Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Why We Live in Maryland

Yesterday I cut my finger and required a jaunt to the emergency room. Stuck for three hours waiting to have a steri-strip, Neosporin and a tetanus shot, I began to read a book I'd held onto for over a year. "The Liar's Club" by Mary Karr. Like me, she is an East Texan but she's a generation older and the narrative from her non-fiction memoir paints a richly raw world that I found familiar.

I recognized the tall grasses that stunk near the beach, and the brown surf and the men drinking beer as they seined. I could smell the petroleum air of Baytown and see the once brightly painted but now chipped and faded wooden bars and stores that peppered the Southeast Texas coast sparingly and now not at all, owing to the recent Hurricane season.

As I waxed on and on about these little slices of memory that the book evoked, my husband who had waited up for me, (a gallant gesture of solidarity at 1:30 a.m.), shook his head. Having been caught up in the visions of seeing jellyfish and the story about the snake my uncle cut up with a children’s toy metal hoe, I didn't grasp that what for me was poetry, for him was prose.

"Give me a snowy winter and moderate summer where I can go out in the afternoon and tend my garden. I don't want a summer where I sweat." I was almost shocked that he didn't understand the allure. But maybe it was the hour.

The conversation continued the next morning as he looked over his garden before leaving for work.

Neither one of us consider Maryland "home," because home has the stars that you grew up with, and the little places like Jimmies --where my beloved would go to eat lunch by the beach with his father and grandfather. Home is where he went to pick fruits at a local farm with his mom, and the lake where he and his brother would catch sun perch, and the field where a very mean cow once gave him a scare, now a series of townhomes. Home has the streets where your best friend drove too fast. It was where you made bad trades in baseball cards because you wanted the complete set. It was where you built forts out of snow that were six feet high and walked home with your shoe laces untied because the teacher wouldn't help.

I shook my head. Connecticut. To me everything in that state seemed something one had to be "in the know" to find. There was a certain place to get pastries and the place to get hot dogs and bread and flowers. I had now been to many of the places he talked about, and they were fun and I liked them but like the places I considered jewels in the book, these were invisible to the non-native, untraceable, inscrutable. No one would find it if they didn't already know, "This is where you go to get crabs and feed hush puppies to the alligators afterwards." "This is where you go if you want the best Pizza on the planet." You could experience it via the other person's memories and create your own, but the depth, the poetry did not always convey. I did concede Pepe’s was the best and I did love the nooks and crannies type experience of one of kind places that Connecticut still held.

But like him, for me this was prose, not poetry.

So he only knows of that street where I got a warning from a policeman because five of my best friends got out and did a mock fire drill by running around the car three times after a CYO dance. And I have seen from the safety of our car, the mountain he and his friends accidentally found themselves on while hiking, the one called "Mount Lamentation" because of its high poison snake population.

Neither one is quite comfortable with the extreme climate elements the other one holds as part of what is "normal." Clear cold snappy air after August and plenty of snow and ice all winter as versus "squinting in the shade," and the bulk of the year and having that toasty air that late summer sometimes saturates with, and so we reached a place which is the spirit of compromise; Maryland.

There are days now that evoke South East Texas, and in January, sometimes he goes outside without a coat, spreads out his arms, breathes deeply and says, "Yes." "This is how it should be."

In writing, one is supposed to sit down at the chair and open a vein. Apparently, the left first finger of my hand had the blood in it that channeled "Home."

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Ladybug Ladybug Fly Away

Nothing unites brothers and sisters like a mutual enemy. Mom calling for people to come clean up for example.

Or mutual fear.

In this case, it was bed time. Mom had done her part. All children under the age of 7 had been attended to, teeth brushed; stories read, clean, fresh pajamas and beds tucked in with prayers and such. Mom had recently explained that parenting hours are from 6 A.M. to 9 P.M. with provisos for children who are sick or under the age of 3. It has been a tough summer thus far enforcing this but I'd finally gotten the key message through. All others need to disappear into their rooms during non-service hours.

So when my fiver shouted out "Mommmmmmmmmmm. There's a bug in my room." I called back up the stairs to see if this was a five alarm bug or a don't bug me type bug.

"It's a ladybug." was the scared reply.
I called back that ladybugs were happy bugs, friendly bugs and would not bite, bother or scare anyone.

But other people upstairs only heard, "There's a bug in my room."

Immediately, five other residents of the upstairs bedrooms could just feel the presence of six legged creatures and see them everywhere. Not buying the mass insect hysteria, I let it be known that it was bed time, even for bed bugs.

So while I busied myself with the dinner dishes, the kids took matters into their own hands. Clearly, no one should sleep alone and clearly, no one could sleep in the bug infested room or the room adjacent to that, though that may have been a boy induced allergy to Barbies and all things pink.

My oldest son reported to me as he came out of his room, (also upstairs), the scene just outside his door. Commando crawling siblings armed with pillows and comforters scuttled across the floor like plaid and pink and Disney Cars colored ladybugs. They scrambled into the toddler room where two sisters were only too delighted to share their night time accommodations. They shut the door and turned out the lights, within minutes all of them were asleep.

They all slept in that one room that night.

I had to consider the possibilities; could ladybugs be used as a security system, to keep kids in bed after hours? Could they be used as a herding prod, to get kids out the door and into the car? Or as an incentive...eat your salad, or I release this ladybug into the kitchen.

But in the morning, I located said ladybug and took it outside to the garden and people resumed their normal citizen kid lives.

I haven't used the ladybugs despite their obvious alure, because I know, with great power comes great responsibility.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Marie Antoinette's Legislative Tips for the Current Congress

Feeling darn firey lately, I put that energy to use and called my congressmen to tell them not to vote for the Cap and Trade bill currently being whipped to fruition by Nancy Pelosi et. al.

Why did I call?

Because I'm frankly tired of a congress spending money hand over fist without ever bothering to read the damn things they are voting on. Is it too much to ask that they read before they rubber stamp via their party affiliation?

