Happy Anniversary

Happy Anniversary!weddingpic

Yup, once again it is our anniversary. Last year my wife and I made list of things that we loved about each other 18 things About my Wife on our Anniversary. This year I would like to do something a little different. I would like to tell you one of my favorite memories of when we were younger.

My wife and had both participated in some level in scouts as a kid. I made it only to Star Scout. At that point I got out of scouts for various reason. My wife, who is much more awesome that I am, got her gold award. (for those of you counting, that is the equivalent of making Eagle in Boy Scouts.
There were other differences in our scouting experience as well. I, big surprise here, was never out going and after about the age of about 10 the songs that they sang at sing-a-longs were pure torture to me.
Poll The Princess Bride KissMy wife liked these things. When she was repelling, caving, and primitive camping, she worked with the younger girls to learn these songs.

When we were first married and our first son was born, we would be riding in the car, and he would fuss, and she would start singing camp songs to him. He grew up to songs like, Two little Froggies, Ding-a-ling-ling Goes the Fire Truck, And the one that has stuck with me ever since.

A Boy and a Girl in a Little Canoe

Obviously there are various version of this song, as with all camp songs. But being the strong willed person that my wife is, this is the one that sticks in my head.

I could imagine the boy would would dare to tell her that. It took on special meaning again when our fifth child was a girl. She was and is as strong willed as her mother, plus since she has four older brothers. I again could imagine the boy who tried pull something like this with her.

This is one of my favorite memories of my wife because, despite the fact that really disliked many of these songs when I was kid, they have brought so much joy to our lives of the years as we have, first sung them to the kids, then taught them to them as they got older, and then finally listened to the older kids teach them to the new ones.

2014-10-25 11.05.30Thank you dear for that, and remember. Gonk, Gonk went the little green froggy!

In support of good story – AXANAR

My Children will be the first to tell you that I am a full on Trekie. I watch it, I read about it, I know it’s history. I have read things about how the scripts were made and know things about the production of different episodes. I breed it into my kids. All of them know, for example, the proper response to, “Live Long and Prosper.” Most of them can even do the famous Vulcan hand sign by the time they are two or three.

With that in mind, you might understand why it is that I got upset about the most recent Star Trek Movie. I am not going to go into all of that here, if you want to read about it, you can see it here. STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS – A REVIEW and IT IS NOT THAT I HATE REBOOTS, I JUST WANT A NEW STORY However, the long and the short of it is that the Star Trek Universe is so huge, that there is no excuse for retelling an old story for one of the movies.

And before you get all up in arms and point to Trouble with Tribbles and Trials and Tribulations, that was a very special case where they were celebrating and anniversary, and it was a single episode in a series that ran for seven seasons.

But enough about that. What I really want to talk about is the future of the Star Trek Universe. I know there are rumors about giving Worf (Michael Dorn) his own series and I am excited to see where that goes. However right now there are a number of fan based projects going.

This one AXANAR is one of the most promising. Axanar_Logo_ret-small

The great part of this is that it takes a story that was only hinted at in the original series, and fills in the gaps, instead of retelling a story that is already out there. This story fills in the gaps, and that expands the Star Trek Universe making it a far richer place.

What Follows is the Prelude to Axanar. Think of it as a 21 minute episode that gives you the background so you understand what is happening in the feature length movie that is coming out at the end of this year. (2015)

This is a fan based film. This is a “for the love” production. They can’t ever make any money on this. That means that they do need your support to make this happen. Before you role your eyes and say, “Oh a fan film,” They have hired professional actors, set designers, CGI production and script writers. This thing is top notch and could easily stand next to any of the official regular episodes. So please consider donating to this so that they can make this film and hopefully more after it. I think after you watch it, you will agree with me that it is completely worth your time and maybe a little of your money.

So Grab your phaser and your tricorder and prepare for a little old school Trek, with some incredible story telling.

