Friday, October 18, 2013

Seven Quick Takes, Oct. 18

This is my second post of the day after a weeks hiatus. Let's just say that mothering three children does not always allow for blogging...

1. For number one, I want to thank Fr. Z for turning my latest Truth and Charity post into a "Guest Post" on his blog. I really appreciate that he read my email and took time to read my post. Thanks, Father!

2. The Saga of the Leaky Pipe Continues... Here is the current look of our basement:
This one is not quite current, the ceiling in this family room is mostly put up.

The laundry room is painted.

Spare Oom. Maybe we should skip carpet and go for a marbled cement look?
While entertained hopes of the basement being finished by next week, the carpet is not due to be manufactured for two more weeks and the ceiling is slow in going up...

3. I was trying to convince L (2.75) to go outside today by telling her that it was going to be cold soon. Her response: "When it gets cold out then it will snow and then we can go ice skating!" She has no clue what ice skating it like... though maybe we need to look into taking her sometime this winter...

4. I bought a large squash at the farmer's market this morning. The farmer told me that it would be good for pie. He cut one open to show the inside. It looked orangey-red and fleshy. I think it will be good. Last year we tried out the blue hubbard squash, and it made delicious pies and breads.
I am not sure what kind of squash it is, but it looks like a pretty close relative of the pumpkin.
5. I first read Dostoyevsky while in college, starting with The Brothers Karamazov. It took me a really long time to read the book. Until now I thought it was because it was a long book, but now I am realizing that it probably was because whenever I read Dostoyevsky I get so caught up in the story and the characters that I lose track of myself. I started Crime and Punishment a couple of weeks ago, and am only about 70 pages into it. Wednesday I spent about 30 minutes of naptime reading it, and got caught up so much in Raskolnikov and his emotions, thoughts, and actions it took me about 10 minutes to realize that I had not just committed an awful crime for which I was probably going to get caught for... Dostoyevsky, yeah... read him.

6. I am currently watching Game 6 of the NLCS with my MLB app.  It is possibly the last baseball game I will watch this season because of our voluntary lack of television. If the Cardinals hold onto their 9-0 lead then I will have to listen to the KMOX broadcast of the World Series games.

7. And I leave you with Carly Simon singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." And the video I want won't imbed so you have to go there.

Head on over to Jen's for more Quick Takes!

My Eight Tips for Happy (Screen-Free) Road Trips

Since the birth of our first child 4.5 years ago, my husband and I have taken our daughter(s) on 26,054 miles worth of road trips divided between about 20 trips. That means we have driven more than the equivalent of once around the world with little kids in the backseat! We travel a lot. We travel because we live hundreds of miles away from many people that we love, and we like to travel. I’d like to think we are becoming experts on traveling with little kids, and we have yet to occupy our children at all with screens. Here are things we do to make traveling smooth:

1. Packing List: We always make a packing list. If we did not we would forget something essential. At times we have forgotten essential things, but usually we do not. Further, it keeps us from packing things we don’t need.

2. Food for the car: I know that a lot of families have rules about food in the car. On road trips, food is essential for happy, well-contented children. Some people like to stop for lunch, even when it is just a sack lunch. On full-day road trips we always eat lunch in the car, sometimes even dinner. If it takes your children 30 minutes to eat dinner, that is 30 minutes of content and happy road time, and 30 miles of road gone by. Sometimes we even do dinner on the road. When choosing food for the car I like to pick easy to chew foods. One of my favorite foods for the car is string cheese, even our 10 month old could eat this in the car. We always bring a small cooler, since having cold snacks is a nice break from room temperature crackers and pretzels. The kids each have a snack cup that they can easily hold, which we refill with snacks and meals at each stop.

3. Toys and books for the car:  We have several essential car toys. The first is a magna-doodle per child. baby doll per child. Since our oldest was one she loved having her doll in the car. It is perfect for seated, imaginative play. I am not sure what would be a good comparable toy for a boy (dinosaurs?). And finally, lots and lots of books. The girls have a basket of books placed between their seats and they spend much of each trip looking through these books. I always pick out books that are thin paper backs with lots of pictures. We have a number of children’s magazines that they love to look through also. That is it. We started our road trips four years ago with these types of toys and they have not failed us.
We bought them here.
Our 2.5 and 4.5 year old spend hours drawing on their magna-doodles every road trip. Since the pen is attached, they never lose it, and it is mess-free! The second is a

4. Good Music and Audiobooks: My husband and I both collected a lot of music before we met, and after many years of road trips we have our favorite road trip music. The whole collection of our favorites usually gets us there and back again. Plus, our kids have a taste for and enjoy the music as well. Our oldest is now able to simple chapter books, so we have started to use audiobooks for the family to enjoy. Though we did our last 1900 mile round trip with just music.

