Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Today our Diocese has instituted a diocesan wide day of Confession.  So this morning I geared myself up and went.  It was not easy because I had to take the 3 year old with me.  Well I didn't have to, but since my confessions are not drawn out affairs usually I figured he could deal with it.  It's good for children to see their parents go to confession.  I've never seen my parents (to my knowledge) so I know this is one of those examples that needs to be set.

I've taken HB with me.  He was old enough and mature enough to sit in the pew and keep himself occupied.  Knee wanted to light a candle, go view the altar, dance around the pews, but when it came to confession....putting him in a tiny box with me and the priest terrified him.  As in he ran back out the door.  And I wasn't about to let him be in the sanctuary by himself or with the older people who came in. 

Both the priest and myself had to go and chase him down and bribe him to come back in.  The entire time I was giving my confession he squirmed in my lap and hide his face.  I'm glad I brought my list along with an Act of Contrition because it was very difficult concentrating on what I needed to say. 

In case anyone is interested, children can go into the confessional with parents.  They are bound to the seal as well, but of course children below a certain age aren't likely to say anything anyway.  This is the same for translators.  If for example you are deaf, you can ask someone to come into the confessional with you and they too are bound by the seal. 

Another interesting fact, you don't have to be Catholic to go to confession.  You just have to be baptized and fit a certain set of criteria: from an Eastern Church (Coptic, Orthodox), in danger of death, or in the process of converting from Protestantism. That being said a non-Catholic should be respectful that it is indeed a Sacrament.  I've read some stories of non-Catholic persons seeking out confession and spiritual advice from a priest during times of spiritual crisis.  I would encourage speaking to a priest rather than just simply confession if you find yourself in that position.

I've read that the Pope has asked that Friday be a day of Confessions world-wide (I guess my diocese planned this in advance of the Holy Father's directive).  So consider popping in and giving your soul a cleanse this Friday.  No excuses!  If I can do it with my squirmy bolting child, you can too.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Frozen. As in the Movie

Last week I was having a hard time with the kids.  My husband who left for a conference Sunday morning saw my distress and ordered me out the house for three hours.  This hasn't happened to my knowledge ever.

It's not that I don't get out of the house, but it's usually for a reason such as prayer group at church or grocery shopping.  Me going out of the house with no agenda just to get out never happens.  So I went to a movie.  I saw Cinderella.  These days I go to the movies with my husband so I try to pick something we can both live with.  Going to a movie by myself meant I could be totally girly.  So that's what I picked.

I'm glad I saw it because it was totally good and has received Catholic stamps of approval.  What is more controversial these days is Frozen.  And because Cinderella came out recently and they are both Disney princess movies and because of the announcement of Frozen 2, well Frozen discussions are to be had.  I have Frozen.  And I can see why it's problematic for some, but not for others.

Frozen and True Love

The thing about Hans was so surprising especially in a children's movie.  It's however not surprising in real life.  I've never had a guy try to use me for my connections or power because I don't have any.  But I've had guys who turned out to be totally jerks.  And I've dated guys who turned out to be commitment phobic.  One minute you think "oh, he's great" and the next he's hitting you up for a grand loan or asking to borrow your car all the time.  Let's just say he's no longer in the picture.

Can a person fall in love and get engaged in the same day?  I'm sure.  It's just not common or recommended.  My husband and I met 9 years ago this month.  I asked him to marry me on Christmas Eve which was 9 months later.  We were married in July which was six months (roughly) after the engagement and 1 year 3 months after first meeting.  But...

My husband definitely were not "love at first sight."  We found each other intriguing at best and boring at worst.  Friendship?  Yes.  Love.  Not really.  That took a few months.  And still I wasn't sure about anything until I met his family.

So if my kids are reading this years from now...did you hear that?  Met his family.  Because knowing that he could handle money well, that he had a moral foundation, and loved his family was important.  But what a persons says is meaningless.  You want to see what a person is like.  Christoph is right in that regard.  Hubby talked up a storm about his relationship with his family, but it wasn't until I met them that I got a good idea of what I was getting into.  Hubby's family help each other out.  They care for each other deeply.  And they would slap each other upside the head figuratively speaking if one of them wronged their spouse.  That's what I wanted.  A man who came from a family who knows right and wrong.  Hubby will tell you that he was most impressed by my financial frugality.  I borrowed 5 bucks from him to avoid fees at an atm.  I explained that to him at the time. 

Does this lack of love at first sight mean Frozen is against romance?  Well if the Christoph and Anna relationship means anything than no.  But Frozen does emphasize getting to a know a person, and I think this is healthy.

