03 July 2015

Weekend linkage

Today we're busy prepping for an Independence Day party (slightly early) at our house: there will be brined pork chops and lemon garlic chicken on the grill, sweet potato fries, pickles I canned last summer, homemade cookies (you know it's special because I never make cookies), and lots of other good food provided by the friends who will shortly descend upon us. I have decorated with paper chains, an adorable free printable from Hope Ink, and dill flowers, which, rather felicitously, resemble fireworks.

I love being an American. I'm not much for group pride or team spirit-- too cynical? too contrary?-- but I genuinely think this country is awesome, and worth fighting to keep it that way.

Here are links.

"When the Wages of Sin Is a Grandbaby."
You read all the blogs, ask all the parents who came before you how they got their kids through. You also know the panic you feel when what you prayed against happens. You feel desperate to reset it all, to find the way back to the place of peace, the longing to wake up and discover it was a dream, a warning so you can be a little more vigilant.

And yet, did you hear that? The tiny flutter of a little heart beating means our Father’s hand is at work in our girl to give us all a gift beyond price.
"Pro Life, No Tricks."
If Rick Perry had signed the “Save The Babies From Being Murdered Act of 2013,” I would be cheering him on. That he expects us to believe that he’s honestly concerned about “ambulatory surgical centers” is insulting to us, and insulting to the pro-life movement, which can easily make its case without resorting to such measures . . . Abortion should be illegal. Let’s not waste our time with false and Machiavellian endeavors to make it so.
"Beauty and Darkness."
Dostoyevsky famously wrote that “Beauty will save the world,” and I desperately want to believe him, because it is a deeply nice thing to believe. But it didn’t. It won’t. Standing atop the misty mountains in Berchtesgaden, I was reminded of that. Truth will, Christ will, and sometimes it seems far from beautiful in the moment. But truth always leads to something far more beautiful than anything we could imagine.
"I Made the Pea Guacamole."
First, I made a much smaller batch, because I don't believe in wasting avocados on an abomination. Second, I didn't have time to roast my jalapeno, though I doubt that would have improved things. Finally, I did not sprinkle any sunflower seeds over the top; I don't have those on hand because I'm not some kind of socialist. 
"We Have Reached Peak Problematic."
Because academic progressivism is intellectually exhausted and out of ideas, it had to invest in a kind of catch-all word that would serve as a useful vilification device. “Problematic” was that word. Now, instead of thinking about and discussing mildly complex issues, you can just call things “problematic” and act as if you’ve said something intelligent.
"Stop Trying to Convince Me I'm Beautiful." (EXCEPT IF YOU'RE MY HUSBAND IN WHICH CASE NEVER EVER STOP.)
I don’t have low self esteem, or harbour a pocket of self loathing. I love myself, my life, my body, and my face—but I’m not a beauty. I’m a really nice, smart, kind woman who has a lot of great qualities that I’m recognised for everyday. Because of all those things I’m also unbelievably lucky. But again, I’m not a delicate willow, an amazon, a starlet, or anything in between. I’m not bad looking, but that’s about as far as I’d go. I’m a happy average.
"What I Wish I'd Known" before having kids. This is part III of the series, and my favorite installment, but you really ought to read them all.
People always ask how I do it all with three kids and I always say it's because I have three kids. I am more driven, more productive, more organized and happier as a mom of three kids than I would be if it were just me. I can't imagine having all of my time to myself- I would waste so much!
A super interesting podcast, which both appeals to my Hillsdaler's love of core curriculum and raises the hackles of my homeschooled lone ranger sensibilities: "What Every American Needs to Know" with Milt Rosenberg and E.D. Hirsch. Milt Rosenberg is adorable btw and I want to adopt him as my granddaddy.

This week's delighful Instagram account: Benjamin Hole, a farmer on the Isle of Purbeck. SHEEP.

27 June 2015

Weekend linkage

Scripture, flowers, critter friends
"University of Cambridge to hire Professor of Lego." Indeed.

Oh my goodness, now I want to buy a million terracotta pots.

Because such things are vital to life: the best way to grill sausages.

Why those final five weeks of pregnancy are critical. Clearly, some babies need to be hurried along for their own well-being! But some babies are not most babies. Chances are, your mini-me will arrive exactly when he is ready. Be patient, mamas!

And after he does arrive, here is a truly great thing to keep in mind: "My Number One Parenting Tip." More patience required. . . good parenting means a lot of patience, I'm finding.

I typically enjoy the podcasts put out by Ricochet, as they range from the highest of culture to grubbiest of politics. Here's an interesting and recent one, with guest appearances by Michael Barone, Richard Epstein, and R.R. Reno: Three Headed Hydra.

