we use it the recipe...sweet potato and/or winter squash. I bake and puree the squash, then freeze it in one cup quantities. I have over 20 cups in the freezer! Each cup contributes to two rather large loaves of bread. Plus we also love pancakes made with the squash, a nice dish for Friday nights. We do all Fridays meatless, not just lent. Tonight, my dear daughter is preparing a pasta dinner, with sauce from scratch. Teens are a lovely help sometimes.
As far as my needlework is concerned, this year I intend to finally make my coat which I’ve had the fabric for two years now. Since it is cold out perhaps I will be inspired to work on it this week. It shouldn’t take long. Also slated is an afghan which needs finishing, a poncho for one of my children, and perhaps some hats and mittens for a few of my crew. I have a beautiful cross stitch which I made for someone and need to mail off. I’m also considering making some first aide herbal ointment for Christmas gifts, if I can get on the stick. I made some earlier this year and it came out so well that I may make more.
In the plans for stretching my mind this winter is studying Latin. As a fellow blogger so aptly reminded us, those who wish to call themselves Traditional Catholics ought to know Latin. Well, I’ve been ‘learning’ it for years, teaching it to my children. I have not really studied it myself. Sure, I know some prayers and can follow the Mass somewhat (if I lose my place I can find it again) but do I really know it? Not really. It is time to learn. It is on the agenda for this winter.
Snow at Louveciennes
Just my two cents, for whatever it is worth.
Bloggers, are people too and as such, we have all kinds. There are some who are very academic and others who are ridiculous, just as in real life. There are those who are devout and those who lack any spirituality whatsoever. I could belabor the point and continue rattling on, but you get the idea.
Many of us read and comment on the same blogs because we have similar interests, so some of you will know what I’m referring to, for the rest of you, generalities will suffice and you will still be able to follow the thread of thinking here, I hope.
There has been a debate going on between blogs which has gotten rather ugly. One blog has stopped accepting comments because they’ve been so hurtful. Another blog has a sometimes witty author who has a bit of a sting to her posts. I’m sure she is very lovely(giving her the benefit of the doubt), unless you get on her bad side. Then she can be mean. But, it is her blog, she can write what she wants and needn’t apologize for it. If you don’t like it, don’t read it, no one is forcing you to. The same should apply to the one who has gotten hurt, who is also very witty. If you visit a blog and you don’t like it, don’t go back. But, in this case I think it went deeper. I think that one blogger felt she needed to somehow help the other see the error of her ways (as she perceived it), and perhaps she had some points worth making, but under the sting it all got lost. Incidentally, in this particular debate, I take no sides. I think both had valid points and each had less than stellar moments where they perhaps crossed some invisible line of blogger etiquette.
I am a proponent of all things in moderation. Except devotion to God. We are all to strive to be the best we can be, and to grow away from worldly things and closer to our Lord. We are mere human beings, and as such we suffer under the burden of original sin. Whatever means we employ to remind ourselves of our task, our ultimate goal, it is worthy. Personally, I wear skirts all the time. I haven’t always done so, but I started to do so to remind myself to pray without ceasing. Every time I struggle to figure out a way to do something that I was accustomed to doing in jeans and face some difficulty or inconvenience due to the skirts, I pray. In the meantime I figured out how to be much more feminine in my carriage, and behaviors than I had been used to, because in skirts you need to watch how you sit, move, and even get in or out of a car (or truck as I drive). My husband appreciates my femininity being more visible, and frankly, I enjoy it. There are days when my outfits aren’t as pretty as others (like today where I’m wearing a denim skirt which is missing its lower button, an old shirt, and sneakers) but I wouldn’t wear this outfit to go out anywhere either. I like longer (nearly to the ankle) and flowing skirts because they make me feel pretty and feminine. I like the way the skirts move when I walk and fall about the chair when I sit. It is a part of being a girl that I enjoy.
One thing about doing something in moderation, even wearing skirts, is that I try to be as fashionable as I can afford (even if it means a wardrobe purchased entirely at goodwill or some discount retailer) but I do want to look fashionable. I adore retro fashions (even as far back as regency fashion) but only if I can pull it off without making a spectacle. I’m not courageous enough to sport something which will make draw too much attention, positive or negative, because I don’t like to be the focus of attention. As much as I admire beautiful, retro clothes, unless I can update them to blend into society (fabric, hemline, neckline, sleeve alterations) I cannot bring myself to do it. Now, that is personal style, taking what you love-say Victorian fashion-updating it and making it your own. See, I told you I was a former fashionista, it still shows up in my thinking every now and again. I love hats of every sort, never had the boldness to wear them. I wish they would make a fashion come back, I LOVE them.
Does this all mean that I would mock someone for their fashion choices? No, and any good, decent person wouldn’t do it either. But, on the other hand, many people nowadays have no sense of propriety in either manners or attire. Anyone who wears clothes is asking for attention of some sort. Some are trying to be invisible. Some are going for shock value. Some are trying to impress the Joneses. Some are dressing to please the opposite sex. Some dress to say, “I don’t care what I look like, I’m just throwing this on because I must wear something.” Some are just trying to make a statement. If correction is required (and you'd better know for sure), it is to be done charitably, and before correcting someone there should be some thought put into it. For the love of God (charity) requires forethought before wagging your tongue.