Loving a Person Despite Their Faults

I'm not ascribing wrongness to Elsa's powers.  She was born with them.  The fault lies with her shutting out Anna, and the girls' parents for not disclosing.  This would be akin to me not telling Knee that HB is autistic and essentially hiding HB.  We used to do that with people with disabilities.  It's not really a good thing. 

Anna is upset that Elsa is shutting her out, but the virtue is that she keeps seeking her out and trying to mend the rift.   She loves Elsa despite not being treated well and despite Elsa's disability/ability.  Elsa has an awesome sister.  This is a virtue we should all have especially those who are family members.  They may not want our affections, but we should still maintain love like it's an open door.

The "Gay" Thing

There have been some Christians out there who have pointed out some perceived gay themes.  Are Elsa's power a euphemism for being gay?  Was Oaken's family a gay family?  I don't know.  I think you can read anything into anything if you want to.  Cracked's series After Hours pretty much is about reading things into movies.  Point is I'm not really worried about it because it's not very obvious and Disney has not said otherwise.

What I do love about Frozen is Christoph.  He's genuine and loves his family.  He cares about Anna.  He works hard at his business and saved up for his sled.  If there's ever a Disney "Prince" that I like, it's him.  Unlike Aladdin or Flynn who are unrepentant thieves, Christoph is a decent guy from the start much like the Prince in Cinderella.  And those are the archetypal characters I hope my sons will aspire.  Disney needs more of those guys. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Spotlight on Knee

It's been fortunate or unfortunate depending on how you look at things that I haven't written much about Knee.  Between his brother's broken arm and autism-related stuff, Knee's been a bit neglected.  So I thought I would spot light Knee.

Can I be naked now please? (Yes, this is an old photo)

1) He's three.  And with that comes the protests and self-assertion that's totally normal.  Totally normal and yet driving his parents nuts.  His favorite thing to do these days is 1) refuse to wear clothes or appropriate outer garments and 2) get into the car.  I don't mind him being nude so much at home.  I just hate having to stuff him back into clothes whenever we have to leave the house.  I also get a little tired explaining to people that he refuses to wear shoes or a coat even in extremely cold weather.  He will put them on but only after he's frozen himself to the point that he's wailing. 

Who knew year later I would refuse to be sat in.  Meanwhile HB wants an upgrade. 

2)  The car has become a point of contention.  He was managing to push down his chest clip and get his arms out.  This was during ice and snow.  I finally caved in and decided to put his car seat facing forward.  Even though he's safer to be backwards, he can legally be forward.  The thing is though he's not really safer if he's backwards but not strapped in his seat properly.  It's safer to be strapped in appropriately but forward.  So we went with forward.  I lost the battle, but I've won the war.  He behaves himself better now that he's facing forward.  Now if I could just get him to happily get into the car seat more often....

3) Potty training has been slow.  He does well when he's naked.  It's going out in public or wearing clothes.  Although much to my chagrin, peer pressure is working in my favor.  Since it's March break and HB is out of school, I took both children to the library.  HB declared his need to use the potty.  After entering the washroom, Knee said he needed to go too.  And he went into a stall, pulled down his clothing, and I heard a tinkle.  He came out with his pants to his knees and I had to help him there.  So I consider that to be a potty success.  He's done this sort of thing before.  I guess from now on if at all possible I'm sending Knee and HB into the bathroom together.  I suppose that means we'll have to do more family outings.

4) For a while there I was concerned about his speech, but it seems to be improving.  He has spouted off a few five word sentences here and there like:  My hands are cold inside.  and Mom, I don't like you.  For the most part it's four word sentences such as:  I don't like it.  and Look, Mom, it's green!  HB has some speech issues, but they've worked themselves out over time.  I imagine for Knee it will improve or we'll have speech therapy.

5) Knee is very imaginative.  One of his first "imagine something that isn't there" games was what I call the "Heavy Baby" Game.  Basically he told me he was carrying this heavy baby and wanted me to hold it.  He would cradle this non-existent baby in his arms and make grunting noises while heaving the heavy baby into my arms.  He would tell me that the baby was big and heavy and cute and things like that.  And no, he wasn't using a baby doll.  It was just his imagination.  This is something HB doesn't really do.  Lately his newest "imagine something that isn't there" game is what I call "Having Dinosaur Eggs In Your Hand" Game.  "Look, Mom, dinosaur eggs" he tells me showing his empty palm.  HB looks at him confused because clearly there's nothing there.  Not even pretend eggs.

HB at age three.

6) The other day Knee demanded that I bake a Dinosaur Cake for Christmas.  "You mean Easter?  Because Easter is coming up.  And not Christmas." I prompted  "No, Christmas." he responds. Well, at least he has one holiday that he remembers.  Speaking of, I still need to work with him more on the Sign of the Cross.  He keeps starting out pointing to his chest. 

