Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Catholic Blog Awards: And the Winners Are....

Awesomeness on the Net!

I am pleased to announce the winners of the 2011 Catholic New Media Awards! I put a mark beside my personal favorites, but please understand that each and all of these are excellent. There are just so many hours in the day. Congratulations to everyone!

P.S. When they make a category for "Not Really a Momblog, Not Exactly Apologetics Either, but Raising Children and Goats in a (Mostly) Catholic Manner," I will be in the running! 

Best Blog by a Cleric

Most Spiritual Podcast

a href="http://christian-miracles.com" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Signs, Wonders, and Miracles

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Reasons to be Thankful

1) Air Conditioning
When my husband got off of work yesterday and joined me at the Ugly Yellow Trailer, it was 101 inside. When we left at 7:30, it had dropped to 100. This is my official recant of all my complaints about the air conditioner not working in that house. When it was running, it never got over 96 degrees. There is a big difference between 96 and 101. I am happy I only had two days of the latter.

2) Babysitting
As miserable as the heat and the 14 hour days were, I did not have to subject my children to either. Their grandparents subjected them to way too much candy and way too many movies instead. I missed their company, but I don't know that they noticed my absence much. They tell me How to Train Your Dragon was exciting!

Nanas are one of God's greatest gifts.

3) Friends
In the darkness before dawn yesterday, a van pulled into my driveway. I wasn't expecting anyone and I was alone, packing wildly, so I had a nervous moment until I recognized my neighbor and her daughter, hopping out and chattering cheerfully. They helped all morning and made it possible for the job of packing to be done by the end of yesterday. Not only are they the type of friends who help you move, they are the type who show up unannounced before dawn to do it. Rare friends, indeed.

4) Sunday
God made an entire day for rest. For that I am truly thankful.

Friday, August 26, 2011

7 Quick Takes: Can you be out by Sunday?

From this...
1) This Sunday?

...to this. Yeah, I can handle it.

2) Ah, well, then...I am packing up the Ugly Yellow Trailer in order to move it out of the way (no we haven't sold it yet) to make room for the foundation work for the new house. It's going to be moved in about two weeks. So, we've gone from waiting to panicking packing in a big hurry.

3) On a related note, I still have a goat due to kid. After the last kidding ordeal, I am dreading it. This goat is also overdue. It's still hot. The feed is still of such poor quality this year. In other words, all the criteria for another excuse to be up to my elbows in a goat is still in play, only this time I can't do it. I'm seriously considering selling her, pregnant and all, rather than risk her going into labor and having a bad time of it when I might not be here for her. Prayers would be appreciated.

4) In the middle of all of this, my poor husband is in the middle of a 12 day workweek, with 6 of those being out of town, and three 14 hour days tossed in just for fun. Then he gets a total of one day off before starting back up again.

5) I could continue on the woe is me meme here, but I've actually clocked in with a full night's sleep--in air conditioning no less!--so I'm feeling a bit more on the "fine" side than all this sounds.

6) I will gladly take recommendations for music to pack to in the Comment Box or over on Facebook or Twitter. I could use some serious jams to stuff my life in a box to.

7) Prayers for all those preparing for Irene!

Jennifer Fulwiler
Thanks to Jennifer Fulwiler, a fellow Texan, for hosting
7 Quick Takes Friday 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Culture Wars

Before I direct you over to Dr. Peter Kreeft's post on the Winning Strategy, I want to give you an insight into the Sign of the Cross that Catholics make before each prayer. It isn't just a silly thing Catholics do. It is a sign to everyone that is watching that here is a Christian, praying.
The Sign of the Cross

It is also a sign to any thing that is watching, the angels and the fallen angels. We are in spiritual warfare daily, struggling, wounded, and fighting the war within ourselves overcoming weakness and temptation. We know, dimly, that our battles matter for ourselves, yes, but also for the world. We either leave this world a little better for us having been here or a little worse. When we draw that Cross onto ourselves out of thin air, we are simultaneously putting on our battle gear and drawing the target.

Think cross hairs, think Cross, then read this...

