Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Year's Resolutions...NOT!

Because making resolutions for other people is so much easier and more satisfying than doing it for one’s self, this year I’m proposing the following for our existing Congress, Executive Branch and General Public.

It’s the very least I can do.

10) Because the economy is still down and spending public money carelessly or extravagantly would be unseemly and project an image that our President and First Lady are out of touch, State Dinners now to be the small buffet (one trip only) at Sizzlers…before five.

9) Likewise, all Campaign Fund Raisers will be 50/50, with half going towards the treasury. After all, none of the politicians want to be unduly influenced by dirty money from lobbyists, fat cats, corporations or rich famous people who want access.

8) Any person who says, “Raise My Taxes” will immediately be hit up for a donation of 10% of their bank account, not income, current existing money. Any person who says, “Raise Their Taxes” will be immediately hit up with a 5% increase tax on all expenditures to remind them that nothing happens in a vacuum.

7) Vacations to beautiful places that are not paid for by the people going to the beautiful places, should not be happening....unless the government is interested in sponsoring a similar trip to each of the 331 million Americans who foot the bill. 

6) A fee on all politicians, 5$ for each untruth/slander/distortion uttered. Pro: if they continue as normal, the debt will be erased within the political year. Bonus Pro: if they wise up, we won’t have to hear their bloviating.

5) Hypocrisy Oath: A new demand of all elected officials…to act as they preach, or be forced to wear a scarlet “H” and hold a sign, “I”m annoying and sanctimonious and you pay me” whenever they appear in public.

4) Hollywood Documentation: They can tell us how important their thoughts are only after they release all their transcripts, SAT scores and can beat Sarah Palin in a debate to be shown on Pay Per View. Losers take a vow of a year of silence.

3) All recipients of stimulus money must document jobs created and/or saved. Doormen for the revolving access to the White house for political donations do not count.

2) Press will cease pretending they are anything but cheerleaders and carry pom poms to all future political events and do jack knives when the politicians speak so that no one is unclear who they’re rooting for. All guests appearing on shows or in photos with said media will be supplied with the requisite white hat or Snidley Whiplash mustache for the occasion. 

1) If you ask for 1.3 Trillion more, you have to show all your work to get credit for the math. No more imaginary numbers, only absolute and real ones.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Eat Healthy Today

Today, being the day after Christmas, I was slumming on some Yuletide fudge and a diet coke.  My son who is seven, came into the kitchen and began assembling food for lunch.  He took out the turkey and the apples and grapes and carrots.  He asked if we could have healthy foods for our meal. 

Assuming it was a commentary on my selected repast, I agreed and quickly downed the last bit of my chocolate Christmas goodness.  "We have to eat healthy Mom." he explained as he counted out the apples and got out the apple slicer. 

"Why is that?" I asked.

"Because when we grow up, it will be important."  He answered.
Sensing he had given this a great deal of thought, I asked, "Why?"
"If all ten Antonetti's grow up and get married and have ten kids," he paused and smiled, "there will be 144 birthdays in a year.  That's a lot of cake and ice cream!"

Starting my new year's resolution of fitness early, I'll be noshing on Lean Cuisine for the near future, to get ready for the far one.   

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Kid Christmas Rules, tips and observations

10) Any time after 4:00 a.m. is late for getting up for Christmas but Mom and Dad refuse to move until 5:30 so it's best to just wait.  

9) Parents should understand that any present that requires assembly/craft time or quality time must be opened and played with today.  Otherwise, it doesn't count. Ditto for books unless you read them to us.

8) You may consider clothing a great thing to find under the tree Mom, and we may need it.  Just don't expect us to get really psyched about such things.

7) Fudge, pie and Busche Noel make for a great Christmas breakfast.

6) Expect a toy coma to hit around 2 pm. It is then we will count up our Christmas loot, admire our gift cards and ask, "When can we go shopping?"

5) Food Network worthy feasts for Christmas day dinner are ill advised.  Remember, we raved over instant mashed potatoes and Pillsbury crescent rolls. 

4) No matter how much food you bought, there will be a need to run to the store. After all, we can't make ice cream with the new ice cream maker if we don't have heavy cream...(see rule 9).

3) Some assembly required should be done outside our eyesight.  It ruins the mystique of the My Little Pony Tent Club House if an adult and 12 year old are having a vigorous discussion about how the thing assembles and one is saying...."But I READ the directions" while the other is explaining the top has to have three assembly points and this one has four.  

2)  Ignore what we said back in #8. Can I wear my new tutu with the new t-shirt and sparkly socks? Today? Tonight for bed? Tomorrow? Forever?

1)  Thanks for not shoeing the Lego Sponge Bob Square Pants Crabby Patty Restaurant off the table even if it did mean we didn't use a table cloth for dinner.  The fullness of Christmas is in our eyes and hearts long before we ever get it in our heads, thanks for playing along and being patient about the whole business.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Small Success Thursday

I know, it's 9:30 and this wasn't up yet. 

I could blame it on Christmas, but my preparations thus far are far behind where they need to be.  It's just, somehow, when the kids are home, it's harder to launch the morning.  Paul still has school through tomorrow, and it's really cramping my day.  Top that with my daughter's birthday tomorrow and it's swamp city. 

But folks, today is Thursday and thus we celebrate the week even as we wait for Christmas. 

This week, I'm blessed by answered prayers, and by the grace of getting to be in a small way, an answer to a heart's desire.  When we get the impulse during this time, to do something more, we should listen.  It could be a wish in the child like heart of an adult that has gone unvoiced to the world, but which the Holy Spirit directs to a listening soul to enact.  Ask and ye shall receive, that is part of Christmas and the grace of this season.  Even ask for the absurd, for the little (bourbon balls) and the great (health).  I believe this with all my heart.  

Towards that end, I am behind on my daily rosary (by the whole of the Glorious yesterday and two decades from Tuesday and all of today's).   So I've got some quality time I've got to address.  Today I have a stress test where I'll be stuck on a tread mill or sitting in a Dr.'s office so it will happen.  But you will be in those prayers, and all that you ask for, all that your hearts ache for, all that seems impossible but is so needed.   God knows, but ask anyway.  

Ask! Mirror your children in their fierceness of asking,  mirror their great hope and recognize that your love for them and generosity with them, imitates God's with us in all things.   Ask because it is a way of preparing your heart, ask for the grace of seeing the star, of recognizing Christ in the stable, and if necessary, for the unexpected generosity of the three kings and let the peace of that night settle on your heart despite the very very very very very very long list of what needs to be done.  

It will happen.  Christ comes to us.  This is the all of Christmas.  Our hearts will be full.  
To all of you, Merry Christmas!

Oh...and this week, I made bourbon balls for my parents and mailed them, had a big prayer answered and realized I need to get ready for Christmas and I'm not.

I also recognized that this past semester has been brutal on my brain, body and psyche with the multiple schools and constant driving and I didn't know or allow myself to notice it until I stopped at which point, exhaustion set in.

Worked on decluttering. Exercised but it's still only once a week. Bleah.

Also recognized I'm a bit burned out from everything,so I'm going to let this blog take a week off, to let my brain rest and return fresh and ready to go, January 1st. Love to you all.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Reflections on What Must have Been

Imagine having to pack up for a business trip as demanded by your government a week before your wife is due.  The only mode of transportation is either one's feet or a mule.  The travel is over harsh terrain, bitter cold in the night, searing heat in the day, it is dusty, it is long, it is fatiguing and the reason is beyond one's control.  Arriving, there is no place to stay, no kind faces, no room at any of the inns.  Necessity creates a place for the birth. 

What made that first Christmas perfect was not the preparations or the setting, but the internal preparations and personal responses of those entrusted with first greeting Christ. Joseph taking them, searching, not allowing the slammed doors to prevent him from seeking for a place. One must wonder if he simply finally asked God, to give them a place, and that prayer allowed the last inn keeper to crack open his heart enough to bring them to the stable.

Having a child in a stable, surrounded by straw, by beasts, even if pain free, was not easy.  Mary had to trust completely that even this was part of God's plan.  She was obedient, she was sin free, but this was the result of her free will submission to enduring the harsh of this fallen world without allowing that harshness to savage her spirit or dominate her mind.  It must have been remarkable, to know someone so willingly generous of spirit and kind of heart. 

The three kings had been anticipating the birth of the King for months.  Like those who shop all year round for the perfect gifts and thus have the very things to give all they've loved, the three magi were planners, rewarded with finding the Christ Child because they still in the end, trusted enough to leave behind their kingdoms and follow the star.  

My family is probably (alright, definitely), more shepherd like.  Christmas came upon them as a surprise and no matter how long Advent is, the last week comes to me and mine as a shock.  They weren't ready in the classic sense, they hadn't prepared or even dared to hope for such a sight that evening, they were just going about the business, the hard business of living day to day.  But when Christmas beckoned, they too abandoned even their sheep, even the little they had and came as is, with open hearts to the stable.   They got to sing with the angels, they got to see the Christ child and the holy family and the kings.  Like the last workers to show up at the vineyard, they got paid in full, the same as the Kings.   No matter how disorganized we are leading up to Christmas, we still get to mass, we still get there in the end and it still somehow makes all that was, all that is, and all that will be, better, whole, holy.

Leading up to December 25th, it is easy to sometimes forget this as we paint pastoral versions of this first day, that first night, the whole Incarnation is a real flesh and blood Jesus, with all the messiness of this fallen world. It was probably stressful.  It was probably rushed. It was hardly ideal.  It was messy.  It involved hassle and frustration and not knowing and wonder, awe, joy and bliss when God's plan was fully rendered, fully known in that first Silent night.  

