Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Hello 2014!

Everyone says they don't make resolutions.  Well I do.  I don't always and in fact I don't often  live up to them, but I like making them and then trying and retrying and trying again.   So here goes.  

This year I resolve to:
1) read a book a month. 
2) pray the rosary if not every day, get through the cycle every week.
3) write daily something.
4) Get published in newspaper, magazine and online more. 
5) Finish Penelope
6) Exercise 6 days out of 7.
7) Call my friends.
8) Play games with my kids.
9) Get a haircut once every six weeks to keep myself looking polished.
10) lose 15 lbs by this time next year.
11) Take my family on a vacation to a beach for a week.
12) toilet train the youngest two.
13) Paint the upstairs.
14) learn to cook something new each month
15) stay on budget.
16) teach two daughters how to drive.
17) get re-certified as a teacher.
18) go to adoration once a week.
19) read to my children more.
20) get to bed on time (by 11:15).   

Yes I know, it's an ambitious list, but it does make the whole year sparkle with promise doesn't it?   Going to go summon all my children to play games, have dessert and welcome in the new year.  See you tomorrow when the real adventure begins.  

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas!

I will still post to Small Success Thursday but this is a week for being present, and that means I'll be creating memories rather than recording them.  Thus this blog will return January 1st, 2014.

Carols. Luminaries, cookies, letters, phone calls, beauty, the gift you didn't ask for but your heart wanted, everyone asleep, everyone waking, everyone knowing in that moment, this is Christmas, the ever further opening of our hearts. This is Christmas, the idea that we could be loved forever being not just possible but absolutely true breaking out over all the world.   Wishing all of you the very best Christmas, with many blessings and miracles, surprises and moments of joy that could only be imagined by an Infinitely loving God.  
Merry Christmas!  See you in 2014!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Make The Church Beautiful

This time of year, people understand that beauty helps us to celebrate.  They buy new dresses, they trim the house, they hang up festive lights and look for ways to dazzle the eyes.  We understand when we get a dozen roses, beauty brings with it, a joy.

If we are created in God's image, then we share in His Divine beauty, for we know via creation, our God loves beauty.  If every one of us is part of the Body of Christ, then we share something of His Divine luminous nature.  If this is so, then to the extent possible, we must radiate that loveliness, that light to others.  How? is the question.

It's easier to show than to tell, and telling doesn't work anyway.  Everyone knows we're called to feed the hungry, be the peacemaker, clothe the naked, hunger for justice, comfort the mourning, visit the imprisoned, care for the lonely, be merciful, turn the other cheek, offer our cloak, we know these words.  We know what they mean.   But then, we have the real world, where we have laundry and jobs, chores and homework, bills and meals and dishes and beds, cars and errands, computers and messages and appointments all which must be dealt with in the course of our day.  Where are we going to fit the beatitudes into that hot mess?

It is the how of living, that will bring about these opportunities.

When Jesus came to Capernaum, he drew a crowd. The people filled the house to hear his words.  They probably hoped for a miracle of some kind as well in a wouldn't it be cool kind of way.  Everyone wants to at some point, be in the right place at the right time to be a part of something important, something epic, something beyond the scope of everyday life.  Jesus did these things, he healed the sick, fed the five thousand, calmed the storms, cured blindness, leprosy, Simon's mother-in-law, you name it.   So they came.

But think about that town.  Probably, people knew Jesus was coming.  They walked by the paralyzed man all the time.  Someone probably said something like, "Jesus should come heal him." or "Why doesn't Jesus come heal him?"  and then went about their day, but they said it in earshot of the man's friends.  They decided to act.  They would bring their friend to Jesus.  So the first step, is to recognize that in every challenge, is the answer, how can we? If we are working, then we must listen to the souls about us, who might need to be carried, we must hear in the cries of discontent, what the Holy Spirit needs us to do. By acting, we will be cooperating with grace.  When we cooperate with grace, we lead others to grace, we make it easier for them to receive the gifts God has for them.  

When we pray for others, others engaged in sin, others trapped by sin, even those we really really really don't like or disagree with on a visceral level, we are one of those four men carrying the paralyzed person to the house.  They saw this man, they knew something needed to be done, and they acted.  It was not easy, it was not simple, but they persist.  They even break into the house roof.  This is nutty and at the same time, awesome, they aren't going to let anything get in the way of placing the man before Jesus.  Not reality, not crowds, not buildings, not distance, not logistics, nothing.  They will bring this soul as far as they can carry.  This is what we are all called to do, we are to be carrying people to lay before Christ.  That's the job of a friend.  That's the job of all of us.  Making the Church beautiful means not forgetting a single soul, bringing each person that is part of the whole of this Body to the feet of Jesus.

The healing, will be what is needed, and not necessarily the one we expected or visible. So today, when you feel vexed by life or the errands or the bills or time, remember we are called to make this Domestic Church beautiful, then act, persist, and lay whatever you have at the feet of Jesus.  One of the joys of Heaven, will be learning the stories which all end happily, of how a soul was moved from where they were, to where they are.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Bragging about My Cousin

My cousin Will Clark Green had his song chosen as the best of Texas Country songs in 2013.   Give a listen.

Friday, December 13, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday

1.  Today, I'm going to a Christmas play.  I've spent the morning in the car.  No really.  Here was my morning:    7:30 a.m.  Get kids into car.
                 7:45 a.m.  Go back in to get kid not yet in car.  Leave driveway.
                 7:47 a.m.  At the light, child discovers he is missing a paper that is due first period.  Return home                  to get paper.
                 7:55  Leave home again.
                 8:05  Drop off five at school five minutes late, feel momentarily victorious.
                 8:20  Get back home to discover bus waiting.  Get sixth child on bus.
                 8:22  Get text that child at high school needs papers by 9:30 or the world is doomed.  Recognize second child needs papers at the same place or no eligibility for scholarships is possible.  
                 9:00  Get to high school, unpack remaining very tolerant toddler and drop off paper.
                 9:10  Get phone call that child I dropped off at the bus is at the nurse's office and would I please come pick up.  
                 9:25 The post office is en route so I decide to do that errand first (with one toddler, not two).  Errand is a bust as the post office needs my oldest son's signature to deliver.
                 Drive to school irritated.  Pick up son who looks surprisingly spry and happy and healthy.  Arrival time?  10:05.  Get phone call from first school.  An older child there is also not feeling well and wants to come home.      
                 Drive to school with two toddlers.  She comes out and gets in the car.
                 It is 11:00.  
                 Get home and feed people lunch.   Sit down, answer emails.  Purchase two presents on Amazon.          
My six year old is an angel in the Christmas play today at 1:30.  Last night her father picked up new shoes for her so she would look finished for the big event.  She has a red Christmas dress and black shoes.  She looks like a Christmas princess.  She feels it.  I've earned that smile, so at 1:00, I'm reloading the car with the toddlers to go see the play.  

