Friday, October 31, 2008

I Made the B-team

A year ago, I applied for the B-team Catholics,a group of Catholic bloggers --you submit and if you are accepted, you get this nifty B-team Catholic Blogger widget to add to your blog. I got accepted. Now I have to figure out how to install said nifty widget. Anyway, here was my application.

If the saints are the All Stars, then aren't we all b-team Catholics?

I mean, aren't we all sitting on the bench waiting, hoping, in some cases even praying that somehow we will be the star of an ABC afterschool special? You know, the one where the really mean but exceptionally talented popular girl insults us publicly in the lunch room about our pathetic athletic skills and we cry in the bathroom but then in the game, she gets hurt and we're put in while she recovers? Then, in a string of no less than miraculous events, we play well enough to not completly lose the game for the team such that the former real mean girl recognizes our worth both as a player and a person and the whole crowd cheers as we score the winning point with our oddly awkward serve.

Making the B-team Catholics of bloggers would be like the denoument of the show, where the whole team goes out for ice cream and the coach awards the player of the year trophy to the orriginally thought stinky players who turn out to be a loveable bunch of scrubs that everyone underestimated. Cue music, credits and fade out.

Please don't make me sit on the bench for both games. I'll work on my serve and being able to set and bump and spike I promise! Or make me manager. That's right, I won't even be on the team, I'll just be with the team. I'll carry equipment. I'll clean up. I'll pass out snacks. I won't even eat one. Just, let me ride on the bus with all the really cool people please?

Sherry Antonetti, Catholic mom, blogger and B-team wantabe.

Why We Fast

Today, I got to shake things up a bit at our house. My youngest decided he needed a trip to the Shady Grove Spa, (nickname for all hospitals in our home), courtesy of his Pediatrician. So this Halloween, I'm pretending to be a mom of one, and their dad is pretending he works from home.

We arrived at 4, were admitted around 9 and I wanted food. (It was 11 when I expressed this idea that I should eat something). The cafeteria was closed but the vending machines remained.

One of the machines sold burritos and microwave fries and frozen pizza and one more thing, a "Fish and Cheese" sandwich. Being in a hospital, maybe you could take the risk on food poisoning, but I couldn't help but think the two dollar couldn't cut it as a Filet O Fish sandwich had to be in that machine as part of a lost bad bet or possibly, a dare.

Maybe there were some strict Catholics who needed a viable option for abstaining times of the church calendar year. The problem with that idea, there are no days of fasting in the Fall. Old Fish and Cheese sounded almost as bad as Preemptive Fish and cheese. I could not imagine how desperate one would have to be to eat such a thing.

It did however, encourage me to skip dinner. Fasting is good for the soul, particularly when the dish served is Sole.

p.s. Paul is doing very well. This is just part of the process of moving towards his eventual heart surgery.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Been Talking to Mother Teresa about Many Things

Thursday is my Rant day. Last Thursday, I got an Annoymous comment where the person told me "Shame on her and Shame on me." for supporting Sarah Palin. She said we should be ashamed for the lies she tells and that I apparently support. The person did not state the lies, nor what I should be ashamed of, nor have the courage to give their name and thus I declined to post the comment.

Now I like healthy debate, so I agonized about not posting it. There were people who disagreed with my politics and did so with great respect, and I did post the one that I received in this vein. But the idea of having engaged in unfair censorship bothered me. Granted, this is my soap box, but I dislike when one side just shouts down or shuts out the other, so I worried I was committing the same fault. Having felt lately to pray to Blessed Mother Teresa, I asked for guidance.

Immediately, my kids interrupted the prayer with a fight. "MOMMM...She called me Stupid!" my son cried.

Reflexively, I responded. "It's never nice to call people names."

The immediacy of the wisdom of the Holy Spirit never ceases to amaze me. The fact that I did not publish the ugly response troubled me no more.

Speaking of Mother Teresa, here is a letter she wrote to the Supreme Court --I only just found out about this and felt compelled to post it here. It is the year of Paul, people are much less afraid to speak out on important issues like Abortion.
People like Mother Teresa however, never lacked courage to say what was true.

Mother Theresa of Calcutta’s Letter to the Supreme Court (1994)

Here is the letter that Mother Theresa wrote to the Supreme Court for reconsideration of Roe v. Wade.

This amicus brief was filed before the U.S. Supreme Court in the cases of Loce v. New Jersey and Krail et al. v. New Jersey in February 1994, by Mother Teresa.

I hope you will count it no presumption that I seek your leave to address you on behalf of the unborn child. Like that child I can be considered an outsider. I am not an American citizen.

My parents were Albanian. I was born before the First World War in a part of what was not yet, and is no longer, Yugoslavia .
In many senses I know what it is like to be without a country.
I also know what is like to feel an adopted citizen of other lands. When I was still a young girl I traveled to India .
I found my work among the poor and the sick of that nation, and I have lived there ever since.

