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I’ve got plenty of java and Chesterfield Kings

Have I mentioned lately that I’m on the radio? Okay, not quite Lester the Nightfly. I’m Mark Shea’s co-host on his show, Connecting the Dots, every Monday from 5-6:00 PM Eastern. You can listen live here, and if you’d like to call in, we’d love to chat! The number is 1-573-4BREAD4  or Tweet us @Breadboxmedia.

We talk about all manner of things, and if you listen hard enough, you can definitely hear someone barking (the three-year-old) or someone crying (the dog) on my end. One time, I even threw up on the air! But that was when I was pregnant, so you can’t count on that happening every week. 

You can also listen to podcasts of previous shows here.

 

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25+ Christmas Presents Under $50

Last year, I made a list of fifty of the best presents our kids have gotten over the years.  Here’s 26 more gifts we’ve tried and liked since then, all under $50, most under $30. This year’s list includes fewer toys and more ideas for older kids, including some books.

Our kids are ages 17 years to 9 months, and our budget is not sky high! These are all gifts that our kids actually used and enjoyed, and which we thought were worth the price.

Note: most of them are from Amazon. I’m an Amazon Associate, which means that I get a small percentage of whatever you spend at Amazon, no matter what you buy, as long as you got to the site through one of my links. This adds up, and is tremendously helpful for our family.

If you are shopping at Amazon for anything at any time, please consider using and bookmarking this link:

SIMCHA’S AMAZON LINK

Thanks!

***

And now the gifts:

Flower Maidens Stamp Set – about $20

[img attachment=”79954″ align=”alignnone” size=”medium” alt=”little girl society” /]

Djeco is my new favorite company. They’re a very nice antidote to all the chintzy, bug-eyed, sex-it-up weirdness you see in other products for kids, especially the craft line. My daughter got this stamp set for her sixth birthday, and she was enchanted. It’s a little on the pricey side, but the materials are well-made, beautiful, and original.
Appropriate for ages 6 to 11 (or higher)

 

Middle Ages Broad Sword & Matching Scabbard  – about $20

[img attachment=”79955″ align=”alignnone” size=”medium” alt=”little girl society” /]

We do like swords. My 11-year-old son actually chose this himself, and we were pretty skeptical because of the low price, but it is a surprisingly sturdy little sword. It would be best for display, costumes, and waving around, and not so much for heavy chopping or stabbing action; but it’s real (not sharp) steel and real leather, and looks very cool.

 

Batman: Gotham by Gaslight and the pretty-good-follow-up, Master of the Future (packaged together)

[img attachment=”79956″ align=”alignnone” size=”medium” alt=”little girl society” /]

Spooky and stylish, one of those comic books that elevates the art form. The artist of the first one went on to do the Hellboy comics. It’s a Jack the Ripper story, so duh, it’s a bit violent and creepy, but doesn’t get sexy or cross any lines.
Appropriate for ages 13 and up.

 

Steampunk goggles with purple lenses – about $8

[img attachment=”80123″ align=”alignnone” size=”medium” alt=”little girl society” /]

I dunno, my teenager daughter wanted them; maybe yours will, too. They are definitely purple-lensed steampunk goggles. They enabled some unwilling kids to chop onions at Thanksgiving, so there’s that.

 

Rainbow Dash Hoodie – about $20

[img attachment=”79957″ align=”alignnone” size=”medium” alt=”little girl society” /]

If I admit that my kids watch My Little Pony, then you can, too. We have the Pinkie Pie hoodie, and it is cute cute cute, and is a pretty sturdy little garment. The zipper hasn’t crapped out at all.  Trying to figure out if my teenagers actually want their own, or if they’re just kidding.

 

Castle building blocks – about $30

[img attachment=”80080″ align=”alignnone” size=”medium” alt=”little girl society” /]

These were a huge hit with the kindergartener with a mania for building. This is a pretty good-sized kit (69 blocks) for the price, and includes a nice variety of shapes for lots of possibilities. You could easily paint or decorate these if you wanted to. The older kids like them, too.

