Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real--6/30/11

round button chicken


{Pretty Happy Real}

My mother and my grandmother visited us for a few days this week. My grandmother is in the early stages of Alzheimer's. She can't remember my kids' names, or how many there are, or whose house she is in. But as my husband and I told the kids, she remembers that she loves us.


Because she didn't remember that she had already said it, my daughters and sons heard over and over what beautiful girls and fine boys they were. We heard her delight repeatedly in the innocence of my doll of a baby girl. They saw that she doesn't like being idle, asking over and over if there was anything she could do to help, forgetting that she had just washed a sink full of dishes or folded a big basket of clothes.

And she was so good-natured, even knowing something of what is happening to her. Please pray for her; but I hope I can age as well.


{Funny}

While they were here, my mom (who is a watermelon connoisseuse) bought the first yellow-flesh watermelon my kids had ever seen.


Four-year-old Jude's reaction was, first, a shocked silence and then, "This is wrong. Just wrong." (He liked it after he finally tried it.)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Web for Kids--Personalized

Via Wonder in the Woods comes the idea of an online "portal" for kids. The basic idea here is of a website in a blog format, with picture links to different websites geared toward (or approved by you for) children, be they games, educational interactives, or whatever. I love the idea of having all of the online learning and game resources that appeal to my family accessible in one place, and minimizing the need for little ones to navigate through the Internet to find their different favorites. I'd probably make it my homepage, so all they would have to do is open a new page to get started.

I haven't started one yet, because they really don't use the computer a lot, much less the Internet; but we've found some activities that we really like (for school, rewards, communication) and are planning to integrate them into our daily lives a little more this summer. Among the possibilities, I'm sure a Lego link is going to top the list, and we're beginning an online tutoring program called ALEKS for math with at least one of the kids in the next few weeks. I'll have to experiment with my school bookmarks a little to see what else will work.

Do you have any favorite web sites for kids? What would be at your online portal?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Boycotting PepsiCo, Kraft, and Nestle: Why and How

Mark Shea gives an excellent rundown of the situation. I've only read the spoiler for Soylent Green and it makes me ill how close this comes.

These companies use fetal cells from abortions to develop the flavors for their food products. A Lifenews.com story from March reports that they contract with a company called Senomyx, which uses fetal kidney tissue from an elective abortion. According to Senomyx, from these "isolated human taste receptors, we created proprietary taste receptor-based assay systems that provide a biochemical or electronic readout when a flavor ingredient interacts with the receptor."

PepsiCo seems to think that because they don't actually grind up the fetal tissue and put it into their soda, there's no big deal. This is what they had to say, according to the Lifenews article on the flavor program:
PepsiCo wrote: “We hope you are reassured to learn that our collaboration with Senomyx is strictly limited to creating lower-calorie, great-tasting beverages for consumers. This will help us achieve our commitment to reduce added sugar per serving by 25% in key brands in key markets over the next decade and ultimately help people live healthier lives.”
Let me spell it out for you, PepsiCo (and Kraft and Nestlé. And Senomyx.) You think testing shampoo and makeup on animals is bad? The evil (and ick factor) is more than cubed by taking the body parts of a murdered unborn child and hooking them up to a chemistry experiment to help you figure out what to use in the foods you want us to buy and eat. There is such a thing as a tesseract, pet, and this one part and parcel with the big, ugly Black Thing.

So here's my point. For those interested in boycotting these companies, Julie Davis of Happy Catholic has made available her cheat sheet for the brands that these companies produce. I am so grateful she did the work to pull this together, and that she's sharing it with us.

Don't forget to give Campbell and Solae some appreciation for pulling out of this awful program. Contact info at the other links; I'm lifting it from Julie's latest:

Contact the companies at:

Kent Snyder, CEO
Senomyx
4767 Nexus Centre Drive
San Diego, California 92121

Paul Bulcke, CEO
Nestlé USA
800 North Brand Boulevard
Glendale, CA 91203

Jamie Caulfield, Sr.VP
PepsiCo, Inc.
700 Anderson Hill Road
Purchase, NY 10577

Irene Rosenfeld, CEO
Kraft Foods/Cadbury Chocolate
Three Lakes Drive
Northfield, IL 60093


Contact Campbell and Solae with appreciation at:

Edmund M. Carpenter, CEO
Campbell Soup
1 Campbell Place
Camden, NJ 08103-1701

Mr. Torkel Rhenman Chief Executive Officer
Solae
4300 Duncan Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri 63110

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Jude and Daddy

I have just kissed my husband goodbye, closed the door, and am getting the children started on their various morning tasks when I hear a little one wail, low but loud. "Who's crying?" I ask. It is Jude, the two-year-old; he hears me and quiets down. I can't pinpoint where he is. "Jude," I call, and he answers me calmly. I find him in his bed, under the covers. He smiles as if we were merely playing a game of hide and seek, and he reaches for me and hugs me. But as soon as I am holding him he asks, "Where my dad?"

