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 Show...so 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."

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thursday Successes!

It's Thusday so we're hoping Mr. Linky wants to cooperate today.  Today we consider those little things that over the past week, added up to a lot of success even though we weren't looking. 

So this week:
1) I worked on Helen.  She gets my schitzophrenic efforts and attentions so I'm always glad when I can add a few words and edit on this beastie. 

2) Received copies of Faith& Family! I finally got to see the article. 

3) Played with the littles, shadow tag outside in the sun when Paul would come home, crunching the leaves waiting for the bus, and making train tracks in the basement.

4) Played with the older ones --got creamed in chess and on the Wii.  Started reading A Series of Unfortunate Events with John.  

5) Read book.

Now, crossing my fingers, it's your turn.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Religion and Politics, Politely Discussed

I kind of gave up writing on politics on this blog a while ago with only occasional tips of the hand as the spirit moved me.  Part of it was personal, the irritation I felt was not worth the time it took to craft pieces.  Part of this was, I did not wish to fall into snark, it wasn't me.

But we're one year from the election and so, I return to the fray not to tear down candidates, but with a plea for all my readers, particularly those who are Catholic and hold their faith dear.  Vote.

The world as always, sets up a false dichotomy: help the poor/end war and save the unborn.
We must act. But that begs the question: when we vote, how can we, how should we, if our vote would be informed and guided by faith?   Poor, war, and the unborn shall always be with us.  How do we weigh this?  How do we choose?

What we must do with our vote, is view it as the starting point of our witness in public life, not the exclamation point that only need be dusted off every four or two years. 

So if you must vote for the DNC for any reason guided by your conscience, say, trying to improve the lot of the poor, you must remember not to overlook the unborn or justify overlooking them by the fact that the GOP at least pays lip service to not paying for or enabling the killing of children in utero.  You have the challenge to pray for the end of abortion, to be a witness to life from natural beginning to natural end, and to encourage the leaders that come from your vote to do the same.  It's hard to go against seemingly popular will and objecting to a law of the land, but it is the essence of what we are called to be; to speak out for the defenseless, the speechless and the helpless, not because it is easy but because it is right.

Likewise, if you vote for the GOP, you cannot rest, pat yourself on the back as a good little Catholic and be content with the status quo.  There are people who will be less served, who need you now to show that you will extend yourself for the least of these, just as much.  You will also need to hold the elected officials feet to the fire to care for the sick and the poor in a just and ethical manner. You must work for peace. You must stay involved and invested in peace, seeking it in your lives and those around you to start. You must also pray for peace and fast for peace with the same fervor you hold for hoping that all human life will be considered precious.  And you must surrender some of that autonomy you cherish, by giving of your time to those for whom autonomy is either not possible at this point, or a dream they haven't yet reached.  You must serve the poor, the needy, the homeless and the sick.  You don't get credit for this, you just get to do it because it is right that you sublimate your time for them.  It is part of being Catholic, to surrender all to follow; and that surrendering begins with little surrenders, done via service, done via generosity, done via time. 

No one gets a pass.  No one gets to say, I did my part, I did enough, I do enough.  We have to remember, whatever we've done, is always baseline, it is only expected.  We cannot love beyond God's love or sacrifice beyond God, we can only hope to approach and improve our imitation of God's love.  This is probably making lots of people uncomfortable.  Politics do that, but Catholicism, living Catholicism, should do that even more.  To be Catholic is to be uncomfortable except in the presence of the sacrament or receiving one. Our hearts and minds should be restless, until they rest in Thee. 

In this country in particular, we have allowed political blinders to limit our vision of the other, to divest our faith from our politics or to switch our political allegiance for our faith.  It is a poor substitute, like aspartame for sugar; it causes a cancer of the soul, it is unnatural and unhealthy.  If we would be more than the convenient voting block of local color enthusiasts for whatever political machine we follow, we must recognize that neither party has a lock on virtue or vice; that both are as severely limited as we individually are, and that serving the whole of the world through thoughts, words and deeds, with charity and good humor, zeal and generosity, is a day in, day out process that does not end with election day, indeed, there is no end.   There is no "winning" there is only our next step towards holiness or not.  (Cue Yoda voice).   