 

Fairies Cookbook – about $12

[img attachment=”80115″ align=”alignnone” size=”medium” alt=”little girl society” /]

My girls adore this spiral bound cookbook. The recipes aren’t too complicated or exotic to try, but they are out of the ordinary. I know you can find millions of ideas on Pinterest, but there’s something about having a book to leaf through.

 

Book Messenger Bag – $49.99

[img attachment=”80083″ align=”alignnone” size=”medium” alt=”little girl society” /]

This is the only non-Amazon item I’m listing. It’s from ThinkGeek, which is offering free shipping for Cyber Monday. It’s not the most practical bag I’ve ever seen, because it’s big and the sides are rigid, but a book-loving kid like mine will find the impracticality worth while. It’s attention-getting and is holding up well so far.

 

Munchkin role playing card game

[img attachment=”80084″ align=”alignnone” size=”medium” alt=”little girl society” /]

Howls and screams of laughter, just enough squabbling to keep it interesting — that’s what I hear when Munchkin is out. I haven’t played this game myself, but my kids love it, and it’s works well with kids of different ages playing together. It includes a few borderline inapwo-pwo elements (a little crass or gross, as I recall) but they seem fleeting, not central to the game. For ages 10 and up.

 

Army of Darkness “low on gas” T-shirt – about $15

[img attachment=”80085″ align=”alignnone” size=”medium” alt=”little girl society” /]

Groovy.

 

Twirled Paper (quilling) book and kit – about $18

[img attachment=”80088″ align=”alignnone” size=”medium” alt=”little girl society” /]

One of the better Klutz products. I’ve always tried to get my kids interested in quilling (winding flat strips of paper into spirals and then shaping them into various designs), but they just gave me the side-eye. The nicely-illustrated instruction book that comes with the quilling paper made it simple and inviting, and my nine-year-old turned out some nice projects. Told you quilling is fun! I told you!

 

[img attachment=”80093″ align=”alignnone” size=”medium” alt=”little girl society” /]

I looked at a lot of sewing kits designed for kids, and they all seemed overpriced for what they actually included, so we just picked the biggest one we could find in a bright color. This one is reasonably sturdy. It has a little removable tray to store the needles, measuring tape, lots of thread and threaded bobbins. We also bought separately a package of multicolored felt, a tomato pin cushion, and a package of 100 sweet flowered buttons, and the kid managed to stuff them all inside the sewing box and latch it. Cute, cute, cute.
Sanjuro poster – about $10
[img attachment=”80095″ align=”alignnone” size=”medium” alt=”little girl society” /]

Whenever I pass by my son’s room and see this on the wall, I feel happy in six distinct ways. He likes it, too! Very big and bright and AWESOME BECAUSE IT’S SANJURO.

Peter Pauper hardcover journals – about $12

[img attachment=”80097″ align=”alignnone” size=”medium” alt=”little girl society” /]

Oh, do I like these Peter Pauper journals. Nice paper, gorgeous covers. My daughter has the spectacular shiny one above, called “Cosmology” (“adapted from the celebrated Catalan Atlas (1375), attributed to master map-maker Abraham Cresques of Majorca, Spain. This cosmological diagram places earth in the center, personified by an astronomer holding an astrolabe. Around the earth, the elements, planets, signs of the zodiac, and moon phases are displayed within concentric circles, and the four seasons are portrayed in the corners. “Cosmology” is enhanced with subtle iridescent highlights and embossed for a dimensional effect”)

but there are dozens of different styles to suit every taste.

 

Flower Crowns Kit – about $15

[img attachment=”80098″ align=”alignnone” size=”medium” alt=”little girl society” /]

I thought this was just another crummy stick-fake-flowers-together-and-watch-them-fall-apart,-then-wander-around-sadly-with-bits-of-glue-in-your-hair kits, but it’s not! My kids used this kit on a day when we were unexpectedly stuck at home and had a little guest, and they all had fun, did fine without much help, and turned out some really lovely crowns that still haven’t fallen apart.

The Creativity for Kids line is another new find for us recently, and we’re pretty impressed. Even the paracord wristband kit turned out to be fun for my sons, who usually consider themselves above craft kits.

