Friday, September 30, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday

  1.  Catholicism, the series 

If you haven't watched the PBS special hosted by Fr. Robert Baron, I will tell you, it is a treat not to be missed, a true pleasure.   I've been a longtime fan of his Word on Fire but this is like a two hour feast for the ears, eyes and heart once a week. 

2. All the Signs to Stop
Yesterday, I'd prepared to do a marathon of stuff for the Fall Festival, but my 8 month old decided otherwise.  She decided the only place she would sleep, was in my arms.  So everything else got tabled and today, I've got loads to do, but it was a nice moment to go back to in my mind as a refresher before starting in on the day's demands.  A good friend said, "Listen to your daughter."  and my daughter was saying, "Stop." The stuff still got done, and I got in good snuggle time.

3. Speak Your Heart's Desire

Back in the summer, on a lark I entered a contest for a print. The options were Blessed Mother Theresa or Pope John Paul the Great.  I wanted the one of Blessed Mother Theresa. I won the portrait of Pope John Paul.  When the print arrived, it was beautiful, and I was blown away by the expression and beauty conveyed in his face.  I also got a note from the artist apologizing for the lateness of delivery along with an additional print, the one one of Blessed Mother Theresa. Both are lovely works of art. But it's funny to me that what I hoped, came.  I've always maintained that we should speak our heart's desire and then allow ourselves to be surprised by the number of times our beloved God answers us with lavish abandon. It seems daring to say such things, but I know it to be true.

4.  What I'm Praying For

Well, you can't say something like I did there without admitting that I have a laundry list of things that I ask about, and yet as I type this, I realize, I have not asked about.  So I'm asking, for my son to pass his driver's test, for my children to do well in school, for the economy to brighten up and the wrathful nature of our political discourse to become less about who's winning, and more about what's right. I'm praying for things to get easier for family and friends, and for good health for those who miss it.  I'll ask God to help me find my charger for the phone, get rid of the clutter in my home, and help us find a way to get 8 hours or more of sleep a night and get healthier.  I have a long list. But I know that God has all of eternity, so what seems long to me is small to Him, and that it does not hurt our relationship for me to admit, I need to ask more and be willing to ask more. 

5.  What I'm Reading

I'm still enjoying Bird by Bird, mostly because I'm allowing myself to enjoy each chapter rather than run through it at a sprint.  I can't recommend it enough for anyone who wants to write or teach writing.

6. This Week's Don Quixote Type Adventure 

The University of Notre Dame  President, Fr. Jenkins, spoke up against the plan by the HHS to demand that all organizations and individuals who provide insurance, pay for contraceptives and sterilization and the RU-486ing babies pill or some variant, without exception, without acknowledging that this policy does not allow people of faith to adhere to their faith in their businesses, in their purchases, with their money.  Bravo Fr. Jenkins!  Today was the last day for public comment.  I sent a letter. 

7.  One More Day

This weekend is the Fall Festival. We're almost there.  I'm hoping for good weather, for a good turn out and for smooth sailing.  I promise I'll be napping all next week. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Small Success Thursday

It's Thursday, time to take stock of the past week.  Man this week ran fast! But first, a request:  a friend I've known for 24 years is undergoing heart surgery today.  She's been through it before, but such a thing is never easy and so I pray for a good outcome and speedy recovery.  It's all I can offer from afar, so I'm asking for your help. 

1) To start, I have two days until the Fall Festival and I'm not yet entirely insane but as I said, I have 48 hours left to go.

2) Wrote a piece for a writing contest called, "The Dress She Picked."  I can't post it because it must be unpublished, but if it doesn't win, you'll see it here. 

3) Worked on Helen --okay, I took notes while waiting in the parking lot when my muse decided to give dictation.  Wasn't happy with her.  I now have to save an envelope full of red scrawl until I can find time to put it in the document.

4) Last weekend, I got to hear a great talk (or part of it anyway), and make a new friend. I also caught up with a few old ones and that was lovely.

5) Got daughter a hair cut before school picture day.

And, I'm adding a feature, a This Week I'll feature.  The object is to set a goal for next week, today. 

This week I'll restart my exercise program for myself.  (I'll let you know if in 7 days, I can get myself started). 

Now it's your turn.  Hope you had a great week and be sure and leave a link!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Peaceful Morning

Today, my youngest son does not have school.  The difference in the morning is striking. 

They slept in.
I did the dishes.
The upstairs toilet needed plunging and it did not gnaw at me, it was merely a nuisance.
The sink had an ant party because someone left an unwashed glass from a late night juice but that didn't irritate either. 
I started the next wash and made the beds and vacumned.
They came down and asked for breakfast.  I even ate with them.
The slowness of the whole morning has been almost unreal, like watching ice melt or syrup crawl along the inside of a glass bottle when you're last in line with the pancakes.

I love it.
I love it. I love it. I love it.  I love it. I love it.
I know these days off aren't reality, that most weeks will have those four different directions pressing in on all sides, but today, I got to see what I'd been missing, the ability to feast on time. 

There's still tons to do and it will get done, but it's just a lovely moment that I've made a list and am not anxious even about the fact that I'm not anxious.  Gathering these good thoughts like relics, I plan to carry with me for the day. 

Hope your morning is good.  Going to go give the three youngest baths and seize the day.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Why We Go to 8:30

It's five o'clock.  You've opted for going to the evening mass so everyone can be there so it must be time for every one's favorite pew time pastime, "Who's got Mom?" 

In a twist for our contestants, Mom drove, ergo the original strategies of several key players has been scrapped.  They'll be stuck in whatever alignment Dad puts them in the pew and have to wait for the chance to strike.  It requires a rethinking of strategies as normally, the kindergartner opts for Virtue child, having Mom hold the misselette so she can follow along; muscling out the four year old who thinks the best method is to declare "huggie time."

Mom arrives before the first reading.  Each smaller child is flanked by an older one, leaving Mom on the side with only one method to approach.  The seven year old stands and makes his move.  "Mom!" he urgently doesn't quite whisper.  "I have to go to the bathroom." He may, but he's hoping to go and return to flank Mom on the outside, giving him unrestricted access.

Mom gives the glare and hisses, "Wait until the offertory."  The boy is stuck for what will seem like an unbearable amount of time between his sister who has decided she hates her hair cut and now is the time to let Mom know, and a brother who is trying to both be a bossy bigger brother and seemingly more pious than anyone else in the row.   The rejection has sparked the interest of the older brother who is now trying to correct his younger brother's every move so that it is more correct than the altar servers.

