Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Friends

Recently, the Little Princess has assimilated the concept of "friends." Last week she was trying to get me to do something for her, so she patted my arm and said sweetly, "We're friends." Yes, we are, and you're very cute, but you're perfectly capable of walking downstairs yourself.

Then yesterday after dinner she said "We're friends!" to Miss Kitty several times (with no apparent ulterior motive). After successfully pronouncing Kitty's real name for the first time ever. (It's not even that complicated a name; LP must have been intimidated by three syllables or something.) Banner day for Princess-Kitty relations.

Today, LP and Dad were playing with magnetic letters on the front door, when she clocked him good with her elbow and promptly chirped, "We're friends!" Apparently true friends let you wallop them upside the head.

(Mom hasn't been dubbed a friend yet. For the time being, moms are just moms, I guess.)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

On being a smart woman

Something I wrote six months ago and didn't have the guts to post. Then I read this post at Just Jen and decided to throw my two cents into the conversation. A follow-up post may appear after I've had time to ponder.

The other day the Cobbler and I had a brief discussion of finances, specifically student loans, and I was suddenly struck by the fact that if things go the way we hope, he'll end up paying off most of mine. (The plan in brief: He gets job, we get married, we have lots of babies.)

Now, first off: I don't go around racking up student loans indiscriminately because I'm counting on living off my future husband's income. I've done research on what computer programmer type people make and it's a decent amount, generally, but not enough that we'll have piles of money lying around or anything. And even if that wasn't an issue, who wants to start off their independent adult lives thinking, "Oh, great, a big pile of debt I have to pay off before I can even think about chasing hopes and dreams and suchlike."

That said...the Cobbler and I know what our goals are. And one of those is to have me stay home with the kidlets. Even if that means that "his" money does things like pay off my debt, that I got because I was a stubborn thing and went to a private college when I had a full ride to a state school.

Perhaps the fact that I'm even slightly troubled by that idea is evidence of the fact that I was raised in a post-feminist world, where smart women get college degrees and cool-sounding jobs and don't get married until they've been on their own for a while and etc. You've probably all heard it. (If you haven't, I'll let the rest of the world enlighten you.)

Now, I am very grateful that I live in the twenty-first century. As much as I complain that I'd rather be a pioneer and live in a log cabin, there are definite perks to this era. If I had been born more than a few decades earlier than I was, the Cobbler and I might never have met or fell in love. I mean, seriously. We met at a scholarship competition. (We both lost, but I like to think that I won something better than a scholarship. :)) We fell in love during our first year of college.

And let me tell you that a long-distance relationship wouldn't be much fun without all the twenty-first century gadgetry. Skype is my best friend.

I am thankful for the opportunity to go to college, not just because of the Cobbler but because of me. Franciscan's been a blessing to me and maybe God would have found a way to make me who I am even if I'd been born 100 years ago...but maybe the reason I was born in 1989 and not 1889 was because He knew that what He wanted to do with me could only be accomplished by putting me in this era.

But I do not think that a smart woman needs to go to college or needs to have a spiffy white-collar job. And I don't think that raising kids is a waste of her mind and talents.

I, for one, plan on using everything I've learned to help my kids become everything God wants them to be.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Our baby is delicious

The Little Princess got baptized yesterday (YAY! No more little heathens running about!). This morning, after her bath, she was feeling snuggly so I was sitting with her wrapped up in a towel and rocking her. I remarked to Mom that she still smelled nice.

Mom: "She doesn't smell like mango?" [leaning down, sniffing] "Those spices must work like a garlic rub or something."

Me: "Should we pop her in the oven and roast her?"










[Even though I'm sure no CPS types read this blog, I feel compelled to note that the LP is still alive and well, since we did not in fact roast her.]

Saturday, December 26, 2009

To my goddaughter, on the eve of her baptism

Dear Little Princess,

Right now, your spiritual life consists of saying "I wuv you, Zhezus!"and splashing about in holy water fonts. (You also enthusiastically kiss my Divine Mercy medal whenever you get ahold of it, which hurts my neck a bit but melts my heart quite a lot.) Since you're only three, that's pretty good. When you get older I'll introduce you to some new people: Ignatius and Irenaeus and Augustine and Bernard and Bonaventure and Thomas Aquinas and Julian of Norwich and all the other names I can't remember right now that are currently in boxes in my closet. But that's for later. After you learn to say all your consonants properly.

You'll find, I think, that God is awesome beyond all telling. Everything I can tell you about Him, everything you'll hear and read about in the years to come, only touches the fringes of the reality. Then when you get to Heaven (I pray that you do get there), you can spend all of eternity with Him, soaking up more and more awesomeness and still never getting to the end of it.

Of course, this isn't Heaven down here. There will probably be days when God doesn't seem so awesome. You'll probably wonder what He's thinking with all the crazy things you have to go through, all the prayers that seemingly go unanswered. When it feels like that, just remember that, as we celebrated yesterday, God is with us. He was born, which is messy enough, in a stable, which is even messier, and laid in a manger, on prickly straw, with smelly animals all around. When your life stinks, just remember that. God can come to that place too.

If I could sum up my advice to you in a few words, it would be this: Remember that you are never alone.

And remember always that you are loved.

With all my love,
Your Megan

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I love my family

Mom, tiredly: "I need a bubble bath."

Me: "I need a bubble bath too."

Dad, in a high-pitched voice: "I need a bubble bath too!"

Me: "Real men don't take bubble baths."

Mom: "Except with their wives."

Me: "EWWWW."

...

Mom, instructing me on ideas for dinner: "Look in Mary Owlhaven's cookbook. And if that doesn't work, look under 'ground beef' on the Hillbilly Housewife."

Dad: "And if that doesn't work, look under 'pizza' in the phone book."

...

Mom, as I am standing half in front of the dishwasher: "Please avert your bottom."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Enchanted 15: NaNoWriMo

Although this post was not directly inspired by Just Jen, I felt that it was in the spirit of the Enchanted 15 and thus belonged in that category.

Last year I participated in NaNoWriMo and washed out after about 5,000 words.

Yeah, epic fail.

This year, Rebekah was in Steubenville rather than Spain, so the potential shame of failure was a little more present. Plus, we were able to do some write-ins, and it turns out that racing someone else helps me churn out the words at a prodigious rate. Our second write-in, I produced about 4,500 words in 2.5 hours. I figured that day would stand as my record, but a week later (November 28), I wrote 6,500 words, most of those in the car on the way back from northern Virginia to Steubenville. (The fam and I were visiting my aunt and her family for Thanksgiving.)

Of course, I was not always so prolific. There were some days I only wrote about 300 words. (Basically, I would hammer out a couple of paragraphs and squeeze in an update before midnight, before falling exhausted into bed.) That's what happens sometimes when you're taking 16 credit-hours and working part-time while trying to write a novel in a month.

The real victory wasn't hitting 50,000 words. The real victory was that I wrote. For four weeks, I wrote every single day. That's a huge thing for me. Of course, I then went several weeks without writing anything, but still. It's better than writing for a day and then going several weeks without writing anything.

Speaking of writing, I need to hit publish and go hammer out another few hundred words on a work I'm affectionately referring to as "The Novel That Never Ends."

Monday, December 21, 2009

Knowing your grammar is important

Dad: "Do we have chocolate milk?"

Mom: "No."

Dad: "Do we have chocolate syrup?"

Mom: "No."

Dad: "Do we have chocolate chips that I can melt and put in my milk?"

Mom: "Yes...actually, no, because you can't melt them."

Me: "Now, if you'd said, 'Do we have chocolate chips, which I can melt...'"

Friday, December 18, 2009

Baby Geek

LP pounds on my door. "Go see Megan! Go see Megan!"

I let her in, and she climbs up on my bed, resting her head on my shoulder while I finish up a game of Worms.

"Dey fall in da water!" she comments excitedly.

Later, I am doing something else at my computer (I can't remember what), and she once again pounds her way into my room. Immediately, she peeks curiously at the computer screen.

"Megan's game?" she asks curiously.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Patience

About a year and a half ago [EDIT: Actually, almost two years ago. Time sure flies.] I wrote a post for my other blog about waiting. (Sometime I will repost it here.) At the time I was in a rare little breathing-space, when I felt clearly that God would lead me where I needed to go when I needed to be there. That clarity ended up leading me to my relationship with the Cobbler. It'd be wrong to say that there was no peace after that--there was a lot of peace. But the tranquil waiting was over. I felt like I had found what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, and the only thing left was to set about doing it.

Yeah.

Let's just say that knowing what you want to do with the rest of your life doesn't mean the rest of your life gets to start right then. And for probably the last several months that's been really bothering me. This is a perennial problem of mine...I like clear directions. I like maps. Spiritually speaking, I am one of the worst backseat drivers ever and God probably wants to say, "Look, we'll get there when we get there!"