This is my Christmas for the day.

2.  Two of my children are running in the 5 mile Baltimore Celtic Solstice tomorrow.  So I'll be taking them to Baltimore at 5:30 so they can run with their Aunt and Uncle.  I'll get to see one of my nephew's and some of my nieces, babysit while they run, and two or three others may tag along for the fun of it.   It should be neat.

3.  Today, I will get back my laptop.  It has been a long hiatus, exactly one month.  When I called Wednesday night, they said they've been calling me, but I'm a stay-at-home mom.  I'm the one who answers the phone when it rings.  I've heard nothing until I called them.  

4.  Promotion of a book is difficult.  So I'm trying to be proactive, to talk about it when the subject comes up, and to ask others to invite people to read it.  I've also learned how to sign a kindle book or any e-book really, and I put a button up on my blog right next to the cover shot of the book so if you click it, it will tell me you want a signature.  I've signed my first e-book and that felt like a little victory.   I'm also appealing for reviews to one place that reviews a week, and researching what if any publicity I want to do and how.  

5.  Every year, the college my son attends offers a care package for exams.  This is the first year I've done it, mostly because before now I always thought, we only live an hour away, I can bring stuff to him.  But I recognized, if I don't do it right then, it won't happen, so this year, I made it happen by being proactive.  He called, very pleased to get the care package he didn't expect because it had never happened before.  

6.   Brilliant Christmas Idea for the day.  Someone should sell LED luminaries.  I'd buy them.  I love the tradition, but keeping the flames lit can be difficult.  I admit, I prefer real fire with it's warmer glow and naturally compelling light, but I also want to not babysit the beauty.  

7.  I've been going to adoration, this week, I've had the opportunity to attend.  The experience is more than I can explain in a blurb on a blog post, except to say I understood, "Make the church beautiful." and knew it didn't mean painting the walls (although I'd love them to be a warmer cream than the white) and gold or red or gold and red (I love gold and red), rather than the grey surrounding the windows, and stain glass pictures of Saint Martin and the saints, rather than pastel diagonal panes, but the domestic church, my part of the body of Christ where I'm responsible and have been commissioned.   So last night I asked to finish the details on the shoes and this afternoon, one of my sons needs a haircut.  I know this is a fixing of the internal and external, but we'll work on both as we go.   It's how Saint Francis did it, so I figure, it's not wrong.  

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Quick Resolutions to Siblings Milking a Joke

Twenty years of parenting, one would presume I've seen almost everything, except these new people keep coming up with ways to surprise me. Like the two year old fighting with her non verbal five year old brother, where he "wins" by humming and holding a small plastic elephant which he points in her direction. Suffering an emotional mortal wound from the blast, she wails and clenches my arms, explaining, "Paul's being mean to me." Sure enough, for a guy with only 25 words, he knows how to milk the ones he has. "Heh heh heh." he says, and once again begins pointing with the traumatizing pachyderm. She screams and sobs. 

How do I break up this fight? It's not like I can appeal to reason, nor can I really discern motivation other than, she feels it, he's feeding off it, we need a distraction. 

Fortunately, the two super allies against the axis of older children normally collaborate their tastes. The younger one knows where the chocolate syrup is, the older one can carry the milk and syrup to me. The result is, both get chocolate milk. This method of persuasion works through erosion of will. With me or one of their siblings making multiple trips back to put the necessary ingredients away until someone either desiring the same snack themselves, or unaware of the chain of "No's," thus forged, gives in and voila, persistence beats resistance every time. 

So I opt to provide them with their favorite snack. "Guys! Look! I'm getting out the milk and syrup and the spoon!" There is a brief lull as the two of them scramble to the table. Alas, I only have one last straw, but a quick scissors snip makes two and I'm thinking, all is right with the world as I serve up cold chocolately liquid goodness. 

Except I neglected to disarm the older brother of his means of torment. Now I have to wonder, do I talk about the elephant in the room or hope a few sips of the drink of peace brings about its desired effect. He pounds the plastic beastie on the table, (more in a Thor like gesture of celebration than aggression), but peace and the drinks spill out of my grasp and onto the floor as the caterwauling of my daughter returns. "He spilled my drink! He hurt my straw." and my son, upon seeing her dismay and putting two and two together, comes to the joke late but with decisive "Heh heh heh." 

Cleaning it up, I declare a universal disarmament, salvage what I can of the snack, explain I've repaired and recovered the straws and there is rapture at the return of joy at the table. Five minutes later, all the fight forgotten, she comes to him, takes his wrist and says, "Let's go play." and they turn horses and hotwheels into a train. We have trains, but just as an elephant is a phaser or taser or teaser in my opinion, so these creatures with horsepower can become an iron horse. Such is the power of the two of them in tandem. Until I here him wailing. It was a bait and switch as she's running with the horses, and I hear as she runs, "Heh heh heh Paul." 

All's fair weather in sibling love and war, but before I break this one up, I'm fixing own myself a glass of chocolate milk.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Lighting a Candle

Today is a snow day.  Today the power went out for a time.

It was an awesome way to slow down the huge rush to run through the season. You can't fly through life when you can't get on line. You can't drown out the whisper of God when there is no sound to distract, no lights, no buzz, no clatter.  Cereal for breakfast.  Sandwiches for lunch.  Blankets and books.  I took a nap. The power came back on, but the result? Four kids are watching the old Sound of Music, three are making cookies, two are outside sledding.

Advent requires deliberate action, deliberate wakefulness to the heavenly song as versus the jingle the world cranks out every year this time.  Here's a great article discussing it with ideas on how to deliberately rebel.  Read it, and then read the link it links to as well.

Then, seek out the softer part of Christmas.  Write cards.  Light candles. Bake cookies.  Sing.  Cultivate deliberate loveliness in a cold dark world.  Drink deep the joy of the day when it is offered, for it may not come again.  (My son just invited me outside to sled  and while I hate cold, I just wrote those words so...I'll be finding my socks and warm coat).

 In the meantime, enjoy this piece of Christmas awesomeness:

and consider, the goal of our lives is to be like Fred in the Christmas carol to all other wounded souls.

