Sunday, May 27, 2007

Veni Sancte Spiritus

Fr. John did a trick during his homily that I've seen him do before at a retreat, but it is awesome everytime.

It was Pentecost Sunday, which celebrates the "birth" of the Church and the descent of the Holy Spirit. He said, "In five minutes, I will teach you a four part chant, in a foreign language." Latin, of course. He assigned each section of the congregation one of the parts, then started us off. Each section chanted "Veni Sancte Spiritus" in a slightly different melody/note. It was awesome when everyone in the church was chanting, the entire congregation seemed completely united in "lifting up our hearts" to the Lord in prayer. Then Fr. began to sing "Come Holy Spirit" over the top of the chanting, and ended in a prayer (with the congregation still chanting). It was amazing!

The songs for the rest of the mass seemed cheesy and weak by comparison.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

There's a TV in our living room

Yes, you read that right. For the first time in the six years of our marriage, we own a television. It is all the fault of Nintendo. And my husband.

Even while we have lived in a TV-free household, we have not really been TV-free people. For a time before Pauly was born and while he was a baby, we were at my in-law's house every Thursday for Survivor and CSI. For a while we were over there every Friday, too, for Stargate. Our recovery from addiction to these series was helped considerably by the downward turn in quality of the series, not to mention the fact that as the kids got older Bob was the only one who actually got to watch them, while I stayed upstairs trying to put the kids to sleep. For the last few years, we've watch little TV programming.

We've had a DVD player on our computer for some time, but it has been mostly used for the kids to watch their movies. We've rarely watched movies as a couple or a family, mostly as there weren't enough comfortable places to sit in the computer room. We finally got wise and moved the rocking chair in. : ) So we should be able to get by without a TV. . . except that we needed* a Wii. And a need is a responsibility.

So now we have a TV, a VCR/DVD player, and a Wii in our living room. It looks odd.

*I know the Wii is a need, or Bob wouldn't have bought it. It was only this morning that he said I didn't need to buy a dedicated booster car seat for Pauly, since what we have works. Last week he told me that I shouldn't even be looking at baby carriers, since we don't need another one.

Friday, May 25, 2007


I was tagged by a post on my friend's Steph's blog. You're supposed to grab the nearest book, open it to page 161 and share the 5th complete sentence. So this is from Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones. She was quite capable of catching us and holding us in thrall too.

I do have to admit that this book wasn't near me because I was reading it, but because our bookshelves are in the computer room and the kids pull books down, and this one had ended up under the computer desk in easy reach. It is good book though. Like most Diana Wynne Jones books it is aimed at teens but is really too good for adults to skip.

So I'm tagging everyone who reads this who hasn't done it yet.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Mission Impossible: Library

Your mission, if you choose to accept it: attempt a library trip this evening with three children. Return your books, pick out children's books, books for yourself, a couple of movies, check out the books and pay the fine AND cause no damage to children, building, books or other property.

Complicating this mission is the fact that it is 6:30pm, and the children are generally in bed by 7pm or 7:15pm on No Nap Days.

We load up the van with the stroller and the previous library books and headed out. Things start out decently well: the boys stand on the sidewalk by the front of the van while I get Rosie into the stroller and grabbed the canvas bag full of books. They take off running toward the entrance as soon as I start moving, though. I hurry to catch up and call for them to come back. They seem to be hard of hearing today, but the doors slow them down. Pauly opens the door for me, and Roger runs ahead to open the next door by pressing the handicapped access button. We're all together now, maybe we can stay that way! They stay relatively close while I unload the books we're returning, but take off when I scan the new book shelf. I hurry to find them, but before I can get to them Roger is running back to me with Toot Toot, the movie he's picked out. Thank Goodness he knows where the Wiggles DVDs are!

