7 Rambling Takes, Monday Edition

MondayTakes

When trying to decide exactly how I wanted to ramble about the recent goings-on around here, I decided that the most efficient way would be join in that tantalizing blog post technique known as the “7 Quick Takes,” which you usually find on homeschooling blogs (hence my knowledge of them to begin with).

Unfortunately, that technique has always been designated for use on Fridays . . . but since I have a Monday morning at my blogging disposal, and Friday seems quite a long way away, I think I shall break convention. Oh, and I’ll also be breaking convention because–true to my style–none of these takes are going to be quick.

On second thought, I think I’ll just call it 7 Rambling Takes and make it my own.

1.

We’ve just started the third full week in our new homeschool year, but it’s our first-ever year to use Our Lady of Victory School. Beautiful, traditional Catholic books, largely from Lepanto Press. Sigh. I’ve demanded requested that Mom never get rid of any of them so I can use them in my future homeschool.

My younger brother and sister have their noses to the grindstone, and are pretty much swimming in decidedly “older,” “harder” school work. 8th and 7th grade . . . they really are getting older and, now, are are both distinctly taller than Lena and I . . . my brother is the tallest of all of us four now . . . yes, things are happening. Sniff.

I know Lena and I have both waxed lyrical about being unregretting graduated women at home, and will continue to do so to our hearts’ content, but instead of indulging in that at the moment, I’ll instead talk about tutoring English.

I haven’t really tutored in English until this point, when I decided to blithely offer my help to Mom in tutoring my brother in this particularly dazzling field of study. In fact, I haven’t sat down and read formal English in what feels like decades. The terms are a little mind-numbing, and I actually taught one concept last week which I completely, totally did not understand, and yet he got most of the answers right anyway. He’s got smarts.

Tutoring your brother or sister is surprisingly rewarding, despite the natural ups and downs you can expect to have when you’re dealing with school AND siblings. While it can occasionally be a marvelous exercise in virtue, most often, it’s a perfect opportunity to crack jokes, conjure enthusiasm, and build on your relationships. As an older sibling, you’re provided a chance to encourage diligence and real learning in your younger siblings, as well as an opportunity to realize and navigate temperamental differences (and you can bet there are major differences in our household!), and to grow in patience as well as creativity. Without hesitation, that’s what I’ve enjoyed most so far.

And, if you’re a woman at home (I hope you saw this coming), tutoring is a prime way to practice for when you’ll be schooling your own children as a wife and mother one day. So I’m personally hoping to continue helping out in our homeschool until I’m off and married, or they’re out of school (hopefully the former will occur before the latter, though! . . .)

2.

I just finished reading my favorite book on the planet.

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The Wife Desired by Fr. Leo J. Kinsella is, quite literally, my favorite book. Ever. After my missal, I would grab this if the house were on fire and I only had time for one other item. (Well, okay . . . at least one other book. I won’t pin myself down that much. I have a feeling I can grab a lot, quickly.)

Although I had first resolved to read a chapter a day, and to responsibly meditate and absorb and contemplate . . . I devoured it, and now I’m beginning my re-read.

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While it’s been re-typset (probably independently) and re-published since it’s debut, I hunted down and found a used copy from back in the day, and it’s so charming. It’s little; the pages are yellowed; but it was in good condition (and, of course, considerably cheaper, which is always a bonus).

It caters beautifully to traditional stay-at-home wives (or girls who are aspiring to be so) with both powerful insight and candid humor that makes you chuckle. It has adorable illustrations and the sagest wisdom. It is a handbook. It is amazing. I’m keeping it forever. (Don’t worry, Lena, I’ll buy you a separate copy before I leave.)

It is thoroughly, traditionally Catholic in its perspective (it’s written by a priest, after all!), and yet it almost entirely focuses on the natural gifts a wife can bring to her marriage, in contrast to focusing on the sacramental and sacred aspect of marriage, which it takes for a given. The book is divided into seven chapters. Each chapter hones in on a particular attribute of the ideal wife. (“The Wife Desired is an Inspiration to Her Husband;” “The Wife Desired Has Personality;” “The Wife Desired Has a Sense of Humor;” etc.)

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It has given me so much to ponder and to work on. To be honest, I didn’t expect it to teach me as much as confirm all my current ideas and convictions . . . well, I was in for a surprise. Of course, there was much in the way of confirmation and encouragement for me, but it also drastically illuminated my understanding of, and eagerness for, the best ways I can be a good wife in the future, should that be God’s will for me. It was marvelous.

There is so much practical advice in this book. So many little things that, in my ignorance, I had never really thought about before, at least not purposefully and intentionally. With eloquence and fun, this good priest points out the natural gifts of women, emphasizes their great worth and potential, and then encourages women to use them wholeheartedly in the service of their God-given vocation, for the good of their souls and their husband’s souls. Again, so marvelous.

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I’m planning to use this book as the inspirational basis for writing letters to my future husband, in the style of Woman in Love. Granted, it’s a little hard to get my act together for this practice of writing letters (on the other hand, my sister is almost unbelievably faithful to it), but it’s something I still want to pursue, and this book has given me so. many. thoughts that if I don’t begin writing letters I might simply explode with excitement and eagerness.

