7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 161)
Yesterday afternoon, I thought I had found a one-two punch of improving our neighbors’ impressions of The Homeschoolers and getting some socialization for the kids. (Disclaimer: Socialization is not a problem for everyone who educates at home. Many such families have no problem whatsoever exposing their children to the company of other human beings. The stereotype comes from people like me, who were weird to begin with.) Anyway, yesterday I whipped up a batch of chocolate chip cookies and set them on a stand in our front yard as a lure for the kids who were playing outside after school.
It worked! The warm cookies were like a kid magnet, and within minutes a half dozen children were hanging around our front yard. I pretended to be very busy rearranging the two chairs on the front porch while I kept an eye on the interactions. Just when the older kids got past some awkward hellos and began to chat with potential new friends, my sugar-crazed toddler grabbed two cookies and stuffed them into her mouth with both hands, grunting and smearing chocolate all over her face, arms, and neck. I chirped a polite reminder for her not to eat all the cookies, hoping my calm and classy tone would balance out her behavior, and leave people with the overall impression that we were probably not mountain people who had come in from the hills to take up residence in this neighborhood. Upon hearing my admonishment, she opened her mouth, and let a chewed blob of cookies fall from her mouth and splat onto the middle of the plate. The kids scattered like cockroaches.
Maybe we’ll try again tomorrow.
This is kind of an odd juxtaposition, but here it goes anyway: I’ve been using the book Mornings With Fulton Sheen as meditation starters for my morning prayer time. It’s great stuff. Each page has a reflection from something the late Archbishop wrote, along with a corresponding Bible verse. An example from page 51:
“Man becomes like that which he loves. If he loves gold, he becomes like it — cold, hard and yellow. The more he acquires, the more he suffers at surrendering even the least of it, just as it hurts to have a single hair pulled out even thought your head is full of them.”
Wisdom is worth much more than gold, and understanding should be chosen over silver. (Proverbs 16:16)
There are a bunch of daily meditation books like this (Karen Edmisten’s Through the Year With Mary and Bert Ghezzi’s Breakfast with Benedict are also great). I always find them to be good ways to kickstart my prayer time, especially if I’ve been going through a spiritual dry spell.
I’ve continued my commitment to get up at 6:00 AM (by “continued” I mean “I sometimes get up when the first number on the clock still says 6“) and one of the most exciting parts of each morning is when I put on my slippers. I know what you’re thinking: Wow, that sounds thrilling. Putting on slippers? Tell me more. Can I also get a detailed list of what you eat for breakfast? But wait. This is actually a tension-filled moment of death-defying anticipation in this house, and here’s why:
It occurred to me the other day that these shoes, which are tall and poofy slipper-boots, are a perfect scorpion habitat. I mean, so perfect that the marketing department should throw out all this foot warming mumbo jumbo and just market them as arachnid condos. So when we combine the facts that scorpions like small, warm spaces and are also nocturnal, we see that it is a matter of when, not if, I will encounter one in my slipper-boots at 6 AM. I’ve been shaking the slippers out every morning, but there’s always a chance that one of the scorpion’s claws could get stuck in the furry fabric, in which case the result of my shaking would only be that I now have an extremely angry and alert scorpion waiting for me in my shoes.
I wouldn’t wear those slippers, someone just thought after reading my last take. Believe me, I am sympathetic to this line of thinking. But around here we have scorpions in our beds, our towels, our kitchens, our toy piles, our living rooms. Alas, even our toilets are not outside of the universe of possibilities of where one might encounter a scorpion. If I were to optimize my life on not being stung, I would stand on a stool in my living room and scream in despair all day (though not too close to the air vent, since scorpions fall out of there sometimes). As it is, even my most mundane tasks are packed with the tension of WILL I OR WILL I NOT BE STUNG BY A POISONOUS ARACHNID WHEN I DO THIS? Let it never be said that I don’t have an exciting life.
If you have young children, I think you need one of these. I got it for my two-year-old for Christmas after seeing the reviews on Amazon, which led me to beleive that it is specifically mentioned in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It’s a glow bug thing that shoots lights from its shell. And it has buttons that change the colors. Okay. Obviously I am up too late to describe this very well, so let me put it this way: It does cool stuff that will get your children to beg you to turn out the lights at night.
I’m speaking at the Diocese of Venice Apologetics Conference on February 7, so if you’re in the area come on by! (That’s Venice, Florida, by the way. Though I am certainly open to the possibility should anyone want me to speak in Venice, Italy. I don’t know Italian, but I do offer a pantomimed version of my talks.)
In what should be a humbling turn of events, the weekend before I’ll be seeing Matthew Kelly speak at our parish. He’s arguably one of the best speakers in the world, and talks like this are why:
Book progress: I have about 48,000 words down. According to my writing schedule, I’m supposed to have about 57,000 by this point. I’m not too worried — if I keep focused and stay off of Twitter, I think I can make it up over the next few weeks.
Writing tip: I’ve tried everything under the sun to keep myself motivated to write, and nothing has worked as well as simple word count deadlines. When I’ve based my schedule on what topics I was going to cover when, I could come up with all sorts of elaborate rationalizations that made it seem like I was doing something, when really I was doing nothing (“I didn’t cover top X per se, but I did research topic Y, which is related…”). Word count deadlines keep you typing.