I try to herd Roger toward the children's section and the puzzles and toys, while Pauly quickly picks out a kids' movie. We have a few minutes of peace while the kids play with puzzles and I pick out a few books for them and some for me. Luckily, the Derby Public Library is nice enough to have books of interest to parents on the shelves by the kids' section rather than with the other non-fiction books. Rosie is being loud this entire time, but she's just talking, not screaming. Then Roger takes off, and I chase after and bring him back. He tries again, but I've got a firm hold. I send him back to the puzzles, but instead he runs up to a bookshelf and pushes on the books. Great! The books shift backwards, sending all the books on the other side of the shelf onto the floor. I pull Roger over there to pick them up, and Rosie gets grumpy because I'm not pushing the stroller. We get the books picked up (Roger chooses one to take home) and I announce we're leaving, but we have to make a quick run through the adult fiction section. Unfortunately, I can't push my stroller with one hand very well, so I have only a loose grip on Roger. He AND Pauly (who really should know better) make a run for it.

I chase after both of them, collect them, then go back toward adult fiction. I have to let go of Roger again to grab the books, although luckily I don't have to do much looking, I have definite authors in mind. The kids amuse themselves by playing with the nearby card catalog computer while I check out the Koontz copyright dates (I'm sticking to his newer books) but stay in the vicinity. I tell them to pick up their books again and we head down the aisles to the checkout desk. My hands are full so they're on their own. Roger stops halfway down one aisle (we're in the adult non-fiction section), puts his book down and pulls a book off the shelf. "Airplanes! Pauly, here's a book about airplanes!" and of course Pauly has to go look. I tell Pauly to put the book back on the shelf, and keep heading to the checkout hoping they'll follow. They do, sort of. I get all the books on the counter, plus the movies and my card, then grab Roger's hand. Check outs tend to be bad. But there's a fine, and I need to get the money out and count it. I hand the librarian the money, then run to go get Roger (who is heading toward the door). We get back to the counter, and Roger starts yelling and flopping to try and get away. I hang on, and grin and bear it. Finally we're checked out, but I have to let go of Roger to put the books in the canvas bag. He's already out the first door by the time I'm loaded and moving, and I run to catch up. They hold the door open for me as we head outside.

I check the time after buckling the kids in, putting the stroller in the back and starting the car. It's been half an hour since we left the house. So, less than 20 minutes in the library, we emerge with 15 books, 2 DVDs, all the kids and minimal property damage. Mission accomplished!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Piggle Wiggle!

I found my copies of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle's Magic and have been reading a chapter or two to the kids after they're tucked into bed. The boys really like the stories, or at least Pauly does. Roger usually falls asleep.

Friday Pauly and Roger were playing around saying "Mrs. Piggle Wiggle makes us giggle!" over and over again, then Rosemarie started saying "Piggle Wiggle. Piggle Wiggle." She seemed to be having fun saying such a silly thing!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

This article was posted on one of my forums and people wanted a response to it.

The core of the article is that "Even a quick look at the FARS [Fatality Analysis Reporting System] data reveals a striking result: among children 2 and older, the death rate is no lower for those traveling in any kind of car seat than for those wearing seat belts." In other words, child safety seats and the laws requiring them at increasingly high ages provide no advantage over seat belts. The author states that even when the data is controlled for the severity of the crash and the size of the cars, it still holds that car seats and seat belts are roughly equivalent in protection.

He doesn't even ask a question that arises to my mind: does this data mean much if, as the author quoted near the beginning of the article, over 80% of carseats are improperly installed or used? If the vast majority of carseats aren't used properly -- aren't installed properly, the straps are positioned incorrectly for the child's size, straps left loose rather than tightened properly, etc -- then the vast majority of seats aren't going to be offering optimal protection. So the real world data might show only that improperly used seats don't offer additional protection over a seat belt.

The authors did look to test seats that were properly installed, and described in detail a crash test comparing properly used seats to the seatbelts alone. The result: the head and chest forces on the dummies were the same, rather they were in a carseat or only a seatbelt. Ah, but there is a huge caveat: "the sensors didn't measure neck or abdominal injuries, which child-safety advocates say are worse with seat belts." So the crash test didn't even measure the forces which car seat advocates say differ between child seat and seat belt use, exactly those forces which they say lead to child fatalities. Booster seat use, for instance, is advocated to prevent abdominal injuries from the lap belt, especially likely if the child puts the shoulder belt behind his back because it doesn't fit properly.