So Merry Christmas to all of you in this week before Christmas, may you give things that tickle others hearts, prepare your own hearth and home to receive Him, and find the joy that comes from knowing that God gave all for each of us in becoming man, that we may one day rest in His presence and sing full throated with the angels with our whole hearts. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Theology at Snack Time

Part of the genetic code of siblings is uncivil warfare.  Most of these fights stem from trying to carve out or maintain turf.  But the inspiration for brother/sisterly scuffles can be anything (Mommmm, it's my turn to use the Wii/computer/tv), to nothing (Mom...she's giving me the evil smile) to all things visible and invisible, desired and denied. 

Today, sugar and chocolate chip cookies caused a great deal of emotional pain. 

One child loves sugar cookies and another is a devotee to only chocolate chip.  In the interest of inter family peace, I'd purchased two bags, one of each of the slice and bake variety.  Alas, even this bit of forethought was insufficient to prevent what followed. 

After school, one daughter baked said cookies.  Envisioning my children screaming as they tried to suppress the desire to spit out the hot chocolaty goodness because it was leaving chocolate chip sized divots on their tongues from the heat, I made them wait for the little suckers to cool. 

Then I served 8 plates (the baby didn't get one and the oldest was at school for an exam), 6 with one of each kind, 1 with 2 sugar and 1 with just chocolate chip.  The children came to the table in shifts to get their snacks.  I was pouring milk and thus did not monitor seating arrangements and here the mischief began.  The double chocolate chip got consumed by an unknown player, but evidently not the person designated for the two-fer.   Having witnessed the outburst, none of the others volunteered to admit if they'd done the deed.  Besides, they got extra cookies by staying silent. 

My son went back to the kitchen for a refill but alas, he would only be able to have one chocolate chip and a sugar, he'd lost out on the opportunity for a double dip of his favorite cookie. This grievance had to be avenged and addressed.   He turned on his sister (his first/foremost and most often) target.  She claimed innocence.   I pointed out there was no proof and that I had a solution if he'd allow.  He kept attacking. In frustration, he kicked her in the ankle.  I separated them, no longer interested in the investigation.  I sent her to play and him outside to cool off.

  Now I'm fairly certain that she might have had a part in this, (I'm envisioning two sisters or a sister and a brother came in and impulsively ate each one cookie extra) but kicking ruled out any further discussion. When he rang the doorbell, I sought to reestablish peace.
"I can solve your problem." I offered.
He wasn't interested.  I re-shut the door.

He rang the doorbell multiple times. It is obnoxious.
"Look. I have the ingredients to make home made chocolate chip cookies." I explained.  "I'll make you some." 

He muttered about blaming his sister.  I shut the door again.

After trying each of the entrances and discovering I'd also locked the car door so he couldn't sulk in the van, he knocked once more in a hard angry manner.  I opened the door just a hair and explained things. "You can have Revenge or you can have cookies. Home made Chocolate chip cookies warm from the oven.  I'll even let you make them."

It is ever thus, the human soul when offered paradise and hell, often thwarts itself. It was cold outside but I shut the door once more thinking back at my own brother and how we specialized in tourmenting each other, but only if our blood was truely up, would we not have gone for the cookies. It was hard not to let my own psyche start to be pulled in; I wanted to say "Bah!" and wash my hands of the whole mess but then it occurred to me (and I consider this grace because my first instinct was to say, fine, no one gets anymore cookies, we're done, kitchen closed....) kind of rant.   My son's blood was truely up, he felt his grievance keenly even if it was trivial and like all the souls at Christmas, he needs the grace of this, of lavish giving anyway and started baking.

He peeeks in the window near the kicthen and then there is a meek knock at the door.

For the record, he apologized to his sister for kicking. We never found out who ate them originally but my son even shared the chocolate chip goodness afterwards. I deliberately decided not to do an investigation. Cookies on a plate, the raw dough goodness, all of it once he allowed himself, erased the need.  For a kid, he'd been given the option of fire and water, and after some deliberation, finally chosen life over death.  Cookies. Revenge. Christmas. Sin. Why do we chose otherwise?  Thank goodness Love ignores our stubborness and offers Himself anyway.

Silent Night with Blinking Lights*

Before I was married, I was unaware of the theological differences between my husband and me on the acceptability of blinking versus steady Christmas lights.  I'd grown up with referring to such things as nervous lights, lights that couldn't commit, and liked color but wanted steadiness, taseful color that would show a touch of professionalism that my life otherwise lacked.

He loved lots of lights and blinking displays. He wanted it fun for the kids.    Renting a place in our early marriage delayed my discovery of this seasonal difference of opinion. So when we bought our first home a few years later and icicle lights were all the rage, I happily imagined our home in the soft glow of white dripping lights for the holidays.

"Let's decorate! You do the inside, we'll do the out." he proposed.  And we were off to the races. Half an hour later, he came in for the keys.  "We need more." he explained. 

I suggested that I’d make cookies and hot chocolate for everyone. They were a happy and willing army to “deck the halls.” Equally blissful, I put on my red Christmas apron and cut some slice in bake sugar cookies and made cocoa. I sighed in happiness at the prospect of this Christmas memory in the making.

Then, I looked outside.

There was a string of blue connected to a fluttering string of red and gold that meandered through the lower part of a tree and then wrapped a trunk and draped in artful bows, green, yellow and orange. A second tree was wrapped in white with a red, white and blue trailer that rippled on and off. Lit candy canes were propped in the ground, some at a 30 or 75 degree angles, some two feet apart, others, two inches.

“Isn’t this great?” My oldest son beamed. “I got to use the ladder.”
Sublimation is good for the soul. Seeing the real light of Christmas in the flashing lights in my children’s eyes, I surrendered my vanity to the blinking chaos that engulfed my yard. I figured, “They’re only young once.” I can get my pretty picture some other time.

The next year, I still wanted my vision of a white light Christmas. So I started putting out the lights myself, making a sacrifice and enduring icy cold but not snow inducing weather. Having covered all of the leafless bushes with nets of white, I left them on to surprise my husband. “Good honey, you started the lights.” He said when he came home.

“Is it time to decorate the house Dad?” my oldest daughter asked while the other ones went scrambling for mittens and coats. Within the hour, the house was festooned with hanging globes and stars, a rope of lights that bridged two trees and a separate tree with lights draped around the outer branches that blinked in three separate patterns. I served the Christmas cookies and thought, “Maybe next year.”

The third year, our neighbor across the street upped the ante by placing large lit trees and moving deer on his yard the day after Thanksgiving. He wrapped his trees and lined his driveway in a dazzlingly colorful if inelegant display. Now thoroughly indoctrinated with the idea that this was how to celebrate Christmas, my kids tripped the entire yard with lights. The candy canes were back. A blinking rope snaked around the mail box. The 30 foot pine was no obstacle. The kids tied the end of a strand of lights to a stick and their 6’2’’ hero dad climbed up the 18 foot ladder and heaved the stick over the top repeatedly. For the next four weeks, the two houses engaged in a silent happy Christmas war, adding additional blinking somethings to top whatever the other family had done until December 24th. Having lost once again, I handed out the cookies and fretted. This was becoming a tradition.

Then we moved.

Our new home had an HOA policy, where all the “holiday” displays must be tasteful. Every house had the soft glow of unobtrusive lights I’d wanted. The kids dutifully put out the sweet white lights. Their dad took the colored ones and artfully draped three trees in the back. We handed out cookies and looked at all the quiet but lovely decorations. It was pretty. But the lights in their eyes weren’t quite right.

I put out the uneven blinking candy canes around the white Christmas lighted tree, and whoops of joy shattered the silent night. I’d been converted. Now it was Christmas.

*Originally run in Island Park News in December of 2008

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Small Succcess Thursday

Another week has flown by and now, we start to count our blessings as part of preparation for Advent.  Nothing of the blur of the season matters but this, that we grow in grace, in gratitude for the gift that gives us Christmas.  It's so easy to get caught up in the moment, with needing to get cards and cookies and gifts and outfits, haircuts, shoes, trimming the tree, setting lights, and all the demands that come from everywhere and everything.  

But we're supposed to use this time of blessed waiting to learn how to wait blessedly, to wait on the blessed, to be blessed by the waiting itself. 

I admit, I catch sniffs and snatches of that, but they are the momentary, erased by the next moment when reality interrupts in the form of a car needing a repair, the toilet plunged, holes in socks, dishwashers that don't wash for some reason today, but do fine tomorrow, extra pounds, grey hairs, homework slips, cold weather, bad news on the news, colds and bills.  There is a noisiness to this world that can shout to the point of being seemingly legion and unstoppable. 

But that's the great gift of Christmas, the quiet blessedness of that scene of Joseph, Mary and Jesus and the star.  There's beauty. There's light. There's Awe and there's the great silence of that time, when all the ills of our hearts were stilled with the mere hope represented by the Incarnation. 

We need not live angry, we need not live only for this life, or stay steeped in sin, mired in pain, stuck in the dullness of scratching out a day to day existence.  To reach the stable, we need only look to the Heavens for the Star.  To seek out wonder and awe is to practice imitating the Silent Night of that Holy Night in our souls and let that blessed stillness permeate our being.  I remember how, it is the same way a mother can get still by holding a newborn to her chest.  

I understand what is necessary; it's just I'm very stubborn and take a while to learn to "Be still and know."  That grace takes time to build in me. And then every once in a while, I surrender to it. Then my soul wonders why it took so long and why I leave that moment so quickly.

So what did I do this week?

