Saturday, May 29, 2010

Our Summer List

Every year at the end of school, we make a list of 100 things we hope to do during the summer.  It is by no means exclusive or mandatory, but it does get posted on the fridge so we never have a day where someone can say, "I'm bored." because there is always something on the list we can do.  Besides, if they do utter those two words, they know it is instant KP, laundry, toilet scrubbing duty. 

Here's our summer list.

1. Swimming lessons
2. Berry picking
3. Go to the Library
4. Cook out on the grill often.
5. Camping
6. Go to the park
7. Ice cream from a truck
8. Read comic books all day long.
9. Baseball games, Nats and O's.
10. Go to the beach.
11. Visit both sets of Grandparents.
12. Drive in Movie.
13. Visit Civil War Battle grounds.
14. Zoo.
15. Visit 2 colleges for oldest.
16. Go to a Waterpark.
17.  Firecrackers
18. Fireflies
19. Swimming, swimming and more swimming.
20. Train for track (that's a high schooler) The rest of us will either ride bikes or skates or some such.
21. Visit historic places we haven't been.
22. Driving lessons
23. Summer Band Camp
24. Sleep over with friends
25. Potty train 3 year old. (I have to dream).
26. read 100 books. (We put this on our list every year).
27. Go to a summer concert.
28.  Put on a summer concert.
29.  Date night once a week.
30. Game day any day it rains.  (all cards, monopoly, magic, no screens).
31. Grow lots of tomatoes
32.  Trampolines
33. Going to an amusement park or fair.
34. Riding a horse.
35. Staring at the stars and seeing a meteor shower or falling stars.
36. Lemonade stand
37. Play capture the flag.
38. Watermelon
39.  Ice Cream.
40. Tour Washington DC
41. Paddle boats.
42. Feed the ducks
43. Go Fishing.
44.  Sunbathe with no discernable stopping point.
45.  See a play.
46. Paint the deck.
47. Make a scrapbook.
48. Watergun fight.
49. Throw a party.
50.  Petting zoo.
51. Visit a farm.
52.  Make jam.
53.  Learn to sew or knit or some craft involving thread/needles.
54. Cartwheels and hand stands.
55. Card castles.
56. Milkshakes at the park.
57. Aquarium.
58. Basketball camp.
59. Learn to skate.
60. Chalk drawings
61. Bubbles.
62. Remote control planes and cars.
63. Wiffleball league.
64. Skateboarding
65. Paint toenails.
66. Canoeing
67. Sandcastles.
68. Hiking.
69. Smores
70. Singalong
71. Move to medium level of drums on Rockband.
72. Teach middles to read, do multiplication tables more fluidly
73.  Write letters once a week to someone.  (At camp, we had to write once a week a chicken letter to get lunch on Sunday which was fried chicken, so I'm going to have icecream letters on Sunday, same deal).
74. Daytrips to Shenandoah, Annapolis, Leesburg.
75. Art Day.
76. Do Summer workbooks M-F so they don't drive us crazy come August.
77. Celebrate 20th anniversary, make kids watch wedding tape.
78. Family Reunion in Tennessee.
79. Visit one of the places profiled in Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.  Itching to try a C.M.P. over in Baltimore.
80. Tripple A Ballparks once a month.
81. Cook Brisket all day long.
82. Playgroup for toddlers once a week.
83. Find jobs either paying or volunteer for oldest two.
84. Work on Helen book.
85. Invite friends to come over once a week.
86. Learn a piece of music a month on the piano
87.  Start to learn Guitar.
88. Sleep in.
89. Exercise every day somehow.
90. Pillow fight.
91. Blow dandelions.
92. Catch tadpoles or frogs.
93. Collect rocks.
94. Build fort.
95. Frisbee
96. putt putt golf.
97. Dance
98. Ride a rollercoaster.
99. Do nothing all day.
100.  Get text books and school uniforms for school (incoming freshman is very excited).

Have a great Summer!  I can't wait to get started.  Think I'll begin with 99.

Friday, May 28, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday

1. My favorite moment of the mass is right after Communion.  In that quiet, I know that all of us have stories, have crosses big and small that gnaw at the heart and make even the simplest things difficult. But we are all here, and all of us are offering all our sorrows, joys, hopes and triumphs and tragedies in that quiet moment before Christ, and being  fully aware of having Christ within us. 

2. My son finished school this week, and my daughter finished her exams.  For my oldest two, summer has officially begun. Time to sign them up for outside of the house jobs.

3.  Swimming lessons.  I think the woman at the aquatic center nearly quit but we got five kids signed up for the same time, all in different level swimming.  The sixth one is only 3 so I'm going to have us go to the pool for two hours prior to the lessons so she gets her water fix twice a week.   It should be fun.

4.  On my nightstand: Eat, Pray, Love.  So far, not too excited by it.   Sparta.  Yeah, I like it more than one  probably should.   Also hoping to throw myself into reading Blessings and the Bee Keeper's Daughter. 

5.  Phineas and Ferb have made it popular but before the cartoon, my kids and I had a tradition which we will still hold this summer.  We make a list of 100 things we hope to do over June, July and August.  We post it on the refrigerator and check off as we go, and add in as we find new things to do.   I highly recommend it. 

6. There are three things I require of my children's teachers; that they care about the outcomes of their students, that they come prepared to convey material and meaning to the kids, and that they hold the children accountable for their actions or inactions because  the real world commercial, social, economic, political, cultural and spiritual will.  

I thank God for teachers my kids say are "hard" because they assign homework, grade it and give it back with corrections.  I thank God for teachers that give my kids the grades they earn and demand my children turn in their best efforts even if the efforts reveal a lack of understanding.  I thank God they care enough to assign projects and posters and book reports, all things that cause my kids to groan, and to grow. 

We are coming to the end of another school year, and knowing how much I hate homework and how hard it is for me to get kids to get through it, I love these men and women for being willing to take it day after day.  I love my kids and some days it's a battle royale to get started on homework, but they walk into the lions den everyday to demand more.  

So Thank you!

Have a great weekend and remember those who walk in harms way and have since the beginning of our Country, so we could have all this lavish freedom, all these opportunities, all the gifts our society rains on its people.     


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Rock On Mom!

It's Small Success Thursday over at Family and Faith!  I'd almost stopped doing this exercise if only because it meant, I cut back on actual writing when giving these updates. But I promised myself that I would write a piece first and then do the update --and so, you get Cramming for Next Time and the Thursday Small Success's blurb.  Lucky you. 

This week I: 

1) received an email from a publisher regarding an inquiry I wrote several months ago about a potential book.  (I'm now overwhelmed that I ever thought about doing this).  What was I thinking?  Why did I think that I could do this? 

2) exercised 4 days.  I blew off yesterday or it could have been 5.  Starting over again today.

3) went to the May Crowning at my kids' school.

4) Threw out six big things that were broken.  Ha!

5) Am potty training 3 year old.  She at least sits once a day.  That in my mind, counts big time.