Enough perler beads to subsume your entire household (22,000) – about $16

[img attachment=”80099″ align=”alignnone” size=”medium” alt=”little girl society” /]

I didn’t know what Perler beads were until this year. So now I know! They are all the rage in the 1/2 and 3/4 classrooms at our school. (What you do is carefully arrange plastic beads on a pegboard, put some wax paper over it, and run it over with an iron, and they melt together and form a little flat plastic toy.) Honestly, it’s not so bad. The kids take their Perler beading really, really seriously, and the beads have miraculously not escaped from the jar. The appeal escapes me, but I never got understood why all my friends were doing Shrinky Dinks when I was that age, either.

We also got this pattern book and this set of pegboards that you can join together to make bigger projects.

Doctor Who Madlibs – about $4

[img attachment=”80100″ align=”alignnone” size=”medium” alt=”little girl society” /]

Aw yisss! Madlibs. Doctor Who. Say no more.

Build-a-Bouquet Playset – about $25

[img attachment=”80101″ align=”alignnone” size=”medium” alt=”little girl society” /]

Okay, we don’t actually own these, but aren’t they sweet? They’ve been in my shopping cart forever. Maybe it’s just late November talking, but I have a desperate need to see my little ones sitting in a beam of sunshine on the living room rug and building some flowers.

Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke

[img attachment=”80102″ align=”alignnone” size=”full” alt=”little girl society” /]

A picture book by the author of the justifiably beloved Zita the Spacegirl series, this is a sweet, quirky little story about a hospitable girl and her weird friends. Written and illustrated by a guy who clearly spends a lot of time with actual kids. We haven’t read Hatke’s latest, Little Robot, yet, but it’s on the list.

Connectagons – about $30

[img attachment=”80103″ align=”alignnone” size=”medium” alt=”little girl society” /]

I’d seen these in catalogs for years and years and years, and finally ordered a set. They are slick and nice, cheerful, easy to use, almost impossible to break, and the set is huge. I can see why they are so popular. They come in many different styles (butterfly, glow-in-the-dark, etc.).

Godzilla action figure – about $18

[img attachment=”80105″ align=”alignnone” size=”medium” alt=”little girl society” /]

It’s strangely hard to find a Godzilla action figure whose tail doesn’t fall off, and it’s almost impossible to re-attach a Godzilla tail that has fallen off. This Godzilla’s tail doesn’t fall off. Worth. Every. Penny.

Samurai Sword with Stand– about $23

[img attachment=”80107″ align=”alignnone” size=”medium” alt=”little girl society” /]

The coolest thing in the world. Again, not designed for heavy combat, but you can definitely whack stuff with this sword, and it looks awesome on its stand.

Tree of Gondor T-shirt – about $18

[img attachment=”80109″ align=”alignnone” size=”medium” alt=”little girl society” /]

Lovely. Runs a little bit small, so order a size up.

Solar System Bracelet – about $30

[img attachment=”80112″ align=”alignnone” size=”medium” alt=”little girl society” /]

We don’t have this exact bracelet – I can’t find the exact one for sale. But isn’t it pretty? Maybe you could find a cheaper one on Etsy. We don’t spoil our kids, but I liked putting the planets in a little ring around her little wrist.

Zelda Triforce Wallet with Chain – about $15

[img attachment=”80110″ align=”alignnone” size=”medium” alt=”little girl society” /]

Hoop de doo! Just the thing for the kid who likes Zelda, likes feeling just slightly dangerous with chains and stuff, and also tends to lose wallets.

An Unexpected Cookbook: The Unofficial Book of Hobbit Cookery 

[img attachment=”80117″ align=”alignnone” size=”full” alt=”little girl society” /]

The best collection of Hobbit recipes I’ve seen, meticulously researched (it’s based on recipes from rural Victorian England), and written in a cozy, engaging, humorous style by someone who clearly loves The Hobbit and loves eating. I could live off the stuffed, braided mushroom, onion, and cheese bread for the rest of my life. It also includes variations for people on special diets, and makes suggestions about how to use leftovers. Nicely done all around.

***

That’s it for this year! Happy shopping. Don’t forget to check out last year’s list, which has fifty items for all ages in a very wide price range. 

 

 

 

 

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Advent is at our throats! Keep the season, but keep it simple.

