11 November 2011

7 Quick Takes: Volume 45


This week marked the birthday of Dorothy Day, one of my personal heroes and saints.  So this first take is devoted to her.  She said:

The greatest challenge of the day is: 
how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution 
which has to start with each one of us?

In the midst of the Occupy movements happening all over the country, this question is more relevant than ever.

I have two books to recommend in honor of Dorothy's birthday.  The first is hers, The Long Loneliness, a wonderful, spiritually uplifting book about her conversion, her life and her work.  The second is the book The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage, by Paul Elie.  Described by its publisher as "the story of four modern American Catholics who made literature out of their search for God," this engaging book weaves together the biographies of Dorothy Day, Flannery O'Connor, Walker Percy, and Thomas Merton.  I received this book as a gift years ago, and although it's been awhile since I read it, it remains a well-loved favorite.  If not for my wonderful husband and five beautiful children (so, if not for my entire life), I would run off to live a life like these four people did: part social activist, part hermit contemplative, all writer.

Both books are well worth your time and your brain.

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And that's the only important take I've got today.  The rest are silly little things my kids did and said this week, and a couple of odds and ends:


Son: "Mom, can a marriage survive without dishonesty?"

Mom: "You mean without honesty."

Son, with twinkle in eye: "No, I mean dishonesty.  Can a marriage survive without it?"

Mom:  "Remind me to be less sarcastic with my next family."

Because clearly, it's too late with this one.


Son, looking at an animal encyclopedia: "MOM!  Did you know there's such a thing as a SPERM WHALE?"

And before mom can answer, he runs out of the room to find his brother and shouts: "I KNOW WHY THAT WHALE IS NAMED MOBY DICK!  BECAUSE HE'S A SPERM WHALE!!!!!"


No words needed.  And none could I find.


Late one night, just as I was drifting off to bed, I heard the alarm on my son's phone go off.
BREEP BREEP, breep breep.  BREEP BREEP, breep breep.    BREEP BREEP, breep breep.  BREEP BREEP, breep breep.  BREEP BREEP, breep breep.  BREEP BREEP, breep breep.  BREEP BREEP, breep breep.  
The darn thing doesn't stop until someone presses the OK button.  And this has happened before.  Once, the phone was right next to him, and it woke up his brother, but not him, and his poor brother didn't know how to turn it off and was tormented by it for 15 minutes before he came and got me.  (And yes, I suggested that next time he wake up his brother, and not me.)

This time, the phone was in the living room, and neither boy heard it.  But I did, even though I was upstairs.  Disgusted, I threw the warm blankets off, and stormed downstairs in righteous indignation.  What is so important that he needs to set an alarm for this hour?  I picked up the phone and gave the OK button a vigorous, annoyed poke.  And then saw the event that was important enough for him to set an alarm:  Mom's Birthday.

Oh.  OK.  That's worth it.  Except he slept through it.  But it's the thought that counts.  I guess.


We went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium this week.  What an amazing place.  My favorites sighting?  The Leafy Sea Dragon!  This creature is, I think, the single most amazing living thing I've ever laid eyes on:

I want to be this guy!

I made the boys super mad at me right before we left the house that morning by telling them they could not bring their ipods.  Call me crazy, but I sort of wanted to have a shared experience, even of the driving time, and wasn't interested in watching them bury their faces in electronic devices and plugging their ears with headphones.  So we had a high grump factor as we began our day.  But then, we listened to the story From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler during the car trip, both directions, and lo and behold, they all loved it.  This is a great story, so I guess I'm offering up a second Recommended Reading (or Listening).

The day was great.  The traffic at the tail end nearly killed me.  I can't wait to go back.


My youngest asked me this week: "Mommy, how does a person come from another person if the person the new person comes from is already in the world?"

Translation: how are babies made?

I think she was confused because we had been talking a few days earlier about how we all come from God.  So she's thinking something like: "Wait.  A baby comes from God?  I thought a baby comes from a mommy.  And a mommy is here, not in Heaven with God.  So what's the deal with that?"

I told her that it's kind of like planting a seed, and that God (!) plants that seed inside a mommy, and then the baby grows from there.  She said:

"I don't get it."

I tried again with basically the same idea.  She said:

"I don't get it!  How does a plant become a person?"