Now that you have watched it, again please consider giving in some way. If you can’t afford anything right now, just share it with other people who you know will like it, so that they can see and maybe donate. This is what Star Trek should be. http://www.startrekaxanar.com/

Shooting Stars: A Teenage Vampire Love Story from a Boy’s Perspective – A Review

Shooting Stars: A Teenage Vampire Love Story from a Boy's PerspectiveShooting Stars: A Teenage Vampire Love Story from a Boy’s Perspective by Philip Carroll
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Philip Carroll Does it again. In Shooting Stars he takes a genre that I don’t normally like or even read, and made me really enjoy this story. And now on with the review.

Being a teenager is hard, really hard. Add to that, moving to a new school, and joining a sports team. Jocks and Cliques that you don’t have a chance of understanding unless you have lived in a place all your life. And don’t get me started on the girls. Chuck has all of these problems and more when he moves to his new school from Washington State. He discovers that not only does he have to deal with all the normal problems of moving to a new school but he has accidentally stepped into the middle of a battle ground on a higher plain.

When his new girl friend Kelsey, turns out to be more than he excepted he finds him self in the middle of a battle that nothing he has ever experienced can prepare him for. He will need everything he has and more if he hopes to get out of this one live.

Part of me wonders if I like this book so much because I was Chuck growing up. I moved to a new school in high school, joined the Cross Country team, did well, and met the girl of my dreams only to have her turn out to be so much more than I thought she was. My girl friend (and now wife) didn’t end up having magical powers or anything but still she was special. But I think that it is more that Chuck’s story is one that a lot of teen aged guys can relate to.

In Shooting Stars : A Teenage Vampire Love Story from a Boy’s Perspective Mr. Carroll gives us an engaging story. More than that, he gives us real characters who you can relate to. They have hopes and dreams, and he drags you down, some times kicking and screaming, into their lives. At one point I found myself yelling at the book, “Oh no Chuck that is such a bad idea!” I really cared about these people, and when the book ended I was really sad that I could not continue to be friends with them.

Mr Carroll does not glorify the demonic forces that are vampires but instead exposes their true ugly nature, and the forces required to do battle with them. This to me was a huge deal, and for a teen aged romance involving vampires it was a breath of fresh air.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have known Philip Carroll for some time, I follow him on social media and I consider him a friend. I was given a Beta copy of an early version of this book and an advanced readers copy (ARC) of the book and enjoyed both immensely. While I probably would not have picked up this book normally because as I said I don’t normally read this genre, Philip has opened my eyes. If you have any doubt, I am going to buy copies for each of my teen aged boys so that they can read it.

View all my reviews

The Hazards of Backyard Hens

Updated

You probably already know that my family and I have been experimenting with some small scale farming. You can even read about some of our adventures here

Lately I have been looking at changing our life. Much, if not all of this is still up in the air, but there will have to be some changes. Since I still don’t know what those changes are going to be, I really can’t talk about them here, but here is what I did want to talk about.

Today my lovely wife sent me a link for a DIY HEPA filter. Our newest son is having some breathing issues so we are experimenting with things that might help him out a bit. The HEPA filter is just one of those things. I would send you the link but really it is just a box fan and a decent HEPA filter from the hardware store. It looks like a great idea and we are going to give it a try.
This DIY video lead to other DIY projects, Solar heaters and alternate heating systems and then eventually to this one entitled Off-grid, handcrafted life on Oregon farm & workshop I am not going to embed that video but I did want to share the link for those of you that are interested.

Shortly after we started this whole farming business, we found the video below which is really rather funny. And it is meant to be. About half way in at about the 1 minute 20 second mark she started talking about how chickens are a gateway livestock. Watching the above video today reminded me of how far from that gateway livestock we have come, and things that I would have thought nuts a few years ago but don’t think are that far out there now. It is that last line that gets me. Before you know it…

here is the update
Today, I looked at plots of land in the midwest. Seriously looked. With no current job prospects in the area, I seriously looked.

Anyway, enjoy the video. It really is very funny.

The Hard Truth, Writers Write

Believe it or not, the idea that writers write is not as universally accepted as you might imagine. And the worst part many people who call themselves writers don’t write. Oh they talk the talk, but when it comes right down to the actually butt in chair fingers on keyboard, or pen to paper time, it just does not happen.

