Tuesday, July 31, 2012

20 Things NOT to do Before Summer Ends

I was going to do 100 things Not to do before you die, but this is a happy place, so I condensed it to 20 not to do during the summer.  Have fun.

20) Eat Haggis.

19) Watch Golf on TV.

18) Jazzercize.
17) Bungee jump or Zorb or zipline.
16) Warm Beer...may cause one to consider doing #17 and that's really a bad idea.
15) Take Statistics.  (I've Done this so I can speak from experience).
14) Eat Alaskan King Crab in Indiana near Easter. (again, I've done this).
13) Try to read all of Tom Jones in one night after eating Alaskan King Crab. Bad idea. (and yeah, that happened too, a long time ago but I'm still scarred from the experience).
12) Use an air mattress if you are over 40 or turning 40. (I know of what I speak).
11) Get into a fight on the Internet about politics.  Most end with the equivalent of "Jane you ignorant slut." or at best,a Rosanne Rosanna Danna's "Never mind."
10) Watch reruns of Mork and Mindy.  They weren't that funny then. They're worse now.
 9)  purchase and put on your car a sticker of a kid (any kid, not just Calvin) peeing on anything.
 8) dutifully read the magazines on organization that are circa 2008 before recycling them....on the cover, "Time Management...it's about time."  Yeah...well... 
 7)  Own "The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl." or let your kids watch it.
 6)  Admit to being a fan of 50 Shades of Whatever or Twilight. Bleah.
 5)  Ride a Unicycle. (There is no need for this skill).
 4) Eat carob.

 3) Have a dentist with an unpleasant demeanor.

 2) Recognize that your daughter is wearing a style that you wore when you were in high school, except when you did it, it wasn't cool. 

 1) Propose going anywhere if you don't mean it.  (So we're going to the pool). 

Happy Dog Days of Summer! I know what I won't be doing.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

I choose the Labor

Raising ten children is hard.  It is the hardest best thing my husband and I will ever do, and despite sometimes feeling overwhelmed by the laundry and the dishes, the bedtimes, the schedules, the errands, and the needs that run the gamut from help making a crown out of paper to vetoing outfits that my daughter thinks are cool but aren't modest to pushing one to get a job and another to read a book and still another to sign up for (yes) sports and pretending that a cucumber has a name and is a pet, this is what the sum and total of being a parent is.  It is labor.  It is love. It is designed to be perfect joy through service. Parenting means you clean up the throw up, you change the diapers and you sign the papers.  You check the homework, you mate the socks and find the shoes and drive kids to friends houses for sleep overs and stay up late until older ones come home.  Sometimes you wonder if you will ever feel rested again or finished with something.

My granddaddy had a horrible saying that covers any time I might lapse into self pity. "You shouldn't have hired out if you didn't want to go to work."  It is merciless and true and somehow, it makes me laugh, because I can hear my dad saying it whenever I'd complain about ...anything.   The reality is that "both and" experience; that while you don't get to opt out, you do get to love unto death. 

But sometimes, being human, I will cop out.  I'll veg on the computer. I'll put off what should be done now, I'll engage in vigilant sloth, where I slack my way through what should be done well.  Then I scramble like a crazed loon trying to make up for the time frittered and wonder how in the world God could expect this much of me. And why it seems so often, I can do so little.

But the themes of the Gospels over the past few weeks are, "My grace is sufficient" and "take nothing for the journey" and "But we only have five loaves and two fishes." and you know what happens.  More than what was merited is given, all that is needed and more is provided.  Grace in abundance. Grace overflowing, until we are stuffed with such food with enough to share with any who didn't make it to the feast. 

Dealing with the two who were arguing because one was playing spoiler to Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince during the offertory and the obligatory children shuffle because so and so wanted to sit near so and so and what not, I struggled to hold on to that thought.  My Grace is sufficient.  In the momentary quiet, my five year old with an extremely serious look on her face asked, "Where will I sleep when I'm an adult."   "Don't worry. We have time to work that out." I answered.  She nodded her head, visibly relaxed.  