6) Paul took a side step this past weekend. He also started nodding yes and no. 

Have a small success or a big one?  Go share at Family and Faith Live!

Cramming for the Next Time

Yesterday, I couldn't help my 4th grade son resolve a word problem.  Now granted, it was on fractions and it was a word problem, but I have to admit, I thought I'd still be something of an asset at least until actual middle school.  

My older children long since lapped me in academics.  They're doing cool down runs around the track and waving me bravely on as I try to just finish the assignments. They've been very supportive but they don't ask me for help anymore.

But I'm not going down without a fight.  I'm not ready to resign myself to 3rd grade and down just yet.  So last night after I had to surrender to my oldest son as the tutor for the fractions, I took out the Handy Book of Space Answers, Everything You Ever Needed To Know about History, and my statistics book from graduate school. All three are subjects I completely stink at, and avoided as much as possible when they were actually required.

Effective immediately, I will assign myself 20 minutes of one of the three every night before bed, sort of like intellectual calisthenics. I predict my occasional bouts of insomnia shall soon be a permanent thing of the distant past.

In the meantime, I hear my son's teacher for first grade is beefing up her curriculum so I'm boning up on fractions, phonics and Venn Diagrams. 

P.S. If you are curious, the question that stumped me is: A pet store has 1/3 dogs, 1/6 cats and 19 other pets.  How many animals are in the pet store?  Yeah. I know how to do it now. 

My return question: A mom has a brain.  1/3 is allotted to remembering children and their schedules.  1/6 handles autonomic functions.  19 other separate urgent fields of important stuff like what's for dinner, what I need to do today, the courage to practice driving with my son, how to potty train the 3 year old and when the bills are due.  How many slots of memory are left to fill with 4th grade math recall and will I still have space to remember where I put my purse if I relearn this stuff?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Some Day, I'll Eat in the Dining Room

It is May 21st and I realized, I have not eaten in my dining room since Christmas and not because we haven't had celebrations or because we haven't eaten. 

Some time between December 26th and today, my dining room table was commandeered to house decorations and cards and the Christmas loot that had yet to be carried off to children's rooms, lost or broken.  That situation lasted about two weeks until school started back up when kids then began using the formal table as a spot to map out projects and leave book bags, papers to sign and sort magic cards for the complex decks they were crafting for tournaments for their dad. 

It then became the resting place for the tree, lights and ornaments because while I'd packed them up by myself, I absolutely refused to carry the stuff down.  I had visions of tripping sending countless ornaments cascading down the stairs shattering and I just vowed I would not do it.  I had enough strong backs that this type of wife/parent potential martyrdom was unnecessary.

Another month passed.  The Blizzard hit, and the dining room became coat, hat, scarf and mitten central, along with a decorative laundry basket filled with shoes.  I didn't have the heart to ask people who had shoveled for a week straight to exhaust themselves yet again so I didn't bring it up. Then valentine projects consumed the room, followed by several projects including a giant clay hot dog, a report on thunderstorms, multiple practice quizzes of multiplication and the state capitals and the tax documentation. Our accountant said the printed enlarged photos of the giant hot dog weren't deductible. 

The Christmas decorations also mind you, were still in their packed boxes in the dining room.  Having pointed out that we were past Ash Wednesday, I proclaimed that all stuff from Advent must be properly stored before Easter could occurr.   Everyone laughed.  Two more weeks passed.

As a kid, it was always a big deal to eat in the dining room. You had to mature to be able to be granted access. Otherwise, you were on the card kid table on special event days. The dining room was sort of off limits to the chaos of childhood. Everyone knew this. But my home seems to have no verboten places; childhood permeates everything which is why I find magic cards in my bathroom when I'm brushing my teeth.

Then, one fateful evening, we were playing hide and seek and my toddler daughter was hiding behind the box with the artificial tree but she was carrying a sippy cup that split open.  The threat of orange juice making everything a mess resulted in a massive movement to get the stuff downstairs.  If I'd have known, I'd have spilled juice myself much earlier in the calendar year. 

But nature abhores a vacumn and thus my kids promptly stocked the table and room with their backpacks and musical instruments.  Easter hit but we'd cooked on the grill and so we ate in the kitchen to allow the grilled lamb and bunny chocolate to be eaten with little lag time.  Baskets were dumped on the dining room table.  The rest of April was filled with softball equipment for the start of the season and the obligatory essays for various last chance to grill you assignments in chemistry, history and social studies and a second wave of magic card decks plus a stack of comics bought with birthday money.  We got to May.  I thought we'd manage by First Communion, but with the SAT that weekend, we were barely able to manage dinner. 

So yesterday, I cleared everything off.  I didn't say anything.  My youngest daughter was the first to notice and immediately sat down to begin drawing.  "On paper!  On paper!  On Paper!"  I insisted and grabbed a cloth to wipe up the damage.  Two other children, similarly inspired, grabbed the art box and began a massive project on the now Tabula Rasa.  But I cleared it off again.  I promised myself, with God as my witness, I'd make it so we could eat at that table again.  That night, when I came back from a quick errand to get milk, I found my children eating dinner my oldest son had cooked on the grill.  The dining room was bare and clean. There were chairs. Our kitchen table was covered with comic books and magic cards and homework and the art box and papers and brushes. 

Guess where the kids were seated?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Small Success Thursday

1.  It almost didn't happen and not because she wasn't ready or prepared. Her dress was beautiful. She was beautiful.  We were all ready to go, we had a babysitter and the pizza had arrived and even the two draftee volunteer altar servers were even moving at the right speed to be there on time for when the DRE wanted us to be at the Church.  Getting into the car, the zipper completely split.  After managing to jam it back up, we got in the car.  But halfway there, she began considering what had happened.  "I can't do it Mom."  Now my normal default setting is grit your teeth and tough it out but I'd fixed the split. I'd seen how bad it could be.  I didn't want my daughter's memory of her Confirmation to be one of humiliation, nor did  I want her to spend the whole evening worrying about her dress. 

I offered to stop at the mall, run into the store where we bought it and grab a same dress and worry about the return later.  "No!"  I offered to let her wear my dress and I'd just wear gym scrubs and sit in the back.  "No!"  I prayed for wisdom.  "We have to at least tell them.  But we can do the bi-lingual in June."  She nodded.   Flagging down her teacher to give the news, the teacher went out to offer a shawl or a wrap to mask the potential flaw but Bonnie gave me a pleading look and I said, "I know she wants to be confirmed, but none of us want her to worry about modesty."  She got back in the car.

Driving home, she cried and I said, "I wish I could make it better."  "We'll hold a giant party after the one in June." I was grasping for anything.  We got home. She went in my room to ask for help getting changed.  "Do you want to try on any of my dresses?"  She nodded.  The purple bridesmaid dress was too big but not by much.  The black and white gown from an Inaugural Ball however, was perfect.  "Let's go Mom!" she said and marched out.  I followed.  Mass was starting in ten minutes.  "Hopefully, the candidates are following Mrs. Shelley's advice to walk slowly." she joked.  We were silent for a time.  Then she said the prayer of her patron saint, Joan of Arc. 