When I was a kid, I loved making cakes from boxes but I didn't want to bother with the stinkin' directions, I wanted the cake. For me it was all about the end result, but I was impatient and unwilling to do what it took to get there, so there were a lot of cakes that 1) lacked structure 2) lacked significant ingredients and 3) got fed to the dog. Until I took the time to examine the directions --at my Mother's insistence (thanks Mom!), I continued to churn out crumble cake after flat cake after inedible reported to be cake. It wasted money. It wasted time. It wasted cake.

Here's an idea, make passage of every bill dependent upon everyone who votes, having listened to it be read aloud --it would slow legislation to a crawl but we'd spend a lot less, or at least, we'd know what we were spending the money on, because the bills would be smaller and more discreet but fully disclosed. And then,maybe we can have our cake and maybe eat it too.

Otherwise, we'll be left with something that isn't even healthy for dogs.

Call your representatives. Stomp up and down. Let them know at least, we require reflection and discernment before they spend more of our future earnings. They work for us, at least for now.

Beautiful Link of the Week


Wish I was as talented with my blog. My tech knowledge doesn't even allow pictures really. My talents lie elsewhere. This blog is a breathtaking acceptance of great gifts, like another blog friend's, Mighty Mom's "My Wonderful Life." Both inspire and say, "Hey Sherry, get off the stupid computer and back to mothering."

Will do. Thanks ladies.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

And Now, Equal Time

Anyone who thinks sexual morals discarded as easily as a wardrobe do not have an effect outside the two people enaged in the throws of whatever, need only look at the most recent example, the South Carolina Governor and his girlfriend in Argentina.

If you read the injured wife's piece as posted on Real Clear Politics, it is a beautiful reflection of what this man has lost, and it isn't his position of power in the world, but the relationship, the communion with a good woman and their four sons. Four young boys who must be heart broken to see suddenly themselves taller than their father at tender ages, and who now must shoulder a burden unasked for, trying to defend their broken family from an unloving prying world while each nursing their own individual highly concentrated pain they do not understand.

As an outsider, we can easily scorn, easily condemn, and easily judge, but this wife still loves this man and as outsiders, we should honor and mirror her behavior. Hers was a holy response to a complete betrayal, without being a doormat or an enabler.

In an age of instant access but no actual intimacy, this is what we as a society have, 24-7 armchair coaching/commentary on anyone and everyone who falls into the public eye. So keeping one's dignity when one is emmeshed in an undignified situation becomes difficult. She has managed it.

He has not.

In an age of blackberries, twitter, facebook, cellphones, Youtube and cameras placed everywhere, no one should consider themselves capable of living an anonymous life. And no one should be certain their worst moments as human beings won't become the subject of fodder for millions; least of all, politicians and people in positions of authority.

Perfection in our public leaders should not be a prerequisite of electability, but honesty and ethics ought to be at least skewed in the right direction. On a tangent, I have to rant, "Where to the Republicans go to find these sorts of people?" There have been moments when I have heard people remark that "This is the best." and then they reveal something, a school, a book, a show, a movie, a politican. And my first thought almost always is after I've read/watched/ listened, tasted, "If this is the best there is, then MAN are we in trouble." But I also know that my heart likes to try and harden, to be clever and cynical and that I have to beat that impulse down with a stick on a daily basis, but the world keeps giving me targets.

And then I remember, this is one family put under a microscope because of one family memebers' supreme stupidity and lack of moral and political judgment. I don't care how respected he was six days ago, he was stupid in his life and careless with those he professed to love. Dumb is the only word that is charitable in this circumstance. It is difficult not to want to unleash a score of seemingly righteous word rage on this person.

Fidelity is the first obligation of a spouse. It ought to be a willingly given given. Mark Sanford may have been a competent governor, but he put a woman before his wife, before his sons and before his God. Fortunately for him, his God and his wife love him enough not to strike him down, but those who do not love him, have struck and will continue to do so. If he had any sense, he'd understand that he is the most fortunate man in the whole world if he only lost the Governorship and the mistress. But if he had that same sense, he probably would have recognized, he had everything and surrendered it willingly for the wrong things.

I'd excoriate the man except I'm tired of all these cads and all these cackling harpies who glory in the destruction of a family as much as they do the emoliation of a career for political reasons, or because it justifies their own behavior, or because they hate the morals professed to be held true by those who have fallen.

So I've made a promise to myself to be restrained the next time and the next and the next and the next and the next and the next, regardless of political affiliation, because stoning the adulterer is not good for any of us, and this world encourages emotional and intellectual stoning. The men who left the adulteress behind had been the recipients of Christ's mercy as much as the woman herself.

I know I shouldn't have enjoyed raging at the Democrats for lining up to defend Bill Clinton, and I shouldn't stand with the firing squad to shoot Mark Sandford, because we aren't called to set fire to people, only to light the world on fire with the purity and holiness of our spirits and our lives.

And I've made myself a promise to give up being a snark about this President. This does not mean I will not disagree or fight to articulate why I disagree with his policies when I disagree with them, only that I don't get to be mean to satisfy my own spleen with ooh...that's a good line, that will get 'em type commentary.

Being funny by being clever and catty and making being funny a goal just to get attention is self serving and soul scorching, and I have to remember that for me, humor is supposed to be merciful, healing. Humor without mercy is satire, and I conceed, I have a natural progression, from quips to bites, from Horace to Juvenal, from Pope to Swift. The humor gets more acerbic and less merciful the longer I focus on a subject. The truth of the matter gets lost in the shuffle of clever phrases for the sake of a few comments and a few extra hits on the blog counter.

So pray for this broken family and all those who do or do not make front page news or go viral, to be healed by the only thing that can, God's love.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sound and Fury of a Noisy Gong Show, A.K.A. the White House Press Core Q& A

If you follow the news and there are times when I truely think I shouldn't, you know about the planted Nico Pitney of Huffington Post at the President's press conference the other day asking about a pre-arranged topic of Iran and its people.

My real question is, "Why?"