5. On the Nursing Baby: I have traveled with three nursing babies over the past 4.5 years. In general my babies have been able to wait 2-3 hours in between nursing, which is generally about how long we drive between stops. I have always brought a pump so that I can bottle feed the baby when a stop is not convenient or we are trying to make better time. I know some mom’s who exclusively pump while on the road. For us, we have found that we can do a stop in 20 minutes even with nursing if I take the older girls to the bathroom while M changes the baby’s diaper in the car (with a minivan there is no need to take the baby into the restroom). When I return to the car, I feed the baby and M get’s his turn on the restroom. When he comes back, he sets up the kids with snacks and gathers the toys and books back to their basket.

*I would advise against nursing the baby while the car is moving (leaning over the carseat). I did it once, but shortly after read thispost about the dangers of doing so. The safety of a baby is more important than saving 10 minutes.  
6. Rest Stops: I explained the basic idea of rest stops above, but I will reiterate it. We find that arranging them so that no parent is waiting around is the most efficient way to stop. Further, everyone has to go at EVERY stop. If we had boys, I suspect we would stop even faster since then I could go to the restroom alone... Another tip I have is for newly potty-trained children to travel in a diaper or training pants. Accidents happen.

7. Empty Gas Station coffee cups (with a separate lid) are great for road sickness. Trust me, you don’t want your child to miss the cup...

8. When possible travel with favorite pillows, toys, blankets, white noise machines, travel beds.  I could devote a whole post to my favorite travel items. Our favorite white noise machine is this: 
Dohm-DS Sound Screen
 It pulls air through itself, making a soft but powerful sound blocking white noise to make the sound of home anywhere we are. We use a Pack N Play for the baby, and this portable cot for toddlers.

That is about it. Happy traveling!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Holy Quiet of the Low Mass

And he said, “Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. (1 Kings 19:11-12)
It is 7:30 AM on a cool Autumn Sunday. A small group has gathered for morning Mass. The church is quiet and still. The bell rings and the people stand as Father and the two small altar boys enter the sanctuary. They kneel at the foot of the altar and the low Mass begins. The church is still quiet and still. Kyrie Eleison. From time to time (at the place the rubrics indicate), the priest speaks in a louder, clear voice, but always returns to the still small voice of the Extraordinary Form low Mass.
Photo by Jeff CulbreathPhoto by Jeff Culbreath

There is a break from the quiet at the readings and the homily, and then for the climax of the liturgy there is the quiet again. Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus. The bells ring. It is almost time. The people pray and wait. The bells ring again, and the host is lifted up. The people adore. The bells. The chalice is lifted, and again the bells. Then quiet. Father raises his voice again to indicate where he is, then quiet. The people pray, watch, follow along. Agnus Dei. Lord, I am not worthy. The priest completes the sacrifice, and then turns to the people holding up the Lamb of God.

They come forward and kneel at the communion rail. The priest brings Christ to each person. It is the same still, quiet except for the soft repetition of,  “Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam. Amen.” (“May the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ keep your soul unto everlasting life.”) The priest returns to the altar to perform the final rites of the Mass. The people are still silent. The priest is still quiet, and then he prays aloud the post communion prayer. He turns to the people. Ite, Missa Est. Then the final blessing is given and the Last Gospel read. He leaves in silence.

It is the silence and the stillness that make the Extraordinary Form Low Mass unique and beautiful. It seems the most appropriate early in the morning, when the world is waking and still. For someone attending the Mass, nothing but one’s presence is required. The servers say the responses and the faithful can be completely receptive to the graces being given through the words and actions of the liturgy. It is a holy hour of prayer, where we are led by the priest, and by him given the very Body and Blood of our Lord. The quiet stillness is a break from the fast paced, loud world. Even when I spend the liturgy pacing in back with a chattering baby, the quiet is still so powerful.

I have been to a wide variety of Masses in my short lifetime, and I know that diversity of the universal Church. But I love that the quiet Low Mass is still being said throughout the world, in many different cultures, and that I can go to it and have a taste of Heaven.

Originally Published in full at Truth and Charity.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Seven Quick Takes, Oct. 11

1. Today I am pretty sure I hit the ultimate level of mom-coolness. Well, probably not, but I felt pretty cool cruising home from our home school gym co-op in our Honda Odyssey with all the windows down including the sun roof with three little girls giggling and shrieking about the wind on this gorgeous, warmish Autumn afternoon.
Photo from The Adventures of Kristin and Adam.
And then we got to the High Bridge. I sped across with Mumford & Sons blaring, and the fall colors blazing. It was a truly fun drive. Okay, I am done, and now you all know that we are slightly obsessed with Mumford & Sons in our home. I am not even sure what the social stigma is that comes with that, but there it is...

