{ my baby girl }

This is my baby girl.  I call her 'baby girl'.  When i pick her up from ballet class at Slavin Nadal School of Ballet I say "Hi, baby girl!".  She'll always be my baby girl.  I realize I may be somewhat biased as she's my (everyone now..) baby girl but I really do think she is a beautiful young girl and I see myself needing to go out and start shopping for a deterrent device.

She is a young girl who, this year, will become an actual teenager.  A TEENAGER!  I'm not sure I'm quite ready for that but at the same time she has a real sense of innocence and a heart of compassion.  I am so proud of her and the young woman she is becoming.

Just last month or so I had a real sense of accomplishment while we were out together.  Many years ago - before I was married - I attended a conference where James Stenson gave a talk around raising children.  It made such a lasting impression that I've carried many of his thoughts with me.  One of these involved how to treat your daughter as a proper young lady with respect so that she will grow up knowing what it is like to be respected so she can discern through the young men that she meets.

I realize I will never be able to follow her around with my friend everywhere she goes to make sure she is treated right so it has been my 'goal' to make sure I try and follow these little points:

  • always maintain eye contact
  • treat her kindly and gently
  • always try and open the door for her
  • 'protect' her from her sometimes clueless brothers  

Well, it finally happened.  We were going into a store and rather than just pull ahead and beat me to the door she waited for me to get there - pulled over to the side - and waited for me to open the door...no, pulled aside and expected me to open the door for her.  

In a Dad's heart it felt like a real triumph.   My Baby Girl is growing up...

{Deus Caritas Est}

{ 7 Quick Takes }

--- 1 ---

I'm a bit of a dweeb but I do like some science fiction.  This week I finished "reading" Shadows in Flight (The Shadow Series) by Orson Scott Card.  I put reading in quotes as I have friends who won't give me props or the same credit for audible books as 'real' books.  I of course don't agree but that's for another time and post.  This book is from the Ender Series of books which I've enjoyed for some time now.  It's an interesting premise and can lead to discussions on what is a just war.  Interestingly, Card is a mormon but the main character comes from a Catholic family and is the 3rd and youngest child of a family.  He (Ender) was only allowed to be conceived by a government that has a 2 child mandate after the 2 older siblings didn't qualify for battle school.  That opens the door to all sorts of discussion as well...

--- 2 ---

This is one of the "real" books I'm currently reading (albeit in digital format).  I'm about half way through it and really am enjoying it.  It has a great chapter by our wonderful host, Jennifer Fulwiler.  Pick up a copy and get reading.

--- 3 ---

Here's something that's been on my mind.  My oldest is 14 and my youngest 3.  In all this time I've never really been one for traditional children's songs.  You know?  Recordings of Raffi (sp?) doing Row, Row, Row Your Boat or Itsy Bitsy Spider or something like that.  We did/still do have had CD's of Sara HickmanJoe McDermott and Austin's own Biscuit Brothers and every once in a while they will be played but for the most part that's about it.  When Joshua, my oldest, was about 4 or 5 he fell in love with the James Taylor Live CD and learned all the songs and would actually 'perform' the songs (lip syncing) while on our coffee table.  Well, fast forward 9 years and now my youngest, John, will walk around the house singing things like "Born in the USA" or "Oh, Oh, We're half way there...Oh, Oh, Livin' on a Prayer" or "so remember, your people.  remember your children.  remember your promises, O God....cuz your grace is enough..." and other songs that you would not necessarily hear in a 3 yr old's repertoire.  All that to ask the question....Am I depriving my kids of some sort of toddler right of passage that they experience by learning "she'll be coming round the mountain"?  Will they be mocked as they grow up and hang out with other parents and staring back at them blankly as they think "you want me to sing what?".  I love music so it's a tough call for me.

--- 4 ---

Little league baseball season is almost over for us.  One more week and done...hopefully.  I'm not sure what to with all the 'extra' time once it's done  ....

--- 5 ---

As Jenn said, she'll be speaking at my parish this Monday.  Hope to make it but it all depends on whether Joshua's team wins or loses this weekend.

--- 6 ---

Everyone's heard about the HHS mandate but I had no idea this was also going on...

Rules to implement health care law require separate abortion premium

This is just not right!