I tell him, "Daddy's at work." He says, "No." He is quiet and keen. He wraps his arms around my neck, and I get the sense that I am holding a tiger cub with fierce blue eyes. "I want Daddy," he says to me.

He used to cling to me because I was his life, his first love. Now he clings to me because I bring him to Daddy.

And I’m okay with that.

I could get weepy at the thought that Mama is not his favorite person anymore, but I don’t. In moments like this one, I am keenly aware of how a mother is the bridge between a child and his father.

***

In a sense, a mother introduces a child to his father. Jude has known me since before his birth—my scent, the sound of my heartbeat, the sound of my voice. As a baby he knew me in a way he did not know any other human being. In fact, to him, mommy (and everything else) was just an extension of “me.” Even when he started to understand people as separate from him, it was I who was most acceptable to him. After a few months, like my other children, he came to the point when, my husband says, our babies “start to like him a little bit,” giving up Mommy for a while to go play with Dad.


When Jude began to transfer some of his affection to my husband, he was learning to turn some of his self-love toward another. In a very real way, he was getting primed to love his heavenly Father.

In the family, as Pope John XXIII said, “the father stands in God’s place.” Human fathers, in their biology, their role in the family, their love for their children, take their fatherhood from God, the first and true Father. God imparts something of his own likeness to men—different from the “something” he imparts to women—to make them reflect him. When I show my child, at birth and in our family life, who his father is, I show him his first image of God the Father.

***

I know all of this; perhaps it runs as an undercurrent in my thoughts as I hold and hear my boy.

But this is not some theological abstraction wrapped around my neck. There is a simplicity and a breathtaking beauty in a two-year-old boy’s love. It is a glimpse of why Jesus called his own Father Abba, “Daddy,” and why he said a child’s heart is needed to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. In witnessing the love of my two-year-old for his father, I can only wonder at what a privilege is mine.

I am blessed to share this job of parenthood with an exceptional man, one who is devoted to me and to the children we have welcomed together. He teaches his children respect, perseverance, duty, fight—but also joy, tenderness, exuberance, and compassion. He works hard to provide for them. He teaches them what it means to be man—human and (especially for my boys' example) male, in God's image. He helps me build for them a little world of their own, to be their school of love, and he protects it.

I see my son’s world open up more every day. I see his precious, inimitable heart growing into it. I have only dimly looked upon the days when I will have to open my arms and let it grow far beyond me. But my highest duty as his mother is to do just that.

To teach him to offer his heart wholly to the One to whom he belongs even more than to my husband and me.

The truth is that no matter how well or deeply I love my son, I cannot possibly love him better or more fiercely than his Heavenly Father does. And so, because I love him well, I will gradually help him let go of me and attach his heart elsewhere. First, his daddy. Always, his Abba.

This was first written exactly two years ago. Jude loves his daddy more than ever.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Quick Takes Friday--June 17



Happy Friday!

1


We haven't chosen a name for our baby yet--and all of a sudden I'm not in a hurry.

Finding a name for our baby is one of my favorite parts of pregnancy. The anticipation of meeting him or her is at once heightened and relieved when I have an idea of what to call my newest darling. But the last three times it's been tough to form much of a commitment to any name. I made lists, and my husband would strike what he didn't like, but never really signed on as distinguishing any of them with particular favor. He'd venture suggestions, but they always had a question mark. We ended up choosing a name within a week (one on the very eve) before the baby was born, and usually from a direction we didn't expect.

My Italian grandmother once expressed understanding when I told her we hadn't picked a name for the baby we were then expecting. "How can you pick out a name if you don't know what he looks like yet?" she asked. "You have to see the baby and figure out if he looks like the name." Now, my husband and I have hit a bit of a wall--two pages of names without any favorites--and I'm thinking, "Maybe I'll just see what the baby looks like first..."


2


Summer is here, and if you have an ice cream maker you need this recipe for one of the most perfect summer desserts ever dreamed of:

Lime sherbet.

