Thursday, September 19, 2013

7 Quick Takes: Kids Cheering for the Umpire and Making Life Easier (?) (vol. 12)

1. This Week, In The Successes Of DIY

I used tinker toys to successfully retrofit an older model grass catcher to the lawn mower. Then I sprint-mowed the lawn in a skirt during the last 20 minutes of "Barney" in an attempt to preempt the rain.

2. And The Failures

I got a mouth full of 87 unleaded in my attempt to siphon gas from the old mower. And did not siphon any gas.

3. Well Who Knew

I've been sadly watching the leaves on our azaleas turn brown and thin out, convinced they were suffering from a bug infestation or some weird plant disease. Note to self: even bushes in the shade need water.

4. Play Ball! Wait, No, That Park Looks More Fun.

I love to take Joe and Josh to the rec-league baseball games that Wally umpires. The boys sit behind the fence at home plate, confusing fans from both sides, as they cheer for the umpire and anyone who's currently at bat.

This week, the ball park had a really cool playground right by Wally's field, and baseball just can't compete with that.


5. Top 10 Ways Kids Make Life Easier

#Six: You're too old to act like a baby over long check-out lines, but your kids aren't. After 4 minutes in the check-out line, I stop singing "Twinkle, Twinkle," and "The Itsy Bitsy Spider," and just let the kids wail. Usually another line will open pretty quickly.

6. Unfortunate Coincidences
This week, I got to meet MRS. MARGARET MCDERMOTT! Unfortunately, this opportunity coincided with the first week of washing cloth diapers in the Bader Household, which also coincided with the realization that our "cloth diapers are so easy" mentality was because we stopped washing our clothes, so we could run diapers through the laundry instead.

Since I usually rotate through the same five outfits, this week's clean-laundry-shortage left me in a bright purple shirt and fuzzy paisley skirt for the impromptu introduction. Hopefully my admiration for all she does managed to outshine my shirt.

7. Excerpt From A Good Read

"When Jesus founded His Church on Peter, He asked him the same question three times: 'Peter, do you love me?' He could have said, 'Peter, will you be a man of character, capable of leading your brothers to follow in your path? Will you be a wise man, capable of instructing them and explaining things to them -- a model of virtue, as an example to them?' He did not ask a single one of those questions, but only, 'Peter, do you love me?' That is all. If Peter loved Jesus, the Holy Spirit would be in him, and he would lack nothing he needed to feed the lambs and the sheep."*

*Excerpt from I Believe in Love: A Personal Retreat Based on the Teaching of St. Therese of Lisieux by Father Jean C.J. d'Elbee

Visit Jen @ Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes -- and post your own!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Top 10 Ways Kids Make Life Easier

1. Door-to-door salespeople don't want to come in your home. 


2. You're the last person anyone calls for help. 

"Hey, in the Austin caravan last weekend, my car got a flat, so I left it in Hillsboro. Could you drive me down to pick it up? Oh, we'll need to take all the kids with us for three hours in the car and stop every 30 minutes for potty breaks? I think my other friend said they might be able to help..."

3. Long, awkward conversations end before they get long and awkward.

You know those one-sided conversations with someone you just met who mistakenly thought you'd be super interested in the polymer building blocks of food-grade plastic storage containers? "Emergency texts" from the babysitter are always a valid out.

4. Weird personal questions can be avoided. 

"So, havin' any more, or are ya done?"

"Well, my kids are getting antsy, I need to go now. Let's pick this up again soon, stranger!" 

5. Someone will answer your weird personal questions for you. 

"Mom said she doesn't need any more little monkeys in the house." 

6. You're too old to act like a baby over long check-out lines, but your kids aren't. 

After 4 minutes in the check-out line, I stop singing "Twinkle, Twinkle," and "The Itsy Bitsy Spider," and just let the kids wail. Usually another line will open pretty quickly. 

7. Property taxes plummet. 
Did you know... the Appraisal Board can lower your property value and as a result your taxes owed, based on an overview of damages? (i.e. the missing drywall where a kid skateboarded into the wall, the water damage from a kid leaving the window open in a rainstorm, the patio door shattered by an errant soccer ball)

8. Kids think anything you do is hilarious.

"Peek-a-boo!" "...and this little piggy cried, 'Whee-whee-whee' all the way home!"


