Monday, October 23, 2017

Sorry I've been AWOL

Here's my latest at the National Catholic Register, part of my series on the Rosary. This time, we delve into the Visitation.  Also, I'm  posting a link to last week's Small Success Thursday, "Will it until You Become it."

Where has Sherry been?  Is she still writing?  Why is she writing about herself in third person? 

She's been grading essays.  She's writing, but finds her prose is junkola, so she hasn't shared it. 

She's writing in third person rather than admit, I've spent the weekend watching sports, eating food that is not good for me and not exercising or writing.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

There's a Hole in My Wallet

I love giving gift cards as presents.It's the slacker Mom in me, but as a slacker mom, it's better to give than to receive.When my kids get them, it's a constant reminder to go shopping until said child slaps that plastic down at the store. Whether they want it or not is mostly irrelevant, what matters is spending the money.
...
Something about birthday money triggers the gotta-spend-it-or-I'll-die gene in my children. They'll stare at their purses or banks and sigh. They drop hints about the store hours, potential sales, and even wash dishes in an attempt to butter me up. I let them. After the direct bribe attempt fails, they position themselves in front of the door to the house with my wallet and keys. They'll mention once, twice, in every conversation, via text message and even create a twitter hashtag though they don't have a twitter account, #mymomnevertakesmeshoppingandothercruelties to ensure I get the message. Before I become viral or trending, I concede to their request, but not without some soul wrestling of my own.

I know one of three things will happen: 

1) they will spend over their limit but find something they love love love such I either bankroll the difference or seem like a world class miserly curmudgeon or... 

2) Binge shopping until the card drops. 

The problem with binge shopping of this nature, is the desire to spend outweighs the actual need to acquire, but the young shoppers won't rest until the amount left on those pieces of plastic is less than a nickel. So what if we have to purchase a pack of gum they don't chew, it's worth it to have that credit card balance read .03.

Offering my own two cents, like maybe for saving the money or spending some, not all, is met with a stare that translates to "Mom, are you nuts? We did the dishes for you, of course we're going to spend it all."

 And so it comes to pass, we own a Pickachu dressed in a Pirate costume, some silly putty, pens each color of the rainbow, three t-shirts with Halloween themed designs, an umbrella festooned with ice cream cones and some Shopkins, (which are plastic foods with cute faces). The balance reads 1.39 and my daughter runs to get a tube of mini-M&M's.

 Walking out the door, carrying her bounty, my daughter remembers, "I lost my water bottle at the party." "I remember." I said.

 "Can we go back into the store so you can buy me a new one?" she asks. "I'd buy it myself but I'm all out of money."

And that's #3 of what happens. 

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Catch Up Saturday

Hello everyone,

I know, it's becoming a routine.  I write a piece, I link to it two or three days after it runs. This time, I have an excused absence.  On Thursday, I took a train to Southbend, Indiana.  No wi-fi.  Friday, I spent with family and friends, no time on the computer.  So today, Saturday, I'm finally slowing down enough to be able to write...and here we are. 

So if you want your SST fix, the link to Catholicmom.com's piece is here. It's called, "Begin again."

I also have a piece over at the National Catholic Register, Love Drives Out the Fear of Life. It stemmed from a conversation online, where people puzzled about why people want abortions.  To me, the reasons seemed to be as diverse as the people who have them, but the question shouldn't be why do people have them, but how do we minister to people so they won't need them or desire them.

Talking about this topic is always touchy, and the goal was to engender compassion toward the person considering the abortion. It's not perfect. It's not comprehensive.  I'm praying people recognize the goal, and don't take me to the woodshed for venturing onto the subject. But, the title reminds me love drives out fear, and so it's here for all to read. 

I hope you have a wonderful Saturday.  More writing to come.  Enjoying my trip.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Unspoken Battle

There is a great war within the general population of the Catholic church over the nature of what it means to be faithful.  It stems from a sincere desire to be "right with God."  (Proof even our loftiest desires, those we think most holy, can be the means of our failure to be faithful disciples).

With the sending of the Filial Appeal, signed by the people here, I remember Pope Benedict's prediction that the Church would grow smaller.  I suspect it is so, for the same reason many after hearing Jesus say to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.  For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him, many went away sad.  The first words of the Filial Appeal are, "It is with profound grief..." 

" Jesus even asked his apostles, "Will you go away too?"  And I wonder, where will these people go?  Will they realize they are leaving?  Will they realize, they should come back?  Do they know what they're walking away from?  Do they know what they are risking losing?  I believe they fear it, or they would not be grieved.   I suspect many are people who want the truth, but like all of us, see through a glass darkly, but think they see better than others.   How do we square God hating sin and loving us who sin?  How do we reconcile the very real reality that we want to sin, with we want to be in Heaven?   We cannot. Herein is where we get to the apex of our declaration of faith.  Do we Trust the Trinity who is God and his servant the Church, or do we trust ourselves and our judgment.  I know how poor my own judgment is...If I forget, my children can give me a litany of reminders on demand. 

However, God in His infinite mercy and love, offers us the impossible.  That is the crux of our faith and it is not secret, rather it is explosive.  God pouring ever expansive grace and mercy over the world, and seeking to gather all who would allow themselves to love God back and pulling every bit of beauty and love out into the open He can to pierce our hearts and be invited in. 

This past two weeks, I've embarked on a great experiment which tests everything. I'm teaching CCD.  Understanding and loving and reading, and learning about the faith is one thing.  Attempting to convey it in a systemic meaningful manner that doesn't get either too technical or too airy, is another. So if in my little kingdom of a classroom, it is a challenge, how much moreso for the Pope, who must deal with not merely those who do not know, and those who do not care, but those who think they know, and those who think they care more.  Whatever we present, it is inadequate, and we have to trust that grace will make up for what is lacking, but work like anything, to make sure we don't deliberately omit what is necessary. 

The experience concentrates my own understanding of Catholicism, of reducing the excess as one would refine a sauce on a stove.   Where I love the narrative Gospels, I find myself drawn to the Gospel of John when attempting to get deeper into explaining not merely our faith, but the function of our faith.  (To draw ever nearer to Christ). 