This made me laugh (and cringe, remembering some of the misguided but incredibly confident advice my writing students used to give one another): "If Jane Austen Got Feedback From Some Guy in a Writing Workshop."
A few other concerns: Mrs. Bennett is annoying, and you don’t have any people of color. Also, there aren’t a lot of men in this book. Only about the same number as there are women. I was thinking that what you could do is have Mrs. Bennett be dying, but give her a black best friend. Like Othello? (Have you read it? It’s also by Shakespeare, fwiw.) The Othello character could be her butler, maybe? There you go: three problems solved. You’re welcome!
"Homeschooling and Christian Duty."
The idea of sending a child daily into a hostile environment—if not actively hostile, as in bullying, then certainly philosophically hostile—expecting him not only to withstand assaults on everything his parents have told him is true but also to transform the entire system by his presence, seems sadly misguided to me. There may be many valid arguments for sending a child to school, but that one doesn’t wash.

18 June 2015

things we never thought we'd have to say

"Ellie, carrots do not belong in shoes."

"Ellie, stop decorating your water bottle with zucchini."

"Ellie, please don't draw on the computer."

"Ellie, your stroller doesn't go on the couch."

"Ellie, do not put your hair clip into the coffee grinder."

"Ellie, don't eat rocks."

"Ellie, you may not step on other people's heads."

Parenting! You gotta tell these toddlers everything.

17 June 2015

I know that full well

Been thinking a lot. It's surprising, even when you have two young daughters-- one of whom puts the Energizer Bunny to shame, the other of whom is, thankfully, a mellow melon of a baby-- even when you have a house and garden to tend, and friends to see and errands to run and emails to answer, even when you never come close to being bored, how much you can still think.

Deleting my Facebook account helped a lot with that. I stopped trying to think about everybody else's life, and like magic, discovered that I had time (and brain space) to reflect on my own.

Right now I am sitting at the dining room table, with a bowl full of zucchini noodles tossed in peanut butter and soy sauce (very good), a clementine, a half-empty water bottle, and rare naptime quiet enveloping the house. Quiet except for the air conditioners. Humidity plasters our neighborhood every day now. Our valiant lettuce rows wilt a little in the afternoon sun, and I wilt a lot every time I need to step outside.

One truth weaving its way through my head is my girls' beauty and intricacy. I don't have in mind their inward intricacy, though of course I could spend years writing about that: about how Ellie drinks up reality like a milkshake, how Zoe concentrates her entire self on understanding the world, Ellie's comedy and creativity, Zoe's startlingly deep emotions. I just mean their physical being. They are made perfectly. They know it, too. You can see the innocent delight they take in their own meticulously crafted bodies. Zoe rolls over, flaps her arms joyously, and stuffs her toes into her mouth: "Look, I have a foot! And I can grab it! Isn't that marvelous?" Ellie learns new things about her body every day: "Look, I can kick the ball! I can jump like a frog! Isn't that marvelous?"
You created my inmost being;
You knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,

I know that full well.
-Psalm 139:14
We have been beyond fortunate with our daughters' health; even in this first-world country I see many children struggling physically, on medication for chronic conditions or in the hospital for surgery. It breaks my heart. And in the rest of the world, children like mine-- rarely ill, never hungry-- are a hopeless dream for so many mothers. Sometimes I just grab Ellie and Zoe and squeeze them as hard as I can. They are lively, strong, resilient. I could not design anything better.

I would like to be as grateful for my own body as I am for theirs. Usually, if I think about my body, it's in negative terms. When I pray with Ellie before bedtime I thank God for creating her, but I don't often thank Him for creating me. I am more prone to complain. I grumble about my wide face (not feminine enough), my eczema (it's unfair that I have to deal with this), the gap in my abdominal muscles (a souvenir from my giant offspring).

God did create me, though! Not only that, he was so kind as to make almost everything work correctly. I hardly ever get sick. I have plenty of energy for life. I recovered really well from my pregnancies. In fact, I'm pretty dang healthy, and that is not as common as I assume. So when I scoop Zoe up from her crib, I'd like to take a moment before rushing on with my day, and think Look, my hands can grab my baby securely, my arms can lift her, we can spin around and laugh together and make big silly grins in the mirror. Isn't that marvelous?

Speaking of which, I hear her wriggling upstairs, so I need to scoot.

05 June 2015

and then she said

"Good morning, box!"
-after finding an Amazon package in the living room

-on spotting the mailman climbing our porch steps

"I picka weeds!"
-showing me a fistful of lavender blossoms

Me: It's nap time, Ellie.
E: No nap!
Me: Honey, you need to rest.
E: No rest!
Me: Yes. You just have to lie down for a while, because you're growing all the time, right?

E: Want snack!
Me: No.
E: Raisins?
Me: No.
E: Yogurt?
Me: No.
E: Pepperoni?
Me: Ellie, we are not eating now. You need to respect what Mommy says and stop asking.
E: *dramatic sigh* I sad.
Me: Well, I'm sorry that you're sad. Why don't you find something that will make you happy while you wait.
[E considers this, then perks up]
. . . applesauce?

She real sassy.