It’s a fool what looks for logic in the chambers of the human heart
I’m including a linkup at the end of this post if you want to blog about it, or use the combox to boast of your efforts (or bemoan your slothfulness, as I’m going to do).
I have a flat out-and-back 3.1 mile route that I take (or try to take. or think about trying to take) three times a week. It starts from my house, where I have to pry the screen door from the hands of three little boys who have begun sobbing hysterically at the 35-40 minute maternal absence they are now going to be forced to endure. The sprint across my front yard until their death wails are out of earshot is the fastest pace I will hit for the entire run. It won’t last long. As soon as Ken’s put on cartoons, they settle down, and I drop back to a brisk walk before the house is even out of sight. I tell myself that warming up cold muscles is important, and my walking is just smart- not lazy.
Usually when I run, I do so without headphones. I’m not much of a music lover, but I am a fan of silence. Guess which one I get exactly never? So although the sounds of my gasping and panting as I lumber my way through a run aren’t exactly silent, it’s still a good deal quieter than the normal soundtrack that the Clan Stronghold.…
That time period was so horrific (Two rooms. Four children. One hyperactive puppy. A mother in her seventh month of pregnancy. You can do the math, but I’ll tell you right now the answer will be “horrific“) that we’ve come to pretend it never existed, and any references to it will be obliquely referred to as our time in “The Pleasure Dome”. Ha ha ha.
One of the highlights (or low points, depending on your penchant for storytelling), was a trip the family took to the Mystic Aquarium. Having been enthusiastic members of the Memphis Zoo back down south, we thought that the aquarium would be a nice replacement.
And maybe it would have been. It was, at first, enjoyable- stocked to the brim with all the oceany goodness the kids love. But in family legend it will forever be referred to only as “The time we went to the aquarium and Gabriel threw up all over the beluga exhibit.” Which he did. Right there on the plexiglass beluga enclosure and in the sight of no less than half a dozen strangers. Then several other family members got sick in the van on the way back to the Pleasure Dome, and 5/6ths of us spent some portion of the following 48 hours in miserable, stomach flu wonderland.…
Long ago, before I had children, my husband and I would run in 5Ks all the time. Footloose and fancy free, we thought nothing of plunking down $30 each to run three miles, eat a banana at the food tent, and walk away 40 minutes later with a new t-shirt and nice endorphin rush.
Then two things happened that changed our 5K ways. Firstly, we ran a marathon. I ran a couple of half marathons. After training for longer distances like that, getting out to run three miles, let alone pay for it, just didn’t seem worth it anymore. Secondly, we started having kids. A lot of kids. And forking over $60 for racing fees (not to mention finding someone to watch the kids while we ran), seemed a use of time and resources we didn’t want to invest.
5Ks slowly drifted out of my exercise landscape.
When I reached the final, grueling days of this last pregnancy, I told myself that as soon as I had medical clearance, I was going to start training for the Hartford half marathon, which is run in October. Pregnancy weight does not melt off me, despite producing gluttonous babies who would like nothing more than to nurse all day long. I’m the sort of person who can only lose weight by that brutal combo of diet and exercise, and training for a half marathon would certainly meet one of those requirements.
But, limping my way through the first postpartum exercise sessions, it became clear that having 6 kids in 10 years does things to a body. …
So we took a quickie trip to Gettysburg this weekend.
And while Mapquest chirpily insists that it’s only 6 hours between our little part of Connecticut and the site of the bloodiest battle in the Civil War, actual results may vary. By, like, a lot. But, thanks to the twin wonders of Twilight Zone radio dramas and Instagram, we were able to make it work. So while you only see picture like this:
those of us in the car were enduring 45 knock-knock jokes (all with “FART!!” as the punchline), Twilight Zone episodes of such lazy writing that even the three year old could figure them out (“the man is really dead and doesn’t know it. Also, he travelled back in time.”), and 5 separate calls for the pee cup (don’t ask. really, really, really just go about the rest of your life pretending you didn’t read that). All nicely montaged into one single Instagram.
And the 15 mile traffic jam we were stuck in, with the GPS cruelly insisting that we were a mere 30 miles from our destination is immortalized forever only like this:
If you’re here at Catholic Exchange, spending some of your valuable time reading a blog post written by me, the odds are definitely in my favor that you have, at some point in your life, already been stuck in a traffic jam with tiny children in the car. You know what it smells like in there. …
I actually mean “we” as in “all of us”. Oh sure, we’re not all at the same fitness levels, and we generally have different objectives for the activity, but everyone enjoys it.
Hiking goals are pretty straightforward:
- eat as many snacks as possible on the trail. If possible, eat them all before the first quarter mile and/or siblings start looking for some. (Jude)
- present the mother figure with every single rock, stick, and leaf that catches your eye, ensuring that a short 20 minute hike will stretch into a 50 minute one (Gabriel)
- leave obscure (and ephemeral) trail markers to guide you back to the van. Never be able to find said marks on the return trip (Joaquin)
- strike up conversations with every single person you meet on the hike explaining that you’re tracking Big Foot, and have they seen signs of activity? (Lotus)
- repeatedly hit the father figure on the head with canteen in an increasingly frantic means of escaping the backpack (John-Luke)
- convince self that the hike will more than make up for the chocolate cake, beer, and pizza from the night before (me)
and finally, with unfailing consistency,
-bring up the rear, shooing any child forward who tries to lag behind (Ken)
Never fails. And while the kids’ goals change and switch according to age and climactic conditions, Ken never ever alters his. …
A few days ago, I finally broke down and went grocery shopping. With all the kids.