My six year old had decided I needed strangling kisses every five minutes until I held her hand and I admit, I editorialized the Our Father with special emphasis on different lines to different people.  And then we came to my favorite line in the mass, "Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed."  and like so many times before, it stops me in my tracks.  It demands that I think deeper, about Jesus, entering into our home, into our family, into me. I was not worthy, and my  house, my hearth was not what a nestled in Jesus heart should be. I knew as I struggled between moments of parental smugness when I'd artfully turn a conflict and parental despair when the fights existed at all, that there was this mess that was me. "You shouldn't have hired out if you didn't want to go to work." So true, and here was the food so I could get to work, with extra to spare, as some of them were receiving as well. I'd been lucky enough to be given a job.

Now it was simply a matter of choosing the labor.



Friday, July 27, 2012

Let the Games Begin

It's mid summer. There are five weeks left of freedom for me.  I stand before the computer prepared to sign away my money and my weekends. 

That's right.  I'm signing up kiddos for fall sports.

It's not easy. There are the insane practice three times a week in the evening hours travel teams, the slack jawed you may wind up coaching if you show up close to on time and speak with even a smidgen of enthusiasm teams and the this would be perfect except can you tell that as much as I want them to do sports and know they need them, I really really really am not looking forward to this heavy duty scheduling? 

And then there is the second challenge, what sports.  Baseball --one practice, one game, no clock so no end in sight.  Plus I know my kid will spend a lot of time being bored when he's not at bat.  Soccer...plus, one to two hours tops. That's it. That's all. Minus.  I have been at soccer games where it snowed.   Football.  What is my objective?  Is it to wear out my child with hard labor and bone crunching athletics? Is it to visit the emergency room weekly? 

Then I looked at the prices.  90$, 115$, 250$, all for the privilege of living in none of the special places, I'm not a resident of any of the places that provide these sports programs, so I get to pay extra.

Plus I have to do this for 3 of my children minimum.  They each want a different sport, so I'll get all three, guaranteeing all weekends booked and three nights a week destroyed.  

Hey kids...what do you think about band?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Poster Children for NFP*

(Originally Run on  7/26/09...in honor of NFP week).

Showing up for mass on time and worried that I didn't look at the schedule to see if three of the oldest kids need to serve, we huddled guiltily in the back of the church. Some of the ushers know that this is our habit, to send the oldest five upstairs to watch the mass and for my husband and me to wrestle with the "non sentient" crowd unobserved by the majority of the parishioners.

Occasionally we get a pushy mass attendant who will repeatedly try to insist that we take the two, three, five year old and 9 month old to sit at the front of the church. Usually, the two, three year or nine month old will dissuade said usher with a few well placed random happy screams.

At the back of the church there are folding chairs for the stragglers and for us, and a table where one can pick up handy literature on the needs of the food pantry, materials concerning pending legislation that will affect Catholic schools or the Church, teachings on Abortion, flyers for CYO and for retreats, and now, a giant poster covered with sunflowers advertising Natural Family Planning. Sitting with nine children in the back, it was hard not to giggle with the backdrop.

Still, upon reflection, I came to understand that we are NFP poster children. Only if the goal is to have no children, are we not. The fact that we have nine is more a tribute to my stellar book keeping skills and our great love, than the efficiency or effectiveness of NFP. If you succeed in keeping your family small using this method, it is because you have practiced the virtues of obedience and patience and sacrifice --all beautiful virtues which God loves. You have followed God's plan. If you sometimes ignore, forget, or willfully chose to ignore the times when one must abstain to avoid conception, you have abandoned yourself to life, to love, to a future of hope, and allowed yourself to be used in the great first gift of creation, also virtues that God loves. Either way, NFP places you firmly on the path to God.

And the bonus of all this, a man with his young daughter came by and walked in our midst to the table. He took up a flyer for the next session teaching NFP. Whether he did it out of desire for the massive number of sunflowers we had surrounding us or not, it didn't matter.

The usher came by right after that moment, and gave me a wink.

P.S. It wasn't our week to serve, or at least, it wasn't our week to have kids on the altar up front.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Not on my List

You've seen them. You've done them. You've made them. You've bought books that tell you about them.

100 places to go before you die.
100 books to read before you die.
100 movies to watch before you die.
100 foods to eat before you die.
100 wines. 100 beaches.
100 Non Star and Star Bellied Sneeches.
100 trails. 100 snails.
100 clubs. 100 bars.
100 places to be seen with stars upon thars.