So when I reflect upon what the Catechism teaches, what our faith asks of us, it does not seem rules, it is a relationship.  In any relationship of love, be it fraternal, romantic, or intellectual, the desire is for a deeper and greater, truer and more self revealing connection.  We want to be at ease with whoseover it is with whom we seek this relationship. We want that other to know us and know us well enough to read our moods, and to know when to give us what we need, and when it should challenge us on what we want. We want it to be like breathing, where we can stay in each other's presence and not be doing anything in particular, and the time itself becomes precious for the presence. 

God is love. 
Our job, to reflect God's presence to everyone else. 
How?  By loving them as well as possible. 
How?  By seeking to be always a source of spiritual and corporeal mercy to others, by learning how to be less selfish, angry, petty, small, irked, irritated, anxious, indulgent, and demanding ourselves while at the same time, seeking to help others learn how to love and thus serve. 

It's a tall order for anyone...almost impossible...except we are talking about God being in the equation, and thus it is not only possible, it is necessary.  However, as a good friend said to me during a recent crisis, the goal is not to be "right" by God, that is to have proven your merit and value by words and deeds (see Older Brother if you need a perfect example), but to "Be" with God and delight in His presence.  (See Saint Mary at the feet of Jesus, Saint Mary Magdalene seeking to be even simply at his tomb Easter Morning, see Saint John the Baptist's first response to Jesus from the womb).   These examples were not of people doing their duty or obligations or following rules, these were people displaying without any pretense, love for Christ.  If we sit with Christ, if we sit at His feet, we will find our place, and others will as well.  It is when we will our own path that we get lost.  It is the constant unspoken battle inside of every soul, whether we know it or not. It is a battle already won, if only we surrender.

Today I'm talking about...

the second Luminous mystery, the wedding feast at Cana. Come join me at the National Catholic Register, and help further the discussion on the mysteries of the Rosary.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

It's the End of the World...or Not

Every few years some person no one has ever heard of, gains national attention with the age old prediction, "The world ends tomorrow." It's funny how people can work the numbers, roll the bones, or read the stars to discern, the end is near and yet, never in the math, the dice or the heavens do these same souls receive instructions like, "The world will keep going. Carry on. Carry on...."

It's almost like none of these folks whistling past the Earth's graveyard really commit to their own predictions. They aren't engaged in either extreme hedonism as a last hurrah, nor are they submitting themselves to final purification. It's just another day at the office which begs the question, what are they really selling and why is anyone buying?

I also fault the reporters who likewise, don't take this story they're pumping out into the internet seriously. They're in it for the shock. If they wanted to make real news though, they'd commit to the concept...Dr. Falsity, what can we do? I've got my survival gear, my bunker and enough MRE's for three generations. We'll be finishing the broadcast from inside our sealed cavern. The lock is time shut, so we won't be seen for twenty-five years. We're happy to have you as one of our few honored guests...." and watch the man try to figure a way out of being locked in for two and a half decades.

Alternatively, I dream of some newscaster asking some serious analytical questions of these not even right twice a day broken doomsday clock watchers. Something like: "So if this is true, why aren't you spending the last night on this planet with your family, enjoying a fine meal, exhausting every last reserve you have on your 401K since it won't matter tomorrow?" or "Why aren't you on your knees in penance if you think this is the reckoning?" Pulitzer would go to the daring journalist who asks, "Why are you working the news cycle and asking people to buy your book? It's not like they'll have time to read it, even if they pay for expedited shipping and handling." and demands a full refund for failure to produce promised product by the end of the business day.

I'd love to see the next rapturous predictor of Armageddon hit with "We've got two professors from MIT here, and an astrophysicist from NASA. They'd like to check your data, your math and your findings." and drop in a little public service announcement. "We here at channel whatever it is, we investigate fraud. Deceiving the public and creating a panic or riot on the public airways is punishable by state, local and federal laws, in some cases with fines and jail time of up to five years. I'm sure you Sir have nothing to worry about." and crank up the R.E.M. as you fade out to commercial break.

But to prove I'm fair and show I do take their concerns somewhat seriously, I've eaten all the emergency chocolate.  After all, I'd hate to see it go unconsumed.  That would be a waste. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Call Me Maybe?

The other day, my daughter texted me while I had four of my kiddos at a special event.   MOM!  All caps made me concerned.   "MOM!"  Why wouldn't she explain why she did that?  Why did she feel the need to spell it twice?  "What's going on?" I typed.   The response came after a few minutes.

"My stomach hurts."

I typed back..."Have some ginger ale.  Put on comfortable clothes. Rest."

She sent back, "Please get ginger ale."
I didn't answer.
"MOM!"
"MOM!"
"Yes?"
"Are you going to get ginger ale?"

"Yes. Go lie down."  I brought home ginger ale.  She'd fallen asleep and felt fine when I got home.

On following day, a different child chose to use the wonders of modern technology to let me know of all the wrong doing she felt another child had done which had gone unreported, complete with emojii's about a circumstance which took place a week prior.

I wrote back, there's a sell by date for tattling, and for all of the reported offenses, that date expired.  I don't think she appreciated my Solomonistic ruling.

Techology designed to make life easier has made it easier for my kids to let me know, "How may I serve."  However, the connection is a little too good. I may want a less effective network for peace o f mind or peace from mine.  I may need to switch from my carrier to a carrier pidgeon.

My older son mastered the art of texting a grocery list to me in little bits, while I'm at the store.
"Are you at the store?"
"Yes."

"Good.  Can you get...
Eggs?
Milk?
Beets?
Protein shakes?
Apples...
Kale...

Got it. Got it. Got it. Got it. Got it.  No.
"Why not?"
"It's yucky."
"It's healthy."
"This is not a wish list of what you want to eat for the next week."

Chocolate milk?
No.
"Why not?  It's yummy.  Or I'll take kale."

I typed back, this is a five items or less request line.  I thought myself clever until the others gamed the system..

So I got a new text message from a different child.

