Saturday, June 28, 2008

An "F" in Penmanship

I am sorry to say that my computer is now dead. Or so it seems. The only time I will be surfing the net will be when I can get to the library. Or on someone else's computer. I do not anticipate getting a new one any time soon, however I will attempt to get the dead one repaired. It is too bad, I had many posts I wanted to make! I will have to write them down and post when I can get on line. The writing exercise will be good for me.

Has anyone else noticed that their handwriting has degenerated since this computer age we are living in? With all the blogging, emailing, facebooking, all in all typing that is required for proficient computer use, people no longer write anything any more. It is an essential skill really. I read an article ages ago, about how elementary students were no longer being taught penmanship as a course. Other things have taken priority and as a result the little brain connections that were formed from the practice of penmanship, those little electrical brain circuit connections (how's that for accuracy in medical terminology?) are not being formed. It is actually detrimental to brain development to not practice penmanship, according to this article. I am not sure about that, but I do not doubt it for an instant. all I know is my penmanship resembles chicken scratch more than anything else these days. Perhaps being forced to write my thoughts, instead of typing them out, will be of benefit to my poor little brain.

Articles about the connection between penmanship and learning/intelligence/brain connections:

Computer Literated: Writing Preliterated?

Handwriting Skills is an interesting article which explains why it is important that we continue to teach penmanship.

Poor Handwriting, a Major Cause of Underacheivement by Linda Silverman, Ph.D.

Penmanship's Storied Past and the Technological Roots of Its Revival by Karl Barksdale

Sunday, June 15, 2008


I love to crochet. I learned to crochet at the feet of my grandmother who was an expert. She was a seamstress by profession, forced to go out and work when she had her 'change of life' baby, an unexpected child 18 years after she thought her family was complete. That child was my mother, who always claimed she didn't received one ounce of her mother's talent and creativity. She said it all went to me and I do have a knack for certain domestic arts. What I didn't get from my grandmother, perhaps due to lack of time to learn from her, was her talent for knitting, though I inherited all her needles. She taught me to crochet. As my mother was born when Grandma was 42 years young, I had my grandmother for only ten years before she died.

In my younger days I lacked the patience needed to enjoy and really capitalize on the talents God has bestowed upon me. I am only now learning to appreciate the process instead of longing for the instant gratification of the result. I have found peace lately, peace through tremendous stress, through crocheting and working with my hands on the traditionally female domestic arts.

Because finances are so tight these days I'm always seeking free patterns. Unfortunately some free patterns are lacking some important instructions and the end result is disappointing, but many patterns are beautiful and plenty of commercial patterns are available for free on the internet, patterns which have undergone testing and passed muster. One of my favorite websites for free patterns is Crochet Pattern Central which has tutorials, stitch instructions and a well organized pattern directory. Another favorite is Free Vintage Crochet which features tried and true patterns from old sources.

I cannot recommend enough the joys of crocheting to any one who needs a diversion. We do not have television service and despite collecting several classic television series and accumulating a respectable collection of home DVDs and videos, there are only so many nights I can spend watching a screen, it is mind numbing. Crochet is a totable hobby so it increases my enjoyment because I can take it along with me. This makes it as enjoyable for me as reading, and it is obviously more interactive. When I'm done reading I've expanded my mind, when I'm done crocheting I have something beautiful to show for it, and it is a pleasure of a different sort, something to share with those around me.

Generally I give away everything I've ever made. It was like I almost felt it was wrong to make something for myself. I've decided I'm going to start making some things I would enjoy owning, things to keep for myself that I would not be able to afford ready made. This brings me to another joy to be had in crocheting. You can really run the spectrum of prices in yarns. There are beautiful yarns to be had for very little money. Some of my most admired projects have cost me less than $10, some less than $5. To make a beautiful item, sure to be cherished and left behind after I'm gone (that's a disturbing thought, lol) for so little money, is a great satisfaction. My first gift for myself after I finish two planned projects, is going to be a shawl. I love the genuinely feminine beauty of a shawl, and the way it feels to wrap yourself up in one. It is a comforting indulgence, a connection with the past, it makes me think of my grandmother. I cannot wait.

