Answer Me This: The End

I can’t believe that somehow I forgot to participate in Answer Me This last week!  The ever-awesome Kendra managed to have a baby AT HOME like two days ago and still post this linkup.  Since it’s my last chance for this summer (when AMT goes back on hiatus until whenever Kendra decides to bring it back) I hope no one minds if I go ahead and answer both sets of questions!
Last week’s questions:
1. What’s currently on your To Do list?
I have stopped making super long to-do lists because it depresses me to go back and see the same items week after week.  I’ve started picking one extra task to accomplish each day if possible.  Tomorrow’s task is a multi-part one:  get ready to go out of town.
2. Better type of superhero: magic/radioactive powers? Or trauma/gadgets/hard work?
I don’t want trauma.  And I have to work hard enough already.  So I’ll go for magic/radioactivity.
3. Finding out if baby is a boy or a girl before birth: Good idea? Bad idea?
I think it’s a bad idea and I wish we couldn’t do it.  Back in the day, people would ask if you wanted a boy or a girl, and the answer would always be I don’t care as long as it’s healthy.  Now it’s much more common to express a preference.  I’m not sure what the connection is but I feel like there is one.  Also, I feel like knowing the sex sets up expectations about the baby before it even arrives.  Having said all of that, we found out three out of five times.  John wanted to find out about #1; I didn’t; they couldn’t tell so she was a happy surprise.  We found about #2.  With #3, having one of each already we figured it didn’t much matter so we didn’t find out.  With #4 and #5 we found out.  It’s hard not to find out when you can.
4. Have you ever appeared on a stadium jumbotron?
No.  Sadly, I rarely have the opportunity to go to a UT Vols game, which is the only place that I am going to be in close proximity to a Jumbotron.
5. Are you more book smart or more street smart?
Book smart.
This week’s questions:
1. What’s your favorite grocery store splurge?
Some people might think crab claws are a splurge, but they are one of the few things William will eat so they are actually a necessity.  I’m pretty frugal about the groceries.  I can’t really think of anything I splurge on.
2. How’s your penmanship?
I have very nice handwriting thanks to eight years of daily cursive instruction at St. Joseph School and lots of hard work and practice.
3. Do you have a “Summer Bucket List?”
Not this year.  That’s another thing that leads to disappointment and guilt.
4. What’s the best thing on the radio right now?
I hardly ever listen to the radio.  I prefer silence when I have the choice.  John plays a station with lots of 80s songs that I like a lot.
5. Ice cream or frozen yogurt?
I don’t eat either regularly.  And I’m not sure I can even tell the difference.
The end and thank you again to Kendra for bringing back the linkup for the summer.  Please take a look at the other entries right here.

Answer Me This: July 5

Y’all, thank goodness for Answer Me This, the awesome linkup sponsored by Kendra of Catholic All Year.  Otherwise, you’d have no posts of mine to read apparently. (Vowing to do better this week . . .)
1. How did you celebrate the 4th of July? (Or, for you international types . . . Do anything fun this weekend?)
My mother moved recently so this was the first holiday that she hosted in her new home.  It was a low-key event, just family (and not even all the grandchildren were there–we had a total of 12 people, I think.).  We had a meal and hung out for a few hours, and then John and I went to see the new Terminator movie.
2. Do you sunburn easily?
Fairly easily, at least until I acquire a base tan.  But I CAN tan, which is more than can be said of some in my family.
3. Hot dogs. Yay or nay?
Certainly not often, but sometimes there’s really nothing like one, is there?
4. Have you ever personally set off fireworks?
Absolutely not.  I am terrified of them.  Predictably, Jake likes to set them off and came very close to putting his eye out one year by lighting one in a garbage can and then LOOKING INSIDE to see why it had not gone off yet.
5. Have you ever jumped off the high dive?
Once or twice, as a grade-schooler.  I can’t believe I did it then and I would never do it now.  I’m afraid of heights.
6. Do you do anything weird in your sleep?
How would I know?  😉  Seriously, though, aside from crying out occasionally due to a bad dream, I don’t think I do anything except sleep.
Want to join in with your own answers?  The rest of the linkup is right here.