The Winning Strategy

To win any war, the three most necessary things to know are: (1) that you are at war, (2) who your enemy is, and (3) what weapons or strategies can defeat him.

You cannot win a war (1) if you simply sew peace banners on a battlefield, (2) if you fight civil wars against your allies, or (3) if you use the wrong weapons.

Here is a three point checklist for the culture wars.

(click here to continue reading) 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Hang in there...

I'm not posting much because it's been busy. On Monday we Baptized our daughter and had a little party and I've been tending to goats the rest of the week.
 It was a party that almost didn't happen because I woke up this Monday morning to a dying goat. I spent the majority of the day finding a large animal vet on call, getting there and back, and being schooled in anatomy, some pharmacology, and worst case scenarios. We'd already lost three kid goats due to the harsh conditions caused by the drought. I was told we could pretty much count on these to be goners, too. My job was to save the nanny, if I could.

So, all my cooking time and primping time for the party was taken up the emergency veterinary run. I prioritized on cooking and scrimped on the primping. Nobody noticed my outfit and hair--the main point being the Baptism, after all. Just for the record I'll have you know I did not smell like a goat during Church or during the reception. It was probably the first time all week, too.

I am not a fan of blood, nor gore. I dislike needles and medical jargon has never thrilled me either. In fact, my husband is the expert on anatomy and gross stuff, but he was on retreat when the first set of kids didn't make it and then he came home pretty sick with a staff infection by the time the second set were due to arrive. I've had to do the burying and the pharmacy farmer duties around the clock. But this little miracle made it through. She wasn't supposed to.She still might not make it, but she is here now. We like her and we'll keep her if we can.

Eudia the Wee
A Tiny Miracle

Now I get to warm a bottle for a little goat instead of digging deep holes for them. I much prefer the former. It's been one, long, dramatic, and very messy week. Did I mention we had both cars in the shop this week, too? Long week. Looong, long, long.

P.S. I'm boiling my shoes later.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Two ways of dealing with stress

1 - You can accept that you are stressed out, make accommodations in your schedule so that you are not adding to your burden, if possible, and attempt to smile your way through it because chances are those closest to you are under stress, too. No sense adding to their burdens by behaving badly.


Sleep! All of you, sleep!
Eh heh heh hzzz....zzz...zzz...
2 - You can make a big deal about your own suffering, insisting that no one else's inconvenience and stress level is anywhere close to yours, yelling when your will is not obeyed, and generally looking like a harridan and making everyone else's stress loads harder to bear while maintaining the illusion that all the self-inflicted drama makes your own easier.

I've tried both. This week, I'm working on the first version because when I work on version two, everyone around me seems to be working on it, too.

By the way, if I do get to be in charge of these things, I'm putting a solemn high nap on the schedule today around 1 o'clock. Sleep...

Friday, August 12, 2011

7 Quick Takes

1 - Three baby goats were born this morning between 6:45 and 7:40. They didn't make it. They were small, perfectly formed nonetheless, and died at birth or shortly thereafter. This drought has been hard for my animals. It looks like the stress of birth was the last and final stress the little ones could take. The nanny is fine, though grieving. She is making this little lost baa noise in the back of her throat. It is driving me to second guesses and recriminations, the main one being if I had known of this drought, I'd have put off kidding for the year instead of putting it off so late.

2 - This afternoon we are celebrating our granddad's birthday. Dinner (which is Texan for a main meal of the day--at lunch) and a homemade card and he's at his happiest. He's easy to please.

3 - This evening we are trying our hand at baking bread on the grill. My neighbor bakes hers that way all through the summer. I'm determined to learn.

4 - Yesterday was supposed to be my day to fast and I hit the wall instead. I slept the afternoon away at my mother's when "I think I'll lay down with the baby for a minute" turned into a stressed induced snooze. I woke up almost as exhausted as I was when the light switched off. So I offered up going to my husband's retreat send-off (an hour or so of upbeat singing and energetic kid wrangling) in the place of fasting. It was an even trade.

5 - After all my years as a rebellious feminist, I find that putting a kitchen in order and vacuuming up crumbs resets me, stress-wise. All else may fall apart, but this, at least, is in order. This type of stress relief would have horrified my pre-conversion self, and even if I felt the same at that time in my life, I would never have admitted it, even to myself. God has graced me with many such ironies.