Seriously, at first it was fun but now it feels like a giant nag.  So if I've checked them off it's okay to kick the bucket? I'll have squeezed out of the world my allotted pound of fun and fed my brain its prescribed regimen of intellectual vitamins?  I'll have Phineas and Ferbed my life sufficiently to say I carpe diemed? 

Carpe Diem doesn't mean a list, it means living.

You know what?

The greatest books are not the ones that please your English professor.  They're the ones that move you, that speak to something you didn't know you were holding in your heart and that needed to be understood. 

The greatest foods are not the ones recommended by the Food Network.  The greatest foods are the ones that contain a touch of one's past.  Food Network is not going to think sandy hot dogs burned over a bonfire at Port Bolivar rock, but to me, they evoke a touch of perfection that isn't found elsewhere.  Same goes for corn tamales with chili, cherry Popsicles in a hammock and peach cobbler from the French Quarter, (a restaurant that went out of business 20 years ago).  I can't make a one of these the way I remember (maybe the  burnt hot dogs), but these things rank on the best list, on my list because I've done them in the course of not checking off things until I die, but in the process of enjoying the business of living. 

But curiosity got the best of me and I did check off all those lists. Movies (35), Books (41), Places (29).  That's what started all of this.  The thing is, most of the non checked books, I'd like to read and most of the places, I'd like to go but other things have taken priority (as they should).
My travels have been mostly stateside, but I did have one venture to the old country and thus checked off The Cathedral of Notre Dame in France.  But the list doesn't tell the story that I went up the stairs that said "Do not cross" and sat on the roof of a spire and had a fellow disobedient tourist snap my picture of me as a Gargoyle. Being to the Swiss Alps doesn't tell the story of being offered a tour by a stoner of the Rhine fall (I refused), or going up to the top of a mountain in Lucern with a Kindergarten class that was very interested in being photographed with a Texan. I felt like an exotic creature being shown off at the zoo.  

There were lots of "Places to have been" that were in New York City, but the Brooklyn Bridge wasn't one of them.  Sitting on the Brooklyn Bridge for the "Mother of all Parades" --I went with my dinner and sat at 6:30 so that I had the spot right in the middle of the bridge, a perfect vantage point for the fireworks on the river.  It wasn't until after the last firework faded that I recognized, "You know Sher, being alone in New York after 12:30 in the evening with a subway ride and six block walk to make followed by work the next morning is probably one of your dumber things to have done."

To me, the greatest place in the world is not on the 100 places to see before you die because the list is more 100 places it's awesome to be and say you've been than places that simply speak to your heart.  Millions go and see the Mona Lisa. Millions go to the Sears Tower.  What one feels or thinks when seeing a great painting or being at a great place or tasting a wonderful food is decidedly idiosyncratic.  Others will go to those places and have different physical epiphanies from being on top of the Eiffel Tower or walking the Vegas strip. The stories of those 100 places is what makes them great places to go.  But those stories aren't conveyed by where you've been.  They're conveyed by you in the course of telling the why you've been or the what you felt when you read  this book.  

So now it is 10:30 am on a Monday and I'm going to take most if not all of my kids to a park, then for burgers to celebrate my son's birthday, and then the littles will be given bath and bedtime stories, most likely "10 Minutes 'Til Bedtime" (a current favorite), or Dr. Seuss's "The Sneeches"(The most requested lately) or "Pinkalicious" (another popular choice).  The boys will go see Spiderman.  None of these places or foods or movies are on the 100 list, but they're honestly, the best places to be today, while I'm living, for me. 

Because places are places
and food is food
books and movies,
They're all good. 

100 things to accomplish,
while fun and true
that's way too limiting.
Way too few
and too many if that's all you do.

So go outside
If you like, read a book.
With the people you love, go thrive
For it isn't the places or things or foods that you eat before you die.

It's the people you love that makes life alive.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Gateway Kindness

One of the things I love about Catholicism is the great hard reality that our faith faces bravely in every aspect of its practice. It argues against sin of all kinds because in her wisdom, the Church understands that little sins are the gateways to larger sins.   It is true with every type of sin.  Whatever appetite we feed, if it is sinful, will become more demanding.  We are creatures of appetite, of addiction, of habit.  Holiness is a daily act of the will.   Grace runs counter to appetite, to addiction, to indulging the self.  

