Thursday, March 29, 2012

It's Thursday!

So let's get this party started.

Today we consider how in the past week, we succeeded. It's not always epic, but it is always vital, the work done to nourish hearth and home. Remember:

When you feed your children, you have fed the hungry.
When you change them, you have clothed the naked.
When you comfort them through colds, you have cared for the sick.
When you console them when they hurt, you are bringing peace.

So every day is living a beatitude, if done with love.
Little things with great love...that's what we're supposed to be about.
It seems simple.
We all know how hard sometimes giving that extra can be.

So without further ado,

This week I

1) took all who were eligible to confession. There were howls of I have too much homework...normally a fail safe get out of jail free card in my house, but the two who complained had watched batman that afternoon and been outside so I vetoed this objection.

2) helped with the rescue of a dog. There were 2 loose big dogs that attacked a little dog and my son ushered the littles inside, my daughter went over to help the owner with getting them off her pet. We came out with the only thing available. Bats. We didn't hit them, but we looked menacing and that combined with my daughter's fending them off a bit with her feet drove them away. It was scary but the dog that was hurt is on the mend.

3) Went to an online writing conference, it was like a breath of fresh air on my brain. Didn't realize it was so undernourished.

Now it's your turn!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Small Success Thursday

Little things with big love, big things with bigger love, that's the whole purpose of Small Success Thursday, to consider how in the past week, we lived out our vocation, how we fed the hungry, served the meek and ultimately, poured ourselves out.

This week I had the opportunity to comfort a friend, to be her ladder (see last week's post to understand).  I also made her laugh by sharing the extraordinary silliness of a dessert I found on a friend's blog, Picaken. It's a great honor to be her friend, and to make her feel less stressed by the world.

I also was a "MOTHER OF THE YEAR" for making said dessert for an 8 year old's birthday. I have 8 more requests for individualized versions of this monster delicacy and may have to take up cross country skiing while pulling trucks filled with anvils to survive having exposed my children to Picaken lunacy...they're already planning, pecan pie in German Chocolate Cake, blueberry inside lemon poppyseed, and multiple requests for cherry inside of chocolate.

What else happened? 

Well, I helped put together an auction basket for the Book Worm with a Kindle Touch, 100$ worth of books, a throw, chocolates, coffee and tea and a book light and it was successful.  At the auction, I played a game of chance and won a 40 inch LCD television. It was very funny and a great surprise.

I worked on Helen.

I delivered the papers for the taxes and I got a portrait done of my 1 year old. The lady kept cooing and touching her and it freaked out my 13 month old daughter and so she screamed, resulting in an amazing over the top DIVA pose where she's got her hands behind her head, her back fully arched all while wearing a red dress.  It says, "I can't work in these conditions, if you need me, I'll be in my trailer." So of course, I had to order one of those, plus the normal cute but not nearly as great a story shots. 

My son came home from college and I got to see him for the first time since January.

Finally, I also got to speak with a new friend (we've been blog-friends for years) and it was that lovely deep rich kind of conversation that tells you, this is a friendship you will savor. 

All in all, a great week despite gaining a pound and spending too much.  Much joy in abundance, and an abundance of joy in the muchness of it all.

Now it's your turn! And invite a friend or two. We want to grow this internet meme.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Small Success Thursday

I know. It's after ten and you'ld think with not blogging, I'd be more prompt. 

Well, it's funny.  Fasting makes you spend a lot of time thinking about the fact that you are NOT writing and my brain keeps teasing out ideas and thoughts from whatever wherever I am.  But I have discovered those things that get sacrificed when you spend a lot of time writing, like going outside, playing baseball with your son until it gets dark and a bit after, reading to the youngest six, each of them their own story, and my house is cleaner. 

But Sherry, aren't you just substituting one activity for another by filling up the time?  Yes and no. It is a new process, a painful and clumsy and difficult one, to limit my desire to spill everything out onto every page every day.  But Lent is about learning to be still.  And stillness requires wilfulness.  I am stubbornly active.  Many years back, I played a game called the Cube.  In it, you envision the following objects. 

A dessert.
In the dessert is a cube. (Set in your mind the cube).
And a ladder.
And a horse.
And flowers.
And a storm.