The Cobbler is really good at breaking me of the habit of demanding timelines. He just doesn't operate on timelines. So I have had to learn that the world won't end if you don't have a Grand Master Plan for everything. Things get done, one way or the other. If they don't--well, sometimes you can't do everything. (You have no idea, dear readers, how long it's taken me to disabuse myself of this notion.) Now, this attitude certainly can be taken too far, but it'd be up to the Cobbler to write a post about how my obsessively organized tendencies have helped him, if they have. (Any usefulness might have gotten lost in all the nagging. That's my biggest relationship flaw right there.)

All that is a very long way of saying that right now when I ask God what He wants me to do next all He says is, "Wait." It's something I heard before and I fought it mightily, but in that situation waiting ended up getting me something wonderful. So I'm trying, right now, to wait on God's timing.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My birthday present!

We break from our regular Princess-oriented programming to present you with amazingness on a disc: Worms World Party.
Because I am a total dork, I asked Scott to get me this for my birthday. He did, but due to various delays it only arrived yesterday. I installed it today and proceeded to create a team which I dubbed "The Apostles" (By name: Peter, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Nathanael, Simon, and Matthew). Over the course of the day they've gone four rounds against the Olympians (Zeus, Hera, etc.) and, fittingly, won.

I think I earn some major geek cred for how much I enjoy having worms named after apostles blow up worms named after pagan idols.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Give

The Cobbler is growing his hair out. If I were the sort of person I ought to be, that wouldn't even be a subject for a blog post (at least not here, where I am supposed to be philosophical).

Because I am who I am, I teased him about it for a week. And then God smacked me upside the head and told me to stop being such a brat.

You see, I am perfectionist to the extreme. If you want it done right, you do it my way. And in my world men have really short hair. This could be because in my world most of the men are ex-military, but for whatever reason none of the leading males in my life drama had ever so much as let themselves get a little shaggy about the ears.

When I met the Cobbler almost three years ago, he had short hair. It's gotten progressively longer since. And I've gotten a bit more tolerant of what I affectionately refer to as "hobbit hair," but I draw, or drew, the line at ponytails.

And then, as mentioned above, God smacked me upside the head. So I decided to let it go. And I'm not writing this post to draw attention to my nobility. If anything, I'm writing it to draw attention to just how shallow I am. My boyfriend is above reproach in every way that matters, so I pick on him about his hair because I'm such a nag I have to find something to give him a hard time about.

I'm starting to realize, though, that being right isn't always...well, fun. Satisfying. Sometimes it's better to let something go. Not use it as a bargaining chip ("If I let you do this you have to let me do this other thing..."), not file it away to bring up later when you're mad about something else. Just let go. Because, believe it or not, some things aren't worth making a fuss over.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sometimes a tree is just a tree

Sometimes we have moments like last night, when the LP commanded me to "Pet baby Simba," placing my hand about a foot above the floor. Then she put her own hand about three feet above the floor, moved it back and forth, and announced, "I pet daddy Simba."

(Mom remarked that they were very pale lions. I said they were camoflaged with the tile.)

Then sometimes we have moments like this morning:

Mom: "Do you want a banana?"

LP: [making funny noises]

Mom: "Is that a monkey?"

LP: "No, that's not monkey. I little girl."

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Self-fulfilling command

Since it's Advent, we are lighting our Advent wreath more-or-less nightly and singing "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" more-or-less on key.

The Princess, fortunately, seems to be one of those people who was born knowing how to sing on key. She doesn't yet know all the words to OCOCE, but she did a pretty good job chirping along to the tune.

Then over dinner, she spontaneously exclaimed, "Rejoice! Rejoice!"

With you around, kiddo, we do. All the time.

This is real

Originally written 10-6-09. Why do I never publish these things?

In Honors we've been reading Descartes and this Tuesday we talked in particular about trusting the senses. Can you really? Is it ever possible to tell yourself definitively that this isn't all a dream or illusion?

Descartes, of course, starts off with the assumption that nothing is certain and quickly runs across an anomaly. To say "I do not exist" is a contradiction because if you did not exist you would not be able to think that you did not exist. 'Twas Descartes who said, "I think, therefore I am." What you almost never hear is that Descartes went on to demonstrate that even if you assumed everything you ever knew was false, you would be able to determine certain things were true, among which the fact that you are not self-existing. Therefore, God must exist. And God must be infinite in all things: power, goodness, etc.

Those are the two things that I can never doubt, if Descartes is to be believed. I exist, and so does God. He puts forward the idea that it is simply logically impossible to conceive of either being false.

And God is not a deceiver. That is a central premise of the writings of this skeptic--God does not lie.

So where does that leave the senses? They are so often untrustworthy. Everything we've experienced when "awake" we've also experienced while dreaming, so how do we know that the state which we call "awake" is not merely another dream?

B, one of the guys in my class, suggested that maybe we're all schizophrenic, caught in a massive delusion for our whole lives, and don't know it. J, another guy (there are only three guys in the whole class), strongly disagreed. One of them brought up the movie A Beautiful Mind. B used it to support his point, that you can never really know, and J used it to support his point.

I happened to watch A Beautiful Mind a few weeks ago. And I happen to agree with J. Some things are certain. No, you can't go through and prove them empirically. You cannot make them airtight, so no possibility of doubt can enter.

Do you want to know what's real? Alicia Nash asks her husband, putting her hand over his heart. This. This is real.

It is only in the mysterious equations of love that any logic or reason can be found, he says, long after.

Love. That's what Descartes leaves out. Yet it's essential to his logic. God is love. God is not a deceiver. We are able to find some semblance of sanity in this world because we know that this is real. Love is real.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

GVR: All Little Princess, all the time

LP: "I eating bawwies!"

[I eat some imaginary berries too, and then some carrots.]

LP: "Chicken nuggets!"

Me: "You have chicken nuggets on your farm too?"

LP [knowingly]: "No, dey in da caw."

...

Background: LP is going to be baptized on December 27. About a week ago, Mom helped her try on her baptism dress (which is actually an itty-bitty First Communion dress), and LP promptly asked for her magic wand.
Back to today:

Mom: "We're going to have to get her a baptism book or video or something."

Me: "[Princess], can you say 'I love Jesus'?"

LP: "I wuv oo, Zhezus!!"

Me: "Can you say, 'I hate the Devil'?"

LP: "I hate da Debul."

Me: "There, she knows everything she needs to know."

[pause]

Me: "Should I be teaching her to say that?"

...

Intermission: American Catholicism at its finest

Mom: "Okay, let's pray. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit--DID WE GET OUR MILKSHAKE?!"

...

LP belches.

LP: "Excuse me!"

Me: "You're excused."

LP [giggles]: "I have bubbles in my mouf."

...

LP is chomping down on my finger, so I use my free hand to smack her in the knee, thus surprising her into letting go.

Me: "Ow. I think you need to say you're sorry."

LP [indignant]: "Stop hitting my knee."

Friday, December 4, 2009

The shortest distance

Due to the extreme generosity of his parents, I was able to borrow the Cobbler for Thanksgiving (his mother commented on Facebook that it was the first Thanksgiving ever he hadn't been with his family) and my family took him with us to northern Virginia, where my aunt lives. He got to meet about half of my crazy relatives on that side, and oddly still wants to marry me. Meanwhile, they all found him utterly charming.

There were actually a grand total of 41 people at my aunt's house, from my grandmother (who is dignifiedly ageless) to my cousin's two-month-old baby. Most of them I didn't even know. Apparently they go to my aunt's church or something. The Cobbler ended up striking up a conversation with one of my uncle's friends. Example of how the Cobbler was charming: despite being naturally shy and particularly disoriented, he ended up pretty much being this guy's New Best Friend. They talked about everything from Non-Euclidean Geometry As A Metaphor For Life to Baseball Players Are So Overpaid, Seriously.

And something that stuck with me was that fundamental principle of non-Euclidean geometry which states that the shortest distance between two points isn't always a straight line.

This collided in my brain with a post written by Patrick Madrid over at Faith and Family Live that generated a lot of blog chatter. Now, I'm dating a Catholic, and that was no accident, but at the same time... If there were no Protestant/Catholic marriages in the world most of my family members would not exist. In fact, I'm pretty sure neither of my parents would exist.

And I would not exist. When my parents met, down at Fort Sam Houston, my mom had ROMAN CATH on her dog tags (she still has those, in her jewelry box) and my dad had some military abbreviation of "Nondenominational Protestant." (How do you abbreviate that? NON PROT seems rather the reverse of what's intended. Dad will have to comment and let us know.) Of course, my mom will be the first to tell you that her understanding of Catholicism when she was 19 and my understanding of Catholicism when I was 19 were rather radically different. (Random interesting side note: I am now older than my mother was when she married my father.)

I've wanted my dad to be Catholic since I was old enough to understand the difference. (I think I was about 8 or 9 when I figured out that "Christian" and "Catholic" were not interchangeable.) And when I was 14 I finally got to experience what it was like to have two devoutly Catholic parents. And I will be the first to tell you that my baby sister is going to have a lot of things I wish I had when I was her age, and I don't mean all the cool new toys they've come up with in the last 17 years. (She deserves it, though. She had to play the parent lotto twice before she struck it rich.)