There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say, Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round - apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that - as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it! 

Then, I'm going to go eat some gingerbread and hot cocoa with the kids.  Blessed Advent.  

Friday, December 6, 2013

7 Quick Takes

1.  Happy Saint Nicholas Day!
So...you better watch out...I suddenly find new amusement in that song.

2. Planning to make my great grandmother's cookies but with a Christmas twist, dipping them in melted white chocolate for frosting and dusting with peppermint chips.  They're chocolate cookies so this will be a lovely combination.
This image looks pretty much like what they look like when they haven't been frosted. 

Here's the recipe.  Why? Because these sorts of cookies aren't made anymore, they're becoming lost as we get used to slice and bake and forget there were all these sort of old fashioned tastes that had seasonal qualities and harkened to how baking itself, is both a joy and a gift.  The goal isn't just the sweet but the giving/sharing of the sweet.

1/4 cup solid shortening (Crisco)
1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cup sifted all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 squares Baker's unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup chopped nuts (pecans work great)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Combine the first four ingredients. Add the dry ingredients together separately.  Combine all the ingredients and stir until the mixture is well blended.  Drop the cookies with a teaspoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.  After the cookies cool, frost with a light chocolate frosting.  It can be one cup of confectioner's sugar, 1 tablespoon of milk, and 1 melted square of Baker's semi-sweet, mixed and then used to dip.

Or you can use ready made if you're like me and somehow those glazes never turn out quite right.    

3.  Doing a little Christmas each day is working (so far, but then it's only been 5 days).   We set up the Nativity set one day, another day, we wrote a few Christmas cards.  The day before that, we put up some lights indoors, and the day before that, lights outdoors. (Just a few).  We're just adding a bit by bit each day.  Theme of Advent: Blessed Waiting, Deliberate Willful Beauty.

4.  How are book sales doing?

Well, believe it or not, people don't know I' wrote a book, or that it is published. I got asked today.
Having spent six years writing The Book of Helen, I  know it has moments which will stay with you, and that the story itself has some real beauty to offer.

Here's a link.   If you have bought The Book of Helen and enjoyed it, please consider leaving a review over at Amazon, it helps with ranking, it helps with promotion.

5.  How is The Book of Penelope Coming?

Still reading, still writing, still taking the 30 day novel writing workshop.  I'm starting to see patterns and threads of thought so to speak.  I also miss my laptop.  It has been in the shop since November 13th.  It is very frustrating. But, I have the story, I have an outline (shocker).  I have the ending.  I have the template for what I want to have happen, and I have 15K on it without having the actual work I did before, so I'm very pleased.

6.  I want more variety in my Christmas songs.  Honestly, if you're going to tout yourself as the Christmas station, have enough guts to play something other than The Little Drummer Boy,White Christmas, and I saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.   So in a fit of wanting more, I provide you with the following, it's old, but it doesn't matter. It's still good.  

7.  What am I doing this year spiritually?  Well, I'm trying to get beyond the surface of my prayer life, to navigate the interior life that I spend so much time avoiding by keeping very busy.  In an attempt to jump start myself into this deeper form of prayer, I'm hoping to schedule a weekly visit to adoration, to demand I quiet my mind and heart before the Lord, something I'm notoriously bad at doing.   In the meantime, I also found this site, worthy of note for those like me who can't get to adoration as often as they should.   It's a substitute, but a substantive substitute.  Here is the link to view live adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

They Don't Hear the Beauty

These past few days, driving to school I've seen them. People waiting for buses. People sitting on their cars. People standing at stoplights.  They do not smile. They are not talking.  They look defeated by the very air they breathe.   Going to Kinkos, I smiled at the three people who came out. Holding the hand of a two year old who practically skips everywhere she goes I thought would be a lock in for garnering the smiles, but they too held the faces of people haunted by the dullness of winter even before it officially starts. (And the weather was nice yesterday too).  

I started thinking about why this is.  Why do I see so many tired faces?  The roads are festooned with electric garlands.  The radio plays the same 35 Christmas songs over and over again.  There is a constant demand on the television, "Be happy! Feast! Shop! Celebrate!" It is a command rather than an invitation.  I see the collective weight of the commercial season, crushing the spirits of those this Holy Day and season was supposed to lift.  

So how do we counter the shrill flashing tenor of the BIG STORE BIG SALE BIG FOOD BIG EVERYTHING?

By deliberately being smaller, quieter, more like a candle than a light bulb.
So today, instead of Christmas songs, carols.
Here's a lovely bit by a woman from Small Success Thursday, sung in her car no less!!!!  Ave Maria

Fast instead of buying.  Put away the anxious need to fill the emptiness with something that will not satisfy.  If you can, go to see the Blessed Sacrament, let yourself be filled.  If not, the daily scriptures are here.  Or if you need to do petitions because there are burdens which need to be laid down, Come Pray the Rosary allows you to either pray privately or with all those currently saying the day's mysteries.

Light the Advent candle.

Do not demand of yourself more than you can give.
Be a friend.
Or reach out to friends if you need them.  
Wear bright colors or your favorite jewelry.
Cultivate deliberate beauty.
Use the good china or the crystal or something special today.
Deliberately smile and meet people's eyes.

The world needs to hear the real music of this Advent, to see the true beauty undimmed by the tinsel and clatter.  That is the joy and privilege of a disciple, to go out and share these precious gifts with the world and trust that what we give, is endless and open to all.  
It's Thursday so it's time to join me over at Catholicmom.com!
Happy Birthday Mom! (Actually it's not the right date but I found this picture, love it and wanted to share). 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Adventures in Advent

Advent started this past Sunday.  I have been to three  places searching for the prerequisite purple and pink candles.   Alas, I have come up empty.   The church I attend, plus the two local parishes that serve as emergency back up in the event we can't make it to the mass at our home parish, sell ornaments and grocery certificates, items from the Holy land and donuts after mass.  There are Christmas ornaments and Christmas cards, Christmas trees and coffee, Cd's, books and sometimes hot dogs.  

There are no Advent candles.  

CVS, Giant, Safeway, the floral shops and specialty boutiques have ornaments and lights, tinsel and Christmas music, gifts, inflatable Santas and jingle bell singing fish, figgy pudding in a can for crying out loud, but no Advent candles.  

But since Advent is about lighting a candle rather than cursing the darkness, my Advent wreath this year shall still be lit.  So I bought beeswax candles.  They don't fit in the wreath.  I went back to get different candles. There has been a run on tapered candles, there are lots of stubby things and tea lights, candles in glass and candles that are supposed to light internally but not burn the outside (they never work).  Scrounging in what felt like the underbelly of the store, I managed to find four unbroken.  