7) Yes, he still likes dinos and swords and horses (basically knight stuff).  And I've finally got him interested in crafts again.  For a while there I had only stuff that HB made to stick on the wall. 

And that's the Knee update.

Friday, March 6, 2015

7 Quick Takes: #LENTENFAIL

Yes, please.  Between the weather and this past two-ish weeks...well, read on.

1) So this is what happened about a week and half ago Monday (not this past one but before that).  My husband and I settle down for a movie.  My teeth are chattering and I'm feeling jittery.  "Are you cold?" my husband asks.  "No, I can't explain it."  We have to pause the movie as I run into the kitchen to vomit.  This continues on all Monday evening/Tuesday morning.  Turns out I've got an intolerance for a certain line of antibiotics.  It's not a true allergy or I would have broken out into hives or stopped breathing, but my body can't handle the side affects.  So instead of feeling nauseous or queasy for a brief amount of time I win the lotto of being 1 in 10,000 people who experience an anxious-like feeling and well...I'll spare you. 

2) Tuesday (the following day) Hubby stays home so I can go to the doctor.  This is something one is supposed to do if they stop their antibiotics half way through.  But surprise, surprise (she says with sarcasm)!  They post a sign on the clinic door saying they won't open until 5pm.  HB comes home and he and Knee crawl into bed with me.  Then a fight starts up and Knee pushes/kicks HB off the bed.  Wham!  Since we are going to the doc anyway we take HB along.  She doesn't give me anything and says she thinks HB just bruised his arm. 

3) Thursday HB is still complaining.  I decide to take him to the children's clinic which is a different one.  We wait two hours.  That doctor thinks it's dislocated, but says it's better to go get an x-ray to rule out his arm being broken.  Four hours later in the ER, we discover that his arm is broken...again.  Same arm around the same spot.  We get home at midnight.

4) Monday (of this week) Hubby goes with me to the dentist.  We had to reschedule it because of the whole "I'm vomiting because of medication" thing.  We are literally getting in the car to grab lunch when the school calls.  HB is sobbing.  Apparently he was running (which he's not supposed to do) and fell on his broken arm.  We take him home, give him pain meds, ice his arm, feed him, and then call people.  The Ortho people for children only come one day a week Wednesday but we leave a message for the nurse.  We call Ontario's nurses line.  She says based on his change of behavior we should bring him back to the ER.  So there we are again.  Yes, he's moved the bones again, but not enough to do anything. 

5) Tuesday I take HB into the pediatrician for his autism evaluation.  Yes, you read that correctly.  The same pediatrician who hypothesized that HB has autism got himself certified to run the diagnostic because he doesn't trust those who normally do it.  Don't worry; we plan on getting a second opinion when we hit state side.  Nobody in their right mind takes the sole hypothesis of one pediatrician and honestly he shouldn't be encouraging that.  He should want the referral.  HB goes through his hour long testing.  The pedi sends us the raw data and adds "autism" on the bottom.  He may be autistic, but since this is based on one man's opinion well I don't trust the data that closely.  Supposedly he's going to send a written report of what it means later.

6) Wednesday I take the two boys for HB's ortho appointment.  Yes, he's bumped the bones but in the right direction.  The ortho's not worried about it being the same arm in the same place, but he says he'll know more about his bone growth once he sees it again (after it's healed a little bit).  The orthopedist tells me not to let him play outside.  So I have to pass on all this information to the school who have to figure out a way to have someone watch him during recess. 

7) So now you know why my plans for Lent have gone to pot.  It feels like I'm holding onto my Lenten journey like I'm hanging onto a ledge.  I keep trying to add prayer and staying off the computer, but it's a struggle.  Maybe God is trying to teach me to pray on the fly.  I would prefer to carve out more quiet time, but it's just not happening.  I realize that one can sustain oneself on bread and water type of prayer, but I was hoping for Lent to be spiritually nourishing meat.  *sigh*  *long suffering Lenten sigh*

Thanks to This Ain't the Lyceum for hosting.

Monday, February 23, 2015

On Toy Rotation

Well, my Ash Wednesday didn't go at all.  Apparently this cold I've been sporting for several weeks, which left me feeling unmotivated, morphed into a nasty sinus infection.  I'm on some stout drugs which have some crazy side affects like a metal taste in my mouth, but they are working so I feel much much much more like myself.

In my house we practice toy rotation.  This is good because it cuts down on the number of toys we buy the children during the year.  It also forces you to get rid of broken toys and donate toys that they truly don't care for as opposed to simply being bored with. 