6 - I have discovered that now that my daughter is safely adopted, I am hit at random moments with the grief and loss and anxiety I felt each of the two times she was reassigned to live with various family members. This daughter's labor was three years long. Now that it is finely all over, I can safely touch that grief a little. Love hurts. Love loves anyway. I am so amazed at the miracle of her coming home again and being home finally. I will have to write her story for you someday. But not today. I have no more tears for this today.

7 - Sometimes grief is shared in the most unexpected of places. The daughter of one of my close friends, Margaret, was just hitting her teens when our Sissy was taken away the first time, and it was as if she were losing an adopted sister. I didn't ask why the love had grown between them, I just knew it when I saw it. She and I grieved the loss like we were two women, generations apart but in the same family, losing a little one. My friend experienced a surge of hope when she was returned to us a few months later. Part of my heartbreak of losing Sissy a second time was wrapped up in watching the newly healed grief reawaken like a living thing and tear at young Margaret as fiercely as I felt mine tearing at me. I can not tell you the joy of Sissy's return and adoption. Partly because I am refusing to touch it today and mostly because there are not words for such things. I am just able to share that suffering is something we do best together, even when it is inexpressible and untouchable, as are joys. I have never said much to Margaret about this, but when we lock eyes over that little one's head as we once locked eyes at the mention of her name, we can know a thing more than we can say. Even when that knowing takes place across generational and familial lines.

Jennifer Fulwiler
Thanks to Jennifer Fulwiler, a fellow Texan, for hosting
7 Quick Takes Friday 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Some predictions

  •  The goats will kid sometime between Thursday and Sunday in the wee-est hours of the morning
  • I will have to open the box of elbow length veterinary gloves
  • Milk fever will set in again, involving the science of drenches and hypodermics
 Why do my spidey senses tingle so? Hubby is on team for an ACTS Retreat this weekend and that is just how that works. The worry and the distractions of home tend to loom like an impending storm on the horizon around such times. It's a temptation for my husband to worry about us instead of the men who are coming to this retreat. Other people who have been team leaders have warned us ahead of time that all this worry would start to pile up so that even the act of going to the retreat becomes a leap of faith.

We've got your back, baby!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Harvest is here!

On the stove at this moment:

2 gallons of grapes blanching for jelly
2 gallons of milk for yogurt
3 gallons of milk for manchego cheese
1 jar of peppers pickling

You can tell it's a drought year because two burners are not being utilized.

Monday, August 8, 2011

What's Wrong With the World: Greed

I usually try to keep my Monday fare light as Mondays are hard enough without actually having to think. This post by Fr. Dwight Longenecker at Standing on My Head deserves to be an exception to that.

We in the West like to think we have achieved greatness. Technologically we have some wonders that is for certain, but something is going terribly wrong with us. Some of the great thinkers of Modern Times have been sounding the claxon while we scrabble along, too busy to notice. This post sums it up amazingly...

London Riots 

Riots have broken out in London again. Last night and tonight organized gangs are rampaging through parts of the city burning and looting. Who's to blame?

Everybody's to blame. That's who. In the present economic climate many people are suffering with the loss of jobs, the loss of savings and the loss of their homes and security. Why is that? Because of greed at every level of society--greed amongst the middle classes, but also greed amongst the lower classes the upper classes.

Greed amongst a lazy, dependent underclass of people who won't work and feel entitled to more and more and more free handouts. Greed amongst the 'nice' middle class people who invest their money is shady get rich quick schemes. Greed amongst 'nice' rich people who devise the schemes, take usury to vile and obscene extremes and rake in the cash as fast as they can. Greed amongst money lenders and property speculators and stock market 'geniuses'. Greed amongst those who will use the financial crises that come along every ten years to use their already huge wealth to buy up everything they can at a cheap price--robbing everyone they can of the true value.