There are times when the fashions of others prove to be lessons for those we love, like when the ‘lady’ who is standing in front of your son in the grocery store has a shirt too low cut and every time she reaches into her cart you can identify the brand of her undergarments, or even if she is wearing any. That is a lesson for your son in averting his eyes, and also for what he should not be looking for in a girl. Any girl who would flash just anyone anywhere is probably not the type of girl you’d wish your son to date. It is also a chance to instruct your daughter in what she should avoid in wardrobe choices AND why. But, this instruction to your children should be done privately. Sniggering aloud, saying, “Look at THAT” is not good manners. Nor should anyone snigger at the lady who is dressed so modestly as to make a spectacle of herself.
Personally, I think I would notice someone dressed to any extreme. Maybe that is again the former fashionista in me. But, unless the clothing is totally lacking in modesty, I generally admire people who have the courage to blaze their own trail and have a personal style, whether it is fashionable and attractive or not. You must give people credit for having the courage to step out the door, especially when they are doing so for the love of God. Even if you do not agree with or approve of a person’s theology, methodology, or sense of fashion, if they are attempting to glorify God, even if you think it is a misguided attempt, mocking someone for their belief in God and how they live it out is bad manners. Educating people who are wrong (if they even are, and sometimes that is just your opinion and maybe you should keep your mouth shut) should be done charitably and privately. Even if you think a blogger is asking for it, all correction should be done with charity.
All of us who blog have something to say. We like to think we have something important to say, or something of value to report. Many of us hold very strong opinions. We all like the attention blogging brings or we wouldn’t track who is reading what we write and site meter wouldn’t be so busy. We should all realize if we put things on the net they will be read. We should also realize that if we do not want people to know what we really think then we ought not to blog, and if our skin isn’t thick enough, we shouldn’t put ourselves out there to be read and commented upon. But, readers ought to have some manners as well. Comments should all be polite, even if disagreeing. There is a fascination with earlier times, English literature, books of manners, classic stories. I have said so on here, as recently as last week, and I think it is because we have such loose standards in today’s society that we find ourselves wondering if there are any standards at all. Kindness and charity is a choice that should be exercised because it is the right way to behave. But, as I said at the beginning, this is just my two cents.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Another occupation filling my time of late has been teaching a cooking class at the local elementary school. I know, I know, like I have so much free time! As anyone who knows me or reads this blog is aware, I home school, but that doesn’t prevent me from participating in the community. It is much like my teaching confirmation classes at the local parish despite my traveling to the TLM whenever I can. If I am needed, I will do my best to oblige.
The program at the school is funded by the parent/teacher organization. The PTA requires submission of lesson plans, in advance. Apparently they’ve had some classes go bust due to poor planning on the part of well intentioned volunteers who couldn’t quite get their act together. As a dutiful volunteer, I submitted my plans. I was asked to teach ten students in the kindergarten/first grade level.
Four days before my first class I get a phone call from the school secretary who informs me that due to some new district regulation we are not permitted to cook or bake on the school premises outside of regular school hours. Hmmm, a monkey wrench if I ever heard one! Original plans included homemade graham crackers, hot chocolate (from scratch), muffins, that sort of thing. Now we’ve had to retrench and do things like dips, fruit salads, and no bake treats held together by peanut butter, lol. Not so much cooking and baking as food preparation and presentation. Oh well.
Today, we will be making party foods, CHOCOLATE to be precise. First up are chocolate top hats made by dipping vanilla wafers into chocolate, then a marshmallow is dipped and stuck onto the cookie. While the chocolate is still wet, little decorations will be stuck on. Very cute for little ones, don’t you think? The second treat is a chocolate covered banana rolled in sprinkles. For a drink...party punch! Not exactly a nutritionally balanced meal, but then again it is a party for cooking class where cooking has been prohibited!
Yet another roadblock was thrown up today...no sterno either! So, whilst I have one crockpot (dip sized if you can imagine) which will work nicely for dipping bananas, the tiny little fondue pot I planned to use for the top hats is a no-go. Good thing I’m a creative sort. We shall use microwave safe mugs and hope for the best. Hopefully the chocolate will stay a warm enough temperature to work with.
I’m bringing some of my less expensive yet still pretty platters to serve the snacks on, a table cloth, my punch bowl and glasses. If nothing else it should be a pretty sight, and the chocolate covered kids will be much appreciated by their parents at bath time this evening, lol.
Image nicked from here.
Monday, November 12, 2007
May God bless Anna as she begins this important work.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
This is another post from my cache of Helium articles. I love poetry! I find it so disturbing when vulgarities appear in literature and poetry, it just reinforces bad behavior in society, and let's face it, we don't need to go and encourage this sort of language. To view this article on Helium, click here.
The use of profanity in poetry indicates a lack of creativity and a level of immaturity on the part of the writer. Everyone is capable of writing and using obscene words, but that doesn't make everyone a poet. Poetry is an art form, beauty in the written word. The use of expletives is exactly the opposite, it is crass and bane.
A poet searches for the precise words to use to get his message across to the reader. In the creation of a poem, many words are rejected, they don't feel right. The sound isn't sensuous or the rhythm is wrong. Sometimes the locution and cadence work, but the word choice is off and the poet goes on the hunt. Settling for swearing is like selling out. Why use such low language in a literary art form? A poet is called upon to do better, and if he cannot rise above the riffraff, he is neither creative, nor a poet.