Since 1950 I have worked with my many sisters from around the world as one of the Missionaries of Charity. Our congregation now has over four hundred foundations in more that one hundred countries, including the United States of America .
We have almost five thousand sisters.

We care for those who are often treated as outsiders in their own communities by their own neighbors—the starving, the crippled, the impoverished, and the diseased, from the old woman with a brain tumor in Calcutta to the young man with AIDS in New York City .
A special focus of our care are mothers and their children.

This includes mothers who feel pressured to sacrifice their unborn children by want, neglect, despair, and philosophies and government policies that promote the dehumanization of inconvenient human life. And it includes the children themselves, innocent and utterly defenseless, who are at the mercy of those who would deny their humanity.

So, in a sense, my sisters and those we serve are all outsiders together. At the same time, we are supremely conscious of the common bonds of humanity that unite us and transcend national boundaries.

In another sense, no one in the world who prizes liberty and human rights can feel anything but a strong kinship with America . Yours is the one great nation in all of history that was founded on the precept of equal rights and respect for all humankind, for the poorest and weakest of us as well as the richest and strongest.

As your Declaration of Independence put it, in words that have never lost their power to stir the heart: “We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…” A nation founded on these principles holds a sacred trust: to stand as an example to the rest of the world, to climb ever higher in its practical realization of the ideals of human dignity, brotherhood, and mutual respect. Your constant efforts in fulfillment of that mission, far more that your size or your wealth or your military might, have made America an inspiration to all mankind.

It must be recognized that your model was never one of realized perfection, but of ceaseless aspiration. From the outset, for example, America denied the African slave his freedom and human dignity. But in time you righted that wrong, albeit at an incalculable cost in human suffering and loss of life.

Your impetus has almost always been toward a fuller, more all embracing conception and assurance of the rights that your founding fathers recognized as inherent and God-given.
Yours has ever been an inclusive, not an exclusive, society. And your steps, though they may have paused or faltered now and then, have been pointed in the right direction and have trod the right path. The task has not always been an easy one, and each new generation has faced its own challenges and temptations. But in a uniquely courageous and inspiring way, America has
kept faith.

Yet there has been one infinitely tragic and destructive departure from those American ideals in recent memory. It was this Court's own decision in Roe v. Wade (1973) to exclude the unborn child from the human family. You ruled that a mother, in consultation with her doctor, has broad discretion, guaranteed against infringement by the United States Constitution, to choose to destroy her unborn child.

Your opinion stated that you did not need to “resolve the difficult question of when life begins.” That question is inescapable. If the right to life in an inherent and inalienable right, it must surely exist wherever life exists. No one can deny that the unborn child is a distinct being, that it is human, and that it is alive. It is unjust, therefore, to deprive the unborn child of its fundamental right to life on the basis of its age, size, or condition of dependency.

It was a sad infidelity to America 's highest ideals when this Court said that it did not matter, or could not be determined, when the inalienable right to life began for a child in its mother's womb.

America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships.

It has aggravated the derogation of the father's role in an increasingly fatherless society.
It has portrayed the greatest of gifts—a child—as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered domination over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters.

And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners.

Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being's entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign.

The Constitutional Court of the Federal Republic of Germany recently ruled that “ the unborn child is entitled to its rights to life independently of acceptance by its mother; this is an elementary and inalienable right that emanates from the dignity of the human being.” Americans may feel justly proud that Germany in 1993 was able to recognize the sanctity of human life. You must weep that your own government, at present, seems blind to this truth.

I have no new teaching for America . I seek only to recall you to faithfulness to what you once taught the world. Your nation was founded on the proposition—very old as a moral precept, but startling and innovative as a political insight—that human life is a gift of immeasurable worth, and that it deserves, always and everywhere, to be treated with the utmost dignity and respect.

I urge the Court to take the opportunity presented by the petitions in these cases to consider the fundamental question of when human life begins and to declare without equivocation the inalienable rights which it possesses.


Lastly, her most famous quote on the matter, "It is poverty to say that a child must die that you may live as you wish." is one that no one has ever been able to refute.

For those who say, it's been over 30 years, get over it, "No." We must never tire of speaking out against injustice, against wrong, even if no one seems to be hearing the message.

I always wanted to tackle this issue with humor. But How?

Well in Houston, there are no Zoning laws. So I always thought the perfect solution would be to open up a daycare and a maternity store and a baby clothing boutique all next door to every clinic that provided abortions.

Personally, I'd have lined up the babies to play outside all afternoon everyday as part of the business and have piped Twinkle Twinkle and Rock A Bye Baby outside the store just to make sure the message wasn't missed. The name of the materinity store, "Unexpected Joys." The daycare, "Mommy's Little Angels" and the baby store, "Best Baby Gifts."

Yes, I know I don't fight fair.

