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!

  • Lena

    I like Anne of Green Gables, but there aren’t vampires. Maybe you already read that a long time ago.
    Actually last night I was dancing to the above song at some fest along with children. I’m not sounding really mature, am I? Oh well. Last week I read a true story about childhood schizophrenia, so I’m allowed some light reading.
    What are the words to that song anyway, and do I really want to know?
    Don’t call it snoozers, boozers, and losers Mass. Well, you did, but we all have different rhythms and schedules. I think it’s great you that Sunday evening option. Why stress out in the morning if you don’t have to? You have plenty of opportunities during the week to stress out about the morning routine.
    Good luck with your dentist appointment. Maybe the doctor will give you some laughing gas! That would be fun!

    • Veronica

      I heartily reccommend the “Artemis Fowl” series, they’re massively fun and entertaining. Think of it as a sort of Harry Potter with tough fairies and an 11 year-old criminal mastermind. Very funny, creative and impredictable, you can’t go wrong with it. Plot summary: Artemis Fowl, an 11 year-old genius, decides to kidnap a fairy and demand a ransom in gold. However, the fairy he manages to kidnap, Captain Holly Short, is a member of the LEPrecon (Lower Elements Police) and is a pretty tough cookie herserlf. Lots of things happen afterward, but I won’t spoil it for you.

      Oh, and I love the “Gangnam Style” video, it puts me in a good mood. I’m not a mother yet, but I showed it to one of my nieces (she’s 7) and she loved it, too. And no, I don’t feel bad about it. :)

  • Ted Seeber

    For a video for Halloween to replace this one- that is 99% ok and 1% questionable- may I suggest Carman’s Witch’s Invitation? For being from a Protestant, the theology is mostly ok, and the only secular thing I have to say against it is that he choose a Jewish name for his witch (though, I think it’s a thinly veiled insult at a very real famous Satanist from the time the video is from- Horowitz and Bonewitz being very similar, along with the first name, Isaac).

  • Ted Seeber

    Oh, and on Reading Suggestions- I’m currently reading the 19th century science fiction of Fr. Robert Hugh Benson, a contemporary of GK Chesterton. Due to his own myopia on politics and technology, what were originally high theology science fiction looks like alternate reality steampunk today; I found _Lord of the World_ to be extremely interesting (especially since it predicted a carpet-bombing apocalypse in our time), and I’m reading the sequel, _The Dawn of All_ which oddly enough, projects a different future from the same time with the final conversion of the world beginning in 1973.

  • Sally

    I loved “can have a baby every other Friday and still go to Mass.” Clever.


  • Jessica

    Here’s a fun and totally innocent parody of the “Gagnum Style Rap” by MattyB and Cimorelli:
    I don’t know much about MattyB, but Cimorelli is awesome. It’s a group of six sisters who happen to be Catholic homeschoolers (at least the school-age ones). They sing covers of pop songs in a really fun and beautiful way…and if you listen carefully, they change some lyrics that might be objectionable/suggestive. (The youngest sister is only 13.) They’re not cloyingly sweet or prudish or even “aggressively” Catholic, you have to watch some of their youtube interviews/behind the scenes videos to learn about their faith, but I feel good about supporting them and I bet their youtube channel would make a fun morning playlist.

    Oh, and I have no personal connection to Cimorelli besides the fact that my younger sisters are obsessed with them. :)

  • Nicola

    You might like Brent Weeks’ books, both the Night Angel trilogy and the new Lightbringer series. They are adult books but funny, sarcastic and don’t take themselves too seriously in the fantasy genre.

  • Karen

    My son got the Mysterious Benedict Society series as a gift from his grandparents (who will happily get him any book he wants for his birthday or Christmas–gotta love grandparents). We read them in tandem, and I love them. I don’t quite know why, but they involve plucky orphans, who are recruited by the Mysterious Mr. Benedict (who has narcolepsy and is adorable in a scruffy old grandpa way). Each of the children has specific skills that make them essential to the team, and they learn to work together. Definitely start with the first one (NOT the Mysterious Education of Nicholas Benedict, I enjoyed reading that one AFTER I had met the adult Mr. Benedict.) They’re pretty easy reads, and entertaining, and clean. The bad guys do get their comeuppance.

