Friday, October 31, 2014

7qt - hymns, Halloween, new projects


The election is NEXT TUESDAY.  Good golly.  That means, of course, that every day from here to then is packed to the gills with work.  John is taking off to man the polls; I hope he remembers to give me a chance to get down there and vote for him!

Other than him, I think I'm going to vote for Bob Goodlatte for Representative, not because I like him, because I think would say anything for a vote, but because he does seem to listen to his constituents.  He's tracked right lately in response to pressure, and when the Syria thing was going down, I called him up and told him the only way he could ever get my support was to oppose the use of force there.  Well, he waited until it was obvious which way the wind was blowing, but in the end he did go my way, so I'm going to go ahead and vote for him.  It isn't a close race, anyway.

The other one, Ed Gillespie vs. Mark Warner, isn't an important race to me because both of them are about equally awful.  If I fill in that blank at all, I'll probably go for Gillespie, but I'm not very impressed with the guy.


For Halloween, the kids are going as Zak and Wheezie, from Dragon Tales.

I am not sure their getting-along skills are up to the challenge of trying to walk from house to house in one costume, but it's what they wanted and who am I to argue?

Two t-shirts from Goodwill: $4
Cardboard and tinfoil: already lying around the house
Construction paper: maybe a buck?
White crib sheet that doesn't fit any of the mattresses in the house: found it on the floor

The hoods are made from the extra sleeves, and the tail from the excess material cut from the sides of the shirts.

Yeah, I'm extremely proud of this.  It's a challenge to make a costume when you have no money AND no time to spare.


This article is pretty cool: Self-care for the highly sensitive parent.  Definitely my sensitivity is what is making this parenthood gig so difficult for me lately.  It's weird, because sensitivity hasn't been a big issue for me much at all since high school .... when it manifested as a deep-seated horror of crowds, such that I would have panic attacks when I was crowded, and I got crowded a lot because that's how boarding school was.  But after that, I was able to craft my life the way I wanted, and I chose to keep things pretty peaceful, so I didn't even think about being highly sensitive -- it wasn't an issue.

Being a stay-at-home mom is great for a sensitive person, up to a point.  None of those multiple assaults on the senses that leaving the house for a job entail .... no traffic, no dealing with strangers, no having to wear uncomfortable shoes.  But then once you have multiple kids at running-around ages, the sensory assaults multiply and you start to daydream of a nice QUIET office.

Unfortunately most of the ways to cope involve cutting out things I would otherwise enjoy.  Since the sensory input that my kids make is mostly unavoidable, the only thing I can change is optional stuff.  I have to stop talking on the phone, because trying to listen to someone talking while chaos is happening around me is so overwhelming it can make the whole day more difficult.  I can't listen to music, haven't much in years, because much as I love music I can't take more noise.  I have to balance internet use ... on the one hand, it can be a nice distraction, but on the other, it can mean I'm taking in more information than I can really process.  I can't say I've found the balance yet there .... but a good book, when I can find one, seems to be a better distraction than the internet.  (I know it seems weird that I have to distract myself from my kids, but I kind of do.  It makes it possible to tune out some of the stimuli.)

Crafts of any kind are very calming for me, but my fingers are so sensitive after dishwater and eczema and so on that sometimes I can't even stand the touch of the fabric!  (You see why I'm obsessive about yarn being extremely soft?)  Going outside always helps, if the weather lets me.  I have to admit I am feeling a sense of impending doom as it gets colder and I know the nice days are soon going to be gone.

This is all so difficult.  I have always thought of my sensitivity as not a big deal, or even a benefit.  I experience the world very vividly and that can't be a bad thing, can it?  But now it feels almost like a disability, and I find myself wishing for a cure.  You can cure all kinds of mental issues, why not this one?  But I think this is just how my brain works.  And at the moment it's robbing me of most of the things I enjoy.


My current read is Anne McCaffrey's dragon books.  I really enjoy both her world and her writing, but I'd read all of them our library has, so I moved onto continuations of the series written by her son, Todd McCaffrey.  So far I'm disappointed.  The plots are fine, the world is familiar to me, but honestly he's just not a very good writer.  He doesn't describe things very well, and the pacing seems off.  Blah.

My next plan is to try Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series.  I've read a couple and liked them ages ago, and since it's TEN 1,000 page books, it might actually keep me busy for awhile.  Being a speed reader was handy in college, but nowadays it's something of a curse.


