Monday, February 28, 2011

We'll try for Two seconds

The other day during the gospel reading at mass, I had the momentary grasp of how our response to sin should always be "more grace."  Then, being human, I got really annoyed at my daughters who were having a "She's looking at me." "She's sitting next to me." silent fight in the pew and wanting me to issue an equally silent but no less heard judicial fiat against the other.  Mom glares that exceed the disciplinary needs of the moment probably are not examples of responding to sin or the near occasion of sin with more grace.  

But the fleeting thought had echoed multiple times throughout the weekend.

My husband and I had to give a witness on marriage and so we talked about how choosing a singular person in all the world to love faithfully for all of one's life was a choice to imitate God who loves each of us faithfully forever for all of time.  So we talked about how marriage is a sacrament because it is a freely chosen call to imitate God's love with one's self.  It is a mini "Yes." in the way of Mary's "yes," responding to God with a full hearted "yes."   Children are a further yes, a further sublimation of one's self to another, also designed to be for all of one's life.  Being a mom or a dad means being responsible not just for the bodies of these people, but the formation of their souls.

The mini-retreat had begun with a mass as you might expect, and the readings for the day of our talk were the familiar and seemingly comforting scene of Jesus telling the disciples to let the children come to Him, "but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea."  I'd always associated that for some reason with big sins. In my mind, I could see murderers, abusers, drug dealers, and all sorts of people who corrupted and embraced acting in ways that were violent, hard and cruel, being handed out the millstones and looking out at the ocean. 

But Saturday, the millstone hit me with the hard reality that I'd wanted to keep that reading's meaning at a safe distance. Jesus doesn't speak from a safe distance, He is intimate always, and this applied to parents, it applied to us all, it applied to me and not just with my own children but with everyone.  Wasn't it obvious?  Hadn't Christ been explicitly clear? We had to work to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect, to scrub from our words, thoughts, deeds and non deeds, that which would encourage sin.  Our marriage and our parenting had to reveal  how God loves by being unconditional, infinite, beautiful, lavish and luminous and (I mused to myself), as tireless. 

"Does a mother forget her baby?" the Old Testament readings had asked, yet even if these forget, God would not. If there was one thing the 21st century indicated in abundance I thought mournfully, it was that a mother could forget her baby, but that God's love was greater than this in all ways,that God's love was always available and always stronger than even death. Musing on the thought that we were permeable by God, and that His grace surrounded us, saturating whatever portion of our lives we willingly allowed; I suddenly looked at the air as if it were tangible.  I believed this.  We believed this.  We professed it, we celebrated it and yet we sat in this mass not recognizing how very pregnant the very air was with God.  I felt as if I'd forgotten or somehow walked by a great piece of art for 44 years and never stopped to look.   All of this mess and struggle and minutia and all the big things that happen and the mess in between those extremes, God uses to whittle away and break down all the places in our hearts and minds and lives where we say "No." to love, to get us to only say "yes" to God. 

And with that flash of insight distilled in the thought, "We must always say yes." I fell back into the mire of my distractable mind. The air became the unnoticed again. The whole rest of the mass was a mess.   I found a near infinite desire to say "No!" as each of my children seemed to be wearing amplifiers as they squirmed in the pews.   One asked to go get water, another to go to the bathroom.  The baby cried and two who knew better played kneeler wars. I knew I was seeing with sinful eyes when I interpreted every action around me as a distraction.  Fighting to pay attention to return to that moment, I knelt and almost instantly one child tapped me on the shoulder and complained that his sister was distracting him from praying. I suggested, "Close your eyes."  and then hissed, "You're distracting me!" as he poked at me again because he could hear her singing.  

"Getting it" had been a gift after 44 years of living, in that sliver of the mass when I'd forgotten myself and quieted my mind enough to let God in that crack in my heart. I was going to need help with that lavish unconditional tireless example.  Living it would be the hard slugging process of obedience to that understanding, to that moment to allow for more cracks, more grace, More God.   

I could almost hear God say, "See you next Sunday.  We'll try for two seconds."

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Common Applications

Don't know why I didn't publish this one at the time....