This year, there’s no time to recover from Thanksgiving before it’s time to dive into Advent. Luckily, the thing about celebrating Advent is that, by definition, you have to keep it simple.  A lush, lavish, complicated Advent makes about as much sense as a simple, understated fireworks display on the Fourth of July.

There are lots of wonderful ideas out there for how to observe the season, but it’s not only impossible to do it all, it would be contrary to the spirit of the season to go overboard! Score one for the busy, the lazy, the disorganized, the overwhelmed.

 

THE MINIMUM

We do two things without fail every Advent. If these are the only two things we do, I consider it a successful Advent.

The first is to make and light an Advent wreath, which we attempt to light every night while singing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” (adding two verses each week). Some years, we only manage to do it on Sundays or weekends.  I just bought a cheapo twisted twig wreath at the dollar store, and I send the kids out to gather greenery from the yard. Use about forty yards of thread or wire and strap those suckers down.

If I can’t find purple and pink candles, I just use white, and tie on bows made of ribbon or cloth in the right colors.  Oh, and after a lifetime of trying to attach candle holders to a wreath, I just gave up, and now use (again, cheapo dollar store) glass candle holders, which I set inside the wreath.  I put the whole thing on a pizza pan, so I can easily move it off the table and store it in a safe, unpunchable place when it’s not in direct use.  Some years we have little golden balls and berries and doves, but other years, it’s just the greenery.

Some people do paper Advent wreaths. I would be sad not to include actual flames and actual greenery (the evergreens remind us of everlasting life; the flames remind us of Christ, the light of the world); but for goodness’ sake, if you just had a baby, or if the idea of flames in the home makes you grind your teeth, do what makes sense for you.

Here are prayers for each Sunday, and here are all the verses to “O Come Emmanuel.”  Print them out and tape it to your pizza pan or something.

Remember:  Advent is dark.  Lights out.  Once you have candlelight and acapella singing, it’s just as magical and luminous and mysterious as whatever the Vatican is doing on that same day. The child pictured above is utterly failing to think, “Tippy candle?  No pinecones?  This Advent is not impressive at all!”

The second thing we do for Advent is we all go to confession once or twice before Christmas. Here are various examinations of conscience for adults, kids, and others; “Confession” is a $1.99 app with a customizable examination of conscience; Mea Culpa is a free app; and here is a very good book which prepares kids for their first confession (and is a great way to brush up your own understanding of the sacrament.) And while we’re at it, this short, enormously encouraging essay about confession from a priest’s point of view deserves another read.

That’s it: light the wreath, sing, go to confession.  That’s the bare minimum, and some years, it’s also the maximum we can manage. There are plenty of wonderful Advent ideas.  But please remember, KEEP IT SIMPLE.  Don’t go overboard.  Pick one or two, and don’t make it elaborate.  And make sure you get to confession!

 

ADVENT CHAINS

If you want a hands-on project for your kids but aren’t feeling very crafty, here is a free printable chain from Life Made Lovely.  (It’s designed for a different year, when Advent starts on Dec. 1, but if you’re like me, you can roll with these things. Just correct the dates and start a few days late, no big deal.) This particular one just has a short description and a Bible verse to look up and read, and is designed for little kids; but if you Google “advent chain 2015,” you will find other styles, some more elaborate that others.

Print it out, cut the days into separate strips, and staple or tape them into a long chain.  (If you like, you can print them on purple and pink paper, or tape the strips to colored paper.) You can hang the chain on your Christmas tree if you have one already, or anywhere in the house (hang it high, to avoid punching).  Each day (or the night before each day. Look, I’m confused about the dates. You figure it out!), you cut off one link each day and read what’s inside.

You can also just make a plain paper chain out of strips of purple and pink paper, one link for each day of Advent, and clip off one link every day. The idea is that it helps the kids visualize how much of Advent is left, and they can see the chain getting shorter and shorter as Christmas approaches. Explain that it reminds us of the chains of sin, which get weaker and weaker until our Savior arrives — and then the chain is gone.

Another option: Here is a printable Advent chain you can print out, designed by my sister, Abby Tardiff. These have complete short Bible verses on them, with little pictures to color.

If you do do an advent chain that has pictures on it, you could also level up to a . . .