Salt and Vinegar chips?
Salami?
French bread?
Cookies and Cream Ice Cream?
Cinnamon Toast Crunch...she stopped at five.

They handed the phone to the youngest.

"Raisins?
clementines?
Apple juice?
Please?"

They're working the room, she used please in a text.

From a third party in the car, who just remembered what she needs in terms of school supplies...
Three types of high lighters, graph paper, a pocket folder and don't forget to get bottled water.

I get a message from  home from the oldest who heard I'm at the store and did a quick survey to see what we might need.

"Dear Mom,

Don't forget, we need Pull ups and napkins.
We're out of cascade and down to our last roll.
of paper towels.  And what's for dinner? If you get ground beef, I'll grill burgers."

At this point, I'm reduced to text messaging, and send back "K" without even giving a period.

He types back, "It's wierd when you don't use a full sentence."

I'd gone to the store for bananas, diet coke and foil.  The text messages distract me into remembering, we should get butter too.  But my grocery list which was a mere 3-4, is now clocking out at twenty-seven.

Standing in line to check out, I get a text from a child unaware of all the prior messages.  "How much longer until you come home? I'm hungry."








Yesterday and Today

It's becoming a running gag, that I don't get to Small Success Thursday until Friday.  Still, it's not Saturday, so I'll consider that a small success for next week.  

Also, I have a piece over at the National Catholic Register. It's the beginning of a series meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary.  I'm working on the next one, but these I hope will allow people to delve deeper into each mystery.  They're not in order....yet.    They're as I go meditations, based on whatever one keeps presenting itself in front of me.  

One last thing:  Last week, I wrote about a woman who only needed a dollar fifty-five, discussing how when we encounter need, we should act.  It's very easy these days, to discover need.  One would have to be willfully blind to not see.  If your heart is stirred, pray, then act accordingly.  If we all give even the widow's mite, we can together be one of the drops in an ocean of God's mercy for someone...and that's the goal, to be a drop.  

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Small Success Thursday on Thursday!!!

I know, I know....shocker.

I'm grateful for my family.  They've been solid as we got through three of the four open houses we must attend.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Blocking Writing

Every once in a while, I get an undisclosed melancholy which accompanies acute writers' block.

My writing coach doesn't believe such a thing as writers' block exists.  He cajoles, "Write about what a jerk I am for saying otherwise if nothing else." in fewer words.

I can, but the goal of writing isn't to merely be clever, the point is to discover something within the uncarved marble of the mind, which when fully chiseled out, is beautiful and solid and worth preserving.  So I sat musing, why do I want to find these beautiful words, what's the point of it?

Is it glory for me?  Well, I'll admit, it really was and used to just be...because part of me, a part I'm not overly proud of, felt myself somehow trivial.  It's not a nice thought, that I belittled my own vocation in my own eyes.  I wonder if I did so to my children too.

Being published was something of a rush, still is, but like any addiction, it satisfies less with each hit, because I find myself scrambling to carve out the next piece.  Good poems are never finished, only abandoned.  Good columns, well, I find they all look like prom pictures.  In the moment, they are beautiful, cool, and I want to share them with everyone.  In the glare of the next day, under the gaze of time and judgment, I find them less lovely, more awkward and indicative of all the ways in which I don't know myself or my own faults than anything else.   Do I still want to write columns? Yes.  I'd just like them to be more thoughtful, less rushed.  Not sure how to do that...


I do know why I began.  It began as an escape.  Everyone else goes to school or work and I was here, decade after decade, folding socks, doing dishes, working out at the gym sometimes and wondering, where is the more?  What is the more?  Why can't I do more?  God laughed at my feeling insignificant and gave me more...and more...and more...until I stopped thinking, I want to do more and started saying, "I want to do something different."  God gave me more...and it was different.  So I stopped saying "I want."  

I started working at a high school and found myself wishing for the minutes at home, not because I didn't like the work or the people or the job, but because I now couldn't pour out the minutes like water on my family.  I couldn't justify holing up with the computer to write when I'd been away all week, but when I'd get to the weekend, I didn't want to pour out the minutes like water, I felt somehow, shouldn't I keep them?

 Reminded of Bilbo and the ring, I horded minutes, when that was precisely what I should not do.  At which point, I understood my own weaknesses.  A child cannot comprehend why they cannot eat all the candy.   They just know, they want it.  So I'm praying, God, be merciful and do not give me what I want, but what you want.  Otherwise, please please please, don't listen to me.  Ignore me.    

So what is the point of all of this? Why do you write Sherry?

So I can learn what I'm supposed to be doing, why, and how to go about doing it. I told my writing coach.  He said, "I could have fixed it much faster if you'd just written about what a jerk I am."

Next time.





Your Irony Supplement for the Day

For those who don't know, I started up work this week.  I'd say this explains the tardiness in posting links to publications but I was tardy in posting links to publications all summer, so that can't be the reason.    The topic of my most recent piece over at the National Catholic Register only adds to the irony of being late. Enjoy. 

And we'll just call this the "Small Success Thursday not-posted on Thursday link."  Since the title of that one is "Thank God for the Mess." I'll consider this blog an additional opportunity to be both ironic and thankful.   See?  My whole life is in service to your entertainment.  When I'm not writing these pieces up, I'm living in such a manner as to give them additional context.  The things I do for you people....

On a more sober note, please pray for all those recovering from Hurricanes, and those in their path now.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Over at the Register...

I have a piece about knowing, always, Jesus is in the boat, and to ask for Him to "Give it this..." 

Also, I started working...which means writing will be come more of a frantic exercise of me trying to pour out words in snatched moments.

Stay tuned...


Friday, September 1, 2017

Two-Fer Friday

Yes, I know, I didn't link up to Small Success Thursday yesterday.  I admit, I was preoccupied by the news. My hometown of Beaumont, Texas has been on all the channels lately, owing to Hurricane Harvey.  I'd writtten my friend Mark Shea to ask him to pray.  He did me one better, he took my worries and fears and asked all his readers to pray too. 