When my oldest was applying to college, he filled out what is called the "Common Ap."  The essay question piqued my interest.   "What what literary character do you identify?"  Being an idealist who had spent much of the past four years in futile intellectual battles with adversaries only found in high school, he suggested Don Quixote.  The counsellor understood but mentioned that perhaps since Cervantes made his main character insane, this might not be the best pick to impress a potential college administrator.  

After much discussion, he settled on Sir Gawain.

But I then threw out the question to other family members....and I got Hermione, Artemis Fowl,  A "This is a trick to get us to read more" look, and Junie B Jones.  Then one of the older ones said, "Pikachu." 

Now the idea that one of my offspring identifies with a neon yellow electric mouse was a bit more than I could stomach.  I started to protest.   But this one is smart and she was prepared for my objections, "But Mom, wouldn't it make sense that you are training us and teaching us to evolve, to improve, to fight our own battles and to train?"   The minions who were in the car during this conversation immediately began speaking in the chirpy repetitive method of their self identified favorite pocket monster.  I had a bulbasar and a charizard, a flameon and a growlithe in addition to the pikachu. 

"No jigglypuff?" I asked.

"Nope." was the consensus and then they decided the younger three were a ponyta, butterfree and pichu. 

"Fine, I want one of those pokeballs too so I can put each of you out of stasis when necessary.  It would make bedtime much easier."

"But you can only keep six in pokeballs at a time." 

"It would still be easier and quieter than nine. And I want one of those cleaning pokemon, Mr. Mimes." 

"But Mom, you gotta catch them all."  She chirped, looking at my then pregnant belly, "Maybe this time."

Friday, February 25, 2011

Catholic Pickup Lines Song

Because my son got into Texas A&M today, from Aggie Catholics!

Aggie Catholics: Catholic Pickup Lines Song Goes Viral

A Minute Captured: A Complaint Free Lent#links

This is a great idea!
A Minute Captured: A Complaint Free Lent#links

Graceful States and Less So of Potty Training

I'm beginning to wish my daughter had less of a sterling character.  She is closing in on 4 (two months away) and has shown no willingness whatsoever to be bribed into potty training.  She maintains her integrity and her diaper.  

"You can have a new bike."
"I have one." She points to her hand me down bike. It's true.  She has a ride and thus is not covetous of more or so vain as to desire exclusivity of her wheels.

"You can earn M&m's."  I thought I had her as she is a chocolate fiend like her mother.  Alas, she is also resourceful and has mastered at the age of 3 3/4 how to open a ziplock bag of mini chocolate chips and help herself, and how to sweet talk siblings into sharing cookies, candy, ice cream and thus my quarantine on chocolatey goodness is much harder to enforce than one might imagine.

Modeling is supposed to be a good motivator for kids.  "Hey Gina, if you went potty, you could go to school like a big kid, like your sister."  Her sister pulls out her backpack and showcases her pencil case complete with bright colors and markers.  "No thanks." and she goes to the art bin and takes out the broken bits, inspired to create a masterpiece herself without the strings attached of wearing underwear.

So I tried to motivate her through sibling rivalry.  "Hey Paul!"(Paul is two). "Do you want to potty train?"  He nods his head "Yes." with a smile.  We'll make a go of it with him because of that, but his older sister who I hoped to inspire to action, hugged her brother and said, "That's great Paul! You can go first." 
Lures of Greed, Gluttony, Envy and Pride have not been successful. I'm not sure how I could tempt her with Sloth, Wrath or Lust.  I consulted scripture and paraphrased, "You may do all that you want in this house except use the potty." 

"Ok." She responded. 

Guess I'll be stuck in this diaper Eden a bit longer.  All I know is whatever bite of the tree of knowledge I got, didn't include potty training.   Lord, I wish this wasn't a completely true story. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Cracking the Code

Saturday, my daughter came up the stairs and glumly interrogated me.  "What are we going to do today?" 

I rattled off the schedule, two basketball games, a run to drop off the high schooler for her service hours and a major art project for the third grader. "That's boring."  It was true that none of it involved or concerned her.  "Well," I asked, "What do you want to do today?"  I was open to suggestions.

