Sunday Smorgasbord

Since Mass starts in fifteen minutes and we’re all still in pajamas, my spidey senses tell me that we’ll be making our weekly appearance of shame at the evening snoozers, boozers and losers Mass. It turns out that try as I sort-of-sometimes-pretend-to, I will never join the ranks of the neighborhood mothers who can have a baby every other Friday and still show up, perfectly coiffed and five minutes early, for Sunday morning Mass with their well-behaved offspring. Ah, well. Someone has to provide the rest of Ave Maria with prayer intentions. Might as well be me.

One thing I have managed to do this morning, and every day in the last week and a half, is read a little bit of Kathleen Norris’s book Amazing Grace. That’s right, every single day. Shocked? So am I. But honestly, I love it. It’s giving me things to think about that are actually edifying, plus it’s written so well that it’s like getting a glimpse of the Beautiful in the midst of the Chaotic. It’s even inspired me to abandon my increasingly masochistic reading of Game of Thrones, hopefully forever.

Has anyone else read the Game of Thrones books? I made a real effort with those books. I actually made it all the way to the middle of book 3. I tried so hard to like the books, to like the characters, to care whether they lived or died, but mostly I felt like I was being punished every time I picked the book up. I think I feel that way because I keep waiting for something good to happen…for someone innocent to be rescued, for someone noble to win a battle, for a child to be protected instead of exploited, for Lysa Arryn to get the axe already, but it never happens. Good never triumphs. The book may be set in a fantastical world, but it revolves around ordinary, everyday, awful people. And quite frankly, I don’t want to read books about people being people. I like to read about people being extraordinary. This book is like soap opera of Machiavellian intrigues, with dragons. It’s like Jersey Shore meets Mob Wives on the set of Reign of Fire, only they forgot Christian Bale. No, thank you.

But there’s only about a hundred pages left in my Kathleen Norris book, and I’d like to read a fiction book after this that I haven’t read before. So does anyone have suggestions? I love Connie Willis’s time-travel books, Harry Potter, Salman Rushdie, and Animorphs. (I refuse to be ashamed by that last one, so don’t try.) I’d like something that’s gripping, fun, easy to read, and preferably long enough (or in a series) for me to enjoy for at least a week. (So you have something to judge by, I read the seventh Harry Potter book in 24 hours. All 759 pages of it. Granted, those were extreme circumstances and I hardly slept, because Harry Potter, but at least it gives you a frame of reference.)

In other news, sometimes I can’t believe the commenters that Camp Patton attracts. I’ve had some doozies myself, but Grace seems to be a magnet for (always anonymous, of course) people who have nothing better to do with their day than make sure she understands that she is the worst mother ever, and that her kids are totally going to be scarred for life. Let’s take a little informal poll. Which activity seems more mentally unbalanced to you: writing hilariously snarky posts about motherhood to get you through your husband’s endless residency, or scouring the internet for people whose lives/blogs you disagree with so you can publicly point out the damage they are doing to their children? Cast your votes below.

Okay, here’s another informal poll, but this is less tongue-in-cheek and more “please help me learn to parent because I have no idea what I’m doing”. Remember this video that I posted last week?

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I love this video. It’s hilarious. And I love that it’s goofy and doesn’t contain all kinds of sexually explicit dance moves. In the past week, I’ve gotten in to the habit of putting it on in the mornings after Sienna is at school, when I need a boost to get moving and put a smile on my face. Charlotte and Liam like to dance along to it and don’t watch too carefully, and aside from having to explain to Charlotte not to repeat the “hey sexy lady” line, I haven’t been conflicted about having the video on. But this morning I put it on and Sienna watched it with us, and suddenly I found myself freaking out. Not only about the close-up of the yoga girl’s bum, but also about the guy doing the weird pelvic-thrusting dance in the elevator, the three girls in silver who do about half of a suggestive dance move, and even the pretty girl in the metro, not because she’s dressed inappropriately or dancing inappropriately, but just because Sienna is getting to the super-aware age where she wants to emulate every pretty girl she sees and I’m trying to surround her with images of beauty that isn’t just superficial. At the same time, I’m confident that in the years ahead we will have to battle seriously bad influences (Lady Gaga, anyone?). I don’t want to start by being hyper-protective and reactionary, especially if it means forbidding videos like this one, which are 99% goofy fun and 1% questionable. What do you guys think? And moms who have older, teenage kids, how do you strike a balance? What influences do you guard against most, and what things do you let slide?

And now, I think I’ve ignored my kids enough for the day. Tomorrow morning I have to go have a dentist appointment that I’m terrified about, since it involves deep gum cleaning and numbing and all kinds of horror, so I probably won’t post unless I somehow manage to survive unscathed. And if that happens, I’ll be sure to include all the histrionic details. Happy Sunday, everyone!

  • Leah @ Unequally Yoked

    May I suggest that substituting Gandalf Style would solve all of your problems?

  • Kara Nutt

    First off, snarky blogging to keep your own sanity = healthy, trolling to correct everyone you don’t agree with = seek professional help NOW!