Did the President not think that he could have asked anyone other than Fox News to ask a question about what the people in Iran were thinking and hoping for? While it's true that there's been no evidence up to now that the White House Press Core were unwilling water carriers, the regulars at such meetings might have been somewhat timerous about broaching such a relevant topic.

However, I'm pretty sure if Rham Emanuel or Robert Gibbs had said it would further the dialogue and agenda set by the administration and handed out the milk bones, there would have been willing closed rank complicity behind the scenes and we'd have never known about the planted blog reporter except as some vast right wing conspiracy.

Instead, we're treated to a bad version of "the play's the thing" where the reporters get to be outraged that someone is playing with them, and that someone lobbed a pre-planned softball. What they're really mad about is, they didn't get picked to throw the ball.

Of course, when the catcher tells the batter what pitch is coming next, one should expect the swing to send it out of the park, but in this case, it was just a pitch and a bunt of a reply, designed to allow all to say, the President addressed this serious issue and the Iranian people with sincerity and thoughtfulness. Anyone not moved probably needs government health care doctors to examine them for possibly missing a heart, a brain, or a soul. Next question. "Who's going to ask me again about that fly?"

Given the level of toadiness of the media, it's hard to understand how a fly got onto the White House grounds. But then the fly did a better job of invoking a genuine response from the President than the whole Press Corp combined.

So I can't think that the President's people didn't have a reason for putting the Huffington Post so prominently in the spotlight in such a blatant way.

Maybe Rham Emanuel won a bet in a late night poker game, or Adrianna needed more traffic on her web site.

Maybe the President is flexing his political muscles to see just how much the American public will swallow to continue believing what they wish to believe. Maybe he's testing the capacity of the bowing devotees with blackberries in hand, to ignore with their own eyes and their own ears, what is presented before them, for what they wish to see.

We just don't know, and given the level of inquisitiveness remaining in the media in general about (not merely this President but all policies proposed), this is likely to be papered over with thousands of glossy overlays of the scandal involving the South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford and his South American honey.

Was it a big deal to plant a question? Yes and no. The question wasn't even a real biggie. The answer meant even less. But the reason behind it, well that's a real question. Wish we had a real answer.

Monday, June 22, 2009

What's On TV?

Nothing, if you know what's good for you.

We just got cable. There are now 800 channels to annoy the Mom on two televisions. I didn't think it would be much of a problem. My kids had always agreed to the reasonable one hour of starring at a screen Mon-Thurs and lax standards on the weekend rule. Even the youngest kids understood, if you are staring at a rectangle, and the rectangle is in some way electronically powered, it counted towards your hour. They also knew that abuse of the hour rule was tolerated within reason.

Not anymore.

With so many opportunities to watch, a certain lack of discrimination overpowered their otherwise reasonably intact child intellects and wisdom. What's more, the opiate of the masses* did mean that I could have hours of semi-silence in my house at the price of their brains. After a week of saying to myself, we just got cable, it is just a time of adjustment, they'll get bored of it soon, I decided I was bored with my family. They weren't doing anything sans incentive. Even eating had turned into a listless speedy affair designed to acquire the necessary calories as quickly as posssible so as to return to the stupor of TV land.

Like Odysseus, I had come to the land of the Lotus Eaters.

So I pulled the nuclear option.** I locked every channel, even the previews, as one crafty child had figured out she could watch anything using the preview option. I now pay a monthly service fee for the priviledge of having nothing to watch.

I part with the money happily to see them walk around wondering what to do, but the cure has already had an effect. One child read her first assigned book of the summer. Another is doing the dishes. A third even helped move the toddlers through shower time.

So I'm thinking about changing all the passwords to lock them out of the Wii and the computers because, there's laundry that needs to be folded and dishes to do and my main floor needs a mopping.

*Oldest son has issued an edict that if I ever leave him to babysit again without unlocking the opiate of the masses, he will become a rebellious teenager and make my life a living hell.

**Second oldest wants credit for her idea as long as the other children don't read this.

***In the interest of fairness, I too need to have my computer shut down during the day in order to get stuff done, so the apple does not fall far.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day

My oldest son is sixteen and likes to keep on top of current events.

So when he told me that the Federal Government, in the interest of public health has deemed that all fast food commercials now must refrain from showing people actually consuming food and not mention the word "eat" as part of their advertisement, I asked why?

He told me "This parallels the restrictions currently in place regarding alcohol and cigarettes, where beers can be shown being poured, being admired, being discussed, being held and being passed around but not actually being sipped, and cigarettes which can only be shown, not smoked." He talked about how this was part of an overall campaign to "slim down America." and thus hopefully reduce long term health costs for all.

I considered the recent commercials I'd seen, where waitresses brought food and people were spooning it but not eating, the fast food where people were preparing to dig in at dinner, and the kids favorite place, which showed someone...hey wait a minute, I saw him take a bite. I asked, "When did this take place, because I know I saw the guy take a bite of the Big Mac?"

He was grinning. I'd been suckered completely. So I did the only thing I could do in such a situation, I told him to go tell his dad.

Friday, June 19, 2009

What I'd Do

A friend of mine had a convergence of the planets such that she will be sans her five children for a week while her husband is off for the summer. She emailed me, "What should we do?"

I answered: First, turn off the phones and run around the house screaming at the top of your lungs..."I'm off duty! I'm on vacation." Then, before the neighbors speculate on what you did with your children, calm down, pour a glass of wine and do one or all of the following.

1) Read a book without pictures.
2) Watch television you wouldn't and movies too,
3) Go to a coffee shop or a restaurant that uses plates and forks.
4) Then go to a museum where there are breakable things
5) and a concert your kids would deem uncool.
6) Take a walk in a park without themes or jungle gyms or with it and hog the swings.
7) Make an appointment at a parlor that doesn't use an elephant for the sink and experience an unrushed hair cut.
8) Cook weird food.
9) Drink the wine.
10)Make a list of what you didn't do today --pay bills, run a wash, bus the table or vacuum pasta pieces and apple slices off the floor. Then realize ever so softly, you miss it because of what these repetitive daily tasks meant.

