7 Quick Takes: “Harder than it has to be” Edition

So, Jen from Conversion Diary designed this nice little 7 Quick Takes  system for us bloggers.  It bumps up your traffic, it automatically gives your post a semi-professional look, with the nifty graphic and all:

And above all, it’s easy.   For once, you don’t have to come up with a unifying theme.  You can just babble about seven random things that occur to you — seven orphaned ideas which never quite grew up into anything, but which you aren’t quite ready to discard.  You can tell about a book you just read, or you can complain about the heat.  You can put a picture of the gross thing that fell out of the car seat when you finally got around to adjusting the straps, once you finally stopped lying to yourself about how 18-month-old children are probably happily reminded of the womb when they’re folded in half like a sweaty empanada.  And before you know it, your post is all done.

Easy, right?  Just write seven things, quick.  What could be simpler?

But that’s just too disorderly for me.  Now, looking at my house, you’d never think, “Here at last is someone who loves order.  Yes yes, this is someone who cannot bear chaos,  and who labors long and hard to institute structure and harmony into her personal life.”  Okay, so if you’re talking about my living room, then, no.  I’m just happy when all four feet of the couch on resting on the floor simultaneously, or when the drips of unidentifiable goo are dry, and not still visibly oozing down the walls.

So that’s my house.  But when it comes to writing, I’m like the chickens in Chicken Run:  I’M ORGANIZED.  I don’t feel right unless my writing has some kind of unifying theme (although I reckon I sometimes do a great job of keeping that theme a secret).  So every Friday, I ruin a perfectly good opportunity to be random, and I choose a topic for my 7 Quick Takes.  So far, I’ve chosen The Outdoors, Hope This Helps and Toys.

Well, Friday kind of snuck up on me this week.  So today, just to give you a little window into Life with Meeeee (so you can join the Facebook group “A Million Strong to Let Simcha’s Husband Out of Purgatory Sooner”), I present:

7 Ideas That I Decided Weren’t Good Enough for 7 Quick Takes

 

–1–

7 Refreshing Summer Drinks

It would be easy to pick seven drinks I like:  lime rickey, cheap beer, slightly more expensive beer with a lime in it, white russian, whiskey sour, gin and tonic, and another gin and tonic.  But who cares?  What would be interesting would be a list of seven things that are likely to happen if I have more than two margaritas, but my spiritual director and my probation officer both advised me against dwelling on that kind of thing.

–2–

7 Rules of Etiquette for the Adoration Chapel

Ehhh, this is just too sticky, especially since I haven’t been in over a year.   Other than the time that wall-eyed crazy lady squatted herself down in front of the altar and started to rummage through the basket of prayer intentions, alternately shrugging, raising her eyebrows, and giggling as she read, and I told her to cut it out — I’m really out of my depth in this one.  I think I could come up with seven things, but no one comes out looking good.  Better leave it alone.

–3–

7 Stupid Things We Almost Named Our Children

This one hits the sweet spot for me, because I love making fun of things, but I wouldn’t feel bad, because it was my own past self that I would be mocking.  But then I’m guaranteed to offend some readers who actually did go with “Beryl Cornelia Moselle,” and they have the patron saint to back it up.  I try and minimize the in-huff-leaving that goes on around here, so this one is out.

–4–

 

7 Bugs That Temporarily Ruined My Life

I can, and have, gone on at length about how I’m the onnnnnnnly person in the world who’s had to do a bunch of extra laundry to get rid of fleas or lice or whatever.  And then there was that one time we got a mysterious moth infestation, and had to throw out all our food right when we had a $17-a-week grocery budget for six people.   There were so many moths in the living room, it looked like the tracking needed to be adjusted.  (For my youthful friends, that’s a VCR reference.  Ask your dad.)  The low point was when I opened up a tiny bottle of cream of tartar, and found it thoroughly infested with larvae.   Really?  Really, moths — you had to eat my effing cream of tartar?

But this one is no good, because many of my readers live in terrifying, tropical lands with enormous, venemous, year-round bugs, the likes of which I never saw even in my worst nightmares.  They will scoff at my little mishap with the scary old lady bug, and tearfully recount how their third and fourth children were both carried off in the flying, carnivorous earwig invasion of Ought-Three, and how insult was added to injury when said children’s funerals were interrupted by  historically unprecedented swarms of acid-squirting butterflies who become enraged by the color black.   So, that’s out.