But I wouldn't wish my older sister and I unborn for anything. And I don't think our mother would either, even though she's said that I better not go marrying Protestants when I'm 19. (One of those qualifications is already impossible, and the other highly improbable.)

Sometimes the shortest distance between two points is not a straight line. God took a couple of young enlisteds who got married under what just about anybody would call highly imprudent circumstances, and He gave them a rock-solid marriage that's 23 years and going strong, with 3 daughters whom I hope are worth all the trouble we cause, and both of them Catholic to the core.

And now He's taking a couple of unabashedly Catholic college students and doing something with them. I am not going to say that just because the Cobbler and I are Catholic our relationship is perfect. (Really, sometimes my friends imply that and it always takes me aback a bit. We've got a pretty good thing going but please don't canonize us till we're dead.) There are going to be plenty of meanderings between that Point A of being 18 and newly in love and knowing everything and the Point B of wherever He wants to take us.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My sister is the cutest thing ever

Over Thanksgiving:

Scott: "Can you read?"
LP: "Um...not yet."

Me: "She wants you to sing "Row Row Row Your Boat.""
Scott: "Row row [changing his mind] Pilot pilot pilot your craft [...] Existence is but an illusion."
[pause]
LP: "You an illusion."

LP: “Hot moon!”
Me: “Hot moon?”
Dad: “Yeah, the moon is hot.”
LP: “Don’t touch it!”
Me: “I won’t, I promise.”
[later]
Scott: “Why is the moon hot?”
LP: “It’s warm now.”

I'm sure I'm forgetting things; other people can feel free to comment and remind me.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Because I haven't posted yet in November


Your fairy is called Columbine Elfshimmer

She is a cheerful sprite.

She lives in mushroom fields and quiet meadows.

She is only seen when the first flowers begin to blossom.

She wears lilac and purple like columbine flowers. She has delicate green wings like a cicada.



From Andrea.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I've been working on my Middle Child Syndrome

So, dear readers, you know how we bloggers are notoriously bad at keeping secrets?

Well, I just kept something from all of you for a year and a half.

I call her the Little Princess. She was born about three years ago, ended up in foster care for reasons we won't go into here, and eventually ended up at my family's house.

On November 6, she legally became a member of our family.

And...yeah. There are no words.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

And then I died from the cuteness

LP-isms of the day (yesterday, actually):

Dentist: "Can I tickle your teeth with my special brush?"

LP: "No."

Dentist: "Then you can have a prize."

LP: "No thank you."

***

As Dad is tucking her in:

LP: "I want a baby sister."

Monday, October 26, 2009

Repost: Stream of Consciousness Blogging

Originally posted March 4, 2008; reposted now because this is how I've been feeling lately.

The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him... a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create -- so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.
—Pearl S. Buck, novelist, Nobel laureate (1892-1973)

I collect quotes, and this one is one of my favorites. I think I like it because it shows that if I'm not normal at least I have companions in my abnormality.

Sometimes I feel like the Man from Mars in Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land. Whenever something important happens, I have to withdraw for a little while so I can grok it. It's one of the reasons class participation always makes me feel a little like I'm going down a steep hill on a roller coaster. I like to have time to pause and ponder and decide what the best response is going to be, not just fire off the first thing that pops into my head. How other people manage sponaneity I don't know. One theory I have, that ties in with that quote above, is they simply don't have the problem where the minute someone suggests something their mind immediately goes into frantic activity, offering all possible obstacles to the course of action, proposing solutions, weighing alternatives--until it's easier to just say No, I can't do it, so that I can shut off my hyperactive brain and have a few seconds of mental silence before something else comes up.

It works like this in relationships too--I have a hard time with casual conversation because I have this idea that everything ought to mean something. So afterwards I'll go back and analyze every word and think about how I would have responded if I'd had a little more time to reflect.

All this is a somewhat rambling way of saying that I spend every waking moment of every day processing an enormous amount of information. Maybe other people do this too, but it seems sometimes like I'm the only one who has to think so hard about everything, who can't just make a simple decision without having to see how this course of action might tie into everything else.

It's why I don't have a lot of friends. I can remember names pretty well but I don't consider somebody my friend just because I know their name. I really don't think I know them well enough to call them my friend until I have an idea of what makes them tick. My idea of my best friend is not just the name Emily and what she looks like. My mental image of her includes her brothers and parents, my relationships with them, her relationships with our mutual friends, her relationships with people I don't know, what she wants to do with her life...etc, etc. When I have conversations with my friends I'm not just chatting, I'm collecting random bits of information to add to my mental picture of them. I've creeped people out once or twice by remembering some small random detail they mentioned once a long time ago. Maybe this is one of the reasons I'm called to marriage--I can't imagine anything more fulfulling than spending the rest of my life learning and cherishing every detail, no matter how seemingly insignificant, about another human soul.

There are times when I want to shut off my perceptions, shut out the world. A few weeks ago I was heartbroken over some small disappointment--I can't even remember what it was now, but it seemed then like the world was going to end--and I remember crying about it and asking God why He made me feel things so much. Why do I have to be so fantasically sensitive? Why can't I just take the little ups and downs in stride like other people?

In the end, though, I decided that I didn't really want to be different. Sure, small crises can ruin my day; but when a big crisis hits one of my friends my ability to feel it so intensely is an advantage. I spent the whole summer of 2006 crying alongside one of my friends and it hurt horribly, but I wouldn't trade that summer for anything. It felt like I'd been broken and put back together again; but in my new shape I realized that it was one of the most important things I'd ever done. In 50 years my friend and I won't remember what we got on the SAT but we'll remember that summer.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but it says right over there on the sidebar that this is about my journey towards Heaven and as I've been saying for a while now, if I get to Heaven it will be because of other people. I could draw into myself and try to find salvation by pondering the mysteries of the universe, but I've tried that and I barely made it out sane. So then I tried giving myself permission to be broken, to be imperfect, and I found out that people will let you do that. There are some incredible people in the world who mend broken souls. Then there's me, with my abnormally sensitive soul, my ability to see hurts that nobody else sees and to cry with the person who's hurting. I'll consider it worth all the difficulty of going through daily life with a soul that sees every misfortunate as tragedy and every joy ecstasy, if I can mend one broken soul that way.

Friday, October 16, 2009

From today's homily

When St. Margaret Mary first started seeing visions of the Sacred Heart, she went to her confessor and asked him what to do. To test the vision, he told her to ask Jesus to name his (the confessor's) greatest childhood sin.

Some time after Margaret Mary came back. "I asked him."

"What did he say?"

"He said, 'I forgot.' "

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Most toddlers just say "No"

Me: "Princess, put the scissors away."

LP: "Never!"

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ministry to Me

Just recently I started doing Ministry to Moms for a local family who has seven kids: A 12-year-old boy, a 10-year-old boy, an 8-year-old girl, a 6-year-old girl, 3-year-old twins (a boy and a girl), and a 7-month-old girl.

Tonight I went to their house for dinner, and after dinner we were nominally watching Star Wars Episode IV but then the 6-year-old asked me to hold her, so I picked her up and then dangled her upside-down. She liked that. The evening quickly became a sort of gymnastics demonstration. I dangled the 6-year-old and the 3-year-old girl repeatedly. Then 3-year-old girl wanted to ride on my shoulders, so I hefted her up and then bounced up and down for a little while. That was, apparently, the coolest thing ever. So 6-year-old wanted a turn, and then 8-year-old wanted a turn. I found out that I can in fact trot about obediently with a gangly 8-year-old clinging to my head. I am a good pack mule. Then 3-year-old boy wanted a ride, and he felt like nothing after his big sister. Then I declared that rides were over and sat down. All of them heaped on top of me for a while, and all of us laughing. Eventually they got off (mostly) and 6-year-old lay next to me, looked up, and said, "I think we're used to you now."

Friday, September 25, 2009

Encouraging thought of the day

Pessimistic voice in the back of my head: "You wouldn't be able to do that. You're afraid of it."

Me: "So? I'm afraid of everything."

I'm starting to realize that I can be as uncontrolled by fear as someone who is completely fearless--if I'm afraid of talking to anyone I don't know, I might as well make a speech to a roomful of strangers; if I'm afraid of leaving my room, I might as well leave the country, etc.

Boy, that little thought I had this morning could be the start of something pretty cool.

In Memory of Vivian

I'm finally posting again, dear readers, because this can't go in Twitter--partly because it's more than 140 characters and partly because even a blog post is not adequate--but it's the best thing I have at my disposal.

krazyglue Vivian Marie died at 5:10 am in her parents arms. So brief her life; so beautiful their love; so exquisite the grief of all who love them.

I can't add anything to that, except to ask those of you who aren't already to pray for Kyle and his family. (He posts here and here.)

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Because just okay is never enough

While doing some monotonous homework tonight, I was listening to this song:



Which reminded me of this song:



And I thought I'd share them with my faithful blog readers.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Scatterbrained Chef: Hot Chocolate Oatmeal

Today on The Scatterbrained Chef, we will show you how to make a delicious and filling snack (it can also be breakfast!) with everyday dorm room staples.