At the time, I honestly felt very fearful for Beaumont.  This storm has already broken so many records and destroyed so many homes, and when they lost water, I wondered if we'd lost Beaumont. I admit, I went to adoration and my heart howled.  The words floated into my heart, Jesus is in the boat. You knew, there would be storms.  You also know, He's in the boat with you.

The howls went away, and the news from Beaumont brightened.  They still have a long way to go to even sort of get to normal, but I was reminded once again, of the steel in the bones of these people, and the gold of their hearts.

I'll brag as an older sister, that my siblings and their families in Texas are busy finding people to help, and calling others to do the same.   They live out what I'd written about in the aftermath of that time in adoration:  In Great Storms and Little Struggles, Be Christ to One Another.  Have a great weekend! Pray for all those recovering from the storm, and help out if you can, any way that you can.

Thank you.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Over at the Register and....

today's piece deals with being who we are called to be, both in real life and online. 

So today, pray for those who are either recovering from Harvey or still weathering its effects.  The rain from this storm is beyond anything anyone could have prepared to endure.  Houston receives 51 inches of rain in a year, and received as much in a single weekend.  

If you can give, right now what is needed is funding, to purchase cots, food, and basics.  Once the water recedes, it will be more patchwork.  I'm talking to a friend who works with a large charitable organization and she's promised to let me know what they need, once they've done an assessment.  She admits, right now assessment alone is overwhelming.  

There are a slew of good articles out there about what people don't need like this one here.  My fellow writer, Mark Shea did the hard work for you and came up with a linked list of agencies providing relief.  So if you're looking for ways to help Texas, you can go here. 

The big issue of this storm is rain.  Water gets into everything, and you have to redo everything to make it home again.  So pray for everyone who is in the path, and hope the rain ends soon.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Two Pieces for You for the Weekend

First, here's yesterday's link to Small Success Thursday

Small Success Thursday 

Hello everyone! It's Sherry Antonetti, here with some big news about Small Success Thursday! We're planning to have the weekly piece on both the Catholicmom.com site and on Facebook. It will make it easier for people to participate and share with others the opportunity to count your blessings each week. By posting your past week's blessings, you encourage others who might be having similar trials and triumphs. Additionally, cultivating gratitude encourages us the same way writing down goals helps one reach them, having a food diary helps one diet, and writing a letter rather than an email leaves a deeper impression. Telling the world what you are grateful for helps remind others to be grateful as well; it grows gratitude. Please consider being part of this weekly "Online Gratitude Journal" by posting three things from the past seven days for which you want to 1) give thanks to God and 2) share with the community of readers. Thanks for reading and being part of Small Success Thursday!


Also, I have a piece today over at The National Catholic Register on Down Syndrome and Unicorns.  I'm hoping that quirky description encourages you to go read and share it.


In case you're wondering if this time, it's not actually bad, it's just hype...no. It's not good.

Lastly, please please Pray for those in the path of Hurricane Harvey. I look at the models and think flood. Flood. Flood! and it makes me very nervous for everyone. It won't be the wind, it will be the rain that causes destruction this time around, and I'm worried.


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Big Push App, Wish It Were Downloadable

Some kids are born repsonsible.  They get up on time, they go to bed on time.  They brush their teeth on a daily basis. Some of them even floss.  Yes, I know from my time on the internet reading Mommy blogs that most parents' children do their homework with little fuss, their clothes are organized by drawer and color, and they willingly consume raw beets and edemae as mid day snack.  Some of them tie their shoes at the tender age of four months and say their ABC's in utero.

My kids...well as of this point, I know one is wearing a Pikachu costume because it is warm.  It's August.   Another claims playing Civilization VI will help with AP history.  A third explained he's very good at creating art in Minecraft.  I'm not sure what skills that might translate to in the non pixelated world, but his siblings are impressed.  Ninety percent of parenting is playing the game, "What's my motivation?" so I've compiled some analogies from popular culture to help motivate all my kids to get ready for school again, using cool geeky references like all the kids do these day.  Failing that, I will speak in text, and that should do it.  

You should get your summer work done because....why?...well consider the alternative.

The Star Wars Imperative: 


Fill out the common ap now, or join us and live here forever.  It is your destiny.  Choose. It helped that I have loud breathing as a matter of course in my speech.  The sound track in the background was my husband's idea.  I love him.

The Pokemon Quest, Will You Please Go Now? 

Son. You want to be the very best, like no one every was.  On some campus somewhere, are Pokemon for you to catch with your phone.  Stay here, and your dad and I will cite Team Rocket's motto to you night and day.  Here's the link for the common ap.  Surrender now...



Fortunately, the photos of me as Jesse of Team Rocket from Halloween 2000 were destroyed in a freak accident when the disposable camera met its end, having been accidentally left on top of the mini-van.  I, and the internet, are forever grateful.  

Lego my Ego

This is 100% true.  All of it.  You are the special. You can do amazing things.  I want you to do amazing things. So....finish your work without me having to hover or I'll "kraggle" you to the chair to get it done.   Love, Mom.



Now I could push this, show montages of characters from Spiderman to Officer Judy Hops to Remy from Ratatoulie to illustate that anything we want which is important, anything that matters, demands more than we think it will, and pushes us beyond what we thought we could do.  But I think kiddos, you get the point.  You have to do this, and I don't mind if you reward yourself with mindcraft or civ or magic or whathave you, but you do have to do something beyond what is easy, or your life once you leave home, will be harder than it has to be.  

So...to put another way, reaching into your own family lore:  "Now is the time to start the big push."

Love, Mom. 

P.S.  I promised I'd do it.  git 2 wrk












Saturday, August 19, 2017

What to do

Leah Libresco Sargeant writes a beautiful article discussing what we as Christians should do in light of Charlottesville.  She presents a lovely way of examing how to 1) create genuine peace and 2) be an authentic witness and 3) offer correction to those in grave error.  You go and you interact with these people, you learn their names, their fears, their loneliness, and you ask questions, you seek to get at what it is they think, and to present a living counter argument without argument.  Please, go read it.  It's so worth it.