Oh these folks have reasons aplenty why they are not writing.
They are too busy,
they have writers block,
they can’t think of anything,
some major life event,
they have a day job…

All of these things are legitimate, but in the end it means that they are not writing. I have been a member of this club for way too long. About 6 years ago now, I started my writing career over, and for at least three years I wrote almost every day. I loved it. The stories I put out were not great, they were not works of art, but they were stories and I had a great time working on them. (By the way if you are interested you can still see many of them over at GreatHites) Then something happened. Really several somethings, and writing got harder. Harder to find the time, harder to make it happen, and well, the list of reasons why I was not writing was higher than my word count.

That is going to change. I realized that I really want to be an author. I want to have more than one published book to my name, and that if I want these things to be true, then I need to actually do something about it.

To that end, I am going to try to kick start my writing again. I am going to attempt NaNoWriMo again this year. You can find my author page if you would like to follow my progress or join in and be a “writing buddy” here.

lumpYes, the novel that I am writing sounds very much like something that you might find on my bookstore, and it should because it is the expanded version of that story. I am taking it a little bit easy on myself this year and not going into NaNo completely blind, this will be a rewrite for a lot of this story. I have written about 30,000 words of this story already, but most, if not all of it needs work, and this rewrite will hopefully clear some of that up. Hopefully by the end of November I will have a complete story that I can start editing in January. And then in December I can start going back to other projects that I have abandoned over the last few years.

I have to make something clear. Those things, that list the reasons I stopped writing, they are all still there. Being busy, major life events, they still happen, but I need to find a balance. I need to figure out how to make all of it work. This is not going to be easy, but if I want to be an author, it is something I need to do.

Wish me luck.

-Jeff

Battle For The Net

If you woke up tomorrow, and your internet looked like this, what would you do? Imagine all your favorite websites taking forever to load, while you get annoying notifications from your ISP suggesting you switch to one of their approved “Fast Lane” sites.Think about what we would lose: all the weird, alternative, interesting, and enlightening stuff that makes the Internet so much cooler than mainstream Cable TV. What if the only news sites you could reliably connect to were the ones that had deals with companies like Comcast and Verizon?On September 10th, just a few days before the FCC’s comment deadline, public interest organizations are issuing an open, international call for websites and internet users to unite for an “Internet Slowdown” to show the world what the web would be like if Team Cable gets their way and trashes net neutrality. Net neutrality is hard to explain, so our hope is that this action will help SHOW the world what’s really at stake if we lose the open Internet.If you’ve got a website, blog or tumblr, get the code to join the #InternetSlowdown here: https://battleforthenet.com/sept10thEveryone else, here’s a quick list of things you can do to help spread the word about the slowdown: http://tumblr.fightforthefuture.org/post/96020972118/be-a-part-of-the-great-internet-slowdown Get creative! Don’t let us tell you what to do. See you on the net September 10th!

via Battle For The Net.

“Dad” Advice

Boy11 SleepingAs you might imagine, being a “veteran” dad, I get asked advice from first time and soon to be first time dads. I try really hard not to give advice unless asked. I remember being a first time father, and being deluged with advice that I didn’t ask for, didn’t want and, at least a good portion of the time seemed to make no sense at all. I even wrote a story about some of that so called advice called A Real Father Is Snot Afraid. As you can probably guess that story involves bodily fluids so if that makes you squeamish, you might want to skip it.

When I am asked, I will answer questions from new dads and soon to be dads, because despite all the100_4956 wonderful advice that I was given without asking, there were still questions that I wanted answers to and I remember wondering where I could get some of this information.

100_4923Over the years I have given said advice, only to find out that my wife had advice for the same situation that was counter to what I had given. I would like to point out that I don’t think my advice was wrong, but my wife’s advice is usually better.

Here is where you get to participate.
If you are already a dad, I want you to give us your best bit of advice for new fathers, and then ask your wife about your advice, what she would change about your advice and or what bit of advice she would give to a new father and share it with us in the commentsPhoto 2013-01-04 09.32.59

To be fair I will start:

My advice – Get sleep while can.

My Wife’s advice – Be prepared to do the housework for about a month without complaining about it.

Guess what. It is a Baby

Hey everyone.

We had a surprise early delivery on Sunday morning and our new son [insert properly Irish first name] [insert properly biblical middle name] Hite was born about 3 am Sunday morning. Mom and baby are doing well, though both will be in the hospital for a few days because of the “surprise” delivery. We hope to be home and back to what passes for normal in our house soon.