It's probably why God didn't allow me to become a business major. Too much mischief.

Lead us not into temptation.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Haiku Haiku, I don't know how to do...

I’ve never been any good at Haikus, I’m not even sure how to write the plural of Haiku. Seventeen syllables has always seemed arbitrary to me, like having a plastic flower in a glass vase at the dinner table to create ambiance. Still, I picked up a very funny book, Haiku Mama –because 17 syllables is all the time you have to read which inspired this piece.

And Now, My Haiku

Printing Books
On cereal boxes
Would solve child literacy over breakfast.

Or at least they would in my house.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Short Definition of an Optimist

At a Comic Book Shop in the mall, there was a rack of costumes. While Batman, Spiderman and Superman were well represented in all sizes, only two costumes appeared to have been ordered to fit women wanting to indulge in Halloween traditions: Halle Berry' Catwoman and Daredevil's Sai wielding ninja girlfriend, Electra.

Good luck fellas.

Now I read and have read comic books since I could read. To this day, I am puzzled that the costume purveyors don't have Marvel Girl, Storm, Kitty Pryde, Phoenix, Dark Phoenix, all manner of Catwoman and Batgirl costumes available for October 31st. Who wouldn't want to dress like the Winsome Wasp or Megan of Excalibur, or Emma Frost after she joined the X-men. Honestly, I'd have suited up my entire group as the X-men if the manufacturers had created any options other than Wolverine.

But it isn't just the X-men that suffer from this problem. It happens with Lord of the Rings and Star Wars too. I mean, Eowyn rides into battle, hacks up the Witch King, providing the turning point in the battle and is there a costume for her? No. Not even a wig and pretty dress from her time in the Rohan court!

And I remember when Star wars first came out. There were Han Solo figures, R2D2, C3PO, Chewbacca, even the unfortunate ewoks and Jabba the Hut, but Leia? Forget about it. Princess Amidala is available but most people over the age of 20 would like to erase from their adult memory, any recall of Lucas' second trilogy that prequelled the first.

Searching the costume sites is a dicey endeavor. Lots of the potential outfits border on the pornographic. I mean, they make the Halle Barre and the Electra pieces look a bit like Maid Marian and Juliette. Maybe the comic book guys are banking on desperation to close the deal.

I've however come up with my own idea for Halloween, and I'll even get to be a superhero in the process. This year, I'm the Invisible Woman.

Happy Halloween Week!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Silver Fox

For years I've toyed with the idea of dying my hair.

I've never done it.

Part of the reason I haven't up to now is, I've been pregnant or nursing for much of the past decade during which my hair has progressed from straight brown black to having a skunk stripe to having a white swath across the top. Whenever I've mentioned the idea, my husband has said something sweet like, "I've loved you in all your seasons." or "You've earned every one of those." which has melted me into laughing at my momentary vanity.

However, the amount of grey alarmed me when I viewed a recent photo of myself. As if to seal the deal, my six year old in all her tactful joy said to me, "Mommy, your hair looks really old."

I bought a loving care Clariol can that day.

Opening it in the bathroom, I looked at the happy woman on the box. I worried I would stain the sink. I worried I would stain my clothes. I worried I would look like one of those lego people with a cap of solid black hair on my head. I read the directions. I was losing my nerve. I reread the directions. More nerve lost. Now I taught my kids always to read the instructions three times before starting anything new, so I followed my own advice. The can remained unopened in my medicine cabinet.

But a friend has offered (she does this all the time), to teach me the secret ways of hair color on Tuesday.

I figure, if I screw up, I'll look good at least for Halloween.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thursday Politics (My Rant)

I took down the story upon reflection, because it was too close to the bone.

I left the end part because it still applies.

Courage isn't given out at a university. Neither is a moral
compass. Sarah Palin didn't get into politics to impress anyone. She saw a problem and she took it on, and that lead to being asked to take on bigger issues, which she
willingly did. She faced real struggles and pain and did so with courage and grace.

Sarah Palin has walked into the lion's den, facing a hostile media
and a relentless assassination attempt of her entire life/family by
those who disagree with her political views. She has been declared
stupid/vapid, clueless, vulgar, niave and utterly unfit despite
having risen to the position of Governor not because she was rich or
powerful, but because she was willing to do the hard thing, to act
rather than just talk about the problems in the parking lot. Her
motherhood and her professional career have been derided without
mercy, all because she was willing to reach higher than others deemed
she ought. Anyone can disagree with what must be done or why, but
the attacks have not been on what and why or even how, they've been
on WHO.

Vote for the ticket you believe will best help the country. As for
me, someone who is willing to take on something because
it is the right thing to do, is a better choice than someone who puts
other people down for not having been the smartest in the class
before daring to act.