A society worm eaten with greed. Greed where every store tries to offer their goods at the cheapest possible prices and every housewife and shopper covets a 'bargain' so much and cheerfully degrades their lives for yet another cheap trinket purchased not because he needs it, but because it's cheap. Greed where manufacturers cut corners and offer nasty, poor quality goods with a veneer of 'quality'. Greed where consumers buy such junk. Greed woven into our children's worldview. Greed where everybody is grabbing whatever they can however they can.

The problem with a society fueled by greed is that lurking beneath the sin of greed is always violence. Violence because I can only have all the goodies I want at the expense of someone else. If I have it you can't have it. I will have my cheap consumer goods, but just don't tell me about the child labor, the sweatshops, the slave labor level of wages and the rape of the environment in order to get me all my cheap goodies. All of this is a form of violence, and the riots in London are simply an outward expression of the reality of our Western society--a society that is thoroughly materialistic and therefore atheistic.

Pope John Paul II said there were two materialistic atheistic world systems and that both would eventually collapse in on themselves. The first was communism. The second was unrestrained capitalism. The first is built on power. The second is built on greed.

Do you see the burning shops and police cars in the streets of London? Do you see the gangs wearing hoods and masks rampaging through the streets bashing into banks, burning stores and looting shopping malls? It is a prophetic image. It shows us who we are, and we had better take a good, long, hard look.

The news shows rioting gangs of lawless youths burning and pillaging and taking whatever they want and no one can stop them. But I see behind their ugly faces, their frightening masks and their hoods and weapons a whole society of people who do the very same thing they do, but with business suits instead of hoodies, masks of polite smiles and good manners instead of balaclavas, and the weapons of lawsuits and legislation and corporate lawyers and contracts to force their way on the world.

What's wrong with the world? G.K.Chesterton answered the question: "I am." For I too am greedy. Greedy with my time. Greedy with my talents. Greedy with my money. Greedy with my life, and if this is true of me it is true of every other person and the only answer to this desperate human condition is....

...true conversion of life.

Link to original article....

Saturday, August 6, 2011

End of Summer Stress

...has made us rethink the spelling of August. The hubby and I had been blowing off steam by calling it Awful August to describe the stresses of the impending move's financing, shifting deadlines, and temporary homelessness as one house has to move out of the way for the next one while we humans have to also somehow stay put (tent? I still don't know!) to monitor all three cranky, pregnant and prone to milk fever goats (who are, as of today, officially overdue by the way) while fitting in a baptism of our newly adopted daughter with the accompanying party, along with meetings for me every stinking weekend of the month while my husband will be on retreat next week and totally out on a business trip (we may or may not join him) at the end of the month on top of the regular stresses of everyday life. Some things are slipping.

Luckily none of those slippery things have been our moods. My husband and I have managed to be particularly patient with one another--both carefully checking our mood at the door when the other one has that look of incipient tantrum. We have managed to remember that tantrums are remarkable smaller and quicker when countered with humor and patience. That Look and a rude sounding, "I'm handling it!" has been the worst offense of the day. Getting That Tone during a phone call was the worst of yesterday's. So far, so good.

So good in fact, we've decided it's not Awful August but Awesome. As in shut your mouth, there is no human way possible to handle all this so politely. None. You just have to know me to know that. This current good behavior and lack of serious pouting is all God's doing. He's got me firmly in hand and I'm not fighting it (much) mainly because early on in this month a friend knocked my inner control freak flat with a question, "Does the wind blow without your permission?"

I actually had to think about that one before I realized that it does. And thank God. One less thing I have to make decisions over is fine by me.

We're calling it August again. I've just decided to spell it Awegust. Yes, it sounds exactly the same. Like Anne Shirley's Ann with an e, it just sounds better knowing we're spelling it that way.

I'd love to end it there, with that nice hopeful ending and patting myself on the back about my good behavior so far because I haven't even made it a week yet.

The month has 31 days. It's the 6th. God, help me.

Friday, August 5, 2011

7 Quick takes

1 - It's been a long, hard, grueling summer, but this morning I saw a dim glimmering of hope. A winter constellation is fully risen on the horizon at 5:45. It's still summer, it's still hot, but the end is in sight when Orion makes it's appearance. It will rise earlier and earlier and the temps will get cooler and cooler. I promise.