Finding alternatives to foul language is not always easy. Anyone who has tried to break bad speaking habits can attest to the difficulty of the task. But the poet is called upon to be a master of language, a professional in phrasing. The poet has time to think, rework, and rewrite. It is part of the passion, and poets are indeed, very passionate people.
Some will mistake profanity for passion, thinking the only way to express deep rooted, intense emotion is through the use of inappropriate language. Occasionally the poet is attempting to write for shock value through profanity. This exhibits a level of immaturity in thought and expression and ought to be avoided.
It may be necessary to cause a reader discomfort through poetry. It may even be desirable to manipulate morphemes to bring your audience along the emotional journey you would like. Finding synonyms, working with metaphor and simile, using alliteration and punctuation, these are all far more effective than assaulting and offending through the use of blasphemy or other four letter words.
There are many tools in the belt of a poet who is masterful at his craft. Many like to call themselves poets. Few achieve greatness in the field. Time spent studying the tricks of the trade is time well spent. The satisfaction of expressing your ideas and conveying your message in an unusual and thought provoking manner cannot be matched. The elation of a completed poem, the perfection, brings peace and joy to your soul.
Even a disturbing poem, well written, provides some serenity for the poet, because some emotion or event has been worked out through the process, and the poet can release it. Profanity exercises neither intellect nor imagination. The ugliness can never bring peace to your soul. Profanity has no place in poetry.
As you may recall, I started this blog with the intention of practicing my writing for a portfolio. A venue for sharpening my skills if you will, as well as a place to record what I’ve written. I also write quite a bit on Helium, though I haven’t written much in a while as I get rather frustrated with the whole rating system. They’ve improved quite a few things since I’ve written there this past summer, so perhaps I ought to give it a go once again.
Reading, however, has always been a passion of mine. At one point in my adult life, after years of neglecting my passion in favor of being a wife and mother, I was advised by a medical professional (of all people!!) to pick up my passion once again. After great grief, one needs to fall back on the things which provide comfort. For me, aside from my faith which is the greatest comforter, I find reading and writing to be relaxing, enjoyable, fulfilling, and it brings peace to my soul. It is also something entirely for me, which as a mother of a large family, me has been a bit neglected these past two decades.
So, what have I been reading? I’ve been reading through the classics. Well, obviously that is a rather long list, I’ve been making a dent in them. I have also been doing a lot of spiritual reading, which seems to be cyclical for me. I do not read spiritual books all of the time, but I often have one going along with some great work of literature. I am looking forward to reading a book about St. John Vianney which has been recommended to me. If I had to choose a favorite saint, he would be among my top favorites.
Also on my reading list of late was Harry Potter. I’ve already explained in an earlier post why I felt the need to read those books. I was surprised at how good the story was. One advantage I had was I read the books straight through. One disadvantage of doing that is the series really penetrated my thoughts for the two or three weeks it took me to read the seven books. I suffered through the first book, really didn’t enjoy it too much. Somewhere in the third book my interest was piqued, then I was hooked. The story is rather dark, definitely for a teenager and not for the young, but it was entertaining. There are some people who shouldn’t read this series, that is for the family to decide, but I enjoyed them myself. Surprise, surprise.
Upon a suggestion from Mary over at Against All Heresies, I’ve recently read the Maximum Ride books by James Patterson, also a current teen series. I must admit the story was compelling, dealing with genetic experimentation on humans. The heroine of the story is a girl named Maximum Ride, and she is a genetic experiment where they injected avian DNA into her making her bones lighter, her eyesight like an eagle, and she has wings which work, so she can fly. Patterson’s writing style was in teen-speak. I found the books to be a VERY fast read. I think I read all three of them in less than 48 hours. I didn’t care for the writing style very much, but the subject of genetic experimentation was handled in a way that would make teens pause and think. For that accomplishment, Patterson is to be commended.
More to my taste, however, I’ve just finished A Room With A View by E.M. Forster. This one really tugs at your heart strings, and also illustrates quite vividly why honesty is the best policy. The classics are more interesting to me, I think, because even the most indelicate subjects are handled tastefully, no vulgar descriptions, one doesn’t tend to learn new obscenities to spew in a moment of anger. Bound into the same volume are two more novels by E.M. Forster. I am currently reading Howards End. I’m not far enough into the story to comment on it really. I think I’m likely to pass on Maurice, the third of the stories. Has anyone read that one? It doesn’t seem like one I would much care to read.
But of all the books I’ve been reading lately, my hands down favorite has been The Books of Pellinor. I thought I wouldn’t like The Crow, as it is primarily about Maerad’s brother and I was disappointed at the thought of not continuing Maerad’s story. But, as it turns out, this third installation was excellent. Just as good as the first two, it really fleshes out Hem, Maerad’s brother, who is much more important to the story than was originally realized. Between Potter and Pellinor I’m developing a taste for fantasy stories where I never would have predicted.
Coming back round to writing, all of this literature (some definitely better than others) is starting to plant seeds into my head. Little story ideas are beginning to grow. I’ve always felt there is a story in me somewhere, ever since I was a little girl I expected I would write a book. I always thought it would be a creative non-fiction piece, but now I wonder if I’m not going to end up writing some teen fiction. There is so much trash out in the market these days, it is no wonder kids don’t want to read anymore. This is where my thoughts have been of late, while my computer is acting up, I’m reading and apparently forming ideas for some phantom book I hope will come into existence one day. If the seeds start to take root and grow, you all will be among the first to know! God bless!