I've realized that cutting things out just frustrates me rather than reducing stress.  When I say I'm stressed, people say I should do less housework, but the fact is I've had a lot of time to figure out exactly the minimum amount of housework I can do while still keeping us all sanitary and sane, and I'm doing it.  And anyway, I think cutting things out is not the cure.  I thought it might be good to add something in -- something I could be excited about and enjoy, something I can make progress at from day to day, even only a tiny bit.

So I've started another spinning project, and then when that wasn't enough I dug up the first scratches of a novel I started some time ago to go with the last one.  I can't imagine I'll be able to finish it in a month this time, especially as I am not really sure where I'm going with it.  But those days I have been able to work on it a little, it's felt really good.  I make zero positive progress on anything most days -- both housework and parenting are mostly about maintaining the status quo against constant entropy -- so having a single page that I actually wrote, which remains at the end of the day, is a very encouraging thing.

Hopefully telling you all about it will hold me to it.  Feel free to check back in.


Bedtimes when John is out are a rather intense process.  I can sometimes put all three to sleep at once, though often it's easier to let Marko stay up till Michael's asleep, keeping Miriam on my lap throughout.  Luckily John taught Michael to fall asleep in his own bed while I was still recovering from birth, so Miriam isn't any hindrance to his routine.  However, she can be a little noisy -- either loud nursing, or loud wiggling and cooing and so forth, so I've taken to singing to drown her out and help Michael drop off.

I have one firm rule: I pick the songs.  Let a kid make requests and they'll never go to sleep, plus their taste in music is a little ... well, toddlerish.  I do hymns.  Hymns are my favorite way of praying -- almost the only way I am capable of praying -- and they're good catechesis too.  When I think about it, it's the old "squishy liberal" hymns I grew up with that gave me such a firm idea of the goodness of God, the sort of person he is.  And since the words of many of my favorites are all straight from scripture, I know I can trust them. 

A few favorites for sleep time:
Here I Am, Lord
Prayer of St. Francis
Come to the Water
You Are Mine
Godhead Here in Hiding
The King of Love My Shepherd Is
Be Still My Soul

I also like to sing while doing the dishes.  For those, I do peppier hymns, like:
Morning Has Broken
Lord of All Hopefulness
My Song Is Love Unknown
Wake, Awake, for Night Is Flying
Blest Be the Lord
O God Beyond All Praising
I Sought the Lord
God Is My Great Desire

A few of these, I can't find recordings of with the tunes I know.  Luckily my memory is good with songs.  Set something to music and I'll remember it forever.  Sometimes I think of a song I haven't heard since I was a kid, and then *poof* -- there are all the verses, sitting there waiting for me.  One of the things that made me the most frustrated when I first went to boarding school is that we were required to use the hymnals.  What's the point of having a great memory if you can't skip the hymnal?!  (This is pride, of course, and they made me hold the hymnal anyway.  Though they couldn't make me look at it!)

Sometimes I imagine that if only I'd been born in a different age, this talent would have been appreciated and they'd have made me a bard (hence my email address -- I have delusions of medieval grandeur).  But I suspect this ability is latent in all of us.  There were many who argued against literacy because it would destroy people's ability to remember things without writing them down.  Now the same sort of people say the same thing about Google.  But, you know, you needn't let a new technology keep you from learning the old skills.  You just add to your toolbox.


On the topic of hymns, the music we had in boarding school was the bait on the hook for me.  I arrived at the summer program, and things were sort of weird and I had my doubts.  Then the choir sang a polyphonic piece and I was in heaven.  I had to come to this place, because they sang like that!  And, of course, I'd be in the choir.  So it was quite ironic when I didn't make it in -- I always am in the choir!  But it didn't matter too terribly much, because every single day, at Mass, we sang every single song in three-part harmony.  It was gorgeous.  It's one of the few things I still miss.  When I sing the old songs -- and our songbook had quite a collection -- I can hear the harmonies in my head. 

Regnum Christi sells CDs of all their pop-style music, sung by their choirs, but they don't sell the chapel songs.  That frees me of the moral dilemma of whether I should support them by buying it, just because I'm nostalgic.  I know that that tremendous beauty is partly there to lure people in, and it works a treat too . . . but that doesn't make the beauty itself a lie.  It really is beautiful, and singing together with people you love is one of the great joys of life, if you're lucky enough to be able to do it.

How was your week?


CatholicMommy said...

I also loved Anne McCaffrey's books and was unimpressed by Todd's. I recommend Mercedes Lackey's Heralds series!