Step 1: Pour a packet of oatmeal (we use Quaker maple and brown sugar, but any mild-flavored oatmeal will do) into a bowl.

Step 2: Remove half-gallon of milk from mini-fridge.

Step 3: Attempt to dislodge chunk of frozen milk from mouth of jug so you can get to the lovely liquid goodness beneath.

Step 4: Fail at Step 3.

Step 5: Look for powdered milk.

Step 6: Fail at Step 5.

Step 7: Remember that The Scatterbrained Chef's Special Hot Cocoa Mix* is 75% powedered milk.

Step 8: Heap a few generous spoonfuls onto your oatmeal.

Step 9: Go to the nearest drinking fountain and squirt on enough water to cover the oatmeal-cocoa mixture.

Step 10: Go to the nearest microwave and cook for 90 seconds or until desired stiffness.

Step 11: Because you are 4, decide you want marshmallows on your oatmeal.

Step 12: Toss in a handful of marshmallows and stir. They will melt away to nothing.

Step 13: Toss in another handful of marshmallows, because what's the fun of marshmallows if they all melt away to nothing?

Step 14: Eat.

*The Scatterbrained Chef's Special Hot Cocoa Mix will appear in a later episode.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I'm still here

I feel like I ought to put something in this space, and blog posts are simply not happening. I don't entirely know why; maybe I'm just lazy and should be forcing myself to write something, to get my thoughts out there. But for now I'll just apologize to my faithful readers and say that I never forget about the blog. I just don't think I can promise weekly posts anymore. I can't really promise anything except that when the time is right I'll write again. In the meantime, all my blog-friends remain in my prayers, and if you could spare a prayer for me I'd appreciate it.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Random Updatey Stuff

Because I am supposed to be packing up to go back to school. (2 days! Eep!)

The Great Purge was, I think, a success. It's kind of hard to tell because I only cleaned out the last corner of my closet (I really don't have a very big closet, but you'd be surprised at my junk-cramming skills) a day or two ago so the post-purge clean feeling was usurped by the pre-packing chaos feeling. And now my room is in shambles because I am packing. Or should be.

Yesterday morning I was on about page 150 of 350 on Brideshead Revisited and starting to despair of finishing. However, BR has that old-book tendency of picking up the pace about halfway through. I got to page 250 in fits and starts throughout the day, and then after I was ready for bed I flopped down on my bed and took the last 100 pages at a hard gallop, finishing just after 11. It was rather invigorating; I felt like a 16-year-old again. I'm not entirely sure I liked the book, though; I must ponder it for a while.

And I really do plan on writing some more posts for my lovely readers. Right after I finish packing.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Enchanted 15: Writing for Others


Part 5 in an ongoing series based on Jen's Enchanted 15 workshop.

There isn't necessarily a contradiction between writing for yourself and writing for others, but there is a difference. And you need others in order to be a good writer.

One day, the summer after I turned 14, I sat at a picnic table in a park eating a sandwich and told a 16-year-old girl that I liked to write stories.

"Really?" she replied. "I do too, but usually when I tell people that they think I'm weird."

Five years later Dernhelm and I are very close, despite the fact that she left for college 3 years ago and I left a year after that. I don't think I'm off the mark to say that it was writing that brought us together. There was a year or two of my life when I spent just about every second of free time either writing or emailing Dernhelm about what I was writing. (Once I told the Cobbler that Dernhelm and I used to email each other sometimes 2 or 3 times a day and he said that we abused email by forcing it to be what the telephone is for most teenage girls.) If you looked you could probably still see Dernhelm's fingerprints all over my works-in-progress. And in turn I sent her pages and pages of suggestions for her novels. (Seriously. She once said that I was more enthusiastic about her work than she was.) And despite our admiration for each other we can both be frank when it happens that a particular passage is not quite up to par and needs rewritten or scrapped entirely.

Now I also have a few other good writerly friends, and the Cobbler is among them. One of the first conversations we ever had was about writing, and he listens to me chatter about my novels as patiently as Dernhelm does. He sent me the first chapter of one of his novels once, and I obligingly laid into it. Then one day he read the beginning of one of my novels and said, "Would it be better if you did this?" and I said, "Oooohhh, now I'm going to have to rewrite the whole thing!" Because of course he was right. A few months later I'm still working on rewriting the whole thing. The Cobbler has this uncanny knack of finding exactly what dissatisfies me most about my work and pointing it out so that I can no longer pretend that the reader won't care and I can just ignore the flaws.

Friends who write are amazing. Find them. And the ones who irritate you the most are probably going to be the ones who do you the most good.
[here I pause in thought]
Now that I think about it, Writing for Others is really the reason I'm doing this whole Enchanted 15 thing. Because one of my favorite bloggers suddenly started saying, "Hey, you should write every day." And I fail epicly at that, but I do at least come back here every week or two or three and say, "Here I am, writing about writing, at least that's a start, right?" And one of these days the knowledge that you all know about my novels is going to motivate me to do something with them, lest all five of you start harassing me no end. (That's how my sister got me to finish my first novel; she asked me if I was done yet Every. Single. Day.)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I read half a book today

...about 200 pages all told, of somewhat fluffy Christian fiction (still working on Brideshead Revisited). Of course, that's nothing when you think about how back in the day I could be doing schoolwork most of the day and still knock down a 500-page novel before dinner--and my first thought upon finishing would be, "I sure hope I have another book around here somewhere so I can read before bed." Still, it's as enthusiastic as I've felt about reading in a long time and it's good to feel that way again. Someday I'll get back to those days of getting a huge stack of books at the library and having them finished in a matter of days. Just need to warm up the old reading muscles a bit more.

Now, I'm off to find a good before-bed book.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I'm back

I'm hopefully going to put up lots of content in the next few days but right now I'm still trying to remember what day of the week it is.

Nobody missed me, apparently

Nonetheless, I am a girl of my word.

So.

I am still more-or-less alive. Our regular irregular posting will resume shortly.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Next Thing

Earlier today I was at Mass with two of my household sisters at one's home parish before the other two of us set out on the last legs home. (We had all three been at another sister's wedding.) The pastor gave a lovely homily on St. Lawrence and love of the poor, and I found myself suddenly caught up in longing to live in a shack somewhere and own nothing and use every talent I have to give to the poor.

Then I got home and I read two posts. The first was about daughters becoming Sisters--and the beauty of it grabbed me. How can you not feel a little longing to read of someone becoming a bride of Christ?

But I had also read a post about Duty Before Happiness, which linked to a post at Conversion Diary about Duty Before Holiness.

And so I started writing this post, and then got stuck because I didn't know where to go. I didn't know where these two ideas connected to make something that made sense.

Then the Cobbler mentioned a particular aspiration he has (which I won't detail because one does not share one's beloved's dreams on the internet) and I realized: nothing is ever ordinary. Nothing is every really small.

You start out feeding one starving person and you end up with your name known the world over. Because you simply did the next thing--fed one starving person after another. You start out with the slowly-dawning realization that you might just be in love with that geeky boy who can always make you laugh, and you go on to get the dawning realization that your life will never be boring, and that you might just end up accidentally doing something extraordinary because you followed, step-by-step, the path God laid out for you.

Monday, August 3, 2009

I really am leaving soon

Mom: "Eek!"

Me: "What?"

Mom: "Oh, it's just an eager/anxious thing. Would you be anxious to try new foods?"

Me: "Yes."

Mom: "Okay, would most people?"

Sunday, August 2, 2009

As if I post regularly anyway

You probably won't even miss me, dear readers, but I wanted to let you know that I'm going to be offline for the next week (until the 10th). I'll post on the 11th even if it's just to let you know that I'm still more-or-less alive.

Comment moderation will be on. Comment all you like but it won't show up for a while.

Have a lovely week, all of you, and pray for me and my associates if you get the chance.

The road goes ever on and on...

Yesterday the family went halfway across Ohio to visit my grandma (Dad's mom). LP wasn't sure about her at first but by the end of dinner she was sitting in Grandma's lap drinking her iced tea. (Unsweetened iced tea, no less. I often say that LP is going to be the only 3-year-old girl with real tea at her tea parties.)

We got back from dinner to find that my dad's younger brother (who lives nearby) had come over, and so we also got to catch up with him. LP warmed up to him even faster after her initial coolness. My theory is that she likes him because he looks so much like Dad. (Though almost three years apart, they look like twins, to the point where if you look at old photos wherein they had similar hairstyles even Mom has a hard time remembering which one is her husband.)

I have a funny story to relate from that visit, but it would take up too much room now. The real purpose of this post is to let you all know that I am going to be gone for the next week and will have very little internet access, so no blogging until at least Tuesday August 11. When I do get back you'll get that funny story, a book review, and news of my doings this coming week.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

It always comes back to this

Note: I wrote this 2 weeks ago (as you might notice reading the post) but haven't gotten around to publishing it until now. Kind of apt, isn't it?