She walked off, "Guess I'll do my homework."  I didn't remember barking at her to do that but reasoned, it was fine with me if she tackled it now.

A few minutes later, my son came to me, "What's for breakfast?" 

I asked.  "What do you want for breakfast?"  I was fixing oatmeal but knew he didn't like oatmeal and we had other options.  "Fine, I guess I'll have oatmeal." he said and took the bowl I'd  just made and began eating.  

At first I thought perhaps they were just not fully awake yet and that this was a mere fluke of not listening.  But I went into the tv room.  "What are you watching?" I asked.   They turned it off. 

After lunch, I asked my oldest son, "Do you want to play a game?"  He went to the kitchen and started doing dishes.   Every question I asked which involved someone else making a decision resulted in a dutiful response that had not ever been asked for....I didn't know why but I thought I'd test it further.  

"Anyone want to go with me to the store?" I threw out.  Normally saying I'm going out gets a list of what is needed and who wants to come.  However, I'd posed it as a question.  

"No, I need to finish my project."
"We're playing a game here."
I even got an annoyed glance up from a book.  A trip out alone!  That doesn't happen.  Ever.   You'ld think I'd be completely overjoyed at the prospect but being a mother means automatic my brain is wondering...."Why don't my kids want to play with me?"   "Aren't I fun????" 

Fortunately, having cracked the code, I know how to restore equilibrium in the system.  "While I'm out, be sure and fold the laundry I left on the couch."  Sure enough, the second the words escape my lips I hear,"AW Mom!  Can I come with you?"  "I need some markers and clay to finish my project." and "Can we go get haircuts while we're out?"  Normalness has returned.

If I figure out the magic phrase to get them fold the clothing on the couch, I promise I'll let you know.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Having a Sick Sense of Humor

If the morning routine should have its tranquility shattered by the discordant sound of a single cough, my son is the instant doctor on call.  "I heard him cough.  I think it's strep." he pronounces solemnly.

Mind you, this kid has not made it to junior high let alone medical school, but the prescription is clear; "Today my brother should stay home, ginger ale and cartoons and bed."  He brings them to the couch and gives them a blanket and promises fresh waffles and oj with a straw. It's meant as compassion but for me, it's a collosal pain.  After such a prognosis, mere Mom convincing said patient that a cough is just a cough and that they can tough it out for that math test becomes a bit harder. 

It's made worse by the same son's armchair bedside manner when a kid comes home in the middle of the day.  "You probably were sick yesterday.  You probably got the germs when you were...insert diagnosed child's favorite activity here." Getting the kid to return to their favorite activity after that statement sans a radiation suit or subsequent full immersion bathing in purell is an uphill battle.  How do I convince them when their brother speaks with such certainty, that his statements are like promises from Congress and predictions for the weather, wildly inaccurate despite the veneer of  authenticity? "Germs won't kill you."  "They can." is the response. "My brother told me, he read about it in school."  Getting kids to accept that there are good and bad bacteria, good and bad germs, non lethal illnesses that do not require quarantine type measures, especially when they've been promised all of Eden by staying home by Dr. Brother makes me the equivalent of "Here's a bullet to bite on son, now go to school."

In short, how do I help short circuit fakers encouraged by a practicing quack doctor in the family without becoming the villianious personal equivalent of an insurance company?  I have visions of my adult offspring remembering Mom saying something like "You aren't really sick and if you're sick, it's still not bad...back to work with you and don't forget your co-pay." I can't let that happen.  Living with a cross between Eeyore, Chicken Little and Dr. Doom, a few coping strategies to keep hypochondria and wikipedia medicine from taking over the psyches of my other children have become necessary:

1) Florence Nightingale Effect:  An old fashioned white nursing cap with the red cross on it works as efficiently as a placebo.  Breaking out props like the thermometer, blood pressure cuff, band-aids and plastic medicine spoons sobers up the patient from the siren call of a day off.  For this reason, I never get the sweeteners for medicine.  I want it to taste yucky.