There is a great rage in this country and a gleeful glowering joy at pointing out sinners, and saying to the crowd, "These ones, it's okay to stone.  Pick up your rocks."   But the reality is, to those who show mercy, mercy shall be theirs.  Mercy is the gift we give, the grace we allow to flow through us, not when it is deserved, but precisely because it isn't.   Jesus is still reaching out, even from the cross before His death, to enter into relationship with us, to bring us to the right place, to heal our broken hearts.  We are to do the same, whether it's racism or anything else.   That's a tall order, a hard order,  an order only possible to fill through grace, by grace, and so as to receive grace.

So don't blast with holy wrath or excommunicate a friend for failing to see the evil you see, ask them what they see.  Ask them why.  Ask them their fears, their concerns. Go out to lunch and find all the spaces in between, all the points where their gifts are, so as to see their true faces, which are not only the sins we know.  

Yes, these views must be challenged, must be countered, but the only way to stop hate, is not to stomp people into the ground, but to show a better way.  It may seem obvious to you, but that's the nature of sin.  It blinds us to others. It blinds us to good. It clouds the heart, and so we see through a glass darkly.  As Leah sagely notes, when you don't think anyone can see anything but the sin, it is hard to embrace anything else.

Be the option out, be the refuge, be the source of light that helps people cast off these views and the world will be brighter for it.  

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Two Pieces to Link to Today

I'm taking a break from Facebook, but not writing.  So I'm letting you know where you can find my latest pieces.  One is about what we need to do in the face of being bombarded so often with reckless hate, with a rage that seems to never exhaust itself, and which seems to surround virtually all discourse, all reality right now.  

You have been hired out. Time to get to work.

Second, is the link to Thursday's Small Success Feature over at Catholicmom.com on Facebook.

Have a great day.  Enjoy these dog days of summer, they're fading fast.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Grace Can Pierce Stone

Driving my daughters to an appointment, we began a discussion about an article I read about a course where the students studied hate crimes, and in the process, encountered someone who had begun to repent, and who had from some, received the gift of forgiveness.  As my friend who sent me the article said, "No matter what we think about other people, change is amazingly possible."

The thoughts, "Grace can pierce stone. Grace can pierce the emptiness of years.  Grace, like water can seep through the tiniest cracks in the armor of the soul. Grace, like air, comes unseen, and we discover how necessary it is for life." kept running through my mind as I drove, and I repeated the thoughts as images in my head so I wouldn't forget.

The girls sat discussing how they'd write to someone who was incarcerated for hate crimes, and what they would say.   They weren't sure it would be just to be generous or forgiving to people who committed such grave offense, when those who were injured by the offenses still might bear scars from the events.  But God gives mercy to Cain, marking Him with a sign to all the world, this son I love, this son I will protect.  Despite Cain's sin against his brother and God, God offers him not merely mercy, but ongoing mercy for his life.  Grace is in essence, God's limitless love, manifested as mercy, upon us, His limited creatures.

Mercy remains, as Pope Francis constantly reminds us, amazingly possible for all who seek for it.  This does not mean the grace is won in an instant, for always, God wants us to go deeper and deeper into relationship with Him.  For that to happen, sometimes, we need the cross of time, so as to lean more solidly on God than ourselves.  We do not receive mercy via anything but God's generosity.  It reflects both God's heart, and the extent to which the soul of the person extending forgiveness or forbearance, is molded by God's heart.

Mercy manifested in this world by one person to another, remains to those who lack faith, hope and/or mercy, a mystery that amounts to foolishness.  Mercy manifested in this world from one person to another, viewed by the outsider who knows love, hope, and/or faith, remains a mystery, but a celebrated luminous joyful wondrous one,  It makes more sense than the sensible response the world would "understand," and thus is both impossible to explain, and more normal, more natural, more magnificent than what might be deemed just, fair or appropriate.

So today, as it is August 11th, the day I asked Catholic bloggers to offer penance and prayer for peace, both in their homes and hearts, and in the world both online and out there, I am praying for peace, for the whole world to be bathed in mercy, so that it might become more real and more natural, more what it was always intended to be.   Such a reality would be amazing, all the more so, because it is possible.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Plea for All of Us to Pray for All of Us

The Catholic blogosphere is as diverse as the Church itself, with people who wrestle earnestly with issues both big and small, but who try always to be Catholic in their response to life and all the people living in it.  We aren't always successful.  Being like any family, we have fights, we fail, we forgive, we pull away, we mess up.  However only when we have our right and left hands together, can we be fully in prayer, fully seamless, fully the Universal Church we are all called to be.

Above all, we want this world which is God's gift to all of us, to go on, allowing future generations to discover Christ both in the sacraments and in each other, in service and in prayer.  That can only happen if the people here now, work for peace, both in our own hearts, and in the world.   As part of the overly talkative patient wing of the hospital for sinners, who believe part of our vocation, is both to learn and educate about the Catholic faith, it is time we came together in prayer. In the core of each Catholic, I know there is more than a mustard seed of faith, waiting for us to ask. I also know, harder things require more than mere prayer and faith, but atonement, for some demons do not go out except by prayer and fasting. We have a world full of unrest even absent the current sabre rattling in North Korea, and we need to get to the work of being the Body of Christ to others.  We can only do that by being deliberate in seeking grace.  Who doesn't want more genuine peace and grace in the friendships in their lives, both online and in real life?

How?

We do not have worldly power, but we have something much greater.  We have the King of Peace, and we have His blessed mother, the sacraments and the saints. So I am asking all Catholic bloggers everywhere, at the Reporter and the Register, at Aleteia and Crux, Catholicmom and Catholic Digest, Catholic columnists both independent and syndicated, new and established.  Calling all writers from America and the Catholic Stand, at Patheos, New Advent, Big Pulpit and the Catholic Conspiracy, Church Militant and anywhere they may be found, to ask their readers to consider praying and fasting this Friday, August 11th, for peace in this world, on the internet, in families, and between nations. Joyce said of the Catholic Church, "Here comes everybody." Well, we need everybody.