It took some work for the cashier to discern their prices.  

So we will have Advent.  We will light the wreath.

It's just the candles shall be chartreuse,  2 burgundy and ocher.  I could argue, the green is evergreen, the burgundy like the blood of Christ, red, and technically in the family of purple, and ocher, well, let's just say it's gold reminding us of Christ's Kingship and the gifts of the Magi.  

"Mom. You're just justifying the colors you have."
"You bet."
"Can you do it again?"
"Give me a challenge.  Give me the colors."

She considered the spectrum of options.  "Fuchsia, yellow and brown."
"Easy.  Fuchsia for the joy (it's a pink), yellow for the star and brown for the stable."
"Not bad." my daughter mused.  "Could you justify black, blue and orange?"

"Let's see, black for the world prior to the Incarnation, blue for Mary, the Virgin Mother, and orange for orange you glad I didn't have to do this?"

She decided it was time to get back to homework, with Mom making stupid puns.

My mom is sending me some correct candles, I'm thinking of ordering next year's on the Feast of the Epiphany so as to store them with the wreath when I put it away. Otherwise, I'll have to discern the spiritual significance of gray, tan and lilac.  

Friday, November 29, 2013

Catholicmom.com Small Success Thursday...Food Coma Edition.

I was busy cooking and  hosting yesterday, but if you'd like to stop and count your blessings today (much more fun than counting calories or even savings while shopping), come join me at Catholicmom.com for Small Success Thursday!  

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Saturday Small Stones ...Poetry from the Week

This year, I tried writing poetry in a closed forum. It began as a way to fight writer's block, and to keep my brain from growing stale writing prose.  So 5-7 days a week, I write a poem.  Here are a few from that effort that people in the forum liked.   

Cinderella During the Day

I want something terrific.
Snow or wine 
or homemade pumpkin pie
red sweaters,
a party, a dance, 
a letter, a phone call
new shoes or a found earring,
just something other
than drippy fall rain
and a ton of clothes to fold.

November 6, 2013
We spent the morning
stomping at shadows
and flying up the driveway.

Later, in the interest of doing important things,
we rescued a pony and three hotwheels
from the vacuum cleaner.

Tonight, they repaid me
by screaming their loudest
frightening away the telephone solicitor.

The Reason
We write
and scratch
and hope
and love
and live
just for 
that moment
that never 
lasts long
or satisfies 
as our 

the moment
when we 
will capture
that thing
in words
that matters most.

Why I Think Any of Us Do Anything
At the heart 
of every artist,
ever person 
I think,
is someone 
hopefully hopeful
that they
will one day
be discovered
and remembered
as having
poured out every last drop of everything
in the hopes
of being something
like a star, like the sun,
to all the world around.

What Really Made Her Mad

was when her brother
took off her shoes
while she was sleeping,
he forgot
to remove the socks as well.


Whatever else you know, 
sharps and flats bleed blueness. 

They reveal the minor chords 
that fill all the cracks in our minds and hearts, 
where people and poems and dreams slipped out 

while we were overly busy 
with the redness 
and immediate readiness of life. 

Blue sounds like the echos
of loves lost and goals surrendered 
but which we still savor 

in those moments between sunset and night, 
before the stars and the moon distract us. 

To hear blue is to let yourself stop
and attune to the whisper 
that lets the world play like a flute, 

with all the punctured points where we wounded it, 
pressed just so to make all that injury 
pour out beauty.


Friday, November 22, 2013

7 Quick Takes

1. This morning, the wheels came off the bus, and not one of my children made it anywhere on time.  But the day and the mood was saved, by the premature advent (forgive the pun) of 24-7 Christmas carols on the radio,which soothed the psyches of 7 of the 8 people bothered by the passage of time.   "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year..."  They sang it and meant it and you know what, so did I.

2. There is something about two year olds that can only be explained thusly: she has a lollipop in each hand. Neither is unwrapped.  She is dancing on her tippy-toes. "They're mine. They're mine! They're Mine!" she sings.   All is right with the world.  

3. My kids know Saint Anthony and I have a connection. Part of what made us late this morning was the inability of one child to find her folder.  She was fast becoming unglued by this reality despite my reassurances the teacher would understand.  She said a prayer aloud asking my favorite go to saint for help. I added my own and I promise you the instant we finished, we found the folder.  We'd searched all the rooms more than once but here it was.  She gave a big smile and thank you to the Saint, and I sat there feeling like sometimes, these little trials are to teach the bigger people (like me) not to be such a snob with prayer, not to save it only for special occasions or big stuff.  This was big stuff to her, and thus to me, but the prayers were for little things.  

4.  30 Day Novel Writing

I'm in an online course learning all the mistakes I made as part of the writing process of The Book of Helen, hoping not to make them with The Book of Penelope.  Thus far, I've sold 35 books on Amazon that I know of, (installed the counter a week late).  I don't know how she did on Barnes and Noble or Apple or Museitup.  I do know, I'm applying to be a speaker at the Gaithersburg Book Festival and trying to hold onto that "You wrote a book" feeling, which so many authors talk about fading fast when the sales aren't reaffirming of the reality.  Writing a story isn't so much an ego trip as it is an ego offering, and it's hard to not feel it personally when a review reveals all the flaws, because human nature is we want the equivalent of an "A" in this experience.

5.  Day 9 No Laptop.

You have to worry when it takes Geek Squad more than a week to assess.  I miss my computer.

6.    Favorite moment this week so far...there are three.

1) My two year old and 5 year old sitting on my lap for story time and announcing it as such.
2) My teen saying "I love you." through a closed door when I went upstairs to turn off lights.
3) My daughter coming to announce, she's finished her college application common ap.  

7) Twenty years into parenting, I finally have come to know, that the only thing that separates this vocation from being a thankless joyless job, is love.  Parenting, being in a family is much more a willful act than I ever knew.  Getting down on the floor to play instead of turning on the tv? A willful act.  Giving a bath rather than just trussing them up for bed? A willful act.  Preparing a meal rather than ordering pizza?  A willful act.  None of the opposites I listed are innately evil, but they can become a reflexive response rather than a treat that isn't an escape from the tasks we've been called by God to do, namely to love these people unconditionally, and teach them the means by which they can do the same to others, all while giving instruction on how to survive the needs and cares of this world and make it less sharp around the edges.   As such, I now wish all of you a good weekend, I have to go fix lunch.  