1) I went to a party with my husband.  It was lovely and fun. 
2) Got haircuts for six of the kiddos.
3) 14 loads of laundry including socks sit awaiting final transport to their proper rooms.
4) Organized Christmas outfits for all children.
5) Walked 2 miles on Sunday.  Okay, so that's a lame start to an exercise program, but it is a start. 

Why I Need a Time Machine

Some day I'm going to go into retail.  I will make millions.  The store I open will be hailed as a landmark creation that addresses the crucial needs of shoppers everywhere.  I will sell clothing in the season for which it is intended.

Yesterday I went shopping for Christmas dresses. 
As my mother observed, "This should have been done in October."
 That's when I was hunting for costumes and candy.
 "July."  she answered. 
"I was looking for swimsuits." "You should have started in April."
"But who wants to look in April, you've just come off of Winter and have all that cold season fat.  If you wait until June, you might have shed a few pounds..."

Mom recognized lunacy in it's organic form and remained silent on this point.  She's considerate of my delusions that way.

But it got me to thinking...there must be other procrastinators out there, last minute people who don't want to hunt and peck through the Internet and then pay 50 plus dollars extra for the privilege of having it shipped to their own home.  People who make the plane just before the door closes, who hit the snooze button more than once, who time things to the wire and often are so in this season, they aren't thinking of the next.  People who want to get today's stuff 

What would it's slogan be....The Procrastinator's Paradise....If you Forgot it...We got it!

The store would be open late for hassled parents who upon tucking their munchkins in bed were told, "Oh yeah, tomorrow I need a luminary kit, candy canes for the whole class and a Christmas sweater." 
It would be open early for those speed round shoppers who ran out of anything remotely edible that they could present as a reasonable facsimile of a lunch.   (The cupboard looked like an episode of Chopped without the stuff one would actually want to eat).   Yes.  It would make other people's lives easier. 

However, that dream is going to have to least until I find four Christmas dresses, a luminary kit, and whatever else I forgot to get that is necessary for right now.   It might take until next Halloween though. 

Prayer Update.

Prayer Update: From Facebook update: Zoe is sitting pretty at 98% with no oxygen. She is just on her machines thank you God and thank you for all who lifted her up in prayer today.   Thank you.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Prayer Request

Imagine every night surrendering your child at the foot of the cross.  I have a good friend that does that and so I've told her she's a closet Catholic. For nine years, she has attached her daughter to respirators every evening as part of kissing good night.

Having Ondine's Curse, the autonomic functions like breathing and heart beating can and do stop when she falls asleep. The pacers and respirator keep her alive.  The readings of the past few weeks about "Staying Awake!" take on a whole new meaning when one considers the level of vigilance required by my friend and her family and that of the 200 or so families alive at this point in the US that must deal with this difficult condition.  They must be forever alert.

My friend handles this with a diamond type faith, scathing sense of humor and absolute force of will.  She can't have an off night or a tired night or a I'd like to slum it night.  There are days when I put them to bed late, when I don't read stories, I don't do the double check for teeth brushing, when I phone it in.  There are nights when I fall asleep on the job.  She jabs me at times, "I used to be impressed with you, but now that there are the Duggars, well, you're just not up to the job.  Maybe if you had twins." 

Many of you know the story of her coming to see Paul at the hospital. I was in a deep funk keeping vigil over him at Children's.  We didn't know when the operation would be, but heart surgery was coming and I was scared.   She'd brought me hot chocolate from Starbucks.  Up to this point, she'd not seen my son.   Looking at him attached to the wires and monitors, she said, "Wow! He's Down Syndrome Hot!" and I spewed hot cocoa.  It was the first hard laugh since his birth and it lifted the worry in a way all the assurances of Children's doctors and nurses hadn't. 

Now, her daughter is struggling and has needed oxygen since Thursday.  Her mother cannot get her off the machines.  Shelley is normally pretty relaxed about managing this condition.  She handles the visits to the ICU the way the rest of us deal with colds, she just manages.  For her to even say that she's worried means the rest of us should pray. 

So I'm asking all of you to ask for a healing for Zoe for Christmas.  They are a beautiful family though I've only given you a snap shot of the mother.  Thank you.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Not Ready

It was the third Sunday of Advent, and I woke up not ready.

We got the grocery shopping done and had breakfast, we'd been out the night before so people slept in, so we were not ready.  We decided to go to the five as a result and the day drifted by.  I went for a weak jog (my first in ages), my body said, "Not ready."

At 2, dinner was put in the oven. It would take 4 hours and be finished just in time for us returning from mass.  By 4:30, I began collecting children.  We'd need two cars.  Three children needed shoes. The baby needed changing.  "We're not ready!" was churning through my head as I scrambled for socks and coats.  Getting in the car, I noted that three children had left their jackets behind, and that my 4 year old was wearing pants that had in the last five minutes, found an excuse to tear.  We were running late. We were not ready.

We drove as fast as speed cameras would allow. 

Parking in the handicapped spot thanks to Paul, I noted that the van was poorly positioned.  Everyone emptied out and started for the doors.  I got back in the car and re parked.  Scrambling into a pew, all I could feel was fatigue at trying to get to mass and not making it on time or even before the first reading. 

Within seconds, a child asked to go to the bathroom and there it was again, that not readiness.  My nostrils detected the unmistakable Pepe le Peu odor of a diaper needing changing.  Off during the homily I go with toddler in tow.  It is bad.  I use up all the wipes.  My daughter shows up with another daughter who has decided it is bathroom break time.  She helps me scramble for supplies to get my toddler clean.  It takes forever.  Washing my hands, I feel so utterly useless at this mass.  I've heard three scraps of the readings and about four minutes of the homily.  Going back to the pew, I'm wondering if I can even make a good case for allowing myself to receive communion.  We've been late and half present for half the mass.  Baby number 2 starts demanding attention and I open the diaper bag, (breaking the zipper) to get a bottle. 

The Priest is talking about how John the Baptist wanted to prepare people, to make them ready for Christ and how we are preparing ourselves or supposed to, with following the sacraments, prayer, seeking to act lovingly, think lovingly and scrub our souls free of sin before Christmas as the proper preparation for December 25th, as versus Christmas cards (haven't done it), cleaning the house (that's perpetual), buying presents (hahahahahahaha), buying festive gear (need to), etcetera etcetera etcetera.  On all fronts, I'm just a mess, barely managing today.  I'm not ready. 

And then the offertory song begins.  Hearing my husband and four of my six daughters singing with full voice, the Servant Song by Donna Marie McGargill, OSM.

It feels like the words were written for me in that moment of feeling just so lost and not present.

1. What do you want of me, Lord? Where do you want me to serve you? Where can I sing your praises. I am your song.

It is also a gentle rebuke of me for refusing to sing the other day because I didn't feel comfortable.

REFRAIN: 1. Jesus, Jesus, you are the Lord. Jesus, Jesus, you are the way.
2. Jesus, Jesus, you are my Lord. Jesus, Jesus, you are the way.
3. Jesus, Jesus, be warmth of my heart. Jesus, Jesus, you are the way.
4. Jesus, Jesus, you are my light. Jesus, Jesus, you are the way.

2. I hear you call my name, Lord, and I am moved within me. Your Spirit stirs my deepest self. Sing your songs in me. (REFRAIN 2)

And I think about how Advent is about waiting and listening, and that perhaps I am too impatient and too noisy to listen well. 

3. Above, below, and around me. Before, behind and all through me, your Spirit burns deep within me. Fire my life with your love. (REFRAIN 3)

Being fired hurts, but it makes the clay or the steel or whatever the good stuff is that has been molded and allowed itself to be shaped, stronger.  I'd just spent a few days puzzling over the eternal question of what now? for my life, and being irritated that God hasn't bothered to send a silver platter engraved explanation of His plans for me. 

4. You are the light in my darkness. You are my strength when I'm weary. You give me sight when I'm blinded. Come see for me. (REFRAIN 4)
And the choir of those I love combined with all those around me that I don't know overwhelms.  In that moment, everything that hasn't happened or needs to happen, falls away.  I want to just drink in the notes as my children sing, to hear every voice and sear their sounds in my head for the future.  It's not even something I can mention to them, or those who are self conscious, won't sing next time.  It was a one time concert, a Holy Spirit gift of Gaudete Sunday to help me get ready. 

Return to the House at Pooh Corner

Written by my sister, Jennifer Sanders

If I close my eyes now, I can go there. The bonfire is massive, tediously constructed from driftwood the family has collected all afternoon. The air is salty and warm, while the evening breeze provides a respite from the mosquitoes. There is an assembly line for s'mores, and the family gathers to hear stories and songs. I pop a freshly made s'more into my mouth, rewarded with a goey, chocolatey mess on my face and fingers. Dad has a guitar, and he begins to play.

"Christopher Robin and I walked along under branches lit up by the moon..."

A Loggins and Messina classic, I smile and sing along.

"Posing our questions to Owl and Eeyore as the days disappear all to soon..."

A song about slowing down enjoying the innocence of childhood...Dad is belting it out, and the rest of us can't help but sing along.

That memory is a beautiful one. I treasure it. It came to me this afternoon as I was nursing my 6 month-old daughter, Lucy. I have been reflecting on the meaning of Advent on this eve of Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete, meaning rejoice, reminds us to wait in joyful hope.

Since my dad has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, this type of waiting has become difficult. More often than not, I shake my fists at God. But other times, when I am touched by grace, I grasp beauty in the midst of my families' suffering.

Jesus reminds us that, "...unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven." (Mt. 18:3). Dad is surely becoming like a child again. Stripped of all things, he is humbled and vulnerable, an image of the incarnation.

I think again of my dad playing guitar down at the beach, and the words of that song.

