Five on Friday: Amusement Park Edition

Buzz is on vacation this week and we’re doing the typical Midwestern parent thing of NOT RELAXING AT ALL JUST HAVING FUN ALL THE TIME OMG. 

(So in case you were wondering, my transformation into my parents is almost complete. It should only be a week or two before I start going to Fleet Farm for fun on the weekends.)

Yesterday we went to Bay Beach with 1/3 of the extended family, and the following lessons were learned.

1.) Buddy could literally not control his excitement. 


When we pulled up, he started screeching like a howler monkey and literally did not have words for what he wanted to say. “Mommy! Mommy! More??!?” 

This is a kid who gets excited about being taken out of his car seat relatively quickly, so real live rides with real live trains and all sorts of other real live crap that appeals to crazy little boys? I was surprised he didn’t pass out from the excitement.

2.) I get sick on rides. This is a crying shame. I had no choice but to sit on a bench and read my tablet. (Also they had reasonably priced cheese fries. It’s basically heaven.)


3.) I am not an overprotective mother in the least. I let my kids play outside, I don’t scream “OH MY GOD WHAT’S WRONG??” Like my mom when one of them sneezes funny. 

But I have my limits. It was terrifying to put my kids on toy boats that were built 15 years before I was born.


4.) You can put kids on any number of incarnations of the same ride- various items on the ends of spokes coming out of a mechanical wheel- give them a non functioning steering wheel or a bell? And they will be happy for HOURS.


It’s delightful, really.

5.) Having your shoe break and having to shuffle across the park in a downpour isn’t so much fun.


But the joy on your kids’ faces will make up for it.


(Also they’ll sleep really well on the way home.)

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Haters Gonna Hate

I follow a number of homeschooling blogs, and mostly they just serve to make me feel badly because I  can’t get it together to post that much at all much less do it while educating my children so wonderfully. But hey. It’s good to have something to shoot for.

Maybe someday I’ll have opinions on things other than how Johnny Depp has aged and, oh, I don’t know, my hair or makeup or something.

(BEAUTY BLENDER. You guys. IT’S THE FUTURE.)

Today the lovely lady over at A Homeschooling Mom posted about “Forcing Religion on Your Children”, which is one of my pet peeves about the criticisms of homeschooling.

Along with socialization. And wearing your pajamas all day. And not shaving your legs.

(Okay okay okay. So I’m typing this in a robe and I haven’t showered yet so there’s obviously been no shaving. BUT IT’S SUMMER. I’m ALLOWED.)

Because I tend to hang out with mostly Catholic people because of my involvement in my parish and so forth, that isn’t a question so I get so much.

I do get “why are you trying to protect them from the world? You can’t do that forever, you know!”

*crickets*

Yes. Thank you, Target check out lady. I was under the impression that taking care of children was like one extended pregnancy where I just shoved them back up my birth canal when things got too scary and mean for them. Should I not be doing that, you mean?

My kids are six and three. They are pure, perfect little souls that I have been given to get to Heaven. Their souls are ON ME. And we all know how I feel about my hair in the heat. Eternal damnation? Not what I’m gunning for.

So guess what? I will protect them from the evils of the world (and it exists- as C.S. Lewis said, “The devil’s greatest trick was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”) because THEY ARE MY CHILDREN. And I will bring them up in the religion I hold to be true. Because THEY ARE MY CHILDREN. I will also teach them to not run out in front of buses. Because THEY ARE MY CHILDREN. Same basic concept.

Somewhere along the line, in all of our desire for individuality, we forgot that parents are here to raise children. We protect them when they’re little. We give them a set of moral guidelines. That’s what we do.

We’re so obsessed with the “mommy wars” that we forgot to realize that it doesn’t matter one damn bit if I gave me son formula and had him circumcised or taught him baby sign language (yes yes and no) if he isn’t raised to be a good person and (I believe) enjoy eternal life with God.

Because one day, of course they’ll be grown up. I will not be telling them where to go, whose house they are allowed to play at, which shows are okay on Netflix. I will not be here saying the rosary with them and making sure they pray before every meal and go to Mass on Sundays. I won’t be explaining the Sacrament of Reconciliation by painstakingly detailing my own sins (some of them) so they understand what the point is and how it works.

They’ll be on their own. They’ll be making decisions about religious, ethical, sexual matters. The world will be telling them to act in a way that is contrary to the faith in which I have raised them.

(That is, if the world doesn’t implode immediately in November upon the announcement of a Trump or Clinton presidency.)

