Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Just for Fun

I left a little punkin head in the stroller on the porch.

St Elizabeth

Leena: I'm going to be St Elizabeth!

St Elizabeth of Hungary (the princess who fed the poor)?

Leena: No, St Elizabeth the snow princess.

Well, Hungary can be a snowy place. You can be St Elizabeth of Hungary.

Leena: No, she ate the snow!


Leena: She ate the snow, she wasn't hungry.


St Tarcisius

Pronounced tar-SIH-shus, this was a Roman boy who carried Jesus in the Eucharist to the condemned Christians under the noses of the Roman guards. When caught, he died rather than allow the Eucharist to be profaned.

St Cecelia

St Cecelia was a Roman maiden who was martyred for her faith. They tried to cut off her head but she lived for another 3 days, long enough to give away her wealth and turn her home into a church. Note the realistic axe mark on her neck!

St Jerome and the Lion

St Jerome translated the entire Bible into Latin so that everybody could read it (he was a Roman!). There is a famous story about a lion which he healed and befriended when he lived in Bethlehem.


We have a saying when we disagree with another family's parenting decisions: "Everyone gets to ruin their own kids in their own way." This means that if you do Halloween totally differently and think we're nuts, that's OK. We think you're nuts, too.

We do Halloween as All Hallows Eve. The kids dress up as saints (this years details and pictures to be posted). Many people we know will groan "It's just a fun kid holiday everything doesn't have to mean something!" We do not eliminate all scary stuff from the holiday. This week we made little haunted houses where you open the doors and see scary stuff inside. We carve pumpkins and we allow scary faces. (nothing super scary or gross) Other people will now groan, "You've sold out!"

Here's our rationale (or rationalization, if you prefer): Halloween, for us, is also a celebration of the glorious fact that we do not need to be afraid! Pre Christian religions, as they were actually practiced, were terrifying. It's horrifying to live in a world where the gods are capricious and vengeful. They might demand the sacrifice of your child and then still not send the rain. Maybe you did it wrong. Maybe you did something else wrong. Forget a personal relationship with a deity, you'd better hope they don't notice you. And then there are the other things around. We've watered down the stories of fairies. The "little people" would steal your baby and leave a changeling. I'm not saying never pretend that fairies are cute and sweet, just that people who had to live with them as "reality" did not find them so. And what about death?

Jesus said, "Be not afraid." We don't have to be afraid of death or evil spirits, or even of God. He is the light of the world and he chases out the darkness. That's really worth celebrating!

Solid Food at Last!

The Emporer didn't actually shovel the whole bowl into Oob's mouth in one shot, it just looks like he did...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Teaching Kids to Pray 1

First: I am not an expert here. Most of what I have I got from Fr. Pinto or learned from my Mom and other moms. All these are good ways for grown ups to pray, too! If you have ideas, I'd love to hear them! I will do 2 methods per post.

Rote Prayer
We usually pray formally several times a day: when we get up, have meals, go to bed , and before we start our home school day. We use a lot of rote (memorized) prayers this way: Prayer before Meals, Our Father, Hail Mary, Morning Offering, Glory Be, Act of Contrition, and each child has their own "special" prayer which corresponds to how we dedicated them to God when we discovered their existence. Rote prayers are great! The kids memorize them with basic understanding and their understanding should deepen and grow throughout their lives.

But. Rote prayer gets boring for kids if it's the only way they pray!

Empty Chair Prayer
Use 2 chairs. Sit in one and invite Jesus to sit in the other. Really use your imagination and faith to picture Jesus in the chair. Just talk to Him. Little kids often need to do this out loud, so it's good to do this in a quiet room if you have one. For adults, this is great to do while you are driving if you have no one in the passenger seat, put Our Lord there.

Often kids (and grown ups) feel bored or tired with prayer because they can't physically hear or see God speaking. They have to learn to hear Him with their hearts. The imagination is part of what God uses. Not that everything in our imagination is from God, but God does use it to speak to us in prayer.

Sometimes my kids say they don't know what to say to Jesus. I often suggest they tell Jesus a knock knock joke or anything else they would say to their friend. The point is that Jesus is real and really present. I like to tell my friends jokes and laugh with them, it's part of who I am, so I like to tell Jesus funny things. Realistically, A) you're not going to find a better friend than Jesus, and B) if you can't be yourself with God, who already knows what you are like and loves you anyway, where are you going to go?

Slow Posting

Looks like it's feast or famine around here! The Emporer has been sick several times in the last few weeks and is still recovering from the surgery (should be fine by January...), and was having chiropractic problems from spending all that time in bed!

I have finished my stint in the home school co-op and settled into teaching CCD (Sunday School). We have been having a great time home schooling and I want to blog about all the fun stuff we are doing! I am hoping to get to some of that today, but if not, it is coming...

The 2 big things to blog about are: teaching kids to pray, and Plutarch. We are launching into Plutarch week, both the Lives of Noble Greeks and Romans and the Virtues of Women. We are planning the perfect Plutarch party and I spent the morning painting pretty pelops. I promise a plethora of pictures. And perhaps some particularly prosaic prose. Pax!

Klenda Lost a Tooth

And the very next day, Oob found it! Or at least he got a tooth of his own.

The Tooth Chicken brought Klenda a horse puzzle. Klenda is convinced the Tooth Chicken let Oob borrow her tooth, but Oob didn't want to give it back.

"Oob sanded it down with a power saw (Zoomlians are very intelligent and good with power tools). It also explains why we heard so much noise one night."

Curiously, we do not have a Tooth Fairy, but we do have a rather odd Tooth Chicken who likes to collect teeth and leave children presents. The thing is, chickens have a rather strange idea about what children like. We've had little magnetic people, pictures of a bald man, flying chicken fans, interesting pebbles and shells, gaudy jewelry, sugar free gum, and always an assortment of multicolored feathers.

Oob Discovers

What I've known for months: his toes are delicious!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Tales From the Dinner Table: Leena's Story

When I was an orphan... (she stopped, thought that through and changed the beginning) When I was younger and lived by myself in a house with no grownups, I had a pet poodle named Fluffy who did gymnastics all day long.

I did not know that.

She does have a poodle named Fluffy. It looks a little like a beagle on wheels with a spring for a tail (and has no fur) but Leena is sublimely indifferent to such matters. It is her poodle and she named it Fluffy.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Fish for St Francis? You Betta Believe it!

I don't know if I've mentioned the menagerie yet, but for the feast of St Francis we got more pets!! Those with allowances contributed and we now have 4 new aquariums with 4 beautiful male Bettas named Jack, Lovely, Prince, and Princess. Leena thinks her fish is too pretty to be a boy. Zorg (owner of the lovely purple fish named Lovely) is far more pleased that he now owns a catfish named Fluffy. Klenda also got a catfish named Mittens. If only she could have a seahorse...

OK, so that is 6 new pets. Add them to the Emporer's 5 fine feathered flying finches, our 2 too cute gerbils and our 2 crabby hermit crabs (now going on 5 years old and growing to unnerving proportions). That's 15 pets and a wide representation of the animal kingdom. Ah, but this time the fish are the kids responsibility... We will remind them to feed the fish whenever they (the kids) get into pjs. We will remind them to change 1/4 of the water every week, but they will be doing it!

Did I mention we are allergic to cats and dogs? Thanks be to God!