Fortunately, just as little acts of evil lead to greater ones, so also little acts of grace lead to greater ones.  We can be pulled away from our lesser selves via the little habits of grace that are the gateways to greater spiritual acts of holiness.  If we pray for example, on a daily basis, we will become naturally, more attuned to the needs and sufferings and prayers of those around us.  We will naturally pray for others and thus feel prompted to reach out to others.  

If we reach out for others, we will in turn be given opportunities to perform corporeal acts of mercy, to live out the beattitudes, and given even greater reasons to pray and to serve.  We will thus then recognize the graces in our own lives that we have tacitly ignored, and find ourselves praying harder, seeking the sacraments to help mitigate our tendencies towards self indulgence and self satisfaction. 

The cycle will further expand our hearts outward, to greater need for the sacred, greater need for the sacraments, greater understanding of something of the deep mysteries of our faith, and greater zeal to pray and serve others.  We will be those endless fountains of grace and living water for others because we will be perpetually going back to the endless well of grace that is available for those who seek it with their whole hearts.

So also, when we stumble, we will find it harder to pray, harder to serve, we will want to rest on all the ways in which we have already given, to justify our present choice of sloth over zeal. This will in turn, engender further sloth. (That didn't hurt me yesterday, so it won't hurt today either, God's not like that, He understands).  If we don't bother to talk to God, why do we presume to call Him friend?  God is not a Call me maybe kind of God.   We lose friends and connections when we cease to reach out, to seek others, to be present.  It's true with God as well. Not because God isn't ever ready to take us back, but because we stupidly do not seek what is good, true and beautiful and only. 

In light of the great ugliness that happened this week at the movies in Aurora, CO, let us all try to implement a few more of those gateway kindnesses to each other and to strangers as well, in hopes of healing the next angry heart that might otherwise be prompted to create so much pain.   It is the best way we can fight back against the scars left by this kind of sin, wilful deliberate goodness and beauty.  Prayers for all of the victims and their families, and for all of us. 

Gateway kindness does work, it does bring us back to the door of greater holiness.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Living Out of an Age

I'm quite convinced that every generation of parents looks at the gauntlets their children face and think, "Man, I'm glad I didn't have to deal with that." 

Recently, there have been a spate of articles about the link between staying online and mental disorders including depression.   It makes sense. 

Reading about the study and knowing of the tendency to search with ever increasing dissatisfaction for the next "hit" so to speak of news, of humor, of sweetness and light and having to journey ever farther in between successes but searching with hyper vigilance for lost hours, I am reminded of the quote of Gollum about himself when possessed by the ring. 

"And we wept, Precious, we wept to be so alone. And we only wish to catch fish so juicy sweet. And we forgot the taste of bread... the sound of trees... the softness of the wind. We even forgot our own name. My Precious."

And I see that my children will have to cope with televisions and phones and computers everywhere, always, with no time where they cannot be reached, or select the people they wish to interact with, and avoid all else.   I see the ubiquitous overload of access to pornography, the endless capacity for perpetual stimulation with 24-7 cartoons, political diatribes, stupidity, drivel and all the noise noise noise noise noise and wonder, how will they run through this with the cannons to the left of them and cannons to the right? How do we seize back time in the age of the instant, when twitter rules our attention span?   

Yes I know there's an off button and we unplug the Internet every night.   But it's a culture that we are having to both adapt to, and learn how to swim upstream from, and that requires a lot of will.   Our world is supersaturated with the icons of technology. My 18 month old can operate the Ipad and she tries very hard to use the phone, the remotes and the computer. We have kindle and Wii and one daughter bought her own Xbox with her own money.  We have four computers when my son is home. 
Everyone knows the advice to set limits and explain the consequences, but the way of things often circumvents the practice of said limits, like the one hour screen time rule that gets trumped by an assignment requiring online assistance.  Today it is 106 degrees.  Inside is better, more comfortable, even beckoning.  It is so easy to practice vigilant sloth.  It's like turning on the TV rather than parenting.  Five minutes becomes an hour, becomes longer.   Because it's easy to drift with the current of cable.

So I'm trying to live outside of the age today.  I gave them markers and paper, and the baby, a huge cardboard box.   It's rather like exercise. I expect them to hate it at first.  But I'm betting they'll discover this is a bit more satisfying than a touch screen.  We'll see if I can make real reality trump virtual, even though the real comes with winning and losing, scraped knees and bee stings.  I'm going to start small though, Hey kids...this is a book.  I'm giving them blankets, books and an ice cream...outside. (I said I'd start small. I never said I'd fight fair).