"In the face of your enemies, in the face of harassment, ridicule, and doubt, you held firm in your faith. Even in your abandonment, alone and without friends, you held firm in your faith. Even as you faced your own mortality, you held firm in your faith. I pray that I may be as bold in my beliefs as you, St. Joan. I ask that you ride alongside me in my own battles. Help me be mindful that what is worthwhile can be won when I persist. Help me hold firm in my faith. Help me believe in my ability to act well and wisely. Amen." 

Then she turned to me, "I've said a decade of the rosary and my prayer to Saint Joan, I'm going to be confirmed. Too bad I couldn't wear armor to be confirmed, that would have been easier."

"Saint Joan would understand." I joked back and she gave me a smile and flipped through the Cd's to put on the Eagle's "Life in the Fast Lane." We had just come to a red light.

"Not exactly music to prepare for Confirmation hon." I mentioned.

"Mom, it's not music for Confirmation, it's music to GET ME TO IT!  TURN GREEN ALREADY!" she shouted at the light.   The light turned.

"Think we'll make it?"
"Well, it is 6:08.  If they started on time, they've done the procession, maybe the servers are a bit nervous and so my brother and sister will be moving a bit slowly.  Maybe they've sung all the versus of the opening hymn and just finished the opening song." she reasoned.

I turned into the parking lot and air dropped her at the front.

Any story with a happy ending is a funny one.  She made it. She even made it in time to correct our pastor who thought she was not attending and was just announcing that she was not attending.  Confirmation happened and she looked beautiful.   My husband joked, they should tell us things start two hours before they do to allow for the things that happen to us to unfold as they always do.  "Just think about weddings."  I cracked back.  Both our hearts did somersaults at the mere thought of how fast time passes in an instant when we consider where her life was now going.  It is breathtaking to watch one's daughter grow up. But she got confirmed.  It counts!  We offered to celebrate.  She asked if we could go home so she could change into an old t-shirt and shorts and if Dad could pick up KFC for dinner.  So maybe, growing up isn't so fast after all.  I'm so glad.

2. Proof I am crazy but it's treatable because I called my sister.  Today, the day after Confirmation, my daughter has a special presentation where she's supposed to teach about one of her heritage cultures.  She chose France. She's supposed to bring a food. She asked me to make Chocolate moose.  Having ruined my first attempt this morning, I called my sister.  She's the smart one in the family.  "Sherry, go to the store. Buy Crossiants."   Going to the store after I finish this. 

3. Had a piece in the Catholic Standard today.

Have a success?  Go Share it at Family and Faith!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What is an Experience of the Holy Spirit?

It's a question that has stayed with me over the years.  What is an experience with the Holy Spirit?  My sister asked it of me when she was preparing for confirmation, 17 years ago. What she was asking was essentially, how do you know when God is using life to instruct you and offering grace if you aren't fortunate enough to see flames or begin speaking in tongues or see the Spirit descend?  How in this scientific empirical world, can we know God is with us? 

The Holy Spirit has always been to me, my closest touch to God.  When I was very young, my parents took me to a charismatic retreat.  They told me they would pray for my throat to be healed.  That weekend, I remember there being a pool and wanting to swim.  I remember my mother cleaning my tracheotomy and bandages in the hallway of our home.  She didn't tell me she had plugged me up.  It was the first time I was ever able to talk and not turn instantly blue after having the artificial airway closed.  It was a healing that hadn't happened in six years of trying until we asked once more. 

Two years later, when the tracheotomy was finally removed, my father took me to a jewelry store and bought her a golden sand dollar necklace with the date engraved on it.  He told me I could pick out anything I wanted.  There were bunnies and butterflies and flowers and hearts.  I picked a descending dove.  I still wear a replica of that medal today.

My oldest daughter is receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit on Wednesday.  And I am still seeking a means to tell her the answer to that question my sister asked of me so long ago.  It is hard to explain except in context, for the Holy Spirit is always infused into our lives, always permeating everything, always seeking to saturate our lives with the fullness of God's love.   When my sister asked this question, I farmed it out to all the people I knew who held their faith lives dear. 

The result was a collection of letters including a story by my dad about his brother who through and despite his madness, was used by the Holy Spirit to serve the hidden poor with his generosity. My Uncle loved deeply and suffered greatly but he was fun; he could take in the poor even as he was being taken in by the poor.  This man with the tattoos also put up reminder notes in the bathrooms for his brothers and sisters to pray for me when I was first born.  He also made everyone get up in the middle of the night to say the rosary.  He was also my sister's Godfather.  The Holy Spirit specializes in tapestry weaving of our lives.  What we see as loose ends, God uses to tie others into our lives and all those in Heaven hope we will recognize the patterns of this great tapestry and seek to follow along.  

There are seven gifts of the Holy Spirit; wisdom, understanding, good counsel, courage, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.  We can know we are of the Holy Spirit and acting from the Holy Spirit by the fruits of our actions; charity (or love), joy, peace, patience, benignity (or kindness), goodness, longanimity (or long suffering), mildness, faith, modesty, continence, and chastity. The fruits cannot come except through the gifts and all reveal God's love and our love for God and others.  We can know when we are not acting in the Holy Spirit if we encounter ourselves engaging in the opposite of these fruits.  It's not difficult to recognize, though it is often difficult for us to comply.

The impulse to think of someone else, to do something, to say something, to offer a compliment when none is called for, to pick up the phone to speak to someone we love just because we love them, these are the whispers of the Holy Spirit to us, calling us to be luminous to others. We do not need to be sane or well or young or old to hear and follow those whispers; only listening and obedient.  Anytime we act beyond what we wanted to, serve more than we wished to, did more than required but with willing hearts, we are being luminous towards others and we are following the whispers of the Holy Spirit. 

So I'll ask for your prayers for my daughter and all the daughters and sons that prepare for this sacrament, and that there lives may be luminous mysteries, permeated with the Spirit.  For it is only in the weaving of all of our lives with God's love, that we will make the world into a cloak of pure beauty. 


P.S. And if you want to share an experience of the Holy Spirit to help flesh out the fullness of what it is to experience the whispers of God, I will present these to my daughter along with my own.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Why Security Was Extra Tight at the Airshow

Last year, we took our kids to the National Museum of the Marine Corps.  It is very much worth the trip if you want to get a panoramic view of how these brave men and women have throughout the history of our nation, really gone to the ends of the Earth to then be unflinchingly courageous for others.  The displays are interactive, including temperature changes when you walk into the Iraqi desserts, or along the "Frozen Chozin."  Moving would be the only word that truly conveys anything about the museum itself. 
We go to these sorts of places for three reasons: historical significance, educational value, and free.  With 9, the admissions cost to anything is exponential unless it's free.