If yours is a dinky small ice cream maker like mine, you'll need to freeze it in two or even three batches. Just pour it into one of those big, circular ice cream tubs with the handle after you finish off the Old-Fashioned Vanilla Ice Cream that came in it. (Buy the stuff just to have the tub, if you must. Make ice cream sandwiches with it, or top it with peaches, or something. Seriously, all kinds of possibilities there, too.)

Try it. You'll thank me.


3


My digital camera is fairly new. I kind of wish it wasn't, because then I wouldn't feel so guilty about how little I like it. It's a fine enough camera--an Olympus Stylus Tough, so it withstands a lot, which is good in my household. But it just seems as though the last couple of times I got a new camera, I lose some feature that helped me to take decent pictures when I attempted something a little more artistic than photographic evidence. I'm not very knowledgeable about photography, but I would figure out a couple of tricks with one camera, have to get another (they do break), newer, presumably better model, and my little tricks wouldn't work.

I think I figured it out. Pretty consistently, I have found that the Olympus cameras, while having lots of settings and other neat features, do not allow for manual adjustment of aperture. And aperture seems to be the #1 thing you want to have control over to create your shot. So now I'm thinking I'd like to buy a new camera--my husband would find a tough digital camera, like my present one, helpful at work--but I can't spend much on it. Do I graduate to a SLR, with its bigger price tag and an unknown learning curve? (I mean, I can read a manual, but practically speaking, playtime for experimenting is short and unfailingly interrupted.) Or do I pick a different brand point-and-shoot and trust that just having the option to choose my aperture will be an improvement?


4


On e-books and printed books: I definitely think that predicting the imminent demise of the printed book is overreaching. I love books. I would (generally) much rather buy a printed version than some e-book if given the choice. E-books are sometimes a bit awkward to manage, and they're so...intangible. Gone with a wrong touch or keystroke. (Elizabeth Scalia at The Anchoress has a far better word--changeable.) I resisted every time my husband suggested buying a Kindle or a Nook for me as a present; fortunately he had already given me an iPad, and the free Kindle app makes the e-reader redundant, so I could overcome his generous zeal by saying, "I basically already have one, honey."


5


On the other hand, I am glad to have books in electronic form. I first read several of Jane Austen's books on the Internet when we were pinching pennies and I couldn't wait for interlibrary loans. And there are so many classics available for free in Kindle format, or for that matter in other apps. And Brandon Vogt's post at The Thin Veil on building a library of Catholic ebooks on the cheap is just an awesome resource. Come on--the entire Summa Theologica for $0.99? How great is that!


6


My hands have been going numb when I sleep. I remember this happening in other pregnancies. But now it happens during waking hours, too. Especially my right hand. My writing hand. My mouse-and-keyboard hand. I think it's carpal tunnel syndrome. This, of course, would be the time that I have decided to learn finally how to crochet. I'm actually managing this okay so far, as long as I do these stretches periodically, but it certainly slows the process down.

Anybody know any really simple, one- or two-skein projects?


7


Some of my favorite parenting wisdom of late:
"I cannot make you holy. I cannot make you choose to be excellent. You have a will and you have to decide in your heart what kind of person you want to be...."
--Sally Clarkson


(H/T Elizabeth Foss, I think!)

Go see Jen for more Quick Takes.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real--6/16/11

round button chicken

Pretty



This showed up on my ceiling one afternoon. After they discovered the cause, the kids spent about 10 minutes at the windows shining CDs around the room.


Happy



Cora is getting very good at walking.


Funny



Cate is my budding photographer. This is one of many shots I found on my camera this week.


Real



When errands and the heat index make it difficult to go outside and play...


...they're going


to find a way


to burn


the steam off


somehow.



Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Special Needs Kids at Church? No, Thanks, Too Distracting

I agree, Elizabeth. Shameful.

The questions in the referenced article, about what kind of church it is, and whether, for example, a Pentecostal church might serve such families better than, say, a Methodist church are so shallow, par for a consumerist approach to Christianity. This church might as well say, "We cater to purist, Truly Devoted Christians who can't be bothered with their fellow brothers in the next pew."


Our engagement story...

In honor of the link up at the lovely Betty Beguiles blog.

We were separated high school sweethearts; he was my first love, at 15 years old, and it had lasted all of two months. We broke up; then I moved away; and we grew up a little in our separate corners. In the fall of my fourth year of college, out of the blue I got the idea (inspiration? prompting?) to try my ex-boyfriend's old phone number, long distance, one unoccupied evening. I could hardly believe I remembered it correctly. And he was there--busy, but could he call me back a little later?