Answer Me This

Answer Me This from CatholicAllYear.Com
Yes, it’s time again for the great Answer Me This linkup courtesy of Catholic All Year.
1. How long have you lived in your current home?
house and garden
It will be four years in September.  Our house burned down on September 5, 2011.  We were homeless for not quite three weeks, with Emily at college, the big boys living with school friends, the dog with my one sister and the rest of us with the other sister.  On September 24, we were able to fill up an empty rental house with donations given by family and friends–an enormous moving van full.  We are still here.
2. How do you find out about news and current events?
Generally I’ll see something pop up on Facebook and then I’ll check Twitter to find out what is really going on.  I find the newspaper to be a joke, breathlessly announcing things I’ve known about for two days.
I make it a point to look at articles about current events, particularly controversial ones, from a number of different sites to make sure I am getting real news and not some slanted thing someone made up to support an agenda.
3. Would you be able to make change for a twenty right now? For a dollar?
I can practically never make change for a twenty.  I can make change for a dollar at the moment because no one has stolen my change recently–but most of  would be pennies.
4. What’s the craziest food you’ve ever eaten?
I’m not big on eating crazy food.  And I guess what’s crazy is a matter of perspective anyway, right?  I’ve tasted sushi (not a fan), alligator (tastes like chicken), squid (rubbery).  I’m a big fan of Korean food, particularly kimchi (fermented cabbage).  Is that crazy?
5. Which of the commonly removed parts have you had removed? (tonsils, wisdom teeth, appendix, etc.)
I was born without wisdom teeth (but have still managed to acquire wisdom, I assure you).  My surgical removals have included my gall bladder (and good riddance to it) and my first three children.

Emily Rose Sholly, three days old
Emily Rose Sholly, three days old

Baby Jake 2
Baby Jake

Baby Teddy
Baby Teddy

6. What’s your favorite sport to watch on TV?
The only sport I watch is football, and for the most part I only watch the UT Volunteers.  Occasionally if my son or my husband has another game on I might sit down and watch if it looks like a good game.
You can join the linkup, or read the rest of the responses, right here.

Answer Me This: Father's Day Edition

It’s Sunday and time for Catholic All Year‘s Answer Me This linkup!
1. What’s the best thing about your dad?
me and daddy at graduation 2
One great thing, that strikes me because as a parent I have not lived up to this ideal:  When I was a teenager, my father would come pick me up from the fan bus to whatever far-away football or basketball game I had attended, sometimes as late as 1:00 in the morning.  He NEVER complained.
2. If you’ve got kids, what’s the best thing about THEIR dad?
My husband never stops trying to be a better father, and he’s not afraid to apologize when he’s wrong.
John and baby Emily
3. What’s the best advice your dad ever gave you?
When I was in (many) spelling bees in grade school, and he was making me study when I didn’t want to, he told me that I could quit any time, but if I was going to compete I had to do my best.
4. What’s something you have in common with your dad?
When I was a little girl, I loved Nancy Drew.  Whenever I got a new book, my father always wanted to read them.  He was always joking about Nancy’s sporty roadster and her pretty frocks.
5. What’s the manliest thing you know how to do?
I try to avoid learning how to do manly things because then I have no excuse for making the men around here do them.  In fact, I think I will keep all the manly knowledge I possess a secret. 🙂
6. Who is your favorite fictional dad?
If anyone who has read To Kill a Mockingbird  picks anyone other than Atticus Finch, they must have something wrong with them. 😉  Atticus doesn’t just give good advice, he lives according to his beliefs: “Before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself.
That’s it for this week.  Happy Father’s Day, and be sure to click here to check out the other entries in the linkup.

Answer Me This Returns!