I would agree that many of the child restraint laws aren't very sensible. The issue doesn't have to do with the age or weight of the child much at all, but how well they fit (and stay) in a seat belt. And having adjustable seats and belts in cars (the authors' solution) makes sense. Using our built-in adjusters I've gotten an almost acceptable fit in our van with our nearly five year old. (He does ride in a booster seat). Under most laws, however, even if the seat belt could be adjusted to fit a five or six year old, it would not be legal to use it without a booster. And this varies so much from car to car -- in some cars the seats and belts can barely be adjusted to fit a small adult, let alone a 9 or 10 year old.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A 10 Month old

should not be able to open a childproof cap.

She should also not be able to reason enough to climb up on things to reach "forbidden" objects.

That is all.

Monday, May 07, 2007

No training wheels!

Thursday (or was it Friday?) I backed over Pauly's bike. He's not even supposed to have the bike in that part of the driveway at all, so I don't feel too guilty. Besides, he's had the bike for almost 3 years, and it was just about too small for him last summer and is now way too small. The only damage was to the training wheels, which were both smashed.

Saturday Pauly suggested that we just take the training wheels off, so he could learn to ride it without. And he just jumped on it and started riding it. Bob helped steady it so he could take off twice, and then he could start and stop himself. He's been riding all over now. That was easy for us, and quick! Hopefully we'll be able to get a bike that fits him sometime this summer.

Don't take a disgruntled Catholic into an Orthodox Church

Yesterday we went to St. Mary Orthodox Church to their Lebanese dinner. They have very good food! And afterward we went on a brief tour of their Church.

It was very beautiful, although you could see the Western influence in such details as the pews with kneelers. Traditional Orthodox churches don't have pews at all, although the same was true for Catholic churches until the Reformation (or shortly before). You can see a couple pictures of their church here. The design of the church overall seems very similar to older, traditional Catholic parishes. This isn't a coincidence, of course. Although churches throughout Catholic history have varied in design and ornamentation based on the culture they were built in, they had certain constants. For most of history, the altar and the people faced East, and people and priest faced the same way, making their offering together. Likewise, some kind of barrier always separated the sanctuary (the location of the altar and tabernacle) from the nave or body of the Church. In the Eastern Churches, this is the iconostasis, a wall of icons with the central door through which the priest passes to reach the altar and pray the liturgy. In pre-Reformation England the rood screen served the same function, and mostly recently in American churches the altar rail was used. This design of the church is based on the design of the Temple, and the "holy of holies" where the Sacrifice takes place and the Presence of God dwells.

Modern Catholic churches have abandoned this separation between the nave and the sanctuary, and it is not accidental. Church designs have been driven by a true change in belief, at least of the architects. Church design promotes inclusion, not separation. I understand the drive, in Christianity God is, in a way, both immanent and transcendent, both here and not here, both Same and Other. However, it was folly to abandon centuries of tradition without care or thought. The loss of a "holy space" in the Church has been followed by a loss of a sense of the Holy, in general. There has been a dramatic change in the understood nature of the priesthood. Priests are now counselors or leaders, rather than individuals set apart to represent the whole of humankind to God, and to represent God to their congregation. I can't help but think that the crisis in the priesthood (priests leaving, "the scandal," drop in number of vocations) is intimately connected to this change in belief.

This is particularly painful for us, as our pastor goes out of his way continually to deny the special nature of the priesthood. And our "worship space" does not feel like a sacred space at all. Bob was particularly pained when he tried to explain the prayer candles placed in sand to the kids. He had nothing to offer the kids for comparison, our parish doesn't even have votive candles. These changes do matter. Although they may not be essential to the faith, changes in these outward signs reflect and encourage changes in belief. Will some of the Vatican II changes (few of which were called for in Vatican II) be changed back? In particular, the present Pope as Cardinal was particularly critical of the change in the "orientation" of the priest during the Eucharistic liturgy. He now "faces the people" rather than facing the same direction of the people. In the Western Church, many Churches had already abandoned the practice of ad orientem, in which the priest and people faced East during the offering. If the Church did return to the ancient practice, I wonder how the lay people have respond. So may have been taught that the priest now faces the people so "we can watch" rather than "having his back to the people." The issue isn't getting a better look, it is offering a sacrifice with the priest with him being our representative, versus him offering a sacrifice while we watch. Here's a post by Amy Welborn from last year on the issue.

OK, rant over. This is just going to make mass that much more difficult for a few weeks.