9. Uh, uh, uh...

I tried to make this a Top Ten list, but after weeks of wracking my brain, I've got nothing. Let's be real here. Kids bring messes, ER trips, and exhaustion. I'll grant that they make life more crazy, hopeful, fascinating, loving, and fun, but easier? No way.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

7 Quick Takes: Tried and True Coping Mechanisms, Saving the Environment, and More DIY (vol. 11)

1.  Kummerspeck (German; literally translated "emotional bacon")
It's been a rough couple of weeks. Emotional eating is cheaper than therapy, and I love a bargain. More on good words that don't translate well into English.
2. Straws
I bought straws for the sole purpose of blending frozen fruit and yogurt into smoothies and eating healthier. So far, they have only been used for milkshakes. (See #1)
3. Popcorn also a great emotional food, especially if you melt Nutella with butter and mix it all together.

Except frugalista-me found out you can pour popcorn kernels in any paper bag, roll the top, and pop it in the microwave. And when you overfill the kernels because it was that kind of day, and then you walk away to try to get something else done while it pops, that's how you catch things on fire in the microwave.

4. Kids Can Kill You

This week I looked up Mother's Day Out and preschool options for our kids, because I am going NUTS. And I was like, "You can't put a price on a mother's sanity, so whatever it costs, we're doing this!"

But then I saw the prices.

We're going to try an intermediary step of Wally and I giving each other regular time off each week. I think this set-up, with a little more Kummerspeck, should do the trick.

And if not, a mental institution is still less expensive than preschool, so I guess you can put a price on mothers' mental health.

5. When Things Get Out Of Control

When I go nuts, I organize and micro-manage. People think we keep a clean, organized house, because we're clean, organized people. No, it's more an indicator of where I currently register on the insanity scale. Which is why our kids' closet looks like this:

You can't see the labels I put on all the boxes. Those are in case a stranger is putting away our laundry and can't tell that socks go in the box with all the other socks.

6. DIY Successes and Failures

The army green cabinets in our kitchen didn't look too bad when we moved in 18 months ago, but I imagined how nice the original wood grain would look and spent hours (and hours and hours) of naptimes and evenings refinishing them to reveal the original, gleaming wood. They turned out awful. I guess they were cheap cabinets, designed to be painted, because the wood grain is inconsistent on each door, so each cabinet absorbs "red oak" stain differently. The overall look is shades of 1980s brown.

At the same time, I refinished our $10 garage sale kitchen table to match the cabinets. The table turned out great.

So now the beautiful table matches the horrible cabinets. And "Fixing the kitchen cabinets" returns to [the bottom of] our Home Projects List.

7. Saving the Environment One Baby Bottom At A Time

This kid has super-sensitive skin. So we're trying out cloth diapering. So far, I love it!

I didn't anticipate how much wet clothes weigh on a clothesline, so the line is about 18 inches off the grass. The boys are enjoying the new obstacle course in our backyard.

Monday, September 9, 2013


Pope John Paul II wrote a letter in 1981. It was an official letter to the whole church, and proud Catholic intellectuals would probably refer to it as an encyclical, sigh deeply, and then correct the Latin pronunciation I haven't bothered to learn: Dives in Misericordia.

I kind of write off popes. They're holy, pious, important in the spiritual leadership of the Church, but they don't seem to understand the real world, what we're dealing with down here in the 9 - 5 / 5 - 9 tedium of every day over and over and over.

I think a lot of people feel that way about God. Nice idea, probably necessary in some sense, but not really relevant to me.

Well once again, the English language has failed us.

The same language that failed to give us backpfeifengesicht ("a face badly in need of a fist") and kummerspeck (literally, "emotional bacon"), also translated mercy into some meaningless God-word, best chanted, definitely with head bowed, maybe with eyes closed, pairs well with faith, hope, or love.

There's a man Catholics and Protestants both claim as their own, and truth be told, he probably laughs at us and prays indifferently for everyone. [Saint] Augustine was a late convert, early bishop, born in 354 AD. He broke mercy down for us, and somewhere along the way, we butchered it.

Mercy = Misericordia (Latin) = Miseris Cor Dare = "A heart which gives itself to the miserable"

This is a God I want to know. A God who gives his heart to the miserable.

Pope John Paul II must have known the trenches. Because in his letter, he wrote about mercy as "the greatest attribute of God," not as the ying-yang of justice, or a nice way to balance out the wrath of a God who won't be pleased.

The big takeaway JPII wanted us to know: there is a God who gives his heart to the miserable.