–5–

I Hate My Hair

Can I just say that seven times?

No?  Then on to . . .

–6–

 

7 Embarrassing Things I Have Called Poison Control About

It turns out that it’s not really a big deal if your stupid kid eats two raw pork chops, nine ounces of glitter, or, sigh, super glue.  It is, on the other hand, kind of a problem if you have to call about these things all in the same day.  At this point, before you get around to listing the other four toxic things your child also ate while you were busy checking your blog stats, I would recommend changing your name.  Perhaps to “Mother of the Year.”

–7–

7 Ways to Get Rid of Old Palm Branches

Palm branches are from Palm Sunday, which was back in March.  So why, if you got the palm branches four months ago, would you still be talking about– . . . ohhhh.  Still hanging around, looking holy, neglected, and semi-blasphemous, aren’t they?  And not only are they too brittle now to be woven into a lovely cross, or too scattered to be stored  away for burning into ashes for Ash Wednesday, you haven’t done any of those things with any palm branches from previous years, either, have you?  Whenever you move out of a house, you clean out everything except the palm branches, don’t you?  When your van breaks down and has to be towed to the junk yard, you clear out all the CD’s and melted Jolly Ranchers and leaky pens, but you pretend to forget about all those sun-baked palm branches on the dashboard, don’t you?  When you’re cleaning out under the couch and you find a palm branch on which someone has written “liht saber” in marker, you suddenly get all jesuitical and contrive an elaborate theory about blessed items losing their sacred significance once they no longer full resemble their original form, don’t you?

Maybe I should change this one to “7 Stupid Things You’re Going To Hell For.”

THE END

Well, have a nice weekend, everyone.  I intend to do at least seven things this weekend, and the unifying theme will be gin.

Thursday Throwback: The Spillcock One

Today’s post was written about three years ago, when I was terribly pregnant and terribly hot.  Thanks to Jen from Conversion Diary for asking for a rerun!  It brings a tear to my eye to know that my poor scribblings are remembered, even if it’s only because I used the word “spillcock.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
There Are Worse Things than Being Hot

When we were house hunting, we promised the kids that the one we bought would have a hose spigot. Or, as I learned today, a spill cock. It’s called a spill cock.I will now go back to calling it a hose spigot.So, big liars that we are, we got a house without a hose spigot.

The kids have gone about five years without a hose, which means no fun ever, no how. But a promise is a promise, so finally (after calling a plumber for an estimate to do it the right way) (eleventy million dollars) I figured out that you can use gravity and pressure and what not to siphon water out of the bathtub, through a hose, down the back stairs, and into a pool.

This ungratifying system even works, in a feeble way, with a water slide (and the poor kids don’t even realize the water is supposed to be gushing out in a fabulous, fun-tastic wave of SplashAction! What it does is limply burble a little, and they pretend to be puppy dogs, and line up to take turns licking it. I know, I know. This is why I don’t put my last name).

Anyway, the catch is that, in order to get the water flowing down hill through the hose, you have to get all the air out of it.

Yep, pregnant lady stands in the back yard, in full view of the constant line of bored truckers who barrel past our house . . . suckin’ on a hose.

I’ve gotten pretty good at it. I almost drowned only twice, when the water came through unexpectedly just when I was breathing in. (The kids thought it was hilarious, especially the retching part.) And I don’t believe in bacteria (oh, it’s this terribly dangerous stuff that’s absolutely everywhere, but it’s invisible, huh? Riiight), so that’s not a problem.

So today it’s 93 degrees out, and since I was up all night dreaming about bears (I love the third trimester) and I’m stupid-sleepy, we’re not driving anywhere, even to feel some air conditioning.

Why aren’t we in the pool?

Because I left the hose right where Mama Snake hatched forty million babies a few weeks ago.

Think about that, and then you start sucking on a hose.

Hallie Lord: “What’s wrong with you?”

Dear Readers,

Today, I am very grateful to Hallie Lord, who wrote today’s post.  I would also like to point out the importance of proper punctuation in the title above.  To clarify further:  as far as I know, there is nothing wrong with Hallie Lord, other than the fact that she is pregnant and it is HOT.