They will be in charge of all those decisions. I am not delusional. I know that I will not be standing next to my daughter the first time someone pressures her to have sex. (How awkward would that be?) But damn it, I am going to make sure that when she was mine? I gave her the tools she needed to make decisions that would honor her body, her God, and, yes, her parents too.

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

You guys. LESSON PLANNING.

A whole week where it makes sense for me to just make lists and read books and write stuff in an overpriced planner and ignore the children because “Mommy has to work for school right now bye!!”

Try not to be too jealous of how sexy I look.

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I love it.

Lesson planning is my spirit animal.

I wrote about this a few weeks ago, but last year we didn’t really lesson plan for a lot of reasons. Mostly because I went crazy. Also because it was K5 and I had no idea how to do lesson plans for a tiny little homeschooler. Aren’t you still like napping? We don’t need to plan that. And I bought ALL THE BOOKS and then used like six of them. But oh well.

This year, I had my stuff together. I knew what worked for our family and was able to buy appropriately.

We used a combination of Seton and A Beka books for most subjects. I love Seton because they’re so Catholic and weave a devotion to the Saints and Mary throughout the book. But they also say things like “Columbus is all good because he was killing those Indians for the Pope.” And I love A Beka because they are sooo good at explaining math and English for little kids but they say things like “Kill all the Papists.”

So we mix and match.

This year is first grade, so the first real year that we’re doing real school. We’re using A Beka for Grammar, Writing, Cursive, and Math. Seton is covering most of religion (I supplement depending on liturgical season,) American history, and handwriting. We have a few spelling books that we’ll use and- my favorite- LATIN.

I am teaching my baby girl Latin and I AM SO EXCITED OMG.

(It’s a four-year program, and I’m not crazy- she is six. BUT I WILL NOT BE DETERRED.)

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I decided to use Erin Condren for a planner this year too. I have the best daily planner from her and also I felt like if I put this under school expenses I could spend more money. Which is pretty much always my goal.

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I organized it by week and then went through everything we need to get accomplished that week. So I’ll save a ton of time every week because I know exactly what I need to spread out over the the five days (or four. Or three. We have a lot of vacation days.)

I was super impressed with myself because even without trying suuper hard everything pretty much worked out perfectly to wrap up at the end of May. Because again with the vacation.

I love me some vacation.

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Science was definitely most difficult. I hate the science books we have available to us in those two programs- Seton’s isn’t great and A Beka’s is very…um…fundamental. Which is great. If you’re an evangelical Protestant. And we’re…not.

So we joined the Magic School Bus science club, and we get science experiment every month. We got backlogged last year (because of the crazy) so I had enough to cover the entire year. For each unit I found books and videos and stuff to supplament, and Squeaks can do the experiments with Buzz on the weekends.

Because he is the science parent. I am the rambling about Church history and the Jewish roots of Christianity parent.

(Equally important really.)

(Not really.)

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I had so much fun going through and outlining the year. Because I love me some lists.

Almost as much as vacation.

(Not really.)

Tomorrow I’m posting about my lesson plans for ME for next year. I know, right? Self care. Super exciting.

Fingers crossed we’ll avoid a breakdown this year!!!

(Probably not.)

(But we can try!)

 

Eight

Dear Grandpa,

It’s been eight years since you’ve left us. I don’t like this. It’s too long. I have to try really hard to remember how you sounded and felt when you hugged us. And your laugh- whether at something you were okay being amused by or something that Colleen or Steven said that was totally inappropriate and you laughed in spite of yourself because they are so funny and you loved them so much.

(Sean, John, and I? Could not get away with that. It was a gift of those two, and I hope they know how good they had it.)

I’m living in your house. It’s awesome. Sometimes when I come home after a day away it smells exactly like it did when you were here. I like to imagine you and Grandma hanging out while we’re gone. (And here. That would be okay too.) Last weekend, Buzz and I took a nap (your granddaughter is too old to party at reunions,) and when I slept really deeply. When I woke up it that smell was back. It was so wonderful that it was like a hug and I didn’t want to open my eyes.

I had to, because your great grandchildren are living here too. They get to grow up where you raised your little girls into beautiful women. They get to play in the backyard where you taught John about birds and Colleen and I played under the tree. Squeaks sleeps in your office. I love that every time I go in there, whether I’m happy or sad, upset that I have to put TinkerBell and her Fairies away for the thousandth time this week, or so thrilled that she wants another cuddle, I have memories in that room. Buddy sleeps in the other bedroom, and that room has fun memories too because that’s where all of Grandma’s costume jewelry was and it was pretty cool.

I have a bookshelf in the hallway. It needed one.

