Monday, August 31, 2009

Morning Prayer

"Oh Lord, grant me to meet the coming day in peace. Help me in all things to rely upon thy holy will. In every hour of the day reveal they will to me. Bless my dealings with all who surround me. Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with firm conviction that thy will governs all. In all my deeds and words guide my thoughts and feelings. In unforeseen events let me not forget that all are sent by thee. Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering or embarrassing others. Give me strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day and all that it shall bring. Direct my will, teach me to pray, pray thou thyself in me. Amen"

--- Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Shape of Things

Instead of finding shapes in clouds, the boys have found shapes in maps. Each of them has always had a world map on the wall of his room, and apparently they have been doing more than studying them for countries, capitols and principal rivers.

To One, China, Japan, Russia, et al look like a dog. The Western Hemisphere is a runner almost ready to get down into the starting blocks; the eastern-most point of Brazil is his bended knee.

Two sees a dragon's head in China, with its fire-breathing nose right about where Hong Kong is. Russia is the body, and Europe and Africa make up the tail. Greenland is the tip of a flinty spear, and he hasn't entirely decided what the Americas are yet.

I have never looked at a map and seen anything but a map. Perhaps I became a grown up a little too young ...

Imagination is an amazing thing.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dead Kennedys

Ted Kennedy is dead. As with the death of George Tiller, I have mixed emotions. On the one hand, I am quite inclined (borrowing the suggestion of a dear friend) to put on a white suit and dance through the streets drinking champagne. On the other hand, one more (assumably) unrepentant and unremorseful sinner losing his last chance for redemption is not an occasion for celebration. For God wants us all to turn around. He wants us all back: you, me, George Tiller, Teddy Kennedy, every vicious, well-known murderer and every small, poisonous person no one has ever heard of. Our Father waits for all of us to turn away from sin and turn towards a healing, transforming life where we conquer sin every day. All of that is gone for good for Senator Kennedy, and so the occasion of his death should be cause for more grief than that of the greatest saint.

And so as much as I would like to mimic many and say “Teddy Kennedy is dead; Mary Jo Kopechne could not be reached for comment.”, drink champagne and generally celebrate, I think I (might) finally know better than that.

Photo by Nancy Lane, Boston

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Let's Go To The Movies

Melanie did a "movie meme" post a whopping five days ago, but since I have nothing, absolutely nothing to say, I am going to pick up on it anyway and run like the wind, Bullseye! with it. Here goes - ready? Three films in each category:

Favorite Comedy Film:
Princess Bride
Office Space

Favorite Romance Film:
Roman Holiday
Oliver's Travels (a mini-series, but it counts)
The Philadelphia Story

Favorite Sci-Fi Movie: (I know, they're TV shows, but we have some on DVD ...)
Battlestar Galactica (the Sci Fi Channel version)
Doctor Who (new BBC Wales version)

Favorite Animated Movie:
The Incredibles
Peter Pan

Favorite Disaster Movie:
absolutely none!

Favorite Christmas Movie:
A Christmas Story
How The Grinch Stole Christmas (animated version)
It's A Wonderful Life

Favorite Horror Movie:
absolutely, absolutely none!

Movies With Music:
The Commitments
Hard Day's Night
Sound of Music (I know: sappy)

Favorite Book to Movie:
The Lord of the Rings trilogy
The first three Harry Potter movies
The first two Narnias

Favorite Classic: (I could list 30 movies here, if the rules provided)
The Big Sleep
La Dolce Vita

Favorite Chick Flick: (I'm going with what I think is a chick flick - meaning, Husband won't watch it with me)
Monsoon Wedding
Bend it Like Beckham

Movies You Could Watch Ad Nauseum:
Ferris Beuller's Day Off
Anything with Cary Grant
Lone Star

Worst Movie of All Time:
Anything with Jim Carrey

I'm Adding A Category For Movies I Like Without A Category:
Like Water for Chocolate
Topsy Turvy

Oh, and I know I said I had nothing to say, but did you hear that your appendix actually does something? Who knew? And while on the subject of that not-so-vestigial organ, a man in Britain recently enjoyed the glories of socialized medicine by having his appendix removed twice: the first time the surgeon couldn't find it, gave up and didn't say anything. The second time was after it ruptured a month later. Gosh, I'm glad nothing like that will ever happen in this country ...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Prayer Before Reading Scripture

"Illumine our hearts, O Master who lovest mankind, with the pure light of your divine knowledge. Open the eyes of our mind to the understanding of your Gospel teachings. Implant also in us the fear of your blessed commandments, that trampling down all carnal desires, we may enter upon a spiritual manner of living, both thinking and doing such things as are well-pleasing to you."