 

JESSE TREE

Lacking space for a free-standing Jesse Tree, I just clip a branch from a bare tree and bolt it to the wall.  It looks good and weird, like a Catholic home should.

Some families have reusable Jesse Tree ornaments, but temporary ones are fine, too, and you can use the opened Advent chain strips as ornaments. Read the verse, have a kid color the picture, and hang it on the Jesse tree. Done.

We have a tradition of making Jesse tree ornaments each year on the Friday after Thanksgiving. I find a list of ornament ideas (there is no official list!), read them off, and the kids dibs them. There’s usually something for everyone, rainbows to daggers. We dump all the craft materials which we have carefully kept organized and . . . sorted . . .

Tohu wa-bohu.

on the table, and the kids go to work while I go hide for a couple of hours, repeating the phrase “it’s only once a year” to myself, and with the firm understanding that glitter on the floor doesn’t count as a mess unless it actually impedes your walking.

 

A (VERY LITTLE) LITTLE LENT

Some people keep Advent as a “little Lent” — not as stringent as actual Lent, but still a season of preparation and penance, as we anticipate Christmas day.  I can’t hack this, at least not as a family. It’s too hard to do all the baking and shopping and decorating that really has to be done in December, and also practice self-denial and penance. If I manage to prepare for Christmas without making life miserable for the family, I’ll count that as a spiritual win.

One thing we do manage is to “fast” from dessert on Saturdays (we only have dessert on the weekend) and use that money to buy an extra item for the Vincent de Paul food pantry. Don’t forget, poor people appreciate treats, too especially if they have kids.  It’s very important to donate staples (dried milk, tuna, pasta), but consider adding a box of cookies, a few chocolate bars, or some spices. Non-essentials in the kitchen help poor people feel more human.

***

What does Advent look like at your house? Traditions, great ideas, horrible disasters? Share ’em if you got ’em!

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Last minute Thanksgiving cooking tips!

Like many cooks, I love to share my best kitchen strategies. Here are a few tips for making a successful Thanksgiving meal:

  1. Don’t be stingy with the baster, and your little butterball will all but make its own gravy.

[img attachment=”79336″ size=”full” alt=”corrie baster” align=”alignnone”]

2. Fresh ingredients are best, but sometimes, if it’s been a long day, there’s no shame in opting for canned:

[img attachment=”79338″ size=”full” alt=”corrie can” align=”alignnone”]

3. Even great chefs make substitutions from time to time. If, for instance, the baby has had about enough of your Anne Geddes nonsense, you can keep the oversized stock pot but maybe go with a tougher cut of meat:

[img attachment=”79345″ align=”alignnone” size=”medium” alt=”lucy in pot” /]

4. These seem to be all jokes about eating my children. Hey, look at the time:

[img attachment=”79354″ size=”medium” alt=”Wall_clock” align=”alignnone”]

Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers, if any! I’m grateful to be here at Aleteia.

***
clock image via Wikimedia Commons
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Five Games You Can Play Without Getting Up

If you’re anything like me, you will feel terrible if your family spends Thanksgiving gorging on heavy food and then slouching in front of the TV. But you also have no intention of going outside and exerting yourself, because you definitely want to gorge on heavy food. What to do?

I’m hoping to nudge my family into playing some games after the big meal — nice games, easy games, with no running around or sitting entirely upright. Here are a few of our favorites:

 

Jebrahamadiah and Balthazar (also called “Master and Servant”)

I am not sure why my kids call this one “Jebrahamadiah and Balthazar,” except that (a) it has something to do with the Jeb! flyers we kept getting in the mail, and (b) they are weirdos.

THE RULES: One person gives orders, the other person explains why he can’t carry them out. The answer has to be part of a consistent narrative — you can’t just make up a new excuse for each command.