Voting with conscience

As I promised I found the document, Faithful Citizenship, which I referenced in an earlier post, because I wanted to read about Catholics not being permitted to opt out of politics. As is typical in the press, it seems the document was misquoted.

I refer you to the document, item number 36 which reads:

When all candidates hold a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, the conscientious voter faces a dilemma. The voter may decide to take the extraordinary step of not voting for any candidate or, after careful deliberation, may decide to vote for the candidate deemed less likely to advance such a morally flawed position and more likely to pursue other authentic human goods.

Obviously this document allows for a conscientious voter to reject all candidates and not vote, or to opt out. This is what I'm considering doing. I may have only a few readers, but the intelligence of those readers is very high. One comment I found in the comm box suggested that I write in a candidate rather than do nothing. I like that suggestion...I wonder how you do that, I will have to find out. The same commenter also remarked that we have been fooled into thinking we have a two party system, the two parties are the same. I do believe there are differences but the philosophical differences amount to very little in actual job performance of the candidates. Or do they? I don't know. If Bush hadn't been elected would we still be in a war right now? I don't know. If an oil man was not in office would gas be $4.21 a gallon? I don't know. If we elect Obama, do we have to worry about abortion survivors being legally murdered despite surviving once, against all odds? Can you compare war with abortion? Can you compare the economic crisis with the loss of human dignity? Or, is the economic crisis a loss of human dignity in another form? Initially it is less shocking, the murder of babies seems more critical than the price of gas. But when you consider that people are losing their homes or are unable to heat their homes because they cannot afford the cost of gas and oil, will we see people freezing this winter? What about the people who cannot afford to buy food because food prices are escalating due to gas prices, and the cost of getting to and from work is so high, yet, paychecks are the same? Is this not still a loss of human dignity in a disguised form?

I can see that voters can, with a clear conscience according to the teaching of the Catholic bishops, opt for the 'lesser of two evils' but I detest that as a basis for voting. I'm not sure, in this day and age we can say we will not vote for Obama because his policies are intrinsically evil (which they are) and by casting a vote for him we are guilty of formal cooperation in a grave evil (which we would be) is any different than voting for a politician who will continue the war in Iraq and keep the price of oil so high that people will be destitute come winter. Is that not also a formal cooperation in a grave evil which compromises human dignity?

This post has more questions than statements. Again, any opinions or guidance would be welcomed. Meanwhile I will continue my research into these questions.

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all fathers out there, but especially to my husband, who is a great dad to our large group of children! He always has time for them and makes their lives great fun. Their childhood memories will be filled with the times Dad spent playing with them, I think the kids in my house are very blessed to have such a dedicated father.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Obama's Mad World

Click on the title for a link to You Tube. It is a video about Obama's stance on abortion. Hat Tip to Katherine for this one. How can any Catholic, or any human in good conscience vote for this guy? Just wondering.

Let's talk about politics

I am so far from political, I used to follow politics, but now I'm a busy mom. I know I lost many of my readers because of my computer issues. But if anyone has any advice for a mom who lives under a rock, any advice about what to do this Novemeber, send me an e-mail, give me a call, write in the combox with links about what I should read when I can get on the net and provide some advice for the less-than-interested-yet-desperate-over-the-economy voter, like me.

Oh, let me add, only respond if you can be respectful and kind in passing on the information. If you cannot understand how someone can be so busy raising a large family to care about politics, and the thought of someone like me infuriates you, then you may not be the best one to offer advice people like me.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Catholics must NOT opt out of politics

Opting out of politics not option for Catholics, says church official

TORONTO (CNS) -- Opting out of politics is not an option for Catholics, despite the messy, partisan fray, said a U.S. bishops' official. Participation in the political process is a moral obligation and faithful citizenship is a virtue, said Joan Rosenhauer, associate director of the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. "Both opposing evil and doing good are essential," she said. Even though the church itself is never partisan, individual Catholics can and should register with political parties and stay involved -- not only during elections, she said during a May 30 panel at the Catholic Media Convention, an international gathering of journalists and communications professionals. She stressed the importance of a conscience well-formed by Catholic social teaching, referring to the U.S. bishops' 2007 document, "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility."