That later kid's a crafty one, as he's placed himself strategically as far away from actual parents as possible, allowing for maximum leeway provided he plays within certain restraints.   Unfortunately, he tends to skate beyond those restrictions which often means there are much more severe consequences if he gets caught. And he's corrected one time too many, resulting in a verbal outrage from the seven year old.  They're both busted. Yes folks, pew kid tetris has begun, as the children are shuffled to try and create the proper alignment to ensure minimum distraction from the mass.

It's rather like one of those analytic problems from the S.A.T.   Kid A can only sit by kid C, F or G.  Kid B sits on the end.  Kid C can sit by anyone but must be in the middle.   Kid D and Kid E must be by one of the two parents.  Kid H and Kid J cannot sit next to each other, but can sit with any one else.   I admit, I've toyed with sitting one child in each pew, at the end, and seeing how that works out, but decided I'll be spending enough time in purgatory as it is. 

Mass includes a visiting missionary with a slide show.  It's good but the children immediately despair.  Commence bathroom breaks.  Shift one, the boys.  Shift two, the younger girls.  Shift three, the older middle children who were trying to show off by not going. 

Back to the action.  Mom had the two toddlers after the potty wars on her lap.  One overly helpful sister was trying to take a child but that child did not want to go.  She announced her desires.  Loudly.  The other child on the lap decided now was as good a time as it was gonna get to give Mom a backwards headbutt.  Mom clears the lap, retreating in pain.  Lap children are now buckled in pew by older teen siblings who relish the idea of 1) acting as parent 2) controlling their siblings 3) appearing virtuous in the process.  Seeing that Mom's arms are free, a new player announces her presence. 

The baby decides she will declare herself the winner.  Bouncing in my arms, she nuzzles up to my neck.  I swear she was giving the rest of them the evil eye and a gloating, "I Win!" victory lap smile when we came back from communion. 

Tune in next week to join us for "Who's not singing?"

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Vocation of Mother and Wife

This weekend, I had the chance to snatch a bit of a mini-retreat being held at my church.  It featured a pastor from another parish who had once been an associate pastor at ours.  He'd been a good friend and was much beloved. I remembered his zeal for the sacrament of confession and his absolutely resonating homilies and wondered if my memory had gilded over time.  It didn't matter.  I also knew I needed the break, needed the silence of listening, of being that came from going to the church without anyone and being there.

Standing in the church hoping to  steal the sacrament of reconciliation to top it off, there were people gathered for a wedding.  I stopped to admire the deliberate beauty, the details that included everything, even the men with their silk embroidered shirts.  There was a luminous quality to all these details and in the guests faces, waiting for the mass to begin.  Here, we cannot multi-task. Here, we cannot email or check websites or be distracted beyond the temptations of our own minds to run down rabbit holes.  We need this still place.  I stood in that stillness, knowing that I needed it and yet was restless.  I opted to let my sins stand as the line was still six deep with the organist warming up and headed back down to try and sit for the lecture.

Alas, I do not sit well. It is not in my nature to be still.  We'd barely made it through the opening prayer when I was fidgity.  I thought I'd take notes so I scrounged for paper in my purse.  There wasn't any.  So I went to the table for notices like 40 days for life and took a sheet.  While there, I noticed a woman wrestling with four.  This was familiar territory.  I went to help.  We wound up taking her smaller ones to the playground. We exchanged names, we shared stories and I felt better, that I needed to hear this woman and see what others see when they see me, and watching her, I could see how good it was, how much of a witness she was holding her daughter and caring for the other three in tow.  I felt blessed to meet her. 

Returning to the hall and the talk finally, I caught the tail end and I don't know what was said before, but he saved the best for the finale.  He spoke of priests living out their vocation, of saying each mass as if it were the first, their last, and the only.  And I thought, substitute being wife or mother and you have the prescription for how we are to pour out our lives.  We are to live each day as if it is the first day we are blessed to be his wife, each day as if it is the last day we will have that blessing, and to hold that title as only.   Likewise, we are to be mother to our children, to each as if it were that first day when we first inhaled the divine smell of them, as if it were the last day we'd be so blessed to hold them, and as the only, for each of them, as if they are the only.  

The mind reeled with the idea of seeking to treat each day as a birthday, a honeymoon, a sacrament, a mass, a feast.   It made it hard to fathom how life could be other than luminous even with all the scourges of minutia that awaited me. It was hard to wait, being so impatient to come back home, to fix lunch, to change diapers, to fold laundry, if only as part of pouring out whatever it was I'd kept in reserve.  If we do this, if we pour it all out, the best will be served later in the feast. 

This world does not understand motherhood or fatherhood or wifeliness or husbandness.  It views the first two as chains against freedom, the later two as utterly unnecessary.  The world views the product of such unions, a pure burden.   The world does not understand treating people with such permanent lavish love, or loving beyond what is easy.  The world talks of making time for "me" or balancing life.  We aren't called to be balanced, the world on one side and our faith/God on the other with us at the fulcrum.   The two aren't equally weighted.  It is us that weigh each according to our own heart's scale.  What we measure, we limit in value.  This is how much I will love, no more. 

We are not called to a limited life.  We have a limited life.  We are called to unlimited love.  We are called to love with abandon, forever, today, the people we have been given.

It's hard in even beginning to grasp that concept, not to imagine how wonderful today and all the todays to come will be, but now I can't wait!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Should I Be Concerned?

My four year old daughter is precocious and smart and often elects to be silent.

So yesterday when she produced a menagerie of animals and dolls at the table and began imaginary play by herself, I eavesdropped.

There's a reason that one should not poke one's nose into the musings of another's thoughts unwelcomed. 

It can unnerve. 

She began singing.  I tried to catch the lyrics but the meaning caught me up.  She was play acting all of the villains from the Little Mermaid, Pokemon, My Little Pony, Phineas and Ferb, Dora and Thundercats merged into one.  I waited for the hero to save the day, the barbie to be rescued, the pony Rainbow Dash to fly in at the nick of time, even a Thundercats HO! call to arms.


Not a peep.