--Sherry Antonetti, p.s. Hey Sarah, Let's get Trig and Paul together for a play date in 2009.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It's Not Just My Kids...but it Could be

Most of these stories are plucked from my life with slight modifications. Sometimes, I get stories from family or friends. Here's one I got from sitting at a softball game. Much thanks to K.

They had come home from a carnival. The kids had a blast. All three had balloons. Going to the kitchen, one of them decided her balloon lacked style. It needed detailing. So, she broke out the markers. Her sisters quickly followed suit. The balloons now were a multitude of colors, heavy on the purple. Play could resume.

Five minutes later, the balloons floated up to the ceiling.

It's not quite how one sponge paints a wall to create texture but it was a conversation piece.

I'm now imagining my little darlings decorating our living room which is two stories high via balloons. I'm also envisioning me attempting to attach a Mr. Clean bar to a pool cue duck taped to another pool cue and scrubbing the ceiling from the second floor.

Memo to me: No balloons. Secondary memo to me: No markers! Third Memo to me: Surrender and paint the walls purple now.

More fun than a home makeover!!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Home School?

No other aspect of parenting taxes my personal reserves like having to provide oversight during homework time to my kids.

Looking over my daughter’s math book, I spotted an error. “Two plus five doesn’t equal eight, you need to check that problem again.”

She pouts; her eyes begin to water, “I’m stupid! I’m never going to get this, never never never!” She folds her arms and puts her head down on the table and wails.

Over the two years of helping this one with homework, I’ve tried various responses, soothing tones of reassurance, militant aggressive “you’ll learn it and you’ll like it” boot camp, incentive offerings that make me feel like a time share seller. “Add now and get this glorious peanut butter jelly cookie, fresh baked from the oven…add two and get an additional glass of milk, Vitamin D enriched to ensure that even though you are missing prime playing outside time by doing your homework, you won’t get rickets.”

I've even tried praising her every attempt. Because it made me feel vapid, I used song. Cue Perry Cuomo! “You know that doing your work is… Wonderful! It’s Wonderful…so they say…” She'd humph, bury her blonde head on the table and refuse to move. But then, it might have been my singing.

Research within my own home has revealed all approaches equally ineffective, so now I just stay with the time honored, “I’ll get back to you.” when this happens.

“Do you like my essay?” My eldest daughter brings me her first draft. The writing is excellent but the spelling makes it hard to read. I praise her use of words and turn of phrase effusively as she beams. Then, I gently offer to underline the wrong words so she can look them up.

A cloud appears on her face, she draws in a deep breath and screams. “I can’t spell alright? It’s just too hard!”

“I know you can do this.” And I hand her the dictionary
“I don’t want to!” she shouts tearfully and stomps off.

Now this one, I know. She’ll huff, she’ll puff, she’ll pout up and down but in the end, she’ll fix the errors.

The first one had forgotten her pout until the sister’s response reminded her, “Oh yeah, I’m supposed to be upset.” She reboots her sad face.

Buying time, I check on my son.
“How’s it going?”

Having to read assigned books for school has reduced his verbal expressive skills to annoyed and angry.

“You know, I loved Charlotte’s Web when I was in third grade.” I started.

“Humph! That’s because YOU WERE A GIRL!”

“Whatever! RRRAGHH!” and he thrust the book back in front of his face with a scowl.

O for 3.

I don’t remember fighting this hard with my parents over homework, although I do remember getting poor grades for what felt like forever until I figured out what the teacher wanted. It involved actually paying attention. Who knew?

“I don’t like the book!” my son was insisting. I tried sympathy. I told him about hating “Lord of the Flies.”
“That book sounds cool! Can I read it instead?”

“No.” Ack! Conversation veering out of control. Going in very wrong direction!
“Why not?”

Think fast! Ummmm…..“You’re not old enough.”
“Do we have it?”

Knowing that if I say yes, there will be a wild gleam in his eyes as he then spends the time that should be allocated to discovering the lyrical joys of E.B. White to find the verboten tome that epitomizes adolescent male rage run amok, I swallow and answer honestly, “I don’t think so anymore.” It is vague enough to cause disappointment. I know in a moment, the spark to be contrary will be extinguished by the return to school work.

“I still don’t like this book.” He explains, thumbing the pages.

“That doesn’t matter. This is the book that was assigned. This is the book for the project. Here is the rubric. Just answer the questions.”

Reading the actual assignment for what oddly feels like the first time, he discovers he can make a 3-D poster instead of a report. Suddenly, Charlotte’s Web rocks as he breaks out the scissors, construction paper and glue.

The fourth child is nowhere to be seen. She has used the commotion to escape to the basement. It takes every fiber of parental discipline I have to call down to her to return. I discover she’s been spelling the words for her older sister. They both give me a mild look of, “and I would have gotten away with it too if it weren’t for you and your meddling!” before sitting down.