I left off the thing most obvious because that's how you get to having to wait for a planetary convergence to enjoy the rest of these things.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Summer Re-runs

Because it is summer and there are water gun fights to have, ice cream to eat, stupid movies to watch and marathon games of crazy eights, parchisi, poker and Wii Smash Brothers to play, I too, shall adopt the network philosophy of occasionally throwing in a rerun during prime time.

Why? Am I getting lazy?
Well, yes. It’s summer.

So I’ll start with a goodie just to make it up to you. Here’s the very biggest hit I ever go with a blog entry. Rerun. 50 Something Betters. Yeah, I did have to update it because we used to only have eight.

Everyone who has ever seen Steve Martin's Roxanne, has seen the riff where he gives the bar 50 something betters on how to insult his nose. In my own life, the equivalent of "Hey Big Nose!" is "You have HOW MANY?" and even better, "Why?"

50. We keep hoping for twins but so far that hasn't worked out.

49. We were trying to even up the team. (5 girls, 4 boys).

48. Meet my retirement plan, I'm staying with each of them for six weeks out of the year.

47. Catholic with a capital C.

46. Gilbreths: 12 kids, Nobel Prize winner of Economics, multiple geniuses, published authors, Von Traps: Seven, Broadway show and Musical Movie about story has made bazillions. Osmonds (6). Singing, Fame, Fortune and perfect teeth. Hughes: 6, youngest is a Olympic gold medalist, Kennedy's 9, President, would be President, Senator, etc.,


45. I lost count after six.

44. We wanted to justify our SUV.

43. Creating my own voting block for when I run for President.

42. I now have plenty of excuses if my high school fantasy dream job goes unfulfilled(which it will and it should --Dancer from "Cats").

41. Wanted to win a trophy at my 25th year High School reunion for something!

40. Getting my money's worth out of the baby clothes and paraphernalia.

39. We never have left overs.

38. Q: Don't you know how this works? A: Well yeah!

37. Hoping for my own Reality TV show.

36. With such good looking intelligent offspring, it seemed selfish to limit ourselves.

35. We enjoy causing pure terror on the faces of travelers in the terminals simply by walking up to the gate en masse. Sometimes, it isn't even our gate.

34. We don't have to share a pew...ever.

33. We can dress them up as reindeer for next year's Christmas card.

32. I can drown out anyone in an argument with pure sound.

31. Hospital now has named a parking place in my honor.

30. OBGYN bought a Florida condo because of me.

29. Defense in depth.

28. Can tell babysitter I have no sympathy for him or her if they have to change a diaper.

27. Creates instant conversation starter or stopper depending upon venue.

26. Email using just initials of children eliminates all spam.

25. We have a bike, shoe, glove, coat to fit every age and gender and occasion.

24. As a friend said, she used to be impressed with me but after the Duggars, not so much.

23. Can mess with people's heads by adding additional baby pictures of brother's and brother in law's children in office without telling anyone.

22. When I call for volunteers, no one else can say..."I'm too busy."

21. No one asks me to co-op babysit. No one tries to take advantage of my being a SAHM for free babysitting either. (It used to happen).

20. Always get the HOV lane.

19. Exiting Car is an event.

18. When we dress the same, (all ND jerseys, all 4th of July) it's an instant parade.

17. Easy to cook for a Church Dinner or Event, used to feeding a crowd.

16. Insta-clod spotter, the person who asks, "So...you gonna have any more?" or any variant thereof.

15. Size of family makes people underestimate our brains.

14. No fights over names of children, we got all our favorites in there.

13. You ONLY Have HOW MANY?

12. Statistically, one of these guys should strike it rich.

11. Gene pool Standard deviation has been skewed in our favor.

10. Fifth one at Catholic School is free. Right? Right?

9. Never have to worry about being corrupted by too much wealth or material things.

8. Can rationalize messy house based on sheer numbers. It was messy before we got to nine, but now I can justify it.

7. Shrunk in the wash, no problem, it will fit.....insert child's name here.

6. Eight months out of the year, we get birthday cake.

5. Easy to teach children how to count to ten.

4. Fun watching people try to test their long term memory listing all our children's names.

3. Can identify recessive genes easily.

2. Every time we go to the shoe store, we get a free pair.

1. Said we'd accept children lovingly from God. God took us seriously.

AND the real statement I always fall back on when asked about our family and its obvious large size, "It's no sacrifice to be surrounded by people that love us."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009



Shared via AddThis

The New Line up of Television Shows inspired this post. I started with a comment and well, it blossomed from there.

Not So New News

By now the news is not new. ABC is setting up shop in the White House to produce its daily dose of cheerleading for the sitting President and his party. So the question must be asked, by the networks that have not been chosen. “What exactly does a network have to do to get a primo spot like that around here?” It’s not like CBS, NBC, MSNBC, and CNN weren’t swooning at the commander in chief’s every utterance.

Keith Olberman commiserated with Chris Matthews over sample Prozacs and a few stiff drinks. “I felt the thrill; I would have felt it every night for him.” He sobbed into his double martini. “I still do man…”Keith was sticking to the harder stuff and working on a way to blame Bush or Sarah Palin for the journalistic coup using Twitter. “How can I convey the level of incompetency and my complete loathing in only 140 characters? It’s not enough even for a haiku!”

The Newsweek editor Evan Thomas was spotted wondering the halls of his office building in shock. “I believed. Didn’t I believe enough? D’oh. It was that “sort of” hesitation. I should have just declared him god and been done with it. Doubt. That was my downfall. He found my lack of faith disturbing.”

So ABC’s Charlie Gibson shall deliver the nightly news from the blue room. But let’s call this show what it really is, the ultimate reality television survivor show minus annoying television host, Jeff Probst. Coming soon, “O-44-24” because Jack Bauer isn’t man enough for the job, there’s the President. Seven days a week, three hundred and sixty five days a year, every second of every day, we’ll cover him so you too can appreciate the profound historic nature of his every breath, his every thought, his every pondering moment.