2. Saga of the Leaky Pipe Update: Do you smell that? That is the smell of latex paint coming from my basement. The sheetrock is up and the mudding is complete. I directed the proper paint cans to the right rooms this morning and the painting has begun. Tomorrow is supposed to be trimming and ceiling day. Then all we will have left is lighting and outlets, and our flooring. Maybe it will be done before the end of the month! Next week I will post some pictures for sure.

3. L's head: The poor girl was really feeling her concussion for ten days, like the doctor said she might. I think she is finally recovered now that she is up to mischief again, as opposed to lying on the couch with a headache all day. Yesterday she dumped milk out of the jug all over the table and floor. This is a good sign that she is healed.

4. Cardinals v. Tigers in the World Series? They both still have to win their pennants... M and I being in a relationship has really boded well for both teams. The Cardinals have gone to the playoffs five times since M and I started dating eight years ago. Plus, they have won the World Series twice (which they had not done since 1982). The Tigers have been to the playoffs four times in the past eight years and won two pennants. I think this is clear evidence that the Tigers and the Cardinals will both be winning teams until death do us part...

5. We have my dear friend C visiting us this weekend. She ranks pretty high on my kids list of favorite people. L (2.75) ranks her visit as highly as she does the next snowfall: "Tomorrow Miss C is coming and it will snow! Then I will eat the snow up and jump in it and play in it forever and ever."

6. I discovered that our library has picture books with audio recordings. I have been allowing G (4.5) to listen to them during her quiet time with my old stereo that I have had since middle school. It does keep her happy for awhile, but I am wondering if it is stifling her ability to imagine on her own during quiet time. "I'm bored!" she just told me, but she is also going through a phase where she does not want to take things out because she does not want to have to clean them up...

7. We have been going to the 7:30 AM Extraordinary Form Low Mass at our parish St. Agnes. I wrote a piece on it for Truth and Charity this week: "The Holy Quiet of the Low Mass". Even with three little children, the low Mass is a very moving experience.

Head on over to Jen's Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Seven Quick Takes, October 4

1. It has been a busy, busy week for us, beginning with our 12 hours in the car on Sunday and ending, who knows how? In between, we watched kids for friends and then had dinner with them, went to the ER for the first time, canned 19 quarts of applesauce, hosted play group, and then went to the doctor again for L. She was having more symptoms of her head being bumped, which leads me to believe that she really did have a mild concussion. Poor sweetie. Though I now know that it is normal to have headaches and sleepiness and even vomiting for 10 days after a concussion.

2. I have discovered that my two oldest behave better in public if they are not with each other. When I took L to the doctor today I dropped G off with an awesome homeschooling family. She has a blast with their only daughter and L was mild mannered and sweet while at the doctor. The same thing happened with L when I took her to the store with me two weeks ago. If G is there, L spends the whole shopping trip running away or trying to escape the cart. When I have her alone, she sits still and talks to me. I wonder if there is a trick to getting them to behave together. 

3. Saga of the Leaky Pipe Update: Last week we were told there would be drywall installed while we were gone. When we arrived home, nothing had been done. Tuesday and Thursday we were told to expect the crew; they arrived this morning and the drywall is going up! We picked out flooring for the bathroom and laundry room. And now I was told today that we need to pick out paint for both rooms as well! Now I really have to get thinking again. Maybe I will do a yellow room after all. I backed out of it for the main family room (I am going to use the color we have in the upstairs living room since I love it so much). The spare room is getting a nice seafoam like green. Maybe I should continue my pastel look...

4. I sat behind homeplate with my iPad for the Cards game this afternoon. I am really loving my MLB At Bat app this year. They should give me a free subscription for the .TV next year and I will review it on my blog. It includes all the camera angles for the playoffs through the NLCS, but not the actual edited broadcast. It is kind of weird, but I guess it is the only way they can provide video without violating their contract with TBS. If we get to the World Series then I will just have to use the radio feature. Or I could find a TV to borrow from a friend or something.

5. We had a sad day in our home this week. M and I finished all eight seasons of Monk. I always feel at a loss when we finish a great series. Eight seasons is a big commitment. On top of that, Netflix took it down while we were in Buffalo so we had pay Amazon for the last two episodes. What would we do without the internet? We might cave and buy a TV, or rely on the library for our viewing pleasures.