Note: The image above is a live link back to the company where you can buy that lovely stationery set.
Monday, October 29, 2007
I took what I thought would be a rather unpopular and controversial position in a debate on Helium. I find myself at number one in the ratings.
Regardless, I thought I would post it here, and the title is also an active link. What do you think of my idea to lower the divorce rate? Blogger is still taking a long time to type, anyone else having this problem?
The Case for Compulsory Prenuptial Agreements
Yes, it ought to be compulsory for couples to sign a prenuptial agreement before marriage in today's society. A prenuptial agreement is defined as a contract made before two people marry. Generally it is about the division of property should the union end in a divorce. It seems as if these documents are dooming the relationship before it begins. I would propose that a prenuptial agreement be required and filed prior to obtaining a marriage license and the contents of said agreement would have very little to do with finances.
First it should be discussed why is such a measure is necessary. Marriage rates have dropped 50% since 1970, which means that only half of the people who would have married in 1970 actually would go ahead and do it today. Of that 50% who would get married, 38% end up divorcing*. These statistics are pretty grim. Working on the issue of why people would choose to cohabit rather than marry is another topic, but if you would desire marriage, it is only logical that you go into it with the attitude that you will stay with your spouse forever. It is part of the vows, Until death do us part.' If you are willing to head for the altar, a compulsory prenup shouldn't deter anyone.Second, if a prenuptial agreement were to be mandated, what should it contain since it has been proposed that finances would only be a small part of this document? It should contain agreements between spouses on issues most likely to cause divorce, or stress between spouses. A short list of those issues are religion of the spouses, religion of the future children, position on birth control and openness to life, living will statement, expectations you have of each other about your roles in the marriage, who will pay the bills and how money management will be handled, who will be expected to work and how that expectation may change with children, etc. The prenuptial agreement packet' should contain a questionnaire for each person to answer. The questionnaire should be used to start conversations about important topics. In fact, such a questionnaire is already in use. It is called FOCCUS*. Then a prenup should be a written document based upon the answers given. There should be resource information in the packet about web sites and books to read for further information. The document should be notarized.
Lest you think big brother is getting too involved in this proposal, I would submit to you that the packet and resulting prenup be mandatory, but not micro-managed. Engaged couples should get the packet, and file the form with no interference from the state. No one from the state should review the document and discuss it with the couple. Every couple should want to do it because it will force them to discuss hot issues candidly and could prevent a marriage mistake. But, if the couple chooses to take the easy way out' by just writing anything to turn in, it is an opportunity missed. And there will be no protection, or grounds in the case of a divorce in the future. Having this document on file, would actually assist in proving some grounds for divorce. Those who choose not to take the time to do the work honestly will lose out either way, they will not know how their spouse feels about certain issues, and they will be surprised when irreconcilable differences occur.
Will this eliminate divorces? Of course not. May it possibly decrease the rate of divorce? It could because some couples may discover issues which cannot be resolved and may decide not to marry after all. Will it improve marriage? Certainly, the more you know about your future spouse, and the more you agree upon in advance, the better and stronger your marriage will be. Bring on the compulsory prenuptial agreements, there will likely be less resistance than anticipated.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Meanwhile, check out Athanasius' blog for a real treat, he has a new member of his family and this time it isn't a cat! Congratulations to Athanasius and Mrs. A on their new addition, a beautiful baby boy!
Friday, October 19, 2007
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Monday, October 1, 2007
On one of my favorite blogs there recently appeared an article where the blogger lamented about the way men and women behave towards one another and how men ought to behave like men and not wimps. Athanasius asserts that men who behave inappropriately are suffering from interior disorder. I would have to agree, though I never thought of it quite that way before.
I would lay a lot of the blame at the feet of the women who run around lacking modesty in both dress and behavior. It is scandalous, demoralizing to decent women, and it is having a negative effect in society. I would suggest that men need to remain on their guard against the immorality and immodesty of women because women, who used to safeguard societal morals (modeling the Blessed Mother) have forgotten their roles and abandoned their responsibility to the men around them.
Unfortunately I can think of many examples in my life experience where women behaved abhorrently. Too many examples, and oftentimes the handwriting is on the wall and the results are predictable. There was a happily married man amongst our acquaintances who worked with my husband. He shared a ride to work with a woman who was immodest in both dress and manner of speech. Both were married and it seemed a harmless way to economize. Guess what? Both marriages are over and the two are now cohabiting. It has effected two families and the work environment was scandalized. We all saw it coming. The only one blind-sided was the poor guy who wanted a ride to work, although I am not naive enough to think that he was victimized. I do not intend to give that impression at all. He had a free will and could make his own decisions, he chose wrongly. Perhaps there wouldn’t have been a choice at all if he safeguarded his marriage and stayed away from the shared ride to begin with. Or, perhaps they could have economized if the woman was not immodest.
