My Wife is Brilliant

I’m incredibly lucky that we married each other 13 years ago today.  Not only does she have her Ph.D, and teach middle school-aged students English literature and grammar (which makes her brave, too), she’s also figured out a way to motivate our children to get through their very minimal chores each day during summer break.

Both Yakum and Ikinji love to read.  As in, cannot (or will not) put down the book, magazine, pamphlet, or whatever else they picked up at the time that has printing on it unless and until you break through their concentration and pull them out of whatever it is they are reading at the time.  And if you don’t pull them all the way out, they’ll fall back in.  And they wonder why it can take hours for us to get ready to go anywhere.

In any case, rather than offering a monetary reward for getting through everything each day (and it isn’t all that much–if they would focus, and not dawdle, they could be through all of their chores in all of 45minutes, max), they are being encouraged by the opportunity to check out more books from the library.  Each day, when I come home from work, they show me their list of chores, and, if they’ve done them all (as noted by my wife), I give them a checkmark.  Each checkmark for the week translates into an extra fiction book they can check out during the weekly library trip.  No checkmarks and they still get one fiction and one non-fiction book, but no more than that.

Yakum has really latched on to the system.  Friday, she was almost upset that I didn’t actually get a chance to physically checkmark her list, even though we verbally confirmed she had earned it.  Ikinji a little less so, but once he figures out that the chores go quickly and the extra books are worth it, he’ll be right up there, too.  The sheer brilliance of the system is that if they get too sucked in to the extra books to do their chores, they get fewer books.  It self-limits in a way, and directly links the reward to getting the problematic behavior under control.

See, I told you my wife is brilliant.  Here’s to many, many more years together!

Roses!

The threat to shovel prune seems to have scared the rose into blooming.

Either that or it was the fertilizer and compost.

It’s a typical wild rose:  Single (that is, five petaled) blooms, and an incredible fragrance.  Oh, and thorns.  Lots and lots of thorns.

The thorns make it good for birds to hide in, though.  In addition to the adolescent robin above, I’ve seen a few nuthatches hide in there, and at least once a flycatcher.

Now that I’m going to keep it, I need to do something about the powdery mildew, the caterpillars eating the leaves, and the other unidentified insects that are playing havoc with it.

No aphids yet, but I’d bet that’s the next plague to strike.

Baptismal Garment Sewing

I mentioned that Thumbkin’s baptism took place on May 13, Feast of Our Lady of Fatima.  I took on the challenge of sewing his baptismal garment.

After doing some research (hello, Google!), I decided to modify a T-yoke style gown and make the yoke into a cross down the front.  This necessitated raglan sleeves, and a back yoke that matched the top of the front cross.

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My paper napkin mock-up on the top left.

It was a challenge to get the corners sewn precisely, and I ultimately went with hand sewing since it was faster than trying to maneuver the whole thing around under the needle.

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Pinned, but pinning is sometimes neater than the sewn product.

The back closure wound up with a simple button and loop, rather than a button hole.  This makes it easier to get on and off, as well as to allow for anointing the chest.  Sorry, no pictures.

The extra width in the back got sewn onto the yoke with a couple of inverse box pleats.  Again, a little easier than trying to get even gathers, and looks quite polished.

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Mock-up, garment in progress, and back yoke going out of frame on the right. 

I did cheat–the gown part (That is, other than the front and back yokes) is a flour sack dish towel, so I used one of the finished edges for the bottom hem.

Today being Pentecost, also known as Whitsunday, he got to wear it for a second time.  OK, he isn’t technically a Neophyte who would wear white according to the tradition, but it at least made us smile.

Bye Bye, Birdies

So, the young robins flew off early last week.  About 10 days ago, I noticed they had grown significantly and were looking rather more robin-like.

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feed us feed us feed us feed us

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Lunch!

Both cats took notice as well.  When I first opened the window to get a shot of them in their nest (to avoid the window glare) Benson came trotting up.

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Just looking…really

I quickly closed the window to avoid him either getting a snack or making  fool of himself by falling out of the window trying to get to the little fledglings.

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Me?  Fall out a window?  Hmf.  

So, they’re gone and the nest is empty.  Depending on what tomorrow’s weather brings (every time I check the forecast it’s whipsawed between rain, possibly heavy, and no rain but cloudy) I might get a chance to dig up the holly tree and do some other landscaping fun.

Sacraments Galore

There’s still a little bit left to Easter season (Ascension Thursday Sunday [for most dioceses, it’s been transferred] is next week, with Pentecost the following week), but it’s worth reflecting on all the sacraments that I had the honor of witnessing this year.

I taught religious education to 12 youngsters who were received into the church this Easter (two at the Vigil, ten on Easter at the Spanish mass).  Although it was a struggle at times, all of them have at least the very basics of the faith.  I can only hope that they come back next year for continuing instruction, or find other sources to continue to learn about the faith.  As I tried to tell them repeatedly, there’s always more (much more) to learn.

Ikinji made his first communion (first confession was during Lent.  Not a coincidence) in early may.  His godmother made the trip from Colorado to help celebrate, which certainly made it special.

Finally, our fifth child (Thumbkin, because he rounds out a handful of fun) was baptized on the 100th anniversary of the appearance of Our Lady at Fatima.  Because of the significance of the date, we actually scheduled it prior to his birth, but were fairly certain he’d be around by then.  Tumbkin was born late enough in April that his birthday will always be in Easter season, rather than in Lent (OK, sometimes in the Octave, when Easter is really, really late).   Good thing we scheduled in advance; our parish priest apparently had baptisms scheduled all day at half hour intervals.

This Easter really did take advantage of the opening of the gates of Heaven and the pouring out of God’s grace that is mentioned at the blessing of holy water at the Easter vigil.  I was lucky to witness, and have a very small part, it some of it.  I hope some of those graces rubbed off.

Hatched!

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The robin eggs from a couple of weeks ago hatched into some very hungry robins.  Baby birds at this stage are decidedly un-cute; the cute stage must come a little later.

The kids are having a good time watching feedings, and the cats, surprisingly, aren’t paying much attention at all.  Maybe they’re waiting for the slightly plumper and cuter phase to pay attention.

How Much Government Do You Want?

After reading the news yesterday about the French students and others who have decided to protest the presidential election no matter who wins, I started thinking about why. Granted, these are people who do not like any of their options in the run-off, but when you look at the protests and “protests” in France and […]

via What Purpose Government? — Cat Rotator’s Quarterly

What she said.

This is an excellent explanation of subsidiarity, and a run down of why the historical record shows that bigger government is almost never better government.

The Recalcitrant Rose

About five years ago, I planted a Rosa virginiana in our back yard, next to the fence.  DSC04909

I have yet to see it bloom.  It gets about six hours of sun, especially at this time of year, and especially with the tops of the canes above the fence.  I recently top dressed the soil with compost and some fertilizer that should promote blossoming.  I’m putting it on notice that if I don’t see a flower this year, it gets shovel pruned next year.

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The issue is that the rose is doing its wild rose thing and spreading throughout that flower bed.  Digging it up will take some persistence and a lot of effort.  This is a shot of some shoots coming up among the mint, with a violet there on the right.  Usually I’d say the mint would win out and keep the rose from encroaching any further into its territory (mainly by blocking out the light), but I’m not putting any money on this race.  This rose seems to be compensating for lack of flowers by sending out lots and lots of very vigorous shoots.  It’s all I can do to keep it from taking over the entire backyard.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see canes popping up on the other side of the yard, after burrowing underneath the cement pavers that cover most of it.