We are finally home. Against all odds, we got on a plane in iced-out DFW yesterday, spent way too long in the air, stopped at Trader Joe’s for groceries and wine, and then walked into our beautiful, beautiful apartment.
I cried. We’ve been gone for a month, and I’ve never been so happy to see my own kitchen again. And my own bed.
But most importantly, I’ve missed you, my readers! I’ve missed blogging and all my blog friends, but my brain is still so scrambled and travel-disoriented that I can’t put together a coherent post, so I’ll just do a long, long list of quick takes to make up for the two sets of quick takes Jen did while I was otherwise occupied with family.
While we were in Texas, Liam Xavier Bede was baptized by an awesome priest. This same priest baptized Charlotte for us a year and a half ago. Charlotte screamed during her baptism; Liam smiled, gurgled and laughed during his.
I always wonder if a child’s attitude during baptism is a reflection of some interior disposition toward God. I’m sure it’s not (and I really hope it’s not, because Charlotte screamed and Sienna slept), but it was pretty incredible to see Liam during the baptism. Every time the priest approached him, he would smile and squeal. He laughed when we all made the sign of the cross on him, and he had a huge smile on his face while the water was poured over his head.
Only once did he show signs of the little pagan that was being washed away, and that was during the homily, when he farted noisily and pungently.
The day after Epiphany, my father-in-law dropped a Christmas tree on my head.
My Blackberry died a horrible death on this trip, for which I am eternally grateful. I hated that phone and only kept it because we’re poor. So it was with a light and happy heart that I greeted the words “It’s deader than dead” that came from the Verizon employee’s mouth. Then I skipped off in the direction of the cheap phones.
I was derailed by the display of bright and shiny Androids. They’re so pretty!
I’ll just take a quick look at them, I told myself.
They were so pretty.
And one of them had a pull-out keypad, for clumsy-fingered people like me!
And then the salesman spotted me and zeroed in for the kill.
Two hours later, I walked out of the Verizon store with a brand-new Droid. It’s some model that’s new and fancy, with said slide-out keypad. It has a pretty, shiny red case.
It took the salesman an hour and a half to teach me how to make a call, send an email, send a text, and download an app. Apparently these are not difficult skills for most people to master, but I am not most people.
Luckily for me, I had a credit on my account that, combined with a sale price, paid for a lot of the Droid. My awesome Dad paid for the rest, as a late Christmas present.
I don’t understand how everyone in our society has apparently evolved into having slim, nimble fingers. One of the reasons I hated the Blackberry was because I could not, for the life of me, send a text without it looking like this: l;afj;oweijh;aohsgawhatioaspghaouhttimea;sodjf;aoertfj;will as;ldfjasdyouwea bealakjfherea?
And the touch-screen on the normal Droids for these apparently nimble-fingered masses? Forget about it! I managed to download an app and erase a bunch of contacts while trying to send a text message. Seriously, I need finger choreography lessons.
That being said, I love my slide-out keypad. It’s like having a handicapped parking space.
The day after I got my Droid, I spent about ten minutes searching my in-law’s house for it. I was afraid that one of my minions had scampered off to destroy it, so the search was just revving up into full-panic mode when the Ogre walked out of the bathroom with it.
“Um, why did you have my Droid in the bathroom?” I asked, a little disconcerted.
“I needed TP. Isn’t there an app for that?”
While we were in Texas, we met the mother of one of our friends that live out here. Actually, she’s the mother of the female part of the featured couple in my information sidebar, who I’ve previously christened Yen and Pisa.
Pisa’s mom is one of those Catholic homeschooling moms whom I regard with awe. Her family is a work of art, like the Spanish Steps; they’re well-ordered, well cared-for, beautiful, crowned with visible expressions of their faith, and so astounding that they could only be the result of years of the blood, sweat and tears of their mother and father. I’ve already seen the result of their parenting in their two oldest daughters, Pisa and her sister Kitty who was in my Rome class, but it was even more amazing to see the little ones in their family. When we got to her house for a visit her 8-year-old son sat down with Sienna, without being prompted, and showed her how to build a track for some race cars. He was patient, kind, and obviously truly happy to be sharing his toys with this little girl he had never met before. Seeing these wonderful children, and then seeing my own wild Sienna calmly playing and taking instruction gave me a sudden sense of peace. In that instant, I knew that all my hard work would pay off one day, that if I kept at it I would also have truly good children one day.