People are forever. One day when this stay of ours is done schoolwork and deadlines and alarm clocks and everything else that looms so large right now won't matter anymore. People will always matter. I dare to think that in Heaven my mother will still be my mother, my father will still be my father, my sister still my sister...I won't have my courseload or my GPA or the Dean's List but I will have the people who sat next to me in class whose lives I touched in ways I might not even know. I think we will know then; we will see how it was that God put exactly these people in our lives to help us become who He meant us to be.

I wrote that on February 22, 2008, in a post entitled On Being a Sojourner, which was reposted on this blog June 27, 2008.

As I write this it's July 16, 2009, and I'm publishing that paragraph for the third time because God just keeps pulling me back to that truth.

Since I started this blog I've been struggling to publish regularly; my self-imposed requirement of something resembling Deep Content means that my post ideas are sometimes few and far between. But in the last few weeks I've been managing to get my thoughts out there a bit more regularly. Between June 30 and July 8 I published three posts. (I think the June 30 one may have actually been published July 1, but I don't remember now.) Meanwhile I was doing a really good job actually sitting down and writing things relating to my novels; I was even doing a pretty good job of fitting in prayer time.

It would be eight days before I posted again, and I can't say that I was writing profound fiction or praying or working on any of those goals I had. Starting Thursday a situation came up with my family that meant my help was needed a lot more around the house (we're all fine, just crazy-busy), and the weekend slipped by without me managing to put up a post. So on Tuesday I was absolutely determined to write a post...but then my future roommate called, and we talked for an hour and a half, and the time I might have spent writing went just like that.

Very well, I thought to myself, But I will be sure of writing a post tomorrow.

At 8:06 p.m. the Cobbler sent an IM over Skype: Can you come over tomorrow?

Now, we had been trying to arrange a visit for a couple of weeks at that point so it wasn't entirely unexpected, but at the same time...I just don't do visits on less-than-24-hour notice.

And yet, somehow, at 10:00 a.m. the next day I was calling him to make sure my "between 11:30 and noon" arrival time was acceptable (he hadn't been able to check with his parents the night before; they'd just given general permission for sometime Wednesday). It was. I left a few minutes later, and arrived at about 11:45.

People, I just do not do that. I am not the sort of person who in a million years would even think about confirming ETA as I was headed out the door.

My spiritual life thus far seems to consist of letting God redefine my notions of what sort of person I am. And it almost always seems to involve stretching myself a little farther outside my comfort zone for the sake of someone else; of letting my schedule go for the sake of being present.

It's hard. I'd be lying if I said that I'm always happy with God's insistence on people. I'd rather have rules. I like rules. Rules are tidy. I love people, but people are so very messy. Does my salvation really have to depend on dealing with them?

I think it does. And I also think (for the record) that people are ultimately a lot more rewarding than rules. (Rules never hug you and tell you that you're wonderful, for starters.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

WARNING: This is a post about potty-training

Lately, the Princess has (at 2 years and 9 months of age) decided that diapers are Not Cool. Now, this does mean that she actually goes in the potty occasionally, which is a good thing. However, it also means that her reaction to waking up with a wet/dirty diaper is to tear off the diaper, toss it aside, and go finish her business in the potty chair in her room. Then, being the tidy little thing that she is, she decides that she should take the little cup insert thingy and empty it. Into the base of the potty chair. Which means that basically every day after naptime (and sometimes a couple of other times around bedtime/waking up) the big people of the house have to find the used diaper that she flung somewhere, clean up any messes on the floor, and hose down the potty chair. Oh, and catch the half-naked toddler and put a new diaper on her.

Today Mom took care of cleanup while I took care of toddler-wrangling. Princess was up on the top bunk (there are bunkbeds in her room, and she learned to climb them a few months ago) and happily chirped, "Megan! Cyimb yadder!"

I grabbed a diaper and wipes and obediently climbed the ladder. As I am attending to the Princess, she grins and says, "I get candy."

And of course she does.

***

Mom, afterwards: "I know in three months you'll be using the potty like a good girl and I won't remember any of this..."

Me: "You'll remember it, because I'm going to blog it."

Does anybody else think this would be a good idea?

I have had a thought in the back of my mind ever since the day in the fall of 2006 when I skipped out on a whole day of homeschooling to read the entirety of Danielle Bean's archives. (At that time, she'd been blogging for about a year.)

Why are archives in ascending chronological order? I can understand the main page being that way, since people who visit your blog regularly will want to see the newest posts first, but why are the archives that way? On the few occasions that I have liked a blogger's writing enough to want to read every single post they ever wrote, I have gone back to the oldest archives and worked my way through in chronological order.

So, wouldn't it make more sense if you could, for instance, click on my "July" archives and the top post would be the first one of July and the bottom post would be this one? Or am I just being weird again?

Summer Reading: 26 days to go

So...I stink at meeting goals, apparently. Though I've read half a dozen books in the last two months, I haven't even got through the second chapter of Brideshead Revisited.

Since I have less than 4 weeks until classes resume, I'm declaring a freeze on getting new books from the library. Once I pick up the reserve that just came in (this book, recommended by Scott--cool, it's only $10 on Amazon...) I am not going to get another book.

So, between Brain Lock, Brideshead Revisited, and two somewhat lighter works of contemporary Christian fiction that have been sitting neglected by my bed, I should be set until school starts again. Especially since fairly soon I'm going to have to message my Honors classmates and see if any of them has gotten a copy of the syllabus. I like having a head start on the reading.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tired

I feel like I haven't been posting on this blog as much as I ought lately. Maybe because lately I haven't been seeing much of God in the mundane.

Don't get me wrong, life is pretty good. Nothing terribly exciting happens, but I've never been one to like much excitement. The Princess is the cutest kid in the world and the Cobbler is the best boyfriend in the world and really with the way life is going I have no reason not to be happy.

And I am happy, most of the time. But I'm also tired. Soul-deep tired, and I find myself wishing that I could get back to the days when God seemed closer. I might not have had as many of the things I wanted back then--but then again, the fewer things you have the less you have to lose.

There's a chance that the Princess' case, which has been in legal limbo for months now, is actually going to go somewhere. There's a chance that the county might actually acknowledge what I've known for a long time--she's ours. She was always meant to be ours.

Scott continues to be wonderful, and I continue to wonder what I ever did that made God think I was good enough for him. Yet as many times as I remind myself that I'm the most blessed girl on earth to have him...it's still really, really hard. Because he's far away, and he's going to be far away for years yet, and every single day I miss him so much it hurts.

And at Franciscan I'd go curl up in the Port for a few hours but I don't have that choice here. I wish I was better at finding ways to let God find me, but I'm not. I have to practically be tripping over Him to notice He's there.

So instead of getting back to the place where I'm okay with where I am even if it's not perfect, I'm back in the place where I tell myself that once this happens things will get easier...and so get wrapped up in my illusion of life magically becoming easy (which it won't, thanks to Original Sin and living in a fallen world and all those nice things), such that I can't deal with life the way it is now. And I don't like this place at all.

Pray for me?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Further proof of my weirdness

Yesterday:

Me: "Mom, am I the only person in the free world who likes watching previews?"

[long pause]

Mom: "Yeah."

(This is probably one of the reasons nobody ever lets me have the remote. I am, correspondingly, the only person in the free world who doesn't fast forward through the previews.)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Enchanted 15: Doing Other Things

Part 4 in an ongoing series based on Jen's Enchanted 15 workshop.

The freedom of college can get to one's head a bit. There is really very little external motivation to do things. If you are late for class, your professor isn't going to march up to your room and order you to get dressed and get down to the classroom. (Maybe this difference is specific to homeschoolers, though--when your teacher is your mom you don't get away with much.) Nobody is going to tell you to study. Nobody is going to tell you to make your bed or do your laundry or empty the trash before it draws rats.

Now, thanks to my academic perfectionism I am very internally motivated to go to class and do my homework. I'm not really motivated to make my bed; I don't think I made it up pretty for the entirety of my sophomore year. But that's beside the point.

Another thing about college is that you can keep your own schedule. You have a great deal of freedom in deciding when your classes are (unless you're a Comm Arts upperclassman, in which case you're stuck with the one session there is of each class). You can decide whether you want to eat dinner now or later. You can decide whether you want to do your homework before dinner or not. You can decide whether to stay up till 2 a.m. talking to your boyfriend.

Then you come home for the summer, and suddenly you're expected to eat dinner with the family and do your chores when your mother says to do them and go to bed at a reasonable hour.

What does all this have to do with writing, you ask? Well, it has to do with Doing Other Things, and how often (at least in my world, and almost certainly in Jen's since she has two little ones) the Other Things are often decided for you. Unless you're living by yourself out by Walden Pond you can't just think to yourself, "Oh, I've written enough today, now I shall take a turn about the pond and allow the exercise to clear my head." You think to yourself, "The child is being suspiciously quiet; I don't think I can afford to ignore her any more." Or you think, "My mother is using that tone she uses when she means business; I'd better stop putting her off and go see what she wants."