Enjoy Hallie’s piece, check out her lovely and funny blog, Betty Beguiles, and stay tuned tomorrow for Thursday Throwback, in which I’m so lazy, I guest post for my own blog.

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?

 

 

Jessie dropped lobster and knife and ran to him with frightened eyes.

“What’s the matter, Bob, are you ill?”

“Not at all, dear.”

“Then what’s the matter with you?”

“Nothing.”

Hearken, brethren. When She-who-has-a-right-to-ask interrogates you concerning a change she finds in your mood answer her thus: Tell her that you, in a sudden rage, have murdered your grandmother; tell her that you have robbed orphans and that remorse has stricken you; tell her your fortune is swept away; that you are beset by enemies, by bunions, by any kind of malevolent fate; but do not, if peace and happiness are worth as much as a grain of mustard seed to you—do not answer her “Nothing.”

-O. Henry, The Rubaiyat of a Scotch Highball

 

Dear male readers of Simcha’s blog: I come in peace. I am not here to judge or condemn you. No, I merely hope to save you the inestimable grief that my poor husband experienced when he uttered his own seemingly harmless “Nothing.”

You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? Your girl says, “What’s the matter, sweetheart?” and your reply is always—and I do mean always—“Nothing.” Don’t get me wrong, I do know why you say that EVERY. TIME. It is because your thoughts at that moment have to do with some terrible, weighty issue, perhaps related to a feeling of rejection you are experiencing or with concerns you have over the way the war in Afghanistan is being handled. And because you boys love us girls so much you want to protect us, shield us from your inner pain. Of course you do, silly boys. Why else would you choose to respond with something as pithy and uninformative as “Nothing”? To avoid all of our helpful input? Of course not that.

Nevertheless, I feel compelled to alert you to the fact that the above situation does place you firmly between a rock and a hard place. Should you decide to gamble with a “Nothing”—rather than share the concerns of your heart and mind with your lady love—than three most unfortunate fates will most assuredly befall you.

First, she might just assume that you question her love and devotion. I know, I know: how could she reach such an extreme conclusion based on a single indefinite pronoun?  Let me explain. You see, we women spend countless hours studying the ways of our beloveds. We have studied you the way Darwin studied tortoises on the Galapagos Islands, and we’ve been doing it ever since the first blooms of young love seized our hearts. We take great pride in our ability to know and love you (though, admittedly, we may not always understand you). We know when there is something wrong with you. Were you to imply that perhaps we might be mistaken and that there is actually “Nothing” wrong with you—why, that would essentially be telling us that we are not adequately devoted to you! Do you mean to suggest that we do not know you well enough to sense the slightest seismic shifts in your masculine demeanor? Really now!

Second, as O. Henry alluded to above, the female imagination is a thing of wonder. Indeed, were you to take his suggestion and tell us that you had murdered your grandmother it would pale in comparison to what we ourselves might conclude was truly bothering you. It would be better to just lie to us; otherwise, we will be forced to extrapolate. You agree, don’t you?

Finally, there is the very slightest chance (miniscule, really) that we may—in a moment of weakness—decide that you really are in fact consciously attempting to avoid all of our helpful input, as mentioned earlier. The incisive dialogue…the penetrating, emotionally charged analysis of even your most trivial thoughts…avoided? I don’t imagine I need to tell you the ways in which this would be a very, very bad thing, do I? Think of poor Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction—remember how saddened and betrayed she felt? You wouldn’t want that, would you? No, I didn’t think so.

So, do tell us: What is the matter with you?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hallie Lord married her dashing husband, Dan, in the fall of 2001 (the same year, coincidentally, that she joyfully converted to the Catholic faith). They now happily reside in the Deep South with their two energetic boys and two very sassy girls. They are expecting their fifth child later this summer. In her *ample* spare time Hallie blogs at BettyBeguiles.com and FaithandFamilyLive.com.

Old Year Resolutions

Back around New Year’s Day, when people were making resolutions, many of the good ladies of the internet were sharing their plans for self-improvement.   They all had long and laudable lists to accomplish, but they wanted to avoid that all-too-common problem with good intentions:   losing focus, petering out, or just plain forgetting.

To avoid this pitfall, they planned to distill their finest aspirations into a single, pregnant word.  They would post this word in a prominent place where they would see it often, and they would be encouraged and redirected throughout the day.