Here is an abbreviated example. The longer you can draw it out, the funnier it gets:

Jebrahamadiah! Go get me a glass of water.
I would, but I just broke the last glass.
Then go get me a cup of water.
I would, but when I broke the glass, I cut my finger, and I can’t use my hand.
Well, use your other hand.
I would, but when I was searching for a Band-aid for my one hand, I slammed the medicine chest door on my finger, and now both hands are useless.
Then call an ambulance.
I can’t, because, if you’ll recall, my hands don’t work.
Then use the speaker phone.
I would, but when I slammed the medicine chest door, some nail polish remover fell on my phone and now the speaker doesn’t work.
Then just shout out the window for help.
I would, but the neighbors saw me wrecking my phone, and he’s a big jerk, and laughed so hard that he drove off the road and now he’s in a coma.
Well, shout out the other window on the other side of the house.
I would, but when the other neighbor drove off the road, he knocked a utility pole down, and a live wire landed on the house on the other side and now it’s on fire, so I don’t want to bother them.
Well . . . okay, fine, I’ll get my own water.

 

Shatner!

This one can be played all day long, while cooking, while setting the table, during the meal, and so on, until you put your foot down and tell them to knock it off or you’re going to strangle somebody.

THE RULES: Life goes on as normal, until someone shouts, “Shatner!” — and then everyone has to do what they’re doing as William Shatner.

I actually stink at this game, but my kids are horrifyingly good at it.

Companion game: Duchovny

Pretty much the opposite of Shatner. You respond in such an understated way that people have to fight the urge to check your vital signs.

 

Greg

This one benefits more than others from either having a few glasses of wine in you, or being eleven years old (I cannot recommend both).

THE RULES: You sing songs, but instead of “I,” “me,” or “mine,” you say “Greg.”

There’s “With or Without Greg” by U2; “Amazing Grace” (How sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like Greg); and who can forget that sentimental ballad from The Music Man, “Till There Was Greg.”

Extra points if one of your guests is actually named Greg.

 

One Syllable Off

This one is either much easier or much harder to do when you’ve had a few drinks, depending on what kind of “had a few drinks” person you are.

THE DECEPTIVELY SIMPLE RULES: All you do is sing a song with the normal lyrics, but you start singing the first syllable on the second note:

So instead of :

Take . . .ME-out-to-the-BALL . . . game . . .
Take . . . ME-out-with-the-crowd . . . .
BUY-me-some-peanuts-and-CRACK . . . er-jacks . . .
I . . . don’t-care-if-we-NE-ver-get-back . . .
So-it’s-root . . . root-root-for-the-home . . . team . . .

you sing:

[beat] TAKE-me-out-to-THE . . . ball . . .
Game . . . TAKE-me-out-with-the . . .
CROWD-buy-me-some-pea-nuts-AND . . . crack-er . . .
Jacks . . . I-don’t-care-if-WE-never-get . . .
Back . . . so-IT’S-root-root-root . . .

and so on. I think I got mixed up in there somewhere. If you find this confusing, you’re in the right frame of mind for this game.

 

In the manner of the adverb

Okay, this one has a little bit of getting up and doing stuff, but if you’re smart, you can keep it pretty tame.

THE RULES: One person thinks of an adverb, and everyone else has to guess what it is, by watching him do things in the manner of that adverb.

For instance, say I’m thinking about “bitterly.” The other shout, “Make some biscuits in the manner of the adverb!” so you commence muttering resentfully about the stupid butter not being cold enough, and how everybody else has a pastry blender, but you have to get along with two pathetic butter knives, and how you certainly hope they appreciate how much trouble you went to, but it doesn’t seem likely, and so on. And they shout out words like “Resentfully?” or “Angrily?” until someone guesses it.

In other news, I definitely need to get the baking started. Humph. Where’s my butter knives?

 

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No words can describe the legacy of Harpo Marx

I never especially enjoyed the harp interludes (Harpo’s or anyone’s. A harp is a harp), but I was fascinated at the change that came over his face, and the way he carried himself as soon as he settled into the music. The mania dropped away and his eyes softened. We always used to fast-forward past the harp solos, but now I feel grateful that they were left in, because it gives us a chance to see something of the real man. You can see his sincere love of children in the beginning of this clip from A Night at the Opera, where he starts by playing the piano before moving to his harp . . .

Read the rest of this post at the National Catholic Register, where I blog once or twice a week.

 

photo credit: The Marx Brothers via photopin (license)

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Might You Be Simcha Fisher? A Quiz

Hi. I’m Simcha Fisher, and I’m new here.