Watch as the President goes to a soccer game. (Gasp!) As he orders burgers. (Sigh). As he puts his feet up on the desk to make phone calls. (This is presidential; this is what it is all about). As he swats a fly with ninja type accuracy and his cat like reflexes! And for sweeps week, Date Night! And a bonus trip abroad to some place where he and his family can kick back and relax, maybe take that shirt off to show how buff he is.

Does anyone think that there wouldn’t be a mass media revolt if Fox News had set up shop inside the Bush Oval Office? Does anyone not think they would have declared it a puppet media mouthpiece of the President? Does anyone not think that every left wing/liberal would be excoriating the blogosphere and airways about the inherent unsavory relationship between the press and the people in power if this had taken place? They would have been right to do so, but they are not squawking now because the parrots of ABC shall repeat what they believe and what the Administration wants us to hear, all in the name of access and transparency.

But it’s not too late. The other networks could come up with something even better. There must be a way to prove themselves greater toadies than the American Broadcasting Company.

So here’s my proposal. Don’t even say any news. Don’t air any programs. Just line up the stars to offer their lauds to our current president every hour, all day and all night long, until everyone, men, women and children, dogs and cats, birds and worms, all manner of bacterial life start to chant over and over again, “Obama Rocks.”

During the commercials for movies no one watches and cars no one buys, have a rolling screed along the bottom, “Obama is good. Obama is Great. We Love Him. We Love Him More than ABC. We Love Him more than our spouses, our offspring and our dogs.”

Then, we can call Jeff Probst to conduct the ultimate survivor series over the course of a single year. “Which Media Outlet Loves Him Most.” Losers get voted out into the island of Bermuda where they can suffer being marooned on a tropical island that most people pay good money to go visit.

Why I Still Need to Lose 15 Pounds

I have two adolescent girls. One who has begun her cycle, and one who is just learning about it. Both are decidedly repulsed by these changes in their bodies. When the first one started having to wear a training bra, she couldn’t bring herself to say the word. So when she finally needed more, she came to me and said, “Mom, I need more of those….” and she looked pained as she surveyed the room to be sure no one else could possibly know what she was talking about, “Things!”

Her sister just finished the school orientation on the issues that surround becoming a teenage girl, but I’d already given her a primer. So she was especially irritated to be subjected to information she already knew, and then to be given a bag of samples, well that was almost too much. She got into the car first to be able to hand me the plastic sack that said “Just For Girls” and then scurried to the rear row in the van to essentially hide from it. Her sister grabbed the front seat, saw the bag and said, “I’m Still having it!” with a moan. It had only been two days. She took the bag, looked at it in annoyance and frisbeed it to the far back.

Then the third daughter who is only in first grade and a newly fluent reader got into the car. She’s also very compassionate and empathetic so she immediately registered her sister’s unhappiness but not the source. “Why is she upset?”

This produced a clam like response from both older girls. She spied the bag. “What’s in the bag?” Now the middle girl could only snatch it and say, “That’s mine.” With a sulk. Of course, this made the third child cry. “Why can’t I have it? It says just for girls and I’m a girl. You never share anything. You’re just mean.” The oldest girl tried to explain without explaining. “It’s something for Older girls.” She gave me a look of satisfied “I took care of it.” But then the boys got in the car. The oldest son was annoyed that he couldn’t have the front seat so he sat in the middle but turned towards the angry sulking ones in the back and asked, “what’s wrong?” They both pointed to the bag and he turned very red and became a silent stone, giving me pleading “ Please rescue me” looks in the rear view mirror.

The other son who was being picked up, is my instigator. He got in, sensed the tension and asked the youngest and most apt to tell everything, “What’s wrong?” She started her crying rant anew. “That bag says Just for Girls and I’m a girl and I’m older, I’m not a baby and she should share and they never let me have anything.”

So he said, “You’re not older. You’re not older. I’m older. You’re not.”

It was at this point that I had to decide. How to address this problem. I got out of the car. I got THE bag. I took it to THE trash. I then got back in the car. The faces were swollen, puffy, sulky, scared and embarrassed. It was the b-list of Snow White’s dwarves. The toddlers, baby and my one five year old mercifully had fallen asleep in the car ride to the school for pick up. There was only one thing to do.

“Who wants ice cream?”

Sunday, June 14, 2009


It is a well established fact amongst parents that children don’t so much grow as they reach a new evolutionary stage in development. One day, she was ten, the next, she became an adolescent. The same holds true for younger beings of the human race. My daughter who has ever been the silent, shy and reserved type, watching what everyone else did before plunging into the fray, has made a severe gear shift in cognitive development.

The first sign: My eleven year old daughter plays softball, but she loves to come over and pick up either her baby brother or toddler sister to show off to her teammates. One of the girls bounded over to say “hi.” And my toddler withdrew a bit into her sister’s arms. “She’s very quiet.” My daughter explained by way of an apology. Then, a decidedly unfamiliar voice said, “I’m not quiet.”

The Second Sign: It was a hot sticky day so I handed out retro water guns, the type that only send a thin stream at one, the kind that won’t cause the middle children to sob if they get hit. Even Mom had a pistol. My toddler reached up with her hands, “Annh. Annh.” Amused, I gave her my gun.

She gritted her teeth in a fixed smile, her eyes shined. She held the gun, squirted it at me and said, with perfect clarity, “Die Mom.”

The Third Sign: Now, I’m no rookie mom. The scribbles on the wall at her eye level were a dead give away. This child was now officially embracing her “twoness.” Still, she wanted everyone to be clear on the matter. And so it was that while Mommy was busy feeding the baby, She who was once the sphinx, who once could be given cursory scans to verify safety and good behavior, decided that she would cook today.

She got out a pan. She got out the eggs from the second fridge. It was masked by a collaborative toddler who brought me a diet coke. “Why thank you…how thoughtful.” And they’re thinking….sap. To their credit, there were no shells in the bowl with the eggs, and they did work at the dining room table, and they did wash their hands. Having four eggs cracked, what's a Mom to do? We made a cake.