We writers can be egotistical little beasts, and that's kind of understandable (of course, I say that because I'm a writer). We have this deep burning internal motivation to write, but all our external motivators (a.k.a. family members) are telling us to do other things. Not only that, but these things are so mundane. They are distracting us from our Great and Lofty Endeavors. Very frustrating, don't you know?

I think the secret of Doing Other Things is becoming internally motivated to...well, to Do Other Things. You see, if you view your time as your own you resent anyone who infringes on it. You wash the dishes to within an inch of their lives all the while fuming that you could be writing right now. You do whatever's necessary to make people stop bugging you and then scurry back to your lair until somebody comes along needing you again.

This is a bad way to operate for two reasons:

1) If you are frustrated and resentful all the time your brain can't loosen up to let the Source in, and anything you write is probably not going to be your best work.

2) I've found that you actually get surprising amounts of free time when you accept that your time is not your own. Maybe it's just the shift in attitude. When you expect to be busy for the entire day and fifteen minutes suddenly open up after lunch you view them as a wonderful and exciting gift. If you constantly think about getting time to yourself, then you view the same time slot as "Only fifteen minutes?! I swear, this house would fall apart without me!"

It's also a bad way to operate for the two reasons Jen lists in her post, which you should all read.

So, my writing assignment for this week is to keep repeating a personal mantra I recently adopted for myself: Service is joy. I don't do things around the house because my mother makes me. I do them because I love the people who live here and doing something to make their lives more pleasant causes me joy. Or should. I figure if I fake it long enough I'll start internalizing it. If not, at least my family will have somebody who's more pleasant to be around than usual.

It makes you forget all the whining

Three stories from yesterday:

In the morning, Miss Kitty had someplace to be. Before she left, LP climbed up on the couch to say goodbye. She gave Kitty a big, snuggly hug.

"I love you, Princess," Kitty said.

"I wuv oo, Eda*," LP replied.

***

Right after Dad got home from work, LP took off out the open garage door and he followed her. A few minutes later they came back in. LP ran up to me, grabbed my finger, and said, "Go see beans." So I allowed myself to be tugged out to the garden, where LP crowed happily over the beanpods that are starting to sprout on our green bean plants. Then she snatched an almost-ripe tomato off the nearby tomato plants and raced inside to show Mom.

***

As we were getting dinner on the table, she sang "Happy birthday" to everyone she could think of. "Happy bir-tay to you, happy bir-tay to you!" and then a name. "Eda", "'Cott", Scott's family's dog, "'Cott's house"--it was everybody and everything's birthday yesterday.

(It really is Kitty's birthday on Saturday, which is why LP's had birthdays on her mind lately.)

*LP's approximation of Kitty's real name.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dancing

"I'm glad you're not one of those girls who runs away and expects the guy to know whether or not he's supposed to follow."
"I do run, though. Just never very far. A couple of steps, then I stop and wait for you to catch up, then a couple more steps and I stop..."
"If you do that while holding hands it's called dancing."

Scott and I have, for no particular reason, spent the last several days discussing this list (PDF). As of late this afternoon we'd made it halfway down page 2 and we pretty much agree on everything; so far our biggest challenge seems to be remembering not to nag. (Which is my challenge, actually. Scott does not nag. I suppose he might have a corresponding challenge but I'm not going to bother identifying it because it's not my job to change him. Plank in your own eye and all that.)

One of the most interesting discussions, at least to me, was the one we had this afternoon on the basic responsibilities of the wife and of the husband. The consensus so far seems to be that earning money (so we can buy food and stuff like that) is Scott's basic responsibility, and keeping small humans alive is my basic responsibility. Everything else we categorized as a "joint operation" (Scott's term). This covered everything from teaching the kids to cleaning the house. Now, "joint operation" doesn't mean "everything must be split 50/50." It just means that we contribute to a given area according to our abilities.

A part of me thinks we ought to have a chore chart or something that is more concrete than "Well, we both pitch in as we can." And perhaps there will be seasons in our lives when we need the structure and clear-cut divisions of a chore chart. The key word in that sentence, though, is seasons. Life is not a static thing. Marital and familial dynamics are not static things.

There will be times when I have everything under control and then a strict 50/50 split would do me no good because it would make me feel like Scott owes me something if I am able to do more than that 50 percent. And that's not a good attitude to have. I'd rather think, on those efficient days, that I am choosing to serve my husband to the absolute maximum of my capacity, without counting the cost or keeping score. Because to one who loves, service is joy.

There will be other times when I have nothing under control--either because I am simply having a bad day or because something like a new baby has for a season rendered me incapable of much more than the basic "keep small humans alive." And those days I will let Scott do more than his fair share, and not complain or scold him (I really am a nag; I nag him about being nice to me) because to one who loves, service is joy.

Life isn't standing still. Life is moving back and forth, sometimes faster, sometimes slower. Life is trying really hard not to fall down.

And if you do it while holding hands it's called dancing.

Ignorance

"Listen. Easy now," said [Professor Faber] gently. "I know, I know. You're afraid of making mistakes. Don't be. Mistakes can be profited by. Man, when I was younger I shoved my ignorance in people's faces. They beat me with sticks. By the time I was forty my blunt instrument had been honed to a fine cutting point for me. If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you'll never learn."

~from the novel Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury



I very much like being right. I attribute this to two main causes: 1) I am a diehard, obsessive perfectionist. 2) I'm academically gifted. (Seriously, I was tested and stuff in first grade. I have a Label and everything.) If not for 2) I might have channeled my perfectionism into some other pursuit, like...making my bed neatly every day. (My mother would love that one.) However, since being academically excellent gets you all kinds of positive reinforcement I channeled my perfectionism there and everybody thought I was awesome and I was happy. Believe it or not, I like it when people like me. (My introversion--which can sometimes seem like standoffishness--notwithstanding. Trust me, I'm standing there quietly glowing with happiness whenever anybody indicates that they like me.)

I was a senior in high school before it occured to me that I didn't have to be right all the time. I was taking Advanced Math, you see, and due to my intense loathing of anything involving numbers I had set up a nice mental block for myself and was getting Bs on most of my tests. (Of which there was one every 2 weeks or so, if memory serves.) As any perfectionist knows, Bs are The End of the World and You Shall Surely Die. The lovely and brilliant Emily eventually saved me from my misery by loaning me a set of videos in which a lady with a soothing Southern accent carefully explained the stuff I was supposed to be learning, and so I slogged my way through Advanced Math and came out with an A or A-minus (I can't remember now. Which proves that grades are really not Life and Death.) Anyway. Before Emily saved me, I looked at those Bs on my online transcript and told myself, "Okay, all that says is that you don't perfectly understand everything. And that's okay. That's how things are supposed to be. If you perfectly understood everything to begin with there'd be no point in you being in school. You're in school to learn things, and the prerequisite to learning things is not knowing them to begin with."

That mental pep talk didn't work too well, but 2 1/2 years later that lesson is starting to sink in. If I already knew everything there is to know then I wouldn't be human. There wouldn't be any point in me being on this earth because I am here to learn about life and love and everything else that people have wrestled with since Eve ate the apple.

So I blog. I stick my philosophical and theological guts out there for you all to look at. And every now and then somebody disagrees with me and my first instinct is to take down the post and then go crawl under a rock and flagellate myself. Instead I respond with, "Well, I had thought of that and I'm sorry if I was unclear in the part of my post which addressed it" or "Wow, I hadn't thought of that. I'll keep it in mind." And I learn.

So, here's the deal: I'll keep blogging, even when I'm scared silly of getting something wrong. And you all (all five of you) will keep commenting and if necessary telling me when I'm showing the fact that I'm only a 19-year-old with a big mouth and an internet connection and not an actual philosopher or theologian.


Note: This post is not meant to be a sort of passive-aggressive response to anything recent. (Or any particular not-recent thing, for that matter.) It's just something that's been percolating in the back of my mind for a long time.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I am very, very easily entertained

Look what I can do!

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Um, yeah. I thought it was pretty cool.

You all can go on with your lives now.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Children's TV is Stupid, Part 2

(Part 1 can be found here.)

Just now LP was watching TV and a show came on that I'd never seen before (I guess she doesn't usually watch TV at 4:30.) The premise of the show is vocabulary-building--there were about 2 or 3 words that the main character repeated in various contexts throughout the 15-minute show.

Not bad so far. I can get behind that premise.

Things start breaking down after that. You see, the heroine's nemesis is this boy who builds robots. Admittedly his robots do seem to turn evil sometimes, but even if he is kind of unfriendly I personally side with him. You'd be a bit cranky too if your hobbies caused you to be mocked and ostracized by the "good" characters.

In the episode I just watched, the kids were all going off to summer camp. The robot-building "evil genius" was dropped off by his mother, who stated very firmly that he was being forced to go to this camp because she hoped it'd break him of his robot-building habits. (Lady: Your middle-schooler is building robots. Does the prodigious coolness of that totally go over your head?)