Sometimes when Buzz and I are watching TV at night I’ll go into the kitchen for something (okay, for more wine,) and just the light above the sink is on. And for a second? I can swear my parents are at some (very infrequent) function and you’re babysitting Colleen and John and I. And I just have to go into the family room and you’ll be there laughing at The Russians are Coming! Or It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

All of these memories are wonderful. I am legitimately thankful every day when I get up that I get to experience life that way. (And given how cranky I am when I get up, this is a shocker.)

But those memories are not the most important thing you gave me (and all of us, really.) You gave us God.

For a few reasons, I’ve been thinking about my faith lately and what exactly it means, and how it should dictate how I live my life. I’ve been lucky enough to have an easy enough life where I am able to “coast” in my faith for long periods of time, going to Mass every week, saying prayers, confession every few weeks, etc. But never stopping to really think about what it means.

But certain things, and having children is a big one of those things- you have to impart EVERYTHING to them. And their souls are on you. Dang. That’s a lot of pressure.

Anyway, I realized that the most important gift you’ve given me (and my siblings and cousins), is our faith. You gave us the example of devotion to Christ and His Church. You gave us an understanding of how wonderful the sacraments are. You gave us an example of what marriage really is and how beautiful it can be on the most painful of days. You gave us a reminder that, every day, you started your day with the Source and the Summit of our faith, the Eucharist.

After you died, I started going to daily Mass. I was young (and thin and pretty…that’s usually how the sentence ends. Because I’m shallow.) and had lots of free time and could do that. I sat in your pew and thought about you being there with me. And it calmed me down. It was the only thing that helped with not having you here.

I stopped when I got married, for a lot of reasons like I was living on the ends of the earth and had small children. But now? Now that the kids are little bigger? I want to start taking them to Mass in the morning. I want to sit in your pew and tell them about my grandpa and all that he did for us.

Because by imparting your specific, unwavering faith on us, and teaching us the important things in life, you gave us the greatest gift of all. You gave us the gift of the possibility of eternal life.

I love you, and I hope and pray I am lucky enough to be with you in Paradise again.

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Five Things I Want My Son to Know About Our Faith

This week’s five on Friday is a bit more philosophical and a little bit less stream of consciousness. And probably less swearing. Maybe. Maybe not. We’ll see. Nothing gets me going like a good theological debate.

Buddy’s baptism was three years ago on July 20th. Baptism days are important in our family. Growing up, we always celebrated the day of our baptism or (in the case of us poor almost dead babies) our welcoming into the church after they hastily baptized us at birth hoping at least maybe we’d enjoy eternity with God because things weren’t looking so peachy for this world

It makes sense- our welcoming into the Catholic Church is a huge deal and fundamentally affects our souls. It makes sense that we should celebrate this with our children. And I love celebrating Squeaks’s. Every year on April 3rd, I show her pictures of the day, and tell her all about what baptism is and how important it is that she is a child of God and all that jazz. And frankly, for a woman who was chilling with a box of wine at a totally different parish that day, finding pictures is more difficult than you’d think. But I digress.

But I always, without fail, drop the ball on Buddy’s baptism day. I dropped the ball on his actual baptism to be honest, although it wasn’t really my fault. I was literally insane and I don’t remember anything about that day except I liked the way my shoes looked and we gave him his first real bath the morning of the day.

(Yes it had been 17 days since he was born. Yes I realize I should have bathed him before. Again with the insane.)

Anyway, I always forget the anniversary too. This year I forgot until my aunt posted a picture at 9pm and then I was like oh crap, there goes another one. So I made sure to make a big deal of him the next day and even though I’m pretty sure he doesn’t understand what baptism is (or at least he can’t tell me because…well, he can barely tell me anything), I want him to understand that these things are important.

1.) Love is the most important thing in our faith.

That does not mean that there is no right and wrong. We believe there is, and I am doing everything in my power to raise you to feel that same way. But if we don’t love people no matter what, then there is no Christianity in us. If we pretend everything is fine and there is no evil in the world, then we are not loving people the way Christ loved them. If we allow our (however righteous) indignation at sin to stop us from loving people fully, then we are disobeying Christ’s primary commandment.

It’s not easy. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. But it is the most important thing.

There is nothing the Catholic Church and all of our sacred experiences and sacramentals can do to help the world if we refuse to love people to the fullest.

2.) Study the faith, and the Catholic Church.

I spent most of my college and graduate school career studying the history of the Church, Buddy, and I have never been stronger in my faith than I was then. I thought it was because I had so much free time and  was able to go to daily Mass and was basically only concerned with myself.