At the end of all the exhibits at the Marine museum, there is a staircase that allows you to get a bird's eye view of several planes and we took our children there for the grand finale.  One of my daughters was going through the boot camp displays and doing surprisingly well.  Walking into the large open chamber to tell us her results, her sisters and brothers spied her and several of the youngers began waiving from the top perch and saying, "Hi" in outside voices which were augmented by the echo chamber of the room.  A marine woman came over and announced to us as we were shushing them ourselves that we should come down.

Our kids started down the stairs and so we pursued but the kids happily oblivious to the irritation they were causing, clomped and giggled as they galloped down the four flights of stairs, echoing all the way with us chasing after, slowed by the diaper bag and our toddlers who could only come down slowly.  When we arrived at the main floor, we were reminded that this was a museum and that there was a playground only 50 yards away outside by the woman.  We nodded and were feeling rather chastened. 

A second marine showed up with very big shoulders and followed us as we began moving towards the gift shop explaining what the first had already said to us. I thought it was a bit of overkill to the happy noise of a 2, 3, 5 and 7 year old but it did not seem terribly smart to argue with two irritated marines. Over the loud speaker came an announcement, "ALL PARENTS ARE REMINDED TO KEEP THEIR CHILDREN RESPECTFULLY QUIET IN THE MUSEUM."   The marine near the gift shop seemed to stand in front of the entrance of the store.    Message received, leave already.

I understand wanting a respectful atmosphere, but there is such a thing as overkill. 

So when we went to the Air Force base and found a golf cart with several fatigue combat ready troops riding in it behind us for a bit of our tour of the airshow, I whispered to my husband, "We heard about you folks at the Marine museum.  We're keeping an eye on you."

Next week, we'll go scare the Navy in Annapolis.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

How to Tell Your Toddler Had a Good Day

Any time you have to ask the question, "Why did you paint your arms purple?" 
Answer: "I was pretending."

Me: "What were you pretending?"

Answer:"That I was on vacation."

Me to myself: Where does she go?  I don't know and I'm not sure I could find out but I'll take two tickets anyway please. 

Friday, May 14, 2010

7 Quick Takes

1.  Yep.  They're related to me.

When you spend the evening convincing one child not to wear part of their Halloween costume as regular attire and you know your mother had to do the same thing and for the same reason you have to acknowledge your genetic relationship is more than mere eye color and body frame, it's personality as well. The reward: you are proclaimed "No fun."  Memo to Mom:  I'm very sorry.  Thank you for being willing to take that label when I wanted to wear a pink bathrobe sash as a headband.  

2.  On My Knees

A while back, it was suggested that I stop multi-tasking prayer as my sole means of fulfilling my daily prayer obligations and just get on my knees and do it alone for the five to ten minutes it would take. 

I have admittedly been resisting that advice just as surely as the person told to exercise resists starting a program that will bring about better health.  Yesterday I did it.  Finally.  It was enormously difficult because I wanted to be distracted.  I could hear the TV in the other room.  I could hear the sounds of the world outside.  I thought of all I could be doing.  But the resulting reserve allowed me to manage through the evening which went into extra innings.

3.  Any Day at the ER is a Not Exactly a Good Day

We made a trip last night for a middle child because of stomach cramps that had lasted two hours.  Having to drive after midnight out in the world only to find out we just need to eat more apples and carrots is Fun times.  Nuff said.

4.  At Cross Purposes

My son is lobbying for a skateboard.  So far he is leveraging having made honor roll and the fact that he is working extra chores to earn the money.  I am running out of reasons other than I'm scared to death for his teeth, his face, for more visits to the place I left only seven hours ago.   May have to start having counter bribes but what would have more allure or coolness than a skateboard for an eleven year old?  And no, I don't want a dog.

5.  Other People Reveal You to You

This week, people have been saying things to me that have really resonated; things that echoed in my brain and struck deeper than the words themselves might have been intended at least as far as the speakers were concerned.  To me, this is the Holy Spirit at work, pushing, pulling, inspiring, encouraging, calling our souls to be ever more what they are supposed to be.   Here's hoping my normally stubborn self pays attention better.

6.  Date Night

We went to see Iron Man II last weekend.  Granted, it's a comic hero movie and one I never read as a kid but it was an enjoyable film and breezy way to spend some time in that other world called adult time.   For those who saw the's Iron Man. II.

A rich guy flies around in a metal suit and blows up things and gets beat up and somehow, the metal doesn't knock him unconscious in the process and never gives splinters or cuts him.  One has to suspend one's critical thinking part of the brain to enjoy it to begin with; ergo if you were looking for high brow, Iron Man isn't going to be in the running in the first place.  If you just wanted a fun evening out; it's a good fit. 

7.  When You are Asked to Dance

This week was the School Spring Musical and with a kid in every other act, the youngest three had plenty to clap about as they watched in wonder.  They loved it!  Sitting on the floor in the gym with my son dancing in my lap, my daughter clutching my arm and the third making a new friend and talking rather loudly, I have to say it was a fun time to be a parent. 

At the end, they sang "I've Had the Time of My Life."  Now I've never really liked this song since I was forced to learn how to sign it for a test in college --but seeing my daughter sing the altered lyrics, "I'd Like to Thank My Mom and Dad For All the times in my life you've stood by Me."  I got blinky.  

Then the class came down into the audience and my daughter came to dance with me.  It was brief but ever so awesome. It's what you hope for in the end. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Small Success Thursday

In the past, one of our themes was "March on, God will provide."  We started saying it whenever money got tight and somehow, things would ease. 

We started saying it as a joke when we were faced with a year of uncertainty; but it kept being true despite all our rational thinking and cleverness and American independent first child like thinking.   We kept being stunned by God's lavish abundance when we were nervous or anxious about money, about anything. 

Despite the daily mana in the desert, the Israelites doubted and grumbled and struggled.  Despite the constant showering of opportunities, good fortune and graces, I too doubted, grumbled and struggled.  Saint Faustina knew what we find so hard, how to trust in Jesus, how to trust in God's heart to take on ours with all our trials, troubles and difficulties.  Blessed Mother Teresa also emphasized how utterly profoundly free falling a trust is required if you read about her passages where she has loved Jesus in the night.  Is it any wonder that the modern saints in this world of relativism, sophisitcation, and technology and nuance, emphasize clarity, charity, simplicity and trust?

God keeps coming back and permeating everything until I surrender.  So today, I celebrate God's lavish courtship of my soul. 

1) My children were imploding yesterday and so I drove to the church near our home and phoned to get appointments.  We went to confession, all of us.  It was like hitting the reset button  on our family dynamics and the surest sign of all of this, was the laughter that permeated conversations after that sojourn to the rectory. 

2) Writing requires submissions and for some reason, I haven't been submitting as of late. You may have noticed more links, more repeats, less humor.  Everything I wrote felt unfinished, unclear or too personal. Not funny, not reflective, not real. 