Meanwhile, the pouter has returned to coloring and may be safely redirected to math once her masterpiece is completed. She bolts through it like a champ and gushes, “This is easy! I’m really smart in math. You were right Mommy!” complete with a very earnest warm hug. Melted beyond my own willingness to admit, Perry unbidden comes back into my head to finish the song.

“It’s wonderful…so they say.”

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thursday Political Questions (TPQ) from now on.

Watching the third and final debate, I have to wish that we could have a screen running below with a truth o'meter. I'd wish that we could get the correct take on everything but even factcheck takes time to address these issues and it's still filtered through the prism of whomever wrote the piece for factcheck.

Who checks on the factcheckers?

So here are some thoughts that I have about this political process.

Who do you want to hear talking at you for the next four years or for that matter, even the next twenty minutes?

If a single community organizer signs up 150,000 new voters from a list of 400,000 in one year in 1992 using dial up and the rudimentary equivalent of America Online, how many people would he have to meet/phone/fill out forms for per day?

Answer: 410 successful contacts. Please note, this does not take into account any weekends or holidays, just a straight 150,000 divided by 365. It does not also account for wrong numbers, hang ups, refusals, incorrect or double identifications, deceased, moved, or unfindable individuals.

If we factor in the entire list, assuming 1 of every four individuals was reachable, but the other three had to be attempted in the process, the number rises to 1095 per day. But hey. Maybe it wasn't this hard.

Maybe 1992 was a leap year.

Do you think your taxes are too low?

Do you think your neighbor's taxes are too low?

Name a person you KNOW, who you think should pay more. Tell them. IF they agree, ask how much more.

Name three things the government does so well, no one else can do it.
Aside from spend at a staggering rate, writing papers on every subject imaginabl.e and talking about anything and everything for as long as possible.

If you love how insurance micromanages health care, you'll love the government creating an administrative overlay. Right?

Do you think that having one party control the house, senate and White House is a good thing?

Would you think it was okay if your son who was eight when we experienced 9/11, when he's 47 hangs around with Osama Bin Laden if the later is then a professor at a University in a major city?

Does anyone know if Hillary wants to make a Rocky like comeback now? She's starting to look good to me...or at least moderate.

And Finally, and this is the big one...
Can we make a law so that the political process can only last a single year, from the primary start to the election of the as to shorten the entire season?

I'm scared I'll see bumperstickers for 2012 November 7th.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Debug System Failure

My son, being nine, has honed driving his older sister absolutely crazy into an art form. Button pushing isn’t a choice for him, it’s a way of life.

“Ignore him.” I explained when her brother was playing Safari and kept shooting her with his fake gun and saying, “I bagged a hippo, I got bonus points…I got an elephant…extra bonus points…you know why you get bonus points don’t you?”
She sighed, “Mom? Don't I get credit for not punching him?”

"Yes." But this was insufficient praise for not having the satisfying smack of hitting her brother, so I tried diversion. “Help me make breakfast.” I was making muffins. She considered the prospect and agreed. There was a momentary cease fire in the fight.

Teasing only works if the victim is being actively tormented. His other older sister simply put on her MP3 player. His younger sister wasn't outside and his younger brother wasn't a big enough target, so the safari king came in to hunt his favorite quarry.

I tried a preemptive disarmament strategy. Handing him breakfast with the added point, “Your sister made it.” Didn’t garner a positive response, simply an affirmative grunt, but the teasing had been momentarily suspended by the presence of food.

Now it was lecture time. Mom spoke in her Mom lecture tone…and I saw the brains tune out. I felt like the UN. I needed a more effective model for obedience than my home persona so I pulled out the teacher voice and became Mrs. Antonetti.

“What do they teach you at school about teasing?” I asked my son.
“The Debug system. We need to ignore the teasing. Then we need to walk away. Then if it continues, we say in a nice firm voice, “Please stop.” If that doesn’t work, we get a teacher.”

“Okay. I want you two to Debug each other from now on, instead of running straight to me. Pretend I'm a teacher. I used to be. I have the degree.”

“Won’t work.” My daughter added. Both of them were agreeing.

“Why not? You both know it. You both understand it. I could give detentions if that would help.”

“Mom! You can't give detentions. If they're done at home, they're just time outs."
"Fine, I'll drive to school. You can stand in a corner there."

"Mom, you're not going to load up the car to drive us to school to stand in time out. Besides, if it happens after 7pm..."
"Then you'll just go to bed."
"Teachers don't do that."

"Look, just don't listen to him when he's being rude...and you....Stop Being Rude!"

"I can’t ignore him.”
“Yeah, and she bugs me.”

“Look,” I said, giving them both my undivided attention, “Just pretend it’s me talking. Pretend it’s me saying, “Clean your room. Hang up your coat. Put away your shoes, clear the table. Read. Do your homework.”

“But those are boring things to do.”
“Exactly. Whenever your brother teases you, pretend it’s me. Whenever your sister annoys you, pretend it’s me.”