Ursula won. Team Rocket Won.  Nightmare Moon and Doofensmurtz, Swiper and Mum-rah won!
She let out a triumphant cackle, the kind that usually ends the first half of a two parter episode where the bad guy seems to have the upper hand.  I made her lunch and mine.   I didn't want to interrupt.  I was waiting for the second act.

"You think you will win but you will not!" She was gloating. "For I am the greatest in the WORLD...." She let her voice float along dramatically holding that last word.

I waited, "Lunch?" 
"Yes! That would ...please me." she said in deep tones. We were now channeling Darth Vader I think, from the old version that is on VCR tapes.

A butter sandwich, yogurt, goldfish crackers and a banana later, she was back in her world. 

The heroes never showed up or they were beaten but she seemed to be having a splendid time.  Now I don't ever recall having the self possession to roll play outside of the parameters of the good guy as a kid; shoot I wouldn't even allow myself to be a villain in Dungeons and Dragons when I was a teen, much less find myself sorted in Slytherin as an adult so I wondered that a little girl barely old enough for pre-school would find the forces of chaos so compelling as versus those of sweetness and light. 

Part of it was the rump roast effect of getting the assigned roll by older sisters in games, she'd come to know these second tier characters first because she had to wait her turn for the prime spots that others who were older had jump claimed in any play that took place.   Part of it was personality; the villains were much less transparent in their actions and motivations and my daughter liked keeping her cards close to the vest.   I decided that rather than fret, I'd be direct.

"Why do you like the villains?" I asked, trying to seem very casual.
"Mom..." she gave me a look of amusement, one that made her seem at least eight years older than she is, "It's only pretend."

Perhaps I need to get out a bit more. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Small Success Thursday

It's Thursday so it's time to take stock of the blessings of everyday life.  Sometimes those joys are easy to spot, like a 20 dollar bill on the ground.  Other times, they are a surprise to be discovered, like a familiar face in a large crowd, the one you were looking for but did not know you needed to see.  

So this week I:

1) worked on the Fall Festival. It's less than two weeks away! Trying not to panic.
2) Had the delight of my husband coming home early.
3) Survived letting my 3 year old start Pre-school.  I miss him.
4) asked for help.
5) Prayed the rosary and had a prayer answered.

Join in and visit the blogs, they're lovely! 
Just leave a few of your small successes in a post and link up here using Mr. Linky!  Hope you had a great week everyone!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How Not to Be a Spirit Killer

With the economy, the weather, school having started, no Spring Break or holidays yet in sight, I noticed in the voices of those around me, a dullness, a sadness with no origin other than human nature.  In this season of ordinary time, it can be hard to summon the joyful way in which we are to live out every moment, waiting in "joyful hope."

This is not a call for Polly-Anna Enthusiasm about everything, or the equally shallow attempt to cheerleader up with people run through life as though loneliness, listlessness, suffering, hardship, economic troubles, sickness, anxiety and pain exist. 

This is a reminder that we are called to address those same scourges and sufferings in our lives and those around us, with the gifts supplied by the Holy Spirit.  We're not supposed to sit on the sideline and complain that things stink or it's hard or this hurts.  We're supposed to get up and make things better, easier, kinder, more beautiful, to wipe the faces and assist with the crosses that we encounter.  

How do we do this?

1) Pray.  We do not know the hidden pain held by every other person we encounter today, but all of them ache.  Every one of them holds something they do not share, which digs into their heart, pierces it, and makes them bleed.  Pray for them all.

2) Listen.  We live in a talking age.  We blog. We tweet.  We update our status and we email.  Actually giving someone face time and listening; that is a gift in this age when we all pretend that everything else is more important than anyone.  Stop multi-tasking and sit.  Be present. Listen. 

3) Help.  Make a bed.  Fix a snack.  Phone a friend.  Do something for someone other than yourself.  It's not make time for me time; it's time to make time for others. 

4) Create beauty deliberately.  Cut flowers and put them in a vase.  Add a bit of fresh herbs to the chicken dinner, or use a table cloth to make the evening just a touch more lush.  Change the sheets, paint a touch of the season into the day by scent, by color, by touch.   Lovely sounds, smells and sights are balm to the soul. 

5) Touch.  Give a hug, undeserved and unsolicited, to your children, a back rub to your spouse, and smile with your whole face. It will make a difference, even to the older ones.

6) Turn off machines.  I know the irony of blogging this, but turn off the TV, the radio, the computer, the phone.   Silence allows for better conversations.   It also eliminates sources of violence, anger, wrath, insults and agitation.

7) Play.  We forget to do this in our daily lives. The temptation to schedule ourselves into oblivion such that the weekend comes and goes and while we did the shopping, made it to the two birthday parties and dropped off the dry cleaning and got hair cuts, we don't play is a constant threat in today's hyper vigilant 24-7 update what you are doing world. 

8) Sleep.  Get 8 hours.  Decide this matters for everyone in your family.  It will make the world much less jagged if you aren't feeling ripped raw with fatigue.

9) Forgive.  We all hold things that turn our insides darker; hard words, forgotten acts, slights, imaginary and real, 1000 scourges assault us daily from the world at large via politics, the news, a neighbor, a friend, a bumper sticker, a blogger.  We can hold onto each of these cuts, or we can apply the greatest balm to the spirit known, seeking and giving forgiveness.  If Christ could forgive us on the cross, what exactly can we hold a grudge over that is greater than that? 

10) Serve.  In this world, somewhere is someone who needs a gift you have to offer, your enthusiasm, your humor, your good shoulder to cry on, your understanding face.  If you are a light to others, your spirit will be lighter as a result.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Scars of Parenthood

Some of the scars of raising children are easy to spot, like stretch marks and scuffed walls and jeans that don't fit anymore...ever.  

Others come with time, as you discover that these people you've loved since the day you knew they were coming, at some point, as alarmingly interesting as you find them, no longer find you sufficient.

Sometimes they're angry that you can't fill that void.  Sometimes, they're sad.  Mostly, they're as bewildered as can be that you don't fit anymore, because like those jeans, it's not the weight, it's the way things have stretched and rearranged, that make the fit no longer possible. 

It's not the end of the world, but it feels that way.  It feels scary to feel like nothing fits and to see the whole world yawning open to swallow you whole.  It's scary to see people who you can't imagine young telling you that this stage isn't permanent and they aren't either. The lack of permanence is frightening.  The idea of permanence, equally so.  Everything seems equally a trap. 