What was I struggling with?  Revealing too much, romancing too much, not quite getting at whatever it was I wanted to write and not being quite willing to be so exposed.  The more you write, the more you spiral into revealing and at some point, you get a bit shell shocked and uncertain.  Then you either quit or you grow a shell or you repeat yourself so as to not continue to advance an intimacy with the readers or you surrender to the reality that if you want to really write, you will be revealed.   I hadn't wanted to surrender but writing the same thing grew very boring very fast, growing a shell meant not being honest and that wouldn't work and lying was out of the question; so that left the final option.  The Catholic Standard had asked for a story on my son Paul.  I hadn't wanted to do it for the longest time for reasons I could only ascribe as artificial.  Yesterday, I finally wrote it.  Yesterday it was accepted. 

3)  I've begun laying out the clothes at night, the lunch bags at night and putting the tooth brushes and pj's out in the morning when I'm making the beds and it has decreased the level of stress at night and in the morning considerably.  No rash hunting for whatever.  

4) Finished the Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary of Saint Louis de Montfort for this year with going to confession. 

5) Got back on the exercise wagon.  153.  Still shooting for ten pounds by July.  Haven't lost hope. 

Hope all of you have a great week!  See you over at Small Success Thursday at Family and Faith Live!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Some Heresy is in the Eyes of the Beholder

This isn't what you think.  I haven't plunged into a gnostic or relativistic way of being.  I've merely learned what constitutes gospel to a three year old.   Like most heretics, I learned by running afoul of her professed orthodoxy.   My daughter loves Dora the Explorer and I have promoted and enabled this love via daily showings when I want a few minutes off to make a list and gather my thoughts for the day. 

This morning she was holding a stuffed musical monkey before her baby brother and saying, "Ariba up, Abaho down" as she illustrated.  I mused about whether or not we needed to cut her off from central supply or at least Nick Jr. for a while since I knew she had memorized a serious number of songs.  But I let it slide.  She's three and she loves it; and given that this little girl was once so silent we arranged for speech, I did not want to crush her love. 

Now as any parent knows, if you want a toddler to do something, you must play the game "Guess my motivation." and I thought I'd come up with a winner to pair what she liked with what I wanted.  "What could be better?" I thought.  We already had the Dora the Explorer Potty Ring, I could sing a little Dora the Explorer song about the map to the bathroom and sing, "When you know you gotta go, there's a place that you should know..." and I could even work in Swiper about hand washing if I wanted to; it was perfect!  I made my pitch to begin potty training.  "Hey Gina! If you get potty trained like Dora, you can have some Dora the Explorer pull ups and underwear! Wouldn't that be great?"

That time around 11:30 yesterday morning, when you gritted your teeth but didn't know why?  That was the beginning of her response. A deep breath.  A long wail followed by a deeper breath. "DORA...ISN'T...POTTY...TRAINED!" She bit her teeth in between each word. Tears streamed.  I was in partial shock as she balled her hands into fists and stomped, approaching me with barely contained three year old hulk smash fury. "NO POTTY TRAINING! NOT DORA!  DORA ISN'T POTTY TRAINED! SHE NOT! SHE'S NOT! SHE'S NOT!  SHE...DOESN'T...EVEN...GO...TO...THE...BATHROOM!" 

My four year old attempted damage control in a surprisingly rational manner.  "Gina, Dora HAS to be potty trained.  She's on underwear and pull-ups. She doesn't wear diapers on TV.  And, I have Dora underwear."  For her the matter was settled.  This second undermining of my daughter's world was more than she could bear.  She ran into her room and shut the door.

Mom pursued.  Okay, I did call my mom who assured me, "You'll think of something."

"Gina?"  I put on my solicitous mom voice.  "Gina?"

She gave me a suspicious look like "you aren't going to proselytize that potty training lie again are you?" She had her thumb poised just outside her closed pouty mouth as if to have it on call in case of further emergency. 

"Gina, I want you to listen to me."  I prayed I'd have the right pitch to get through the next three minutes without causing further despair or permanent damage.  "Gina, Dora wasn't Always potty trained.  She used diapers and then pull ups and then underwear and she wants you to do the same thing.  Just like Dora did."  She put down her thumb and looked into my eyes.  Her face was still streaked with tears but she gave a slight nod that my explanation was at the very least, acceptable.  A few hugs and all was right as rain until we came down the stairs.  She handed me the remote and asked for a bit of TV.   

"What are we watching?" my other daughter asked?
I scrolled through the offerings.  "Max and Ruby kids."  I announced, and peace reigned....for now. 

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Crescat 2010 Cannonball Awards

You can vote everyday so every day, this blog can be appreciated more. Vote Early. Vote Often.   (I'm nominated in the sixth category, Most Underappreciated).  Bribes to follow from my lucrative career as a humor blogger.  See?  Free bonus preview laughs. 

Proof You Are A Mom

When you spend the whole afternoon crafting a 22 inch hotdog with bun, mustard and relish out of clay, measuring to make it to scale with your daughter including a last minute dash to Michael's for more Terra Cotta color to make the bun and when you are finally done, it's 7:30 and she says, "I think I'll take it to school Tuesday. I've got too much to carry tomorrow and it isn't due until Friday."  You are a mom.

When your 20 month son has a runny nose and rubs your sleeve to clean it while you're reaching for a tissue, and despite thinking and knowing you should freak, you don't, you're a mom.  

When you eat sandwiches made out of the end crusts of bread on a regular basis, you're a mom.

When you see only one shoe and that knowledge creates instant insomnia, you are a mom.

When your son fills out a card for Mother's day that notes "My mom has gray hair." and gives it to you with great delight, you are a mom.

When you check your son's emails, cell phone text messages and facebook status on a daily basis and occasionally send him a note, "If you have time to post on Youtube, you have more time to study for the SAT." You are a mom.

When you get handed half eaten lolipops with the expectation you are to finish them, because the toddler wants both hands to finish her chalk drawing, you're the Mom.

When you use the phrase "Because I said so."

When your son asks for one more story and you feel profound angst if you say anything but "yes."

When you stuff a purple dolphin into one pocket at mass and a massive hairbrush in the other because your purse is too small and both were "accidentally" taken from the are the mom.

If Dinner includes two vegetables, no dessert and wasn't boiled or grilled, you're the mom.

If car rides to school include spelling quizes where the tester is calling out words from memory, you are the mom.

When you wake at 3 AM because the daughter upstairs in her room with the door shut just woke up coughing, or because someone came down and got a drink of water, or because a third who woke up to go the bathroom is now scared to go to bed because they saw a stink bug crawling on the ceiling and turned on every light in the house, you are the mom. 

When your moniker can be stretched from one "Mom" to two "Mo--om" to three  "Mo--omm--om!" sylables based on the degree of the problem, you know who you are.

When you lie down on the bed and immediately think of 17 things you need to do tonight which would make tomorrow less stressful for everyone else, guess what your name is. 