We have a wide variety of toys.  If you are interested in knowing what that is, keep reading.

Games and Puzzles:
We have a lot of games.  Board games, a couple of wii games, and aps on my Kindle.  The board games are more for Knee's age.  HB has games for his age, but the problem is that Knee doesn't match his skill level so those games are usually played very little.  The puzzles the children are into now are the kind with cardboard.  They don't use peg puzzles anymore.  We keep all the puzzles and games separate from their toys just because some of them have pieces that if you loose even one would make for frustration.

Building Toys:
We've had a variety of building toys over the years, but now the big ones are Lincoln logs and legos.   You can't go wrong with that sort of thing.  We also recently got this straw thing with pegs.  I'm not sure that they like building with them as much as just sticking a couple together and welding them as swords.

Dress up clothes:
The boys aren't really big into dressing up all the time, but sometimes they are.  They have swords and guns and some spy gear.  They also have a few costumes: fire fighter, knights, angels, Tigger, and a dinosaur.  These have accumulated from Halloween.  They also have sun glasses and hats, which they can play with or actually use.

Electronic toys:
Knee isn't so much interested in electronic toys, but HB is.  Mostly he likes the songs or the lap top style toys.  If Knee were older, I would probably get HB an ipod, but right now I would be afraid it'd get stepped on or throw around.  He also has a robot Wall-e since he's big into Wall-e and likes robots if you recall.
HB's self-built robot
Dolls and Figures:
I have acquired several figures.  I also made some peg saints and some fluffy saints.  Some of my figures are animal related (dogs and what not).  Some are people.  HB, being a Star Wars fanatic, has a few of those figures.  We also have some stuffed animals including one giant frog, which Knee loves.

Imaginative toys:
We have fake food, play tools, a doctor kit, trucks, a castle, some tents that look like trains, and regular trains.

Letters and Numbers:
We have foam letters and numbers, magnetic ones, and we have some see n' spells (which is more like a game).

Outdoor toys:
We live in front of a park, but we don't have a play set because our patio is too small.  Instead we have one slide, a water table, a trike, a wagon, and some cozy coupes.  We'll probably get rid a lot of that before moving.  The kids will both be old enough at that point to have bicycles.

Mostly we check out books from the library, but we own quite a few ourselves.

I keep the toys more or less in three rough neck boxes and rotate them roughly once a month (although it didn't happen so much because of the Birthday, Christmas, Birthday accumulation).

If it sounds like a lot, well it is.  I keep trying to pair things down, but it's hard.  They really like a lot of these toys and play with them regularly.  It doesn't help that each winter has been especially hard so we haven't gone outside hardly at all.  In Arizona it was easier to cut down because the weather was milder.  I'm hoping to get rid of more things during Lent and later when we move. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Year of Biblical Womanhood: A Review

If you don't like social experiments, particularly those involving the Bible, then this book is probably not for you.  Basically the author, Rachel Held Evans, takes the Bible and each month explores a topic related to women both by living it literally and looking at how others interpret it.  By others I mean everyone from Orthodox Jews to polygamists.  The book is an interesting thought experiment.  If I had to rate it I would say it was "okay."  If you asked me why, I'd say it's because I'm nitpicky and I don't think she did a great job seeking out Catholic sources for her information.

October: Gentleness
Here she talks about contemplative prayer, but she gets her terms mixed up.  I've already explained why here.

Skipping over November: Domesticity

December: Obedience
She gives a commentary about the Virgin Mary.  Some of it just bugs me.  Like in the kind of "Don't mess with my Mom" bugs me.  After commenting about what the Immaculate Conception is she writes, "It's as though, over time, Mary's feet have gotten farther and farther off the ground."  Later she writes, "Like a good Protestant should, I think Mary's act of radical obedience means more when is is one of us.  Imperfect. Afraid. Capable of feeling all the pain and doubt and fear that come with delivering God into the world.  But I suspect I may also be a bit of a Catholic, for on the rare occasion that I yield myself fully to the will of God, when I write or speak or do the dishes to magnify the Lord, I start to see Mary everywhere."  I'm not sure what to make exactly of that last quote.  Mary was perfect particularly in her obedience.  She's not like us because she didn't hesitate.  She wasn't actually afraid.  I mean she asked an angel (which scare the day lights out of people) a question.  Furthermore we will never truly be like one of us.  She was God's Mother.  Nobody can ever say that.  That in and of itself shows that she's set apart.  I don't know but I think Ms. Evans is riding on the fence on this one.  Either Mary is particularly special or she's one of us and anyone of us could do that job.  It can't be both.