They blinked, as if they hadn’t heard. One was digging his elbow into the other’s as they stood at the kitchen island not hearing my lecture. “Just like that.” I explained.

At this point, my husband walked by, “I’m not sure that’s the lesson we want taught.”

“Don’t worry love,” I answered, “they weren’t listening.”

The Sherry Spin Doctor's Phx

What a difference a week makes.

When my parents flew back home and my husband went back to work and I was left to manage all nine people by myself, originally I thought the reason my two toddlers washed their beanie babies in the toilet while I was nursing was pure payback.

The two stacks of unchacteristically less than awesome marks for two of my other children, I also chalked up to post I just got a new sibling regression. When four of my oldest five staged a rebellion over what they would wear for school pictures, neither my husband nor I thought these antics were anything but the reaction of baby bear to Goldilocks.

"She comes into my home, eats my food, breaks my things and took over my bed. When do we get to scare her into running away?"

However, the scope of assaults on my adult sensibilities made me pause to consider whether larger forces were at play. When the three year old pushes a chair to the freezer to acquire the stash of M&m's from the top shelf, one has to wonder if she was working alone. When the younger sister of said three year old mimics those actions to spill coffee grounds and rice on the freshly mopped floor, perhaps a review of the catechism on venial and mortal sin is in order.

But today, my daughter decided to paint her hair with orange juice while the four year old sang a soft lullaby to the new baby, "Baby Paul, I love you. You're so cute. You...can pick your nose." Meanwhile, my other toddler put her potty training seat on her head as a hat. It got stuck. My son forgot about a major project which we could have been working on over the four day weekend. There is a little grey "pet" that scampered through my kitchen. We also have play practice, softball playoffs and two orthodontist appointments scheduled for this weekend. Meanwhile, both cars decided this week to require intensive love. They were feeling unappreciated.

Our 401K tanked.

Yet, despite this post partum regression/recession, I remain in a state of Yoga like bliss.


The Island Park News has asked me to be a regular contributor for a column called "Fractured Motherhood Tales."

I washed my daughter's sticky orange hair.
It's all potential material. Natural Prozac just courses through my veins. And I’ve already come up with the perfect cure should I ever suffer writers block.

“Look kids, Mommy bought a whole pack of rainbow colored sharpies.”

For more Endorphine Soothing Experiences try!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Let's Go to the Movies!

Back when I was merely in charge of five younglings, the Two Towers came out.
Man we wanted to see that movie. However, we were in between babysitters.

Sheer numbers required that we use adults at that point, I mean, who in this day and age had five kids? Most sentient beings over the age of 18 however, wanted extraordinary funding in return for doing what I did for free daily. Those who agreed, we used until they wizened up. I don’t think my kids were that difficult. She really wanted to go back home to Nepal. That's what she said in the letter anyway. The next babysitter who had lived in the town home across from us, suddenly enrolled in the community college and got very very busy. Then her phone stopped working altogether.

Our third sitter opted for a slightly less dramatic exit; she got married and had her own kids before moving out of the country. Having no grandparents within less than a six hour drive, we were going to miss out on Peter Jackson's second installment until it came out on DVD. Then we hit upon what seemed to us, a brilliant idea.

The late show. We'd wait an excruciating four weeks, when the crowds had significantly ebbed, and then, with the youngest dressed in sweatpants that could double as pj's, we'd take them to the movies and they'd fall asleep while we watched. Genius. Pure Genius!

The day arrived and willingly, we forked over what would have been the equivalent of a baby sitter's fee in kids’ tickets, and even more for the obligatory popcorn.

We were savvy enough to make sure no one got caffeine. We were punting on the parent screening of suitable material with respect to imaginary monsters, violence, scope, but we weren't so stupid as to pump them up with sugary guaranteed keep up until two o'clock am juice.

The last showing for the Two Towers was at 10:10. All of our ducklings tended to drop off at 8:30. They wouldn't last past the previews we told ourselves. Those couples who had managed to get a date night out sans kids looked slightly askance in our direction. We smiled weakly back and hoped our kids would be snoring silently soon.

Delusional. If NFL color commentators were able to screen our actions, they'd have explained to the audience what a mistake it was to start this project so late in the evening. The better play would have been to go to the movie at 8:30 proper, so natural fatigue would set in and do the job. Telling the kids they were going to a show and then postponing it past bed time by a good hour and half, we had missed the open window between natural sleepiness and getting that third wind.

The kids were actually reasonably good, only getting scared when say, there were lots of orcs in the scenes. One climbed into my lap and covered her eyes. Another made good use of his Dad's arm. The other three sat immersed in the film, including one I would have preferred to have seen a bit scared. I caught the eye of a woman sitting with her husband; she gave me a tsking look that said, "You should have known..." I resisted the urge to offer her the opportunity to babysit.