I just wanted to share the news and for the few of you who have not seen this picture already, here he is.

Boy11 Sleeping

18 Things I love about my Wife on the occasion our Anniversary

weddingpic
Not to be outdone by my wife and her list, who is much more awesome than I am, here is my list of 18 things I love about my wife on the occasion of our 18th anniversary. And yes, it is a day early.

1. My wife can balance a budget, and no matter what I bring home manages to make it all work.

2. She has always supported my many and varied career changes.

3. Moving is never really a question with her, just a part of life. Not if, but when.

4. Through everything she had remained hopeful.

5. She convinced me that I wanted a big family, and she was right. So very right.

6. She believes in me.

7. Through everything, even when I lost hope about my writing career, she has always supported me.

8. She is not afraid to try new things.

9. Given the choice, I think she would rather be a mom than anything else

10. Shows no fear at the idea of 30+ kids coming over for the afternoon to play

11. She laughs at the people who say, “I have to cook a huge meal for Thanksgiving we are going to have 11 people!” That is our house everyday.

12. Even with our limited budget, she always makes sure that we have good, and interesting food to eat.

14. She is always excited when a new baby is on the way.

15. Even though we never really planned on it, she has taken, the addition of chickens, sheep and multiple dogs without batting an eyelash.

16. She can laugh at my mistakes while still not making me feel stupid for having made them.

17. She puts up with all of my Bill Cosby jokes.

18. She makes it look easy.

and one more for next year.

She loves me more than I deserve.

Thank you Cheryl. Here is hoping for many more chaos filled lovely years with you. Always and Forever yours

Rights and Obligations of Parents to Educate Their Children

Recently my wife and I attended a home schooling conference. To be honest, half the reason we went was because we had managed to talk my parents into staying with the kids so that we could get out of the house without the kids for the weekend. I think we have managed that twice since we have been married. Not that we don’t like taking the kids with us you understand, but sometimes you just need some adult time.

Despite this, I was pleasantly surprised by the conference. I didn’t spend a lot of time looking over the program before we went, and the first day we really just kind of wandered to whatever talk was going on at the moment, at random, still I learned a lot and was happy to be able to catch a talk by Patrick Madrid. I have enough other experiences to fill probably two other blog posts, but I mostly want to talk about the last talk that we attended. This talk was given by Mr. Phillip Gray a Canon Lawyer and member of the St. Joseph Foundation.

Much of this post is directly from the talk Mr. Gray gave on the last day of the conference. I did a good deal of digging once I got home, but without him, this post would not have been possible.

I really want to talk about this, because I think it is something a lot of parents, home schooling or not, face when dealing with sacramental preparation for their kids.

There are a lot of important documents here, most of which I will link in the text and at the bottom, but also two that I want to mention up front because they have special significance here and are very helpful, The Charter of the rights of the family (which is right on the Vatican’s website) and Responsibilities and rights of parents in religious education (which you can get from Seton for about $2)

So here are the basics:

It is the obligation of parents to educate their children. Not only in their faith, but also over all. You might remember saying so when your child was baptized. Something along the lines of:

You have asked to have your child baptized. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training him (her) in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring him (her) up to keep God’s commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?

It is the obligation of society (that includes, but is not limited to The Church) to provide support, and not hinder in any way that education. (See the Charter of the rights of the family.)

And it is the right of the parents to determine what societal support (again including but not limited to The Church) is right for them and their family and their children.

So what does all of this mean? I am going to limit my discussion to sacramental prep because with general education there are country/ state / county / and other governmental laws and regulations that come into play. You can learn more about that on the HSLDA website, and that is a whole other can of worms that I don’t want to get into. Since Sacramental Preparation is only regulated by The Church we can talk about that here.

As the parent you have the obligation to train your children in preparation for the sacraments. You, as the parent, have the right (not the obligation) to use whatever sacramental preparation program that your parish, diocese or even archdiocese offers.
The wording of that is important. That means that it is not the director of religious Ed, the deacon, the priest, the pastor, the bishop or even the Arch Bishop who gets to determine what religious Ed program, or sacramental preparation program you use for your child(ren).
They cannot make it a requirement that you use their program, no matter how great it is, how much work they have put into it, or how much they really want you too. More than that, they cannot have higher standards for your child, because your child didn’t use the program they recommended, than they would for a child who did use their program.

