September 2006

    Our second Song of the Week is “Simple Gifts”. 
I used the lyrics found at
.  I chose it because it is a catchy tune that I've always
enjoyed, and wanted to be able to sing.  I found in the process of
learning it that it makes a nice reflection on humility and
    Another reason I chose this song is because I happen
to prefer the original lyrics over the “Lord of the Dance” lyrics, and
so I wanted to know the originals for when the tune gets stuck in my
head.  I hate it when I hear ” . . . I am the lord of the dance
said he” playing in my head six bazillion times a day.  Curiously,
“'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be” does not seem to
stick quite the same way.  Pleasant discovery.

    Our third Song of the Week is going to be Edelweiss (in English).  We're Sound of Music
fans here, and a few weeks ago LP was asking me to teach her the lyrics
to this song.  Naturally, I don't know them.  And now it
turns out this is one of the song played during LP's dance class. 
I've always rather liked the song myself, so I figure it's a good fit.

There's an interesting discussion of the Edelweiss lyrics at Wikipedia:

And then there's the fascinating world of the Sound of Music shrine: 

Wow — things I never knew.  Homeschoolings pays off again.



The marigolds are safe for another week or so.   Today is special projects day, and Little Princess put in a request for painting.  What a perfect day for it, sunny and warm, gorgeous fall weather.  I put the kids out on the screen porch to paint, then sent them to the yard to hose off all paint-laden items.  Served a picnic lunch (peanut butter crackers, bananas, and ice cream).  Big kids continue to play outside while the toddler naps and I make this entry.  Later today we’ll go to the library.  Tommorrow we’ll be back to formal lessons for one more day, then it’s fall break for a week while I catch up on projects around the house.

Award goes to my mother-in-law for supplying me with the label "Fall Break".  I was going to call it "no school", but "Fall Break" sounds so much more official.  Apparently our local public school kids get Fall Break these days.  Makes sense.  Fall is our best season here, weather-wise.


I’m about to fail my formal gardening class.  Again.  Luckily I’m  homeschooled, and even more luckily, the state truancy laws don’t cover thirty-somethings.

I absolutely love formal gardens.  You would not guess this from looking at my yard.  It helps me, though, that I also like all the other types of gardens, though I’ll admit it took a long time for the "suburban neglect" look to grow on me.   But the clincher in my formal-gardening failure is not neglect — that can be cured with time and diligence.  It’s that I’m not ruthless enough.

When I was studying in Paris (politics, not gardening, though my grades in the former weren’t all that great either), I learned the secret behind those lovely french formal gardens: a hardened heart.  The gardeners at our school didn’t have the least scruple about yanking out plants that still looked okay, and replacing them with a fresher batch. 

Having learned this lesson years ago, I cannot plead ignorance.  When Mr. SuperHusband spruced up our kids’ yard this summer, he bought a little planter to put on their new little patio, just outside our new little screen porch.  I knew — I even told Mr. SuperHusband in advance — that in order to keep the planter looking tidy and cheerful, we would have to do like the french gardeners, and yank out the old to replace with the new.  We resolved that we would buy replacement packs of annuals from Lowe’s on a seasonal basis, to keep that one tiny little planter fresh with nice-looking flowers. 

And now I realiize I just don’t have the heart.  Our marigolds from this summer are getting quite scraggily.  It’s time to put in fall mums.  It was time about three weeks ago, actually.  But the marigolds are still alive!  They have bloomed again! How can I do this to them??   It’s either muster a little heartlessness, or fail Formal Gardening.

Thursday is our day for hands-on projects. We’ll see if the marigolds finally get the boot, or if they manage to escape eviction for another week.

Our first Song of the Week was “My Life Flows On”, by Robert
Lowry.  It is also known as “How Can I Keep From Singing”, and
this second title hints at how this particular song was chosen. Here's
the story:

    Both my girls so far have gone through a curious
phase while toddlers: when I sing, they plead, “Stop!”.  When this
happened with daughter #1, I was a little concerned.  Perhaps it
meant my singing was even worse than I suspected — when your own
two-year-old tells you stop singing, that's pretty bad.  I forget
my exact reasoning, but somehow I didn't give up on myself. 
Eventually the Little Princess quit protesting. 