Now, for those who then think the third option of not voting is the most Catholic.   To not chose between two evils, to do no harm, to not be engaged in things of this world, it sounds very high minded and sophisticated to opt out. 

It isn't. 

It shows a lack of courage and commitment.  It demonstrates an unwillingness to embrace the cross, to cut away perpetually at whatever serves ourselves first, and resistance to the weeding that our public realm, our government, our society, needs if it is not to become overgrown with self oriented interests, warring factions and increasingly polemic bromides that only satisfy the echo chamber choirs that already exist.

Catholicism requires we not be comfortable in our thinking, our votes, or our lot; it requires we engage, we be involved, we invest in being those lights to the world and salt to the earth.  We can't do that by being coy, by pretending that our non participation is anything but a symbol of despair; that we cannot affect the world, that we cannot be part of the world.  It is ivory tower in the worst possible way, pretending to be contemplation, when it is capitulation. 

For my state:
For both parties:
For Issues:

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
St. Catherine of Siena
and if you need further encouragement, because you're thinking, how can I possibly do more?
“Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring.”    ― St. Catherine of Siena
Which means, we don't have any more excuses. Now is the time, to start the big push.

The Winner is...

Larry D of Acts of the Apostasy! 

If you missed it, I did a contest on If Great Writers Had Twittered.  Larry's take on Faulkner and Hemingway and Dickens were great stuff.  Go read.  I promised the prize of being linked and twittered by me.  I am a blogger of my word, even if those words are only 140 characters long.  

I'll be happy to showcase any other participants who feel inspired to contribute.   --Sherry

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Of All the Holidays I'm Missing, I'll rue skipping Nov. 20th the most

Why? Because 11/20 is National Absurdity day and I think my life could be a poster child for such an event.  But I know me, I'll get to that  Sunday and the focus will be the birthday coming up. Thanksgiving overwhelms me and so nothing absurd will be done to recognize or celebrate this occasion. 

I will have missed my opportunity. 

Now while personally, I suspect this holiday is celebrated on an hourly basis 365 days a year, I had to wonder, what other important Festivus type feasts am I missing? What other celebratory moments have I failed to honor?

Here's a mere triffling of them.

January 3 is …Festival of Sleep Day (I'm definitely penciling this one in for 2012).
January 7 is …Old Rock Day  (What does this even mean?) Are we celebrating the Rolling Stones or fossils?
January 31 is … Child Labor Day (Is it the day we make our kids labor? If so, I'm saving the basement for the last day of the first month of the year, oh yeah!)

February 3 is … Cordova Ice Worm Day  (The Lobbyists for spanish frozen invertebrate life forms must be fierce!).
February 20 is … Hoodie Hoo Day (Now they're just messing with us).
February 29 is … National Surf and Turf Day --This holiday ought to come more than once every four years for crying out loud!

Two months in and I'm sensing a lack of focus.

March 3 is … I Want You To Be Happy Day
March 5 is … Multiple Personalities Day
March 8 is … Be Nasty Day
March 9 is … Panic Day
March 22 is … National Goof-off Day
March 23 is … National Organize Your Home Office Day 
March 30 is … I Am In Control Day

(Perhaps Multiple Personalities day should come at the end of the month given the rest of these options; it would explain a lot).

April 7 is … No Housework Day --Now we're talking!
April 13 is … Blame Somebody Else Day --the reason the house is a mess is because of April 7th, I promise!
April 30 is … National Honesty Day Nuts...I have to come clean about the cleaning....

May 3 is … Lumpy Rug Day --Okay, I'm racking my brain on this one and all I can say is "WHY?"
May 9 is … Lost Sock Memorial Day --ditto.
May 26 is … Grey Day --Who authorizes this stuff? 
May 29 is … End Of The Middle Ages Day --do we have a End of the Holy Roman Empire day?  No. Do we have an, End of the Industrial Revolution day? No.  What about a End of the Enlightenment? No.  So why are we commemorating the end of an age that no one misses or mourns except in a highly romaticized and innacurate version at Renaissance Festivals?
June 5 is … Festival Of Popular Delusions Day (Like what?)
June 8 is … Name Your Poison Day  --Shouldn't this celebration take place after June 18th?
June 18 is … International Panic Day  This may be a continuation of June 5th. 
June 22 is … National Chocolate Eclair Day --they're not all bad I guess.