To this idea, Jen from Conversion Diary responded in a way that I could have done myself:

“Here’s the problem,” I told a friend.  Ann Voskamp’s word is YES, Rachel Balducci andArwen Mosher are both doing JOY…I feel like holy people like that can do this sort of thing, but I’m too much of an overly analytical grouch for it.” I thought that if, say, I were going to try to be more joyful, I would need specific, measurable goals in that department, lest I end up just rolling my eyes at the “JOY!” sign posted on my refrigerator as I shuffle around joylessly.

She’s a better woman than I am.  I’m pretty sure that the first time I glanced at “JOY!” on the refrigerator while crawling around with a wad of rags, trying to sop up the rapidly-congealing jello soup that someone forgot to tell me they spilled all over the floor, where they were, incidentally, storing their math books and their collection of unwashable fairy costumes, I wouldn’t be rolling my eyes — I’d be gnashing my teeth, and possibly actually biting someone.  Yeah, I got yer JOY right here.

So, no, this plan wasn’t for me.  (Jen, however, ultimately decided to go with “Fortitude,” which is a good, versatile word, and realistic.)

But why am I bringing this story up now?  Because I recently sorted through a bunch of old papers, and in among the long division worksheets and Cub Scout permission slips, I found a homemade valentine.

It was from my eight-year-old daughter to my seven-year-old son, and in a very few words, it illustrated such love, such consideration, and such a profound understanding of her brother’s character and basic constitution, that I decided to make it my mid-year Word.

I hung it in a prominent place, and every time I pass by it, it gives my heart a lift.  Even on the darkest day, I smile, and I remember anew what true love is all about.

7 Quick Takes: Toy With Me edition

Today for 7 Quick Takes, hosted by Jen Fulwiler at Conversion Diary, I’m sharing what we’ve learned from years of research in the field of toy-buying.  If you want to do your own seven quick takes, add your link to the list at Jen’s website, and don’t forget to link back to Jen on your blog.

7 Quick Takes:  Toy With Me edition

From the beginning of April to the middle of July, five of our eight kids have birthdays.   I think we spend more money on spring and summer birthdays  than we do on groceries for the whole year.  Any rational person with eight children would try and scale down birthday expectations, right?  And I know many of you will say, “Oh, we’re trying our best to raise our little Wyatt in a non-materialistic way, so for his birthday, we just put a soy candle in his organic kefir, and let him use the pillow that night.   If he remembers to say ‘thank you’ for the kefir.”

I don’t know what to say.  For some reason, it’s turned out that we’re trying to raise materialistic kids who expect to be treated like supreme galactic emperors on their birthdays (or, if their birthday falls on a day which is not convenient for a party, they expect that treatment on their actual birthday and on their party day).

Besides the cake, the candy, the party favors, the balloons and streamers, the games, the snacks, the craft, and the birthday throne, there are, of course, the presents.  So I thought I would share with you seven presents that we really like (and which the kids seem to like, too!).  Because I’m lazy,  most of the links are to  Amazon, but you can often find a better price if you hunt around a bit.

1.  The glitter ball.  It’s a bouncy ball filled with water and glitter.  Everyone loves it.  It’s beautiful,  it’s low-tech and non-batterified, it’s satisfyingly heavy, and it bounces well.  Use it as a prop in a play (the Princess and the Frog), use it as a way to soothe and mesmerize an overheated toddler, or just use it as, you know, a ball.  It comes in different sizes, but I recommend the jumbo one.  For all ages.  About $11

2.  Tribot.  This one is the opposite of the glitter ball:  it’s expensive and complicated and slightly obnoxious — but it’s also cute and appealing, and was pronounced the Christmas present that induced the most sibling jealousy, 2009.  It’s a red, remote-controlled, interactive robot that has motion sensors, so it skirts around obstacles on the floor; and if it falls over, it yells, “Master!  Master!  Suddenly my floor has turned into a WALL!”  It also has a funny alarm system, it lights up, it wiggles its eyebrows, it makes jokes — I don’t know, it’s just an appealing toy.  Absolutely perfect for a seven-year-old boy, but the rest of the family likes it, too.  Oh, and it has a fascinating wheels-within-wheels system of transport, so it is extremely maneuverable.  About $40