2) Technical difficulties:  The fastest cure for unreal illness is a sudden loss of cable, computer and wii.  "The cable's down today and we're out of tripple A batteries but I found a good book for you"...if the kid takes it without a howl of the unfairness of the world, I know it's time to hit the speed dial for the pediatrician. 

3) Indentured Servitude: Suggesting a long list of "to do's" might seem cruel to the outsider, but I do have standards.  I test for fever, I listen to the chest and check them over from head to toe; these are only used when I'm fairly certain whatever it is, is the result of something other than illness.   "Oh good, you can clean your room." works almost as well as no TV at getting kids to consider school in a whole new and positive light. "It's better than here!" works for me.

4) Limited Sick Days: Teachers have only so many to draw upon, who is to say kids don't as well?  By pointing out that if they take too many days away from school, they MIGHT have to make it up at the end of school during summer, it makes the children think, "How sick am I?" and weigh the possibility of surrendering a sweet day in June when we might you know...go to the pool or something. 

5) Paging Dr. Web MD.  God bless the Internet.  "I checked your symptoms and you're clear to go to school today." works for skinned knees, tired eyes, hurt elbows and when your skin is red or wrinkled from staying in the shower too long.  It took me a while to discover this method, or to recognize that "I found it on the Internet" had the same street cred as their brother's personal recommendations.

So now I know if they're staying home, they really need to, and I found the greater authority than my sometimes doctor least until he discovers one of those online degrees.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Saint Valentine's Day

Back in early January, late December I was surfing the web, reading some of my favorite Catholic bloggers. As a lurker and sometimes participant in "7 Quick Takes Friday," with my blog via "The Conversion Diary" I saw the saint generator and thought about it but didn't push the button. Then I saw a link again when I was over at First Things reading another favorite of mine, “the Anchoress." This time, I decided to try. I got Saint Valentine of Rome. Feeling vaguely disappointed, like oh, I already know this saint....I scanned his biography but didn't give the matter much thought.

Two hours later, my second daughter was helping in the kitchen and explained out of the blue, how she loved all the celebrations at her school except for Valentine's Day. I asked why. She said, "It is just an excuse to give paper and candy, it doesn't have anything to do with the real Saint Valentine." I gave my educated Mom answer, "Saint Valentine is patron saint of marriages and happy couples, having celebrated the sacrament for early Christians who wanted their relationship to be reflective of the person of Christ. It's the beauty of sacramental relationships as versus their lesser imitators, relationships not rooted in a desire to be faithful, forever and oriented towards deepening the other's connection to God."  I thought I was on a roll.  "It is as the difference between fine chocolate and carob; vintage wine and grape juice, a deeper fuller relationship than can be imagined by this world or those who love the world first." I'd overdone.  It happens.  She sort of rolled her eyes a bit and left the kitchen.   But I knew right then and there I needed to go back and start to know this saint better. Saint Valentine had asked for my attention twice in one day. God doesn't do random.

Now my middle daughter had struggled with double vision since November. Over the weeks, we have been scared out of our minds about the possibilities --cancer, tumors, stroke, blindness, diabetes; you name it, and had all sorts of tests to try and determine the cause but to no avail. We also had her eyes tested in November and December and visits to a Neurologist and were in the process of trying to bang down a door for an Educational Psychologist on the theory that she might be seeing things that weren't actually there. All we ever got was "We don't know. Let's do more tests."

The week I accepted the invitation to let Saint Valentine be a source of inspiration and education in my faith for the year, I got a phone call. The team of specialists had discussed my daughter's case and asked that I take her back to the eye doctor. They were finally able to address her vision properly and now she has glasses that correct her vision and her handwriting which had deteriorated to the point of being illegible is beautiful. She is 8. She fell asleep that night reading. I can't tell you the last time that happened or how much great joy and blessed relief seeing her resting with the lights on and the book over her chest 3/4ths of the way through brought me.

I went back to reread the story of Saint Valentine and the part about the daughter of the jailer being cured of her blindness leapt out at me. I had not seen it or taken it in before. Saints are God's means of bringing the community of Heaven and Earth closer together, of connecting us in our modern world and sensibilities with the universal timeless truths of our Church, as revealed across centuries of faithful witness.