 Jesus told us to ask and we shall receive, seek and we shall find, and that collectively, we should be able to mustard up a mustard seed, and maybe transform a mountain of problems into molehills.  

How to participate:
1) Decide you will dedicate this Friday to penance and prayer and fasting for peace in our hearts and across the world.
2) Offer a fasting of a particular kind for the whole day; something which you either treasure, or which you know is a barrier to your own prayer life. It can be something as familiar as diet coke or Facebook, it can be refraining from snark, it can be meat, it can be your phone or television or anything which you surrender for 24 hours, as a gift in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.
3) Invite others, both in real life and online to do the same, and write your own post of why and what.  We are all small. We are all at the very least, half of mustard seeds, but together, we can move mountains.

If you don't know what to do, here are a few ideas:
30. Pray for all our leaders, and all those in power.  Spend time with the Blessed Mother, asking her intercession in their hearts.
29.  Figure out what you cling to, what you have made an idol or an addiction, and ask all of Heaven to help you let go.
28. Read the life of a saint.
27.  Review and renew your baptismal vows and confirmation promises.
26. Read the daily readings to your family at the dinner table.
25. Make a gift of yourself to your family today. Following the wisdom of Saint Therese of Lisieux, picking up pins for love.
24. Watch or listen to a podcast on Forgiveness.  Fr. John Ricardo's talks on this matter are excellent.
23. Call your pastor, ask what the Parish needs you to do.
22. Do an examination of conscience from your earliest memory to now, and ask for wisdom and guidance from the Holy Spirit.
21. Pray for the souls in purgatory, arrange to offer a mass.
20.  Fast.  Pray for peace each time you remember, you're hungry.
19.  Smile at each person you encounter, and whisper a prayer in your heart for each person you see.
18.  Spend time with your children, playing on their level.
17.  Invite someone to join you for mass.
16.  Offer your unique talents as a gift to your local pregnancy center or soup kitchen or parish, or a neighbor in need.  Set it up as an ongoing
15.  Invite someone you know could use a friend, out to lunch. Listen.
14.  Read the catechism on Just War.
13.  Venerate a relic. Ask for the saint's intercession.
12. Make a pilgrimage to a local chapel or shrine.
11. Begin the Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary.
10. Go to adoration for an hour.
9. Divine Mercy Chaplet
8. Spend some time reading the Psalms.
7. Donate clothing to a local shelter.
6. Go to mass.
5. Pray a family rosary.
4. Give alms.
3. Make a confession.
2. Read some of the writings of the Doctors of the Church.
1. Perform one of the Spiritual or Corporeal Acts of Mercy.

There are as many ways to fast or give alms or make atonement as there are saints, and with all of us, we should hit all of them.   The goal is peace, of the kind we can only ask for, the only kind worth receiving.   Let's get to work.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Over at the Register

It's important to bring little children to mass.  Why?  So we can learn important lessons like How to approach Holy Communion like a little child.  I can't wait to see what they teach me next week.  Thanks Anna, Thanks Paul...and yes, there will be donuts.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

List-less equals Lost

After decades of trying, I know, the think system is not a viable method for me for getting anything going, but making a list, that works wonders.  Somehow writing down "laundry," helps laundry get done.  Somehow writing down "upstairs patrol," helps me climb the stairs.  I cannot explain it except to say, if I don't write down vacuum, there's a more than 90 percent chance the vacuum and I will not cross paths.  

Even writing down things like exercise or write, things which I affirmatively need to or want to do, increases the prospect of those things happening.  Not always, but more than I would care to admit.  Otherwise, the day can just sort of get away from me and at the end of it, I can't honestly say what happened.  But if I write the thing down, it gets done, and I remember.  

So I started testing the system, to see if putting down more ambitious things like, de-clutter desk or get through paper work with this list and what do you know, it does. If it worked with putting things down which are self serving, like house cleaning, or de-cluttering or exercise, work on the list, what would happen if I put something else down, like get a column published a year.  Well, I did an analysis, and I've had 27 pieces thus far run in on-line papers.  That's 27 out of 30 weeks, having a column.  

I put read to children, and gave each of the youngest four a slot.  Somehow I found time and it happened on that day. I put say a rosary.  It happened.  I put practice the piano. The same 24 hours that I normally find overwhelming, somehow got everything going if only I wrote the list.  It even worked when I misplaced my calender and had to write it in a spiral notebook, but what never worked, was ever NOT writing it down.

The only one for which it didn't work, was exercise.  My guess is, it wasn't specific enough.  My will to sloth apparently is slightly stronger than my will to obedience to the list.   So I threw down the gauntlet.  I wrote, walk four miles, knowing I normally sluff through three.  It helped. I did three and a half.  

My kids have grown wise to the system too, and they'll put down get ice cream or go to the library, and when they're on the list, you know what, it happens.  I'm hoping they internalize sooner than I did (it took four decades), the power of the list over listlessness, and make their own.  In which case, I'm going to add to theirs...make your bed, read a book, give mom foot rub.  

I'll keep you posted.  


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Rebellion

In the past two weeks, I've dealt with insurance, dentists, lawyers and wills, bills, inspectors, SAT forms, college application materials, accounting, grown up kids dating, job applications/interviews, car issues, health and fitness demands, and new kids taking on adolescence.  In short, I've adulted and, I've come to the conclusion.

I don't want to. At least, I'd like a break.

A few years ago, there was a book, "All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten," but what I'd tell the guy is, everyone forgot after they moved on to first grade.  What we really need in high school and college is the "How to Be an Adult or Just Act Like One," course.

Now I know what you're thinking, she's had ten kids, how can this be? It's not the case I don't know how to be an adult, it's just...right now, I'm tired of being one.   Aparently the kids picked up on me being an easy mark and ordered pizza for dinner.  They even got wings and cheese sticks.  One of them brought me a banned diet coke.  I didn't eat the pizza, but the little rebellion worked.  I felt much more myself.

Apparently my childish spirit is locked up in the carbonation inside an aluminum can like a genii.