--- 7 ---

Ed Sheeran is a new favorite artist of mine.  Here's a song he wrote for a friend of his who had a miscarriage.

 

 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

{ something about being a Dad and having sons }

I'm not sure what it is but the last few times I've been out with my boys I've just been struck by how cool it is to get out of a truck and have your boys in tow as you walk into a place.  I mean, getting out of a truck and then having 5 sons follow you into a store has to kinda make you feel like a bada**.  You're there walking with your beat up shorts or jeans and all have your baseball caps on and people just move out of your way (not to mention that my oldest is almost a foot taller than me).

The funny thing is I don't get the same reactions as my wife does.  They see her with the boys and the first question is sometimes an incredulous "are they all yours?!?".  Now, the difference could be that she will usually have the 6 in tow (adding my beautiful daughter, Mary) or that they just assume I'm some baseball coach - but still...why the difference?  Is it really that if you're a dude with 5 boys in tow you are flexing some procreative prowress but if you're a woman you've been taken advantage of and are being suppressed by some overbearing ox at home?  I honestly don't know...it's a real question.

All that being said - I still felt like a bada** walking into the store with my boys.  More later....

 

{ Deus Caritas Est }

{ 7 Quick Takes }

--- 1 ---

Our family has been homeschooling for 9 years and a couple months ago Jenn and I attended a mini-conference with Andrew Pudewa from the Institute for Excellence in Writing - which, by the way, we highly recommend!  Well during one of his talks he mentioned a resource called a A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-First Century (The Leadership Education Library) .  Well I just finished this book and it has inspired and influenced me so much that we are going to be changing the way we homeschool next year. I highly recommned it!

--- 2 ---

Please lend your voice to this.

--- 3 ---

Sunday is Mother's day so it's time to get off your duff and get it done, men!  I will admit that I did fall short in getting something out today for my own mother but there will be a package in the mail hopefully tomorrow...though what I have no idea!

--- 4 ---

Video for my earlier blog post

--- 5 ---

An interesting resource for today's parents: Richard Louv's website.  Now I'm no tree huggin' hippy (if you know me you know that for a fact) but a lot of what he states in his book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder makes a lot of sense.  There are so many kids these days that have no appreciation for nature and stifle their imagination by watching so much tv or playing video game after video game that they don't know what to do when they are outside.  You can sometimes see them 're-orient' themselves to playing regular games outside.  Our family is not a hardcore outdoor family but we do limit tv to either 30 min or 60 min a day if that and our boys just have the habit of playing outside.  They love to get muddy (as seen above) and just like playing with sticks and rocks when a ball is not available.  It is struggle as dad to not feel the pressure to get them the latest and greatest gadgets but when I see them playing with each other (understand ages range from 3-14) and having a good time it makes me realize that that is what's important...

--- 6 ---

If anyone has any tips on picking up the sport of running i'd love to hear anything you can offer.  I'm 43 going on 44 and it's time to get into some sort of shape other than a pear so I'm all ears...

--- 7 ---

 Final one - If you're not familiar with Audrey Assad you need to get acquainted with her music.  this is one talented girl!

 

 

 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

{ This is what it's like having boys }

There will be a video added shortly but long story short...

Living in Austin, Texas is something we love but there has been a bit of a drought for the last couple of years.  This past week we've been able to enjoy some rain on and off and last night's yielded some fun for our boys this morning.  Now, the normal routine for Fridays is either co-op and then mass or homeschool and then mass.  Well, today the four younger boys decided it was a good day to connect all the puddles in our backyard.  Our backyard has been run down to the ground (twice) and so we have no grass at this time - the price we pay for having very active kids who love to play (and don't get to watch much TV).  But I digress...

This morning's activity, as was relayed by Jenn, was to connect all puddles.  But the question was - do we let them or do we rein them in and make them get ready for mass.  I know many will disagree and some may be scandalized but I responded to Jenn's text with "let them play and enjoy God's creation" and so noon mass was off the table.  Thought being that these are boys being boys enjoying the gift of rain we received and playing.  They worked at something that they wanted to do.  Designed their project.  Worked together (sometimes a miracle in itself).  And just enjoyed nature.  It isn't mass ... but it has to be worth something and I would like to think maybe Mary and Joseph enjoyed seeing Jesus get a little messy too...