So when my older toddler knocked on the door this morning and said, “Mom, what’s that red stuff?”

And I muttered from my sleepy stupor, “What red stuff?”
And she said, “You know, red stuff you put on your lips to look pretty.”
I asked why.

“Because it’s in her crib, she’s putting it on.” I was wide awake and scaling the stairs three at a time. It turned out to be a false alarm, as my other toddler then grinned at me from the base of the stairs, holding my purse, but it could not be considered inplausible after the egg incident.

But the definitive sign, was we took her to mass. Now normally, we go in the early morning, trying to get a jump on the day and get them through the process before they’re fully awake enough to give us trouble, but today, we went to the Saturday night vigil.

Never again.

She who never spoke, giggled and enjoyed the unique acoustics of our building, allowing her laughter to echo across the Church walls. She who never was any trouble anywhere, spent the whole mass being a pretzel, a monkey and a popcorn bag in the microwave. She flopped, she lifted her legs in the air, she ran all around the back. She pretended to weigh 5000 pounds, to have no bones and to be a mountain climber on the statue in the back. She pulled open my shirt and asked, “What’s in there?”

We normally give children a grade on mass, something between a 1 and a 4 Star rating. Negative numbers were discussed. But then, she came and gave my face an earnest searching gaze and a gentle kiss on the cheek. What grade could I give such a cherub?

The same grade I give all my 24-35 month children;


Friday, June 12, 2009

Kobayashi Maru Test

For those unfamiliar with the title reference, Captain Kirk didn't believe in a "no win" senario. As I recall, regardless of the interpretation, be it Gene Roddenbery or Abrams' James Tiberius Kirk, the lad did not spend much time raising toddlers.

Hence, he never had to cope with how to give a redirection without inciting further incidents. Saying "Don't throw the powdered sugar." will probably elicit the exact behavior I want to avoid. Leaping over the island to grab the box as it begins to be wound up for the pitch by the toddler is likely to result in my getting coated with my kids' favorite French Toast condiment. Pig Latin takes too long for the older ones to translate. So that no uncoded messages over open channels bit won't work for me.

But I know what you're thinking. Why is the kid throwing the sugar? It's not ADHD. It's not a sugar rush either, that's what I'm seeking to prevent. Regrettably, it's pure logic.

The sugar you see, looks like snow. The toddler, she likes, no, loves snow. Specifically, she loves snow balls. "What's this? Snow in a box?" You see where this is going. Now powdered sugar does not pack as well as the real white stuff, but when you're eating French Toast, there's likely to be a bit of butter to use as a means of creating a decent sized lump.

"Would you like some syrup instead?" I try diversionary tactics. She agrees. So I breathe a sigh of relief as I cut up her dinner and add the desired maple goodness. I think, "I've won." The meal continues, the prospect of a floor full of sugar having been abated.

Then I see my five year old son, and without thinking, I say, "Don't lick your toast like a dog." and suddenly, there are four barking dogs at my table, licking the powdered sugar off their breakfast for dinner. Why subsequently saying, "Use a fork, knock it off!" doesn't result in similar copying, I don't know. The children yipped and wolfed down their dinner and I felt like the conversation had gone to the dogs. I was left wondering if I should have let the kid throw her sugar snow ball.

Maybe I'll have to get Kirk to come reprogram the senario so I can win.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sherry's Catholic Rant

We just got cable and high speed internet and I feel harrassed. There are now 400+ channels on two televisions that I have to watchdog, and three computers that need supervision. Ack.

So I'm tired, and after reading about how the Boston Catholic hospitals are going via a collaboration, allow for abortions and sterilizations, I'm feeling testy. http://www.americanpapist.com/2009/06/boston-archdiocese-affiliate-health.html

Fair warning.

How did we get to this point?

Because of Catholics like Kmiec and Sebelius and Kerry and Pelosi and Biden. Their error is compounded by their prominent status in public life. Their misstatements and willing complicitness in furthering the forces that favor abortion and its ugly relatives of birth control, sterilization and contraception that divorce the great power and beauty of sex from its purpose and nature bring whole families to nothingness and all without apparent culpability.

So I like the new Shepherd of Saint Louis. And he understands that denying communion is making whoever is denied face the reality of their own faulty moral living/moral reasoning to believe that they are in communion when they are not. It happens. We do fall into error, and correction is how we find our way back. Love requires that sometimes we be firm, especially when the matters are of moral significance. If you wish to experience the Eucharist, be in communion with your whole heart and not just the part that wants what it wants, the comfort of the bread of Jesus' words, without the requirement that they be applied to one's actual life, the body. It is correction, not bullying.

Intimidation is the tactic of the enemy, who wants us at each other, who wants us denying Christ in each other in all things. We may create a society that feeds the hungry, cures the sick, cares for the orphans and shepherds the Earth. But all of these acts shall be dust if they are not the reflection of love, of Christ. If you've ever met a bitter teacher or a burnt out nurse, you understand how what once was a joy and a beauty and a gift, has become a distorted awful shadow of its former self. This is what we head towards when we think that the service trumps the motive, or the motive trumps the service.

The former leads to jaded cynics who perform the acts without heart, and the later to fanatics who despair and either forfiet their values or dwell steeped in perpetual self righteous anger. We are Catholics, it is not random that our most Blessed Sacrament is the Eucharist, and that all our sacraments focus on furthering the Communion of the soul to its Creator.

Given the recent events, the media has suggested that pro-lifers tone down the rhetoric. That we should use fair minded words.

So tell me, if we go out to the desert and whisper into a muffled room that has no outside access, "Abortion is wrong." would that be okay or is that too inflamatory? Because we wouldn't want to be intimidating. What about that "Silence=Death" slogan that was real popular a few years back, didn't you guys mean that? Isn't that still true? And so pro-life causes are linked to the awfulness of the murder of a man who committed awful acts, and we are equally censured for praying outside of places where these acts occurr, or for daring to speak our opinion in the political arena. You can be Catholic, just don't act like one or talk like one. How then do we witness?