But after reading something a year or so ago, I realized that that wasn’t it. Yes, I had loads of time. But it was really that I was in love with Christ and his Church. When you’re in love with someone, you want to know everything about them. You want to spend time with them. You want to have opinions about things important to them. I had to immerse myself in the Church by necessity of my studies and my career and it allowed me to fall in love with it.

I have never been happier than when I take you and your sister to Mass and see the recognition in your eyes as you grow in your faith. But having everything in my life- my free time, my family, my career path, the books in my bag, all of it- revolve around Christ and His Church was a close second.

3.) There will always be darkness.

Right now? Things are scary. Just in our own country, we have innocent people being killed, social unrest, a Presidential election that is basically a farce, a terrifying movement towards curbing religious liberty, and killing babies is basically a national past time.

That’s just our cushy little world. That is not counting the horrors in Syria, and Iraq, and countless other places where mothers have to watch their children die every day for reasons that we should be able to stop. The terror and evil in the world seems like it’s never been more influential.

But it’s not. There will always be evil. It might seem like things are lost. But if you’re feeling like that, thing about the Easter Vigil. We begin in darkness. Even our darkest moments are holy when viewed through the lens of the sacrifice of the Cross.

4.) The Eucharist is the biggest gift you will ever be given, and you should never take it for granted.

Seriously. Everything could change. (It won’t. But still.) It could be the worst time in the world. But because we believe that every single time we go to Mass, (and we can go basically whenever we want!) we get to become one with God through the Eucharist, it would be okay.

Really. Try super hard not to take it for granted. It is literally the most beautiful thing you ever get to do.

5.) The priesthood is a noble vocation.

Mostly because I don’t want to deal with a daughter-in-law.

But seriously, you should consider it.

So Buddy, that’s my seriously abbreviated guide to being Catholic. (Seriously. Get Mommy going on Vatican II or the Vatican policy towards the Soviet Union someday.)

I love you so much, precious Joseph Gregory.

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Reunion

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We went to Buzz’s 15th high school reunion last weekend.  I consoled myself by telling him repeatedly that he was so significantly older than me and pointing out how I would only be celebrating my tenth reunion and making him tell me I was young and thin and pretty.

He really enjoyed that part. He loves being married to me. I’m so low maintenance.

We had gone to his tenth reunion as well, approximately fifteen minutes after we started dating. It was…awkward. I was 23, halfway through graduate school but kind of a mom? But not really. And we kept having to explain who I was and all the long complicated difficult tragic things along the road that led to me being there scarfing down hors d’oeuvres and overpriced wine at the cash bar.

(Can I just say? I hate cash bars at places your are forced to socialize. It defeats the purpose.)

Anyway. Not fun. Buzz went to an boys school, so most of his classmates weren’t married with children yet at 28, and even those that were I had very little in common with because that was the summer of living out of my car and not having a real life anywhere. I slept in my own for like an hour and a half at a time and then spent the rest of my time crying in a basement forty five minutes away. So romantic. Just what every girl dreams of. *sigh*

ANYWAY AGAIN. It was weird. But this time, we’ve been married for four years, have two kids, and I am a legit and verifiable mom in every way that counts including the fact that the size dress I wore last time is a long and distant memory.

(Ah. H&M. Those halcyon days of youth.)

It was hilarious. There was a joint Mass at the beginning of the evening, so I got a chance to judge the members of other classes as well as Buzz’s. Pretty much everybody older than his class was looking pretty good. Wealthy, tanned, rested. Kids old enough to sleep through the night. Wives that look like they’ve seen a gym this year. Straightened hair, pretty wraps, all that.

The boys from the class of 2006 (my class, I would like to point out) were also pretty peppy- rested, smiling, faces unhaggard by stress, wearing melon-colored board shorts and popped collars unironically. So youthful and no one has had dead spouses or fights about where to go for Christmas yet.

And then Buzz’s class. We’re not old…but we’re not young. We’re all married and that’s awesome but it means we’re definitely not in dating shape anymore. Ain’t nobody shopping at H&M if you know what I mean. We all have little kids. Which is wonderful. But exhausting. I had the same conversation with everyone- “Oh! How many kids? Two girls. Awesome. We have a six year old girl and a three year old boy. Bedtime, right?” And I legitimately enjoyed each conversation BECAUSE THAT IS MY LIFE AND I LOVE THAT YOU UNDERSTAND IT PEOPLE OF MARQUETTE. COME LET’S GO EAT MORE TACOS.

We’re not making major donations to the school; we’re still slogging through our own student loans. And I’m pretty sure our party wrapped up the earliest because everybody had to get home and most had to get at least two children up and to church in the morning. (Catholic schools ftw!)