When you can gather the clothing necessary to get six different people dressed for the day in 16 minutes, including actually dressing the youngest three, but can't put together a decent outfit for yourself in 30 that doesn't include fishing through the laundry that needs to be done, you are a Mom.

When all of these happen within a single 24 hour period, you ARE the mom.

Happy Mother's Day Week! Because being a Mom is a 365 forever and always everyday job; and we deserve more than a Sunday a year.   I'm now going to go eat my chocolate bar, put my rings in the pinched clay jewlery pot and try my newly acquired scented rose soap.

About Yesterday

There are times when I'm writing that I forget myself and the fact that the Internet is permanent in a way paper and ink is not.  And so I must consider my motives for yesterday's post as a beloved friend pointed out, were not without the element of self righteousness.

No one deserves to be condemned for what they said or did for a moment on their worst day anymore than someone deserves praise for their very best.  We are all more than we recognize and often less than we manage daily, hourly, by the minute...second....we are perpetually children of God who screw up.  And awareness of that fundamental reality is the only means by which we can cooperate with God's grace to avoid such moments.

That woman acted in shock.  I acted in reflection.  Ergo, I should have known better.

So I am sorry, I should have been more charitable to her even though she may never read these words or those words, I should have been kinder with my words here.  

And I am sorry to all of you who read this blog for failing you by not being more self aware.  It isn't that one shouldn't speak up or speak out when these sort of things happen, but that no one deserves to be immortalized in such a fashion. 

Truth without context can be pitiless.  Charity without truth is simply sentimentalism.   Charity and Truth together is the goal; and it can be joyfully done with humor laced and dolloped in there, but I did not show it then.   Where I wanted to go with that piece was to the fact that all these ladies were here, anticipating the endless promise of their daughters, but what I saw was the endless promise of the women there; because they were all in the process of growing women and men, and it was grand and edifying to see.  They were all in the throws of raising people and working and pursuing dreams or suffering hardships or heart aches or starting over and still they'd made time to stop today, to be present to each other and for their daughters and that was the wonderful wonderful and still more wonderful element of the experience.  

But I got caught up in that moment. I missed the big picture when push came to shove, distracted by a careless word and willing to entertain portraying my irritation and pain for all to see like a badge here.  One cannot be luminous if one celebrates the dark and we are all called to be luminous mysteries to each other.

So I'm sorry.   And I've taken down the post --it's in my drafts as a reminder that clever does not equal kind and all that we do matters.

Friday, May 7, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday

1. 15 seconds

My youngest son stood for 15 seconds.  He also said "Hello" this week and "I love you Dad."  It's hard to top that, but my pediatrician said, "He should work on saying, "I love you Mom." for Mother's day."  I'll just feast on his kisses on my cheek as he says, "Love, love, love, love, love."  It works for me.

2.  I'm Nominated

I didn't even know I was nominated in the 2010 Cannonball Awards for Most Underappreciated.  So go, show your love for Chocolate for your Brain! The losers still get a badge, a "I got nominated and all I won was this wrongful sense of pride" widget.  I'm just pleased to be in the company of My Wonderful Life and the Crescat and Aggie Catholics. 


3. Fortelling

When my daughter was born 14 years ago today, I begged the nurse to show her to me.  "Let me see her." I demanded as they were wrapping her up. They turned her face towards me.  "She's beautiful." I said. The nurse then asked me, "Do you think you will have any more?"  Mind you this is three minutes after delivery and I guess it was in my heart before my head knew it because I responded, "Oh sure."   Happy Birthday!

4. My sons have discovered the hose.

My grass will never be thirsty again and socks will never be dry.  But the hose is the one toy that brings a surly almost 11 year old, a sensitive 6, a sparkly 8 and a brass 4 together.  Watching them play, as much as I hate to say this, it's worth a bit of extra laundry even if one child is wearing a leather cowboy costume vest.  

5. Prayer

Prayer never fails.  Not once.  We begin to speak towards God and God is waiting to pounce, to lavish us with His love, to answer, to answer, to answer.  So I invite each of you to pick one person you know that for the next week, you will pray for.  You don't have to tell them, you tell God.  You petition God for them, because of them, out of love for them, out of a difficulty loving them. It does not matter.  Pray for that person with your whole heart.  God hears; God responds.  I've got mine.    

6.  Saints

A jewler sends me a catalog and I drool over the silver he designs.  For over 15 years, I wore a silver cuff my father gave me.  It was just the right fatness, it got dented, left in a bar in Italy --I made the bus turn around, lost in a couch for six months, and then one day, I couldn't find it.  I remember I couldn't find it and voiced my sadness to my mother as I looked at the silver cuff advertised on the cover.  She suggested prayers to Saint Anthony and I agreed, I'd petitioned him on many an occasion for keys, for purse, for peace of mind, for minutes in the day, for a solution to a problem, for the energy to pray, for the capacity to act. 

"What would we do if we didn't have Saint Anthony?"  she asked. "Where would we be?"   It took me two seconds to find the answer, "Lost."   But sometimes, God works in the losing too. I lost my keys today after we came home, hence we had to bag softball practice and the slow winding weekend start was just what all of us needed. I've looked everywhere but can't find those keys. Yes I've put in a request to Saint Anthony too, but also I'm really enjoying Not being able to go anywhere so I can't say I'm looking too hard, not yet anyway.

7.  Happy Mother's Day

My mom was here for the week and it was really nice to have unrushed time with her and Dad.  Happy Mother's Day Mom!  I love you.  Still after all these years, you're one of my best friends and it's hard to go a day without talking.  Thanks for all you do, while here and from afar.  Any skills I have as a Mom come from you.  Much love.  --Sherry

What is Required

Somewhere in this mixed up century, we came to the deluded conclusion that if we pad enough of life, we'll never get a skinned knee and that nothing of value can come from ever having experienced a bruise or a bump or a hurt feeling. 

Somewhere across time, we went from sticks and stones can break my bones but names can never hurt me to names can hurt me so anyone who names me as I do not which to be named shall be stoned.  Somewhere in recent history, we went quite mad as a society when we embraced the idea that while life isn't fair, it should be and all unfairness not in our favor shall be deemed evil.  

Somehow we decided as a civilization that suffering has no purpose and no meaning and as such, should not be tolerated except when we can ascribe a value and a meaning.  The actual meaning and value (by the way) must be readily accessible to everyone or it is a mere projection of wishful hopes and an overly optimistic coping mechanism.

People in America can now control the air in their room, their side of the car, the firmness of their mattress and what TV they watch when. We have created a heightened sense of anxiety about everything because suddenly numbers rule everything. We watch the Dow spiral. We watch our calories. We measure our inhales and our exhales and the fat and salt content and sugar in grams, in milligrams, in ounces. We measure the minutes, we bill the hours and with all our knowledge, with all our access to knowledge, we still cannot create one minute more in the day nor can we guarantee that if we do everything perfectly, we won't suffer.  It is a giant dellusion to think otherwise but we constantly act shocked with life takes more effort, more commitment, or more energy than we wanted to give. 