Got it? A dessert. A Cube. A ladder. A horse. Flowers. And a  storm.

The cube is you. 

Mine was this spinning sparkling thing that could only be reached by a ladder (in my case a steel staircase ladder like you use to deplane), and the ladder stablized the cube and made it stop spinning. 

The ladder are friends.
For the sake of those who might want to finish the image, the dessert is the landscape of your life, the storm is trouble, the flowers are your children and the horse is your beloved.

Going back to my own image, friends keep me from being dizzy, they focus me, they stablize me. I had allowed blogging to substitute for friends, allowing me to spin.  So that's why I'm taking this hiatus.  Nothing tragic. Nothing crazy. Nothing earth shattering. Just hoping to do some more internal spring cleaning, to get rid of the piles of clutter that have gathered since the last time I dusted in here.

Now, what did I do this week?

1) I cleaned out a bedroom...even under the beds.

2) stopped blogging temporarily.

3) was accepted to pitch Helen at a writer's conference at the end of the month! (Exciting).

4) returned to making a daily list of things to just helps me every time I do it.

5) did my daughter's hair with the flat iron. My sister will be so proud. My idea of hair styling is a pony tail.

6) Thank you for the well wishes and prayers for my uncle. He is doing much better.  Thank you!

7) Took the bikes to be repaired this weekend (six of them!) and they'll be back the 3rd of April.

Now it's your turn.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Until Easter

Taking a brief break from blogging. I'll still do Small Success Thursdays, but there's just too much going on right now that requires all of my attention.  I'd considered giving up blogging for Lent and it seems, life will ensure it by being simply more than will allow for good writing.  So I'll still be around, answer email, and work on Helen, but the blog will be allowed to take a break until Easter other than for Small Success Thursday.  Thanks for understanding. So I guess I'm giving up Chocolate for Lent. :)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

International Down Syndrome Coalition for Life WDSD March 21, 2012

The only thing I would add, is "Thank you" for all you taught and keep teaching me and darn it, now I'm going to like this Phil Collins song.  Ahhhhh!

P.S. I'm in it midway, "He will steal your heart."

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Small Success Thursday

Where do the weeks go? It seems like it is almost always Thursday.

Today we celebrate little things done with great love.
This week was insane. 

Friday we got hair cuts. 
Saturday we had to take one daughter to a speech contest. 
Sunday we had to serve 8:30 mass and help the kiddos to get through to homework.
Monday we had Daisy scouts and I had to deliver cookies.
Tuesday we had to get a new tire, take a son to the pediatrician's and go to a meeting at the high school for the 8th grader.
Wednesday the wheels came off and I bailed by rescheduling planned appointments for the day.

Oh...and I will ask for your prayers for my uncle who will have surgery either today or tomorrow.
Many thanks in advance.

The Best Laid Plans

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be bored for ten minutes. Then the phone rings and I know, break's over. My biggest problem is no matter how on top of things I get, things keep happening. 

Exhibit A:  For once in my life, I'm organized and ahead of the game.

I took my children to get hair cuts on Friday.  Why? Because school pictures were today. I'd even washed their uniforms so they'd look crisp and pressed for the occasion. (It's so not me). So naturally, last night, my middle daughter upon going into the room she shares with her sister to get ready for bed, discovered two inch chunks of hair on the floor.  Her younger sister had given herself a hair cut with preschool bangs.

But she went to school thinking, "I look beautiful" thanks to her Dad and some creative brushing.

Exhibit B: Food

We try to plan out the meals for the week.  We purchase food for Monday through Saturday, Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Snack.  Recently, to eliminate the locust like swarm that attacks any groceries that come home the instant they are put away, I started Ziploc bagging up the snacks and labeling them by the date so as to make it clear, as clear as an Orc Captain, "THIS FOOD IS  NOT FOR EATING!" at least, not until Thursday.  

Tuesday night, I go to begin prepping for Wednesday. The cup board is bare.  Why? Where did the cans go? The boxes of pasta?  Where did all our drinks go? 

Apparently the school had started a drive contest in between classes to bring in food for the homeless.  The winning class gets a pizza party.  My second grader and kindergartner have designs to win, thus jumping the 4th grader and 6th grader into competitive action, and nudging the 8th grader to contribute as well.