And we wouldn’t want that.

3.

Continuing on the theme of books, when I’ve been able to pull myself away from the addictive The Wife Desired, I’ve been buried in two other very good ones as well, lent to me by two different friends.

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Amusing Ourselves to Death is definitely stretching my brain. I like to consider myself intelligent (well, doesn’t everyone?) and so for humility’s sake (as well as the sake of actually learning things!) it’s always good to come across a book where I have to be incredibly intent while reading it so as to understand and process the content. It’s a difficult read for me, but at the same time, is fascinating in its premise, charting the differences and development in the mediums of discourse across the centuries, as well as the modern decline of the value of our public discourse through television.

Until I began reading this, I’d never really considered the shift that gradually occurred between some societies’ mediums of discourse; once considering the spoken word to be more trustworthy than the written word, they eventually reversed (it kind of makes me feel guilty for blogging, but oh well), to where a medium that was once believed to give evidence of wisdom and knowledge (such as the memorization of proverbs) became looked upon as childish and ineffective. Neil Postman probes at examples such as this at a deep level; he unearths why and how particular mediums of discourse resonate with different societies, or society in general.

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On the subject of mediums and metaphors in society, one particularly interesting paragraph (I thought, anyway) relates:

A person who reads a book or who watches television or who glances at his watch is not usually interested in how his mind is organized and controlled by these events, still less in what idea of the world is suggested by a book, television, or a watch. But there are men and women who have noticed these things, especially in our own times. Lewis Mumford, for example, has been one of our great noticers. He is not the sort of a man who looks at a clock merely to see what time it is. Not that he lacks interest in the content of clocks, which is of concern to everyone from moment to moment, but he is far more interested in how a clock creates the idea of “moment to moment.” He attends to the philosophy of clocks, to clocks as a metaphor, about which our education has had little to say and clock makers nothing at all. “The clock,” Mumford has concluded, “is a piece of power machinery whose ‘product’ is seconds and minutes.” In manufacturing such a product, the clock has the effect of disassociating time from human events and thus nourishes the belief in an independent world of mathematically measurable sequences. Moment to moment, it turns out, is not God’s conception, or nature’s. It is man conversing with himself about and through a piece of machinery he created.

A little mind-bending (for me) . . . but it makes sense!

4.

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And the other book! How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk. Admittedly, the title is a little misleading in tone, but it’s proven so far to be a thoughtful, thought-provoking read (what I’ve read of it, anyway; I don’t read every section of relationship books such as these, since fortunately, much of the world’s relationship problems/sinful habits aren’t, thank God, applicable to me!).

On a similar vein to The Wife Desired, I’ve thus far found it an engrossing and practical help in examining the natural, emotional, and psychological elements of how to build a healthy relationship, and to thus discern if you and your partner are naturally compatible and–from the Catholic perspective–will find it possible to lovingly and healthily cooperate together in doing God’s will in marriage. I think a book such as this can go hand-in-hand with a traditional Catholic courtship, because it has the potential to stimulate so many worthwhile conversations between partners and aid them in getting to know one another rationally, so they can then better discern if their are meant to share in the marriage vocation together.

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Again, I feel as though I have interiorly focused so much on the spiritual and sacramental aspect of marriage (the most important aspects, of course!) during discernment over the past year, that now, discovering the more natural, practical aspects of building courtship and married relationships has been deeply enlightening, and a helpful preparation should I begin needing it someday.

5.

Now to leave books behind! My family just took a weekend trip to visit my paternal grandparents, as well as my great-aunt and great-uncle on my mother’s side. We had a wonderful time, ate far too much food, talked into the night, and listened to far too much Frank Sinatra on the drive both ways.

After receiving a CD of Frank Sinatra’s as a gift, we’ve become rather addicted to it . . . it’s our “feel good” music, and since we tend to enjoy feeling good on a daily basis, it stands to reason that you will hear the strains of “Fly Me to the Moon,” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” in our homeschool around lunchtime, accompanied by a good foxtrot. Ballroom dancing is our noon PE.

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6.

Posture. I’ve been focusing on improving my posture (sitting and standing, but especially standing) for approximately the past four days. I came across a blog post talking about it, and since then, I’ve been trying to stand better aligned. My knees hyper-extend, my shoulders tend to slouch, and if I give in to my habit of putting my weight slightly more on one foot than the other, it tends to give me hip and leg pain (probably remnants from the mild torture I put my body through in ballet) . . . and besides, I think good posture just looks (and feels!) far better.

I’ve been evangelizing my family members about it and they’re probably tired of it by now.

7.

Last night, my entire family took the temperament quiz at Temperamentquiz.com. It was a hilarious but nonetheless revealing hour. It turns out we have three choleric-sanguines (no surprise there; I predicted those in advance), one phlegmatic-sanguine (ahem, me), one choleric-melancholic, and one melancholic-phlegmatic.

And those are my seven rambling takes! Time for the Angelus and lunch 🙂

A blessed feast of St. Jane Frances de Chantal!

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