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Small Success Thursday! Pony Edition

Come join me over at Catholicmom.com!  Oh, and invite your friends.  We'd like to have as many people as possible make Thursday a day they stop to count their blessings and celebrate the little things done with great love that happened in the past week.  Thanks! 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Coming of Age and Coming Clean

Recently, I watched Fr. Barron's series on Catholicism. It's quite good.  At one point, he takes us to tour the room where Saint Katharine Drexel worked and lived.  He shows relics, examples of her extreme poverty including stubbed pencils.  She gave away everything and wasted nothing.

I need more spiritual growth to reach her level.

This week, we ran out of grown up toothpaste and I'd not replaced it yet.  Alas, the Spiderman blue goo doesn't cut it for me.  Granted, I keep it in my bathroom so when the kids are done with their bath, brushing folds easily into the routine, but after two days, I wanted adult something. I looked around at my house.  Shampoo? Yellow Baby stuff.  Menu?  Simple plain kid friendly food.  Television?  The most adult we get is Dr. Who, and that's limited viewing.  The last movie I saw...Monster's University.   The last book I read ...okay, it was aloud at story time for them, but Lily's Big Day.  The part of me that recognizes she's been on this earth 47 years rebelled. The Spiderman goo represented the absence of an adult life, a relic of what I lacked.

If wine and coffee had been in the house yesterday, I would have blended them into a smoothie and drunk it as proof to the universe, yes, I'm of age, I'm an adult, and there ought to be foods and things in my house that don't scream wash and wear, sippy cup and crayon.  

Rather than create a toxic beverage sure to make me and anyone who thinks about it too long ill,  I grabbed my coupon for free bonus bucks at our local pharmacy, (yes, I'm living large), and bought myself a deluxe souped up tricked out tube of pearly whitening stuff.  I locked myself in the bathroom and allowed for two minutes of pure adult brushing teeth pleasure, interrupted only twice by the little people outside, beating on the door to gain access. One to join me (I said No) and offered the goo but he declined, and the other, to ask if she could watch.  I let her.  But I'd done it. I had something not hand me down, not childish. I had a tube of not rated G toothpaste.

That night, after I'd tucked in everyone, done the dishes, encouraged the teen still working, locked the doors and turned off the lights, I began my bedtime routine only to discover, my little tube of refuge gone!  The list of suspects in my head lay three deep, all three in opposite ends of the house, such that if I really wanted this, I'd have to go about the home when sleep beckoned.  That Spiderman goo started to look acceptable.  But "No!" I told myself, this was a matter of principle.

"No!" again I said, walking to the first bathroom, finding it bare of said item.
Again "No!" when I went downstairs to check the girls bathroom for the toothpaste.
Naturally, it lay upstairs, next to the sink in my son's lavatory.   He lay sleeping. Wake and lecture or take and run.  I opted for the later.

But I left him the Spiderman goo. He had the grace not to ask what happened to his tooth cleaning options the next morning, but I smiled an extra dazzling white at him when I asked, "Did you brush your teeth?"

I'll probably be stuck in Purgatory writing "I shall not spite my teenager about taking my toothpaste." using stubby pencils under the direction of Saint Katherine, or having to brush away my sins with Spiderman blue tooth goo.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Enjoy this retro post here....

It's Tuesday and I'm supposed to post today, but there's a lot of stuff going on here, so I pulled this out from the Wayback machine because we have homework and basketball to deal with this evening, I've got to finish a piece for Catholicmom.com and Penelope is owed at least 1000 words.  

So this link is to a piece I wrote January 20th, 2008.  http://sherryantonettiwrites.blogspot.com/2008/01/to-blog-or-not-to-blog.html

I'll be back to regular blogging soon, be good everyone. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

How to Be Reverent at Church according to Those Under the Age of 3

10) Even if you are a baby, you know it is important to sing at mass. But knowing when to sing can be difficult because the adults are sometimes shy about singing.  A simple solution is to sing perpetually. The grown ups will join in if the timing is right.

9) Likewise, because adults are very distractable, the best way to make them long to focus on the liturgy is to squirm and grab the noses of any human within range and then go stiff and and alternatively drape sideways and boneless. Constant motion will make them long to give the homily their full attention.

8) Now we small ones cannot always fast through the mass.  But our eating does remind everyone else, that as adults, they are supposed to sublimate their appetites.

7) Ditto for needing to be changed or potty trained during the liturgy, all service of others is a form of prayer.  We're just here to help.

6) The sunglasses on the floor, the credit card from your purse and the prayer cards we find wedged in the kneeler, these are details.  We notice every detail.  A good reminder to you about how God does too.

5) Kiss us often.  We'll kiss back.  We don't need to wait until the sign of peace to show our love.

4) If we're fighting, you get to be the peacemaker. Practicing a Beattitudes is always a good thing.  (But remember, I was in the right, not him).

3) Kneelers remain one of the most misunderstood pieces of equipment in the church.  Up, down, stand, sit, kneel, no one ever seems to want to make the first move.  However, through extensive research, we can state that if you bring the kneeler down, someone will kneel.  Assuming the posture of prayer is an important form of reverence, so we do this often, to promote and encourage greater devotion in the mass.

2) Missalettes:  Like kneelers, these books are supposed to be used at every mass but grown ups often forget to open them up, so to be helpful to these folks, we take them out of the slot and flip through the pages, ask them to read it, ask where we are.  Ask what song is next.  These little helpful questions can cue the adults to focus on the mass and the responses.  It also usually means all the capable readers in the pew snatch up the remaining books to follow along and prevent further opening of said books by toddlers, so even more participation is generated by just a little mischief on our part.  All part of the service we provide.

1)  Take us to mass every time.  Sure we're squirmy, noisy, sometimes hungry, sometimes quarrelsome, sometimes need a change, but we're also witness that the church will continue to go on.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Forever Singing

A weekly task in this household involves a trip to the dry cleaner.  Because this chore falls to me and has for over a decade, I've come to know the people who work at the store if not on a first time basis, enough to be able to joke around.  One woman however, began sharing with me the story of her life.  She asked me to pray when her brother died.  Later, again as her father passed on and she wasn't able to attend, given that there was a whole ocean and islands between her and her family, she begged me to pray.

We know each has a lively faith though we've never talked specifics.  She always gives me a big smile.  I'm always a bit sad when my friend isn't there.  It is a touch of lightness in the midst of doing the dutiful and mundane.  She knows my name. I regret, I've yet to really wrap my brain around hers, though I've asked and sought to remember.  