So I'm heading out to buy chocolates and cards for my children and a little something for my husband. We've already sent flowers to my mom and his as part of celebrating this Saint's feast day with a bit more emphasis and personal enthusiasm for the traditions however hokey they may appear. The hearts and flowers mean a lot more than Halmark's bottom line with the focus on beauty and truth; how much we love and how much we want to love.  And I want my kids to know that while you can go overboard with words and sentimentality, you can never go overboard trying to be loving to others, it's an infinite gift to give.

Happy Saint Valentine's Day!

P.S. If you want to use the saint generator, go to I'll be spending this year in Saint Valentine's tutelage.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cheat Codes to Manage Your Parents

As a mother of now ten, I've been through a lot of what one might call "classic" problems over the years. With major milestones slated at least past 2033, I'm going to have re-runs.  To save time and energy, I have compiled a few short cut tips for my offspring. Think of them as cheat codes for getting along with parents.  

For the under three set:  The better prizes come with potty training before three.  Currently on the table for  those under 36 months of age who have not yet achieved full body control of this necessary daily functionn: a dog, lessons for the activity of your choice and a car.   As an added  bonus if you act now, we'll even throw in the 17 year old as a chauffeur!

Non Sentient Non toddlers:  If you are 4 to 6, this means you:  You are not authorized under any circumstances to operate any of the following: Mom's computer, cell phone, Dad's blackberry, your brother or sisters' ipods, the microwave, dryer, oven, dishwasher, vacumn, mop, or brother's electric toothbrush.   In short, no electricity operated contraption other than turning on or off the light...note:  after bed time, do not turn on the lights.   This isn't just about the time you changed the code, updated our systems, made popcorn and set the energy saving cycle on the  washing machine to only run at two in the morning.  It's more that we've got lots of 4-6 year olds to go and we need to recover from that morning when you found the panic button on the car keys on Sunday the one time we had decided to sleep in and go to the five. 

First to Third Grade:  Memo about homework.  1) Stop complaining and get to it.  2) If you ask for my help, understand you don't get to disagree about what the directions mean.  You also forfeit all rights to debate me if I tell you that you spelled "Friend" incorrectly, or that there might be a better vocabulary word for the sentence than "Learning" when the subject is a monkey or that no matter how many times you added it up and how much you have studied, 4x7 does not equal 26 or any other number other than 28.  Math is dumb that way.  Get used to it.  

Kids Who are Non Adolescents and No I Won't Call them Tweens  4-6th grade:  No matter who got what when they were this age, (cell phone, own room, TV, computer) you aren't getting one and if you ask me again, it won't be ever.  Your bed time is your bed time and your chores are your chores.  Repeat whenever you get the urge to do comparative parentings because some one else's kid has what appears to be a sweeter life.   (I happen to know they make their son eat salmon and cauliflower on Fridays and that he is forced to make his bed every day....he'd give up a lot for Guaranteed Tuesday waffle night).  

Adolescents:  This is a temporary stage.  Remain calm.  No one has as of yet discovered a way to reverse aging, so you can take great comfort in knowing once you get past 13,no matter how long you live, it is never coming back. 

All Ages:  We are your biggest fans, greatest allies and staunch defenders.  We'll always tell you what we think. We'll always try to give you beauty and truth.  We'll try not to embarrass you too much by holding hands in public or cheering too loud but know that like you, we're going to mess up.  Understand that there are no expert parents, only experienced parents. And experienced parents know three things: 1) we don't know everything  2) what we do know, is often ignored and  3)'ll keep that one until you're older...(keep a bit of mystery for them to chew on).   

Finally: All we desire is to help you become the luminous joyful glorious souls we've always known you were, and to walk with you whenever suffering is something which must be faced. You've had our hearts from the moment we knew there was a you.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sounds Like Home

Anna-Maria is just three weeks old.  She still thinks the whole birth thing was rather rude.  After all, she had everything she needed: climate controlled perfect permanent jacuzzi, instant food at the slightest peckish whim via the umbilical cord, and none of this pesky need for clothing or crying or changing.  Now, everything she is discovering, requires thought and expression, in short, hassle.  