    Second, Play up the 99% goofy, ignore the 1% questionably unless she brings it up, then talk about it. You can’t protect her from seeing anything questionable, all you can do is set up the scenario where she brings her questions to you and allows you a bigger voice in her life than all the questionable advertising she will be accosted with in the years to come.

    Now, for books. I HIGHLY recommend “The Parasol Protectorate”. It’s a series by Gail Carriger. Steampunk meets supernatural. Warewolves and vampires are real and integrated into Victorian London society. Very well written.
    I also am a big fan of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. There are currently 8-9 books in the series with another scheduled to come out in the next year. Each one bigger than the last one. Again, well written and very interesting theory on the standing stones like Stonehedge.

    Happy reading.

    And on the “couldn’t get it together enough to get to mass this morning” front… Growing up I always envied you Catholics because you had the Saturday evening option. I now attend a church with a Saturday evening service and we have made that our service. Sunday mornings are now purely family time. We go out for breakfast and have a true time of rest as a family. I don’t think it matters when you worship, just THAT you worship.

    Peace and Blessings

  • Leah @ Unequally Yoked

    There was too much sex-y stuff in Parasol Protectorate, for my tastes, but I am the Lord High Mayoress of Prissville, so I would just advise reading the first 20 or so pages before you buy or grab from the library.

  • Chris

    Try “Barchester Towers” by Anthony Trollope. Very funny, and chock full of sex and religion–but written by an eminent Victorian, so it’s not obvious.

  • Smoochagator

    I am amazed by Anon’s comments to Grace as well. I can only assume that this person isn’t a mother… Or perhaps she is and her one child was the epitome of calm self-control? Or perhaps this person has some sort of mental disorder that makes it impossible for him/her to understand humor, especially satire? IDK. I laugh until I cry when I read Grace’s posts, because they are H-I-Larry-Us.

  • MelanieB

    If you want really good fantasy with characters you’ll care about, noble battles and innocents being saved, you should check out Guy Gavriel Kay. I recommend you start with Tigana, which I think is one of the best fantasy novels ever. Kay very easy to read and yet his characters and stories have a greater depth than any fantasy novelist since Tolkien. Seriously, if you haven’t read Kay, you NEED to.

    Right now the series I’m recommending to everyone that asks is Dorothy Dunnet’s Lymond Chronicles: Game of Kings, Queen’s Play, The Disorderly Knights, Pawn in Frankincense, The Ringed Castle, and Checkmate. Mainly because I really want to reread them myself but they keep getting pushed off my to-read list by stuff I put on hold at the library, but also because she’s just about the best historical novelist ever and not enough people know about her. They are historical novels set in 16th century Europe and the Mediterranean. The hero, Francis Crawford of Lymond, is a Scottish nobleman and he travels all over Europe and into Russia and the Ottoman Empire. He is one of my absolute favorite heroes ever. He’s a super-intelligent Renaissance man, amazingly good at everything he turns his hand to and quotes poetry all the time. Dunnett is a bit more challenging to read; but so absolutely worth it. Seriously, the first time I read them I had just quit my job and I did nothing but read all day every day for about two weeks. I didn’t even bother to start looking for a job until I’d finished the series. Then if you like Lymond you can go on to read the House of Niccolo series, almost as good and another 8 books worth of entertainment.

  • Joanne K McPortland

    Another Connie Willis fan! More reason to love you. And much gratitude for keeping me from becoming more invested in the Game of Thrones stuff. You didn’t mention mysteries, but I would highly recommend Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie series, which are really more like existential mysteries, in which very good things happen in spite of and around crimes, through the kinds of blissful coincidences that make you go “Oh YES!” There are four so far (reading them in order is good because the net of coincidences and quirky relationships spills from book to book): Case Histories, One Good Turn, When Will There Be Good News? and Started Early, Took My Dog. Jackson is a private eye who considers himself a hopeless failure but is just a Really Good Person Who Screws Up a Lot. I identify with that second half, and you are the first half, so you should love the books. Happy reading, whatever your adventure!

  • Grace

    thanks Calah. thank you thank you!!

    I’m scared to watch any gangnam style vids bc I know my addictive personality and sebastian would be breaking it down in no time.

    Julia already does a “nakey dance” —- may the Lord have mercy on my soul.

  • JackieD

    You mean I’m not the only Animorphs fan out there? Amazing! And yeah, masochism is pretty much the best description of GoT at this point >_<

    If you haven't read it yet, CS Lewis's Space Trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength) is absolutely amazing, both as fiction and as inspirational reading. I'd also recommend Lois McMaster Bujold's Curse of Chalion and the following novels.

  • Magdalen

    Do you like vampire books? I like vampire books. Specifically, I like the Vampire Academy series. Very well written, a little questionable conduct but not much (like a couple scenes or fewer per book). I also like City of Bones and The Iron Queen. And anything by Shannon Hale, though I’m not sure she’s quite your type. Also anything by Tamora Pierce, the Maximum Ride series, Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness, anything by Donna Jo Napoli, Graceling by Kirsten Cashore, the Nightshade series (Andrea Cremer), The Adventures of Hugo Cabret by Brian Seltznick, anything by Neal Shusterman… I could go on and on. But if you didn’t want to buy these, I bet you could find most of them in the YA section of a library. They’re all pretty mainstream.