Recently, she stopped me to ask if a tracheostomy hurts.  Long forgotten scars on my neck from early childhood sometimes bring up these sorts of conversations.  It turned out her mother had fallen down stairs and had one.  Given the woman's age and the extent of her injuries, the doctors urged my friend to "let her mother go."  Her eyes grew fiery recalling the words.  "But I cannot let my mother go.  I believe in God and I am praying for a miracle."  I asked for her mom's name and said I would too.  Leaving, I went about my day, folding her mom and her family into the daily rosary but not overly focusing any more than usual.  I have long known the reality, if you cannot be unreasonable with God, who can you be unreasonable with? She asked for the unreasonable.

Yesterday, I went to pick up suits for my husband.  She called me over. "Do you want to see?" she asked.  "Do you want to see my mom?" and she told me, she's sitting up some, she tries to talk even though we can't quite understand it.  She is coming home from the hospital soon, and my friend will quit her job to care for her.  "But we get together every week to eat and to pray." She put out her white i-phone.  "My mom loves to sing prayers.  This was taken two days before her fall."  She presses the button on the phone and a video of her mother plays.   Her mother has perfect makeup, she is in a white clean kitchen and she is singing.  Her face reveals a smile that parallels her daughter's, it is wide and bright, the word luminous floats through my head.  This is a heaven's choir member here on earth practicing, warming up.  "She wouldn't stop singing." my friend explained. "We'd all stopped but she just wanted to keep on singing."

A prayer in another language, recorded before it would not be heard anymore here on this Earth, so that her daughter could show what she said next.  "God is real. God is good.  God loves us. I know that.  I know that." she pointed at the phone of her mother still singing.  Five minutes of video of pure praise, pure song.

Reduced to tears and in absolute awe, I looked at my friend, she'd lost her brother and father this year and now, her mother lay in a hospital bed requiring she surrender her job and here she was, rejoicing, Job like.  I left the dry cleaner's trying to comprehend the enormity of mercy and the miraculous, of faith and faithfulness revealed all while merely going about the ordinary.  This was a faith the size of a mountain, alive and active.

We often ask why when our lives are struck by tragedy or problems, even just inconvenience, and it is always an opportunity to fold ourselves into the cross, to reveal to the world the luminous nature of our faith, the miraculous somehow beyond this Earth joy of knowing and loving a God who suffers with us, a God who loves us despite our white hot messes, despite our foolishness, despite knowing every single sin.  To fold into the cross is to let God love us, to stop trying to hold onto everything ourselves, to stop thinking that it depends upon us, to let go and let God pour into all the broken cracked empty spaces.  All required of us, is to ask to be folded in, to participate. My friend had done this, with her brother, with her father, and now her mom.  Filled, she could not help smiling, just as her mother, could not stop singing.    

P.S. Today I'm going to drop off stuff at the cleaners, and memorize her name.

Friday, November 1, 2013

7 Quick Takes

1. First, Happy All Saints Day.  Today, I went to the all school mass and either earned time in Purgatory or burned some of it off via penance.  Paul and Anna squirmed, flopped, talked, cried, tried to leave, opened doors, climbed all over me and two of my children from school who were mercifully sent to assist, and by the end, let's just say, I felt fatigued.  

2. Happy Halloween!  Here's some pictures:

Rita and Regina as Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash
It's a blast to go trick-or-treating with Regina, she has a little dark side.  We were admiring the decorations at a neighbor's house after getting candy. Everyone else said "Happy Halloween." She said, "Muwhahahaaaaaa."  Evil laughs from a 6 year old.  It impressed the neighbors.

3. Not everyone got to dress up for Halloween. Bonnie and Marta both have shows to do this weekend, so both had play practice, one until 7, the other until 10:30!  No treats for them.   Meanwhile, my 14 year old son discovered pumpkin carving and he loves it.    

He got his braces off this week too.   

4.  Anna didn't go trick-or-treating last year.  At 2 and 3/4, her siblings have trained her in the art of it, but truthfully, after the first door, she knew what to do and bolted to the front every time.  The hardest thing was getting her to leave.  After all, those folks still had a ton of candy in their dishes which they could put in her bucket if they wanted.   Paul figured out if he put his hand out, they gave him something. He'd drop it in his bag and put his hand back out. If I wasn't quick, 9 times out of 10, this warranted a chuckle and a second helping.  I'm just grateful Anna didn't figure out his technique.   
 Paul as a dinosaur (natch) and Anna as a fairy.  Faith is Annabeth Chase from the Percy Jackson series.

5. John went as the 11th doctor.  He worried people wouldn't know who he was, but stood 10 feet tall when a group of teenage girls saw him from across the street and began screaming, "I love you Doctor! Look, it's the Doctor!"  He flashed his sonic screwdriver and I think he's considering dressing like this all the time because he told me, "bow ties are cool."
Who are they? Two doctors.  
6.  This weekend, Bonnie flies out to Southbend on Sunday to check out the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary's College.  
She's staying on campus with a friend and I'm hoping the weather holds so she gets to experience something special.  Her trip to the University of Maryland was wet, cold, dark and messy.  She did like the "Physics is Phun" lecture and hanging out with her brother. 

7.  File under hope I'm that cool if I get famous.  Bettany Hughes wrote one of my favorite books for research, Helen of Troy.  I wrote her an email thanking her for her work. She wrote me back.  

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Small Success Thursday!

And we have a new Logo!

That means come join us over at Catholicmom.com for Small Success Thursday!  Brag about your blessings and celebrate the past week of victories over all things big and small, that help bring you and your family closer to God.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Starting Over

Today, I murdered 36,277 words.  Oh, I'll bring them back, some of them, but Penelope was just hitting wall after wall and I realized, I was writing around Penelope, but like in the Odyssey, she was a focal point without being a full actor. After reading a writer's forum column on book writing, I realized Penelope must be established, she needs to be known and if I can't describe her, how she looks, what she thinks, give a snippet of who she is, then I can't very well tell her thoughts.

So I went back to original sources.  What do we know about Odysseus's wife?

1) She's the cousin of Helen, described as quieter.
2) Her father Icarius is so devoted to having her around, he challenges all would be suitors to a race. He beats them and in some versions simply sends them packing, and in other myths, kills them off.  When Odysseus wins the race, Icarius tries to persuade Odysseus to stay in Sparta.  Odysseus tells Penelope to chose between her father and him. She raises her veil to her father, indicating her choice.
3) She is conveyed in the Odyssey as being both patient and cunning, with her unraveling of the shroud, and willingness to wait 20 years.
4) She is also portrayed as being unable or unwilling to make a decision, allowing 104 suitors to linger about, eating everything in sight.
5) She's Spartan educated nobility who holds together a people not her own for 20 years.