That awkward stage of adolescence is like a fresh knife wounding, revisiting every scar, nicking here and there. The welder stares at you, surprised that you bleed and irritated that it is possible.  Other times, I've encountered a great ice wall, between the teen's heart and your own.   You stare every day for cracks, for a poke of green, a flare of color, a crocus in the midst of the hard cold.   You hope and you hope and you hope.  You pray and you pray and you pray and you try to govern your own heart and thoughts, sometimes you fail. 

It is in those moments, that permafrost seems to grow and I feel like a complete moron, wondering if anything ever done mattered or was marked or noted.  Any pride felt in raising people up to now gets crushed.  I remind myself, "You are to be the air, not the object, to give them the capacity to breathe and encounter all else. You are baseline, invisible, expected, for granted, present."

But it's not easy and I'm not always good at it. In fact, I frequently stink.  They are not obligated to do the same and they are still learning that love, adult love, love of family, of art, of beauty, of God, of others, is not an arbitrary or passing fancy, it is a permanent choice that must be made daily, and requires of us, all of ourselves, even when it is less easy. 

Frequently, they say things that suck all of the oxygen out of the heart.  It is in those moments, those hard blasted moments of being a mom that I know, this is how God loves us; as we love them. Despite our prickly nature, our irritated selves, our capacity to ignore gifts, ignore time, ignore beauty, and stand wounded and demanding that we have the right to reexamine our wounds over and over again and watch them bleed. 

God isn't really interested in all of that, He just wants to bandage our injuries, make them better and send us off smiling, to engage the world.   He just wants to love us.  So he sends his Holy Spirit to thaw us, whether we wish it or not, through humor, through music, through time and heals whatever we allow and hopes that one day, we'll turn back, our hearts breaking with joy, happy to be here, happy to see us, happy to be in our presence once more, fitting as we never did before, because we've grown out of our selves more, and thus have room for others. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Three Years Ago

Paul was born. 

His labor I do not remember.  But I do recall being surprised by how strong his cry was when we first heard his voice.  He did not look like a child with only two chambers to his heart. He did not look like a child who faced a lifetime with Down Syndrome.  He looked like Paul. 

Paul had two births if you will, his birthday, and the day he had the corrective heart surgery, the day after which, I stopped holding my breath that he might die in my care before we could get him the procedure he needed.  Honestly, it was my greatest fear, that I might screw up in a way that would lose him. 

Today, he climbs on the table.  He likes the radio loud and will have games of what can only be called "Smile Tag" with me in the driver's rear view mirror.  He plays with puppets and has a sense of humor about it.  For about fifteen minutes, he allowed the Dinosaur to bite his hand.  Then he would roar and fall to the ground holding his hand.  Perhaps I should see what his brothers are letting him watch on TV.  He also makes faces at himself when he gets a hair cut or brushes his teeth.  After we're finished grooming, he nods his head at himself and sometimes even gives a thumbs up. 

It is hard to remember life without him or imagine it.  It is hard to explain except to say, our lives are far richer for this little quiet boy who sometimes isn't quiet. (He's now calling MOM because I promised to bring him his crayons and I got distracted). 

So Happy Birthday my son!  Love to you and I'm so glad you're here.  Like your extra chromosome, you add a bit more to our lives than the ordinary.   Now I'll get to work on that cake. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Things that Puzzle Me

10) No matter how many loads of laundry you wash and fold, the drawers are always full before you get there.

9) When you announce to yourself that it's time to go on a diet, your husband will bring home dinner including dessert as a surprise.

8) Food disappears at a rate three times the estimated consumption level, leaving nothing on Thursday except "creative lunches" like carrots, the yogurts no one likes, and the left over dry frozen ice cream space bars from the last trip to the Air and Space museum. 

7) If you find six shoes, chances are, none of them are a pair.

6) The phone rings when you want to go to the bathroom.

5) If you find a pair of mated socks, one of them has a hole.

4) The kid who gets cavities will be the one who never neglects his teeth.

3) You buy new clothes for several but discipline yourself to only get what you need for those who need it.  The few you did not service, will immediately have wardrobe issues that require you return to the store and buy what you disciplined yourself not to purchase in the first place.

2) If you make it to the end of the month on budget, the car will have a nervous breakdown.

1) If you hold the baby to your cheek and inhale, letting the peach fuzz on her head tickle your nose, all the worries about bills, pounds, cleaning, grades, schedules, errands, time, grey hairs and dinner, disappear.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Small Success Thursday

It's Thursday, the day we count our blessings even if those blessings include things that don't look good on a trophy like creating15 pairs of non holey clean mated socks!  Behold, my prowess at bringing intended pairs together. Bow before my capacity to keep footsies warm.  Hahahahahahahaha. 

Okay, enough fun. 

This week I:

1) Took my eldest son shopping. It's an accomplishment, trust me.  Got him a few shirts and a few new jeans.

2) Got the van an oil change. Yeah, between that and the socks, I'm livin' the dream.

3) Survived 7 with strep.  Have a chart on the wall dry erase board for easy marking of who has had medication and who needs it.  When I get to the end of a day and see all 14 checks, it's a huzzah moment. It's one of those times where you want to call someone to tell them hey I did this and then you realize, it's baseline.  No one cares if you did it, only if you don't.  But it's a success.  I am awash with Amoxicilin.

4) Worked on Helen.  Not like last week, but still, progress.

5) Played football this weekend with the kids.  It was a blast even if we didn't just lose but lose badly. 

6) Did not sign my kids up for soccer.  There was some sadness in not saying "Yes" because I always want to say "Yes." but the rigor of three schools and constant commuting has just meant we need the down time that Saturday and Sunday provide.  It's kind of a nul victory except that for me, not signing up for everything is progress. We have promised however, to play football every weekend.

7) Decided to Not send youngest son on the bus to school, I'm not ready to let him go out in the world without me just yet. 

These treasures, are my victories of the past week.  I can't wait to read about yours!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

When 7 are Down with Strep

To avoid getting what everyone is coughing up, (which naturally, being Mom, I tend to stoop to catch), I have determined a few coping devices for the primary caregiver to all minors with unhealthy germs to share.

10) Burn all clothing after wear. Given that this will reduce your laundry load, it might be a more permanent solution to the issues of children not putting away clothing or dropping their dirties in a laundry basket. However, the HOA and EPA might object.