Extra! Extra! I haven't forgotten how to write...

I have a piece over at the Register today.   Also, it's Small Success Thursday over Facebook.  I'm trying to get back to actually writing on the blog, somehow I thought summer would give more time, not less.  

As I told my husband, we aren't seizing the day, we're throttling summer.  Hopefully the dog days of summer will allow for more of the sticky side of the season.  

Friday, July 21, 2017

FYI

In case you were wondering, when the bee stings, thinking of your favorite things doesn't really help. The bee sting got me thinking about the movie, "The Sound of Music." Something bothered me.

In Favorite things, they mention Schnitzel with noodles, meaning this:  
Now I like pasta and sausage and vegetables as much as anyone, but they live in Austria.  They live where people who know, make the good stuff, like this:  

So how does chocolate not make the list?  

I'm guessing since the song "Favorite Things," is pre-restoration of Captain Von Trapp's love of life, they'd not been exposed to such frivolities and tastiness, not even in the pursuit of tradition. However, in the musical, Lisle is old enough to remember her father singing and her mother, Chocolate probably was in the house before Liesl turned eleven, (when Captain Von Trapp's wife, their mother died).   

In writing this piece, I discovered an article, Movie vs. Reality.  They loved music before Maria showed up.  The Captain doted on his children from the get go.  They also had three more children who are all still living.  So now I know the truth...and while it did distract, it didn't help my bee sting either.  


Ice, benadryl and distraction, they helped.  I suspect if there'd been Austrian chocolate in the house, it would have helped too.  Much better than just thinking about it. I can't imagine how unpleasant it would be if I'd been bit by a dog.  So I'm stocking up on good stuff that isn't Schnitzel, just in case.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Free Post

So recently, all my posts have been links to places other than here.  I admit, the humor component of this blog has also suffered as a consequence.   It's not that my funny bone is broken, or that I don't have time to write.  It's that when you try to write for a living, sometimes you forget to play with the words for fun.  You stare at the page and think, what can I say that's interesting today?  Eventually, that sort of functional thinking destroys creativity.  

Fortunately, ten children also come in handy for preventing such single-mindedness.

Yesterday, I encouraged my kids to change the sheets on their beds.  My thirteen year old thought himself clever, quoting Bill Gates to me. Apparently, the billionare once said he would always "hire a lazy person to do a difficult job" at Microsoft.  Why?  "Becasue a lazy person will find an easy way to do it."

I pointed out two problems with his quote.  Stripping and remaking the bed wasn't a difficult job, ergo it would take more energy to figure out a different way to do it than to do it, and this was me, not Bill Gates he was speaking to.  I also told him, "I've yet to be impressed with someone who was lazy." and handed him the sheets.

He grumbled up the stairs, "When I'm a billionare, you'll understand."  To which I responded, "So will you."





Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Without Words, Always Inviting

It began as a consequence of reading three pieces.  First, I read a piece over at Aleteia on "Practical Steps to Keep Your Kids in the Church." and subsequently, a bit of Sherry Weddell's writtings over at Mark Shea's "Catholic and Enjoying it!" blog.

In December of 1990, Pope John Paul II issued these words of prophetic power in Redemptoris Missio:
God is opening before the Church the horizons of a humanity more fully prepared for the sowing of the Gospel. I sense that the moment has come to commit all of the Church’s energies to a new evangelization and to the mission ad gentes. No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples.
Since then, I’ve read hundreds of very critical, even sneering internet comments because the “springtime of the New Evangelization” didn’t just happen magically through bishops issuing a document or lay Catholics writing books. (Obviously, the sneerers aren’t gardeners or they would be able to recognize the “signs of the times”. The actual work of springtime is the most intense of all and that it begins in late winter and extends into early summer. Mid and late summer are the times when a gardener can relax in the midst of an abundant garden.)
In many ways, it was missional late winter when JPII published those words and late winter merges into early spring here in the Rockies. We had snow in mid May and the last frost here was on May 19. You spend late winter/early spring clearing the debris of winter and preparing soil for spring when it does come. You plan and order your plants and supplies and sharpen your tools. But you don’t *plant* until after the last frost.
You know that when “full” spring arrives, things begin to move really fast. You have been prepping for months and then suddenly, massive change occurs seemingly overnight. Full spring and summer also merge.
Note that JPII talked about committing our energies to TWO things, one of which we never talk about: “a new evangelization and to the mission ad gentes.” In 1990, it wasn’t as clear as it is today that the “new evangelization” has merged with the “mission ad gentes” which refers to the first evangelization of people who have never been baptized or heard the proclamation of the Gospel. With the emergence of “baptized unbelievers” (Vatican term) or “baptized pagans” (Pope Benedict), the rapid cultural change in the west has blurred realities that in a Christendom setting were distinct.
Millions of “Marginal” and “non-practicing” Catholics dropping the religious identity altogether and spinning off into a vague spirituality that rapidly morphs into functional or self-declared agnosticism or atheism. Increasingly, “Catholics” in the west are already functional agnostics before they bother to drop the religious identity.
More and more, we can’t start with a simple proclamation of Jesus and a warm invitation to come back home. We are going to have to get very serious about a new kind of mission ad gentes to the already baptized who are spiritually, imaginatively, intellectually, culturally untouched by the Gospel of Jesus Christ in any meaningful way. The categories of Christian and non-Christian are blurring in ways we never anticipated.
Now is the time to get really serious about “near” pre-evangelization” and “far pre-evangelization” for the millions who have experienced almost nothing of the faith but baptism as an infant or small child and were and are being raised by non-believing, non-practicing parents. Many who still have some extremely tenuous historic or familial connection to the name “Catholic” are a million miles away from the faith in every conscious and living way.
The work of late winter: building bridges of trust and rousing genuine spiritual curiosity about Jesus is the work urgently needed now in the post Christendom, post modern west. And it is something for which we have few structures, little vision, and little leadership – especially at the parish and diocesan levels.
This involves really leaving the ecclesial building. This involves a true “ad gentes” approach to the nations, going out to the far, far places of heart and mind and imagination for the sake of those for whom God become incarnate, lived, suffered, died, and rose again.  
I finished it off with Rebecca French's excellent piece, The Hardest Part is Watching...
I agree with her.  The hardest part is watching.  