3.  Skwish.  So many baby toys are exciting and attractive, but they are hard for the baby to grasp, or they roll or tumble away too easily.  This one is super-easy to grasp, and it doesn’t get very far if the baby drops it.  Just a nice, bright, pleasant toy with lots of possibilities.  About $12

4. B. Toys FunKeys.  Babies love car keys, but I guess they have lead or something in them?  So you give them toy keys, instead,  but babies can tell they’re just plastic.  Plastic keys clatter, rather than jingle, and aren’t heavy and cold like real keys.  So these particular toys keys are actually made of steel, without being sharp or dangerous, and our baby is crazy about them.  They come attached to a holder with buttons for making car-related noises (mercifully muted in volume), plus a little light.  They come in a slightly irritating  “behold what a fabulously unique company we are” package, but that’s not so bad.  About $10

5.  Krazy Kar.  We haven’t actually bought one of these for our kids — it’s $75!  I had one when I was little, though, and I think I spent three entire summers inside this thing.    You crank the wheels with hand pegs, and make it go wherever you want, including in circles (the wheels move independently, like oars on a rowboat).  It’s hard to describe why it was so much fun — much more fun than a pedal car or a Big Wheel.  I just remember feeling secret and powerful as I sat in the little seat between those two big, yellow wheels, and smelling that smell of plastic that’s been sitting in the sun, and feeling the static electricity crackle in my hair.  It made a wonderful rumbling noise as it barreled across the grass.

6.  Snorta! A non-board game with funny little animal figurines.  Okay, so we lost the pieces and can’t play anymore, but it was fun while it lasted.  You turn over cards, and have to rush to be the first one to make the animal noise of the other person’s animal.   It’s a reasonably simple, entertaining game that isn’t too excruciating for adults (and it’s fairly easy to let younger kids be your “partner,” if they’re too little to hold their own, or if they’re the type who have slow reflexes and burst into tears when everyone else is faster.  If.)  About $18

7.  Care Bears Magical Care-a-Lot Castle.  This well-crafted, educational little wonderland

Ha ha, just kidding!  Only one of our kids really got interested in the Care Bears, and I think the Halloween costume I made, at her insistence,

cured her of that infatuation.  The rest of our kids had no trouble discerning that the whole Care Bear franchise is one of the most stunningly crappy aspects of modern day America, and should be taken out and shot.

And now I have to go and plan one more birthday, and then we will be off the hook until the end of September!  My daughter, who will be turning three, has requested a “wonky tonky.”  We think this means “walkie-talkie,” but we are not sure–she might actually want a wonky tonky.  I hope I can find one on sale.

See you on Monday!

“Most Disappointing Lesbian of the Year”

Just a quick note:  I just posted on The Inside Blog, if you’d care to take a look.  Eventually, I will grow enough brain cells to have a sidebar for this kind of thing (and a blogroll, and a reader . . . ) on my own blog.

But don’t forget to read today’s other post, below, which is much more fun!

The Difference Between Men and Women, Vol. 1

(picture source)

(and may I add that the difference between this guy and most other guys is that his tush is in front)

BEHOLD THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN:

(A true story — not about me, though.)

Woman:  Hey, our 20th anniversary is coming up, and we have a little extra money.  I was thinking it would be really practical, and kind of romantic at the same time, if we went out together and got replacements for all our old-worn out wedding gifts!  You know, all the pots and pans and towels and sheets and everything that people gave us?  We could really use new ones, and wouldn’t that be kind of romantic?

Man:  Or we could get a motorcycle.

If the movie offend thee

You all surprise me.  You really do.  As I write, there are seven comments on The Jerk’s first movie review, and not a single one expressing moderate to quivering righteous indignation at the implicit endorsement of a trashy piece of work likeRoadhouse.   I was expecting a nice loud chorus of, “AND YOU CALL THIS A CATHOLIC BLOG?”   Boy, if this were Inside Catholic, I’d have been excommunicated at least twice by now (although the second time wouldn’t count, because Pope Michael of Kansas has had his excommunication privileges temporarily taken away by his parents, who do, after all, own the garage apartment he lives in).

My flexible friend.

I guess I’ll just chalk your laxity up to the heat, and go ahead and write what I was planning to write anyway, because I think it’s an interesting topic.