Funny thing is, I was going to skip voting for the first time ever this year. I'm so disgusted with my choices and disenfranchised with the entire political process. What kind of president allows this to happen to a nation? What kind of president leads us straight for a depression, throws around stimulus checks like they are salve and will heal all the wounds of the last two terms, and doesn't release the oil reserves when his people are being bled dry? Uh, an oil man perhaps? What kind of system would allow for this to happen? What kind of congress, which is supposed to be the checks and balances for the president, what kind representation do we really have when we can suffer so? Look around you! People who are not yet suffering, the average folk not the Richie Riches of the world but the average rat in the rat race, if they are not yet suffering they are soon to be. One need only look at the profile of the people whose houses are in foreclosure these days to see. Also talk to car dealers, the ones who are cash dealers, and ask how many keys they are getting back these days. Then go to the average person's new car dealer and ask them as well. Go ask your banker how many people are defaulting on their home equity loans, or their revolving credit. I don't read the papers and I don't have television, perhaps this information is plastered, but for me, I know this because I talk, listen and feel the pain of those around me. Talk to the school nurse and ask her how many families are in need in her school. Talk to Catholic Charities or your priest. If you have money, spread it around.

My plan for this election was to let my inaction speak for me. I tried to look up the actual document referenced in the article above but my computer virus and internet connection keeps crashing and I cannot read it. I shall try at the library this week to see if this document influences my behavior come November. Meanwhile, all that good Catholics can really do is pray, pray, pray. Oh, and speak up about the injustices we are experiencing. There are so many people, like me, who know very little about politics and care even less these days because we are so upset. But, maybe those wiser than me can tell me how I can really make a difference. I'm not sure my vote can do it. As a housewife and mother my place is with my family, what can I really do? Someone, let me know. Meanwhile, I will pray.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Dog Days

Well, it isn't summer but today is a real dog! The Thorns household is the proud owner of two dogs. I am a cat person myself (we also have two of them) but my children always wanted dogs. I held out for years and years against it, exultantly exclaiming my running list of "Reasons to Never Own a Dog" anytime any of the Thorns children dared to broach the subject with me. Off the top of my head, far from complete, and in no particular order, here is a sampling of my list:
1. Dogs are gross because they....fill in the blank with your choice of... smell like dogs, have bad breath, lick themselves, sniff people and each other, they eat things that shouldn't be eaten, etc.
2. Dogs jump on people
3. Dogs cost money, a lot of money.
4. Dogs want to be near you all the time.
5. Dogs chew things like furniture.
6. Dogs scratch things like doors, door frames, siding of the house, etc.
7. Dogs jump through windows, breaking screens or glass.
8. Dogs dig holes for you to turn your ankle in.
9. Dogs leave presents for you to step in.
10. Dogs like to lick people...ewww
11. Dogs drool.
12. Dogs pant.
13. Dogs bark.
14. Dogs catch big things to leave on your doorstep after torturing them to death, and ripping limbs off...things like ground hogs and porcupines as opposed to cats who only leave itty bitty mice remains.
15. Dogs get separation anxiety.
16. Dogs bite.

I could keep going but you get the idea, I'm not a dog person. Honestly I'm less of a cat person than I ever was these days as well, I think a large brood of kids is enough animal behavior to have to manage for the time being.

Last night, in addition to the aforementioned list, one of my dogs decided to growl in the dead of night. Being an excessively stupid pooch who is very mild mannered, when he decides to growl he means it. Also being an excessively large pooch, he is to be taken seriously when he growls. Mr. Thorns is away on business so I was alone in the house. Being an insomniac, this is a recipe for disaster.

I heard the dog and came down stairs in the dead of night, alone, wondering what the dog would have cornered, INSIDE the house. I keep the dogs closed out of the living room because they would like to sleep on the furniture, and smelly beasts do not belong on the furniture, I was faced with opening a closed door to a huge, growling beast. To borrow a phrase from the teens in my house, "I was totally creeped out" at the thought of it, however I carried on. Despite my entering the dark room, the dog continued to growl. Then I worried was he now growling at me? I called him over and calmed him, then sent him off to lie down again. As soon as he was away from my side he resumed growling. I then put every light on and looked around. Thankfully there were no strangers in the house. Then I put on all the outside lights and peered out praying no one was peering back. Thankfully no one was out there either, at least no one I saw.