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Rules of the Two Foot Dictator

Despite coming very heavily referenced by my multiple siblings, these parents haven't yet to understand the true nature of my role in their lives.  As such, I am stepping out beyond my normal comfort zone and putting thoughts into words to convey the scope and breath and depth of my every day needs and their role in fulfilling them.   It is I confess, a sacrifice on my part, but one I'm willing to bear if it will bring them along to be better servants.

10) Walking is what you do.  Walking is not what I do.  As a means of transportation, if I need to get to point B, please be advised that your arms are the optimal mode for such an endeavor. 

9) Don't put me down unless I say so.  And sometimes, I don't really mean it. 

8) Pick me up when I say so.  Even if I just said to put me down. 

7) About the car and car seat...see #10.  Further "road trips" (ahem, vacations, errands, long drives) shall incur my instant wrath.

6) Phones, I-pads, laptops, remotes and computers amuse me.  Do not take them away....they are mine.

5) I do not like the shower. You do not like me when I'm in the shower.  The screaming is hard on my throat and your ears. So we agree.  No more showers.

4) I do not like the bath. I do not like you washing my hair (a.k.a. waterboarding).   I insist.  No more baths.

3) I consent to eating, but only in  your lap. Do not serve me elsewhere.  Those high chairs are for other people. Not me.

2) My other siblings are not suitable substitutes for your arms.  Don't even try it.


1) Lastly, I love you utterly even though I expect/demand/crave/need utter devotion first.   Now pick me up. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Bonus

Today I was dealing with envy. 

My daughter who is ten, longs to be part of her older sisters' world. She's not. 

She loves shopping and sparkles and clothes and singing rock songs on the radio.  She knows who is who and what's what and has a fashion sense, but it is still laced with ponies and fairies and other things that scream child rather than teen, and so her overtures of friendship often falls on deaf ears because the older siblings see her with the stigma of being younger.   She was feeling it keenly, that no one in this family, is her close friend.  (Mom and Dad don't count).

It is a tricky parenting moment, because I can feel her heart like a bubble, threatening to burst with the pre-teen pain of not belonging, and of seeing that age barrier as being insurmountable.  

How does one convince someone who has only begun to establish friendships and connections and story arcs in her life, that there are far more wonderful as of yet undiscovered relationships and that her family will come to hold her tight even as she grows when all she can see is they didn't want her to go to the mall with them?  It would have been my right to insist, but I also knew, it would have been a misstep. 

"You have a unique position in our family." I explained.
"I'm a middle child." she answered.
"Yes.  So you will know both your older siblings and your younger ones in a way that neither know.  You will watch the older ones grow older and leave for school, you will also know the younger ones as they mature.  The older ones will be less familiar with their stories and struggles as they go out in the world.  You will be a memory keeper, of what they were like when they were younger for the younger ones, and of what the younger ones are like as they grow up, for the older ones.   You will have all the stories." 

Her eyes grew wide. She had not considered this possibility.
"I have a whole shelf full of journals." she offered, and got out of bed to show me.
"Write the stories of what happens, not just what you feel." I suggested.
She nodded, her mind full of the idea that somehow, being fifth of ten was a gift, a bonus. Whatever had threatened to pop with a flood of pain, was gone.  

Leaving and turning off the light, I made a mental note to buy her some more pens, and make sure whatever stories she might come to hold in that stack of books by her bedside, were as good as we could make them.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I Can See the Fruit

Big events like weddings give one the opportunity to mark not simply the celebration of a sacrament, but the passage of time and the lines of love and relationship that extend backwards and forwards and laterally.  Each of the threads in and of itself cannot portray the whole but taken together, they reveal the tapestry of a family, what is important, what is not. 

This past week, I was able to see Aunts and Uncles and cousins and friends.  My heart aches because I could have easily spent the whole week with any one of them and felt as sated by that visit as I felt saturated by the whole of it, of wanting to have whole years of time with all of them.  It was glorious and yet not enough.  I liken it to swimming in the gulf of Mexico. You plunge in and wish somehow you didn't have to come up for air, for the whole feel of that ocean is like Heaven, and earth and air seem substandard by comparison in that moment of immersion, unfortunate necessities of life that require one stop and go and reapply sun screen, eat and even rest.   I wanted to sit with everyone.  I wanted to "go and make our visit" as my brother is apt to say, with each of them.  As my cousin remarked in her toast, "This is what Heaven is like," the endless wedding feast with the perfect bridegroom and we are all both surprised and delighted guests and bride. 