Men and women are supposed to have an attraction to one another. This is natural and good because it keeps the human race in existence. But we as Catholics, nay as humans, are called to be chaste. Chastity is misunderstood. It is not celibacy, rather sexuality according to your vocation, as God intended for it to be. If you are single, you are celibate. If you are married, you are chaste. You do not try to attract the opposite sex outside of your own spouse. If someone of the opposite sex is trying to attract you, you must avoid them, at all costs, for the sake of your soul. If you find your thoughts wandering outside of your marriage, you end the distraction/temptation. If movies are too sensual, you don’t watch. If magazines are pornographic, you don’t look. If co-workers are too tempting you don’t look, don’t touch, and you definitely don’t spend time alone with them, in say, a car pool. Jane Austen would have called this ‘power’ and it is powerful. If someone has power over you, they’d better be your spouse.
This can be taken one step further. In an earlier post today, He’s Happier than She is, I made reference to Genesis where God gave Adam and Eve their roles in life. Then came the sexual revolution and feminism. Now we have women behaving, dressing, and speaking immodestly IN THE WORKPLACE with men. What on earth are they doing there?
What are women doing in the workplace? I was programmed to want a career first then family later in life. I was part of the 80s ‘me generation’ and we were so self centered. Now, there are women my age (you do the math, I’m not gonna tell you) who want babies and are past their prime. We were sold a bill of goods. We were told we could postpone family in favor of a career, and now doctors are saying, “Oops, we made a mistake. The older you are the lower quality eggs you produce. Sorry.” Isn’t that sad? Women who should have had children, children of God, put it off and missed the chance to bring beautiful souls into the world. Or, God forbid, they aborted. Again I ask, what on earth are women doing in the workplace?
Now, before you roast me on a spit (I’m donning my fireproof skirt) for being unrealistic, consider the fact that society is the way it is today because women got mad and wanted equality. But, at what cost? When we were a one income society, everything was affordable on one income. Now we are a consumer society with ‘needs’ of i-pods, cell phones, game boys, luxury cars, vacations, McMansions (forgot where I nicked that expression from), etc. Men could afford to pay for the mortgage and all the bills, and still be home on the weekends. With two incomes the price of everything went up, and the fancy toys people could afford got fancier and more choices were provided. If women stayed home and everyone was on one income, would there be a shift? It is very likely. Will it ever happen? Not unless something dramatic occurs, like an apocalypse.
Women need to wake up and get their priorities straight. Lives were better, happier, and more fulfilling when we all stayed within the roles God laid out for us. I know it is not popular to say so. But I have a hard time with the idea of going against God’s plans in favor of societal expectations. I’m not sure where, outside of earthy pleasures, there is any benefit to a woman leaving the house and going out to work. Home is supposed to be a haven of happiness. It should be clean and comfortable, warm and inviting. Families are supposed to be able to survive on one income. Men are supposed to be able to focus on their work and come home to their wives. Men are not supposed to have to face temptations, that women flash in front of them, at work. Women in the workplace are temptations to men. Women like attention, men like to give it...oops...propriety is an afterthought.
Women are the heart of the home. Without a woman at home, there is emptiness, coldness, and hunger. Kids are growing up seeing their parents 1-2 waking hours a day. It is NOT as God intended. So, Athanasius was frustrated over men being wimps. I’m exasperated over women acting like teenage boys, all hormones and minimal self control.
As a final example, I offer up my neighbors. The other day I returned from bringing my eldest daughter to a class in a neighboring town. As I approached my house, my heart leaped up into my throat. I saw my eldest daughter running down the street towards me. (Rationality hadn’t yet kicked in, this was all emotional reaction.) I thought to myself, “Oh My God! What is wrong at home that she is running down the street to meet me?” I got closer to her and realized my daughter was 20 miles away, and this is not my her. Relief washed over me as I watched this teenager, and her friend, flagging down truck drivers as they passed by. They were sashaying about pumping their arms in the ‘honk your horn’ fashion, and all the truckers were responding in kind. These girls were flirting and swaying like a couple of bar room hussies. I had to gather up the rest of my crew and head out to a soccer practice. It wasn’t until I was coming home I had the thought that I ought to have dragged those girls home to their parents. I just couldn’t believe how they were behaving. Much to my horror, I’ve since learned that my daughter was identified as the immodest young teen, and I’ve had to correct many misconceptions since then. Fortunately, living in a small town, we were able to do much damage control rather quickly, but what does this little anecdote illustrate better than immodesty reaping multiple consequences. One reason I discovered that my daughter was named in this story is that someone was concerned as they passed by and saw a truck driver stop! Oh my goodness, I wonder if those little girls would have known what to do if they’d been apprehended. They ran off to safety, I was assured. Little maidens are being spoiled very young these days, too young, and my heart weeps for them. Men must be on their guard against this. See the comm box for article Athanasius wrote. There was a list of rules one of his readers lives by to deal with women in the workplace. It is very good advice. Here is an excellent prayer to help you along.
Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas
Dearest Jesus! I know well that every perfect gift, and above all others that of chastity, depends upon the most powerful assistance of Thy Providence, and that without Thee a creature can do nothing. Therefore, I pray Thee to defend, with Thy grace, chastity and purity in my soul as well as in my body. And if I have ever received through my senses any impression that could stain my chastity and purity, do Thou, Who art the Supreme Lord of all my powers, take it from me, that I may with an immaculate heart advance in Thy love and service, offering myself chaste all the days of my life on the most pure altar of Thy Divinity.
What I wanted to comment on is the excerpt which I highlighted in green, below.