Life has random elements, friendships that grow and those that die, weeds that take root, pounds unexpectedly stubborn and minutes that get lost.  There are bills we forget about and ones that are bigger than we preanticipated and weather that rains out playoffs.  There is always more to do and there are always people doing more than us.  Sometimes, doing more isn't better and sometimes we can do everything right and someone else will still win.   Being constantly on alert to measure and weigh and anticipate everything still doesn't mean everything won't get screwed up when the lights finally go dark and the curtain finally rises.  We freeze. We forget lines.  We forget our place in the universe and we forget our primary job.   We're human.

We spend much of our modern days trying to be free from want, from need, from all discomfort, from all we disagree with, from all pain, from all work, from all that requires the more from us that makes us human.  Animals live within their limits.  They conserve energy.  They hunt when they are hungry.  They do not eat when they are not.  They sleep as they need.  Their lives are measured by instinct and the physical limits of their being.  Our lives exceed our instincts in all things.  To be human is to have physical limits we ignore and mental and emotional limits we impose and not always have the wisdom or the instinct to know the difference.

Our goal in life is not to not suffer; but to do, to have our body doing and our spirit being such that whatever unfairness we find, we make less painful, whatever injustice we suffer, we do not nurse, that our needs and wants are not mixed up, and that Our wants and Our needs do not dominate the landscape of our souls or how we pour out our lives. We are made for others.  My youngest son woke this morning with a runny nose and rejected his normal breakfast of toast and cheerios until I held him and kissed his forehead constantly.  This is what is required of us, not that we can cure the cold or eliminate the reality of colds, but that we can be close with and hold those who hurt for whatever reason.   It is all that is required; that we let God do the measuring of our lives, and we be willing to live them to the fuller measure that is God's.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Small Success Thursday

Every Thursday, Family and Faith Live celebrates the both the little things that make motherhood not all duty, not all drudgery, and all the duty and drudgery we get to do to make childhood a thing of joy and beauty. 

So this week: 

1) I got to visit a friend who just had a baby and drop off food.  I can't tell you how many women have brought food to my family over the years, it was nice to be on the giving end for a change. 

2) Celebrated a friend's birthday by surprising her with chocolate and flowers.  Again, getting to do these sorts of little things make a week wonderful.

3) My parents came and we celebrated my daughter's first communion.  We celebrated my daughter's 14th birthday. We celebrated my parents being here.  We celebrated.

4) My son pulled up and stood for 15 seconds.  With so many, often I've not had the blessing of seeing their first step, but again Paul always commands I be present, and grace was to be present for a little miracle, the type we forget are miraculous until we are reminded once again. 

5) Six year old son learned to ride a bike without training wheels this week and lost his first tooth. 

6) 17 year old son proved he's becoming a man of character by letting his folks know about a problem at school.  I'm very proud.  

7) Middle daughter and I got in some time together with softball. She scored a few times, caught a ball on the fly and spent the subsequent ride home positively chatty which she never does; we talked about the sort of mundane things that make a drive fun and it's so rare, I had to brag. 

Have a miracle to share?  The kind we forget to notice?  Go leave a note at family and faith live!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

If You Give a Mom a Milkshake

Sometimes, a bonus isn't a bonus, like when the first child begins coughing; and the second and the third echo.  When one kid says, "I don't like eggs." and two who always up to this point loved scrabbled breakfasts decide that they too won't eat them. 

In a family this large, cascade calamities are par for the course; one child forgets their lunchbox.  While you are dressing the three toddlers to put in the car to bring lunch, you spy a library book you know is due.  Putting together the diaper bag for the trek, you see the drycleaning and that gets added on.  While loading the car you notice one child left their trumpet in the car and they have music today. 

You then think, you will need their music stand and back inside you go.  The phone rings, and you are asked to go to the post office.  Since you're going to the post office, you grab the bills.  They will need to be addressed and you need a few more envelopes.  By the time you are in the car with all three kids, it is lunch time and you've moved approximately 387 pounds fifty yards. 

Once you drop off the lunch box, trumpet, and book, dry cleaning, and address and mail the bills, you will remember that YOU had a scheduled car appointment to get an oil change for free and decide since you're in the car, you must go.   While at the car dealership, you will wish you'ld kept the lunch box, trumpet and book, as they would have kept the minions entertained.  The other adults in the room want the TV on the news, so you spend your time keeping the three hungry toddlers from trying to play with display tires by bribing them with stale poptarts and a lemonade from the vending machine.  But since you used up the quarters and usable bills on the stale poptarts and lemonade, you get to go without the much needed diet coke and snickers bar that mock you from behind the plexiglass. 

Instead, you are hungry, tired and must somehow be entertaining to your offspring while suffering the cruel silent stares of grown ups who are also doing this necessary mundane task but don't want the distraction of children to keep them from feeling bored.

When you get done with the free oil change that includes replacing a filter for an extra charge you had not anticpated, you'll load up the car, and swing by to pick up the school kids.  You'll ask if the child you saved by starting this run liked his lunch.  He'll explain, he got the lunch box too late for lunch and that  he's very hungry but forgot his bag at school and can we please stop for a snack? 

Weary, beaten and irritated because you would have willingly eaten the lunch he forgot that you retrieved that he forgot yet again, you comply. When you get the snack and finally begin the trek home while hunkering down on a milk shake and burger, you'll finally pause to wonder, when did my life become "If you give a mouse a cookie?"

The Fired Tooth Fairy

The tooth fairy was just offered a golden denture retirement package. She currently resides in Key West sipping frozen salted drinks and learning the words to every Jimmy Buffett song ever written, even the one about the mandolin. Her reason for quitting? Overwork.

My newly six year old daughter began losing her front first tooth about a week ago. At the announcement of the impending loss, I felt a surge of panic. She had been outside falling off her bike when her brother’s four year old head met her chin on the way down.

I know there are mothers out there with baby books where there is a drawing of the inside of a mouth with lines pointing to each tooth, and the date of emergence and date of departure have been dutifully marked. I am not one of them.

I racked my brain for the GPS of prior teeth she had lost without successful recall. Was this a baby tooth that had been loosened? All I knew for certain, was if I failed to get this checked, the tooth was a permanent one that could have been saved if only I had acted quickly. My motherhood neurotic tendencies run towards ruing the sins of omission.

We went to the dentist. My old dentist had moved to North Carolina that year, and as such the new one in the same office did not have records of my daughter’s mouth. So we took x-rays and I scheduled appointments for the top five for cleanings and check-ups. The receptionist nearly quit in the process. Meanwhile, my daughter played with the sink and enjoyed riding up and down in the chair. "I like the dentist." she said brightly. Relief came, it was a baby tooth. We just had to wait.