2 - You know you are in a bad way when you celebrate the "down-tos." Our air conditioning is extremely limited due to reasons too expensive to fix in the limited time we are spending in this temporary dwelling. We have it completely shut off in the "adult section" of the house so that the kids do not have to sweat through the night. Last night I found myself celebrating when it got "down to" 86 degrees in my bedroom before I went to bed. It's been running at 92 degrees at bedtime all week.

3 - I am happy to report I am solidly "down to" a size large! Now that I am down to the point where I usually start dieting, I can actually feel a sense of accomplishment when I lose any more weight instead of the sense of panic and self castigation I've been feeling. Not that the extra 7 pounds was entirely my fault--it was a medical issue taken care of by medication--but logic wasn't working out for me in the emotional response to the situation. I'm just celebrating a benchmark and glad I feel like celebrating!

4 - Brace yourself for a complete change in tone. I got the bit in my mouth again about gendercide and the idiots we can be in regards to human sexuality. I'll just warn my sister and anyone else off numbers 5 through 7 right now. Don't break your heart by reading further. You already know how awful we can be...

5 - I just read an article about infanticide in Mali. The implied solution, according to the article, who quotes Unicef, is increased birth control and abortion. Let's not address the rapes and coercion that are the underlying cause of all of this. We will, instead, make money off of them by providing more of a market for distributing a Class One Carcinogen. Let's just make sure these women aren't burdening us all with killing the child after it's born. We don't like that. The rapes? Meh. They are only women after all.

6- Further in the "only women" category is the rarity that we are becoming in parts of the world, thanks to the enlightened among us.There are now 30 million more males than females in China due to the gendercide that is the inevitable result of the One Child Policy--now the Two Child Policy. In India, they are beginning to see male births surpassing females as well. What a brave new world we have here. Abortion is good for women! Just tell that to the sex slaves being brought in to service the Chinese troops. I'm sure most of them are there willingly, aren't you?

Oh, yes, Mr. Environmentalist, your newfangled and totally unrelated idea of using the government to control birthrates is simply excellent. There will be no ramifications for anyone! It will all work out just fine. Shut your eyes now, click your heels, and wish all these useless eaters away!

7 - If you haven't noticed, numbers 5 and 6 are related. They are, in fact, the same problem. It's impossible to mess with human sexuality without disastrous results.

Jennifer Fulwiler
Thanks to Jennifer Fulwiler, a fellow Texan, for hosting
7 Quick Takes Friday 

Monday, August 1, 2011

A rose by any other name...

...or three reasons I love the rosary:

  1. A rosary is 20 minutes of meditation on the life of Christ. Reciting it daily steeps you in the Gospel as you focus on the meditation for each decade. It keeps Him very much alive in your imagination. There is nothing better to fill your head with than the life of Christ--the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Incarnation...

  2. 20 minutes of prayer a day is not too shabby. Of course, it has nothing on my friends in Africa who spend entire 24-hour days in prayer, but for a lazy, self-indulgent American it isn't bad. The discipline of taking the time to recite a rosary is only one of it's many charms.

  3. God rewards the treasure seeker. I say one rosary each day for my husband and then sit back and watch as it bears fruit. You have to remember how weak and silly I am--how well God understands my smallness--that He allows me to catch tiny glimpses of His grace at work when I do what I ought to do. I am fully aware that I am petty and immature in my faith; He has to reward me instantaneously in order to keep my attention. I am no Mother Theresa that He will trust me with a dark night of the soul or any dryness in prayer. I pray for mostly selfish reasons and God holds my little hannie because I am not steady enough to walk on my own. I can't expound upon the work He is doing in my husband's soul without betraying the bonds of matrimony. I can only tell you I am so very well rewarded for my efforts I would be foolish to ever stop. 

On that note, let me conclude this too brief praise of a lovely Christian prayer tradition and take a moment to request a prayer from you. Would you be kind enough to pray for me that I persevere in prayer? I am only wise enough to know I am a foolish woman. I could so easily fall out of the habit of prayer, and I could use all the help I can get.

Click here for a link on how to pray the Rosary...