A big reason that women reported being happier three decades ago — despite far more discrimination — is probably that they had narrower ambitions, Ms. Stevenson says. Many compared themselves only to other women, rather than to men as well. This doesn’t mean they were better off back then. But it does show just how incomplete the gender revolution has been. Although women have flooded into the work force, American society hasn’t fully come to grips with the change. The United States still doesn’t have universal preschool, and, in contrast to other industrialized countries, there is no guaranteed paid leave for new parents. Government policy isn’t the only problem, either. Inside of families, men still haven’t figured out how to shoulder their fair share of the household burden. Instead, we’re spending more time on the phone and in front of the television.
First, I take exception to the fact that women should be comparing themselves to men. Men and women have different, complementary roles, given to them by God, as can be read in the Book of Genesis. Girls ought to be girls, comparing themselves to girls and boys should be boys, comparing themselves to boys. Why should a girl want to be like a boy, they aren't boys! If a girl is to take on a more traditionally masculine role (such as the role of provider) it doesn't mean she should be like a man either. Any situation requiring a female to step into the role of a male should be handled as a woman would, she should (in my opinion) never try to be like a man, I find that ridiculous. That doesn't mean women cannot fulfill their roles in the business world as well as a man can, it just means she shouldn't want to behave like a man, dress like a man, talk like a man, etc. We all know women who do just that in the name of 'equality' and 'feminism'.
Second I think the bit about universal preschool is very, very frightening. This is just next door to big brother stepping in. Take Germany, for example. They have mandatory universal preschool, and home schooling is outlawed. Do we really want to go that route? Talk about women being unhappy! How can we, as women, fulfill our roles as wife and mother with big brother breathing down our necks?
Now, I'm not the most patriotic American out there, not that I don't love my country, but there is so much happening here today that goes against the laws of God, or even basic common sense that it is increasingly difficult to support our government. Without getting sidetracked, we are a country based upon freedoms...it seems that some of our more basic freedoms are being taken from parents and government is trying to take over. Immunizations are one area of freedom where parental authority means almost squat. Now, if we allow our legislators to mandate preschool, how long until they mandate state schools? Once that happens we will lose our freedom to home school. What about religious education? If all schools are state mandated what happens to religious education?
Men shouldering the household burden? Hmmm, let me think about that. If women were home, not pressured to work, and men worked outside the home, whatever it takes to keep the family going, then they should NOT have to shoulder the burden because it would be done. Men would enjoy being home, women would enjoy having them there. Guess what? I bet the happiness quotient for both would be higher.
I do understand there are some women who love their jobs. I'm thinking of the women who care for their families and homes and then go out and work part time for a few hours a week, when their husband is home to care for the kids. That is great. They have it all, a rare combination indeed. Most women, I think, may enjoy that little time out. Some may not want to and shouldn't feel like they must.
When the government comes too close to mandating family life we are no longer in a country that pursues happiness. It violates the Declaration of Independence. In trying to please the feminists, we are going to cut off the lifeblood of the nation. We need to keep American women in control of their families, not the state.
Happiness comes from fulfilling our God given roles in life. True happiness resides, in the face of God. The way to see the face of God is through fulfilling your vocation in life. Not career, vocation. Married, single, religious, it doesn't matter. Living your life, fulfilling your divine vocation in it, and through that vocation achieving everlasting life in the presence of God.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
I nicked this post from Katherine and Chris over at Gloria, click the link above to see their most adorable baby! This is food for thought.
If we could reduce the world’s population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all existing human ratios remaining the same, the demographics would look something like this:
• 60 Asians
• 12 Europeans
• 5 US Americans and Canadians
• 8 Latin Americans
• 14 Africans
• 49 would be female
• 51 would be male
• 33 would be Christian
• 67 would be non-Christian (And the overwhelming majority of these 67 would suffer great persecution if they attempted to become Christian)
• 5 would control 32% of the entire world’s wealth
• 80 would live in substandard housing
• 24 would not have any electricity (And of the 76 that do have electricity, most would only use it for light at night.)
• 67 would be unable to read
• 1 (only one) would have a college education
• 50 would be malnourished and 1 dying of starvation
• 33 would be without access to a safe water supply
• 1 near death
• 2 would be near birth
• 7 people would have access to the Internet
If you have never experienced imprisonment, an agony of tortures or a famine, you are happier, than 500 million persons in this world.
If you are able to go to church, without fear of harassment, arrest, torture or death, you are happier, than 3 billion persons living in this world today.
If there is a meal in your refrigerator, if you are dressed and have got shoes, if you have a bed and a roof above your head, you are better off, than 75% of people in this world.
If the father of your child is married to you, provides for you, and your marriage is free of violence, then you are a rarity. If you have a bank account, money in your purse, you belong to 8% of well-provided people in this world.
If you read this text, you are blessed even more, because you are not among those 2 billion people living in the world today which cannot read.
This is the human condition of our world today. If we take a look at the world from this condensed perspective, the need for acceptance and appreciation for the many blessings in our lives becomes much more evident.
Admittedly far behind in my blog reading, I have had some moments to read Catholic Restorationists and came across a post about Harry Potter. The author of the post contends that Potter should be considered carefully by parents because of the fact that evil surrounds the books and their marketing and product tie ins. Despite Rowlings intentions, he maintains that the result of her books is an increased interest in the occult. There were many comments he received on this topic, running the usual gamut of agreements and disagreements. Then there was this comment:
2) If your kids read Harry Potter and decide to become Wiccans? They have got way more serious issues going on than their latest bedtime stories.