I’m so excited that Kendra of Catholic All Year has decided to bring back her Answer Me This linkup!  It’s such a great way to start off my blogging week.  Here are this week’s questions.
1. Any big plans for the summer?
Summer starts early here in Tennessee–my kids have been out of school since May 22.  So we’ve already done one of our big summer things, visiting Baltimore for John’s mom’s 80th birthday.
Ripley's 1
80th birthday old bay lorelei crab
I personally have also had a trip to Dallas with my sister and a weekend by myself downtown as well.  The next big family thing is to spend a couple of nights in Gatlinburg at the end of this month.  And John and I are going to Chicago at the end of July for a wedding, with the added benefit that we will get to visit Teddy, who is interning there.  Here are pictures of him BEFORE and AFTER the haircut he got so he could look professional this summer:
teddy before
teddy short hair
2. What is the strangest thing you believed as a child?
My grandmother told me that there was a brownie living under the stairs in her basement.  We used to set out a bowl of milk for him when I spent the night with her, and it was always gone when I woke up in the morning. 🙂
3. What is your favorite amusement park ride?
I used to love roller coasters, but they scare me now.  As I tell my kids, real life is scary enough, so why do I want to scare myself more?  I can’t stand anything that goes in circles because it makes me sick, so that knocks out a lot of possibilities.  So I will go with water rides, specifically the River Rampage at Dollywood.
4. What’s on your summer reading list?
I don’t have a list, but I do have a stack.  There is always a stack.
booksThe stack has actually grown a lot since that picture was taken.  And I can’t tell you what is in it, except that Emily really wants me to read the Grisha Trilogy, so I guess I will comply.
5. Have you ever fallen asleep in public?
Constantly.  I always fall asleep at the symphony.  ALWAYS.  It’s embarrassing.  I fall asleep at Mass during the homily if I’m tired.  But I can sleep sitting straight up so I hope Father does not notice, especially since we sit in the second row.
6. What is your favorite smell?
Honeysuckle on May evenings.  Barbecue smoking in the Fall.  A certain cologne my husband wears that reminds me of when we first fell in love.
094 honeysuckle closeup
And there you have it!  If you want to read the other responses, or play along yourself, click here.

Answer Me This #18

It’s Sunday so it must be time for . . .
1. What is your favorite picture book?
Oh, what a hard question!   I don’t really have one favorite, so I will just name the first favorite to come to mind:  The Runaway Bunny, which I like even better than Goodnight Moon, a more famous book by the same author.  This way of showing a mother’s love is SO much more appealing to me than sappy things like I’ll Love You Forever and its ilk.  I wrote about other favorite kids’ books here.

2. Are you a boycotter?
Not on a grand scale.  I avoid Nestle products as much as possible due to their flouting of the WHO code regarding advertising of formula in Third World countries.  It’s not making any difference; I know that–it’s about me, not them.

3. How do you feel about cheese?
I love it and am so happy that low carb eating allows it after I have spent my life avoiding it and feeling guilty about the fat content.

Lunch one day this week, including feta cheese
Lunch one day this week, including feta cheese

4. How many pairs of sunglasses do you own?
Three, which were purchased for me by my son Teddy a couple of years ago, I think for my birthday.  Before that, the last pair I had were blue and I purchased them at Cracker Barrel in 1986.  I had them till the house burned down.

5. How long has it been since you went to the dentist?
I’m not really sure but the embarrassing truth is probably 14 years.  I know it was before William was born.  We don’t have dental insurance, and I don’t get cavities, so it hasn’t seemed like a priority, especially since I brush obsessively several times a day and even in the middle of the night.  I plan to add a dental plan next year now that we are used to paying a monthly health insurance premium.
6. If you could visit any religious site in the world, where would you go?
First choice, Vatican City.  Second, Lourdes, where I have already been with my grandmother when I was 17.
For more fun answers, check out the linkup at Catholic All Year!

Answer Me This #16

It’s Answer Me This time again!


1. What do you still want to do this summer?

With school starting tomorrow here (yes, I know that is ridiculous), summer is effectively over for us.  Before the end of summer by the actual calendar, I’d like to take the kids to Dollywood, at least.

Lorelei at Dollywood last Fall
Lorelei at Dollywood last Fall

2. What’s your favorite kind of pie?

I don’t know how to begin to answer that!  First thing you need to know about me is that I am known for my pies.  Although we haven’t done it in years, we used to have a yearly Harvest Party at which we served pie, pie, and more pie, all made from scratch, crust and all, by me.  I made 30 or more and we invited everyone we knew.  I would make pumpkin, sweet potato, pecan, apple, and combination pies.  Oh, and did I mention that the pumpkin pies were made from ACTUAL PUMPKINS, not the canned stuff?  I must have been stark raving mad.