 

{ Deus Caritas Est }

{ the end }

Tonight was the last night for a 'pre-confirmation' class I have taught since September.  Every Wednesday.  It was a bible class based on the liturgical readings for the coming Sunday liturgy.  There were 15 students including my son, Joshua.  Who was the only reason I was teaching this class - reason being I wanted to ensure he was not taught any erroneous concepts and ideas.

What I wasn't prepared for was the lack of catechesis (basic stuff) exhibited by the youth.  While being quite surprised I was even more saddened that this is what has happened to many in our Church - both young and not so young.  We are now seeing (and paying the price for) a watered down system of catechisis that those in my generation received for the most part.

Growing up things were more about feelings and, almost in a pentecostal fashion, more concerened with the laity being 'moved by the spirit'  more than anything else.  It's understandable that this occurred.  With all the other changes that were happening at the time there was a major shift away from the way things used to be done in favor of new and exciting ideas.  Jesus was not so much our Lord anymore as he was our brother.  Catechetical books like the Baltimore Chatecism were left to collect dust on the shelves so we could have books that talked more about love and forgiveness.  Now, don't get me wrong.  Love and forgiveness of course should be taught (seeing how Charity is a theological virtue) but to teach them in a vacuum without any true catechesis on the source and reason for Love seems quite lacking.  Otherwise, love is just a feeling that can wane depending on the situation.  It is not rooted in a God of love but lacks any roots when it is not taught in the context of theology, the bible and teachings of the magisterium.  

So...what does this have to do with the price of eggs in china?  Well, that was what my class all year ended up revolving around.  We did cover the readings for the upcoming Sunday but always in the context of love - God's love.  It was a struggle at times.  I only asked for honesty in my class ... and that's what i received.  None of them wanted to be there and were there only because their parent(s) made them go.  Practically all do not go to mass.  We talked about why.  We talked about why they should go.  I will even admit that I tried to even sometimes guilt them into going (hey - I'm Catholic - don't judge...) but always with the intent and prayer that they would see a glimpse of God's love in that visit.  

We started with the question 'Why did God even make us?' and tonight I finished with the parable of the prodigal son.  It's my favorite.  I'm sure because it's the one that gives me the greatest hope for redemption and forgiveness.  So, as we were sitting out on the benches I recounted the parable stopping to ask them to think about certain parts of the story and what they could possibly mean.  As always, when I share this one I got a little choked up when the Father embraces the son back into his life and then I reminded them that as they continue to go through life the one thing I hope and pray for them is that they remember that God our Father is always waiting for our return and there is nothing that we can do that he won't forgive.  No matter where they are or what they've done He'll be waiting.

So, ya it's sad that our youth are not as well catechized as they should be but the one thing to remember is that the message hasn't changed and they still need to hear it...and we need to live it.

{Deus Caritas Est} 

{ there's nothing wrong with trying again }

It takes some humility to admit that sometimes the best intentions are just that - intentions - and mean little if there is no action to follow.  So, in humility, i admit that I failed again in my attempt at a photo blog.  And what stings the most is that it shouldn't be so hard.  Seriously.  In this age where there's an app for everything I should be be able to basically have a thought and it magically appear on this page.  But alas, it isn't so and this is where humility kicks in.  Or rather, kicks me in the arse...

You see, what all this really points to is that things in life come down to getting of your duff and deciding to do it.  And I obviously have just lamed out and sat on said duff when it came to putting anything on here. Now, this is not to say that I have anything profound or even remotely interesting to say (did I mention humility?) but even just the act of committing to doing something and following through (no matter how insignificant the task may seem) is a building block or a step to building a habit of completing goals.  And what do some habits become the stepping blocks to?  Virtue, my friends...Virtue.

Along with this quest for building of character I want to have something my children maybe could look back at and see a liitle more of what there Dad was like.  That there were things that I may have thought about other than keeping the back door closed (so we don't air condition the whole neighborhood) or what I was supposed to pick up at the grocery store.  That there were struggles and also hopes and dreams of what I wanted for them.

So, it is with this new thought in mind that I 'try again'.  All the time realizing that it really is not about what is said or what picture is taken or what thought is revealed - but it's about following through.  That's what counts...