I have struggled with many aspects of parenting over the last 15years of practice at it. One of the more difficult for me has been discerning things like literature and movies, toys, etc. Many young parents are heavily influenced by media, mainstream PC thinking etc. I know I was. When my older children were small, I wouldn’t allow guns in their play because I bought into the PC thinking of guns are not toys, they are very dangerous and lead to criminal acts; and because of television and movies, and the playtime with toy guns, most children can load and fire a weapon by the age of five. Well, I’ve come round to realizing that whether or not I allow the gun play, my children will play it anyway. They took everything they could to make guns, from sticks to food. I’ve also come to realize that it is better that I form their perspective on guns (and other weaponry) in a healthy way, not in a criminal way. I have changed my opinion on weapon play after research, thought, and most importantly, guidance from God through the graces afforded the Sacrament of Marriage.
The reason I allowed myself to be influenced by the political-correctness as a young mother is because I feared for the souls of my children. In my attempts to do the right thing, I was swayed into following the mainstream thinking of the time, despite its nagging at me that I was being a bit over the top. The intent was good, there was no harm in the decision to forbid guns, but it didn’t work and I had to re-evaluate my reasons. Political correctness versus Catholicism, or political correctness versus common sense in parenting are constant sources of reflection and evaluation by diligent parents. We want to do what is right, teach our children rightly and safeguard their souls.
I have come to the point in my parenting where I do agree with the above comment. Many authors use the supernatural to entertain. Tolkein, Lewis, Rowling, Patterson, Croggon, and more have all done it. There are underlying good versus evil classic themes in all of these books. Parents have a responsibility to explain and interpret these books if their children are going to read them. But, if all aspects of their formation are in line, then it will be easy for the children to see, with parental guidance, what the hype is about and actually understand it.
I have always held that the Potter books are not appropriate for the very young. Before the age of reason, at the age of reason, even a bit older...I wouldn't endorse, encourage or allow the exposure. Teens, with parental guidance can, in my opinion, read from a different perspective and see the books for what they are, entertainment. A parent should guide them through their questions about the good vs. evil and the magical powers exhibited. I think it is just guidance on reality vs. fantasy. In fact the only books from the aforementioned list that are appropriate for the elementary age, in my opinion and in my household, are the Lewis books, The Chronicles of Narnia. These are read aloud books in the Thorns household.
I do think Potter is okay for reading, even by Catholics, under the conditions of parental guidance and discussion. Appropriateness is also determined by maturity of the child, and by the parent knowing their child and understanding what their child can handle. What is acceptable for one at the age of 14 isn’t necessarily acceptable for the other, even at 16, it is all parental judgment based on a relationship with their children.
There is also a potential to lead one astray (into the occult) but those so easily led have other issues, bigger issues than literature to deal with. There is a learning curve with parenting, and there is a learning curve each child has. If either the parents or the children aren’t ready to deal with Potter and its issues, or do not desire to deal with it, that is fine; although the child will have some level of exposure to Potter, and it will be dealt with on some level anyway. This is much like issues of modesty. You teach your children proper behavior, but being in the world, they will have a certain level of exposure to other than what you’ve set forth as the ideal.
I look at things like Potter as teaching opportunities. “What is wrong with what they just did?” “Where is the flaw in the reasoning here?” Those teaching moments are golden, and they equip your child to form and defend a position on many things in life, not just Harry Potter. Without grabbing at those moments, and sometimes cultural literacy provides the best opportunities, our children will end up like the rest, easily influenced and unable to defend a position. Of course there are great masterpieces in literature that do not have the influence of magical characters, but if a book does, it shouldn’t be immediately discounted because of the magic. Teaching your children using the examples of Harry and his cohorts gives your children the cultural literacy they need to be current in the world, and also the ability to analyze the book and see it for what it is. These are important life skills that will go far to safeguard the souls of your children from the dangers of an unformed and easily led mind.
A product of the public school system and liberal thinking almost led me the wrong way numerous times. It took much hard work to learn to analyze and not be led by the mainstream media, politically correct thinking, liberalism (and more), and become a self-assured, confident woman who thinks for herself. This is what I hope to teach my children. Literature, including Potter, is an opportunity to teach logic and analysis. After much consideration on my part I've concluded, if my children wish to read Harry Potter they will be permitted.
Friday, September 28, 2007
We did the most awesome, yet simple, thing today. We took the children on a field trip to meet this wonderful 76 year old man. He calls himself “Chuck wagon Mac” and he was truly a delight to behold. We all enjoyed our visit with him. He had a chuck wagon replica and he was a font of information. Did you know there are 31 uses for a bandana? Did you know that most cowboys did not own a gun? Did you know that the cook was the only one who possessed whisky on the trail (or any alcohol) and that was usually for medicinal purposes. The cook was a dentist, doctor, veterinarian and a cook. And (especially for Izzarina) did you know that they carried GREEN COFFEE BEANS when they were on a cattle drive? They would roast them on an open fire. Why did they do this? Because pre roasted coffee beans would mold and carrying green coffee beans, roasting as needed, ensured a mold free cup of coffee. Interesting. Boy did we have a good time. The kids dressed up in cowboy gear and had a blast.