Since then, we haven't tried that plan. In fact, we've only made it to a few movies since the trilogy ended. One of them was Mr. and Mrs. Smith. I remember it vividly because sitting next to me was a family including four small kids and I spent much of the whole movie mentally wondering what possessed this mother to bring her young children on a Friday night to see a PG-13 movie and at the same time forcing myself not to give the tsking look. The woman must have sensed my struggle as she stopped to mention, "My babysitter quit on me and moved to France."

Now that I have teenagers, it's possible for us to return to the movies with a clean conscience, but I get text messages from my oldest two. "M& P had a fight. No one was hurt. When r u coming home?"

Paying my son for eating pizza with his friends and watching his siblings who had already gone to bed felt vaguely like extortion but my husband viewed it as an investment. "We're guaranteed if we keep having him babysit, he'll leave home."

He might even go abroad.
"Hey honey, what's showing this weekend?"

Friday, October 10, 2008

Reflections on the Election and the 850 Billion Dollar Bailout...

I want in on the pork pie.

I mean, I’m willing to be bought and what’s more, I’ll even tell you what you get for your 850 billion. You get a promise.

That’s right, a promise I’ll keep except if I don’t want to or deem it no longer valid.

I promise not to ask for more.

I also promise that all the problems will go away. If the taxpayers only pony up, all the problems will just disappear. At least, they will for me.

Until such a time as congress okays my modest proposal for bailing out a writer who hasn’t yet been foreclosed, invest in Euros or Campbell’s condensed soup and peanut butter. Maybe Ramen nooles.

I’d follow my own advice if my 401K was able to actual invest in anything but it’s losing money faster than I could spend it and that’s saying something.

From listening to his speeches and ads, Obama considers any alternative proposals associated with McCain or anyone with an “R” attached to their name, to be reckless, inequitable and misguided at best. For the good of the whole country, we should all just stop pretending we work for anyone but the government. We should be happy to do this because, as Joe Biden says, “It’s patriotic.”

Silly me, I thought we fought a revolution to be able to pay less.

But, Obama says it’s fair so it must be. He went to Harvard and is a supra genius type guy with all the answers and wisdom necessary to fix everything.

Let’s just say, he’d better be.

Obama’s tax plan proposes that 95% of the country can fairly ride on the back of the remaining 5%. I’m not sure how that is actually fair as much as it is advantageous to the plurality of voters.

Taxing the rich will of course, in no way affect the rest of the country. The wealthy in that 5% won’t say…lay off workers, cut budgets or adjust their businesses, raising costs to limit damage to themselves. No. They’ll stay status quo, as if they were playing economic freeze tag and just got touched and have to wait for permission to move. Yeah. That will happen.

The CEOS, business owners with excessive largess and people making more than 250K themselves in profit will look at that tax plan and say, “Tag, you’re it.” and the middle class, small businesses and lower class will get to munch a bunch of dollars they didn’t get a vote on to implement, and can’t afford.

Understand if he wins, I will hope that he's absolutely right.

Obama has always wanted change, but found each step along the way towards power that the influence he had acquired was insufficient to the job to create an actual brave new world. So, being smart, he always sought the next level of leadership to be able to affect the world of influence he had just left. Thus, the community organizer became a two year state senator and then a two year senator running for president. But will being President be sufficient? I mean, you can’t control for outside factors if you only rule one country.

If he is the one we’ve been waiting for, for heaven’s sake and earth’s, let’s name him King of the World now. Why wait for the election? Crown the man already.

Then, let’s find out what’s in his 401K.

For more FREE humor, less painful than taxes or looking at your quarterly reports,!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Don't Have anything in my brain today but this made me laugh out loud...

Required reading for every Pastor on the planet.

I had to shout out for this woman because she frequently makes me laugh out loud with her pieces. If my kids were old enough and attended her university, I'd demand they took courses from her. Then I'd sign up too.

She's also plugged this blog on three seperate occasions, giving it it's three largest days of traffic. Sorry I can't activate the link...I've tried but I'm still a ludite in the blogger world. You'll have to cut and paste but trust me, it's worth it!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

What I Should Have Said

Homilies are a time for the parish to connect with the Pastoral leader. On a college campus, the priest presiding over a mass has the once a week opportunity to instruct young adults on how to conduct themselves the other six days of the week, such that they live lives of moral clarity and value.

The priest at my campus took his job seriously. He worried about being accessible to the infinitely distractible 18-21 year olds who were newly away from home. Diligently, he sought inspiration from the world around him, to link scriptural passages to modern day life; to make the muddled brains of possibly beer fogged co-eds see the relevance of God’s spoken word to life in the 21st century.

Because the mass was held just five doors down from my room, it was ridiculously easy for me to make it on time, and to celebrate with more than a plurality of people I liked. It seemed an ideal arrangement.

The first week. After reading the Gospel, our priest, Fr. T. started talking about walking about the Notre Dame campus and approaching the Athletic Convention Center, affectionately known as the ACC. A concert was planned for that Saturday and he had watched the workmen unloading speakers and lights and staging equipment.