We ended up talking for hours that night, and the next night, and several nights after for about a week. We made plans for a date. I would catch a ride with friends going to an out-of-town game, and he would drive to meet me. We went to dinner, and spent a lot of time just driving and talking. When he brought me back to my host's home, he and I fell asleep on the loveseat in the living room. The last thing I remember him saying to me that night was, "It's scary, isn't it? Thinking that maybe this is it." The meant-to-be.

We did almost everything backwards from then on. He went shopping for a diamond that week. He drove three hours every time he could to visit me. He saw me off to a women's retreat/vocation weekend I had scheduled. A few days after that we had our second "first kiss" (a date we still celebrate). We had discussed marriage, and agreed that he would not propose until April or so, after I returned from a semester abroad. But--rashly or not--we decided after another week or two that the time was right and it didn't make sense to wait. The day before my birthday (which that year was on Thanksgiving) he got on both knees and asked me to marry him. We drove into the night to my grandmother's house to spend the holiday and tell our families (his en route to mine) the news. I remember passing through Atlanta in the middle of the night and totally stealing "their song"--my aunt and uncle's song, "Happy Together" by the Turtles. We called an oldies radio station to request it, and they played it with a shout-out to our brand new engagement.

There's more. Of course there's more. But that's beyond the scope of this little link up.

Go visit Betty Beguiles for more great engagement stories!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

On women who want to be priests

Jennifer Fulwiler wrote a column at the National Catholic Register blog about why the male priesthood has always made sense to her. Since blogging has been slow for me right now, I decided to share some thoughts I wrote down on the subject from years ago, many of which echo hers. (Likely I will be tossing off a few of these kinds of past reflections as a way of clearing out my drafts and freeing my thoughts for more current ideas. Be patient with me, please. :-} )

Women's desire to be ordained as priests is misplaced for at least two reasons. First, commonly cited is the role of the priest as a spiritual father. I always think of this when I hear the response of the Vatican that they have no authority to ordain women. Truly, in a metaphysical reality, women can no more be priests than, in a physical reality, men can be mothers. Reproductive organs are not the only differences between men and women. Tolkien illustrated this with his creation of the Vala, angelic beings in his sub-created world. In the creation story of The Silmarillion, each of these beings became manifest in the world as a man or as a woman, not because they had gender as spirits but because their nature was better expressed when incarnate as one or the other.

There is something about the nature of a man that uniquely suits him to the role of an ordained priest. I will note that God the Son became an incarnate man--not a woman. And the societal roles of women at the time, and other such contextual arguments for why He came not as a woman, hold no water for me. Who is the author of history? Who is Lord of time and eternity? And what era did He deem the "fullness of time"?

No, He chose to become man because His nature as the Second Person of the Trinity was for some reason best expressed as male.

I know that some of our saints and theologians have commented on this. No doubt it has something to do with Adam, the primordial man. Likely I have even read it myself at some point. It is from those who have already wrestled with questions like this (and are far more qualified to do so than I) that I come to the second reason that people who advocate for women's ordination are mistaken.

Whereas men take on a persona of Christ in a particular way upon ordination, women, in a sense, do not need to. They are already a type of God the Son in a way that is completely unique to them. For, in the Trinity, it is the Second Person who is the Beloved. God the Father is "father" because love--as do all things--originates with him, just as physically, "father" is the active origin. Culturally, this is widely practiced in society in courtship--a man initiates, a woman is courted. Though not carved in stone, or even necessarily the only "good" way to go about it, it is revealing. Woman receives that love and loves in return, just as the Son is loved by the Father and loves him return. Just as the Son is begotten of the Father, God from God and light from light, so Eve is bone of Adam's bone and flesh of his flesh.

This was revolutionary for me when I first heard it, and it completely wiped away any nasty suspicions and insecurities about men being more "Godlike" or "Christlike." It took the idea, which I already had from Scripture, of both male and female being the image of God, and rooted it in good soil, nourishing it so that it may bear fruit in my soul.

[I am of the opinion that genetics have some formative or dispositional effect on the personality. And I remember a statement that a campus minister spiritual director at my college made--an obvious observation perhaps, but it stuck: that Jesus, having no human father, got all of his genetic material from Mary. He had no biological male source for His maleness. I haven't worked out the implications of bringing those two ideas together, nor what it means for this idea of woman as a type of Christ, yet. It's an interesting question, one I'd like to find out more about.]


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