At the rehearsal dinner, there were strands of the past with my father reminding me of my grandmother as he sat at the table and said to me, "I don't know what the hell is going on." several times. The evening had been long and he was tired.  But he got the jokes made in some of the toasts, and his buddy from Notre Dame sat by his side the entire evening, soaking in the moments when Dad was present and the sacred silence when he was not.  The Kellys won my heart 1000 times over for that simple being.

My own grandmother spent the rehearsal dinner at my wedding 22 years ago punctuating every toast made by everyone else with, "Well I'm speechless."  She also pestered me to introduce myself to that nice young man I was sitting next to, as he looked handsome.   I told her she had good taste and I planned to marry him the next day.  You can guess what she said next.

My dad's Alzheimer's didn't stop him from really bonding with my five year old daughter Regina.  She served him tea and told me when I tried to interfere (I forget how), "MOMMMM....we're playing a game." which meant leave.  My uncle gave the same toast to my brother he gave at our rehearsal and there was microbrewery beer and fine wine and barbecue and tiramisu and the fullness of it all  made one long for the celebration to simply go on and on and on.  My other brother gave a toast that brought tears to both my sister's eyes and mine, and Danny as always, made us laugh.  He and his new bride were brimming with joy. This has been a feast they have long waited for, so it was perfect that they chose Tobit and the wedding feast at Cana, the best wine was served last.  They had waited 41/36 years for the best wine.  

My other brother reminded me that my uncle was the one singing Donna Nobis Pachem.  I remember being filled with the sound of that song as he sang. These were great sacred moments.  So was the moment when I was surprised to be asked to dance by both of my brothers.  My heart was caught up, just as it had been 22 years ago when I was so overwhelmed by the wedding that I felt as if I danced in a daze when it was time to dance with my dad.   And there are so many memories, most of them about laughing at jokes, about hearing stories rather than telling them.  Blowing out the red candles on a three layer snowy white coconut cake, I could only answer in response to my daughter's "Did you make a wish," "My wish has already been granted." I'd feasted with my mom and dad on my birthday and had all of my family together, singing happy birthday.  What more could one ask? 

Then as now, it was a experience of being earthen vessels, being filled with water that through the mass, through the all of this, praying and feasting, laughing and remembering and forgetting why we forgot that this family, this allness is so very wonderful.  And in the end, through all of this drinkable joy, we became wine.  Now I firmly believe that in all of life, we are to be like the Eucharist, fundamentally transformed internally into love, into more than we could ever aspire if we remained mere hosts and fermented grapes, though still seeming the same to the visible eye.  I also know, being fallen, we often chose to remain mere bread and wine and fail to recognize how much more we could be if we let love define us in all things.

These fat times are important as we return to the ordinariness and fasting involved in bills and diets and laundry and chores, book reports and billable hours, job searches, daily medications, normal schedules and bedtimes.  The leaner times of life are bearable because we know they are not the all of it, even if in the midst of those lean times, we forget about the moreness of heaven and ordinary time, the moreness of the silent sitting with my dad, and the moreness of sheer insanely silly joy as 100 wedding guests participated in a surprise flash mob orchestrated by Danny to toast Anna.  This was a fierce feast of love which, if it did not have the substance of love, the mass, the genuine community and love that these two people both engender in others (It is a known gift of my brother's, to create deeper relationships than people expect that they would want), would be as if a diet of tiramisu, sweet and fattening and caffinated but without substance. 

But the realness of the struggles that were both known and unknown in the pews, of all the crosses thus far endured, and all those yet to be carried, the long wait, the long loneliness that I know my brother ached from, praying and hoping for the vocation of husband and someday, he hopes, father, of the mass, of the true nature of the sacrament, anchored the feast and made it more.  Staying at my aunt's house and seeing her grown up children, loving every snatched conversation, seeing that one day, my home would be as hers, filled with pictures of family that now were starting their own, I could see the fruit yet to come.  Being at the mass and seeing all the family and friends past and thinking of those not there because they were now enjoying the real wedding feast, I could see the fruit of the table at which we all hope to dine, the gifts of everyone that came in their faces that mirrored the joy of the bride and groom.  

