Reading material meme

Lorri of The Mac and Cheese Chronicles wants to know what I’m reading. I won’t count any book I haven’t actually opened in more than two weeks which makes this list very short:

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families: so far, very interesting. At the end of every chapter there are discussion questions for older family members, and family activities to include younger children. It is basically about forming a family vision about where you want to go (in life) and how you want to get there (together).

That’s it on books. I’m also trying to read the latest issues of The National Catholic Register, Faith and Family, and Heart and Mind magazine.

But mostly, I’ve been online flipping between Emmanuel Books, Mother of Divine Grace, Amazon (for reviews and superior descriptions – I’ll support Emmanuel Books, even though it’ll cost me more) and the IHM Conference pages. I plan to go to the conference on Friday, June 8th (anybody want to meet me there?) and want to have my book list ready.

The Saints Meme

Tagged by SFO Mom.

List four favorite saints, two favorite blessed, and a person who you think should be a saint.


St. John Neumann: I feel that through his intercession, a miracle of healing occurred with my son Fritz.

St. Apollonia: patron of tooth problems, I also feel that her prayers aided in Fritz’s healing and his on-going dental issues.

St. Therese of Lisieux: her “little way” is hard and steep, but I feel it most closely matches the challenges faced by stay-at-home moms.

St. George: since we recently celebrated his feast day, he’s on my mind right now.


Blessed Teresa of Calcutta: of course. How can I not be inspired by a saint I grew up admiring?

Blessed Charles de Foucauld: I saw someone else had listed him, too. His apparent lack of success in converting Muslims and his death at their hands despite their friendship inspires me to have faith that whatever work I do will eventually bear fruit even if I do not see the results myself.

A person I think should be a saint:

Pope John Paul II.

New vocabulary word

Every now and then, you just have to teach your kid a big word. A little word won’t do.

Obviously, when discussing matters of religion, new vocabulary words like transubstantiation will eventually need defining. Perhaps your young man is into guns or crime shows or detective work. Ballistics might become part of his word list. And if your child is learning music theory, lots of long, foreign words like fortissississimo might be necessary to describe your child’s preferred style of expressing himself on the piano.

And sometimes, just regular conversation requires a good knock-out punch of a word. My parents always used big vocabulary words with us, and then directed us to the big dictionary to figure out what they meant. When big words started coming out of our mouths, they would praise us with, “That’s a fifty-cent word!” Eventually sophisticated vocabulary becomes a habit.

I often find myself using big words even though I know that the kids have no idea what I am saying. This most often happens when I’m getting excited about a topic, and the time space between my thought and the word coming out of my mouth is extremely brief. I’ll use the first words that come to mind, and they are often pretty hefty. Half the time the kids just ignore much of what I say and grasp the general meaning of my point. This worked to my great advantage once when I was pretty upset with the kids and started expressing in a loud and rapid manner exactly how I felt about their behavior. Out came one awful word, and I felt horrible and worried about using it – until I realized that nobody even noticed. They just thought mom had pulled out another big word that they hadn’t learned yet.


Recently in grammar, Fritz is learning about adjectives. One of the exercises is to list two adjectives for each of the nouns. Horse: spotted, small. Boy: tall, skinny. Boat: big, fast. Building: tall, window-y.

Nope. That just won’t do. Window-y doesn’t cut it. I could have left it at that and had him come up with another adjective, but I also think a kid needs to learn how to express himself. If he wants to point out that a building has windows (as compared to places like many army buildings that don’t), this is a legitimate requirement. If there happens to be a word that fits the bill, why shouldn’t I teach it to him?

And so, Fritz learned the word fenestrated yesterday. We admire the city skyline filled with tall, fenestrated buildings. The prisoners longed for a fenestrated barracks so they would know when it was day or night. Fortunately, his grammar worksheet wasn’t being turned into a teacher who might think he was making things up. That happened to my nephew, Jack, whose third grade teacher, apparently unfamiliar with Lemony Snickett’s Series of Unfortunate Events, told him that penultimate was not a word. Ignorance is my penultimate pet peeve; arrogance is the trait I despise the most.