What am I to do?  Even paring it down to one a day per kid results in a mass exodus of 25 cans per week. The contest lasts all of Lent.  That's 125 cans!

I started to protest before I really want to resolve a fight that started, "But Mom, she's getting to bring more food for the pantry than I am. It's not fair!"  So now, I'm going to the grocery store.  I'm buying fruit, bread, milk and eggs. Considering learning to like coffee if only to have something to drink that I can KNOW will be in the food pantry when I go there. I'm also going to get a tray of cans at Sam's that they can donate from until it is gone.

Exhibit C:  In Sickness and Health

I was very proud of myself.  My son had suffered an ear infection and I had been hyper vigilant. He hadn't missed ONE dose of his medication. I hadn't even sluffed when his nose cleared up. We went the whole ten days twice a day, 1 teaspoon.  Most of the time around 8, I peter out.  But this time, it was like I'd given myself a gold star in motherhood. I was a real mommy, a responsible mommy, a competent mommy who had managed to not let minutia prevent her from doing what was right.  Pat on the back me.  


His eardrum ruptured from the infection and now I get to give drops in both ears three times a day for two weeks.  Cue screaming.

These are the days when you begin to grasp the purpose of children as organized by God. They are to thwart your plans. It isn't because God is cruel but because we need to be taught....again....and again....and again...that despite being in charge, we aren't in control.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Hey, Where's the Milk?

A friend of mine noted that the blog has been pretty serious and dark as of late and it is true.  Much more bittersweet cocoa than sugar or milk. More than once as a child, I tried to will myself to like those unsweetened baker's squares as I gnawed on it ferociously, hoping to make it taste better, wanting it to be what I loved. 

The blog has moved away from its original design to be humor, and delved into more about religion (specifically Catholicism), and the role of a lively faith in society, and the perceived threats I see to our existing way of life that protects the liberty of all to live out their faith fully.  I cannot play the clown or laugh at these serious things, they are too close, to near to the bone and they are frankly, constant. I'd love the world to taste sweeter, much as I gnaw on it.

So Sherry, why not add the sugar yourself? Why not be the light to the dark?

That is what humorists are called to do, to bring about a merciful break in the pain. I admittedly have always had this theory about humor, that it must at its core, contain an element of mercy, because humor almost always has to address at its core, pain. 

Slapstick is the counter to actual physical injury.  A clever comeback can disarm a bully.  The right bit of self depreciating asides in a speech can counter the perception that a leader is arrogant or out of touch.  It is a universal component that connects across cultures. A smile is a smile, in utero, in old age, at any time and anywhere and laughter can create friends in an instant.  Humor is a salve on the human soul when properly employed.

This isn't to say humor can't be abused --for recent examples, one need only see the sorry saga of Rush Limbaugh's comments on Ms. Fluke or any comments on people from the Conservative side of politics from Bill Maher. When the desire to inflict pain to the other side trumps judgement, we wind up with this sort of unsavory commentary served as humor.  As the cliche goes, dying is easy, comedy is hard. 

Humor also must contain an element of truth.  We live in an age that prefers that truths be "tacitly understood" or rather like children of old, seen and not heard.  When people speak truths, they get blasted for saying something that someone else finds disagreeable or told that what they say is truth, isn't, it's only opinion.  Few want to point out the irony of "There are no universal truths." is that the sentence itself is an assertion of an absolute, because the squishy world of relativism seems more comfortable than the possibility of hard real moral consequences to our choices that we are either ignoring or defying.

Humor is also fundamentally about relationships, juxtapositions, ups and downs, ironies, inverses and reverses.   The comedian offers the jokes to the audience, but can't make them laugh, can't force it, and when they don't reciprocate the gift of laughter in response to the offered jokes, it is like a desperate fight in public.  It is painful.  Humor has to be given and received to be effective.

 So I apologize for the lack of milk or sugar. I've been trying, but the muse seems awol at the moment. You can't fake comedy. You can recycle it some if it's good enough, you can descend into satire and snark and bite, but humor, genuine humor for me has to have an element of mercy in it. 

So if I'm not going to make you the best chocolate cookies I know, I'll at least explain, at the moment, I don't have all the ingredients and have to make a run to the store.