"But I've wandered much further today than I should, and I can't seem to find my way back to the wood..."

All of us wander far from the path God would have us take. God asks us to be like children: docile, humble, innocent, dependent on Him.

Surely, my father is back on the right path. Looking at my dad and this disease with human eyes, he is lost, wandering, aimless. Yet, at the same time that we here on earth are losing him, he draws ever closer into God's mysterious and loving embrace.

I gaze at my sleeping baby as I rock back and forth, and I know that my dad has found his way back home. I pray that God will lead all of us back home into his loving embrace. I will see my dad again. One day he will be whole again.

And we will sing together.

"At the end of the day, I was watching my son, sleeping there with my bear by his side. So I tucked him in, I kissed him, and as I was goin', I swear that old Bear whispered, 'Boy, welcome home.' Believe me if you can, I've finally got back to the house at Pooh corner by one. What do you know there's so much to be done? Count all the bees in the hive. Chase all the clouds from the sky. Back to the days of Christopher Robin and Pooh.

See you at the beach, Dad. I love you.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Small Success Thursday

Sometimes, posting is a small success. (Sigh). 

This week has been rushed.  It hasn't been an epic fail, but it's sure felt cluttered, fractured and disorganized.   But today, we try to find the successes of the past week, like finding a matched pair of socks in the obnoxiously sized pile of unmated unloved ones. 


This week, I volunteered for my daughter's Daisy troop. (Cookie mom).  I've done it before so I know what it entails.

I wrote on Helen two days of the week.

There are only three loads of laundry on the couch waiting to be folded.

I mailed my Mom's birthday present and a small gift for my sister.

Now it's your turn.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Extentuating Extra Curricular Circumstances

For a time, I was steadfast about creating individual activities for individual children. It was a point of pride in my brain that one played soccer, another basketball, and still a third did Cubscouts.  After a season of ping pong driving from one soccer field to a different school for round ball to yet another gym for what was supposed to be a parent/child activity within a 90 minute time span, that vanity was burned away neatly.  I could live with lower expectations, at the very least, of me.

I also used to force extra-curricular activities. Demanding that the kids participate became the recreational equivalent of "Eat your veggies." But somewhere in between the fifth and eighth child, when no week day went without an extra oh, so and so has....fill in the blank, the emotional will to attempt to create uber offspring who were doing everything became much less interesting.  Any guilt at not signing up for something was quickly and quietly stomped into the ground with the mantra, "I don't have to drive."

Still, this is Montgomery County.  Every activity is Google + recommended and has a pedigree/litany spread sheet that reveals how this swimming/gymnastics/piano/soccer/art/underwater construction/Japanese immersion/fusion cuisine/hair coloring master mechanics class is better and has produced more gold medalists and Rhodes Scholars than any other schlub who hangs up a sign and offers to teach your child a skill for money.   So I couldn't go cold turkey on the after school bonus stuff even if I did need to rethink the details of all of it.

At this point, we decided after school activities work best if multiple children are doing the same thing at the same time at the same place.   I further decreed to allow/require that any and all activities after school meet two important criteria: 1) they did not require me and 2) did not require a car ride.

Band happened at school.  It happened during school.  It also happened after school, but right after, therefore it did  not require an extra trip. Ergo, everyone got band.  Further, as long as this state continues, everyone will get band even if they hate the instrument assigned and can't play a note.  For those who enjoy it, "We are so happy to support you and your interests."  For those who think otherwise, "We're building character. Now start practicing." 

As a benevolent dictator, I have their best interests at heart. When they get ready to apply to high school, they can put down if nothing else, band and they can put down that they did it for four years.  For the record, I'm totally fine if they want to rebel and become individuals with their own pursuits once they become licenced drivers. 

Still, even with the one stop extra-curricular shopping, kids activities threaten to kudzu my life and schedule.  It starts innocently enough with one little bright eyed child being offered the opportunity to do scouts.  There is even a carpool available.  The reason for saying no is pure selfishness and so guilt and reason demand naturally I say yes.  Then another asks to play sports and lo, their practice is on the same evening.  Guilt and reason shrug their shoulders. "Hey, it's not anything beyond what you are doing now."  Driving and bringing  a slew with me, one in the mandatory slew spots friends doing a third activity that is the same night. 

Logically, he thinks "Why not?" and asks for the opportunity to participate. I don't have an out and  can see the potential cascade of events that will follow.  Practice will move to a different night, forcing two outings a week.  The second night will also allow a fourth child to take on doing something that is parallel in schedule and at the same place.  The desire to accommodate what seems harmless will be fierce.  External pressure from guilt, reason and the kid in question will lead to surrender. 

Once signed up, the schedule of the new activity will be revealed to be a third night (that one was a once in a lifetime rescheduling for a different night), and I will be doomed to spend two hours of my life trapped in a car four nights a week while hot meals, (even microwaved) hot showers and bedtime before 12 a.m.will become a thing of the past, rumored to at one time exist in our household. I know I should hold firm.

But then my four year old daughter comes to me with those moppet eyes shining, talking about taking dance lessons.  They're on Saturday and won't interfere with the existing schedule.

 (Sigh). If you need me, I'll be in the car. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Regulations

It began with a question meant to while away the time driving from home to mass. “Hey kids! The grandparents in Texas want to give a family gift. Any suggestions?”

“A Dog!”
“A Fish!”
“A kitten!”

Sensing a trend I did not favor, I explained. “Rule number one: We shall add no living things to our family this Christmas.”

“What about a tree?”

“Nice try. But trees need to be planted at a different season, so while it’s a good idea, no. Let’s try again.”

“A Car!”
“A Boat!”
"A Tree House like they have on Phineas and Ferb."

“Okay, rule number two: This is out of range. Think less expensive.”

Me: That's a bit on the low side for a family gift.
“Donut maker!”
“Deep Fryer!”

Hearing loud protests from those who do not like donuts and those who do not like fried anything and wanting to quell the appliance litany that was starting to cream kids watch too much Food Network... “Okay, rule number three…we probably don’t need a food related gift.”

“Again, remember I said no living things.”

“So the rule is the range is somewhere between Candy and a Boat, and nothing that breathes and nothing you eat.” My oldest son summarized it for the younger ones. I still thought the bell curve was a bit large.

“Skateboard Park!”

Yep. Too large. “Mmmmm. We need to add one more rule. You know how I said no living things? Well, we also want nothing that turns living things dead. Plus I think they were outside the stated range which I will modify, it must be smaller than a go-cart.”

“You keep adding rules.” My daughter pouted.

“Well it's a gift. And I think intent and results matter. I don't think your grandparents want to give things that can cause death.”

“We didn’t say guns.”
“Or knives.”
“Or Bear traps.”

Me: “That’s good because you’re not getting guns or knives or bear traps. Did you want guns or knives or bear traps?”

“Not particularly.”
“The bear trap might have been cool.”

Me: “How do you even know about bear traps?”

“Civil War Series and the History Chanel”
“Little House in the Big Woods.”
“Wyle E. Coyote.”

“Okay. Nothing living. Nothing dead. Nothing that makes the living dead.”

“So no zombies.”

“Well, they’re not exactly keeping with the spirit of the season and we said a family gift.”

“We could get a family of zombies.”
“Cool. And if they got out of hand, the bear trap would come in handy.”
“Or the boat for a quick get away.”

Me: Okay, last rule because we’re almost to the parking lot. It must be in some way possible, fun, affordable, safe, not living and for the whole family. How about a basketball hoop?

I see grins in the rear view mirror as I park. "I think Mom planned that."
That's giving me way way way too much credit...but I'll take it.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Favorite Christmas Carols to Get Me in Christmas Mood

I've written about those Christmas carols that I loathe in prior years.  No need to rehash.  But since the radio that plays 24-7 Yuletide jams seems intent to only play the same 12 songs over and over again, I've decided to be my own D.J. and post here for your listening pleasure, my favorite of all time Christmas songs. 

1. We Need A Little Christmas. Perry Faith and Orchestra version.

Yes.  I love this chestnut from the K-mart special record of only chestnuts.  Yes I know Glee did a new version but I don't care.

From sixth grade on, I remember longing to be picked as one of Santa's dancers for the annual Christmas show.  They wore red leotards with red skirts trimed in white and santa hats and a touch of glitter on their eyes.  They all had long hair.  I thought they were amazing. 

This was the best version I could find. This is a listening post, not a visual one. Sorry.

Needless to say, this dream went unfulfilled but I still see the dance that I practiced in my bedroom with the eternal Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer --Sherry the short short haired tinsel teethed clumsy dancer hopes whenever it gets airtime.

2. All I Want for Christmas

This one gets me bopping without the embarrasment of emotional adolescent baggage.  It may be the 2007 equivalent of We Need A Little Christmas, (after all, she's got the same outfit) with Mariah Carey taking the place of Perry Faith and the Orchestra/Chorus but I like the song.  The video almost (almost kills it for me).

3. Mary's Boy Child

This is just a gorgeous reinvention of old songs.  I wish I knew how to play the steel drums or could sing so I could join in.  I do anyway, just when only those children who can't tell anyone are around. 

The song minus the german intro had them clad in white fake fur.
So while the floating candles are a bit funky and the fog at their feet, in all honesty, I'm basing these on the songs themselves, not the videos. Attention family who might be reading this... please do NOT see this list as a request for a white fur trimmed anything! 

4. Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by BNL with Sarah MacLachlan

Okay, I'm not taking any chances.  Here's a straight shot. No video to speak of, and we won't speak of those others.  A CD cover and the music and that's it.  I don't want all my favorites scarred by strangeness. 

It's my oldest two's favorite song too so we all join in for that one.