It also means that the director of religious Ed, the deacon, the priest, the pastor, the bishop or even the Arch Bishop does not have the authority, again going back to the Charter of Rights of the Family, over how your child is to be catechized, and in no way may any of them usurp the primacy of the authority of the family.

I do want to make it clear. It is the job of the Priest or in the case of Confirmation the Bishop to make sure that your child is in fact, prepared for the sacrament, but that does not mean that they can make it mandatory that you use their program, or that they hold your child to a higher standard because you didn’t use their program.

Pope Saint Pius X said that in order for a child to be prepared for Holy Communion they must ONLY be above the age of reason, and be able to tell the difference between regular bread and the Body of Christ. This right to salvation, supersedes the knowledge we like to impart.

See theCongregation for Catholic Education where they talk about the parents as the primary educators and these programs the teachers in the schools the pastor or whoever else, are secondary to the parents. This is also backed up by Charter of the rights of the family and further backed up by Can. 793 §1 – §2
Having said that I want to repeat that it is the priest’s responsibility to make sure that a candidate is prepared for the sacrament. For example:

Can. 891 The sacrament of confirmation is to be conferred on the faithful at about the age of discretion unless the conference of bishops has determined another age, or there is danger of death, or in the judgment of the minister a grave cause suggests otherwise.

“Or there is danger of death, or in the judgment of the minister a grave cause suggests otherwise” Otherwise the candidate needs to meet the three other requirements. But note that one of those requirements is not that the candidate used the parishes program. Priests do need to be a filter to make sure that candidates are properly catechized, but they and as parents you also need to know what that means. Remember that it is the Church’s role is to assist parents in the education of their children. That is by divine law. Because the family is the primal unit of society, and it is The Church’s role support the family.

Alright, so that argument might get you past Reconciliation and First Holy Communion, but what about Confirmation. In the United states under the USCCB there is complimentary legislation that states that the bishop can determine an age for receiving confirmation.

USCCB: Complementary Norm: The National Conference of Catholic Bishops, in accord with the prescriptions of canon 891, hereby decrees that the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Latin Rite shall be conferred between the age of discretion and about sixteen years of age, within the limits determined by the diocesan bishop and with regard for the legitimate exceptions given in canon 891.

It might surprise you to know, that the above arguments also apply to these age requirements.

The Congregation for Catholic Education in the 1998 case said, “Such complimentary legislation must be interpreted with respect to the general laws of The Church, (Reference 889 §2.) This making the Diocesan norm is subordinate to the general norms governing the reception of the sacraments.”

In this case, and according to Mr. Gray, and the majority of the others the Vatican sided with parents, and the Bishop was told he needed to confer the Sacrament on the child.

The Congregation for Catholic Education also said in the same 1998 case,

“Sacred ministers may not deny the Sacraments to those who opportunely ask for them are properly disposed and not prohibited from receiving them.
… Indeed, the longer the conferral of the sacrament is delayed after the age of reason, the greater will be the number of candidates who are prepared for it’s reception but deprived of its Grace for a considerable period of time.

and in the Council of Trent:

[Page 58]

ON CONFIRMATION
CANON I.-If any one saith, that the confirmation of those who have been baptized is an idle ceremony, and not rather a true and proper sacrament; or that of old it was nothing more than a kind of catechism, whereby they who were near adolescence gave an account of their faith in the face of the Church; let him be anathema.

It is clear from these two that if you present your child for confirmation and you have properly catechized them and they are above the age of reason then they should be able to receive the sacrament. But what does Canon Law say about this?

Can. 843 §1. Sacred ministers cannot deny the sacraments to those who seek them at appropriate times, are properly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them.

Can. 889 §1. Every baptized person not yet confirmed and only such a person is capable of receiving confirmation.

§2. To receive confirmation licitly outside the danger of death requires that a person who has the use of reason be suitably instructed, properly disposed, and able to renew the baptismal promises.