I tried to explain that the seed in question is not a plant seed, that it's a person seed.  She said:

"Whatever.  Can I have some candy?"

Yes, sweet Jesus, yes!

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04 November 2011

7 Quick Takes: Volume 44

I don't care if Monday's blue • Tuesday's grey and Wednesday too • Thursday I don't care about you • It's Friday, I'm in love.

And it's Friday, I'm writing Quick Takes.


Time to say goodbye to our 2011 Birthday Season!  Every Fall, we have 4 kid birthdays in 6 week.  The last one was a few weeks ago, but the party is officially tonight.  I am hosting four little girl guests for a sleepover.  There will be pizza.  There will be face painting.  There will be movie watching.  There will be cake.

There will be a tired mommy at the end.

Hopefully, there will be a happy 7 year old at the end, too.

And thus endeth the AIRY5 2011 birthdays.  If I start planning now, maybe the 2012 birthday season will go a bit more smoothly.


And this great advice letter made the rounds on Facebook this week; I've seen it before (it's been around since 2007), maybe you have too, but certainly, it's worth another read or two or ten.

Thankfully, I have no friends who have ever expressed the ignorance of the letter writer, who basically admits that she doesn't understand what a stay at home mother does all day or why a stay at home mother has less time for other people.  I've never heard someone be so blunt and clueless about the subject before.  So it's not really the in-your-face, take-that quality of Carolyn Hax's response that I enjoy, although that is pretty delightful.  Rather, it's the reminder to me of what I do all day long.  It's easy to forget what we moms are doing here, raising kids and such.  Stay at home dads (HM) too.  Anyway, everyone should read this, especially if you are in the trenches, wiping butts and noses, cleaning messes, doing laundry, negotiating toddler peace deals, and wondering where you put your sense of humor.


Obligatory halloween costume photos.


Andy Samberg, Random Clown, Judy Jetson

Pajama Girl


I ♥ Stephen Colbert.  And Michael Pollan.  And food.  So this video clip?  Is golden.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Michael Pollan
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive


If you live in the Bay Area, and you like nurseries and finding lovely native plants to stick in your garden, there is a little out of the way nursery you really must visit.  Native Here Nursery, which is part of the California Native Plant Society, is a fantastic small nursery located in Tilden Park.  Going to visit is like stepping into another world.  It's quiet and woodsy.  The plants are healthy and inviting.  You'll feel like you stumbled upon a well-kept secret.  And you can combine the trip with a hike in Tilden Park and a visit to the Botanic Gardens.  

You really must go.  


My kitchen, this morning.  Kid X turned around and shouted at Kid Y, for no reason:  "YOU'RE DUMB!"

Five minutes later, Kid Y walks into the living room and whacks Kid X, who responds with incredulity.  

Mom: "Well, if you shout at someone and tell them they are dumb, you should expect them to be unhappy with you.  It's not surprising she would lash out at you."

Kid X: "Oh come on.  That was five whole minutes ago.  And she already hit me for that!"

Oh, well, in that case, it makes no sense whatsoever.  

Sigh.  Kid logic makes me crazy.


And one more little Halloween gem for your enjoyment.  This Shouts and Murmurs column appeared in the Oct. 24th 2011 New Yorker magazine.   I think you will enjoy it.

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Please go visit Conversion Diary, the host of 7 Quick Takes, visit the links of 7 Quick Takers playing along, and through out some comments.

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03 November 2011

Support The Writer's Almanac

I received an email this morning that started out like this:

Dear Friend of The Writer’s Almanac,
We’re writing because we need your help to support The Writer’s Almanac digital content, such as our daily e-mail newsletter, podcasts and extensive audio archive.
You can listen to The Almanac in the time it takes you to drink one cup of coffee or make one sandwich. Its purpose has been to make five minutes beautiful and memorable.

That's all it took.  I clicked through.  I gave some money.  Because The Writer's Almanac does make five minutes of my morning memorable and beautiful.  Not that I get to listen everyday.  In fact, I listen maybe 50% of the time, and 50% of that time, my kitchen is too loud for me to really hear anything.

BUT!  I still love it, and when a little gem of information or poetry breaks through the cacophony, my day is enriched.  If you are so inclined, join me.  Click here and give.

Poetry, history, anecdotes, and Garrison Keillor's lovely, soothing, resonant voice: that's a pretty great way to start the day.

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