Thanks for reading. Will keep trying.   Maybe if I just bite down hard enough on this unsweetened square.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Sum of All of It

If I meet a new person and the topic comes up, the moment the number of children we're raising is mentioned, the next question is always, "How do you do that?" 

This past year, I adopted a daily rosary to strengthen my prayer life. Prayer had become a list for God to do that I got to when I needed it, and well, it needed to be that I needed to pray before I had a list for God of things He needed to help me to do. Saying 66 prayers a day! I thought.  How do I do that? 

Around the same time, my younger brother started seriously running, training for a marathon.  Running 26 miles and 385 yards.  And he's made it through at least two that I know about. How do you do that?

And I thought of my other brother who taught himself guitar to the point of being at least in my estimation, magnificent at making that six string sing.   How do you do that?

And my daughter in high school was learning to sew.  She made me an apron. How do you do that?

And my daughter in kindergarten is learning to read. How do you learn that?

And I am writing a book.  How do you do that?

One prayer, one step, one chord, one stitch, one letter, one word, one kid, one moment at a time. 

All of life is what we pour into each moment.  All of our relationships are made up of the kisses, the lectures, the cupcakes, the finding of shoes, the errands, the meals, the clean ups and the games, the bath times and brushed teeth and bedtime stories, all of it, is the sum of all of it.

And all this time I thought I stunk at math.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Reason 2,547,383 of Why We Should Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet

When I read about the article in the British Medical Journal, "After-birth Abortion: why should the baby live?" before going mentally nuclear on the very thought which frankly was my first emotional response, I forced myself to start reading the damn thing.  From the title alone, I admit, I was wanting God's thunder to shake down from the sky...big time.  

I admit, it's personal.  I could not casually read about how Down Syndrome children while happy and thus could be argued to not be suffering because of their condition, were a prime example of when post birth abortion ought to be allowed.  

From the article: " bring up such children might be an unbearable burden on the family and on society as a whole, when the state economically provides for their care. On these grounds, the fact that a fetus has the potential to become a person who will have an (at least) acceptable life is no reason for prohibiting abortion. Therefore, we argue that, when circumstances occur after birth such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible."

So we're not leaving them out nailed to a tree for the wolves to eat. It's still a "We are Sparta!" moment.  The family was threatened the instant this thought was given voice.

I don't fault these people for their "logical" continuation of the thought. If it is permissible to kill an infant in utero because of a disability or for any reason whatsoever and personhood is only conveyed by the will of the individual choosing to be inconvenienced and the alternative sanctioned by the state, then geography ought not make a difference.  After all, it's about choice. The state can set a "reasonable" window for this choice after the fact.   This is the argument that Peter Singer, ethicist at Princeton has made as well.

I fault them for deciding that humanity is conveyed with consciousness and intellect. My apologies if you've just eaten.  This is what passes for philosophical thoughtfulness in the field of medical ethics.

 "This consideration entails a much stronger idea than the one according to which severely handicapped children should be euthanized. If the death of a newborn is not wrongful to her on the grounds that she cannot have formed any aim that she is prevented from accomplishing, then it should also be permissible to practise an after-birth abortion on a healthy newborn too, given that she has not formed any aim yet."

So sign them up for Harvard at birth so they have aims. Forget Tiger Moms, much too tame, you need Raptors.  Anything less than an Olympic gold medalist?  Not all A's? Eagle Scout?  Heavens, why does the state or for that matter you, suffer such fools?  It was hard not to go into a purely acid rant at this point but I want to contain my ire...a bit. It's not easy.

The value of a person is not the same as the value to the state, or shouldn't be.  The value of a person is not economic. Just as love is not purely chemical, societal problems are not purely individual, education is not merely books and all of life cannot be explained through science, humanity defined in any of these more limiting terms results in an eventual shrinking of who is considered allowable.

My brain went to the next question. Hey doc? What's the cutoff?  Is there one? Or is all of this nice clinical thinking about killing people who don't meet your definition of personhood a relative value?  Is Personhood owned or is the status one that is permanently in flux, such that if one falls into a coma, becomes depressed, diseased, disabled, addicted or broke, that personhood is revoked since aims can no longer be formed or met?