And my all time favorite that no one thankfully has royally messed up yet...

Martina McBride sang this in 1992 and it was the first time I'd really heard it.  For me, it stopped time.  I love every version I've ever heard since.  The school where I worked was doing a Christmas show and the deaf students from the 5th and 6th grade signed it and I got to hear and see it practiced every morning while I was feeding my students breakfast in the cafeteria.  It was a great way to prepare for Advent.   However, the only version I could find of her singing it was within a 10 minute interview, so you'll have to content yourself with Josh Groban.  Not too shabby. 

Hope it helped create a bit of Christmas cheer. I feel better having listened to it, though I may have to scrub the vision of Mariah Carey frolicking in the snow with Santa from my brain. I'm off to don my red santa hat trimmed with fur and encourage the kids to set up the tree.

And a new one sent to me by a friend via email. Thanks Theresa!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Small Success Thursday

It's been a crazy week. 
Today is Thursday.
So today we stop to consider how last week, we did little things with great love.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

This week is the first week of Advent.  There is lots to consider, and sometimes it feels like there is never any time.   Today, I'm feeling pressed.

But we celebrated Thanksgiving. 
We played football as a family.
We had a grocery date.
I submitted an article.
This week I finished my book on Dorthy Day. The review is three posts back.
A friend invited me to go to a night of reflection and I did.
And I made a pitch for a magazine job.  We'll see.

Now.  What were you up to in the past week?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Toys Kids Don't Want

Every year at this time, marketers lose their minds. 

Specifically, they start shilling for things that no child has ever expressed a wish that they would own.  The following is a short list of worst gifts ever, guaranteed to annoy and injure any loving relationships that might otherwise exist. Some are bad because kids wouldn't want them, others are bad because adults won't like them, and some are just simply bad ideas all together.

Stompeez Slippers: shoes for bedtime that require stomping. Bedtime! Stomping! This is a behavior we want to encourage?

Chixos:  1000 plastic tiny toxic petroleum based smaller than fruity pebbles type rings that are easy to lose and look like colored licorice. Kids will have fun with small non edible parts making things that are not edible. Parents will have even more fun cleaning up non edible parts.

Happy Nappers: Pillows that are shaped like pillows, you sleep with them like pillows....hmmmm.  Yeah. Kids all over the world are thinking, you know what I want to do Christmas day?  Nap.   No. That's what grown ups want to do. 

Doggie Doo Game: This game does exactly what you think it does with play dough and a semi anatomically correct daschund.  I quiver in fear of the auxiliary set add-on, Doggie Pee. 

It may seem I'm dumping on infomercial type gifts, but you'll note, I haven't slammed (as tempting as it might be), the Forever Lazy. For the uninitiated, a Forever Lazy is a cheap onesie designed for people past the potty training stage of life, for those for whom a Snuggie is too complicated. Hard to imagine since Snuggies were created and marketed for those who felt intellectually taxed by blankets and/or sweaters.

Now, a final note: purchasing these sort of gifts doesn't make anyone a bad person, it just means you may have some moral failings that need addressing.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

If A Saint Blogged: Book Review of Duty of Delight

Before I read Duty of Delight, the diaries of Dorthy Day, I confess my knowledge of her was extremely limited.  I'd seen her book "The Long Loneliness" in our library, but I had not read it.  I knew tangentially of her writings and the Catholic Worker in the way that theoretically "everyone" knows about Dorthy Day.  I knew she was steeped in a love of the poor, and thirsty for social justice, had been a pacifist and that was the limit of my understanding.  (Blogger note: I cribbed the picture from the Amazon page.  If you want to order it, go here).

Given current events with the economy, the jobless rate and recent protests, Dorthy Day's words and thoughts would seem most appropriate. Indeed, one of the chants/slogans: "To Comfort the Afflicted and Afflict the Comfortable." come from her words. (Wish I'd dogeared the page). I later learned it's part of Dorthy Day's Chaplet, part of the Mysteries of Mercy.

Reading her thoughts as they traced the history of five decades, while the problems and issues of the day changed from the 30's depression to the 40's war to the 50's and the civil rights issues, the drugs of the sixties and wars and drugs and promiscuity of the 70's, Dorthy Day's response remained remarkably consistently the same.  She embraced prayer and service with tremendous zeal. While she lived out the beatitudes in her life and work and she loved and revered the Eucharist and the liturgy, her diary reveals how this was a difficult and ongoing battle within her to stay true.  

At one point, she grouses that while Christ did feed the 5000, he didn't do it every day.  But recognizing one cannot out do God in generosity or charity, she does not spend much time dwelling on her struggle.  The diary reveals simply that she has accepted this yoke. She gets up, and she does it again; another day, every day. This fortitude is part of what earned her the title, "Servant of God" by Pope John Paul II in 2000.  The case for her candidacy as a saint within the Catholic Church was opened in 1983. 

This is a discomfiting read, challenging in real time the reader to recognize that here is someone who is earnestly striving for holiness.  It's also a difficult book because it isn't a narrative, it's a person's daily thoughts which sometimes are a list of things to do, and other times are a report of what happened, and still others, a notion of what she will write, not yet teased into full form.  Consider this tome a window into a holy woman's mind. She claims she's a Martha, but I see Mary in someone who receives the Eucharist almost daily, who prays constantly for strength and charity and who is not reasonable or limited in her demand of herself to love and witness publicly for peace and justice.

Her thoughts echo in some of the most thoughtful discontent expressed today.  Ignoring the reality of suffering is the societal version of complicit moral sloth. Our society today suffers from the same ills she protested against over the course of fifty years.  We do need a society that makes it easier for men to be good. We do need a society that promotes and allows for charity towards those who fail themselves. We do need to not turn a blind eye to the poor. We need to recognize inequities and see Christ in the distressing disguise of the poor. (I would submit we fail to see Christ in anyone we do not know, wish to know, or anyone we've decided we don't like). We also need to call people to charity, to urge through witness, through simplicity, through self denial, rather than engage in antagonism for anarchy's sake; heated argument fails where quiet witness compels. "Where there is no love put love and you will find love." Dorthy Day's life speaks of that active quiet witness of putting love where there is none.

On a personal note, I was struck by how disciplined a mind  Dorthy held, even in her private writings.  When she would make reference to another's issues, (say drunkenness or promiscuity), she would immediate rebuke herself for lacking in charity, for not loving the sinner despite the sin with sufficient enthusiasm.  She would remind herself of her own faults, her own failings, and the reasons people chose sex or drugs or alcohol.  To keep a journal over decades and not stray into allowing one's mind to gossip or slander or insult, shows a tremendous depth of forbearance that is no accident.  It is deliberate obedience to showing charity of thought. There are only glimpses of deep hurt or deep joy, when she references Forester (as his then common law wife lay dying), or in old age, as friends sought her out daily and provided little comforts in the form of beauty (music), thought (books), and daily joys (foods and company).

My only problem may perhaps be personal. Dorthy's impressive intellect dazzles, but her fascination and admiration for communism (given its track record even then) in general, puzzles me.  Likewise, her then progression to view herself as an anarchist distresses.  Part of my brain understands, she was Catholic, and therefore seeking citizenship in Heaven, rather than holding any attachment to the world, but it put distance between Dorthy and me as a reader. God's law; which is both radical in its call to love, and demanding in its call to obedience led me to conclude Dorthy Day was an obedient anarchist for Christ if such a term can be said to exist.

Dorthy's love of books, of good company, of quiet, of the water, of beauty, of her daughter and her "family" all mirror her devotion to Christ  She is flesh and bone and thought, a real woman who lived out some part of Christ's mission, who did what we're supposed to do, to commit all to living out that sliver of understanding that grace, that God has bequeathed us, and to live it all our lives, with our whole hearts, even when it's hard.  It is a day by day, year by year, winter, summer, sickness and health, poor and rich, 'till death when we unite struggle that must be embraced and sought and performed.  We get a privileged glimpse into the heart of someone who did it. 

It might be the modern equivalent of "If a Saint Blogged."and it's a good primer for all of us who live comfortably as a rule and need to integrate the beatitudes into our daily breathing lives.  We've been given much.  Much will be expected.  All in all, a good book to challenge the mind, the heart and the soul to greater love, greater devotion, greater prayer and a daily embracing of what Christ calls us to be.  Dorthy would like that, for that is also what she sought from the books that she read.

P.S. For those more tech savy than me, Duty of Delight is available on Kindle.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Rejected Marketing Slogans for the New Translation

Any Catholic paying half attention knows that the new translation for the mass starts tonight with the first Sunday vigil of Advent.  A lot of careful thought and training and teaching has gone into preparing the laity for these changes in the language of the mass, which is good because many times, people still don't know when to stand or sit if some wayward soul goes on autopilot and stands when there is a reason not to stand yet.   We need the prep work.  We need the guidance to make these adjustments.

What people don't know, is a large publicity campaign was created to help sell the new responses and words to the general public, but it was scrapped at the last minute when saner heads prevailed and said we'd get it and just to give us time.   Here, due to some fictitious and near legendary undercover investigating, done mostly under the spell and stupor of cranberries, stuffing and gravy based sandwiches, this blog has uncovered the top ten rejected marketing plans for the changes coming to a liturgy near you.

10) Because Hank Williams is currently looking for a gig and we might be able to get him on the cheap:  "Are you ready for some Latin?  Some Sunday Mass Liturgy!"  

Vatican response: Pass. Punt.

9)  After 40 years, the true translation can be revealed....

Vatican: Sigh.  We just got rid of those nut jobs who read Dan Brown.  They don't need encouragement.  Next! 