July 13 is … Fool's Paradise Day --These two were in odd conjunction to each other.
July 14 is … National Nude Day
July 15 is … National Tapioca Pudding Day and Respect Canada Day (Make up your own joke here).
July 27 is … Take Your Pants For A Walk Day (Not to be confused with July 14th).
July 29 is … Cheese Sacrifice Purchase Day (What is a Cheese Sacrifice?)

Midway through the year, I sense they are running out of inspiration....
August 6 is … Wiggle Your Toes Day (okay.....)
August 8 is … Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch Night (Forewarned...I'm armed).
August 9 is … National Polka Festival

I'm deliberately leaving out August 13th when it's Blame Someone Else Day, because we already had one back in April. I'm guessing we really didn't have to do two of these. 

August 18 is … Bad Poetry Day (Does this really need acknowledgement? Isn't its existence enough?)
August 24 is … Knife Day (How does one celebrate this in actuality?  For one thing, I guarantee, whatever you do, you aren't going on a flight that day).

September 2 is … National Beheading Day (Because Knife day wasn't satisfying enough).
September 20 is … National Punch Day (Either there's a lot of repressed anger over at the powers that be that denote celebrations wherever that is in our ever thoughtful government or we're partying over the fact that we can mix ginger ale with pineapple juice, ice and frozen concentrated o.j.  If it's the later, perhaps a few blows to the head might explain this). 
September 28 is … Ask A Stupid Question Day (Like why we have days like this?).
September 29 is … Poisoned Blackberries Day (Yikes! I'm not touching any food this day, these folks are mad).

October 3 is … Virus Appreciation Day (single not quite celled infections deserve our admiration...)
October 12 is … International Moment Of Frustration Scream Day (This has merit).
October 19 is … Evaluate Your Life Day (But then so does this).
October 28 is … National Chocolate Day  --I MISSED IT!  May have to celebrate posthumously or also consider celebrating October 19th if I don't.

November 1 is … Plan Your Epitaph Day --Done that, for my tombstone: "She Tried Hard..."
November 9 is … Chaos Never Dies Day --It doesn't even fade.
November 28 is … Make Your Own Head Day --I'm hoping there's a word missing here, like cheese, but if there isn't, it may be because of that Beheading fiasco on September 2nd. I think I'll pass on that one.

December 10 is … Festival For The Souls Of Dead Whales (Whales don't have souls. Just sayin).
December 18 is … National Roast Suckling Pig Day (Not that pigs have them, but why are their souls also not being mourned? Answer: Because they're really really yummy).
December 26 is … National Whiners Day (This sort of behavior, like beheading, probably doesn't need encouraging).
December 27 is … National Fruitcake Day (Again, this sort of thing shouldn't be encouraged).

Just so you know, I didn't even give you half of the offerings.  Having looked at them, first I promise not to pull a Julie/Julia type project where we try to call to mind each one each day.  If we did, we'd be exhausted. The whole calendar reads like a wierd hybrid of a kindergartener's inspirations and a passive agressive marketer for various frozen and ethnic foods.   We need ordinary time and non celebrated vegetables to be able to appreciate the brighter moments in life.   We need quiet and rest and everydayness that having a celebration every day can't bring.  Nevertheless, I can't wait until January 3rd.  Look it up!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

7 Quick Takes

1.  Biting Off More than I Can Chew Take#1

Halloween candy.  It can't leave the house soon enough.  I have discovered when it comes to chocolate and me, there is no will.  My sweet tooth rules.  Having vowed not to purchase the stuff, when it shows up unannounced and free, my power to say no vanishes.  Gained two pounds and there's still stuff here.  Bleah. 

