Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Quicktakes for Sept. 21 & 28

I could not come up with enough last week so here are a few ones I wrote last week and some new:

1. A few weeks ago I was really excited about a water-birth for the current child in utero. Then I learned that the hospital has a policy of breaking the water before allowing the water-birth and that led to a train of thought that made me realize that I would rather do a land birth. There were too many factors that could prevent the water-birth from being allowed and I decided I do not need the stress of not knowing what I was going to do. The hospital otherwise has great natural birth policies and a really low rate of c-section. My favorite part of my last two deliveries was that my water did not break until pushing time. 3 weeks until full term, 6 weeks until due date, ? weeks until the baby is here.

2. I am no longer dreading the newborn phase. It helps that about a billion of my 550 facebook friends have been having newborns in August and September and posting pictures of them. I am getting eager to meet this little one, and am running out of clothes that fit. 

3. We successfully canned 12 jars of applesauce from a bushel of the apples we got on our picking excursion. Win.

4. How to make vanilla extract: Put vanilla beans in vodka for several months. It smells amazing. I am not in the habit of taking swigs of vanilla and I am pregnant so I am not sure how the raw flavor compares to that of store bought or Mexican vanilla.

5. A big stresser taken care of this week is the purchase of our "new" used minivan. Thoughts on driving it: I can see around corners better, over other cars better. Today was warm enough to use the moon roof and it was fun to do that. And I could roll down the driver side window! Our poor Chevy Lumina has been without that feature for about four years now. Three words: power sliding doors. I feel like I am driving in luxury. My parents never bought a car with "bells and whistles," so it is all so new to me. Also, whoever owned it before us took great care to keep it looking nice. I hope we do as well.

6. Our Lumina is still in our possession. We are contemplating, when we buy a house, living further out of the city (as opposed to walking distance of campus) with at least a 1/2 acre of yard. That might fit better with the home school lifestyle of a large family. I might discuss that another time, but I also want to talk with friends who live further out of whatever town they live near and how they like the lifestyle. (Also, M has decided he wants to live on a lake and own a boat. This idea makes me fear for my children's safety and if this happens we will get a very secure fence...)

7. Meet Blue Hubbard squash:

My husband fears it is actually an alien life form biding its time to capture us and do who knows what. This also involves it growing tentacles. My plans for it involve making pie. It is supposed to be delicious and according to the farmer at the market it is the main ingredient in the store bought canned pumpkin. I will definitely update on what happens to this squash.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pre-nesting Frenzy

I have been absent from my blogging goals because of what I am going to call pre-nesting since I have 6.5 weeks until the due date.

I have been in a cooking and cleaning and planning frenzy and my brain is not able to focus on much else. So not very interesting for a usually exciting and fun-filled blog.

I just wanted to explain my absence. Now I have to get back to my freezer dinners.

We are hoping to buy a van on Thursday. My first vehicle purchase ever. My first loan taken as a married person. I am about to have my third child. I think that is a pretty good amount of time from birth to wait for this major step in life.

Alright, bye now.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Good Picture Books: Russell Hoban's "Frances"

I read the Frances books as a kid and was reintroduced to them visiting M's grandparents over Thanksgiving last year. They had Bread and Jam for Frances (by Russell Hoban) which tells the story of a girl who only wants to eat bread and jam. Her amazing parents decide to only give her bread and jam to eat after that is what she chooses to eat for several meals anyway. Eventually Frances decided she would like to eat other foods and declares that it is wonderful to have so many options of foods to eat.

The other books by Hoban about Frances include: Bedtime for Frances, A Baby Sister for Frances, A Birthday for Frances, Best Friends for Frances, and A Bargain for Frances.  Two of those books I have not even read in at least 20 years since I am waiting to find them at the library. But I am pretty sure that they are as amazing as the others.

The parts that make them so good for kids and parents are that they are so relatable for both parents and kids and that Frances makes up random silly rhymes to express what she is feeling. This goes along with my ideas about nursery rhymes being really good for kids. If a kids is used to rhymes and then sees that one can use rhymes to work out one's problems or think things over, then this child has learned a lot about language and how to use it just from simple stories and books. I think this concept has been grasped by my three year old G. Most days I hear her narrating the actions of her play: "She dashed across the room and went under the table." Other times I hear her making up rhymes or songs that may or may not make any sense. A large part of this might have to do with her extroverted personality, but I think it also has to do with her exposure to stories and rhymes.

The topics of the books are also so everyday, but ones that many parent-child relationships experience. Bedtime, baby sisters, birthdays, friends, picky eating. We currently have Best Friends for Frances out from the library, and my favorite part is when Frances decides that sisters can be best friends and starts to realize how much fun she can have with her sister Gloria. The story also shows Frances working through a friendship with a boy who excludes her from more "boy-like" activities. The stories are so realistic about childhood, and provide clever, smart solutions to problems.