8) The Translation! It's New and Improved!

Vatican: Actually, it's ancient, it's accurate, and it's simply more correct.

7) There will be a test!

Vatican: Do you even know what we're talking about?

6) Over 1.8 billion Currently Being Saved.

Vatican: Facepalm.

5) Picture this:  Home Depot presents: Mass Makeover!

Vatican: I should have saved the facepalm for this one.

4) Cha-cha-cha-changes...turn and face the

Vatican: Stop! Save the David Bowie for the CYO dances. 

3) From the Institution constantly criticized as never changing, something completely different.

Vatican: Big Monty Python fan but no.

2) Sorry about the mix up, it's all Greek to me!

Vatican: I don't think so.

1)  Facebook Page: Liturgy: Current Status: New!

Vatican: I may have to tweet that one.

 For those who feel I may have stepped over the line, through my fault, my fault, my own grievous fault, I apologize.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Small Success Thursday on Friday...

Okay, so the turkey coma lasted until now...but last week was fun and oddly successful.

Today, we take note of the little successes of the past 7 days that add up to all that matters in a life dedicated to doing little things with great love, and to the care of all those we are called to love. 

So here's last week (these are my small successes) :
1) date night on Saturday.  It was lovely and unplanned, but it happened and it was fun.
2) finished Financial aid forms for high schools and got daughter to finish one of her two applications!
3) threaded out four dressers of non fitting/out of season/wrong clothing.  8 more to go.
4) read 200 more pages of Dorthy Day's Duty of Delight. Review will be next week on 11/29.
5) fixed tail light on van without going to a mechanic. 

here's the rest of last week because there were small failures too:
1) didn't do the rosary on Thursday, had to finish Wednesday's which had been incomplete.
2) Gained 3 temporary pounds from cake, pie, turkey, lamb, stuffing, cranberries and bread. 
3) there is a playpen of laundry, it is over the top filled and I haven't touched it. 

So I blew budget, prayer discipline and diet all in one week.  But the good thing is, I get to start over starting today.  So that's this week's goal, to start again.

Now it's your turn!  Hope you have a blessed first day of Advent this Sunday and that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends! 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Time to Deal with the Turkey*

It's the week of Thanksgiving and I must endure the seasonal complaint from the one son who thinks any time poultry graces the table, it is a personal slight.  Never mind that I make his favorite dessert, it is the bird itself that offends.  

"Why do we have to have turkey?"  He laments. Having researched the holiday and mentioned that this was not the only thing served.  However, he doesn't necessarily think venison, lobster or clams are viable options either.  After being offered alternatives, he acknowledged that he doesn't want historical, he just wants this traditional part omitted.  "Why can't we have steak? I'd be thankful for that." The complaint gets some traction with this alternate proposal from his older brother. 

Now I'm a reasonable mother.  I have explained that he need not eat any turkey ever.  But children, being children do not consider compromise meeting the adult halfway; let me rephrase that, children being children do not consider compromise.   He made me a helpful list of the foods traditionally served at this holiday in November that he doesn't like.  It included the following:

Stuffing (Chestnut and/or Cornbread)
Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes
Cranberry relish, jelly, Cranberries
Green beans
Roasted vegetables
Crescent rolls

When I pointed out that this left only Pumpkin pie and whipped cream, he hastily grabbed the list and added Cool Whip --so I would know the whipped cream must be fresh.  "It would cut down on the dishes and the calories." he offered helpfully, "....and the expense." 

Now I know that sarcasm is not a recommended parenting technique; but clearly, gastronomic empathy for any taste buds other than his own was lacking.  It was time for something drastic.

"How about I just serve you Captain Crunch?" I asked.


"Sure.  Cold cereal. No fuss. No work.  No worries.  You like Captain Crunch and there would be no offending smells in your kitchen.  You know, there are brothers and sisters who Don't like pumpkin chiffon pie.  This way, no one would smell something they don't like or have to endure seeing  a food they didn't want on the holiday."

"But..."  he was crumbling as he envisioned that once a year favorite pie not happening.

"In fact, we could make it a tradition for Christmas and Easter and every holiday.  I bet if I wrote that we were having this as our feast, we could have a commercial with General Mills...." 

"Well....maybe we  could have apple pie for my sisters who don't like pumpkin." he started to break.

"It would be okay if we had pies you don't like?" 

"I guess so..." 

"What about me? I can't eat sweets right now. What will I eat?" I asked.

"Can you eat turkey?"
"Yes.  But I also will need vegetables, as I can't eat the breads or the sweet potatoes."

"I guess we can have a turkey."

"And my folks.  They really like chestnut stuffing and giblet gravy..."

"And your sister lives for making the mashed potatoes and your brother LOVES cranberries."
"I guess so..."

"Don't forget, your dad loves mushrooms and Paul devours crescent rolls and broccoli."
"So....we have to make the whole dinner?" he asked fearfully.

"I'm afraid so..."

"But promise me one thing?" he asked.
"What's that sweetie?"

"You'll use fresh whipped cream, not a can or Cool Whip?"   
I nodded.

And he smiled and left the table, the peace talks had been victorious in his opinion.  I'm now thankful that 1) I had enough family to get each dish back, 2) he didn't call my bluff and 3) this holiday only comes once a year.

Originally run on Nov. 21, 2010.

Small Success Will Be Celebrated Friday...

Because today (Thanksgiving) is dedicated to cooking, football, family and food comas.  Give thanks. Hug your family and enjoy this day. Happy Thanksgiving! I'll be here tomorrow to help everyone recover and count their blessings. --Sherry

Monday, November 21, 2011

100 Blessings

This week is Thanksgiving.  We should give thanks.  Even in this economy, with all the unrest, all the agitation in our society, we should be overwhelmingly grateful.  A friend of mine starts her day counting her blessings before she even puts her feet on the ground.  What a way to start every day!  She is also (no coincidence) one of the most grounded people I know. 

It isn't cliche to count your blessings because we so often forget to do this, that it isn't a common practice.  Rather, it's common to Not count your blessings, to take them for granted and presume that they are somehow acknowledged in the non-acknowledging of the gifts in one's life.  We need moments like Thanksgiving, and older traditions and celebrations than this, to remind us to think beyond today and tomorrow, to think about our past and about all the things in our everyday that give the everyday salt, light, heat, truth and beauty.

Numbering these was done only to keep count and in no way designates priorities, because all of them are simply blessings; simply things and people and experiences for which I feel tremendous grattitude, some serious, some not so, all blessings that bring joy, comfort, and make the day no matter what the day, Thanksgiving.

100. Being alive.
99. Chocolate.
98. My health.
97.  My children.
96. Flowers.
95. Our Parish.
94. Answered prayers.
93. Old friends.
92. New friends.
91. Listening to my children play music.
90. Watching my youngest daughter learn to dance.
89. Date night.
88. Having my best friend/husband of 21 years.
87. My inlaws.
86. My parents.
85. My brothers
84. My sister.
83. my 2 nephews and 7 nieces.
82. my extended family
81. my degree.
80. Good books.
79. snow.
78. the rosary.
77. the beach --Caplen, Texas.
76. homemade pumkin pie
75. this country.
74. our house.
73. the 24-7 Christmas music radio station even though it started before Advent because it brings my littlest children great joy.
72. 18 years of being a stay at home mom
71. phone calls from family and friends.
70. mail that isn't bills.
69. foot rubs.
68. writing
67. the level of wit and education of my children, always delights.
66. the occasional talent to shock my children by proving 1) I can paint and 2) I can dance.
65. a sense of humor.
64. going to see sporting events.
63.  Unexpected good music that somehow makes wherever you are, a more perfect moment.
62. mass.
61. the school that shelters and educates and has loved all my children.
60. flowers that still bloom in November.
59. Seeing deer with full antlers still makes me watch with a touch of awe.
58. Soup that cooks all day.
57. Warm fires on cold nights.
56. the way the kids love to decorate for every holiday by making 1000 pictures to tape on the walls.
55. the feeling after exercising.
54. getting enough sleep.
53. unanticipated art --in architecture, displays, flashes of deliberate beauty both manmade and not.
52. listening to my husband read to the children for bedtime.
51. when the older ones do the dishes or some chore unasked.
50. when any of them do a chore because it is asked.
49. All the things I've yet to learn.
48. freedom
47. being asked to pray for someone.
46. seeing my children grow in grace and wisdom.
45. occasionally experiencing it myself.
44. when I don't give in to fatigue.
43. seeing the generosity of those around me.
42. miracles.
41. dreams told over the breakfast table.
40. rediscovering talents that have laid fallow.
39. discover new ones.
38. sunrise.
37. sunset.
36. the gifts that each child has.
35. the gifts that each child requires of me.
34. the gifts that each child reveals I need.
33. vine ripe tomatoes
32. shooting stars.
31. sensible advice
30. Having a four day weekend.
29. Sleeping in.
28. Being on time.
27. unexpected presents.
26. visits from friends.
25. finding a lost earing/shoe/brush/picture/paper/book.
24. eating together as a family.
23. playing football outside.
22.  drinking hot red raspberry tea inside.
21. seeing one of my kids lost in a book.
20. being asked to play by them.
19. the seasons of the Earth
18. the seasons of the Church
17. the promise of Summer.
16. finding that perfect gift for someone.
15. good photos.
14. recognizing and then making time because someone needs it.
13. giving a rub  Paul puts my hand on his back or feet when I put him to bed, and when I pull back to leave, he grabs my hand and says, "Mommmm" so I know, he wants to be rubbed to sleep.
12. having your baby fall asleep in your arms.
11. the night sky
10. being invited out to do something.
9. the beautiful state we live in.
8. cooking for my family and having it well received.
7. learning new things.
6. winning when I play cards or chess -rare either way.
5. getting better at playing the piano.
4. the kind people who are educating Paul so well.
3. 45 years of life that feels almost luminous, it has been so fun.
2. having so many people to love.
1. the Eucharist

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Burning Both Ends

It's no secret that this symester, our lives have been hectic.  For those unfamiliar, we now have four schools in four different directions that our children go off to in the morning.  This is our typical Monday thru Friday routine.