I mean, we have to have some standards, yes?  You really can’t call yourself a good Catholic and then just go ahead and do whatever you want.   Seriously, no matter how many college courses we took, there must be some movies that Catholics shouldn’t watch, some music we shouldn’t listen to, some clothes we shouldn’t wear, words we shouldn’t use, quantities we shouldn’t drink, and so on.  That’s the whole catch in that “Love God, and do what you will” thing:  if you actually do love God, then you’re not going to want to move away from Him; and certain activities certainly do make that gap wider.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I am fairly susceptible to the “It’s okay because I’m edgy” trap.  It’s not conscious, but I tend to feel that I’m sooo smart and ironic and a anyway a good mother and all, so it’s probably really okay for me to do . . . well, just about anything, as long as I have lots of babies and pray most days.

In fact, it’s more than okay:  why, I’m rendering a valuable service to the reputation of the modern Church. By indulging in various seemingly unholy activities (and I’m talking about medium-bad stuff like drinking too much, showing a little too much skin, swearing, speeding, telling dirty jokes, etc.), I’m  not only not a bad Catholic, but it makes me an extra-good Catholic, because I’m not one of those fearful, novena-haunted zealots who can’t see past their own mantillas to the rich and burgeoning sensual world of culture and art.  No water in the wine!  We’re Catholics, not Puritans — we can handle it!  After all, how are we going to share the Good News if we’re too timid to step out of our crisis bunkers?  How will secular folks take us seriously if we look like weirdos?

Tell me they don’t look like weirdos.

Actually, despite the above picture which I couldn’t resist posting, the matter of how we dress is a whole other kettle of fish, which I definitely want to talk about later.  But for right now, in light of yesterday’s post, let’s just consider the movies we watch. We watch a lot of movies at our house.   Fairly often, my husband and I discuss whether or not it would be a good idea for us (just us, not the kids) to watch something–usually because it has too much graphic sexual stuff in it, but sometimes because it just has too much of a nasty feel.  We talk it over, based on what we know of the reputation of the director, the trailers we’ve seen, etc., and then decide together whether or not to see it (and if only one of us says, “Let’s not,” then we both don’t).

Sometimes it’s pretty obvious that a movie is not for us (or for anyone).  We discussed Sin City (this link is to the parents’ guide, which, in describing why the movie is inappropriate, is itself fairly inappropriate!) for about two seconds before we nixed it.   It looked like it might have some artistic merit, and yet it didn’t seem worth going to Hell for.  On the other hand, we did watch Eastern Promises, which was sexually explicit and violent and grim as all get out.  But it was a good movie, maybe great.  I cautiously recommend it.

We don’t want to miss out on good movies.  But I guess the best possible thing to do would be to err on the side of caution, and always always skip movies that we’re afraid might have a bad influence on us.

Or is that the best possible thing?  We love movies so much, and have such good conversations about them, that I have a very hard time believing that Catholics should confine themselves to G movies (do they even make those anymore?), although I do have some respect for people who have that much will power.  After all, approximately 94%* of western culture was made possible by the Church in one way or another, and not all of it is paintings of fat cherubim.

Here is what we have figured out:  it’s kind of like chastity**.  Say you’re abstaining.  So you’re not going to have sex today.  But, dammit, you are a married couple, and the chaste behavior of a married couple is different from the chaste behavior of a pair of dating teens.  So, yes, you’re allowed to do more, without doing everything.  But you have to be smart about it.  And you have to understand that your standards and limitations might change from month to month, or even day to day, depending on your mood, your attitude, your spiritual state, your current relationship with your spouse, what you did yesterday and the day before, etc.  What could be some good clean married fun one day can be a disaster the next, even if it’s objectively the exact same behavior — it all depends on the context, your motivations, and on what you know will happen to you if you do it, if you can be honest with yourself about your own weaknesses.  (And of course, there are some things which are always off-limits, no matter who you are or how you feel today.)

So, in the same way, a movie that is fine to watch one evening, and gives us food for thought, and provokes rich, marriage-building conversation and camaraderie–this same movie might be an occasion of sin, or even a sin, the next week.  It all depends.