Saturday, August 22, 2009

World Champions

Congratulations to the West U Little League Seniors, who just won the Senior League World Series!

Friday, August 21, 2009

If It's Scottish ...

"you know it's not crap" - or so says Husband with mind-numbing repetition (and a fair Scottish accent, I have to admit): it's his new favorite thing to say. But this should stop him in his tracks: it's Scottish and it's an entire mountain of crap:

You have to stop and watch the video - see the cheering crowds and waving flags as Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi gets off the plane in Libya. He's on his feet, arms held over his head like a prize fighter - but don't forget, he's "terminally ill". Sure he is. And what do the politicians say about this: "distasteful", "distressing", and, in the words of our own dear leader, "displeasing". Strong words, those are.

It's all Scottish, and it's all crap - from the release to the cheering homecoming to the tepid responses of pathetic politicians.

The next time I hear Husband say "Scottish", he's getting such a kick.

HT: Ann Althouse

Mad Woodworking Skillz

The boys spent this week taking a woodworking class, which they absolutely loved. Here are the fruits of their labors:

Two preferred the less-painted, natural look for his creations, while One enjoyed going to town with all the colors. Both were thrilled that they were allowed to use real saws, drills, and the glorious hot glue gun all by themselves. The teacher doesn't use any kits; she has pre-designed projects she's worked out and graded by level of difficulty. Once a child has done a project at one level he moves up to the next; the first six levels teach all the basics of woodworking, and after that they get more difficult and involved but still use the same skills found in those first six lessons. Can you tell she's also a certified Montessori teacher? ;)

I now have two enormous woodworking fans on my hands, asking where the nearest lumber yard is and when they can have tools of their own. Once they complete all six project levels, I think we'll have a home workshop to create! Someday I will hopefully blog about how we turned half our backyard shed into a woodworker's paradise. Not soon, but someday. Bob Vila, watch out!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

WhoWhatWhyWhenHow: Boys Edition

Who first decided that everything looked like a sword? Or a gun?

What makes a shirt look so like a napkin that boys get the two items confused?

Why do small boys have to play the television SO LOUDLY you can't hear yourself think two rooms away?

When are they old enough to brush their teeth without being asked?

How do they know to clutch the ole' frank-n-beans so young?

There are lots of things about boys I will never understand ... except that I love mine very much, nonetheless.

Hearing the Word

"It is a dangerous thing to hear the words of the Gospel, for to whom much is given, of him much is required (Luke 12:48). If we hear the truth of Christ, we will be responsible to God for what we do with it. We must not be like the man given a talent by his lord who went and hid it in the ground, doing nothing with it (Matthew 25:18). When we hear the words of the Gospel, we are being entrusted with a treasure, and we must let these words bear fruit in our lives."

--- Fr. Lawrence Farley

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Logic, It Defeats Me

A small pad, pad of feet in the hall as I sit here surfing ...

Two: "Mom? You know how I have nightmares about the Johnny Quest show The Invisible Monster?"

Me: "Yes."

Two: "Well, when One was finding me a Johnny Quest today, that show was there, and he said the name out loud as he deleted it for me ... and now I know I'm going to have another nightmare about it."

Me: "Okay."

Two: "So can you make me some Sleepytime Tea, so I can fall asleep fast and get the nightmare over with quickly?"

Me: "Uh."

Two: "Thanks mom."

And off he goes to watch TiVo'd Tony Bordain with his dad while the tea steeps.


Yale's Capitulation

Christopher Hitchens responds as only he can:

"Last time this happened, I linked to the Danish cartoons so that you could make up your own minds about them, and I do the same today. Nothing happened last time, but who's to say what homicidal theocrat might decide to take offense now. I deny absolutely that I will have instigated him to do so, and I state in advance that he is directly and solely responsible for any blood that is on any hands. He becomes the responsibility of our police and security agencies, who operate in defense of a Constitution that we would not possess if we had not been willing to spill blood—our own and that of others—to attain it. The First Amendment to that Constitution prohibits any prior restraint on the freedom of the press. What a cause of shame that the campus of Nathan Hale should have pre-emptively run up the white flag and then cringingly taken the blood guilt of potential assassins and tyrants upon itself."