I forgot to mention that the stories take place in a world populated by badgers. The philosophical explanation of how this is possible is below:

G: Why are there only badgers in this book?
M: Because this book takes place in a possible world in which only badgers and not primates attained personhood.
What can be wrong with books that teach our children about possible worlds? Even philosophy can be learned by reading about Frances!

 ***I also want to warn that when looking for these books at the library or at the store watch out for the "I Can Read" versions which cut the significant parts of the text from the story and thus eliminate many of the best lines and rhymes. I personally do not understand why they feel the need to dumb down awesome children's stories. Let the kids read the good stuff!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday Quicktakes: Sept. 14

1. Today is a pretty sweet Feast day: The Exaltation of the Holy Cross. If you want to know the interesting history click on the link. Dom Gueranger in his The Liturgical Year (Volume 14, p. 196) says this about the feast:

'Through thee the precious cross is honoured and worshiped throughout the world.' Thus did Saint Cyril of Alexandria apostrophize our Lady on the morrow of that great day, which saw her divine maternity vindicated at Ephesus. Eternal Wisdom has willed that the octave of Mary's birth should be honoured by the celebration of this feast of the triumph of the holy cross. The cross indeed is the standard of God's armies, whereof Mary is the Queen; it is by the cross that she crushes the serpent's head, and wins so many victories over error, and over the enemies of the Christian name. 
Today is a wonderful day to pray for the continuation of victories over error and trust more fully in the Cross and in our Lady's maternal care and intercession. Lift high the Cross!

2. Speaking of praying, L's version of the Our Father at Mass one day this week was: "Heaven, God! Heaven, God, Heaven, God, Heaven, God..."

3. I discovered this week that I need to stop turning sideways to fit between two objects that have a narrow passageway between them. It is a safer bet that I will fit through going forwards than sideways. Oh baby... Oh third trimester...

4. This blog post is only too true: 10 Surprising Facts About "Bouncing Back After Pregnancy." And I am not really looking forward to these 10 facts, but it is good to be realistic. I do realize, though not often enough, that I am so blessed to have three children and have had/having healthy pregnancies.

5. Along the same line, I appreciated Simcha Fisher's post this week about ceasing to blame pregnancy, being an overtired mother, and having small children on not being oneself and accepting the fact that one is who one is no matter how many stresses one has. But now that we are on to baby number three I have found myself more accepting of life as it is. Yes, it takes 5-10 minutes to get in and out of the car. Yes, it takes a lot more time to get myself dressed and fed as well as my children. Cleaning is harder to accomplish and maintain and all the other changes in having children. I think I have finally accepted that my life is never going to be that of all the single people my age, and you know what? I love my life. It only took me 3.5 years. Ha.

6. I have been having a good visit with my sister. It is really nice to have extra space for guests so that they can have more peace and quiet and we can have our routine without disturbing guests. Yay for a house to live in!

7. Today we went apple picking. My sister, the girls, and I picked 3/4 of a bushel of apples... 30 lbs... And then I bought another 1/2 bushel of seconds. On the to-do-list now is make a bushel worth of applesauce and can it into quart jars, make a pie, and eat lots of apples. It is a lot of work, but totally worth it for homemade local applesauce all winter!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

How Many People Does it Take to Reupholster Six Chairs?

This week I finally got to a project I have been intending to do since I bought chairs on craigslist to go with the table that our good friends in Buffalo donated to our cause as it was waiting in their basement for someone to take. The chairs did not match the table and had a dirty off-white worn out fabric on it. I am pleased to present the final product:

It is a nice faux black leather over foam and chair batting. I used this tutorial as the guide. I am not going to tell you how to reupholster chairs. I am just going to say that it took a my wonderful sister, my dear husband, a seven month pregnant woman, and a staple gun to get the six chairs reupholstered in four evenings of casual labor (meaning we worked as long as we felt like it and not strenuous work).

Here is the final look with the table:

The woods do not match, but I think the two-toned look works. Maybe when we refinish the table eventually we will do it to match the chairs. For now, many thanks to my husband and sister for their help in this project! Now I can start nesting in terms of baby gear...

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The First Best Literature for Children: Nursery Rhymes

I love nursery rhymes. My children love nursery rhymes. I am not entirely sure why. Tradition loves nursery rhymes. For the record I have no background in education so this is all just my opinion supplemented with my belief that the traditions that have been preserved by society over time, the test of time, are good. My children speak English, or are at least learning to. I speak English, and no matter how many ancestries me or my children descend from by being Americans we are in the tradition of the English speaking world. So when it it comes to literary education, English nursery rhymes are the place where I start.

Little Miss Muffet,
Sat on a tuffet,
 eating some curds and whey. 
Along came a spider
who sat down beside her,
and frightened Miss Muffet away.