The "evil genius" disobeys his mother (okay, that's one point against him...) and has his robot build him a cabin, which he stays in for the remainder of the weekend while everybody else is in flimsy tents. I left the room after the "heroine" started lecturing him that the idea of camping is to make you independent, which means thinking and acting on your own.

People. Does anyone PROOFREAD these scripts? You tell me how designing and building your own robot before you're old enough to shave doesn't count as thinking and acting on your own. You tell me how keeping your mouth shut and meekly doing whatever everybody else is doing is by any stretch of the imagination thinking and acting on your own.

I really hate children's television.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Things I have learned

One advantage (among many) of my parents doing this whole foster-parent things is that LP gets to be my guinea pig and save my poor firstborn from lifelong therapy. (At this rate, he might only need therapy for 20 years or so.)

Lately I've had another little guinea pig. Not one of ours; we're babysitting him during the day for another foster family. We'll call him The Quiet One. QO is four and he and LP are like night and day. She's barely mastered sentences and she talks about 5 times as much as he does.

Things I have learned from having these two together:

1. Kids only play together nice when one of them isn't constantly trying to tackle the other one. Poor QO is constantly overwhelmed by LP's unbridled affection.

2. I like quiet kids. Don't get me wrong, I think everything LP utters is The Smartest Thing Ever Spoken by a Human Being, but by noon I'm thinking, "Please, please take a nap and stop talking."

2a. QO would be perfectly happy for most of the day just sitting and playing quietly with a piece of paper or something. Or staring at the wall. He's not picky. Mom's reaction to this is, "Hey, do you want to do anything? Play outside? Watch a movie? Something?" My reaction is, "He's happy and not destroying anything. Leave him alone."

Mom and I have already established that my children are going to think she's a crazy hyperactive old lady. They are going to come back from visits to her house complaining, "Mommy, she made us do things all day long."

2b. Despite doing my best to stack the genetic odds by marrying a fellow introvert, I am going to give birth to a Statistically Improbable Sanguine (I am convinced of this, because God has a sense of humor). And she will make me grow in virtue more than all of my other children combined. Otherwise I will just spend her whole life telling her, "Why can't you be more like your brothers and sisters?" and she will really need therapy when she grows up.

3. Grocery shopping with 2 kids actually isn't that terrible, if you keep the little one strapped down at all times and keep a very sharp eye on the only-slightly-bigger one to make sure he's actually following you and not trailing further and further behind getting lost in thought.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

There are worse reputations

The scene: During a three-way conversation with Emily and Scott, Em mentioned the possibility of taking a little detour to pick up Scott the next time she visits her family in the Polis.

[Note: Em and Scott have their names in Latin; I did too for a while but switched it back. Mine was Margarita.]

[7/8/2009 8:59:34 PM] Aemilia: And you, Miss Megan, ought to try to see me too when I'm down there :)
[7/8/2009 8:59:36 PM] Aemilia: I misses you
[7/8/2009 8:59:39 PM] Aemilia: !!!

[7/8/2009 8:59:41 PM] Megan: Of course!!
[7/8/2009 8:59:58 PM] Megan: I am not going to be all, "Hey, thanks for bringing my boyfriend, have a nice weekend."

[7/8/2009 9:00:07 PM] Aemilia: Lol
[7/8/2009 9:00:08 PM] Aemilia: I'd hope not

[7/8/2009 9:00:12 PM] Megan: I'm going to be all, "Come in! We have cookies!"

[7/8/2009 9:00:14 PM] Vagus Adversor: Heh heh.

[7/8/2009 9:00:20 PM] Aemilia: Okay, I'm in!

[7/8/2009 9:00:24 PM] Megan: Well, the cookies will be gone by then.
[7/8/2009 9:00:27 PM] Megan: But we can make more.

[7/8/2009 9:00:27 PM] Aemilia: Man, now I want cookies

[7/8/2009 9:00:34 PM] Vagus Adversor: XDD
[7/8/2009 9:00:41 PM] Vagus Adversor: Cookies? Gone? In your house?

[7/8/2009 9:00:55 PM] Aemilia: I might have to go buy some cookie dough tonight

[7/8/2009 9:01:05 PM] Megan: Whatever do you mean by that, my love?

[7/8/2009 9:01:26 PM] Vagus Adversor: You just make more whenever that happens, I thought.

[7/8/2009 9:01:38 PM] Megan: Not always.
[7/8/2009 9:01:43 PM] Megan: We had to make pudding the other day.
[7/8/2009 9:01:46 PM] Megan: It was a terrible trial.

[7/8/2009 9:01:53 PM] Aemilia: That is sad

[7/8/2009 9:02:01 PM] Megan: (We were out of flour, oddly enough.)

[7/8/2009 9:02:14 PM] Aemilia: I don't think I've ever been over to your house before when there weren't cookies around in some way, shape, or form

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Enchanted 15: Source

A day late again, and I can't even blame photo upload issues. I had it all written and simply failed to hit "publish post". It's been a long week.

Part 3 in an ongoing series based on Jen's Enchanted 15 workshop.

Last October and November I had a practice I called Port Therapy. The germ of the idea started when I realized that I wasn't visiting Franciscan's perpetual adoration chapel at all because I didn't have time in my schedule for a full holy hour. So I told myself, "Fine, you don't have a 60-minute chunk. Do you have a 10-minute chunk?" It turns out I did, and 5 days a week I would spend 10 minutes of my morning in the chapel. (Adding up to almost a full holy hour per week.)

The beginning of the practice corresponded with a rather difficult period in my life. So I told God my terms: I was going to show up in the chapel and I was going to sit there for 10 minutes. I did not guarantee that I would pray. I just sat there and let my body and my thoughts do whatever they wanted. I usually ended up facedown and crying (my body is funny like that), but my thoughts went everywhere. Sometimes I did pray. Sometimes I felt something. Sometimes I just sat and fidgeted for 10 minutes and then walked away feeling nothing.

But I showed up, and it was those 10 minutes a day that kept me sane and kept me in the habit of putting myself in a place where God could speak to me if He wanted to.

So far I've been kind of lame at actually doing the Enchanted 15. Interestingly, the one time I did it I wrote for 20 minutes because once I started I didn't want to stop. Still, I've been justifying not setting that timer on the grounds that I don't feel like writing.

Well, nine months ago I didn't feel like praying, but I still showed up. Maybe that's what I need to tell myself--that if I have to I can spend 15 minutes a day sitting in front of a blank Word document. Maybe something will come, maybe it won't, but I need that habit of showing up and putting myself in a place where God can speak to me if He wants to.

You see, writing is prayer. For the last several years I've kept a prayer journal off and on (I'm more off than on lately) and it was some of the best prayer that I've ever had. I didn't always have something that I felt like writing. In fact, I didn't often have something that I felt like writing. When I didn't have any ideas of my own I would read a Psalm and write whatever came to me from that. My journal has a lot of paraphrased Psalms in it; it also has a lot of entries where a word or phrase or image would spark something and I would be off.

So, I've given myself an assignment for this week: Get out my prayer journal and my Bible. Read Psalm 1. Read it carefully. Spend as much time as I possibly can just soaking it in. Then spend 15 minutes writing.

Image credit: The photo is one of my own that I happened to have lying about (taken about a year ago to demonstrate that I hold my pencil funny), but inspired by the header of Jen's series.

Monday, July 6, 2009

How to make a 2-year-old's day

Two weeks ago Saturday, my whole family went down to Scott's family's house to join them in a barbeque. The Little Princess spent most of her time chasing the dog all around the house. In the sixteen days since, she has talked about petting that dog at least once a day (often several times per day). Sometimes for variety she'll throw in "'Cott's house!", "I see 'Cott!", or her version of the name of one of his brothers.

(We taught her that brother's name because she kept calling him "'Cott." [In her defense, they look quite a bit alike.] I should see if I can round up good pictures of all the siblings so she knows their names next time.)

Mom suggested that I see if she can identify a picture of the dog, so today I got on Facebook and found a picture of the dog that I happened to take last summer. Then I printed it off and presented it to LP. (The printer only does black and white, but the dog is black and white anyway so all was well.) Sure enough, LP correctly identified the dog and then carried the picture around babbling happily about "'Cott's house!", etc.

Now she's napping with the picture on her pillow.

Quote of the Day

"I need you to hold my hand while I'm letting go!"

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Girlhood and Lost Innocence

Last night I was going through the archives at MommyWrites (You happy few who read this should all go read her stuff; she writes the sort of things I would write if I were cooler.) and came across this post, which led me to this article.

Now, I haven't read the Twilight books (I haven't even read Harry Potter yet; now I'm at least two pop culture phenomena behind. Oh well.) but I am a teenage girl (until November, anyway) so I feel I'm qualified to comment on teen girl psychology.