What else?   From my own book, (and these were figments of my imagination), I have a little more.  She's been in the Helen book in three little slices of the story, indicating a touch of bitterness or sarcasm when she sends a golden spindle to Helen (Helen gets the dig but appreciates the gift).  Her tapestry  work is known to the ancient world.  (An original Penelope with her signature knot, the Odysseus knot).  And the story of the four girls as the four seasons, where she in a hunting challenge with Polyoxo, Helen and Clytemnestra weaves a fishing net out of the reeds to bring back her catch.   She doesn't win.

Pictures of her indicate tall Greek beauty with dark hair and dark eyes. She is also described as having dark eyes and being a woman who ages well.  She is desired by 104 suitors, and one would presume, for more than simply the title and the riches of Ithaca.  At least a few of those courting her attempt to do so honorably, offering earrings, a necklace, and proposing to be a father to her son.

It's not fun, but because Penelope wasn't going anywhere and I felt the need to try and beat the book forward.  But when I realized, I didn't know what she looked like or why Odysseus chose her, I knew I had a problem. I have a lot of texture to weave into her, to tell her story of how Odysseus chose her and why, what she brought that he could see before they were married, and to tell of the challenges she faced as an outsider/newcomer to a world that she then had to manage and manage well. And then there's the aftermath of his homecoming, where he kills all of the men in a society that has for 20 years been fatherless, brotherless, husbandless and childless, and he's been unfaithful, and somehow, it is supposed to get better.

But it stinks, to kill 36, 277 words.  However, I'd rather write a book people want to read, than one that when people finish, they still don't know who she is.  In a sense, starting over is very Penelope.  As when one weaves a tapestry, if you make an error, you have to pull that thread out and fix it before you can continue or it will simply grow more messy.  So I'm now, unraveling the tapestry, to start over.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

What NSA Heard When Listening in on 35 Leaders

It has come to light via leaks from Snowden's data dump that the current NSA eavesdropped on 35 of the world's leaders including those of Germany, France, Brazil and cryptically "elsewhere." Naturally, no one confirms or denies what was heard or not heard.  However, reliable sources at unnamed places determined that the following quotes might have taken place when nothing that concerns any of us happened.   It's comforting to know the rich, powerful and authoritative aren't so different than us, but that may be the result of poor reception and translation. 

10)  "So, do you think the Weeping Angels were modeled after the woman at the end of the season cliff hanger with the Master who has her hands over her eyes?  Do you think she is the Doctor's mother?" 

9) Can you get me tickets to World Youth Day?  I wasn't going to go but since the Pope is now from South America, it seems like a bigger deal. 

8) "And I told them, it would be ready for roll out October 1st." 

7) "Can you hear me now?" 

6) "What do you get for a future King of England?"

5) "You know, I probably wouldn't be as disappointed in the Hobbit if I hadn't seen the Lord of the Rings 5,279,246,883 times before."

4) "I bought stock in the Fisker Karma, Solyndra and now, CGI...Think it's the next big thing."

3) "I'm sure the USATopia will be fully operational six months from now, with zero unemployment, emission free flying cars, free four bedroom houses with picket fences for everyone and daily allotments of fruits, vegetables, beer, chocolate, and bad television."

2) "Which addictive long term television series should I watch next? Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones?"

1) "In case NSA is listening, we now have drones too.  See you in 5...4...3...2..."

Small Success Thursday!!!

Over at Catholic mom today! Come join us and count your blessings, even if they involve folded or found socks.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Blog Rosary

Today, I am doing a Blog Rosary.

What does that mean?

It means you should put your petitions in the com box and I will place them in my rosary today.  I already have the following:

1) for a friend recently widowed and her family. Done.
2) for my sister and her family, expecting their third in a week. Done.
3) for a gentleman known only as Roughcoat. He and his wife care for his parents, both of whom have Alzheimer's. He feels as if God's love is grinding him down. Done.
4) for all the people on the news today, there's a lot of despair. Done.
5) for my children who must grow up in this world. Done. 
6) for a person who worked in the mail room of my husband's office who died. Done.
7) for all the hidden crosses we encounter. Done.
8) for a family that lost a child in utero.  Done.
9) for a woman facing eye surgery.  Done.
10) For the Church and her mission.  Done. 
11) for a woman considering abortion.  Done.  

Please feel free to add. I will check back and let you know by putting DONE next to each intention after it has been done.  I hope, I need to start a second rosary before I'm finished.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Twenty One Years After The Stranger Baby Smiles

Twenty One years ago, I was expecting for the first time and a very proud and polished special educator with no intention whatsoever of a baby slowing me down from what I very seriously considered my vocation of working with kids with special needs.  I'd acquired a master's along the way, I achieved good success with my students, allowing 4 of the six of my "graduates" to obtain job sites the following year.  It was a particular gold star on my teaching record, as I'd been given all of the "toughies," being the rookie in the school.   Yes, I was planning on working as a teacher for 5 years, getting a Ph.D and becoming a principal.  All that I needed to do was find the right day care.  

Providence I thought, was with me.  Across the street from where I worked and adjacent to where I lived, a small church had a daycare.  I went to visit.  The price was right. The people were nice.  The place smelled clean. I was all set.  Then I saw that kid, that little boy in a bouncer with a blue stripped footie outfit.  I don't know his name, but he gave me that toothless smile and wriggled with joy when he saw me.  It was enough.  It was too much.  I ran out of the room, scrambled to a payphone and bawled to my husband, "I don't care if we're poor and eat dirt, I'm not doing it." The church had a bunny in a hutch.  Pregnancy hormones took over, I'd be putting my baby, my bunny in a cage.  Those smiles he'd give with his whole body, they'd go unnoticed or given to some strange woman shopping for a day care for her child yet unborn.  Those smiles would one day be my smiles to receive from my son, but not if he was here. Those were my smiles. MINE. I felt suddenly so greedy for the smiles I'd be not seeing.   It was the day I know I surrendered.

I'd love to say God won forever that day, but it was just another battle with me.  There were others like when I tried graduate school and working part time, even blogging became an escape for a time until I regulated it. Mine is a restless spirit, it always thinks it is missing out, it's hard for me to come to grips with the reality that I have to stop trying to see where everyone else is, and what everyone else is doing, and be present.  It used to be a problem after communion, I'd watch to see who I knew when they came up to receive.  