January: Valor

February: Beauty
This one is one of those hard things for non-Catholics to get.  Catholics see sex as a sacrament in a lot of ways.  Sex is about intimacy and I think it gets masked as pure pleasure too much.  Did you know that Blessed Virgin Mary is considered to God's Spouse?  Think about it.  If Jesus is the New Adam and BVM is the New Eve...then.  Yeah.  We are all technically called to be the spouses of Christ.

It's this sort of thinking that would probably confuse (if not creep out Ms. Evans).  She writes "On the one hand, we have centuries of medieval Christian theologians who went to great lengths to render the poem [Song of Songs] allegorical, interpreting the intimacy between the man and the woman as the love between Christ and the Church.  This required some interpretive gymnastics that at times preclude common sense."  Actually maybe to Ms. Evans it precludes common sense, but she also didn't grow up knowing of the Church as being something actual not metaphysical.  She probably heard that Christ is the Bridegroom, but did not think that that meant the Church is in fact the Bride.

March: Modesty
"Traditional Catholics often wear the mantilla, a lacy black veil that falls over the head and shoulders."  That's news to me.  Mantillas come in a variety of colors.  But okay black is popular- for married women.  White is also a traditional color particularly for unmarried women, brides, and 1st communicants.  Yes, I'm being picky.  But if someone were to read this book wouldn't it sound like for Traditional Catholics we'd have brides wearing black veils?

"...while Catholic nuns typically wear a black veil over a white coif, (unless, of course, they intend to fly and instead opt for a cornette)."  Har har.  Slow hand clap. What a nun wears is largely based on what kind of vows she's taken are.  Postulants, for example, will wear white.  But if she means the colloquial term for nun (not just to mean a cloistered religious sister) then I must inform her that religious sisters wear a variety of colors of veils.

"...and St. Padre Pio famously refused to hear the confessions of women wearing anything other than skirts that fell at least eight inches below the knee."  No he didn't.  This is why this fictitious thing is so slanderous.  Here we have an evangelical believing something about a Catholic saint that is fabricated.  If you have this on your site, please take it down.  It's not true.

Later on she quotes from Cardinal Giuseppe Siri who warned against trousers in the 1960s.  Keep in mind that this was during women's liberation and the good Cardinal was concerned about what it would mean for women to behave like men instead of behaving like women.  He wasn't concerned about modesty.  Pants were just a symptom of a larger problem going on during that time period: the break down of family and women embracing the dangerous aspects of women's liberation movement.  This isn't some kind of Papal or Magisterial declaration against women wearing pants.  You can keep wearing pants.  Nope.  It's about women needing to be women and not trading in our feminine genius for a lesser form of masculinity.  Please understand I'm not saying anything against masculinity.  I'm saying women should embrace what they are.

Then Ms. Evans throws out the "Mary-like Standards" codified by Fr. Bernard A. Kunkel.  Sometimes this is attributed to Pope Pius XI.  I've already talked about this before.  But I'll just repeat.  Look at the Catechism.  This is one man's opinion from 1944.

I agree with her.  These codes for modesty standards are ridiculous and to keep bringing them up over and over and over again is head shaking.  Selling books to fellow Catholics using these standards like they are more important than other doctrines that we should be teaching is mind boggling.  Can't we focus on something else?  Isn't it enough to say "please wear clothing that covers your rear to Mass" without going into whether that has to be pants or skirts?

The rest of the book is fine so far as it discusses aspect of Protestantism like ordained women and mentions that she takes a silent retreat at a monastery.  It's just those irritating things above that get to me and made me contemplate (pun not intended) about slamming the book down a few times.  If anything it teaches me that Catholics have a long way to go with evangelization if an open Evangelical gets this information all wrong.  It also shows that maybe I should just stop reading all books from Evangelicals.  Those barbs from an outsider denouncing Momma Mary and medieval theologians just drive me nuts.  Near occasions of sin.  I tell you.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Happy Mardi Gras, Y'all!

yes, I am recycling photos.  You are welcome.
So today is Fat Tuesday, which is the traditional day to get rid of fatty meaty foods.  Yesterday we ate our annual gumbo and king cake.  This year I used cinnamon rolls similar to what you can do for St. Lucy's day.  I unrolled them and then braided them together forming a large circle as I went.  After baking them, I put the frosting on top and sprinkled granulated sugar dyed in the traditional colors (purple, green, gold).  Purple means justice, green means faith, and gold means power. 

We also watched The Princess and the Frog because it uses Mardi Gras as the backdrop of the story.

Tonight we join our fellow parishioners in celebrating with the other traditional meal: pancakes.  What traditions do you have for today?