In the back of my head, a little nag that I often fail to listen to, suggested that a bit of preparation, maybe a visit to the bank or post office for some shiny coins might be prudent. Then it was time to fix dinner and I forgot all about such things. Meanwhile, my daughter worried that it would hurt, and gummed her food to allow her left central incisor to enjoy its final days of residence in relative leisure.

Six days later, my daughter came down the stairs early, bright eyed and announcing proudly her tooth had fallen out. She wanted everyone to see. We praised her bravery and placed the honored free ranging front tooth in a plastic bag. I put the bag over the microwave, a spot I would be sure to see in the evening and thus remember to put it under her pillow.

It was a rough day, full of long drawn out errands. My husband was overnight in another state for a business retreat. As such, I had collapsed on the sofa prematurely, visions of dental magical entities entirely out of my brain. My daughter had crashed early too, without so much as a bed time story.

When I woke her the next morning, she immediately checked under her pillow and began to sob. Desperation led to inspiration. I suggested she get washed up. I mentioned that I had fallen asleep on the couch WITH her tooth in the bag in my hand on the sofa. Perhaps we might find the tooth fairy’s gift under my pillow. My older daughter is very quick on the uptake and raced downstairs to check, assuring the six year old with uncharacteristic morning generosity that she could use the bathroom first that morning.

The sofa proved profitable for our kindergartener. Four shiny quarters in a baggie with a note. “Your mother left this under her pillow. She’s a bit old to be losing teeth. Love, T.F.” “Silly Mommy,” my gap tooth daughter grinned. “Yes,” my ten year old echoed, “Teeth are for kids.”

My substitute T.F. then later approached me privately about reimbursing her for the services with a slight gratuity for the trouble. I readily parted with an additional fifty cents and decided to subcontract out permanently.

Now, where’s my margarita?

*Originally run 4/11/2008 --as close as my kids are going to get to a scrapbook.  Run in honor of now six year old son who lost his first tooth yesterday while eating an apple.

Monday, May 3, 2010

My Fault

I am officially responsible for everything wrong in this world.  I know I've tried to explain that I wasn't born yet, that I have no knowledge of such things, that I have no power, but after years of being bombarded, I've come to understand that all my rational explanations were just a dodge, a cop out, a stubborn unwillingness to face my own culpability.  It's me.

The outrageous pollen count?  My fault. I have offspring and their favorite activity is to make wishes.  So the general population of dandelions has increased exponentially this spring. 

The gigantic blizzard this past winter?  Again, my bad.  I actually was praying for a big snow because I didn't like how jumbled our shedule was for the coming week and wanted a guilt free way to get out of all our obligations. 

The crisis of Obesity? I watch the food network religiously, ergo I boost their ratings, enabling them to show still more television shows about yummy rich food, tempting those who would otherwise be svelt people to overindulge.

The untimely demise of James Brown?  I had front row seats to his next concert that summer. 

The oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico? I went down to Texas a few weeks ago and stuck my toe in the water and filled a bottle to bring back to Maryland.  Clearly, I upset the ocean equilibrium with my violative acts. 

The hole in the Ozone? A preemptive act by the Earth in response to knowing that one day I would drive not one but two SUV's and have a large family.

The Budget Deficit? I voted Republican in every Presidential election and I bet, if I'd been born in earlier decades, I still would have simply voted for Republicans more. So who else could one possibly blame?

The recession? When I first started trying to grow money via the stock market, I put away in an Asian fund. For ten years. For ten years, it lost money until I finally swapped out. The Asian stock market subsequently pulled a major turn around. No I'm not telling you what I've currently got our money in but we bought a big house in 2007 and....

So, now you know when you skin your knee or burn your dinner or have an overdue library book or extra expensive bill from the Utilities company (and not because someone left the hose on overnight) who to blame.  It's Me.

Why? How do I know?

Simple.  I'm the parent of multiple adolescents and I ruin everything.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Mom's Best gift does not a Writer Make

Yesterday, we had to take two children to two different schools at two different starting times for two crucial standardized tests.  We also were scheduled for a 2:30 mass for First Communion and my daughter had a 10 o'clock hair appointment.   The night before, I'd asked, "Do you have your pencils?  Your I.D?  Your calculator?" and my mom had stressed checking where the test was, as my brother once upon a time had been scheduled at a test site 20 miles away.  Still, this was new territory, and our crash test son has now paved the way for his siblings. 

After my husband departed with the two test takers, I received a phone call.  It was 8 in the morning.  "Does our son need any papers to get into the S.A.T?" his father asked.

Our oldest had gone into the building while his sister noted countless other children with more organized or seasoned parents marching into the school holding pieces of paper.  One girl had come out very upset, saying they wouldn't allow her to take the test.  My husband and I both knew our son had no such sheet and I hadn't even thought of it.

I clicked on the website thinking, "Why didn't you check this last night Sherry?  Why didn't you look?" and then, "Why didn't my son look?" and then, "Why didn't I ask my son to look?"  and filed it under, "Next time."

Yes, it said he needed his admissions ticket and that if I logged in, I could  print it up.  If I could get over to the high school in 17 minutes...if I could just find the sheet.  But I couldn't log in. I knew my son's user name. I was uncertain of the password so I tried my emails but alas, I'd deleted 27,000 old emails on the theory I did not need them; so I tried to log onto my son's email. He'd changed the password.  Knowing he did comic heros as a rule, I began typing.  I hoped it wouldn't be an obscure member of the Avengers. After ten minutes of searching, I discovered I'd been logging into the S.A.T. with his name in lower case, and it needed to be upper case and I'd known the password all along. Dragging the laptop to the printer, I loaded with paper and of course had to deal with two paper jams before the necessary document was in my hot nervous stressed out hands

Our son had already turned off his phone so we had no way of contacting him and his dad had left to take our daughter to her site and so it was all on me.  Fortunately, my parents are visiting so they could babysit or this insane errand would be completely untenable.  Now, it was barely managable if I bent the rules of space and time.  I'd go in my t-shirt and pj pants.  It was 8:15.  Test started at 8:30.  I just might make it. 

12 passenger vans are not built for speed.  But I prayed and lo, I hit every green light.  There was no traffic, I watched the clock mercilessly tick down the minutes until test time.  My son called.  His voice oddly not stressed, he asked why we'd left five phoned messages between his sister, his father and me when he was getting ready to take the S.A.T.   "You need your admission ticket." I explained.  He said, "I'm already in the room.  I was just getting ready to turn off my phone, I'd had it on silence."  I was a block from the school. 

Getting to the parking lot, I wondered, "What now?" If I went home, some administrator would demand to see my son's papers.  I knocked on the door and a gracious but weary security woman radioed to the staff running the gig.  They didn't need it.    Stand down red alert.  So now I drove home in the anti-climatic unhero of a stressful morning with no reward for the sacrifice or meaning.

"It might make a good blog entry." my mom quipped as she finished up breakfast for the littles.

True.  But now I'm personally praying for Writer's block.

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