Love that last sentence!

HT: Ann Althouse

Monday, August 17, 2009

Things that Depress Me

About Evangelical Christianity:

The politics on both sides of the aisle: the Obamabots, who are now certain they've found clear scriptural support for socialized medicine. And the Right-Wingers, to whom homosexuality is almost as bad as murder.

Calvinism, and, even worse yet, Presbyterian churches who are so embarrassed by it that they forget they're supposed to preach it.

Prosperity preachers and the lies that they spew.

The never-ending lie taught to young women that they are only fit for a life at home, serving God by waiting hand and foot on a husband.

The constant change - the desire to be "relevant" to today's culture.

And most of all, the message that "you're done" - you've saved, and that's that. Finito. Signed, sealed and delivered, amen! Gah! This does not reassure me, people. It makes me want to lie down and take a break. If I'm saved, I'll work on that whole "getting closer to God" thing later. Seriously - take a look at my life: can you count the blessings? I can't. Things must be good between God and me if my life is this sweet, so I can worry about having a prayer life and gaining control over my sinful thoughts and emotions later on. Who needs all that time-consuming discipline and self-denial when God has already made up His mind and He won't change it? I'm going to the big house in the sky, baby - you told me all I had to do was to "ask Jesus into my heart" and I was done. Been there. Done that. Probably wore the t-shirt when I was a little girl. How does this message motivate me to do anything? And how, exactly, does it square with the idea that we are to "work out our salvation with fear and trembling"?

So, have I offended everyone yet? Probably so. My honest apologies. I know this isn't the most mature and adult way to go through a conversion, but I thought I had to say something on the subject nevertheless. Thanks for listening to me rant, y'all.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Who Knew?

We have a pear tree in the backyard.

Aren't we clever? We've only lived here five years this fall, and we're just now figuring this out. Oh well. Lawyers aren't botanists, I guess.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Whole Health Care

Here is a must-read op-ed by John Mackey, co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods, about the Obama health care plans and how they work against the best interests of all Americans. It's a measured and well-written critique, with some worthwhile alternative suggestions to what will quickly become a single payer system.

"While we clearly need health-care reform, the last thing our country needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system. Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the opposite direction—toward less government control and more individual empowerment."

I didn't think I needed another reason to love Whole Foods, but now I have one.

HT: the happy, honeymooning Ann Althouse.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Like Shootin' Fish in a Barrel

Really, that's the equivalent to picking on Sheila Jackson Lee, who famously asked NASA if the Mars Rover was going to find the flag Neil Armstrong planted ...

But here she is anyway, in the middle of a health care town meeting, chatting to someone else on her cell phone while a woman asks her a question. Sigh.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Scorpion Kick!

This was the talk of taekwondo tonight - you have to watch to the very end for the POW!

Human legs are just not supposed to do that, don't you agree?

Repeating History

Today through a completely unrelated Google search I came across this piece written by author and hedge fund manager Andy Kessler. I have no idea if I like whatever else he writes, but I know I like this piece on Walter Cronkite, the doldrums that were the 1970's, and how history loves to repeat itself.

"Sadly, the old mentality is back. Citibank is too big to fail. That's the way it is. The government needs to bail out the automakers. That's the way it is. Taxes are going up. That's the way it is. Carbon dioxide will boil the oceans so we need to live in cities and walk to work. That's the way it is. Elites like Robert Reich and Paul Krugman and Al Gore will tell you what you'll be paid, how much health care you'll get, how much risk you can take, what kind of car you can drive, how much water you can use to flush your toilet, because … That's The Way It Is. He may have passed away last week, but Walter Cronkite will never die."

Books for a Better World

My high school friend Volker (now known as Fr. Alkuin) told me about this amazing organization, and I have to share it with y'all - Better World Books. Here's their own blurb that best describes them:

"Better World Books collects and sells books online to fund literacy initiatives worldwide. With more than two million new and used titles in stock, we’re a self-sustaining, triple-bottom-line company that creates social, economic and environmental value for all our stakeholders. We were founded in 2002 by three friends from the University of Notre Dame who started selling textbooks online to earn some money, and ended up forming a pioneering social enterprise — a business with a mission to promote literacy."