You can clearly see that Canon Law confirms both what the Congregation for Catholic Education and what the Council of Trent has said.

Did you know that Confirmation is supposed to come before Communion? If you have ever been to a Easter Vigil Mass when they bring in RCIA candidates and they do the confirmation before the holy communion. Believe it or not, that is the way it is supposed to happen. The doctrine of The Church states that the order of the Sacraments should be Baptism, Confirmation, Reconciliation, Communion. That is because confirmation completes baptismal Grace. Take a look at The Council of Trent.

ON THE SACRAMENTS IN GENERAL
CANON I.-If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law were not all instituted by Jesus Christ, our Lord; or, that they are more, or less, than seven, to wit, Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Order, and Matrimony; or even that any one of these seven is not truly and properly a sacrament; let him be anathema.

And again quoting the Congregation for Catholic Education said in the 1998 case,

“Sacred ministers may not deny the Sacraments to those who opportunely ask for them are properly disposed and not prohibited from receiving them.
… Indeed, the longer the conferral of the sacrament is delayed after the age of reason, the greater will be the number of candidates who are prepared for it’s reception but deprived of its Grace for a considerable period of time.”

In conclusion, If you have instructed your child in the sacraments and they are properly prepared, then they can receive the sacraments. But what do you do if the religious Ed director, the deacon, the priest, the pastor, the bishop or even the Arch Bishop says no? It is laid out in canon law and is based on Mathew 18. If you have a problem with your brother, go to him. If he does not listen, take witnesses, if he still does not listen take him to The Church. That last step is where the St. Joseph Foundation comes in and can help you appeal your case.

You can learn more about the St. Joseph Foundation and how to contact them through their website

Lest you think that I am just reading into this what I want, here are most of the references to the original documents I have referenced above. I have linked to most of them in the text but in case you missed them or just want to get to them faster, here they are again:

The Code of Canon Law
The USCCB
Congregation for Catholic Education
Council of Trent
Council of Trent – The 7th session (where I pulled most of my information
Charter of the rights of the family (which is right on the Vatican’s website)
Responsibilities and rights of parents in religious education
St. Joseph Foundation
and the HSLDA website

 

Can. 793 §1. Parents and those who take their place are bound by the obligation and possess the right of educating their offspring. Catholic parents also have the duty and right of choosing those means and institutions through which they can provide more suitably for the Catholic education of their children, according to local circumstances.

§2. Parents also have the right to that assistance, to be furnished by civil society, which they need to secure the Catholic education of their children.

Can. 794 §1. The duty and right of educating belongs in a special way to the Church, to which has been divinely entrusted the mission of assisting persons so that they are able to reach the fullness of the Christian life.

§2. Pastors of souls have the duty of arranging everything so that all the faithful have a Catholic education.

Can. 795 Since true education must strive for complete formation of the human person that looks to his or her final end as well as to the common good of societies, children and youth are to be nurtured in such a way that they are able to develop their physical, moral, and intellectual talents harmoniously, acquire a more perfect sense of responsibility and right use of freedom, and are formed to participate actively in social life.

And

Pope Saint Pius X said that in order for a child to be prepared for Holy Communion they must ONLY be above the age of reason, and be able to tell the difference between regular bread and the Body of Christ. This right to salvation, supersedes the knowledge we like to impart.

And

Can. 843 §1. Sacred ministers cannot deny the sacraments to those who seek them at appropriate times, are properly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them.

Can. 889 §1. Every baptized person not yet confirmed and only such a person is capable of receiving confirmation.
§2. To receive confirmation licitly outside the danger of death requires that a person who has the use of reason be suitably instructed, properly disposed, and able to renew the baptismal promises.

Can. 891 The sacrament of confirmation is to be conferred on the faithful at about the age of discretion unless the conference of bishops has determined another age, or there is danger of death, or in the judgment of the minister a grave cause suggests otherwise.

USCCB:
Complementary Norm: The National Conference of Catholic Bishops, in accord with the prescriptions of canon 891, hereby decrees that the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Latin Rite shall be conferred between the age of discretion and about sixteen years of age, within the limits determined by the diocesan bishop and with regard for the legitimate exceptions given in canon 891.