I know. But I honestly had no choice. The last food items in the house were a ziplock bag of peanuts in the shell and a half jar of instant coffee crystals from last summer’s camping trips.
Ken kept telling me to make a shopping list and he would go get it done before work one day, but me, oh no, I was too busy playing Diablo or not showering to be bothered to make that list.
The kids’ least favorite punishments are natural consequences, and who can blame them? It’s bad enough you’re suffering, but to know the suffering is a direct result of your own choices makes it almost too much to bear. So when the natural consequences of my laziness came to bite me in the butt, all I could do was grit my teeth, hunt down the baby sling, and load all six kids into the van.
I get it. I really, really do. It’s unusual in this country to see a large family. I also have come to understand that many adults make personal comments about large families that they wouldn’t make when faced with another uncommon person. So while I don’t think the majority of people would look at paraplegic in a wheelchair and ask him twenty questions about his situation, his lifestyle, and his history, there doesn’t seem to be the same filter in regards to family size.…
So instead of sitting on my armchair-turned-throne of laziness, moodily brooding about all the things I’m recently very bad at (list includes, but not limited to: routine personal hygiene, attention to housework, and motivating certain children to just finish their schoolwork for the year already), I thought I’d hike all the way to my “office” (the computer nook in the kitchen) and post something about things I am good at.
It’s a pretty short list right now. Mostly, it’s limited to this:
Which, in case you’re not sure what you’re looking at, is a Cub Scout, marching in the town Memorial Day parade, sporting a mohawk dyed red, white, and blue for the occasion. It was every bit as festive as it looked.
This, of course, is the Cub Scout’s younger brother, who is also sporting a mohawk. Which is orange. Which, despite the dye bottle’s assurances to the contrary, is not washing out, and will mostly likely leave his hair only via the clippers.
So here’s what I do well. I give my boys mohawks and dye them unnatural colors.
Why? Because that’s what they ask for. Ever since they’ve been old enough to ask for specific haircuts, the mohawk has been the number one choice (followed by “spiky, like Doctor Who”)
It’s something, anyway.
As parents, I suspect that Ken and I are above average on the strictness scale. Take clothing, for example. Seven years of seeing what passed for “suitable attire” at the middle school level settled the issue of modesty in dress for me long before I converted to Catholicism or had children of my own. …
The smell of incense lingers in the air from Mass, and all the members of the family pause and inhale it deeply as they quietly and reverently enter the Sanctuary. Older children help little children dip their fingers in the holy water fonts, signs of the cross are devoutly made, and the crowd of loved ones spends a few moments in silent prayer, kneeling before the Tabernacle, waiting for the baptism to begin.
Baptism! The baby, wearing the gown that’s been in the family for a century, looks solemn, as if she understands the gravity and joy of the event. The baby’s siblings look on with wonderment and awe, proudly welcoming their new baby sister to the Church family with silent well wishes.
Grandmothers and Grandfathers hold hands in the pews, smiling gently at the miracle of new life. Aunts and Uncles, holding scores of cousins, bask in the glow of family. Everyone listens to Father as the baptism starts, everyone is in rapt, hushed attention, and if you listen you can ever-so-faintly hear the choirs of angels singing songs of welcome for the newest little saint.
Aaaand then there’s baptism Clan Donaldson style.
John did baptize in the wilderness…
The rain had stopped, at least. Connecticut shed its crypt-like dankness two days before, and the sun had burned off the damp. …
You know who loves a good birth story?
We’re kind of obsessed with them, if you think about it, or at least, obsessed with one in particular. We retell it in pageant form, in song form, in picture form- shoot, we’ve even had it written under Divine Inspiration and included it in the Bible.
Yup yup yup- Catholics love them a good birth story.
So when I was trying to figure out how/when/what I was going to write about for my first post in six million years for Catholic Exchange, it struck me like a bolt from the sky- I’d just tell my newest birth story. After all, if birth stories are as Catholic as incense and missalettes, then the story of the birth of a sixth child in ten years would reach Pope-levels of Catholicity. Or at least Cardinal-levels. So with no further ado, I present for your reading pleasure Donaldson Baby Number Six’s birth story.
The due date came and went.
My parents made the 14 hour trip from Tennessee to Connecticut to come help with a baby who, despite such drastic measures as a 4 mile hike up and back down a mountain and ingestion of copious amounts of Indian food, refused to show up. I agreed to have my membranes stripped, which the doctor couldn’t even do since the baby was still so high up in my abdominal cavity. A week passed. My parents left. …
Since I’m roughly 90 years old, getting a grasp on the Twitter and figuring out what to do with it has generally proved too much for me. Right now, my basic philosophy is, “If you follow me, I’ll follow you back as long as your profile picture isn’t a. the default egg or b. featuring a mostly naked person.” I don’t really seek out people to follow, since, again, I’m 90 years old and can’t figure out what the Twitter is supposed to do for me.
However, I have sought out a few people to follow. There’s Jim Gaffigan, and Stephan Colbert, because I’m Catholic and I have a sense of humor, so that means I’m morally obligated to follow them. Other than that, the only other people I’ve sought out to follow have been pro-life organizations and people. Think: the usual suspects- Lila Rose, Jill Stanek, Live Action, Life Site News, etc. etc.
And they’re the Twitter feed people I need to rethink.
They’re good at using the Twitter. They know how to lead stories to get you to click on their links. They know how to rebroadcast tweets to get optimal attention. They also, generally speaking, bring me the most horrifying and gut-wrenching chatter on my feed. It’s so easy and tempting to read story after story of the most casual and illogical assaults on human life and end up banging your head on your desk, too miserable to even click over to Cakewrecks for a little uplifting diversion.…