Friday, August 26, 2011

I (Heart) Country Music

See that title?  I wrote it myself.  I, forged in Yankee-fied SE New England, land of U2, the Cranberries, Boston and Bon Jovi, have had a musical conversion.  Ask me who I think King George really is.  Strict Evangelicals growing up, I listened to popular radio covertly, as our home only allowed the likes of Amy Grant, Sandi Patti, the Imperials, and Michael W. Smith  (Whom I still enjoy.).  At our home now, though, one might hear Matt Maher, Josh Groban, the chaplet of Divine Mercy, the composer of the month, or . . . (This is difficult to write.) . . . a local country music radio station.

For twenty years, I'd politely listened  to Ken's musical choices while driving, offering pleasant commentary : The words are good but I don't like that slide guitar-thing.  That fiddle player needs to relax.  Her twang-y voice is giving me a tic.  As soon as I'd drive anywhere alone, the dial would turn.  But truly ~ rock, pop, and alternative music has mostly wretched words.  No stories.  No charm.  And while I must occasionally turn down the country volume due to raunchy, immoral lyrics  (Men who sing about women shaking their "rock and roll thang" get no play time in the huge Howell van.), it stays put plenty enough.

After two decades, I finally realize that this is the place to hear heart-warming, tear-jerking, downright funny tunes about love, family and children.  And of course the hunting dog and old truck. 

I submit to you these gems, all of which, by the way, are popular.  Gives me a bit of hope regarding our moral fiber!

For Daddies and Daughters :

For Daddies and Sons :

For Marriages :

And for our Good Old USA :

Humming away with my fingers on the dial just in case,

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Semper Fidelis

We googled "Can I join the marines with cystic fibrosis" and clicked on an official list of medical disqualifications.  CF was there, of course, and a host of other conditions, some of which aren't even conditions ~ like a man may be neither shorter than 60 inches nor taller than 80 inches.  I scrolled down, down, down while Rees watched and we read everything from asthma to active ulcers to arthritis.  Passing the physical fitness examination and graduating from basic training  (Both of which Rees could do.)  aren't enough.  We already knew, but it was tough to see it right there in print.

But with such a long list, there are certainly many young people unable to enlist, which is somewhat . . . comforting?  Not exactly.  A relief?  Not really.  It just didn't sting quite as much to see so many reasons for exclusion.  Clearly, he is not the only one.

He sure wishes there was some way to officially serve his country, though.  Maybe a Semper Fi tatoo?  Oh dear.

But he'll be a good man.  An honorable, faithful Catholic cog in the American wheel, serving in his own way with his own unique set of gifts.

"Participation is achieved first of all by taking charge of the areas for which one assumes personal responsibility : by the care taken for the education of his family, by conscientious work, and so forth, man participates in the good of others and of society."   CCC 1914

Always faithful,

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


After the recent criticism of my Rocky post as "promoting the sinful sport of boxing"  (Does this make me a real blogger now?!), I've been thinking about boys and boxing.  Boys and fighting.  Boys and jumping down stairs.  Boys and running full force into the couch.  Boys and motorcycles.  Boys and soldiers.  I'm married to one and I'm raising five and with the greatest affection, I assert that boys are weird.

But their masculine genius is a perfect complement to the feminine genius  (To use mystique is to give credibility to Betty Friedan and I refuse to do so.).  The same boy who loves his mama, plays with his sister, hugs his nana, and holds doors for ladies, also has the innards to physically protect those females.  I plan to see to it that their maleness is not "Orlando Bloomified"  (as Laura Ingraham so charmingly phrases the modern weakling!).  Do I want them to be able to put up a good fight?  To be able to shoot a crazed gunman?  Yes.  Do I want them to fight or shoot someone?  No.

But the discipline required to train the body and mind for such activities as boxing, martial arts, tactical handgun or long range shooting are priceless.  Maybe even lifesaving.  Certainly beneficial into turning wild, naughty little boys into strong, self-disciplined, reasonable, wise men who are proud of who they are.

So yup, we'll watch boxing movies and martial arts movies and police movies and soldier movies ~ as long as the Story is good, true and moral.  And I'll concentrate on my knitting or check on the babies when the fight scenes become too much for this delicate female to appreciate.

So much more on this topic,

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Raining Responsibilities

It's been raining for so many day now, I've lost count.  Five?  Could it be fifteen?  The animals pretty much remain in their shacks, squabbling, eating, and relieving themselves.  It's messy and loud.  Like us.  Lovely.  I have, however, set to paper my educational plan for our medium to small children for the next nine ('ish) months.   Teenagers do their own odd mix of math, science, reading and current events, which is education-ese for Drudge Report headline reading and yelling about things afterwards.  I don't use curricula.  Or lesson plans.  Or tests.  Or desks.  Well, Rees uses a desk in his room because he's like that.  Just a monthly, three column chart of what I call 
Ordered Unschooling :

*The composer of the month gets his greatest hits CD played throughout the day  ("Greatest hits" seems fine for something like Alabama ; not Mozart.  Anyway.)

*The artist of the month gets his six Dover postcards taped up around the mirror  (Someday I'll purchase big prints.  When I have big money.).

*The literary theme of the month gets all related household books dumped into the living room ottoman for constant visual access.

*Art, science and math materials are available at all times, plus a list of mean Mommy chores. 

Done.  Oh, and for the first week, we're going through this family retreat.  Gargoyles, architecture, cathedrals and our one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church ~ with themed snacks?  Oh, yes.

And since I really do feel badly about the children heading outside for barn chores in the slop pit, I plan on frying up a good farmer's breakfast.

I'll concede.  The rain can have benefits.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Weekend Recipe ~ Rocky cookies

*I realize that today is Wednesday, but I thought of the post over the weekend, so it counts for the title!

We recenly introduced the big boys to a few of the Rocky movies, and they are quite taken with the story of the iconic American underdog who succeeds on pure grit.  And the positive portrayal of our Catholic Faith.  And the cute wife.  Enamoured now with All Things Stallone, Ken came home one day last week with Sly Moves: My Proven Program to Lose Weight, Build Strength, Gain Will Power, and Live your Dream, a book by Sylvester himself (mostly), wherein was discovered . . . a cookie recipe!  For healthy little keep-up-your-energy-for-hours confections that he says he relied upon during the physically demanding filming of the Rocky movies.

I made these things three times over the weekend because the batches disappeared quickly.  I'm not sure Mr. Stallone would approve of inhaling a dozen at one sitting, however.  Rees' excuse, of course, was that awesome CF diet ; my excuse was how perfectly they complemented coffee with cream and sugar.  Ahem.


1 C       whole wheat flour
3/4 C    brown rice flour*
1 1/2 C oats
1/2 t     baking soda
1 t       cinnamon
1/4 t    salt
3/4 C   brown sugar

1         egg
1/2 C   olive oil
1/4 C   water
1 T      molasses**

Mix the dry ingredients together.  Add the wet ingredients.  Mix well.  Roll into tablespoon-sized balls and place on ungreased baking sheet.  Bake 7-8 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

*Brown rice flour can be purchased in health food stores / sections or made in the Vitamix just like wheat flour.  I run it through a sifter when completed  (Or maybe I need to do that because my machine is seven years old!).

**I use blackstrap molasses for all those minerals, especially iron.  Every little bit helps bodies, CF or not.