“You know…, Life’s kind of like that, we are preparing for the big event. And all of our preparations lead up to that moment.”

“Okay. Yeah…” I went back to my room and diligently checked off in my head…went to mass, fulfilled weekly obligation.

The next week. I just had to give this mass a chance I told myself. There were people here who I knew had rock solid faith lives. We were at a university dedicated to Our Lady for crying out loud.

The homily began. “I was walking along the campus the other day. I saw a car packed up with suitcases.”

I waited for the line of relevance between the Gospel and the sermon. “…You know, life’s kind of like that. We pack up our stuff and carry it around with us, like that overloaded Volkswagen beetle.”

The image of our sins being loaded into a car for our cosmic road trip through life…it was a bit of a stretch. Maybe homilies weren’t his strong suit I told myself. To be fair, I’d give it a month.

The next week. Some liturgy students thought that perhaps we needed some jazzing up of the mass and so they tried “Clown ministry.” When the girl welcomed us to mass wearing a red rubber nose, it took restraint not to physically recoil.

When the priest tried to explain that her attire was a sign of her faith and willingness to be a fool for Christ, I struggled morally to keep from screaming. But my friends were here and singing in the mass so I told myself, the liturgy is the liturgy and “This I Believe,” and that the Eucharist mattered more than any of the window dressing. I also wondered if I had to go to confession for the mocking commentary that kept popping into my head.

Three weeks had been, while memorable and I will grant, the homilies have stuck with me now for 24 YEARS, like subsisting on Dominos Pizzas spiritually speaking. The priest even had me doing it…equating everything in my entire college experience with spiritual merit, real or otherwise.

This time, I dragged my non-church going at the time boyfriend (now husband who makes sure we get there on time no matter what and even use the envelopes that match the actual date) as an independent observer to determine if I was being overly critical. I prayed desperately there would be no people wearing extraordinarily oversized red shoes and ball noses to greet us.

Mass began with a Latin hymn this time, and I wondered if the ultra traditional beginning was in response to perhaps congregational psychological distress over the inclusion of circus attire for ushers. Maybe the priest was trying a potpourri approach to liturgy, trying to hit all different levels of spirituality by having each Sunday a different style of mass. My brain came up with multiple explanations to mollify and explain away the first three weeks. I convinced myself it was all a hyper over reaction in my head.

Until the homily.

“I was walking on campus the other day…”

Oh no.

“And I saw a little squirrel.”

No. No. Please no.

“And I had a few peanuts in my pocket.”

Bring back the clowns…trapeze artists…Volkswagens…anything…

“And the squirrel was hesitant. He came forward a bit, and then he held back. You know…we’re kind of like that. Life’s kind of like that. Life’s kind of like that squirrel…”

I know I stayed for the rest of the mass. I even shook his hand at the end and thanked him for saying mass. But I went to a different liturgy from then on, opting to frontload by taking care of it on Saturday night after football games or putting it off until 10pm on Sunday when I’d need a study break.

Two dozen years later, I finally know what I should have said at the end of the mass to Fr. T.

“Have you considered taking a road trip?”

Friday, October 3, 2008

October 4th, 1988

When I was stuck in New York for a month, recovering from an emergency surgery in the fall after college, a family friend who was also a Catholic priest, invited my mother and me to attend the feast of Saint Francis, held on October 4th at an Episcopal Church in the village. The liturgy included dancers and choirs and a parade of exotic creatures including amongst other things, a donkey, elephant, llamas, fish, snakes, birds, and a congregation of pet owners.

We sat behind a woman who had two daschunds. The first was in her arms, an obviously smaller and older dog that needed to be comforted in the presence of so many other animals. The second pet, a youthful brown pup, tried to get her attention. He stood on his hind legs. He yipped. He begged. She wasn't interested in switching the old dog for the younger. Making it through the parade of all God's creatures Great and Small and the readings, he was mollified by the occasional doggy treat.

However, the homily ran long.

The dog was tired. The dog was bored. The dog wanted to be petted and picked up and had done every trick he could think of, including licking the hands of those of us sitting behind him. Since we weren't receiving communion, this didn't pose a problem. He rolled on his belly for us to give him a rub. Alas, sitting so close to a priest, he wasn't likely to find that cradle raised Catholics would be able to divert themselves too long in his direction, even if it wasn't a Catholic mass. Admittedly, I felt freed up to pet him after Fr. C did. But we couldn't give him what he wanted, the seat of honor in his owner's arms.

Finally, in frustration, the dog peed on the church floor. It was long, it was deliberate and to make sure she knew it, he yelped to get his mistress to turn her head before he started.

Fr. C. turned to us and said, "Original Sin affects us all."

Happy Saint Francis of Assisi Feast Day Everyone!

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