Check out the site! You can buy books online, get involved in organizing a campus book drive, or find a library sale near you. I am an online book shopping fanatic; I have the feeling I'm going to be spending more than my fair share of time on this website. And to think: I can feed my addiction for book shopping and feel good about it all at the same time. Ah, sweet charity!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Two's Quote of the Day

After we saw the movie Up, Two was fascinated: "how did the boy get on the porch when the house was in the air?" We explained that he had been under the house when the house went up. "But you can't get under our house" he said. Oh yes, we assured him - the entrance was behind the washing machine in the garage. And then we paused ...

Us: "But you may never go under the house! Never. Because, because ... there are SNAKES and RATS under there, do you understand!?

Two: "Of course. So I can never go under the house ... unless I bring a flashlight and ... come on folks, you know what else I need ... say it!"

Us: "What!?"

Two, triumphantly: "A flashlight AND A DAGGER!"

Help me.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Soundtrack of Childhood

Mine was in brass:

This is Sunday afternoons at home in bad weather, golf with the volume turned off on TV, and a card table with a 1,000 piece puzzle in the middle of the living room:


And a classic:

The Post That Should Be Called "Frantic Friday"

Excepting it's Thursday.

Why frantic?

Five conferences calls today. Count them: OneTwoThree FourFive. Several, thankfully, went better than I could have hoped. But all the same: five. And I worked from home, which always makes things a little more manic than they have to be.

Home, you say? Yes, because to add to the Five Conference Calls, I have Two Sick Children (you have to love the new math here at the GW's place). One of whom vomited the night away, as I laundered into the wee hours of the morning in response. It looks like the flu, sounds like the flu, does everything but quack like the flu, but it. is. not. the. flu. Because we did the test yesterday, and so we know: it is not the swine flu or any other flu, thank you. And since both of them have it, it is also not some tick-borne illness, and therefore I will not be searching private and ticklish parts of small boys for travellers brought home from Colorado. Thank God for small miracles.

So my phone, my sick boys and I spent the day together, the sounds of The Princess Bride, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, and Johnny Quest mingling with hours of meaningless legal mumbo-jumbo. It may have been frantic, but it still beats the hell out of the office.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Brings New Meaning to the Words "Bad Judgment"

This mother drove drunk and high down the Taconic Parkway (never an easy road to drive) with her two children and three nieces in the car, crossed over into the other lane and killed herself, four of the five children in her car, and the three people in the car she hit head-on. How in God's name do you justify getting in a car in that condition (BAC .19 - that's actually drunk), especially with children?

There's nothing but sad about this story - there's nothing else to say.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

We're Done!

Well, it's done. We've made our decision, and the boys are off to public school in three weeks. I'm making my registration appointment in the morning and dropping off the withdrawal letter at our private school on my way to work. We've even told the boys and taken them for a walk around the campus. Two took it completely in stride; he is pretty much the same everywhere he goes. He'll do well academically while driving his teachers crazy with his stubborness, and have ten new best friends by the end of September. One cried for the loss of his best friend, but otherwise didn't have anything to say to argue against the change. He will pout more as the days pass, and there will be more tears, but I'm pretty sure once he adjusts that the school will be a good fit.

I am so relieved to have the decision over and done with! Thanks to all of you for your comments, emails and encouragement!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Making Allowances

Lately we've been experimenting with an allowance for One, and I'm surprised to say it is working remarkably well. I've written before on how Two is generous with any money he has; One is less so, but the allowance is less to teach generosity and more to teach responsibility.

The rules (I designed this - of course there are rules) are as follows: $12 a week, divided up into three envelopes: one for charity, one for spend, and one for save. Of the charity money, I've asked him (but not demanded) that half go in the offering plate each Sunday; the rest he can save for any project he decides is important to him. Spending money is just that - spending money. He can't get far on $4 a week, and right now he is concentrating on saving each week until he has enough for a favorite book. Every two or three weeks he hands over his cash and I order his heart's desire on Amazon; he has me checking the UPS tracker online, and on delivery day he compulsively opens the front door to see if anything has arrived. No matter how many times I tell him the UPS man knocks, he can't help peeking. Finally, he has his "save" pile. The rules for that are - save for something big, not just books, and if you mess up and break something, your share of the damage comes out of your savings.

So far we've had a lot of success. He successfully saved for a old-fashioned Walkman, so he could listen to all his books on tape. He frequently puts all of his weekly charity money in the offering plate, and he's acquired four Redwall books "all on his own" with his spending money. I think (well, I hope) that he's learning how to use money constructively, set goals, and be patient. If he gets that, I couldn't possibly hope for more.