On the radio

Would You Go With Me by Josh Turner

He’s cute, has a great voice, and sings such romantic lyrics:

Would you go with me if we rolled down streets of fire
Would you hold on to me tighter as the summer sun got higher
If we roll from town to town and never shut it down

Would you go with me if we were lost in fields of clover
Would we walk even closer until the trip was over
And would it be okay if I didn’t know the way

If I gave you my hand would you take it
And make me the happiest man in the world
If I told you my heart couldn’t beat one more minute without you, girl
Would you accompany me to the edge of the sea
Let me know if you’re really a dream
I love you so, so would you go with me

Billy: What’s he singing about, Mom?

Me: He’s singing to the woman he loves, asking her if she’ll go with him, even if he doesn’t know where he is, even if he’s lost and doesn’t know the way.

Billy: He needs to buy a GPS.

Was that the sound of romance dying…or is it just my cell phone ringing?

Take Your Child to Earth Day

When was Earth Day – last Sunday? Sorry, it’s not a high feast day around here. We take our responsibility as stewards of God’s gifts pretty seriously, but too many “Save the Earth” types are prejudiced against big families. I don’t get that – after all, per person, my family consumes less electricity, water and gas than a family of three or four: our house is much smaller than Al Gore’s.

Today is Take Your Child to Work Day, another ridiculous idea. Back in the days when Bill worked for a civilian firm, our kids were too young to attend any of the pomp surrounding this day. Now our kids are old enough, but he’s never had a job that left him free for the day to shuttle children around from one activity to another. Because Take Your Child to Work Day isn’t about taking your child to work at all. It’s about taking a day off work to spend it at your office doing activities unrelated to work at your employer’s expense. It’s really Have a Fun Day at the Office Day. And if I wanted the kids to spend the day doing fun stuff with their dad, it wouldn’t be at an office with someone else’s choreographed activities. We’d go to the beach or a park or a museum – definitely not the office.

My husband’s office is having events all day today, and they’ve chosen an Earth Day theme. What could be more fun (please note the dripping sarcasm) than combining two idiotic secular holidays into one big celebration? My husband assures me that he will be somewhat available to spend some amount of time with us as we move from activity to activity through dense crowds of kids all hyped up because they’re missing school for the day (and I include my own in that judgmental statement). Times like these are when I kick myself for not buying those kid leashes that seem so awful until you have more than two kids to keep track of in a crowd.

I’m sure the day will be lovely. I also plan on getting out of there right after lunch, even though they promise a puppet show at 1 pm. Petey will just not care about puppets by that time. Pray I don’t lose anybody!

Kids, religion and behavior

There is no shocker in this news article title: Study: Religion is Good For Kids.

According to surveys of parents and teachers, the most well-adjusted and well-behaved children have parents who agree on religion and attend services regularly (which I assume means closer to once-a-week than every-Christmas-and-Easter).

The study did not address which denominations had the best behaved kids, but I can guess that Bible Baptist parents have the most polite kids with lots of “Yes, Ma’am”s and “No, Sir”s. I hope nobody spends a lot of money doing a survey to conclude what is pretty obvious from free observation.

Buried at the very bottom of the article was one huge caveat:

It’s also possible that the correlation between religion and child development is the other way around, he said. In other words, instead of religion having a positive effect on youth, maybe the parents of only the best behaved children feel comfortable in a religious congregation.

“There are certain expectations about children’s behavior within a religious context, particularly within religious worship services,” he said. These expectations might frustrate parents, he said, and make congregational worship “a less viable option if they feel their kids are really poorly behaved.”

Yes, I suppose it’s possible that organized religion is driving away all those bad kids. You know, on the one hand they’ll preach that you’ll go to hell if you don’t come to church, but on the other hand they’ll tell you that your brat isn’t welcome there. I could see that, sure. Because limiting access to Heaven and making it a private club is really what it’s all about! (But that’s okay: I’m in! I’m in!)

Yes, I’m sure it’s because churches make bad kids feel unwelcome that inspires parents of good children to suddenly start going to church for no reason whatsoever. I’m sure the behavior correlation has little to do with a parent’s sense of right and wrong, the teaching of consequences for our behavior and personal responsibility for our actions, and the emphasis on treating others as we wish to be treated out of love and honor for God (and not just because we happen to be in a good mood at the time).

But if this is the case, then there are a whole lot of parents who aren’t getting the message. Just stand in the back or the vestibule during any Catholic Mass and you’ll see lots of frustrated parents with poorly behaved children. That’s where you’ll find me!