Guess what the kids did when we got home. They are watching BONANZA, LOL!
Click on the photo we took of his display, it should enlarge so you can read it.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
These books are AWESOME! How's that for an endorsement? I have really been enjoying this teen series. I have, just today, finished The Riddle. The books of Pellinor are a planned quartet, I understand book IV will be called The Singing and as the final installment, it will be published in mid-2008. We have a copy of The Crow although the cover doesn't look at all like what I have pictured above, it is actually done more in the style of the first two.
This series will surely be compared to the Lord of the Rings and I do feel this is a fair comparison as they are both fantasy adventure stories and wage the war of good versus evil. In this series it is the Light versus the Dark. I have also noticed some similarities to Tolkein in that there is a dictionary of pronunciations and special words, there are footnotes and explanations of where the story came from (lost records recently translated) and it makes you wonder if there wasn't really a lost kingdom.
The Naming opens when Maerad, a sixteen year old girl, is discovered and rescued by Cadvan, a Bard (similar to an elf in LOTR). Maerad was a slave, she remembered being captured along with her mother, on the same night her father and baby brother were killed and her town burned. Maerad was just seven years old at the time. Her mother perished in captivity, Maerad was left to fend for herself. Cadvan was hiding in a barn when Maerad was assigned to milk the cows. He was astonished when she could see him as he had worked an invisibility charm so he could rest, unseen by humans. Only other Bards can see through such a charm, so he knew she was one. Maerad was unaware of her powers, and was shocked to learn of them. Cadvan rescued her from captivity and introduced her to the world of Barding. If that were all this would be a very charming story without much to sink your teeth into. This story is not charming. This story is full of twists and turns to keep me up late turning the pages until my eyes droop and the book tumbles to the floor, released in my slumber. Of course the crash wakes me up, and being an insomniac, I get to read a bit more.
These characters are compelling. I read LOTR but have not been a big fan of fantasy, ever. In this story of Pellinor, I find myself enjoying the adventure, the surprises, and the battles. The descriptions are sufficient and enthralling without dragging on for pages. There is a little element of romance hidden in the undercurrent of the story, I don’t know where that will lead. This is a ‘coming of age’ book in that Maerad is growing into a woman. Maerad is also the powerful figure in the book, meaning much rests on her shoulders. Comparing her to LOTR characters, I would say she is the most powerful and liken her to Gandalf the White, except that she does not appear to be all good. She has much power like Galadriel and Saruman. She is untrained in her powers and therefore is very dangerous, yet she is the heroine in the book and is fighting for the Light (rather obviously the good) against the Dark (the forces of evil). But within her is much innocence like Frodo or Sam. Also like Frodo, the survival of the kingdom rests on her.
A criticism I have in the writing of the book is there is some predictability in Maerad’s reactions. She is often afraid of ridiculous things and fearless in the face of grave danger. It is a bit tiresome to have her continuously doe eyed and wide mouthed at the awesomeness and grandeur of the kingdom. It was amusing and expected at first, considering she was a slave since she was seven and sheltered from life outside of the encampment, but this innocence at times seems a little forced and has tried my patience due to overuse. In the overall scheme, it is a small complaint.
There are a couple of references I haven't liked in the books, such as when Cadvan states in The Riddle “It is not true that suffering is good for the soul. Too much, and even the strongest will break.” This is true, that even the strongest can break under overwhelming suffering, but I like to see fearlessness in the suffering characters. Once again, this is a minor issue. Also, I’m not sure why the author continues to mention every menses that Maerad experiences. I am assuming there is a point to this, as there was a point when it was the menarche. It may very well be to mark the passage of time as I’ve been able to keep track of the months this way, but wouldn’t it be nicer to mark time in some other manner? Perhaps I’m a bit overly sensitive, I prefer things to be left to the realm of the unmentioned, especially in teen literature.
Overall, however, I would have to say that at this point in my reading, finished with the second book of four, I am very impressed. The women are strong, and in positions of power. This being incongruous with motherhood is handled quite neatly by the fact that Bards live a very long life. The fertility of a Bard is relatively short compared with their life expectancy, so they are able to raise a family and then go on to long lives of powerful careers. It is an interesting twist to the usual role of women in an epic fantasy. I am the polar opposite of a feminist, but I have enjoyed the strong feminine roles in this story.
This is a series for your Christmas gift giving lists. I would recommend it for girls ages 14 and up. I would hesitate to give it to a teen boy without clearance of his mother due to my sense of modesty about the vivid descriptions of Maerad’s learning how to deal with her menarche. It certainly isn’t a central theme in the book, but it is a recurring one.
There are plenty of moments where you will cry, rejoice, and have a knot in the pit of your stomach. I would not say that Alison Croggon is in the same league with Tolkein at all, but she has created a gripping tale, replete with unforgettable characters that tug at your heart strings, a vivacious mixture of good and evil, and most aren’t clearly one or the other. I was especially impressed with the sacrifice exhibited by many of the main characters. They truly sacrifice themselves for the good of all. Through their mistakes they retain a humanity that makes you love them. When they plough on despite those mistakes and face down tremendous challenges they make you cheer. When the characters sacrifice themselves, their freedoms, or their desires for the greater good, they make you cry. What more could you want from a series? I can’t wait to read the next two.