5:50 a.m.  Get up.
6:00 a.m.  Make sure all but the oldest and youngest children have been roused.
6-6:30 Make 8 lunches and one snack. Husband departs with oldest daughter to drop her off at train.
6:30-7 Make ten breakfasts, change two diapers, get youngest three and self dressed.
7-7:30 Convince all children to eat, finish getting dressed, brush teeth, comb hair, find coats, be shod and get in the car with backpacks and lunch bags.  Wake oldest son to come down and feed baby and watch youngest three.  Husband returns to get ready for work.
7:30-8:00 Take middle five to school and return.
8:25 Walk youngest son to foot of driveway to wait for bus.
Housework/patrol house/laundry if I'm being virtuous.
Oldest son is dropped off at the bus at 10:45 so he has time to go to the library before his 3:30 classes and take care of any paperwork at school.  He will have classes until 8:30pm and have to catch the 9:05 bus back. 
Run any out in the world errands.
Youngest son must be picked up at the foot of the driveway at 11:35 am
Lunch, paperwork, any slumming done during the day, plus storytime and writing.
Load car at 2:20 with youngest three to pick up at school and then drive to the metro to pick up oldest girl to then go back home.
Homework. Snack. Solo What did you do today reports and complaint office.  Mom I need....list.
6:00 Dinner for all that are home.
7:00-8:45 Baths, dishes, teeth, stories, prayers, clean up .
Meanwhile more homework/bedtime.
Husband leaves work to pick up oldest son from the station, getting both of them back to our house by 10:20.  
Second dinner for oldest son and husband. 
Dishes/spot conversations about what's going on, what happened and what will go on tomorrow.
12 pm. Baby wakes up for evening diaper change and bottle and to be rocked back to sleep.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

This  is neither a cry for help nor a complaint, it is merely fact.  Writing it out explained to me (because my brain is too sluggish to figure it out on my own), why when I got up and saw this quote, I thought....Oy.

Quote of the day by Bishop Fulton Sheen: Burning the candle at both ends for God’s sake may be foolishness to the world, but it is a profitable Christian exercise-for so much better the light. Only one thing in life matters. Being found worthy of the Light of the World in the hour of His visitation. We need have no undue fear for our health if we work hard for the kingdom of God; God will take care of our health if we take care of His cause. In any case it is better to burn out than to rust out.

Not rusty.  Am hoping for a nap soon. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Small Success Thursday

It's Thursday and yes I'm late in posting but last night, I got to watch Catholicism on EWTN and fell asleep on the couch instead of preemptively writing this piece.  

First, this week: 

1) I went to confession. 
2) went swimming with four of my kids at a birthday party.
3) Got to see friends this weekend.
4) Went shopping with my teen for her dress.
5) Saw the same daughter in an Improv show on Friday.
6) Stayed on budget. 
7) Introduced husband and some of my children to Fr. Barron's Catholicism series. 

Also: This week's goal: I plan to finish reading my book.

How do you play? Count your blessings, list your victories, celebrate your successess that this week added up to a lot of love for those around you.  It's a fun way to pat yourself on the back and take stock of how things are going.   If you don't have a blog, list your celebratory moments in the com box.  Otherwise, (Mr. Linky willing), I can't wait to see what all of you have been up to! 

Now it's your turn. I'd also ask all of you to invite one friend to join in, so we can grow this group.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fasting, Fighting and Finishing the Rosary

So, I took a break.  I'd love to tell you I fasted all day, but it didn't happen.  I checked twice during the day, once because my daughter asked me to email her teacher.  The other time, was both habit and wilful ignoring of my prior plan. 

Evening came and my second son and I had been butting heads.  This is not news, it's not out of the ordinary, he frequently figures out how to agitate and then proceeds until everyone is irritated.  Sometimes, it seems a sport to him.  He'd managed to spend the afternoon playing sibling ping pong, sending me multiple crying or irritated "Mommmm...he's bothering me." type messages from most of his brothers and sisters.  I'd tried talkings, separating, taking a walk myself, sending him outside, calling my mom.  It felt hard, tiring, futile.  What am I doing?  Do I have to keep doing it?  What else can I do?

So I'm on my knees transfering the laundry, wondering how to manage all these persons, chain praying my rosary, as is often my habit, having paired the spiritual task of saying it daily with the everyday must do chore of folding.   How can I do this Mary? I'm begging her for answers, hoping she'll solve this for me because frankly, I know I don't want to solve it, I want to be annoyed and use irritation and lectures and I know that won't work.   I also know I'll get mad that it doesn't work just like it hasn't worked before, and that it will end in bad words and bad feelings.  I don't want that so I make dinner.  I deliberately make his favorite dinner. 

It doesn't work.

The squabbles continue. 

Attempting to reestablish control, I divide and dress half for bed, ordering the others to their homework or other assignments that must be done.  The television is put on by someone.  It is Harry Potter.  They all gravitate to the screen and I capitulate.  There's no gas left in the tank and I'm starting to feel sick.

Some time after the movie starts, I started having a spasm of coughing, my face turned red.  I know it scared my son.   I assured him I was fine but he knew my history, he knew of my vocal cords, of my thin airway, and of my bad reactions to colds.  His voice betrayed his worry, his fear when my coughing got loud.  I took some medicine and tried to brush it off but promised to call his dad if it persisted.  Half an hour later, the cough returned and my second son ordered me to lie down.  He brought me ice water.  He asked, "Have you prayed today?"  I indicated that I still hadn't finished my rosary.  He told me to pray in my head and he began at once.  Sitting there on the couch, watching my 12 year old son pray the rosary and fold towels to start the Herculean task of what I hadn't finished, both in prayer and for the domestic needs of the family, my eyes brimmed with tears.

Mary had answered in that gorgeous way that only the Blessed Mother can. 

When he finished, he came over and gave me a hug and rubbed my feet for a bit and I was able to help fine tune the folding, finish up and hug him good night.  I marvel that I could feel anything but overwhelming love for this child, it is heartbreakingly wonderful and I try to let the whole moment fill my heart, to store it and keep it for the next time I'm tempted to respond too quickly.

It is a beautiful and rare thing to hear one's son pray.  

Silenced by Noise

What we do we become, what we think, we act upon, what we believe, we profess in our everyday actions, thoughts and words.  So...what happens when we engage in silence? It depends upon if the silence is to shut people out, or if it is to invite others including God, in. 

My mind is a busy noisy stupid thing.  It runs from the profound like the sentence above, to the utterly mundane like the theme song of "My Little Pony" because my kids watch it, to the drab --today we need to go to the drycleaner, schedule carpet cleaning, fold and I need to check my calendar.  But what it rarely is, is quiet.  If I get quiet in the mind, it is a bit alarming even to me.  Silence usually equals sleep.

So the fact that my head has been lapsing into quiet, seeking quiet, was brought into contrast this weekend by the amount of activity and noise that surrounded us.  When I got to the last event on Sunday, a swimming party, there were lots of people around.  Being in the presence of others almost immediately makes me happy.  I so want to join in.  But my social skills are gregarious and still despite 45 years, a bit over the top.  Being in the presence of ten people to manage, that noisy clutziness gets muted because then the focus is other oriented.  But absent the crush of that many others, I get loud and sometimes talk when I should listen and I know I can amuse, but what I want is friends. 

Talking with the women, one of them said, "If she ever felt overwhelmed by her schedule, she would just think of me." and I felt the chasm, the distance between us which I never sought, which seems insurmountable.  I was just trying to tell about the craziness of this particular weekend.  It happened to be tremendously full.  But the story had become a barrier which left me muted the rest of the party, wondering how to become friends with all these lovely people who had fresh eyes because this was their first or their only.  I wanted their stories, their take on things, because I did not want to miss any of the bright shiny penny moments of my own and that might happen if I allowed myself to become jaded. 

It's a known fact, I talk too much. Even blogging is a form of monologuing.  Even route prayer.  I let the words fill up my mind and as such, I crowd out others.  It's not that God can't work on me through this, but He wants more and that more can only come if I am stiller.  So today, is an internet silence day.  I'll check back tomorrow.  I'm sure if I let myself listen, there will be lots of stories to hear. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing*

Back in college, I took a great class called Fantasy and Philosophy. The first half of the course, we sped through the Elliatics --early Greek thinkers, discussing all is numbers, all is atoms, all is air or fire, and then Aristotle and Plato, all is understood dimly, we grasp at the shadows thinking them the real. Then, the professor took us through Berkley --all is perception, Kant, all can be divided into that which we can know only through experience (aposterori), and that which can be understood absent experience (apriori), and finally, more modern methods of understanding the universe --via science, and one ancient one, animism --where all things are infused with spirit.

Then, the teacher asked a question. What world would you WANT to live in, if one of these, but none of the others, must be true. 97% of the class voted for scientific materialism. Some even argued that it was true. The remaining 3% voted for animism. Like the other two who voted with me, I figured, a world without feeling or meaning was harder to bargain with than rocks and trees that might be moved by music or a good story.