It was eye opening. We are not the chipper bright happy 2006 grads anymore (even though again, I would like to point out I graduated in 2006.) We’re tired and stressed with kids who don’t sleep and have problems that we feel unequipped to deal with. We’re pretty far in our careers but probably still feel like we’re faking it most of the time. We can’t imagine having kids old enough to attend high school and the thought of such a day, where they can get in and out of the car by themselves and we can run into the grocery alone fills us with dread and wonder.

It’s a weird time. But having gone through the even weirder time five years ago, I’m super happy that I’m married to my best friend and raising children that are exhausting because I care so much about getting them to adulthood. That’s pretty cool.

 

 

Who wants dinner? We don’t have to decide this tonight.

So a few months ago, I got called for jury duty. I was just a lowly reserve jurist, but as soon as I saw that summons in the mail, there was inside me a growing feeling of…

…excitement.

Yes, internet. I really, really, really wanted to be a juror. Like, for serious.

Back when I had breakdowns over career choices and not who has pooped today and who needs to (seriously important motherhood stuff), law school was my jam. I was constantly trying to decide between law school and graduate school and I would only be slightly swayed by my mother, an actual attorney who worked in an actual office and practiced actual law, saying things like, “Kathleen. It’s not like on Boston Legal.” and “You don’t like to work four hours a week at Borders. Trust me, you’re not going to enjoy being an associate.”

(Side note: Remember Borders? Remember bookstores in general?)

(Yeah, I didn’t enjoy working there.)

But being a juror! This could be perfect! I’d get to wear all the cute clothes I’ve bought and can’t wear because my life is basically one long laundry day. It would be JUST like Boston Legal! Except I’d be finished at 5pm.

And okay, I’m not saying I’d like to leave my family but hear me out here. A four-to-six-week sequestered trial for a mom who does not think twice about going to bathroom in front of her spawn? THAT’S LIKE A VACATION.

A vacation I’d get paid $16 a day for!

People whine about how paltry the jury pay is, since you have to, like, not go to work. But joke’s on you, sucker, I don’t have a job! That’s like a really good Kidscycle day EVERY DAY WHAT.

And besides, when I paid an embarrassing amount of money to go see Dean Strang and Jerry Buting talk about themselves for two hours in March (still right up there with my wedding night for most fun I’ve had in downtown Milwaukee), they said we should all be honored to be on a jury! It’s our sacred civic duty! YES! I’d be making Dean and Jerry proud!

Oh my gosh, guys. What if I got on one of their cases. It would be like living in a Netflix documentary except I’d have my evenings to myself and no one would make me cut up their “wapples” for for them in the morning. I could eat my own damn wapples…waffles by myself and in a timely manner. I COULD BECOME BESTEST FRIENDS WITH JERRY.

MY LIFE’S GOAL.

Of course, no one else seemed to share my glee. My husband looked all nervous and said, “Um, do I need to take off of work?” (I forgot that someone makes more than $16 a day here.) I think he’s intimidated by my Strang/Buting love and was clearly worried one or both of them would fall in love with me.

My mom, who knows me better than probably anyone in the world, and also is my principal child caregiver, was concerned. Because she could see me mentally packing for my two months away (is it getting longer?) and frankly is done hearing me wax poetic about the beauty that is a Strang/Buting defense.

She knew that if I was allowed to be on a jury, I would become a crazy lady. I would be like “Okay guys, let’s not worry about this tonight. Who wants dinner? We can pick this up on Monday, all right? No worries. I’ve still got half a box of wine in my room. Anybody know which Dateline is on tonight?”

She’s totally right. I could be on a case where the guy literally announced in the middle of the trial that he was guilty and I would seriously try to keep it going. I’m not sure I heard him. Guys, we need to talk about whether he really meant it. Yes I know he was found with his hands in that dead body. There could be a perfectly reasonable explanation for that. Let’s just cool off over the weekend and then we can talk about that one episode of CSI:NY where…”

Oh man. It would be great.

Hell. Even NOT getting on an actual jury would be great. Sitting by myself in a room with a book for an afternoon. Not feeling badly that I don’t have dinner ready, sorry honey, my country was calling. I’m getting shivers just thinking about it.

Of course, as is so often the case, the justice system disappointed me. I was up the last two days and WAS NOT EVEN CALLED IN. So basically I just got all the stress of jury duty and trying to rearrange my schedule and find childcare and all that jazz and then I DID NOT EVEN GET TO RELAX AND TELL ANYONE ABOUT HOW I FEEL ABOUT JUSTICE.

And I still have yet to become bffs with Jerry Buting.

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Pssh. Whatever. It’s their loss. I’ve seen Making a Murdered like six times. I’m basically a lawyer now.