Things I have noticed/learned about children: they memorize things quickly and efficiently, what they memorize effects how they think and how they speak, rhymes and stories that are quirky are their favorites. The quirky ones are also my favorites. On a side note, I think that the best children's literature is that which intrigues the adult as well as the child. Nursery rhymes are so strange, often practical, and so wonderful.

Often the nursery rhymes are just plain fun.

Round about, round about, Gooseberry pie, 
My father loves good ale, and so do I.

Pat a cake, pat a cake, bakers man,
Bake me a cake as fast as you can,
Pat it and roll it and mark it with a "B"
Put it in the oven for baby and me. 

Another element of good children's literature is that which teaches a child about life, but in a way that makes them remember. A child may learn these rhymes as a child, and remember it is important to be responsible when they are older.

Elsie Marley's grown so fine, she won't get up to feed the swine,
but lays in bed 'till eight or nine,
Lazy Elsie Marley.

A dillar, a dollar, a ten o'clock scholar,
What makes you come so soon,
You used to come at ten o'clock, but now you come at noon.  

They also relate to children's lives, and explain the world to them. For example, some about going to market to buy things, a child who goes to the store to buy things can relate to.

To market to market to buy a fat pig,
Home again, home again jiggity jig.

Go to bed Tom, go to bed,
Tired or not, go to bed.

Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town,
Upstairs, downstairs in his nightgown,
Peering in the windows, Peaking through the lock,
Are all the children in their beds? 
For now it is eight o'clock.

Nursery rhymes are also very educational. My children have learned to count from them and also, the alphabet! Songs and rhymes are a very popular and effective way to teach.

One, two, three, four, five,
I caught a fish alive,
Six, seven, eight, nine, ten,
I let him go again,
Why did you let him go?
Because he bit my finger so.
Which finger did he bite?
The little finger on the right.  

How many days has my baby to play,
Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

Riddles are another way nursery rhymes teach, giving a child a chance to think critically and understand that words have multiple meanings.

Hickamore hackamore
on the king's kitchen door,
All the kings horse and all the kings men
couldn't drive Hickamore Hackamore
off the kings kitchen door.
(can you guess?)

Nursery rhymes are also used for soothing, and the familiar rhythms and rhymes are something that help a child feel comfortable and happy.

Twinkle, Twinkle, little star, 
How I wonder what you are,
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky,
Twinkle, Twinkle, little star, 
How I wonder what you are. 

These are just a few reasons that nursery rhymes are great for children. Educationally, they also help a child develop the skills of memorizing and expand vocabulary greatly. Children love repetition, and often I will hear my three year old reciting nursery rhymes to herself over and over again. She is processing the rhymes and applying them to her life. She also asks me to explain them, but mostly just memorizes them and applies them herself.

Rock a bye baby,
Your cradle is green,
Father's a nobleman,
Mother's a queen,
Betty's a lady who wears a gold ring,
And Johnny's a drummer who drums for the king. 
If you are interested in a collection of rhymes, Nursery Rhymes by Douglas Gorsline is well illustrated and has a lot of good rhymes.  

Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday Quicktakes-Sept 7

1. These will probably not post until Saturday. Today was get the kids ready alone, quick pre-school activity, Mass for First Friday, playdate, naptime (workout video and shower), get ready for sitter, new faculty dinner at M's school, talking to my sister about labor, finishing Miss Marple episode. Now I am attempting to do a few quicktakes.

2. Speaking of First Friday Mass we went to a church near our home but not St. Agnes. After communion, G asked me "Why did they not use the kneeler?" pointing to the communion rail. Exactly. I love St. Agnes liturgies. They know how it is done.

3. I went to a women's Bible study at St. Agnes given by our pastor. I went to Mass alone without children, had a dinner with other ladies that I did not cook, and listened to a lecture on scripture. It is a monthly event, and I am really excited to participate in it. Plus, the other ladies in my small group seem very nice.

4. L is obsessed with bathtime because of the toy ducks and fish she plays with in the tub. So much so that she calls bathtime, "Duckfish". We have been imagining a creature that is a combination of a duck and fish. Today on Motherhood on a Dime's 20 Freebies list was this kindle book: DUCKFISH. This caused a fit of giggles for my husband and I at the end of the day, and we downloaded the book to a kindle app and discovered it was not even to be considered a work of literature. I will show L the picture of the duckfish at least.

5. Speaking of children's literature I plan to start a series on here reviewing worthwhile children's literature and why individual books/authors are awesome. I am tired of bad children's literature.

6. I need to tell you all that Cajetan and Garrigou-Lagrange are not evil, contrary to what I was taught in college. Further DeLubac demonized them unnecessarily or he was a bad scholar. If you want the evidence talk to my husband. I am still getting over the negative aversions instilled in me when I hear those names.

7. On a lighter note I have embarked this week on my goal to learn easy, pretty updos for long hair now that my hair has gotten long again. I am branching out from the ponytail. This blog seems to have some good tutorials.
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