Do we witness by imitating our esteemed academia? Like Notre Dame? or Georgetown?

Catholic Universities and politicians never asks the less faithful to understand the other side, arguably, what should be, their own side. No other faith as practiced by it's argued intelligencia seems determined to give all manner of deference to everyone else except, those in their own church who follow the Church's prescribed teachings. We too, are not in communion as we ought to be. There is a broken quality to our fellowship in the Church. I guess these broken elements, these must be where the nail prints are in the Body of Christ. We see the holes. We cannot help but wince.

The fact is we all need our Savior, and He is Christ, and none other.

I don't remember Jesus saying, "Blessed are the open minded or Blessed are the reasonable. Rationality above all, is key."

Catholics are not Vulcans.

We're supposed to love beyond reason. We're supposed to surrender all to Christ. We're supposed to use our minds and our bodies and our hearts to reflect God's love to others, by our modesty, by our humility, by our passion, by our charity, by our kindness, by our clarity, by our truthfulness, by our good counsel, by our good actions and by our whole way of relating to others in all things.

That's not reasonable. That's Radical.

And it was so frightening that the Romans threw those who believed it to the lions for entertainment. It is so frightening, it was persecuted in Russia and is outlawed in China. The radical concept that God wants communion with us, goes in the face of a State that seeks to define all members within it by their contributions, status and fidelity and seeks to be all things in God's stead. We all know, relationships require something of us, and the ultimate relationship requires all from us. Communion.

Pray for all of us in this damnable mess, only the healing power of Christ via the Eucharist, only His Mercy can make us whole and holy.

We now return you to your more reasonable and funnier blog. This has been a Sherry Catholic Rant.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

President Wikipedia

In blogging, you never know what will resonate, but you keep throwing things out there, hoping that something will catch people's attention and tickle their hearts or move them. Sometimes, you lavish time over a piece, crafting it to your own perception of perfection. No hits. No interest. In blogging as in life, you can pitch what you perceive as a perfect game and still lose. But once one attains viral attention, it's hard to lose that hold on the public. Perception trumps reality.

And so it is, that we can have amazing deficit spending, high unemployment, stagnant house sales, declining 401k's, lost jobs, lost opportunities, and homes that are underwater, owing more than the mortgage demands, but according to the editor of Newsweek, the President is sort of God.

We've seen Brian Williams bowing to the Commander in Chief. We've heard about tinglies in the leg. We've seen women faint and men gasp with shock and awe at his presence. He's historic; he's beyond Jefferson, JFK, Martin Luther King, Lincoln and the Roosevelt’s historic. And yet, everything that was before him is prequel. We shall have the P.B.O. (Pre-you know who) era, with the new chronology beginning with 2009.

He's the first athiest president, and the most religious but ecumenical, understanding nuance in a way that men who confine themselves to one practice of faith Can't be.

He's metro-sexual, he takes off his shirt when he swims and has a date night. He's hot. He's cool. He's like jazz that everyone likes and knows, but that isn't so overly familiar as to be pedestrian. He can spend more money than we ever have before, percentage wise or absolutely, and then preach that we must become more fiscally responsible. What can't this man say or do?

He can preach at Notre Dame and the University of Cairo. He can claim we're not a nation of Christians and be understood to mean we're bigger than just one orientation of faith, and we're a nation of Muslims and be known to be talking to a specific audience about the lack of citation of the gifts and contributions of Islam.

Pointing out any over glossing or exaggeration about anything historical or factual is just pettiness, partisan or envy. You shouldn't do that you know; it's not good for you.

And so we waft along sipping our overpriced Grande Starbucks coffee, knowing we can't afford it, enjoying how cool we look for having it, and fiercely resisting and resenting any attempt to point out, "It's just coffee in a paper cup."

Because we have our President, our emotional teleprompter, who shall tell us when to get up and when to sleep, how much to work and what to eat, what to drive, how much we should earn and how we should live, so that one day, maybe, we might ...well wait a minute..He’s never said what the reward was for doing all this stuff.

Think maybe we should ask?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Top Ten Red Shirted Ensigns Rejected Mottos

My son is done with school, and currently searching for a job. As such, he has time on his hand and I am subjected to conversations that I must admit, I would have found fascinating when I was sixteen, but then I was a nerd back when nerd meant shunned personally.

“Hey Mom?”

“Did you ever wonder what the motto would be of the red shirted ensigns in Star Trek?”

“I mean, how about a blog entry with the top ten rejected ones. What do you think?”

“Come on Mom, it would be cool. Didn’t you like Star Trek in high school?”
“Actually? No. In fact, I told one girl I thought Star Trek was dumb and she threatened to beat me up unless I took it back.”

“Yes. She got really mad when I said it was boring, and proceeded to tell me line by line the one about the tribbles."

"So when did you become a fan?"

"I only saw Wrath of Khan when I got to college and your Dad then took me. I didn't want to go. But you hang around with a person who loves it and eventually, you go and see III and IV, and just when you're getting into it, the ever lame almost killed everything V. The “What does God want with a Star Ship?” to which I answer, “To get the heck out of this movie as fast as possible.” Who wants that on their resume, Alien who pretends to be God in Star Trek 5?”

“Someone who used to be a red shirted ensign?”
“Good point.”

"By that point, I was invested so I forgave them when Undiscovered Country rolled out."

So without further adieu…
Rejected Slogans of the Loyal and Extremely Mortal, Red Shirted Ensigns

10) We never die the same way twice!

9) I’ll go first.

8) To advance the plot and fill one.

7) Aieeeeeeeeee!

6) The Life Insurance Policy for Star Fleet really kicks.

5) Maybe I’ll be the exception to the rule.

4) I’m with the captain -->

3) Are you sure the phaser is set on Stun?

2) Too Good at Target Practice to be a Storm Trooper

1) RSE’s, Ready to die so you won’t have to.

Special love to "Not Named Jeffy" for the Post and several of the Mottos.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The American Milky Way

The economy affects us all.