There are so many points in this article I'd like to pull out and discuss but there is one passage in particular that struck me:


As I write this, I am sitting on the guest-room bed of a close friend, and down the hall from me is the bedroom of the daughter of the house, a 12-year-old reader extraordinaire, a deep-sea diver of books. She was the fourth person through the doors of the Westwood Barnes & Noble the midnight that the series’ final volume, Breaking Dawn, went on sale, and she read it—a doorstop, a behemoth—in six hours, and then turned back to page one as though it were the natural successor to the last page.

Posted on this girl’s door—above the fading sticker of a cheery panda hopping over a pink jump rope, and one of a strawberry and a lollipop (their low placement suggesting the highest reach of a very small child), and to the right of an oval-shaped decal bearing the single, angry imperative STOP GLOBAL WARMING—is a small, black, square-shaped sticker that reads My Heart Belongs to Edward. In the middle is a photograph of a pair of shapely female hands proffering a red Valentine heart. Also taped to this girl’s closed door is a single piece of lined paper, on which she has written, in a carefully considered amalgam of block letters and swirly penmanship and eight different colors of crayon:

Edward’s Fan Club You may only enter if you know the password

[snip]


Years and years ago, when I was a young girl pressing myself into novels and baking my mother pretty birthday cakes, and writing down the 10 reasons I should be allowed to purchase and wear to the eighth-grade dance a pair of L’eggs panty hose, I knew that password. But one night a few years after that dance, I walked into a bedroom at a party and saw something I shouldn’t have, and a couple of months after that I unwisely accepted a ride to the beach from a boy I hardly knew, and then I was a college girl carrying a copy of Hartt’s History of Renaissance Art across campus and wondering whether I should take out a loan and go to graduate school, and somewhere along the way—not precisely on the day I got my first prescription for birth control, and not exactly on the afternoon I realized I had fallen out of love with one boy and had every right to take up with another—somewhere along the way, I lost the code.

I read that, and I felt...misplaced, almost. Or perhaps divided would be a better word. There is a part of me that understands all the tired skepticism of the coed who knows that guys can be jerks sometimes and girls get their hearts broken more often than not. (In all fairness, girls can be jerks sometimes too, but that's beside the point at the moment...)

Yet at the same time...I still have the code. I can still pick up a story about a bewildered adolescent girl just starting to discover boys and feel for her, deeply, because I still don't know the answers to most of those questions she asks about boys and relationships and grown-up things like that.

Maybe someday I'm going to lose even that last fragile hold on innocence. After all, someday I'm going to get married and then men (in the form of one particular man) will become rather less mysterious, right? And then perhaps I will suddenly realize whatever it is that all these grown-up women have realized.

And yet, and yet...another small quote from the article:


In Prep, the heroine wants something so fundamental to the emotional needs of girls that I find it almost heartbreaking: she wants to know that the boy she loves, and with whom she has shared her body, loves her and will put no other girl in her place.

We all want that. Some of us want it in a sort of desperate way after we've already given the boy everything we have to give. Some of us lack the desperation but still have the need to have someone tell us that there are guys out there who are worth waiting for. We're not waiting because if we don't it will be gross and he will leave us. We're waiting because if we do it will be wonderful and he will love us forever.

Can God have given us all this desire and not meant for us to have some way to fulfill it? Ninety-nine times out of a hundred we mess it up, because we're fallen humans; or the guy messes it up because he's fallen too. But maybe once in a blue moon we who give all the passion in our girlish souls to trying to get it right actually make it. Maybe that is the fulfillment of everything the dreamy teenage girl in us ever imagined. Maybe growing up doesn't have to mean being disillusioned.

To put it another way: maybe all those dreams are a beautiful but fragile flower, and ninety-nine times out of a hundred that gets crushed and destroyed, but sometimes it's protected and left to grow so that what you get in the end is its fruit--not as pretty as the flower but still whole, and sweet.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Enchanted 15: Space

A day late, because of photo-upload issues.

This post is inspired by Just Jen and her series on The Enchanted 15. This week's installment is on space and enchanted objects.

This is my space:

The only thing I did before taking this picture was turn the picture frame (see it? slightly right of the midpoint?) backwards. That picture frame is one of my enchanted objects. It houses a picture of the majority of my household sisters on a retreat we had last fall.

The tape measure in the upper left corner is not an enchanted object. It is just there. The whiteboard calendar is also not an enchanted object. I bought it before leaving for college and used it once. I have since begun a passionate love affair with post-it notes. I should get rid of the whiteboard. (And buy some more post-it notes. I go through them like crazy.)

(Random bit of trivia: the text on my computer screen is this article, link provided by our lovely hostess, Jen.)

Now I shall give you a glimpse of some of my enchanted objects.


Three things all in a stack here: A Reader's Digest from February of 2007, a Magnificat from April of 2008, and a crayon drawing by a particular two-year-old of whom I am rather fond. The reason I keep the drawing is fairly self-explanatory (well, I could tell you lots of stories about my little friend but that would take too long and anyway she's not blog fodder.) The Reader's Digest I keep because February 2007 is the month I met the Cobbler. The Magnificat I keep because April 2008 is the month he and I started dating.



In this picture are two enchanted objects. On the left is a decade rosary, one of two that I made (on the retreat during which the above-mentioned picture was taken, actually). The other I gave to Mari. On the right is a locket that was given to me as a high school graduation present by my two best friends. (Who at the time were my only friends--I'm one of those people who prefers quality over quantity. Or maybe I just tell myself that to cover for the fact that I was unpopular. :))

Here you see a stack of envelopes. These envelopes contain letters, hand-written by the Cobbler and mailed to me. There are twenty-three of them. (One of which is still un-replied-to. After I finish this post I must apply pen to paper.) Normally I have them flipped the other way, but if I did that in this photo you'd get a lovely view of our full names and home addresses.



This is my chair. It is an incredibly ugly mustard-yellow-and-tan metal monstrosity that I got at Goodwill for a couple of dollars last summer. I love it. It is a good chair.


This is the Blue Bunny. He is not an enchanted object; he is just a stuffed rabbit. But you can see his feet in the picture of the chair so I thought, "Hey, who wouldn't want to see a picture of a giant blue stuffed bunny?"











This is one of our cats. She is also not an enchanted object; she is just a cat. But she likes to "help" me write, and who doesn't want to see a picture of a cute kitty?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thursday night random

Have I ever mentioned, dear blog readers, that I am a mutant freak of nature?

No?

Well, I am. See, neither of my parents are able to roll their tongues (nor can my sister), but I can. Both my high school biology textbook and my college physical anthropology professor claim that this is genetically impossible. (Dominant gene, yadda yadda yadda.)

If I hadn't gone to public school, I might never have realized I could. First of all, I grew up in a family full of non-tongue-rollers, so nobody ever tried to show me. Second, most adults just don't go around with their tongues rolled into little tubes. Then one day in second or third grade I was riding along in the bus minding my own business when one of the other kids asks, "Hey, can you roll your tongue?" I asked him what this strange phrase meant. He demonstrated. I tried it, and discovered that I could.

I haven't thought of my mutant status in more than a year--since that physical anthropology class--mainly due to the aforementioned tendency of adults not to go around asking about other people's tongue-rolling abilities. But for whatever reason this evening I thought it would be fun to show the Princess a new trick and so proceeded to do so. She laughed gleefully and stuck her tongue out in response. She couldn't figure out how to roll it (I love how her first reaction was "Megan, help!") but that might just be because she's two. If she still can't do it in a few years I'll just keep on being a solitary mutant. (Until I have kids. >:) )

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Enchanted 15: Time

Friend Jen has spent the last several weeks doing a series on the Enchanted 15 minutes. Being a slow sort of person, I've only just now resolved that come what may I am going to start being enchanted. So, today I present to you my timer.





I was going to follow Jen's advice and buy a special writing timer, but it's that sort of thinking that got me 4 weeks behind on this whole Enchanted 15 thing. Right now I am working on things being Good Enough because if I wait until they are perfect nothing will ever get done. (Also, I'm kind of short on discretionary funds at the moment.)

This phone has been my companion for a very long time. It has gotten dropped on concrete, repeatedly. It has gotten run through the washing machine at least once. It's gotten taken on water rides at theme parks without even a plastic baggie to keep it safe. It's only needed its battery replaced once and that was due to a defect in the battery, apparently, not to the abuse mentioned above. It's a good little phone, and it is in some ways itself an enchanted object (more on those sorts of things next week).

I've got the alarm tone programmed for something other than the tone the phone makes when it rings, and when I'm ready to write it will be ready to be set for 15 minutes and then sing merrily at me when they are over.

History repeating

I just dragged the Little Princess up to her room to keep her from tearing the house apart. As soon as we arrived she penitently murmured, "Watch Goos Coos?" [Blue's Clues] To which my unmerciful reply was, "Sorry, you lost your chance."

It's funny how when you need something to say you fall back on the exact same things your mother used to say to you.

I told Mom that and she said, "Just wait, one day you're going to say to your kids, 'I hope you have a kid just like you.' "

Me: "Did you ever say that to me?"

Mom: "No, you were good."

Me: "You should have! Then I'd have at least one kid who sat down quietly and entertained herself!"