To Danny and Anna, God bless you and keep  you.   Prayers.  See you at the next feast.

Back in the Saddle...or at least...out of the car...

We're back. It was fun and awesome and filling and luminous and joyful and loud and fattening and everywhere I looked was a person I hadn't seen in years and for whom my heart ached to spend the whole time just catching up.  It was a perpetual interruption of joy by more joy.  It's hard to explain other than to say I loved every minute.  That being said, my family did miss the comforts of their home. I submit my 18 month old daughter's response. 

When we got home, it was 9 in the evening. Time for bath and bed. This was my final heroic gesture to the toddlers, as I had no gas left in my tank after three days of driving after 5 days of really partying preceded by three days of driving. 

I put her in her crib. She slumped into the sleeping position immediately. An hour later when I was crawling into bed, she woke up.  She ran around the crib four or five times. "MOM!" she shouted.
Her dad and I looked over.  "WOW! WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW!"  She ran around the crib again, every once in a while saying the "WOW! WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW!"

"I think she's glad to be home." I quipped.  She nodded her head. 

I have a 1000 stories from the trip...but they'll have to wait. I have 11 days of mail to catch up. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

How to Pack 12 for a Wedding

Two weeks out:

Think about thinking about it. Promptly get headache.  Eat chocolate. Drink diet coke. Start to make a list. Lapse into sugar coma only to wake up and need to fix snack for kids who have congregated around your seemingly comatose body to watch a DVD on the tv in your room.

Ten days out:

Have car designated for trip break down.  Take to shop.  Get new battery, tires, brakes and oil change, the works.  Feel oddly smug about getting the car in shape without having intended to do any of it prior to the emergency.  Celebrate by ordering pizza.

One week out:  Panic.  Washing machine has died. Collect all laundry to take to the Washateria, order new machine, swear you will use time without ability to wash to make a list of what you will pack.

Three days out: Still panicking.  Google trip.  Begin thinking about seating arrangements.  Make emergency run for earbuds and batteries to keep teenagers sedated the entire time.  To avoid hyperventilating, seriously begin considering just packing the wedding clothes and pajamas and tooth brushes and shopping at Walmart as we go. 

Two days out: Get car washed so it will be clean when it gets trashed en route.   Have one child have a sleepover that evolves into a swimming party and doesn't end until 2 in the afternoon. Have another daughter decide today she will take her learning permit test.  Have the DMV declare they close at 4 when the website and phone tree say 5.  Cope with disappointment and the loss of an hour and a half.  Have paperwork take up three hours such that actual packing gets pushed off until the next day.  To avoid actually packing, blog about it and eat some of your emergency chocolate.

One day left: Irony alert as I get an email from Flylady.com about how today is No More Procrastination day.  (Darn Tootin! But that's because there is no more choice involved).
Take out Dry Erase  Board and put: YOU WILL NEED:  5 Underwear.  5 Pair of Socks.  5 pair of shorts/pants  5 shirts  2 pj's and your wedding clothes.  Then have each child stack their things.  Discover two don't have necessary wedding shoes despite having been taken out twice to get things for said event.  Decide to get en route at Walmart if necessary.  Eat the rest of your emergency chocolate.

Get list from husband of additional things we will need...cooler....from teens....chargers for phones...ipad, computer...and have to issue ruling on number of stuffed animals, books and toys one may bring along. Resolve to limit to one. Cope with puppy dog eyes begging from moppet 5 year old and cohort six year old who then get around the restriction of one per by declaring that this one is their younger sister's,(She's 16 months), the other one's Paul's (3), and the last two are mine and their dad's.

At 11 in the evening, when 12 laundry baskets are assembled and you are packing by day into backpacks, have a freak land hurricane hit such that you are plunged into darkness. Wonder why there is no back up emergency chocolate for an actual emergency.

4:00 AM day to launch:  Get up, pack by holding flashlight in between teeth and hope when all is said and done, everyone at least has enough underwear to make it to the next washing machine.

Danny and Anna's Wedding.  12 days, 2,897 miles, 12 people, 1 van, and no Emergency chocolate.

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If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!