Anyway, I love all those pies.  But I also love lemon meringue pie, and key lime pie, and the chocolate pie my mother makes, and various berry pies.  I don’t think I can name a favorite, honestly.

Pumpkin pies from last Thanksgiving
Pumpkin pies from last Thanksgiving

3. How much sleep do you need each day? How much do you get?

This summer, I’ve set my alarm for 8:30, which means I’ve gotten at least seven hours a night and sometimes more.  During the school year I typically get six.  I haven’t needed to nap this summer, so I’d say I should be shooting for at least seven every night.

4. Do you prefer to swim in a pool, lake, river, or ocean?

I’ve never really swum (Is that right?  It looks so wrong.) in a lake or a river.  I enjoy the ocean occasionally but I don’t like sand and also I’m scared of the ocean.  So I prefer the pool.

Lorelei's first swim of the summer
Lorelei’s first swim of the summer

5. Do you know any poems by heart?

I’m an English major, so yes.  🙂  And I’ve blogged about this topic before, which you can see here.

6. Do you use the public library?

Every summer I go to the library the first week or so, and invariably at some point, despite the VERY BEST of intentions (hello, Road to Hell) I don’t turn them in on time and end up with so many fines that I can’t use my card (or Lorelei’s, or William’s) until I either pay them down or (what I actually do) wait until I can clear them by bringing cans of food for the hungry or school supplies for underprivileged kids.  It’s terrible, because I really do love the library.  We used to live within walking distance of one, and we walked there weekly in the summer for story time, summer reading, and playing in the park out front.

For more fun, check out the rest of the linkup at Catholic All Year.

Five Favorites: Books That Change Lives

I’m a day late, but hopefully not a dollar short, to Five Favorites, hosted by Mama Knows, Honeychild.
five favorites
Let’s talk books today.  I don’t know how I would go about making a list of my five favorite books ever, so instead I will call this Five Favorite Books that have changed my life.  And if that sounds like an exaggeration, it’s really not.
1.  Humanae Vitae

If you are Catholic, this book should need no explanation.  It SHOULDN’T.  But sadly it probably does.
This is the papal encyclical issued by Pope Paul VI which confirmed the Church’s condemnation of artificial birth control.  But it doesn’t just condemn; it also explains, and does so beautifully.
Of course I grew up knowing that the Church was against contraception.  But in spite of 12 years of Catholic school, no one ever once explained WHY.  I went into college thinking that this was just some sort of old-fashioned and unimportant idea that I should feel free to ignore.
Then I took a Christian marriage class at Georgetown and read this book, and my life was changed.  And the change went deeper than just my understanding of this one issue; it also affected my relationship to the Church.  Because it was in reading this that I realized that Church teachings have explanations, that they aren’t just pronouncements from on high.  I decided right then that before ever disagreeing with the Church, even in matters of conscience, we must first read and reflect on its teachings.
2.  Let’s Have Healthy Children

When I found out I was pregnant with Emily, the first thing I did was go to the library and look for books to check out.  This was in the first batch, but I soon bought my own copy and annotated it heavily.  Adelle Davis’s findings remain a topic for debate today, but I remain convinced that the regimen of vitamins that I took while pregnant and breastfeeding are responsible for my children’s vibrant good health.
When my kids were babies I introduced foods to them the way Davis suggested too.  I have continued to believe that nutrition is the key to good health even when I didn’t always follow Davis’s guidelines.  The effect of the dietary changes I have recently made on my health confirms this belief!
3.  Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing
breastfeeding and natural childspacing

Besides the practical advice Sheila Kippley provides on breastfeeding, her stance on mother/baby togetherness formed the way I parented my children.  I didn’t know then what attachment parenting was, but Kippley told me that babies should be fed on demand, that nursing wasn’t just about food, that extended nursing was normal, and that mothers and babies shouldn’t be separated.
Before I read this book I thought of breastfeeding as something you did to give a baby a good start before weaning to the bottle at six months or so.  I would never have imagined myself nursing children until three or four years of age, and I wouldn’t have understood the parenting aspects of breastfeeding that go far beyond nutrition and shaped my mothering as well as my children.
This book also changed my life because it turned me into a breastfeeding advocate, which led me to develop online friendships with like-minded people that endure to this day, after our breastfeeding days are done.
4.  Childbirth without Fear