2.  Biting Off More than I Can Chew Take #2
The Duty of Delight: The Diaries of Dorothy Day

Reading Dorthy Day's "Duty of Delight." I lifted the picture from Amazon, if you want to look inside, click on the link. But it's quite lengthy and short on narrative.  It is a diary of a woman being considered for sainthood, and filled with both profound gems revealing her intense desire to be close to God, and equally human realities of being frustrated, worried, and irritated by those who co-opted the service she was engaged in, for other purposes.  I have to finish it so I can write a rewiew, but it is slow going and I'm worried I won't get finished in the next ten days. 

3.  Hey Sherry...you could you know...be reading instead of writing.

Yeah...I know.  I too am out of discipline with writing and deadlines.  It's good for me to Have to do something. 

4.  Want to See...Tower Heist. 

It looks like fun and God knows these days, we could all use a few good belly laughs.  Hope it is as good as the trailers appear.  Plus I liked that Eddie Murphy recognized he was using his signature laugh to get laughs and that it was false.  It shows thoughtfulness and care for the craft to actually recognize a crutch and abandon it; a rare trait in Hollywood these days.  I admit, I'm in the mood for some lazy entertainment that is a tad self indulgent and this seems like it would fit the bill.

5.  Right Calls?

So much of parenting is praying you aren't screwing up too much.  Do I force a kid to play a sport to teach fortititude? Do I honor the opinion to stop an activity a kid excells at because she doesn't want to be taxed? 

A lot of it seems to be countering whatever a child's tendencies are, making the timid one stretch, the reckless one disciplined, the orderly one loosen up, the silly one mature, the responsible one more charitable towards less disciplined, the less disciplined more respectful and mindful, more orderly.  Sometimes it seems like every question of ballance is one where when I opt for one, it should have been the other.  I let a child do her homework without a glance over as I usually do.  She got a bad mark.  Do I hover over the homework in perpetuity when I know she needs to learn to have a critical eye and I know she can do it, she simply does not apply that lens to herself.   Or not? 

Tweaking is one of those things that is perpetual.  Today, the "A" thi pme wrote is just fine.  Tomorrow, we need to anchor it to the line.  And she remembers yesterday and wonders why the bar moved. How do I not nit pick and still offer course correction?  Sometimes it feels like we're working simply against their grains, and sometimes, it seems like it is necessary if they are to smooth their rough edges.  It's hard to know.

5.  Organizing Self (Related to prior post).

I go through shifts in organization, sometimes it's "What I need to do today" and other times, it's according to child.  Durring the school year, it's easier/better to do according to child.  So it looks like this:

W: schedule dr. appt, driver's test, homework, job apps.
B: homework, paperwork for b-ball, service hours
M: high school apps, homework, clarinet
(and so on).  It makes it easier to break it down. Now I have to do get them to summon the will to do it.  

6.  Why is this man blind?

One of the best questions in the New Testament, (John 9:1-5).
As he passed by he saw a man blind from birth.a2* His disciples asked him,b “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

To which Jesus gives a mysterious and great answer. 

3Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.c4We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work.d5While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”e

It was on my mind as my children asked why their Granddaddy suffers from Alzheimers.  They asked, "Will he forget us?" "Will he forget his birthday?" "Will he forget how to make pumpkin pie?" "Will he forget Christmas?"  "Will he forget all the books he's read?"  and it is painful to answer, "Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. and Yes."  Before we had that conversation, my mind had been much on the strange possiblity, that all suffering can be meaningful. 

If the crucifixion, the act of a mob and a fixed court and fearful friends to destroy the One who is Love, is the most meaningful act ever, (and it was one of  pure hate, pure injustice, pure cowardice, pure malice, full rejection by the world of the creator, as sinful an act as ever there was), and yet it through love has been made the cornerstone of our capacity to enter into a new life, then all little sufferings can be a shadow of that act.  All sufferings great and small can be a road to the cross, a carrying of the cross, an embracing of love despite the world, and for the world.  The rest of us get to walk with my father and weep that he must endure this, powerless except to occasionally wipe his face and help with the cross if we are near enough, unable to stop the long walk to Calvary.

The harder it becomes, the more God's grace is required. But it is a hard mystery, to be given the oportunity to need so much. 