6. Speaking of viewing pleasures, we watched the movie Fargo by the Coen brothers for the first time yesterday. It gave me a greater understanding of Minnesotans, their accent, and "Minnesota Nice". However, it would not have made as much sense to me a year ago. A years experience in the state then watching the movie, have helped me understand why the contractor for our basement has made so many promises about our basement being done and only kept about 10% of them.

7. Today is the Feast of St. Francis, which always reminds me of Franciscan University's homecoming weekend. They have a pretty neat renaissance fest, good food, and a big gathering of students, families, and alumni. We went the first Fall after graduation, but have not been back since. If we really do go to Buffalo again in the Autumn we should include Steubenville's homecoming in the trip.

That's all this time. Head on over to Jen's Conversion Diary to read her anniversary quick takes!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Apple-icious! Yes, We Canned!

Last week we were in Buffalo, NY. M had been invited back to his alma mater for some philosophy activities and the whole family tagged along. We stayed with friends who lived across the street from the North Tonawanda Farmer's Market. I could not resist apples for $8 per half bushel, so we bought 1.5 bushels and hauled them back to Minnesota. Tuesday we made 22 quarts of apple sauce. We were only able to can 19 quarts because we ran out of lids.

 I have decided that Western New York apples are some of my favorite apples. Maybe it is because they were the first apples we canned in our marriage, or maybe they were the perfect consistency for making into sauce. Maybe we will just have to head out to Buffalo every apple season for apples... ;)
In order: canner, blanching apples, pot of sauce, food strainer for separating good stuff from bad, bowl of blanched apples.

The goods.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Under the Charge of the Angels

Yesterday was our family’s first trip to the Emergency Room. Little L (2.5) hit her head while playing and she must have hit it hard because she started howling more than her normal dramatic crying. When she still exhibited abnormal symptoms over an hour later I conferred with her doctor and took her to the ER. She changed for the best, and the doctor said she may have had a mild concussion but that we could not know for sure. I started to wonder after the hospital visit, if it might have been a lot worse had I not gotten into the habit of praying to my children’s guardian angels several years ago.

G (4.5) has been really excited about angels since the summer when her Vacation Bible School theme included angels. We started praying the “Angel of God” prayer everyday with the kids at that point. On Saturday, we went to an evening Mass at my grandparent’s parish, St. Raphael’s. They were given permission to celebrate the Feast of the Archangels even though it fell on a Sunday this year. There was a nice homily on St. Raphael and his acts in the book of Tobit.

As we drove from Cleveland to St. Paul on Sunday, I asked M to explain what St. Thomas says about angels. A few things about them stuck with me.

1. There are more angels than the sum of all material beings that have existed or will ever exist: that is a lot of angels!

2. Angels can control the material world. They have a real impact on us.

3. St. Thomas says that angels guard over individual humans, but also all of nature.

Today is the Memorial of the Most Holy Guardian Angels. The Gospel at Mass is from Matthew:
           At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them, and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
          "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
         "Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the man by whom the temptation comes! And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.
          "See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:1-10)
 I was wondering where angels came into that reading, since the theme throughout the readings had been angels. It did not surprise me that the Gospel started off being about little children, because since I have been a parent, angels have always been associated with little children. I think that children are more open to the promptings and protection of their angels. The Baltimore Catechism, in the chapter on sin, says that children are given a special grace to not commit a mortal sin. But then God gives us angels to guide all of us.

Here are two excerpts from St. Thomas on the Guardian Angels (P.1, Q.113, A. 1):
By free-will man can avoid evil to a certain degree, but not in any sufficient degree; forasmuch as he is weak in affection towards good on account of the manifold passions of the soul. Likewise universal natural knowledge of the law, which by nature belongs to man, to a certain degree directs man to good, but not in a sufficient degree; because in the application of the universal principles of law to particular actions man happens to be deficient in many ways. Hence it is written (Wisdom 9:14): "The thoughts of mortal men are fearful, and our counsels uncertain." Thus man needs to be guarded by the angels. 
As men depart from the natural instinct of good by reason of a sinful passion, so also do they depart from the instigation of the good angels, which takes place invisibly when they enlighten man that he may do what is right. Hence that men perish is not to be imputed to the negligence of the angels but to the malice of men. That they sometimes appear to men visibly outside the ordinary course of nature comes from a special grace of God, as likewise that miracles occur outside the order of nature. 
 Our angels are always urging us on to do the good, but since we are weak and deficient we often do not do good. Even so, we are still under the charge of the angels, and today is a good day to remember them and to remember to pray to them to help us be mindful of their urgings. And also to pray for the angels of the humans in our own charge. 
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