9) Declare a sick week and require all healthy kids to hang out with the sickies until everyone gets it so it's all over at once. Post a large guard dog outside the room to ensure no one sneaks out. Slip food, reading materials and parental judgments about fights that occur within, under the door.

8) Go into Deep Denial.

7) Even though the weather isn't good, pitch a tent outside. Sleep there.

6) Consider applying for "Wife Swap," provided it's this week.

5) Budget Buster: Call in painters and re-carpet. It's easier than cleaning all the places they've touched.

4) Call Congress to determine if water boarding one's self with Listerine is considered a violation of human rights.

3) Show up at the Pediatricians' with everyone and beg for a gallon sized bottle of amoxicillin.

2) Go into Deeper Denial.

1) Hang a sign on the door. Quarantined. Hope by March, you get to peek outside to see your shadow.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Everyone's September 11th

Everyone has a September 11th story, where they were, what the day was like,  with some of the littlest of details etched forever in memory. 

I know I have the silly memory of thanking God for cell phones that day (I'd recently joined the ranks of the cell phone owners), that I could talk to my husband who was trying to get out of DC.  I know I had an obgyn appointment that morning and have a photo of my fifth child, Faith and I was not more than a month pregnant.  "How can you have known you were pregnant? She's just a dot!" the technician asked.  And she was.  The size of a dot, a mustard seed, and so she became known as Faith.

Faith acts as a shield and sword against the sufferings and evils of this world.  My daughter Faith is no different.  She is the first to come to another's aid, the first to get the bandages when someone is hurt, the most sensitive and empathetic of my children.  She's also much stronger and braver than she knows.  Real faith is like that too.  Even then, at the size of a mustard seed, she protected me. 

Though we all howled in pain when the towers fell, I did not get to see the event itself as I was in that little waiting room looking at a screen at her.  When my appointment was over, there was chaos in the doctor's office as all other visits from that point on in the day had been canceled and the receptionist was bringing a TV into the lunch room where the staff had gathered.  There were reports of a plane coming towards the White House here in DC, of fires on the Washington mall, of bombs.  My husband's office is a mere block and a half from the White House, and so he and a friend started the long trek home.  They opted for the Metro, but it was suspended that close to the White House.   So they began walking.  They walked until they got to an open metro station, around Cleveland Park I think.  They left around ten in the morning.  They got home around 4:30. 

After my appointment, I drove to get my son and daughter from their prospective schools, my other two children in tow, all the time glued to the radio.  After realizing I could drive or freak out but not both, I finally opted for classical music.  I figured they'd cut into Bach, Beethoven and Brahms if something new happened.  I know I fixed them lunch but I can't remember what I ate that day.  I just remember, I put Cartoons on for the kids and put the baby down for his nap and went back to my room to watch.  I watched the tower fall again and again and the people fall  and the planes fly into the buildings. 

When you've lived in New York, even if only for a year, you feel like it's your city. You have favorite haunts, little idiosyncratic treats that aren't in the guide book, places that when friends come, you bring them so they can experience your experience.  Zito's for bread, just like Frank Sinatra, Rocco's for eclairs, my favorite to this day, and I loved walking the Brooklyn Bridge.  I loved the wind, I loved the water, I loved the view of the city. I loved the structural beauty of the thing itself, so necessary and yet so elegant as to seem extravagant by today's standards.  Walking the bridge, we'd never go more than half way, because people would want to go to the World Trade Center for a bird's eye view.

We'd go through Wall Street to the top of the World Trade Center and take pictures looking down.  The view from the top doesn't make much sense to our brains because we just aren't used to looking at things from that high, but it's what you do.  Visits to these many places, the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Little Italy, the Empire State building, these were the points of the city that anchored your understanding of how New York was different from every other place. I shuddered to know where we'd go was gone.  Like every other person who has ever felt like they owned New York as theirs, I shuddered because I knew how many people were normally in that place and how many lives must have been snuffed out in those horrible moments.  Part of the city was simply gone. 

Every year, I watch the footage or look at the commemorative book in our library and review what happened in my mind. I'm always shocked by the raw feelings that return so bluntly.  We will never forget, but thankfully, we have this day to remember, to allow ourselves to return to those memories.  I know time heals all wounds, but when I look at a shot of the Manhattan skyline, it still looks wrong to me to this day.

September 11th, 2011, the gospel talks of forgiving our neighbor 70x7 and we suddenly understand how very much a grace it is to forgive, when we cultivate ire for our fellow citizens simply based on their political standing.  We struggle with civility and forgiveness for people who merely disagree, how much more will we struggle with those who actively have caused us real harm?

That sunny Tuesday that became something else is a reminder that all of us have the capacity to do acts that require real forgiveness, and that all of us need to pray for peace in our hearts and the world.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Request Until She has a Face

The other day, I had to schlep several children to the pediatrician.  It was pouring rain and a difficult errand at best. Leaving with prescriptions in hand, I turned onto the road and saw a strange sight.  A woman walking in the pouring rain, wearing a black overcoat, sneakers and a hood.  From the back and side, there was nothing unusual.  But her face.

She was wearing a skull face covering her entire face. It was the kind you see in bad horror movies, like Scream, only a variant that was more realistic, less abstract.  It was the kind that are otherwise only spotted on or near October 31st.  Walking in the rain, a grown woman was dressed like this, she stopped at the bus stop. 

My mind scrolled through possible benevolent explanations.

1) She lost a bet she shouldn't have made.
2) This was a set up by some reality television exec. 
3) It's pouring, really pouring, and she grabbed a hood only to discover it was this, but it was better than getting soaked.
4) There is some flashmob zombie convention somewhere.
5) She works in a costume shop and was going home. She works in a costume shop and was trying to drum up business.

But the thoughts didn't mollify as I remembered, there is an abortuary near by where second trimester procedures take place.  I hoped the person wasn't affiliated with either the prayer vigil outside or the employees within, one would reveal a lack of charity, and the other, a chilled heart. 

Her "face" or the lack there of, took my mind off of all the amoxicillin I'd be forced to dish out over the next ten days.  It nagged at me though I sought out the radio, my children, anything to deter my brain from pondering how ragged a soul might possibly be to willingly don a mask of this nature.  I couldn't make those happy square peg thoughts fit in the round wounded hole I'd seen in that scene.  It seemed at best angry, at worst, mentally ill.