So today, when the car didn't seem to want to go, I gave it a little pat and lo, it started. My little son has a plant that his father gave him from Florida. He watches it grow on the hour. We get regular reports that it has gotten bigger. My older son received a palm tree plant too. I went into his room to vacuum. He does not give us hourly reports. You know what; his brother's plant is decidedly larger, leafier and greener.

Then, our youngest daughter lost one of her shoes. Hunting all around the house, I finally demanded of the other shoe, “Where is it?" as I fumed and tossed it in irritation. The shoe bounced under the couch. As I went to retrieve it, feeling foolish, of course, there were the two shoes underneath.

Now, as I ponder what all these inexplicable situations mean, I'm eyeing my house and furniture with a tad more wariness and respect. Maybe it's a case of perception being being, but just to cover my aposterori, I've asked my purse to please stop wandering when I need to get out the door!

*Originally run on 3/15/09

Friday, November 11, 2011

Half a Duggar

You knew I was going to have to talk about this sometime didn't you? 

As a mom of ten, I've heard the quips, the canards, the snipes, the snips, the ungenerous critiques and legitimate concerns about the Duggar family from the time they started making the news circuit with their 16th child with a name starting with the letter "J" long before they became part of the TLC lineup. I've been asked, "Trying to out do the Duggars? Trying to be like the Duggars? Ever watch them?"

Until this week, I hadn't and wouldn't be able to pick them out in a lineup but for the numbers. Being a mom of half a whole Duggar clan, I'm not so foolish as to not know that those uncharitable thinkings could easily be about me. I don't have a tv show, but I do have a blog and invite people to read about some of the stories of our lives by my words and thus open us to the searing scrutiny of anyone who decides we are worth their time.

So I made myself sit down and watch. Admittedly, some of my kids were fascinated.  Maybe because I'd had ten, my sense of proportion is skewed, but I did not feel overwhelmed by their lives.  I'd read all the "It's selfish! They're wrong and should be isolated/its child abuse rants" with the news of this new baby. I expected to feel the chaos and irritation.  I didn't. 

It seems that because the Duggars have a tv show, they are fodder and fair game for all armchair quarterbacking of their lives no matter how uncharitable, untruthful or ill tempered. They're a cult. They're publicity hounds. They're pimping out their kids. They're wierd. They're irresponsible to the Earth and their children. How can they raise all those children? They're just in it for the money. He's a repressive oppressive individual who keeps his wife and girls down. She's too submissive, too stupid, brainwashed...insert insult here. The kids will be warped for life...

Concern: The kids are being repressed.

One day, they'll find out how isolated they were and see how uneducated and stiffled in creativity they were.  I read this in multiple com boxes that followed articles about the Duggar's new addition.  The kids are uneducated and stiffled and will one day rebel and they can't reach their true potential..really? I saw kids doing their homework and playing the violin, engaged in public speaking to peers, playing a game with donuts, sports, being kids.   But maybe I needed to see a different episode.

Concern: It's wrong to make the older kids help with the younger ones.

In a world where we believe we are all entitled to be 24-7 self stimming, I can see how instilling the idea that you are your brother's keeper might clash with modern thinking. The show is edited so I don't know how much of what is said and shown is real reality. But I do have a question for those who bash the Duggars on this point. Why is arm chair parenting so vitriolic when it comes to the Duggars and accepting when it comes to people like Snookie from Jersey Shore. We want a world of Snookies? of self involved stupid opulent hedonists? as opposed to people who live debt free, care for each other and have basic skills --oil changing the car, carpentry and sewing, that most of us have long since abandoned or never learned.

Concern: It is unsafe for the mom.

Having had a few difficult pregnancies, I can understand the worry about the mom given her last go around. However most of the criticism on this point is couched in a sheer fury that the couple would allow themselves to become pregnant again painted in the veneer that she (the mom) could die and the child could be handicapped. These same people would be equally smug and self congratulatory if she does struggle and there are complications.  Call it preemptive rage.  They hated her before they had a reason. The newest baby just reminds them, they hated her. 

Presumably, her OBGYN will keep in mind her past history and make adjustments.  Morals and values don't change because life gets hard, they get abandoned because people want to stop trying.  To my way of thinking, they made a commitment to each other, to life, and to not using birth control methods that 90% of the population have decided is a necessity of adult life to prevent live children.  It seems to me, the Duggars are living that out.  If our society is really pro-choice, it shouldn't have a problem with this personal decision.  If our society is really pro-life, it should also, not have animosity towards this couple. It has gone from it's their choice to if you can afford them to how dare you?  In truth, it was always, how dare you!  I hope for all of them, that this is a healthy baby and the pregnancy goes well.

Concern: Overpopulation and Unfair use of the Earth's Resources:

7 Billion people...7 Billion. Begin screaming! Cry! Duck and Cover! Start canning the tomatoes...wait, we might need to ask someone to teach us how to can...start dying now so that the earth can survive! So...should we just tell every woman that discovers she's expecting that the Duggars used up the last slot on Earth and they're out of luck? Pro-choice for me but not for thee? Celebrate and promote war so we can decrease the surplus population to unburden Gaia? That was the gods' solution in the Trojan war, when mankind had grown too numerous.  The Duggars are not the end of civilization. 

Concern: Too Many to Love: 

In our contraceptive culture, our hearts are becoming ever smaller. We do not understand how one could love more, because we can scarcely tolerate ourselves. We cannot imagine loving a handicapped child. We cannot imagine a handicapped child being happy to exist.  We cannot imagine that children in a large family will be real, will be accomplished, will be normal, will feel loved.  It's an odd thing that we think so much of individuality as a society, but want so much to fit in to a larger group that loves us for who we are...isn't that the definition of family?  But on a practical note: if it takes a village to raise a child, then why would not supplying your own village in your own home be an effective manner of doing just this without the pesky need for ordinances or a commute?

Concern: It's Not Normal:

Being a mom of many, I've run across what I call whispers of joys remembered.  A teacher, almost in a hushed voice will tell me, she's one of 7 and so is her husband.  A chef who became a chef because his job was to cook, is one of 13.   It wasn't so beyond us as a people, as nations, when we didn't think of women's fertility as something to manage and repress.

My dad was one of nine. He and his brothers and sisters went to college and in many cases, beyond to earn secondary impressive degrees. One of my good friends was one of 11 and again, all are educated, survived childhood unscathed by the experience and live productive meaningful lives. A cousin's spouse was one of 18. They were all kind, college educated and each helped the next get their degree so that in a single generation, they all became part of the middle class and beyond.  It's possible, it simply requires that those involved, knuckle down to the business of doing --which they did.   To me, this is what the Duggars are doing.  They have learned how to market their existence into income without becoming excessively attached to wealth a'la John and Kate plus 8.

Based on the fact that this is apparently season 4, the Duggars consistently live this out well enough to get paid for it and make it look possible. In answer to "It's not normal." It is unusual. It is however historically, closer to normal than what now passes for normal.  And saying something isn't what everyone else is doing, isn't a criticism, it's a complaint, that they aren't doing what everyone else is doing.  

Concern: They Aren't Good Parents:

One or ten or twenty, it is never the number that determines if we are good parents. One dollar or 40 billion dollars, it is not money that determines if a family is whole and well. Consistency, discipline, love, attention, hearing and meeting their needs, challenging them, taking care of them: these are the hallmarks of a healthy parent child relationship.  CPS would be in there like white on rice if the show indicated abuse or neglect.  Cursory looks indicate happiness ergo, I'm going to say this one goes to the Duggars unless contrary evidence is revealed. 

Concern: Using show/kids to make money:

The Duggars had 16 before they had a show that made money.  They were debt free then.  Kind of undercuts the argument.  But then, I'd also say, given that studies indicate we can't afford children unless we've somehow won the lottery or been one of those Wallstreet fatcats that made money even when the stock market went down, wouldn't they be foolish not to agree to a show that would finance their family's needs. ***(Cue irony alert to those who think these folks are stupid)***

Besides, Americans have always loved their big family shows: Brady Bunch, Eight is Enough, The Partrige Family...the Cosby fantasy comedy shows about having large families is fine, but reality isn't okay?  They use the show to make money.  Granted I wouldn't want a camera in my family's face 24-7 but hey, I'd love to use this blog to make money.  I'd love to be paid to write. So it seems to me this is a jealousy argument, married to envy that it's hard to pitch a show that can top them if you're going for numbers. 

Concern: They Can't Afford This Many

19 was fine but 20....well....isn't that's why they have the show?

There are a lot of articles out there that indicate children cost more than a NASA start up program. 
With estimates ranging between a quarter and half a million dollars if your offspring are smart and/or talented and even more if they want advanced degrees, as the saying goes, if you have to ask, you can't afford it. 

The deeper and better the gene pool, the more income required apparently. So I've determined that my children are priceless beyond compare as two are in school while two sit here painting, two are napping, two playing video games and one reading and one writing a report on the computer. Yes, there isn't enough money in the world to finance their true potentials in all circumstances to become the burnished gold Olympic calibre intellects, creative minds and athletes they could be if only we were more responsible loving people. If money were the measure. 

Thank God it isn't.  As for the Duggars, I thought people were mad that they were getting rich off their kids.  Which is it? 

Am I Going to Watch the Show Now that I've Done My Duggar Apologist Best?

No.  Wasn't interested. My life is full enough and if I see someone with more kids who is organized and whose house is clean, it's going to depress or guilt me into folding. I don't watch TV to be nagged into working, I watch to escape the internal nag that follows me everywhere.  I wish them well.  

My ten will have to settle for being captured with words and humor as their stories tickle me.  And if someday I become famous and these vignettes become part of popular culture and people accuse me of using my kids stories to generate wealth...I'll tell them, "Yes, and I earned every penny."

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!