7.  Mundane but a New Love: Top Chef Texas

I love these cooking competition shows, plus it gives me a dose of home.  Hope they visit Beaumont and Galveston.  They should given that Tiffany was a big plus in their Top Chef Allstars, being a Beaumont Native.

Friday, November 4, 2011

If Great Writers Had Twittered...

I've never held a contest before.  But I thought this might be fun.  The rule? Apply Twitter (140 characters or less) to the world's most famous novelists, thinkers, playwrights and artists.
The purpose?  Fun, silliness and it's Friday. 

Shakespeare: #CMarlowe: Brevity is the soul of Twit.

CMarlowe: #IWroteHamlet: Was this the facebook that launched 1000 apps?

Hemingway: I have to write shorter sentences?

Tolkein: When you suffer writer's block, call in the Eagles.  
C.S. Lewis:  @Tolkein...Or Aslan.

J.K. Rowling: @Tolkein and @C.S.  there's always the sorting hat.

Plato: We weren't supposed to create actual caves where we stare at virtual unreal versions of the real things. 

Add your own in the com box.  Thanks to Larry D for correcting me on the length of Tweets.
Winner gets twitterpated by me.  (I'll link to you in a twitter post if you have a blog, and reference you here if you do not).

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Small Success Thursday

Each week, we take time to count our blessings, to notice the little things that add up to victories in life.   We hope that whatever else we may be doing, we're somehow making progress on those things that matter most. 

So without further ado:

1) Had a date --went to a wedding. It was elegant and fun and unusual. 
2) Simplified a week that was otherwise looking overwhelming by rescheduling some appointments.
3) Continued daily rosary.
4) Almost caught up on laundry, have 14 loads folded, four more to go.
5) Had a blast trick-o-treating.

Now it's your turn.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Through Paul's Eyes

My sister and I call each other on an organic-wish-we-called-or-lived-closer-gee-has-it-been-two-weeks basis.  But we keep each other on our toes.  She with her new mom new eyes enthusiasm, me with my veteran don't fret about it vision.  The virtue of each is complimentary to the vice of the other.  She is the Mary to my Martha.  Sometimes, I can get a bit calloused, after all, I've done this for 18 years, but she doesn't let those bruises to wonder scab and scar over, she demands I remember, it's always new.  As she said to me, "If you get through all this and are jaded, you did it wrong."  and I hold to those words.
On a similar note, this week, a friend of mine told me, God gave me Paul as he is, down syndrome and all, so I would not be jaded.  She pointed out that I'd seen first step, first tooth, first crawl, first word eight times over before I got to him.  Now, I even had a daughter that was trying to catch up.  But with Paul, what are run of the mill actions for everyone else, are victories to be celebrated and savored. 

October 31st, I'd scrambled to assemble 8 costumes, including for my youngest two.  The oldest boy and girl took care of their own Halloween needs.  Not knowing if either my three or my 8 month old were going to cooperate, I'd dressed them in football/cheerleader garb so that even if they didn't want to wear the dinosaur or Tigger, they'd be appropriate for the school parade, party and subsequent Trick-o-Treating.  

Evening came and reassembling outfits after dinner was a chore.  Still, I started to get Paul dressed.  My husband didn't think it was necessary, as the little guy looked pretty cute in his Redskin jersey and jeans.  However, I put the outfit on Paul and he pulled down the hood of the dinosaur outfit and made an "Aaahhhh" sound.  I lifted the hood to see his eyes.  He pulled the hood back down and said, "Aaaaahhh!" again.  We hadn't thought that he would get Halloween. 

Well, he got it. 

That night, he walked everywhere.  He went to people's doors and knocked. He took candy. He said Trick-o-Treat and Thankyou.  He nodded his head and high fived.  He often went into people's houses when they came to greet him.  He loved it and so did we.  "Behold, I make all things new." came to mind.  

At mass, he did it again when we attended on Sunday.  Some of my children don't sing, they're teens and tweens, it's not in their nature to participate, they don't want to feel, they don't want to be too religious.  But they had not counted on Paul breaking through their hearts. 