So, what’s a movie viewer to do?  I think this is the point at which many good Catholics throw up their hands and decide to play it safe, and just stick with super-safe fare.  Which means you are going to end up seeing a lot of Doris Day

and then you will have to claw your own eyeballs out, which would be a shame.  There are other approaches, however.  Here is what we do:

  • As I mentioned, we discuss movies ahead of time, and we try and be honest about our mental, spiritual, emotional, and, ahem, physical state.
  • Then we watch the movie.  If someone starts, say, taking their clothes off, we cover our eyes.  To cut the tension, we make spitting noises at each other, or occasionally punch each other.
  • If it gets too bad, we turn it off.

Well, that’s it.  There’s my brilliant three-point strategy for avoiding hellfire without having to watch Calamity Jane.

I once posted a silly review of Martin Scorsese’s After Hours (in which I compared it to the Odyssey; yes, I did), and warned the readers that the movie contained “some tough scenes, including partial nudity and various creepy and depressing conversations.”  Well, someone who signed himself “Scandalized” responded:

I watched this movie based on the author’s recommendation. I’m sorry I did as I believe it’s offensive to God to sit through a movie like this. The nudity, the gay kissing scene, the trashy dressed room mate? What the author describes as ‘tough’ scenes to watch would be more accurately defined as occasions of sin.

[snip]

There was a time when this kind of entertainment would have been blacklisted by the Catholic Church (under pain of mortal sin we would have watched it)….but now (for the mature viewer, anyway) it’s become entertainment good enough to be praised on a Catholic blog.

So I says to him:

I’m truly sorry you were disappointed. If you never watch movies that have nudity or immorality in them, however, I’m not sure why you decided to watch this one, when I warned you that those scenes were in it! I thought the photo of the shark graffiti would serve as warning, also.

Maybe it will make you feel better if you know that my husband and I cover our eyes and make stupid noises during certain types of scenes in movies. Then we quickly peek at the screen – uh oh, they’re still naked – look away again, bah bah bah bah – and then look again to see if it’s safe yet.

You see, I agree with you that movies can be an occasion of sin. We make an effort not to watch those scenes which are bad for our souls, and we do make the decision to skip certain movies altogether, even if they seem like they would be entertaining.

The Church no longer lists forbidden movies, but she still holds us to the same standards — it’s just that we’re supposed to impose those standards on ourselves.

So, one question: did you watch the whole movie, or did you turn it off when it started offending you?

Durned if he never got back to me on that last question.  But that’s what it boils down to, it seems to me.  If the movie offend thee, then turn it off.

_______________________________________________

*Shut up, I said “approximately”

**By this hugely misunderstood word, I do not mean “celibacy.”  I mean living in such a way that your sexual behavior is appropriate to your station in life.

The Joke and The Jerk

Good morning!  Last week, I told you my favorite joke, and asked for yours.  (If you still want to send me yours for pubbloglication, don’t put it in the comments – mail it to simchafisher@gmail.com.)

So my second favorite joke was actually sent to me twice!  More coincidence:  it was sent to me by two sisters!  Furthermore, if you can believe it, they both happened to bymy sisters, which may explain why the joke hit that sweet spot for me.  Nepotism schmepotism, it made me laugh. (I also have twoadditional sisters, for a grand total of five people who liked the last joke) but one of them has six little kids and is in Arizona in July, is temporarily carless and husbandless, while she prepares to move; and the other is in her eleventieth month of pregnancy — so asking either of them to make with the ha ha seems a little rude.)

A man was searching for the meaning of life. He traveled all over the world, spending time with various spiritual masters of different religions. All of them had partial answers, but none of them was completely satisfying. But the more of these masters he spoke to, the more he kept hearing about one guru, on a mountain-top in the Himalayas, who really knew. But no one was exactly sure which mountain-top. So the man traveled on, gathering  information, tracing leads, making maps, until he had it narrowed down. It  took ten years. Then he hired a guide, and climbed the mountain. The guide died on the way. Finally, oxygen-deprived, starving and half frozen, he made it to the mountain-top and found the guru in a little cabin, sitting in front of his fire. He said,

“Oh master, I have dedicated my life to finding you! I have searched for you for ten years, and I have finally found you. Tell me: what is the meaning of life?”

The guru slowly turned towards him and gazed at him for a full minute. Then he said, “Life…is like a fountain.”

“Oh, thank you master, but please tell me: what do you mean? How is life like a fountain?”