I never did have the all-natural childbirth I dreamed of when I first read this book, although I got closer each time.  Still, this book changed my life by influencing the way I viewed childbirth, by encouraging me to be skeptical of all interventions into this natural process, by leading me to read further (Painless Childbirth; Thank You, Dr. Lamaze; The Experience of Childbirth; Open Season), to take Bradley and Lamaze classes, and to become an advocate for myself in this area.  This book set me along the road that led to two successful VBACs after three C-sections.  It led me to connect with others who felt the same way who were a support for me and taught me so much.  And it contributed to my attitude toward medical intervention in general, because it became clear to me that doctors can be life-savers but that we have a responsibility to learn about our own health and advocate for ourselves, not just blindly follow medical advice “because doctor said so.”
5.  Kids Are Worth It!
kids are worth it

If you’ve read this book, and you know me, you’re probably thinking, “What’s she talking about?  She doesn’t parent her kids anything like what this book says!”  And you’d be correct.  But we all need something to aspire to, right?  I know that this is the best parenting book I’ve ever read because I keep coming back to it and quoting from it.  I don’t disagree with one word in it and I only wish I’d read it before I had so many kids and was already overwhelmed and making every possible mistake!
Still, even when I don’t follow the principles of this book, I can see where I’ve gone wrong and why, and that’s something, isn’t it?  There’s always hope.  And especially as my kids have gotten older I take comfort and advice from this: “Is it life-threatening? Is it morally threatening? Is it unhealthy?”  That’s helped me pick my battles.  Now that William is 13 I probably should re-read the teenage section of this book and see how I can improve this time around. 🙂
That’s it for this week.  If there are any books that have changed YOUR life, I wish you’d tell me about them in the comments!

Answer Me This #17

And now for the weekly Answer Me This!
1. What is your favorite room in the house?
I love my bedroom.  It is a sanctuary for me.  It is almost always clean and neat compared to the rest of the house.  It is cool and attractive and quiet and most of the time no one bothers me when I am there.  All it needs is an easy chair.  I’m working on that.
my bed
2. Do you subscribe to any magazines or other periodicals?
Not any more.  There are a number I would like to read, but since the internet became so all-consuming even my favorites tended to go unread.  There was a time when I would be very excited to receive an issue of Mothering, or The Compleat Mother, or Southern Living, and many others, back when I had little kids and no Facebook for company and entertainment.
3. How do you feel about the sign of peace in Mass? Enriching? Awkward? Overdone? Just right? Some combination of the above?
We sit in the second row so oftentimes we have only ourselves to shake hands with. 🙂  I can’t say I have a strong opinion about it one way or the other.
4. What is your least favorite sound?
Oh, something boring and predictable like nails on a chalkboard I suppose.  Or several shrill voices calling my name (that would be “Mommy” or some variation thereof) all at once.
5. What was your favorite TV show (or shows) growing up?
Like most kids of my generation, I watched a lot of t.v.  I don’t know that I can remember what I thought my favorite was at the time (I watched it all, from game shows to soaps to sitcoms), but I have fond memories of The Carol Burnett Show in particular.  My family gave up t.v. for Lent when I was in the 8th grade.  I realized I didn’t miss it, and have never again gotten into the habit of spending long hours watching television.
6. What are your favorite TV shows now?
I really, really don’t watch t.v. now.  The last show I watched regularly was, I kid you not, The X-Files.  (Well, there was that unfortunate period where Emily got me interested in The Secret Life of the American Teenager.)  Right now we are re-watching The X-Files one or two episodes at a time every evening and having great fun with it (although the fun is about to end as we are starting Season Eight and if you are an X-Phile you will know exactly what I mean!).  However, Emily wants me to watch the new Outlander series with her.  It just started last week, and we watched the first episode.  She will be taping them so that I can watch with her when it is quiet and no kids are around.
And that’s all for this week!  For more answers, check out the linkup.