    Now it is our precious Bundle, daughter #2, who just
loves loves loves to tell me “Stop!” whenever I sing. 

    My best guess is that my little toddlers discovered
that yelling “stop!” causes people to stop, and they enjoy testing out
this trick on Mom.  Kind of the way they like to test the light
switch, or pour out cups of water.

    Meanwhile, at Mass once we sang “My Life Flows
On”.  Though I didn't remember the whole song, or even the melody
very exactly, that one line “How can I keep from singing?” always stuck
with me. 

    And thus when our little Bundle took up her
anti-singing protests, I kept wishing I actually knew the song, instead
of merely knowing the song existed.  Then I would be able to
respond in song to her protests.

    Now, I know the song — the first verse and chorus,
anyhow.  The rest I haven't quite mastered, but it's in my
homeschool binder so there's hope for me.


Here are the two links I used when learning this song.

(I still haven't figured out how to use that “insert link” function
properly yet.  One of these decades I will homeschool myself in
that skill, meanwhile just copy and paste into your browser.)

I learned the two most important things about pinatas this weekend:

1) They must be filled with candy.
2) They must be beaten open with a stick.

All the rest is optional. At least, this is how things are at our
castle — perhaps your castle is different.  The kids at the party
Saturday (ages 4 to 13) had a great time making their own pinatas out
of paper bags, cardboard, and duct tape.  Each was filled with
candy, and the creators got to beat apart their own creation, and eat
the candy inside.  Lots of fun, and the whole process kept the
youthful masses happily occupied for several hours, giving the adults
lots of time for that boring talking thing adults do.

After dinner, the kids made beds on the livng room floor and watched
movies (Redwall, then half of Narnia), while adults stayed up late
doing even more of the talking thing.  Overall a great

This week is Mr. SuperHusband's 40th birthday.  Today we are
gearing up for the feasting, which will start tonight and run through
Sunday or so.  Tonight: Sushi dinner, eclairs for the
dessert.  Tomorrow: Continental breakfast, omelets, a light lunch
with the in-laws & bottle of champagne, assorted appetizers &
sauternes through the afternoon with friends, and then steaks for
dinner.  Sunday will be grazing on leftovers, and then dinner with
some new friends in the evening.

Promises to be a nice weekend, and now you know where I'll be instead
of here.  If I can just get our toddler to take her nap so we can
get to the grocery store.  You'd think the excitement of covering
herself in ink during the card-making process this morning would be
sufficient to wear her out.  (Yes, it is hard to find washable-ink
stamp pads.  But so worth the effort.)

      I watched this movie last weekend, and really enjoyed it.  Here's a review I put together:

Diary of an Urban Priest is
about the mid-life discouragement of a priest who has spent his entire ministry
working in the slums of North Philadelphia. 
It is well-produced and delightfully realistic.  Anyone who struggles with a demanding
vocation will be able to relate to Fr. Mac’s weariness and doubts.   Such viewers may even find the film to be a source of encouragement.
An interesting element in the plot are the
counsels of St. Malachy, St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Francis of Assisi, who
each appear in turn at critical moments, to advise and encourage the urban
priest.  It was especially nice to see
St. Francis noted primarily for his determination, hard work, and pragmatism –
no mention of animals at all.

catholicness of the film seems to be solid enough, though in a true-to-life
form.  Hardliners might be frustrated that  Fr. Mac and his
fellow priest Fr. David wear street clothes except for sacramental duties (and
for one courtroom appearance), and the two religious sisters in the film do not
wear habits.  But we see Fr. Mac showing
a genuine reverence as he vests for Mass, and I did not note any of the
catholic characters expressing anything that could be construed as
dissent.  Everyone seems like plain old genuine catholics, not hollywood-ized.   That said, I have not read the
book on which the film is based, nor am I familiar with the writing of Simone
Weil, who is frequently quoted by the protagonist. 

            I would not
really recommend this movie for children, simply because the topic is more for
a mature audience.  An interested teen
might benefit from watching it with a parent and discussing afterwards.  Certainly parents will want to help their
youngsters put the themes of the film into their proper perspective.  Also, in addition to the more expected
scenes from urban life (begging, petty theft, domestic violence, broken
families), there is one brief police-chase sequence that ends with a horrifying

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