Today, the idea of working next year flitted across my head, after all we'd have two in college and two in high school and four still in elementary and one with special needs and she'd be three. It would be okay. Not great but okay.

But then I looked at my still two year old daughter, shouting with joy as she pointed out the window, how she played with her cup and two ponies and four blocks and a car with her brother on a makeshift table made out of a laundry basket. The feeling of the twenty years I've been given with their hidden smiles overwhelmed me.  I'd been given 20 years of seeing these smiles.  Twenty years had flown by.  Twenty years of diapers and laundry and carpools and cars filled with happy meal toys and endless bedtime stories and baths and kisses and pictures of mom as a queen, as a princess, as a fairy, as the sun, as all the things that a kid draws to say, "Thanks Mom." and still I felt somehow, I'd slept walked through the whole thing.  How'd I miss it? It was so fast. It is so fast.

Today we plan for a child to visit high schools and another to visit college, a third is getting first communion, another learning to tie her shoes and read, two are hopefully potty training, and one is at that amazing age of 9, (I accidentally said 8 this morning) when they're self sufficient and so pleasant to have around, you just marvel, how did I get this lucky to have such a gentleman for a son. (He got up and took out the trash without complaint this morning, I'm still just so grateful).   With ten, there is always a party to plan or a place to go or a detail that needs attending, and the result can be a "Get it done" mentality that robs the experience of the joy. Reading a story should be for the pleasure of reading, not to be able to add it to the list.  It is hard to hold onto that moment, as hard as it is to hold onto the reality that when we receive the Eucharist, we are receiving Him.  We forget to live in the moment and walk in the garden unhurried, we live endlessly distracted by everything but what we should be focused on all of our lives.  I had that moment when I saw the stranger baby's smile.  I've had it since, I had it this morning, watching my daughter stare out the window. There is nothing more important than this, even though this looks to all the world, like nothing.  

So I dusted off that old thought and put it back on the shelf with a firm "Later." I told myself, "You've waited this long, you can wait a few years more.  Work will always be there, waiting to be done.  Growing up won't wait one moment while you're busy."   Besides, I'd miss the smiles.

Friday, October 18, 2013

7 Quick Takes

1.  I am still a dancing fool.  Last night, the kid's elementary school held a family dance.  I ignored the protest of the cool eight grader and took the youngest six.  I let the cool 8th grader and his two older sisters order pizza.  He let me wear his black stetson.  I wore a stetson because my hair needs a visit with the hair salon and it hasn't made it yet.  Besides...
"Stetsons are cool." --11th Dr. Who

And 4 of the six of my kids danced.  Not with me mind you, but I danced anyway.  My 9 year old son sought to eat his weight in chips. Admittedly, he's not very heavy so it isn't as much as one might think, but still.  Eventually, he figured the best way to allow himself to get into the music was to be a big brother, so he swooped up his little sister and danced with her on his back half the evening.   I had Paul.  Paul doesn't need me to dance.  Paul doesn't need music to dance. Paul, like his mother, is a dancing fool.  However the joy on his face to see not just me, but people, lots of people moving, was awesome.  I know people took pictures, but I didn't because I was dancing.   

2.  I know the internet is a big thing and politics are important.  But I have come to the point that I have zero patience with those who either constantly flash their political ideology with all the subtly of a McDonald's commercial, or who damn and curse anyone who dares to think the side they don't like is anything less than Satan incarnate. 

So if you post me about how much you can't stand President Obama and how the Democrats are looting Fort Knox ala Goldfinger, creating taxes to be assessed on all the actual physical space you take up in a lifetime and beyond and editing classic books to eliminate any whiff of conflict, while sending subliminal messages through your cell phones, or how the GOP is killing puppies, stockpiling all the good things in life in secret mansions armed with bionic dragons that will erase your memory and purge your wallet all while each being also less evolved than Spongebob Squarepants or Patrick, I'm going to de-friend you because I'm just tired of being agitated as a matter of course.  

3.   Today the kids have off from school, all except the oldest two, who are staying at school until around 5 or 6.  I also have a mountain of laundry to do, to recover the couch that may or may not have been crushed as a result.   

4.  I'm still doing a poem a day, I just don't always collect them.   Here's today's entry...

Proof I'm a Mom...

Today, the words"Hey! Don't run with scissors."came out of my mouth in proper context.

5.  Halloween is coming.  I am not ready.  Halloween is coming.  I still have to throw a party for my 8 year old.  Halloween is coming and I just threw out a pumpkin we bought that rotted. Halloween is coming and I am scared.  I am stressed.

I have an anime character I don't know, a witch, a person who has no idea what he wants to wear except whatever it is, it's nothing I suggest or that he can think of, because he doesn't really want to dress up, a girl who wants to be Annabelle from the Percy Jackson series who is SURE everyone will know who she is, the 10th Doctor or the 11th, he's not sure yet, Pinky Pie, another witch, a Dinosaur and I'm not sure what the youngest will be, because she loves costumes, but she's also contrary by nature and every time she sees something scary or Halloween in nature, she crosses her arms and says, "No!"  She does love chocolate so that may be the key to her stubborn heart.  
Yes. I own this book.  Yes I ate the last of the Chocolate.  Why are you surprised? I said I was stressed. 

6. I signed up two of my kids for the Celtic Solstice 5 mile run in Baltimore. They will be running with their Aunt, Uncle and Cousin on December 15th.  It should be fun.  Now considering compounding the schedule by signing up two or three kids for basketball.  Why? Because I'm a light touch, a sucker for the vision of my kids being on the team, I love going to cheer them on even as I don't like practices.   As much as I want to be out in the world, I do love it when we have a free weekend with nothing on the books.   Both High schooler's plays end in three weeks, then it's college application forms and financial aid sheets until Thanksgiving.  We also have to start working out more as a family, the traditional Gorillas vs. Wolves football game on Thanksgiving has a 0-5 record.  This is our year.  Maybe.  

7. Yesterday I restarted Small Success Thursday over at Catholicmom.com and I'm SO glad I did. It allowed me to discover some new blogs, to feel refreshed in spirit, and then, there's this touch of loveliness over at a blog I'd never seen before, The Beautiful Music Challenge.  The sample she put out of their work for Advent is really gorgeous.  Go.  Listen. You won't be disappointed, except when it ends, that you can't go buy it now, and that Advent isn't yet.  

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!