We were on a pretty tight schedule so we were only able to stay for about twenty minutes. As we were gathering our things and our children, I told Sienna it was time to go and she responded, “Damn it.”
That brief peace and certainty instantly shattered, and I was back to feeling like the only parent in the room who hadn’t been given an instruction manual with all those hospital discharge papers.
However, as far as the child cursing situation goes, I think I’ve hit upon a pretty awesome solution: Tabasco on the tongue.
I have always thought that making a child wash his or her mouth out with soap was a bad idea. After all, isn’t soap somewhat bad for you if ingested?
Nevertheless, I liked the idea of a punishment that fit the crime. A time-out for a swear word just never seemed to cut it for me, so I started putting a drop of Tabasco on Sienna’s tongue every time she uses a curse word. I’ve only had to do it three times, and it seems to be really effective. My nineteen-year-old brother was even impressed by this technique, although he did admit that he’d have been crying for hours afterward.
Lest you think I’m a wretched parent and call CPS on me, I always give her a drink of milk within four or five minutes. And let’s be honest, Tabasco isn’t that hot.
Sadly, I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to give up this technique when Charlotte reaches the swear word age. Her favorite thing to eat is anything spicy, as evidenced by the recent family dinner when she ate a bowl of spicy salsa by the spoonful. And nothing else.
But she won’t eat fruit. So maybe when she swears, I’ll make her wash her mouth out with applesauce.
Speaking of dirty things, on our visit home I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
I don’t get the hype. It took about a hundred and fifty pages before I was even interested in the story. I never managed to care much for any of the characters, and to be honest, I’m wary of books in which each chapter starts with a statistic about HOW EVIL MEN ARE.
I realize that violence against women is real and not something to be made light of, but I’m quite frankly bloody tired of the whole world harping on about how women are nothing but victims and men are terrible, evil and violent beings who need to be properly emasculated.
I’m not a victim, and do you know why I’m not a victim? It’s because every single man I have ever had any sort of relationship with, bar none, has been decent enough to not physically hurt me. With a few, that’s as far as their decency extended; but most of them were and are genuinely good people who simply don’t spend their time plotting ways to rape and humiliate women just because they can.
This topic has really become a sore point for me since I married the Ogre. I don’t call him the Ogre for nothing; he’s big, brawny and hairy. He’s not very friendly, and he’s not lovey-dovey in the way that he treats me in public.
Because of this, I have had people accuse him of being abusive, a totally outrageous claim. This is a man who loves me more deeply than most people in our culture know how to love. He wants me to be good, and his primary concern is the well-being of my soul, to which end he will get annoyed when I spend my time watching the fourth season of Buffy while the complete works of Chesterton sit, unopened, on the bookshelf.
People say this is controlling. It’s not. It’s love. He never forces me to do anything, but he expects me to take seriously my responsibilities as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, writer, and child of God. And very few people see the great sacrifices he makes for me.
After all, isn’t that the same type of love Christ has for us? A love that wants us to be good, a love that teaches us how to do that? A love that made the ultimate sacrifice so that we might be saved?
Having a son also drove home this topic. Our society wants to emasculate our men; I simply won’t let it happen. I want him to learn to fight, to learn to be strong. But that strength, in regards to women, should always be channeled into protecting them. That’s what men long to do, I think; protect us women. But when we say, some of you have used your strength to hurt us, therefore all male strength is bad, we take away something primal in their nature. It’s unfair and damaging, and the effects are all around us.
Perversely, I think the rising incidence of violence toward women is a direct result of this backlash.
Somehow I managed to wander away from quick takes about my trip home and into a really touchy and difficult subject, so I think I should stop here. I have tons of unpacking to do and children to feed. But don’t worry, I assure you I’ll be back tomorrow. Or maybe even this afternoon.
Oh, one last quick take! As a Christmas gift, my mom paid for me to get my hair cut and highlighted, and I got bangs!
They’re not as scary as they sound. Here’s a picture:
Me and my sister
Okay, one last Christmas picture, because it’s so cute and I can’t resist
My parents, after 31 years of marriage
Oh sorry, one last thing. I noticed while in Texas that my blog does funky things on other people’s computers. For instance, on my mom’s Ipad and my dad’s Mac, the cartoon is way off to the left and overlapping the blocks. Does that happen to you guys? If so, let me know, because I’d really like my blog to look decent on all of your computers and not just on mine.