Keeping her calm has required either keeping her in a sling, attached to a bottle or Mom as the case may be, or being held.  She likes being wrapped up tight, simulating her prior residence.   Naturally, her 10 siblings have searched for alternative means of providing her with comfort and/or distraction.   She  has a mobile over her crib that plays music and a push button sheep that plays soothing sounds like a heart beat, rain falling, wind blowing and whale song.   (I do not know why the sheep doesn't bleat).   These things work, as do her vibrating bouncer and the tried and true car ride, but there is one other sound that puts her at ease.  It reminds her of home, she gets quiet and goes to sleep.  

Should I worry that her favorite noise is the shop vac?   

Monday, February 7, 2011

Losing My Oasis

One of the things that keeps me joyful as I try to raise these ten people is writing.  So when I can't think of anything  to write, a bit of a panic sets in, what if that was it?  What if I'm never as interesting or profound or funny or clever...what if no one reads this...what if I lost what was lent because the struggle for words would be healthier for my soul than not?  Paranoia and arrogance all in one breathtakingly poor pitiful sentence, coupled with writer's block and a computer that keeps moving the cursor such that any thoughts I do scrape out onto the page get jumbled and misspelled and derailed before they are completed, will do that to me.     

Not having something to write feels like becoming tasteless salt, it feels like a form of brain death that must be fought vigorously. I tried reading; hard stuff (James Joyce), stupid stuff (Internet), watching television , (the Super Bowl), classic movies (Westerns with my Dad), I tried listening to classical music, playing classical music, coloring in and outside of the lines, game playing with my  kids, housework, hot baths and hot tea, push ups and yoga, chocolate, noise, prayer and silence and still, whatever seeds of thought were in my brain lay still and undiscovered, layered over by countless mundane and important things, errands, chores, need to do tasks, tests and doctor's appointments, tax forms and thank you notes, dinner and basketball practice, Saint Valentine's day plans and birthday presents to mail.   The winter snow blankets the outside and inside, no green shoots are to be seen, just tracks that have been tread and retread, marring the pristine landscape.  

My only hope, to take this brain that is tasteless salt and throw it out onto the canvas.  Hopefully, being still salt, it can thaw the ice and one day soon, inspiration will grow again. 

Hoping detailing all my attempts to come up with something will allow me to feel less blocked so I can write something.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Seven Quick Takes Friday

1.  Writing and Reading with One Additional Person

I promise to get back in the groove, it's been hard since my computer and my life have been not in my control these past few weeks.   I thought I had it back on Sunday, then I thought I needed perhaps a few weeks then I realized, I'm thinking of writing even if I'm not writing and the only way to get better at writing is to go back to doing it on a daily basis, like exercise.  Yes I'm going to start doing that too, but slowly.  I'm out of practice and stairs and driving are still on the restricted list until next week.   But my brain can and should go up and down the stairs to see what's what more often, so we'll start with that and go from there. 

2.  Potty Training

By now, I really should know better than to expect anything but resistance, particularly after bringing home a new person.  But with three in diapers, patience is something of a shorter supply than a full box of wipes.   So every day, I ask, "Are you going to be potty trained?"  Some days she shrugs her shoulders.  Today she simply said "Later." 

We've put a moratorium on McDonald's as an incentive for the first success.  This led to her sister attempting to secretly substitute her own bodily fluids to allow the younger to bask in the psuedo victory of fooling Mom.  She almost succeeded too.  Except I went to get the younger changed from her pj's and discovered the tell tale diaper had not been removed so the evidence had to come from someone else.   "Trust but verify." came to mind. 

Now that I've exposed this charade, one can bet she will try again but this time, I'll need to do DNA testing to ensure it came from the right daughter.   Hopefully, the siren call of the golden arches will lead my three year old to victory before it comes to that. 

3.  Play More

It occurred to me that as a stay at home mom, I never leave my office, and my office never leaves me.  Being that wedded to the domestic tasks robs me of some of the infused joy of being with these people I love 24/7.  So I've resolved to play some every day, whether it's Catan, Magic, the piano or tic-tac-toe or sledding, I need to do something frivolous --I used to be considered superficial back in high school and college, as a means of tempering my temper, just for fun. 