So I called my mom. 

She reminded me: the answer to everything, is when in doubt, pray. When you're frightened, pray.  When you're hurt, pray.  When you're angry, pray. When you don't know what you need, pray.  When you do, pray.

So I did.  But the woman stayed in my mind again today, so I prayed for her again today.  It still feels like not enough, like this woman, whoever she is, needs more. And what's more, I want to give this woman more. 

So I'm asking all of you, to pray:  That whatever it is, is made better.  That whatever it is, is healed.  That this woman walk the street, and we won't know it, but she will show her face. That would be a start.

If it was nothing, no harm will have been done.  If it is something, since we cannot know, we can do this. Maybe the world will feel a little less heavy today for that woman in the rain.  I hope so.

Better than Shazam!

"It's Ninja time!"

My four year old said it. 
She meant it. 
Now I don't know what it means or where we're going next but I know what time it is, it's Ninja time! 

It's hard to get worked up at the 8 loads of laundry, the four kids down with Strep or the invasion of the ants from the flooded ground about us when it's Ninja time.

The scale doesn't matter and the bills can wait. It's Ninja time!

The malaise of my schedule has just been cleared for a 4 year old's super powers.  It's a liberating experience. 

I going to file it away for when there's a stack of dirty dishes or a forgotten assignment or a mound of paper work.  "It's Ninja Time."  I'm feeling better and better already, like using a karate chop action to get those things done even if I haven't done anything else.  It's going to be my new catch phrase for when things go wrong.  "It's Ninja Time."  She comes back into the kitchen and helps herself to about six saltines, skipping and declaring, "Mom, I love crackers that are squares so much."

She does a dance of Saltine happiness and marches out of the room, her cheeks full and chewing. 
There is a trail for me to clean up.  

Excuse me, I have to stop blogging.  It's Ninja Time. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Small Success Thursday!

It's Thursday so it's the day to count our blessings! 

Today we celebrate all the little victories that go into the vocation of living a life as filled with love as possible.  So we stop to recognize that each teaspoon of ourselves that we measure out for others, matters.

With that, here is how anyone can participate.  If you have a blog, post your small successes from the past week in your blog and then link here using Mr. Linky below.  If you don't, post your successes in the com box.  Then, visit the good folks who posted here and are linked to be inspired, awed, impressed, moved and encouraged.

Know that none of us are alone in the struggle not to be overwhelmed by minutia.

So without further adeiu, this week I:

1)  worked on Helen.  Not just here and there, I added 4,610 words. Plus I edited.  I've set a goal of 1,000 words a day. Some days it's more, some days it's less, but the process generates more words.  So I'm very excited.

2) What a family! Last night there was a flash flood and water started building up in the well of the basement window.  My husband jumped in and started bailing.  My oldest son and daughter and I took turns carting the bins of water (oh am I stiff today) to the driveway where it could run downstream.  My second daughter gathered towels and moved everything away from the window.  It took an hour but we saved the basement! 

3) One week of college, high school and grade school all at once, down.  (I'm gratetul for the grade school breaking it to us gently by 2 four day weeks in a row). 

4) Had a date with my husband this weekend!  Now that school is started up again, I need this more than ever; just to keep from being overwhelmed by laundry and schedule. Plus it's fun!

5) The Beaumont Enterprise is going to run my Flat Stanley piece, and the issue of Faith & Family with my article in it was mentioned in a podcast (Go to last Friday's post for the link) and is coming out soon (September Issue)!

6) Reading a book that I love, Bird by Bird by Anne LaMont!

7) Went to the sacrament of Reconciliation this week, always lifts my spirit even if the basement is flooding (ugh), we have a nasty schedule (double ugh) and one kid is sick (tripple ugh).  Got to go take her to the doctor's today, so I'll check in with you folks this evening!

Now it's your turn!  ARRGH! Blogger ate my Mr. Linky!!!! How annoying.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Arranging the Stars

Fall is one of those times when one can feel as if the whole world is fading away.  It is a time of packing away the easier parts of life like sleeping in and unobstructed weekends and breaking out the bulky clothing of coats and scratchy sweaters, homework and back to school nights.  It can easily oppress to the point of leaving one an emotional parallel of the trees that have already shed their glory and seem overly prepared for winter. 

The malaise of Autumn like the dog days of summer, has more to do with mood than the month.  But fortunately, it can be countered, with hot cider and pumpkins, football games and the trees that are willing to wait and allow themselves to be changed by the weather rather than surrender to it. 

So when today was raining and rough and I'd seen a note from a friend who seemed to hold the weight of the world on her heart, I wanted to paint a picture of beauty with words.  I wanted a scene of peace and beauty because with our 24-7 news cycle, politics, internet noise and the speed of our lives that often seems beyond our control or understanding, we need the stillness that beauty invokes.  But the question had always lingered for me, why is beauty the answer?

We need that moment of awe that comes and makes everything better without explanations.  It brings us back to being fully human. A baby's toothless smile, a letter in the mail, a found ripe tomato amongst the ravaged remains of a summer garden, these are treasures designed to help us through such times when the very air feels moist with dullness.  Prayer, a phone call from a family member, a visit from a friend, these are things which refresh and restore. 

The deeper grace that comes from beauty  is designed to get us through the dullness and tedium that otherwise threatens to engulf the daily grind of life.  Falling in love makes us remember we are more than here.  Reading a great book or seeing a fine film does to, because we can forget time and place not because of instinct, but because of a higher appeal than can be described and understood through the mechanics of science.  Our need for beauty is not limited to sexual appetites, we need and desire it for all our desires.  It is hard wired and further in than the DNA.  

That is part of why hunting for beauty often fails, it relies too much on the physical senses for validation. 

Beauty comes unbidden.  It reveals itself in little ways like wild flowers and a favorite song on the radio, the desirous kiss of one's spouse, the hand holding of a child, and in larger doses like reading the daily gospel and knowing somehow, that reading was picked just for you because you would need it today.  Most of beauty comes with our hearts unaware of how fully it is desired or needed. 

The animal in us does not understand the need for such indulgences; the spirit however, is starved for things like flowers and hugs on birthdays, fires in hearths even when the home is warm, and music that fills the air without clattering.    God knows this deep need echoes His deep love and pours out this beauty in sunshine and rain showers and seasons and creatures and people.  It is to teach us that beauty is indeed, necessary.  God took the time to arrange the stars for our pleasure, out of love for us.  We are to be about the business of arranging stars for others here from that same impulse to please and to love and to serve.