Answer as I continued reading: "First, we do not put forward any claim about the moment at which after-birth abortion would no longer be permissible, and we do not think that in fact more than a few days would be necessary for doctors to detect any abnormality in the child. In cases where the after-birth abortion were requested for non-medical reasons, we do not suggest any threshold..."  (Emphasis mine). Points to Peter Singer for at least being man enough to say the age of two, not that it's much comfort.

Consistency.  There was perfect consistency in their philosophical framework.  It is a tyranny of logic, born of having abandoned the premise that human life intrinsically has value. 

Naturally, there was outrage and the medical journal has posted an article with some of the more vitriolic and inept responses to illustrate that any criticism of the proposal in the article shows a desire to quell debate, reject science and threatens free speech.  So I'm here saying, you wrote what you wanted.  You published it.  Your speech was not squashed.

I will now tell you what I think using my gift of free speech:

What you wrote is a prescription for a Hobbesian world.  What you wrote is a recipe for death and abuse and cruelty.  What you suggest is morally wrong and it is barbaric even if you use anesthesia.  What you propose as compassion, is evil.

Further, you propose is that we call this evil compassion.  Not only do you want us to accept this practice as reasonable, you want us to call it a good. Your magazine considers the possibility of people objecting more of a threat to society than the proposed philosophical musings about the morality of infanticide. If we've learned anything from history, it is this: evil always demands that we tolerate more evil. Evil eventually demands that we call it good and deny that it ever was evil. And evil always advances if good does not speak up and speak out and resist.

Society reflects our collective morality. It is natural law as it were, though some disavow the existence of such a thing. But no one wants to be treated violently even if they are violent themselves. No one wants to be cheated even if they are a cheat themselves. No one wants others to lie to them, even if they specialize in lying. We actually want others to treat us better than we do them. Justice for others, mercy for ourselves. The reality is we should be seeking mercy for others and asking for what is right and just for our own souls.  Defense of the innocent, of the defenseless ought to be a given, even in the world of science and medical research.

Who in society benefits from teaching whole generations that everyone else is disposable and that all human worth is economic or aim oriented? I don't think truth or beauty or goodness is enhanced by promoting the idea that it is socially and even psychologically acceptable to destroy the innocent (or the guilty for that matter).  A world peopled with differing abilities reveals a greater tolerance, imagination, compassion and beauty than a world peopled with only physical/mental perfect people who have no capacity to endure suffering real or imagined.  

Put another way, how we respond to the sick, the disadvantaged, the handicapped, the innocent, the young and the old, how we respond to anyone who is other than us reveals more about our real society and how humane or civilized we are, than how few problems one can spot easily via a physical and mental profile. Following or supporting the sort of thinking promoted and presented in this British Medical Journal and defended by its editor, will make us less than humane and less than human.

God have mercy on us for divorcing reason and science from the heart and soul and thinking it truth.
For the sake of His sorrowful passion...

Small Success Thursday

I should really remember to do these posts on Wednesday Night and not count on getting to the computer before 9:30 a.m! 

It doesn't feel like it has been 7 days. 

Today we stop to take measure of the week, of our triumphs, our moments of grace, of all the little victories that make up a whole life of love.  It is also time to pause and consider how tremendously blessed our lives are for all those who make demands on our time.  We count up the little things done with great love and remind ourselves that this life of growing souls is a work in progress and we need grace for each and every second, and more when we have too much laundry, too many bills or too much to do.   It helps to count the blessings when everything else we count feels overwhelming.

This week I:

1) exercised.  Twice.  I know. It needs to become more regular.

2) Worked on Helen.  Twice.  See comment above.

3) Went to confession as part of Lenten preparation.

4) Visited with my brother twice.  This also needs to become more regular.

5) Continued reading Harry Potter to son.  Reading to everyone 10 down is bearing fruit.  It's weird. Even if we're running late, if I read to them, they go down easier.  Otherwise, I'm playing kid whack a mole trying to keep them all in bed.

6) That non scream you're hearing, is only because I've told myself not to go back down unto the basement where they made a city out of bins and blankets.  The toys that were in those bins now constitute a new mountain range in the Mid Atlantic states.  Sigh.  This is what happens when they give up television. 

7) I'm surrounded by cookies. I have not yet eaten a sleeve of Thin Mints. That may yet happen if I go back down into the basement.

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!