In a family of 11, there are limitations on resources like milk. Our refrigerator can only hold so many gallons, especially when you add other needed items like meat, butter, vegetables and adult liquid fuel also known as diet coke. In the past, we just used what we had and rotated for meals, orange juice for breakfast, milk for lunch, juice or water or milk for dinner. But one of my children loved whole milk, and as such, she requested we purchase a separate gallon for her.

Another daughter suffered from a slight skin allergy and requested soymilk instead. Both requests were accommodated. Then a child decided that while he didn’t mind skim, whole milk was too thick and could he please have 2%? Things were getting out of hand until the parents in a fit of frustration designated individual gallons of la leche for each child.

“When you run out of this, you are out for the week.” We announced as we loaded up the refrigerator. And then things got a bit crazy.

Some contested that cereal milk should come from the general stock, used for cooking and providing protein and calcium to the non school going crowd on a daily basis in the form of a beverage. Others lectured “to thy own stock be pure.” But kids figured out pretty quickly, once the common stock milk was poured into the cereal bowl, it couldn’t be taken back, and thus the purists abandoned their position until Mom began raiding their stock.

When people began to hold to only their gallons, there were ants and there were grasshoppers, which resulted in over the breakfast counter deals. “I’ll trade you a glass of milk for two cookies.” Such things I could tolerate, but then came the milk miser. One child in particular, nursed her milk by drinking water the first three days of the week so she could smugly make milk shakes every afternoon in front of the rest. This was the same child that hadn’t finished her Easter bunny by Memorial Day, but I took care of that problem personally.

We tried labeling the milks to mitigate milk disputes. “Remember, some milks look alike so remember to check the label before pouring.” We tried buying different brands. “Mine’s the CVS brand, yours is Lucerne…see?”

And then one time, the general stock went dry. “I’m making muffins and need a half cup, any donors?” No one was feeling charitable milk wise. I used water and the kids complained that the breakfast tasted a bit off. The next time, I used an equal measure from each person’s milk, which brought complaints when some had more to start. “This is America.” One of them argued. “You should do a progressive tax of the milk.”

I responded, “We’re Republicans. I’m doing a flat tax.” The voter left disgruntled but admitted the muffins tasted better.

Then there was the spilled milk incident…and from the hoarder no less. Talk about genuine sorrow, and subsequent glee from those who had watched her sip her chocolate shakes so smugly. I was about to intervene with my own version of the stimulus package when the kids took pity on her and pooled their resources to replenish her stock. In response to such generosity, she promised the following week to share in the shakes come Friday.

I thought we had turned the corner.

Then the milk black market started up over breakfast, and enterprising capitalists were charging premium dollars for moomoo juice and measuring it out in fluid ounces. They were shaking down a five year old. I exercised parental fiat power to declare a dairy detaunte.

“We are a family! Milk is a common use product, like toilet paper, bread, air conditioning, the computer, the television, the laundry machines and the furniture of this house. Everyone gets it. Everyone uses it. The milk is for the greater good of the whole family, ergo, as far as food is concerned, this is a communist state. Being the mother, I am the state, and I shall distribute the milk, it to each according to his or her needs.”

“But Mom, we’re Republicans!”

I produced the powdered chocolate Quick mix. “I will sweeten the deal.” They lined up. Pouring each a drink and creating a sense of peace, Motherland has spoken, and sometimes, it’s good to be the State.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

If I Flunk Summer, It Won't be for Lack of Effort!

Every year, I take my kids out to lunch at the beginning of June and we make a list. It’s an ambitious selection of activities, some of which we hope to accomplish in the 90 days that seem to stretch out before us with endless tantalizing possibilities on that last day of school. We usually have pick berries, baseball, cook out, camping, amusement park and go to the movies, along with more excentric possibilities like the Circus, salt water fishing, flying somewhere, and horseback riding.

Last week was Memorial Day, the official start of summer.

We spent that long weekend in the hospital. This week, we’ve upped the ante by paying a visit to the department of Motor Vehicles two days in a row, followed by a physical for two of the girls and a protracted stay on hold for the Cable guy, the phone company and the rescheduling of a doctors’ appointment I had to cancel from the week before. In a determined effort to make time stand still, next week I’ll be attempting to organize back to back oil changes for our two cars, read governmentese for some hired work and suffering through my middle son’s root canal.

These joyous activities shall be followed by reorganizing the shelving in the back basement, cleaning out the garage and shepherding my five school attending children through the tedium of a daily math and reading activities. But it isn’t all drudgery, I have a doctor’s appointment first thing in July, and that’s when we should order school books. I wondered if I had stepped into an anti-summer zone, such that I was attempting to fill months usually reserved for reading comic books and drinking lemonade with obligatory studies of statistical analysis and the mandatory eating of a daily grapefruit.

I started considering my summer, and with the prospects of having to repair an air conditioner, my oldest not yet driving but having a job and the recalcitrance of my toddlers with respect to toilet training, the dog days of this year looked like they'd take seven years each.

When did I surrender my soul to the powers that be for the pat on the back for subsisting on broccoli and water from the tap? When did I trade in being the drummer on Rock Band for the docile reward of keeping all the lamp fixtures dust free and well lit? I thought about the dental appointments I needed to make, the bills, the heat and the dullness that seemed not only pervasive but imbedded, I wondered how to shake it. The very nature of all the things that needed to be done, seemed to pile upon each other in a daunting fashion, with tendrils wrapping around all other activities. I felt as though, even if I ordered a snowcone, it would come in the flavor of dutiful novacaine or over cooked vegetables.

It was time to shake things up. I grabbed a CD and cranked up the ABBA.

“Hey Mom, what’s for dinner?” my teen mouthed as he walked upstairs to the kitchen to find a dancing queen mama and three toddlers showing they could jive.

“I don’t know, I’m thinking get everyone in the car and we’ll get shakes.”
“But that’s not dinner.”

“It is today.”

Carpe Diem, or at least Summer!

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!