The writing is fun, but it is also singular and isolatory, I'm talking about the joy and pleasure that comes from doing in community --something I have the gift to experience daily and often forget to savor.    This is why I love my husband so fiercely, he plays as hard as he works and never forgets who he loves or why he loves or what he should love doing more.  And he's willing to remind me, that despite my sense of humor, I need to still lighten up even more, to be luminous with the people I am with, because that is what it means to celebrate ordinary time.

5.  Marriage

We've been asked to talk about marriage and I'm really excited that this happened.  My husband and I have talked about what's next and always come back to the idea that we should talk in tandem about marriage and family life, but we've never known where we were to go with that idea, and now the idea has come and found us.  

6.  Split Personality....

Apparently, I am not a Cancer but a Gemini.  I was a creative extroverted loner type, now I'm of two minds, or at least half a mind to tell the new sign, "No thanks, I'll stick with the crab, she's done good for me."  That might make me as stubborn as a Taurus and who knows, if I wait a few hundred years, I might be one of those too. At least then, the duality might make some sense if the faults lie in our stars and not the real enemies, our own fallen selves.  

7. Super Bowl Sunday....

Normally, we hold a Super Bowl Sunday feast that honors the two teams with their home cuisine.  For example, Jumbalaya and beignets for the Saints, Chicago Dogs and dove bars for the Bears, and Buffalo wings and Roast beef with Kimmelweck Rolls for the Bills would be served.  But Green Bay vs. the Steelers....Cheese, Brats, Beer and Pierogies...ugh.  I feel heavy and not hungry just writing it.  Any tips on alternatives for the menu?  Otherwise, I'm breaking with tradition and ordering pizza. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Even This

Back when I was pregnant for the second time, I read an article on how to break it to your existing child that a new kid was on the way.  There was the example of how "Not" to do this, namely using an example of a wife.  "Please be nice to the replacement wife.  I'm sure you'll be best of friends in no time."  We thought this very amusing and dubbed our first daughter "The Replacement baby."  Every child since has received the same nickname.  "Hey kids!  Be good because the Replacement baby is under way!" Oddly enough with that introduction, transitions have not always been smooth.

For the first two weeks after she was born, our son was perfect.  Then one day, he came to the top of the stairs and just wept.  It was then he knew, this was a permanent addition and that his heart was being both broken and grown by the experience.  A  quick road trip with Dad for pancakes helped ease the blow. 

We gave the oldest two fish when their sister was born so she was cool because  she came with pets. Over the years we tried everything.  Three times it was a bigger car, twice it was a move to a bigger place. But even well placed bribes didn't always blurt the trauma of the replacement baby.  When I had our sixth child, the fifth decided our piano had too few sharps and flats so she colored in a few keys.  Announcing we were expecting our seventh, our third's immediate response was "Oh no!"  One child (who shall not be outed), in one week tried pouring juice independently and broke her bed via repeated jumping. One was an absolute angel until the newbie showed up.  Then, he was otherwise; he's still working on forgiving us for that one. 

We've tried gifts from the younger siblings, reading Goldilocks and the Three Bears (Every older child's fantasy of what Mom and Dad should do with the interloper who eats my food, breaks my things and takes over), and given special one on one time and tried to make each child know that they are still loved infinitely. Sometimes I use family lore;  one of my uncles asked his father, which of his nine children did he love the best.  He talked about how he lost his thumb and held up his hands.  "You see I have 9 fingers," he said, "I love and need them all."

We have more people to love, we have more love to give. The funny thing about love is it is never halved by the addition of a person, it is always increased.     For some of the older ones who struggle, we use theology to make the point.  Jesus loved his twelve, how can we not love ten?

It just simply is the way God made all of  us originally, and the way we are called to be though we all often miss the mark.  As to the work/stress/chores/schedule/needs for this many, I just keep telling myself, with God, all things are possible...even this.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Will Be back to writing next week

thanks for your forebearance. Can barely string three thoughts together.  Will start up next week. 

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