Necessary Servile Work

What do you think? Moving the fridge and washing the floor underneath: would you consider that unnecessary, servile work, unsuitable for 730 AM on a Sunday morning? Aren’t Sunday mornings the best times for twice annual cleaning jobs?

If you have (or have ever had) little children, you might know that some chores are necessary or not depending on the situation.

Like when your toddler tries to pull out of the fridge a gallon pitcher nearly full of red Koolaid…and fails, because it’s so heavy…and spills the vast majority of it right there.

And half of it seems to get under the fridge, so that as you wash the floor in front, more seeps out from under in this angry, red puddle as though the refrigerator were hemorrhaging.

And you have to run to your bedroom to change out of your dry clean only church skirt because there’s no way to avoid getting down on your hands and knees to handle this job (and while on your knees you pause to pray, through gritted teeth, for patience).

So, sometimes, a seemingly unnecessary job is really a necessary job. Even for a Sunday morning.

Katie’s Birthday

Katie’s birthday was…quite a while ago (two Fridays ago). I’m just not getting to the computer much these days.

Oh, actually, I was waiting for my in-laws to come down with their presents so I could just do one birthday post…yeah…

Since Jenny’s birthday is only a few weeks away, Nana thought it best to just give both girls their presents at once. They already own the dolls but they got the desks and school supplies and school clothes for their birthday. Very appropriate for this time of year. They love the gifts, of course.

Katie took birthday money from my parents and bought this stuffed dog. Because she needed another stuffed animal. Of course. Every girl needs another stuffed animal.
She was thrilled when the delivery man arrived with her present from Daddy. Bill has decided to make himself a tough act to follow. Imagine her in ten years: “What? You didn’t get me flowers? My daddy always gets me flowers! You obviously don’t love me.”
It was difficult to beat the smiles generated by that present, but at least my gift is a bit longer lasting. We’re moving into the big girl years with pierced ears. Next, it’ll be high heels and make up…

Happy Birthday, Bill

Yesterday, Bill’s parents, the kids, Neighbor Girl and I went to Friendly’s for ice cream sundaes to celebrate Bill’s birthday. The kids have not been to a Friendly’s since we lived in New Jersey (2005), so this was quite a treat. Wish you could have been there, honey.

My sister sent this cute photo of her and her husband toasting my husband. She doesn’t say what they’re drinking, but I’ll guess some sort of Pale Ale for him and cranberry juice with vodka for her.

Thanks to everybody who has left comments on Bill’s blog. He has appreciated them.

Where Education Takes a Right Turn

My boys have been hard at work copying the schematics for the Battle of Balaclava as found in The Dangerous Book for Boys.


Well, Fritz is memorizing The Charge of the Light Brigade for school, and we just had to find out what the poem was about.

Every boy should know this poem. What fabulous lines:

…”Forward the Light Brigade
Charge for the guns,” he said…

…Cossack and Russian
Reel’d from the sabre stroke
Shatter’d and sunder’d

Storm’d at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro‘ the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell…

Every parent’s child should know this poem:

…Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die…

Until your kids get so smart that they point out that blind obedience led to a disaster…

For history this year, Fritz is studying Ancient Egypt.

And the Crimean War.

Updated: Did I mention I’m not a student of military affairs? My husband emailed me to point out that the Americans weren’t at the Battle of Balaclava. I don’t think the Germans were, either. Hey, one battle plan looks like any other to me. Apparently, the boys are not studying the Crimean War as much as Military Science, and they’re just making their own battle plans for some imaginary war. I have just ruled out “spy” as a career plan for me once I’m done raising babies.

Mary in the Morning

Once she learned that certain shows could be viewed from my computer, she began demanding to watch the moment she woke up. She doesn’t care that there are emails from Daddy waiting to be read.

It’s OK. I’m forcing myself to pray and read first thing in the morning.

As an aside, my oldest son was also an early riser…and I mean early: before 5 AM and raring to go, just like Mary. I remember hearing the sage advice of an experienced mom saying that mothers needed to get up at least a half hour before their children to have some personal time. She, obviously, did not have really early risers. I am an early riser, but I draw the line at 5 AM. I think it is unreasonable for anyone to be expected to get up before then, and my advice to mothers in that position is to have patience and teach your toddler his numbers as soon as possible. When he can identify the number 6, get him a digital clock for his bedroom and forbid him to come out until the first number is a 6. There is hope; you just have to wait three years and pray the next baby likes to sleep late.

After she gets bored with “See Tee” – which I think means “See TV” – she wants “bubbles” in the sink. She makes a mess, but at least I get time to read the latest love note from hubby.

Usually she stands on the step, but she recently learned that she could get higher by standing on the handle. And she has learned that she can continue onto the counter this way. After 6 kids, I’ve seen it all, but that doesn’t make me much calmer when I look over and see her sitting 42″ off the ground.

A Guide for Spiritual Survival

Tracking Virtue, Conquering Vice: A Guide for Spiritual Survival by Rev. Joseph F. Classen is a book for nature enthusiasts who see God in the beauty of the world around them. Each chapter begins with a story, generally centered around a hunting trip, which serves as a platform to discuss one particular vice. Each chapter concludes with a virtue which serves to combat that vice, and Father Classen offers some general ideas on how to employ those virtues in a practical way.

Although I love, really love, the outdoors, I am not a hunter. In fact, I’m pretty squeamish about killing animals in general. Don’t get me wrong: I love to eat meat. I’m just thankful that I don’t have to personally kill it, dress it, butcher it. If I did have to do that, I just might eat more vegetables.

But I don’t think there is anything wrong with hunting. In fact, I agree that there is something wrong with me. Father Classen paints beautiful pictures of the areas where he has been hunting. I fully appreciate his joy in seeing God’s vistas. I, too, feel as though my heart will burst when confronted with a perfect blue in the sky contrasting with brilliant colors on changing leaves. But Father Classen goes on to express his appreciation for a deer or a turkey, a gift from God, which He has given to mankind to sustain our life. I do not have as much appreciation for my turkey bought at the grocery store, as Father Classen has for his Thanksgiving dinner. And that’s my problem. My homemade bread tastes so much better than store-bought, and my appreciation of homemade bread is deeper due to my personal labor. The more removed we are from the process of procuring food, the less gratitude we feel for it.

But I digress.

Reading this book is like sitting around a campfire listening to hunting stories with theology mixed in. The lessons are short, entertaining and easy-to-understand. These are not deep discourses in metaphysics, but rather clear and practical homilies.

I do think hunters and fishers will enjoy the book more than non-hunters and fishers. I did know what I was getting into when I selected this book; I picked it mostly for my husband, who wants to hunt but has always lacked time, opportunity, and/or equipment (I helped him out with some of the equipment not too long ago, the other issues will have to wait until after his deployment). The book went off to the Post Office today. I think he will enjoy it.

This review was written as part of The Catholic Company product reviewer program. Visit The Catholic Company to find out more about Tracking Virtue, Conquering Vice.