Today, there was a five point stag in my back yard.  If I'd been about my chores and not looking about for something other than my duty, I would have missed this breathtakingly perfect buck.  As big as the creature was, it was amazing that an animal this large could disappear into the woods as stealthily as it had arrived.  Beauty had come unannounced and, having done its job, left. Echos of that moment stayed painted in my mind, patching frayed nerves that had been created by the day's schedule and the to-do list that remained to be tackled.  I wished for my friend that she might have the equivalent of a five point stag in her back yard, catching her up short, filling the space, calming the mind and heart.  

My four year old told me, "Mom, the beautiful deer is gone." as she ate her cupcake that she insisted needed rainbow sprinkles.  Eating only the frosting and sprinkles, she is feasting on beauty as children do before they become jaded to dismiss such intrinsic wants in favor of pragmatism, when it doesn't matter if there are sprinkles or not.  Likewise, my 8 month old doesn't just want a bottle, she wants to be held and have her bottle.  Even she gets that we need more than what we think we need.  It is only when we get lost in the adult world that we fail to see the deer or ask for sprinkles or remember that all of this time here is an extravagant gift.

Nothing we do is unmarked, unnoticed and that at no moment are we ever unloved. Everywhere, there is deep beauty ready to fill our deep need.  Everywhere is the opportunity to arrange stars for others. It is as close as God, as close as creation, as close as the next human in the room. It is in the very air. 

To my dear friend, I hope you know the stars were arranged for you. Breathe deep. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Covering Books

Back when I was a kid, they sent home these cardboard covers printed with a yeasty smell.  As kids, we loved them because they advertised for Carnation Restaurant, a place directly across from our school that served fresh ice cream.  We hoped that covering the books would subliminally convince our parents to take us to get sundaes. (It almost never happened). I think they were exhausted from having to cut/fold/tape so many books.  Having only had to do this as a teen ager, I know my books never looked like my classmates, mine usually lost their book covers within weeks if not days, while other kids had books that were so expertly wrapped, you'ld have sworn the Carnation ad was intended as the cover. 

Now we have book socks and contact paper. Book socks I can handle, provided I pay attention at the end of the year when all used book socks become hats for pirates, costumes for superheros and sometimes princesses and pickachus.  But the contact paper, I can buy the industrial strength roll, and I still never have enough. 

Also, contact paper is a seasonal item, meaning once Labor day has passed, you can't find it except at the specialty education store lodged inbetween a Maytag repair shop and a tobacco store and you will pay through the nose for that clear sticky stuff. Personally, I've never understood why we need cover the books; it's not like we don't know we're giving these things to children who will beat them up, and it's not like we have any sentimental feelings towards these tomes that we will be forcing them to open and answer for the next nine months. 

I've started missing the cardboard wrappers of my youth despite knowing that my wrapping skills of yore still haven't improved, and that I'd embarrass my children dreadfully if allowed to showcase my book covering ability in public at my age.  But I stand by my feelings.  I miss the do it yourself book covers.  At least then, I'd let the subliminal messaging work on me, cover the darn things dutifully as required, and head out for some last minute of the summer ice cream. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Delusions of the Non Published Wanna-be Writer

10) I'm the next Hemingway...well, I'm more wordy than that and I tend to use ellipses...but I'm writing the next great American novel.

9) I'm going to be richer than J.K.Rowling and Stephanie Meyer put together.

8) It will be easy to find an agent. So easy, the agent will seek me out rather than the other way around.

7) Edits? What edits? The editor will understand my prose is an intentional choice of style and not the result of sloppy writing mistakes of craft.

6) Oprah will love my book. She'll restart her book of the month club just for me.

5) The book tour will be financed by the publisher and include my whole family on one of those very cool million dollar Canadian buses.  The kids will love seeing the country. We'll eat well.  It will garner a lot of great press and buzz.

4) The New York Times will love my book. They will say nice things about me, my books, my style and my dog if I had a dog, because they love the book. 

3) My book will be a movie and it will be nominated for best adapted screen play and I will go to the Academy awards ceremony and get my picture taken with Oprah, George Clooney and any other stars that stop me and say, "Can you autograph my book? I love it and have read it over and over again."  I will have writer's cramp by the end of the evening because I've signed my name so much.  I will start signing books S.A. to deal with the pain but be true to the fans.

2) A prestigious university, (its English department weeping with joy), will offer me a position teaching writing and a course just on my book alone, which I will accept.  They will also give me an honorary Ph.D. because of the book.

1) It should only take about a month or two to write.

Writer of the not yet finished book and this blog note: Yeah.  I'm setting a time of 5:00 a.m. every day to work an hour on the Beast that is Helen.  Did my time yesterday and today.  Decided to have an indulgent moment of non billable writing and this is the result. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Better Parenting via Science Theory**

There are several scientific theories that would have been discovered faster if only the world of science had allowed for mothers to be part of the discussion much earlier in history.

Nature seeks homeostasis: This is a truism. Every time I wash my floor, a child attempts to reassert the natural sticky feeling their feet have become accustomed to, by spilling something impossibly hard to clean up within ten minutes of the floor actually drying. Olive oil, maple syrup, and salt are amongst three of the most memorable illustrations of this theory in practice.

Opposites Attract: Clean white wall. Permanent Black Marker. Any questions? I mean, other than from my own mother asking why in heaven’s name do I even own a permanent black marker, or from my mother-in-law, where is this clean white wall you speak of?

Chaos Theory: Some individuals would stipulate that a child's very essence illustrates Chaos Theory's validity, independent of space, time or setting. Some individuals don't yet know the untrammeled power of a hungry child. For those who are still confused by chaos theory, perhaps a live demonstration is in order.  Please come on over to my house at five o'clock and try to fix dinner.  I will take a nap. 

Matter cannot be created or destroyed, only transformed.

Exhibit A: my son’s laundry.
Exhibit B: An orange oversized tee he got in 3rd grade that defies all maternal efforts to transform or destroy. Handing it down has not stopped the older child from retrieving it for his wardrobe. Purchasing new shirts has produced no measurable effect. Now that it is, arguably, a bit tight around the arms, he still resents the fact that his mom has twice attempted to give it to goodwill. The shirt in question is currently stored in a secret bunker under his bed and heavily guarded by legos, books, smelly socks and other items that if discovered, would lead his mother to despair.