Sheila said...

I actually met her at a library event once! I should give her books a try.

Enbrethiliel said...


1. Now that I've caught up, the election is over, so never mind this take, aye? ;-) I'm glad about the results, though.

2. What a cool costume idea from the boys! And of course, how great that you were able to whip something up for them! So how did their getting-along skills do? LOL!

3. I've read other resources about HSPs before. I don't think I'm one myself, but I do agree with a related description of introverts that says we need less stimuli to produce the same reaction. That is, if you put a drop of lemon juice on an introvert's tongue, he will salivate more than an extravert getting exact same dose. Basically, what is business as usual for an extraverted person can be overwhelming for an introvert.

And this reminds me of my job, because the friend who helped me to get hired resigned from her own position a few weeks later. She really hated working here because no one ever stopped by her desk to talk to her. Well, there's a reason for that: we talk to clients on the phone all day and can't really talk to each other. And she was new herself, so she didn't really have friends. In the end, she felt as if she were doing her job in a tightly-locked crate. Over two years later, I'm still with the company, and you could say that I've built a tightly-locked crate for myself: unlike other people, who go to the common room for some chit-chat during a break in their timetables, I stay at my workstation and just read or knit. It's really not that I'm unfriendly; I just need a break from all that stimuli of talking to clients!

4. One reason why I hesitate to get started on The Wheel of Time is that the series was left unfinished when Robert Jordan died. I'm sure that another writer will eventually be hired to finish it, but I don't know if I'd consider his books to be "canon" and I might even have the same reaction to them that you do to Todd McCaffrey's books. Which is a perfect example of how I borrow trouble from tomorrow to fill up today, because it's not as if I'm a Jordan fan yet, am I? =P

5. One thing I like about knitting is that I always have something to show for myself at the end of the day! That's also true for housework, of course. A clean bathroom is nothing to sneeze at! But there's a sense of progress and accomplishment that comes from crafting that we can't also get from the essential rituals of housekeeping. If someone who had to work at home were getting really overwhelmed by the same work piling up again and again, I think I would also recommend that he or she add something that would make the end of one day truly look different from the end of an earlier day.

And now Blogger tells me that my comment is too long, so I need to split it in two!

Enbrethiliel said...


6. Hey, what about the people who argue against technology because it destroys the art of penmanship? I think they have a point and I happen to love writing things in longhand. (And yes, my handwriting is lovely. Thanks for asking.) But we do seem to have a case of a large number of people not wanting to have tools that they judge to be superfluous in their own toolboxes. I think that's sad, but then again, I'm the one who likes cooking stuff from scratch when mixes come in a box and taking two weeks to make something that she could immediately buy in a store. (Oh, wait. Did I just describe you? LOL!)

Morevoer, I like literacy (obviously!), but I also see how some people in education have made a golden calf out of it. For many, reading any book is as good as reading one of the "canonical" Great Books--hence the expression, "At least they're reading!" And someone who can read a lot is often seen as smarter than someone who doesn't read as much, even if the former's understanding of the texts is really shallow and the latter has the common sense and intelligence it takes to build his own house and run a homestead. I agree that literacy is a fantastic tool, but when a big enough number of people see it as superfluous as well, it will also take a hit.

7. I've sung in choirs before, but I've always found it that it distracted me from the Mass. These days, I prefer to sing with the congregation. To be perfectly honest, though, I never lasted more than a few months with any choir, so I suppose that if I had persevered, I would have eventually got the hang of it.

Sheila said...

3. The trouble with introverted people doing extroverted jobs (call centers, parenting, teaching, running for public office) is that we then have no energy left to make friends! Doesn't mean we don't still like to have friends, but recharging ends up taking priority.

4. I didn't know that about the Wheel of Time series. So maybe I'd better not. Blah.

5. The thing about a clean bathroom is that usually by the end of the day it's not clean anymore. I remember one time John took the kids out to leave me the house to myself, and I mopped the whole house. I never do that, because they would walk on it while it's wet and make it muddy, and it was so delightful to enjoy the clean floors! For about an hour, and then they came home and tracked mud all over. So demoralizing. I'd love housework if it would just STAY DONE!

6. I have great handwriting too. Though I'm afraid it's getting a little shaky through lack of practice! That's the trouble with skills that aren't regularly needed.

7. But I do remember you writing about the joys of singing pop songs with friends! It's the same sort of thing.

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