The guru said, “You mean…life isn’t like a fountain?”

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Second order of business:  starting tomorrow, this blog will become a GROUP BLOG.  A very small group.  I invited some guy I met in the woods to join me, and he will be writing movie reviews for your reading pleasure (not to be confused with reviewing movies you would watch for your viewing pleasure.  Not).  If you are going to read his work while eating hot dogs, I suggest cutting them up.  Not into disks!  What kind of a mother are you.  Cut them into spears, then dice them.

“He’s . . . so . . . funny–”

photo source

So please join us tomorrow to give a warm and hearty welcome to . . .

When he gets finished, there won’t be a dry seat in the house.

7 Quick Takes: HTH

Hope This Helps Edition

In which I solve seven common problems

 

–1–

Did you spill soy sauce all over the place?   Need a mother’s day present?  Or just a crapload of squares?  Try this amazing new product.

–2–

Are you a really, really good mother who somehow understandably forgot to brush your daughter’s hair for a week, and as a result did not catch her major head lice infestation until a well-meaning relative, who probably mostly just wanted everyone to realize that the BBQ was dragging on a little too long, saw fit to do a “Hey, everybody,guess who has HIGH ANXIETY?”

to let you (and everyone within a forty mile radius) know that your daughter has a major lice infestation?  Well, you should try this fairly new system of blow-drying Cetaphil.  It Actually Works (although our kids needed four weeks of treatment, not three), and you don’t have to wash everything you own and spend a million hours picking nits, which isn’t as much fun as it sounds like.

–3–

Are you ready to leave the beach, but are miles away from home with a miserable baby whose fat, fat leg folds are coated with gritty sand?  I am all for packing lightly for the beach (three rules:  no food unless it’s a major birthday;  if you want a toy, you have to wait till a non-resident beach goer is looking the other way; and I don’t want to hear about your towel), but one thing we always bring is baby powder.  Sprinkle it generously on the baby (or anyone else, koff koff, whose fat legs make them cranky), and the wet sand comes right off, and you won’t feel like such a monster strapping an uncomfortable little one into her car seat.

–4–

Are you craving chips and salsa, but looking for a healthier alternative?  Try pretzelsand salsa.  It’s less fatty, and tastes just as good as pretzels and salsa.

–5–

Were you absent during grades K-12?  Here is a handy reference to all you need to know:

  • The Indians helped the Colonists by showing them you can put a dead fish on corn
  • Eli Whitney
  • Suffragettes (1912-1913)
  • Typing

Bonus College Quick Reference:

  • When something drops a horrible, rotten dead fish in your yard, you should consult an oracle to see what this means for the future of the republic.  If no oracle is available, just get your husband to throw it in the bushes.

There, now you are all caught up.

–6–

Thinking of home schooling?  Here is the single greatest  piece of advice I’ve heard (and I just gave the book away, and can’t come up with the author’s name).  I was immediately drawn to this book because, unlike most home schooling books, the cover didn’t look anything like this:

source

Which is a lovely picture, but discouraging.  Look at that posture!  And the kid is wearing white, and her face, while solemn, is not tear-stained!  And the curtains don’t appear to have any poop on them!  So instead, on the cover of this book was picture of a girl wearing a bathing suit and cowboy boots, doing her math on the floor under the kitchen table.   Now, add someone smearing Spaghettios on the wall and calling it art, and another kid deliberately ripping the first kid’s math work and calling it justice, and that would be a good day in our home school.  So the piece of advice was this:  whatever kind of mother you are

source

that’s the kind of home schooler you will be.

This sounds terribly obvious, but every year I fell into the trap of hoping that home schooling would, among other things, fix my defects as a mother.  It would force me to become organized, encourage me to be patient, ensure that I would follow through on projects, motivate me to go out and meet other people, etc. etc.   Now, I did improve in all of these things.  But I did not become transformed.  I was just me, home schooling.  This should not discourage you from deciding to home school; it’s just something you ought to know.

–7–

I don’t know exactly what this is good for, but it seems like it might come in handy.

Well, I hope that answers all your questions.  See Jen at Conversion Diary to leave a link to your own Seven Quick Takes, and don’t forget to link back to Jen!  Have a lovely weekend, everyone, and remember, it’s important to throw a firecracker when you light it, but NOT AT DADDY.