Time is relative theory: The simple errand of driving to school normally takes twenty minutes. Starting at 8:39 a.m. after Mom has whisked away breakfast materials and begun the getting dressed routine for all occupants still home, there is a tearful phone call from her third grade son. “Today is bake sale day and I didn’t bring any cookies.” Thinking about the frozen cookie dough in the freezer, Mom stupidly agrees to bring something by 10:30, as the bake sale starts at 11.

While in the process of getting the toddlers dressed, Mom throws the cookies in the oven, locates shoes, puts three unmatched socks in the laundry basket, flushes an abandoned toilet, puts milk away, turns off the lights, removes four bikes and two whiffle ball bats from the driveway, takes the cookies out of the oven, straps the two toddlers (who both want cookies) in their car seats and the baby and then signs a form for a package being delivered before starting the car.

Once in the car, Mom remembers that the aforementioned cookies are still in the kitchen. Retrieving the cookies, the phone will ring; it will be the same child asking if you are bringing the cookies. While inside, Mom will spot permission slip that needs to be dropped off and feel so virtuous for multi-tasking, she will run to her closet to gather the dry cleaning. Leaving for the second time, Mom gets half way down the driveway before realizing; she brought her purse in, but not out. In the few seconds Mom is in the house, the phone rings again, she forces herself to ignore it. Grabbing a prescription bottle on the counter that is about to run out, Mom returns to the car with her purse, cell phone and a diet coke. Triple checking to make sure she has all her children, her errands, and all required equipment for those errands, she drives.

It is part of the law of nature that she will then hit every red light plus have to navigate one traffic jam owing to a cop issuing a ticket and a second at a train crossing. She arrives around 12:15. The bake sale is over, and the volunteer has several dozen frozen dough baked cookies left over. When she checks the message on her answering machine at home from the phone call she ignored, it was her son saying “Never mind, third grade isn’t doing the bake sale this week, it’s fourth grade.”

Theory of Gravity: How annoyed your mother will be after enduring the above mentioned scenario versus. how much she loves you.

Next week: Scientific Law in Relationships:

Theory of Constancy: The level of stress in a marriage is constant, the level felt by the individuals within the marriage, is fluid.
** Originally ran on January 20, 2008, back when I only had 8 children. What a piker! 

Friday, September 2, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday

1. It's been a while since I did this exercise and I don't have a piece ready to go because this week has been so crazy so I  figured it was time.  Plus, I happened to catch Jennifer Fulwiler on EWTN's new Register Radio show.  Now that school started, I'm trying to return to writing more seriously.  Here's hoping!

2.  Rosary Catch up.  I'm trying to do one a day.  Some days, it's all I can do to get through the Apostle's Creed.  Prayer some days is easy, other days hard.  It's like parenting.  Often, we get more out of it when it's hard, but like parenting when it's hard, we think we hate it while we're in the midst of the tough stuff.  Just when I think about stopping, someone asks me to pray for someone or something.  So today, I'm through a decade...yes I'll do another when I finish posting this...I promise.

3.  I fell off the Wii Fit wagon and I haven't gotten up.  I know, I just need to step back on, but if I go downstairs, I'm going to have to clean.  So I've been in full avoidance mode.  I don't want to be lectured by a machine.

4.  My oldest started college.  We are now on day three.  I suddenly understand why 18 years ago, my parents drew breath sharply when three days in I said, "I met a guy," dated him for the next six years and then married him.  Ten children's surreal to see one's first start adulthood.  I tell myself I'm ready for him to be ready to start life away from us...but the heart tugs hard. 

5.  Paul is almost three.  In two weeks, we will celebrate his birthday.  I can't tell you how much joy he brings because every day, there is more. I am learning more from him about life than I did in graduate school when I studied Trisomy 21 while earning a master's in Special Education. Paul teaches me hands on, how boundless love can be. It reaches out beyond speech. It reaches out beyond age --he charms every one of his brothers and sisters, even the surly teen girl who pretends that she doesn't belong to this motley noisy messy lot.  It's hard to remember how frightened I was for him, it's hard to remember how sad I felt that he would have Down Syndrome, because very little about his life evokes those feelings now. 

6.  I'm reading a book on Anxiety.  It's a bit funny because most of the time, I'm not anxious, but it's teaching me how someone who is anxious responds to things as versus me.  My main problem with any books like "The Hyper-Active Child" and "Your Over Sensitive Kid" and the like is that I can fit almost all of my square peg kids into the round holes that are presented; I can find examples of everything from their lives making them a mish mash of every psychological condition ever devised.  If there's a lable for kids who spend afternoons running around the main floor in a giant circle pushing a doll carriage while having a conga line and screaming, they have that too.  It makes applying the techniques for dealing with any condition theoretically universally applicable; it also means those same techniques are in my family's case, universally ignored. 

7.  Podcasts: I'm considering adding them to this blog.  Like blogging, I know nothing about podcasts at the moment when I'm considering this addition other than it's verbal, it's me talking, and it might be fun.  The questions would be: Why? and Would Anyone Listen? My why is, there's something more intimate about talking than writing; it also would be a bit different. In addition, spelling wouldn't matter.  I could finish sentences with dangling prepositions.  Humor that could not be fleshed into a full fledged column could still be conveyed.  Why not is: Could I actually pull it off in this house without interruptions that would mar the listening experience?(piano playing, fights over the last piece of pie, tv, computer and radio background noise, babies and toddlers requiring attention etc). 

Final Note: Faith &Family September Issue is coming out and my piece on homework will be in it.
You can hear a bit about it here: Back to School Podcast. It's my first magazine piece and yes I'm psyched psyched psyched!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Small Success Thursday

Sorry I'm late in posting today. Normally I write these the evening before. 

It's been a crazy week. 

But Thursday, we are supposed to stop and count our blessings and recognize the small victories in every day life that otherwise can be lost in the business of every day.

So this week, I:

1) Got to spend time with my Mom and Dad.  They flew home Tuesday and I already miss them.

2) Launched my K, 2, 4, 6, and 8th grader and my Freshman in college. 

3) Had a date with my 15 year old daughter, we went to a bookstore.  It was a fun evening for both of us.

Now it's your turn!

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!