Since we got off to a kind of bumpy start with my blog here, I thought I’d set a few things straight. First of all, who is Simcha Fisher? Might you be Simcha Fisher?  Answer these questions to find out.

 

1. You have more kids than there are planets, even with Pluto. With a family this size you’re the perfect one to:

(a) Evangelize, or something.

(b) Serve as a horrible example of what happens when you never learn how to use a thermometer. Thanks a lot, Common Core.

(c) Maybe find a hobby? There’s a fine line between being open to life and making a spectacle of your fecund self.

(d) Write a book about natural family planning. About natural family planning.

 

2. When someone asks how many kids you actually have, you’re likely to say:

(a) “Two.”

(b) “Exactly the right number. Hashtag blessed! Hashtag soblessed!”

(c) “I don’t like to impose my own numeronormative notions of quantity on them, so I’m going to let them grow up and decide for themselves how many of them there are.”

(d) Tearfully, “I dunno.”

 

3. Look up. What do you see?

(a) A wide open vista full of promise and possibility, at once challenging and inspiring.

(b) The sky curling up like a scroll and these freaky bird lion dudes with extra heads. No more gas station wine cooler for you, man.

(c) Some memorization notes for Latin verb conjugations. Nope, not studying for at test; you just like to keep the old noodle active.

(d) Literal noodles. Again. After you specifically made a rule against flinging noodles on the ceiling.

 

4. One of your most cherished memories of your formative semester in Rome is:

(a) Sketching cathedrals.

(b) Making a documentary about a grassroots campaign to let seminarians grow awesome beards because Theology of the Body Something Something.

(c) Eating, praying, loving, emphasis on all three!!!!! ❤ ❤

(d) That afternoon at that Italian police station with the four pregnant teenagers who stabbed somebody.

 

5. You met your husband:

(a) At a turkey trot. You had forgotten your energy gel, and he had an extra pouch – but it turned out to be Tri-Berry Gluten Free! And you’re allergic to tri-berries. Great conversation starter, anyway. He still looks great in sweat-wicking leggings.

(b) Through an online dating site. You were both working on designing a new algorithm designed to cut down on matches that ended up with pregnant Italian teenagers stabbing people.

(c) Last week. You’re getting married next week. Gift registry here.

(d) Surrounded by trees, darkness, destiny, and gin.

 

6. The last time you met a really important person, you:

(a) Got shy and clammed up.

(b) Came off a little giggly when asking for an autograph, but he must be used to that.

(c) Offered a firm handshake, and moved along. We’re all equal in God’s eyes, after all.

(d) Inadvertently made a joke about Archimedes’ Screw, which you totally would have gotten away with except that you then snort-laughed and said, “Oh, I’m sorry, that’s a terrible thing to say!”

 

7. The whole time you’ve been writing this:

(a) You’ve been continually offering your typing fingers up to God, so that He may work His holy will through you, in ways large and small, capitalized and italicized, even unto that wiggly thing on Spanish “n” (it’s option+N, and then “n.” You’re welcome)

(b) Your children spontaneously cordoned themselves off into a different wing of your orderly, peaceful, adequately-sized house, and organized by liturgical color their collection of pre-Vatican I mantillas.

(c) You’ve been dripping sweat onto your specially designed laptop desk for use while planking. Fab abs don’t fab themselves! Theology of the Body again, woooo!

(d) Your child actually took an actual bite of her diaper.

 

8. You travel around the country giving speeches to Catholic audiences. This is because you:

(a) Are extraordinarily outgoing and sociable; might as well make a career out of it!

(b) Had a dream in which St. Josemaria Escriva and St. Christina the Outstanding sang a snappy show tune about how you had to.

(c) Enjoy pumping milk in the bathroom at O’Hare. Invigoratin’.

(d) Have a coupon for 40% a gorgeous dress with pockets and need an excuse to use it before it expires.

 

9. You keep getting hired to write for respectable Catholic websites because you:

(a) Have a degree in theology.

(b) Have a degree in canon law.

(c) Surely have a degree in something, anything.

(d) Understand the word “deadline.”

 

If you answered mostly (d),* you are Simcha Fisher.

God help you.  And God help Aleteia.

*Except for the one about Archimedes’ Screw. That was my mother.