Paul full throated sung when the organ began Alleluia.  He stopped when the singing stopped, he started when the chorus returned.  He knew it.  He nodded at his siblings and clapped for them. There had been some dullness in some of my children, a sleepiness that was rendered fully awake when this little guy participated.  The rest of the mass, those that were near their brother, sang with him, sang for him, sang because of him.  And the words, "unless you become like one of these..." floated into my head.  Paul was leading his brothers and sisters to be like him, to sing without hesitation, to pay attention, to be wakeful, to see the mass and this section of the mass with new eyes.  

The real beneficiary of Paul, is everyone in our family, for he keeps all of us unjaded.   He'll keep us from "doing it wrong."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween Hangover

Three years ago, I analyzed all of the candidates running for President by determining what beverage they would be, if they were the drink that best enbodies their personality, policies and the consequences of their possible election. If you want to read it, click here. This time around, to keep things fresh, I'm going with candy.  

President Obama: The man gave out fruit this year.  Sure it's a once a year celebration, sure everyone expects/wants candy.  They gave out dried fruit mixes.  You know what normally happens to houses that give out bags or boxes of raisins, cranberries and dates? That's right! He should expect to wake up to a White House T.P'd but good. He should also know that probably the Secret Service and possibly his own daughters supplied the materials.

Rick Perry: Wants us to believe we've found Mr. Goodbar.  More like a Nestle Crunch.  Not bad. Not great.  Funny aftertaste afterwards that makes one circumspect on the whole thing. What are those crunchy bits?  We'd like him better without those puffy additives.

Michelle Bachmann: Now I admit, I liked Michelle to start.  Anyone willing to take on being a foster parent to 23 children has to have some serious stuff, courage and stick-to-it-ness that is nothing but admirable.  But she doesn't have the polish to come across as mainstream.  So I'm going to go with Mounds.  Not because sometimes you feel like a nut, but because as good as a Mounds bar is, we don't actually go to the store to buy one.  They're just a pleasant surprise on occasion to experience.  But it's just unusual no matter what.

Mitt Romney: Twizzler. No one gets psyched over the candy that isn't chocolate, but it's still candy. So you take it and say "Thank you. Happy Halloween!" and hope the next house is giving out better stuff.

Herman Cain:$100,000 Bar.  Undervalued, probably should have another zero attatched to be competitive and in keeping with the times. There's a lot there to like; he's real. Like Bachmann, perhaps not polished enough to be a first tier confection.   Like Bachmann, not something you sought but worthy find if you get one in your bag.  There are still questions, like why he keeps suggesting that you should learn to love Twizzlers.

Newt Gingrich: Milky Way.  Thinks it's Snickers.  It isn't.  Not Even Close.  If that's all that's left, you'll eat if if you need a hit of chocolate, but you'll be disappointed and the scale will still hate you afterwards and you will too.

Jon Huntsman: Skor.  Most people don't know about him.  But those that like it, are passionate about it.  They're just a very very limited pool of individuals and others are wary.

Rick Santorum: Three Muskateers Bar. There's nothing wrong with the candy per se, it's just whatever it is, it isn't sufficent, even if the serving is full size and not one of those minis.

Ron Paul: Sky Bar.  A confection of chocolate, caramel, vanilla, fudge and peanutbutter.  You like, maybe even love some of it, but not all.  And the part you don't like, you either really don't like and/or are possibly fatally allergic to, and as such, won't tolerate. 

Gary  Johnson, Fred Karger, Andy Martin, Jimmy McMillan, Tom Miller, Buddy Roemer, Matt Snyder and Vern Wuensche:  You know those candies that get passed at at some home that you visit because you're going for bulk and you knock and the stuff you get is small, unidentifyable and has the whiff of having sat on a shelf for somewhere over two years?  Yeah.  That stuff never gets opened. It never gets eaten. There are no reports of massive food poisoning as a result of exposure, but that may be because no one willingly tries these unknown and possibly inedible items.  They just get tossed the next day after the great sorting of all the good stuff has taken place. 

After considering all the possible fruits and candies, I think I'll scream for Ice Cream. 

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!