  • Lady Harriet

    I really enjoyed Animorphs too. :) I highly, highly recommend anything by Brandon Sanderson. He usually writes “doorstopper” fantasy, but the characters are realistic and likable. He has books set on a number of different worlds which seem unconnected at first, but as you read more of them you realize that there’s some sort of awesome connection. (I don’t want to give away too much, but you can start If you want something lighter he has a very fun middle school fantasy series, the first book of which is called Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians. If you like mystery novels I love, love, love Dorothy Sayers. (My pseudonym comes from her books.) I also enjoyed the Artemis Fowl books. Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files books are hardboiled detective novels crossed with fantasy. The main character is a wizard-for-hire in present(ish) day Chicago. The books can be very violent, and there’s (very) occasional sex, if either of those are things you want to avoid. As a bonus, they have one of the most charitable and sympathetic portrayals of Catholic characters I’ve ever seen from a non-Catholic author.

    • MelanieB

      I haven’t read the Dresden Files; but I’d like to add that my sister loves them and is always talking my ear off about them. and we tend to have similar tastes in fiction. So there’s another vote in their favor. And yes, theology major that she is, she finds them very compellingly Catholic.

      I adore Dorothy Sayers too! Lady Harriet, have you read Dorothy Dunnett? Her hero Francis Crawford of Lymond reminds me very much of Lord Peter Wimsey.

      • Lady Harriet

        No, I haven’t read any of her books. I’ll have to check them out!

  • sibyl

    Umm, is it too terribly obvious to mention Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe? And for light and funny, it’s hard to go wrong with P.G. Wodehouse, esp. if you’ve seen the “Bertie and Jeeves” series starring Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry. And I know you were saying mostly sci-fi/fantasy, but have you ever read “Love in the Ruins,” by Walker Percy? It’s definitely a more cuss-laden and racy novel but extremely funny and kind of almost apocalyptic. The world might be ending, but maybe not, and the alcoholic doctor might just be paranoid, or not, and the vines might be taking over, or might not… This last does have some very serious elements, though, which a post-partum mom might want to avoid for a few more months.
    Last, a novel of academic silliness that I actually laughed out loud over, “Lucky Jim,” by Kingsley Amis. (Wait, I think. Too tired to look it up.)

    • Ted Seeber

      Did you mean Hitchhiker’s Guide the the Galaxy? Douglas Adams, along with Isaac Asimov, is one of my two favorite atheist authors ever!

    • eliese

      Oh yes, seconding the Wodehouse.
      I have an almost 8 mo old formerly angry baby (and he’s delightful – if incredibly persistent- now! there’s hope for your angry baby too) and am too tired to remember much of what I’ve read lately but I have been highly enjoying Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honor trilogy. Maybe not quite as lighthearted as you want but totally hilarious in that subtle way Waugh can do. Currently I’m stalled near the end of the second book due to a cross country move but looking forward to picking it up again.

      • eliese

        And my husband just read Game of Thrones; read me some out loud one night while I was cooking. No thanks!

  • Aurora

    Book suggestion: Jim Butcher’s two series, Codex Alera and The Dresden Files. One is fantasy, but pretty uplifting; the other is grittier fantasy/detective stuff, but has a really interesting interplay with faith (in an almost exclusively positive way). Both have main characters who are truly heroes, so I thought that may help you recover from Game of Thrones.

    Speaking of, I read all of Game of Thrones and did like it a bit, though not enough that I’d probably reread them. Reading your blog, I realized why that is: your characterization is spot on. I like reading about extraordinary people, and I don’t like depressing stories. There are a few good people in Game of Thrones, but something terrible always seems to happen to them, like dying all the time. Then again, death and treachery seem to be the dominant themes.

    Anyway, just started reading your blog a few weeks ago and I greatly enjoy it. I don’t usually post comments, but I never pass up an opportunity to recommend a good book! (Or 15)