I sat up for over an hour with a growling dog, having no idea why he was growling, being terrified of actually finding out what was bothering him. Broken sleep in an insomniac who is home alone and spent an hour of terror in the dead of night yields a nearly sleepless night. I went to bed but couldn't sleep. I think I finally drifted off around 5ish, with my light and my glasses on, just in case someone came to 'murder us in our beds' at least I'd see them coming.

I awoke to one of my children announcing it was ten minutes past eight...oh no! I have one child in school because the first grade teacher is fantastic. Being a homeschooler I never thought I would utilise the school district, but there you have it. Said child ought to have been on the bus twenty minutes ago. Mr. Thorns is away, I have no car at the moment...the child missed school all because of the dumb mutt. To add insult to injury when I finally got around to calling the school at 9:10am, they inform me that the bus could come and get a child who misses their ride and can get to school no other way. I asked, "Isn't it too late?" The secretary informed me she would check and let me know. We rush around to get ready only to be told that it is in fact too late. If only I had known...did you know the school district would pick up a child who slept through the designated bus time? I didn't! My little tot could have made it to school after all!

*Note to self* Another item for the "Reasons To Never Own a Dog" list...dogs keep you up needlessly at night growling at figments of their imaginations. Oh, and they never do it when there is a big, strong man in the house to protect you. They only choose to indulge in this behavior when you are alone and able to be terrified out of a night's sleep and miss all the following day's appointments due to irritability and grogginess.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Excellent Blog Award

Thanks to A Thorn In The Pew I am flattered by your compliments. I am about 6 months late on accepting and passing on this one. I have had such internet problems and excessive busy-ness as to render me silent these last few months.

The rules: By accepting this Excellent Blog Award, you have to award it to 10 more people whose blogs you find Excellent Award worthy. You can give it to as many people as you want but please award at least 10. Thank you out there for having such great blogs and being such great friends! You deserve this! Feel free to award people who have already been awarded…

1. Ad Silvam Ibimus This is Jamie and Claudio's blog and I have repeatedly stated they are the most entertaining bloggers, they always make me laugh, and they have a cute little newborn baby to boot!

2. Domestic Felicity for being all beauty and grace. Mrs. Anna T is a newly wed who is an example for all women everywhere. I aspire to be half the homemaker this young woman is already.

3. Athanasius Contra Mundum for always continuing to educate this cradle Catholic. Another young person (who also has an infant son) who inspires me to learn more and grow more in my faith. Thanks for the continuing education, I learn something every time I visit your blog!

4. Debra's Random Thoughts for noticing and commenting on things I would have missed otherwise. She is a blogger I would really love to meet someday as I think we have much in common! Be sure to visit her blog, let her know I sent you, and also visit her blog about books for some good reading suggestions.

5. Digital Hairshirt for being one funny lady blogger. She surprises me, sometimes shocks me, sometimes makes me cry, but she always makes me think, and most of the time makes me laugh out loud.

6. Happy Hearts at Home for always finding the neatest freebies on the web. I love her blog and recommend you all stop by.

7. Against All Heresies for being one of my favorite people. I respect and admire her faith, her family, and her writing. She is the person who encouraged me to start my blog to begin with and I have enjoyed blogging more than I ever imagined I would. Thank you, Mary, I am honored to know you.

8. Brocante Home Chronicles for being a really interesting blog about life, love and vintage housekeeping.

9. Home Living is a new discovery for me of a perfectly lovely and pertinent blog about the beauty of being a woman and aspiring to fulfill the feminine roles better than I have, though I continue to try.

10. Sag Harbor Gifts because she is a very talented crafter of prim masterpieces, and I thoroughly enjoy her writing style. Thanks for being such a great friend!

11. A Thorn in the Pew which continues to be one of my most favorite and frequently visited blog on the net. This is another lady blogger I would love to meet in person someday, and I thank you for the honor of being awarded an excellent blog.