The combination roiled in my brain.   We cannot "keep" our children in the faith, that is, we can do all the right things and still, they might drift or run away.  You can do everything and still, free will taps into the equation.  After all, God created Eden, He gave his first children everything and still, they rejected a relationship in favor of their own opinions. There isn't a formula, there's you care for them, you love them, you sacrifice for them, you witness to them, and you hope more of it sinks in than they admit.   Other than that, you have to hope and pray and fast against the age.

When I finished reading, I looked up the term "ad gentes."  It means, "to the nations," and is a term used in Vatican documents, as part of an address or decree.  We're called to evangelize ad gentes, omnes gentes if my Latin is correct, which after a quick google translate check, it is.   We cannot guarantee results, we are, as Saint Bernadette said, "to inform, not convince."  We still have that free will which means, we're always invited to the table.  It's will we come to the feast?  I went back to the problem.  How do we thaw the ground to plant the seeds?

The media dubbed the young adults of this age, "Nones."  "Nones" are people who belong to no community, no faith tradition, even if they've grown up in one.  It seems to be that for the newly minted agnostic in all but name, the number one common denominator is a deliberate indifference to the Divine; sort of a "I don't know if God is, and I'm not about to find out," boredom with all things beyond the present.   The "None" is a soul committed to being uncommitted and deliberately unquestioning.   Because they still are, because grace is still possible, they are like seeds sleeping.  To extend Sherry  Wendell's metaphor, it is Winter.  Snow and Ice cover the ground.  We need to begin the thaw.  Except I'm not sure how.   

The basic ways of evangelizing are Truth, Beauty, Love, Sacrifice, Miracles and Witness, but our age is soaked in Relativism.  Everyone believes, "there is no truth." and no one is swayed by the irony of saying, "there is no truth," being professed as a truth.  They do not see beauty as anything but aesthetics. Love is not sacrificial, or if it is sacrificial, it is too costly to seek or sustain. They do not see marriage as anything but a personal choice, and children are burdens, consumers of time and energy and effort.  All sacrifices are merely preferences; they hold no weight.  And miracles?  There are none.  Witnesses, well, that's just proof of your preferences.  The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference, and to me, indifference is the hallmark of the soul committed to not encountering God.  I'd managed to depress myself in the process. 
Then, I was tasked with writing a lesson for the Chapel room in my writing critique group, so I wrote:
Most people aren't converted by argument. Most people aren't evangelized by scripture quotations or sermons. Most people go deeper and deeper into their faith as a result of an encounter, and if you ask them about that experience, it's a story.  
A story isn't sensation or feelings. We can't share your feelings just because you tell us, these are my feelings. We can't know your awe of God because you state, I am in awe of God. We can't even appreciate your being overwhelmed with God's grace or mercy or forgiveness unless we know the why of that experience.

It seemed to me, this is the problem with most CCD/instruction ABOUT the faith.  It is about the business of the faith, not an encounter.   How, not who.  Which begs the question, how do you introduce people who do not know Jesus, to Jesus.  I know how it isn't done.  Walking up to someone and saying, "Do you know Jesus?" is like walking up to someone and saying, "Will you be my friend?"  No one wants to answer yes, even if they might think "yes" in reality. We get a lot of direct frontal assault story telling in the Chapel room, the kind that uses sweeping generalities and sentimentality when what is needed is reality, and witness. I'd meant to try and illustrate how that doesn't work so 
I'd written more:

To give you a better sense of what I mean, I could tell you my son has Down Syndrome. He is often the means by which God lets me know how to love my children. Saying that doesn't really convey anything that doesn't sound like a cliché. Telling you, "he brings his family closer to each other," may be true, but that statement doesn't move. I have to bring you into the story, to bring about the revelation.  


I illustrated the point: 

Taking my son to the ocean, he filled his pockets with shells. Next he dug and flung sand on all of us. His joy at digging overwhelmed even his oldest sister's cynicism, and she helped him dig out a fort. Covered from head to toe in sand, he tackled his brothers to take him into the water. For the next hour, they held his hands and helped him jump the waves. When they wouldn't jump, he'd tell them, "Come on guys!" They jumped until their shins grew sore.
We hadn't planned to spend the whole afternoon digging and jumping waves. Some wanted to go for ice cream, one for a jog. Three hoped to return to the cabin and play computer games, and we had a pool waiting for us. Nine children ranging in age from six to twenty-four scrambled to build a massive fort big enough to withstand the first few waves of high tide. Paul had caught most of us in his play. However he wasn't satisfied with having 90% of his family with him, and began to search for the one sister who went jogging instead of coming to the beach, calling out her name.
His calling for her reminded me of when we serve dinner. He always wants everyone to come to the table, and won't sit himself until we either tell him, this is all there is, or everyone is seated. His desire for everyone to be there, mirrors my own. I always want everyone home. I always want everyone at the table, everyone involved.  

I cannot gather all my children as I once could.  Many of them are adults. However my son has no problem going to taking any of his siblings by the hand and leading them to the beach or to the table. He isn't about to be deterred by age or opinions. He simply wants them present. His simple desire for their company often brings them along. Sometimes, he calls and they come.  Sometimes, when they don't come, he seeks them out. 
All I can think is, "And a little child shall lead them," and who knows, he might.  He isn't interested in how they get to the table.  He's interested in who's at the table, and he wants them all.  It isn't full or complete or home without them.  

Who, not how.   He is warm, and he invites constantly, and never with words.   He trusts the invitation to do the work.

That's how we thaw, without words, always inviting.


Friday, June 23, 2017

Ten Signs of Being Properly Beached

10) There are no alarms.
9) You forget to check your phone or your email.
8) There are reported sightings of multiple children playing cards together or by themselves reading.
7) Lunch is diet coke and chocolate.
6) It also acted as breakfast, because you slept through. (See #10).
5) People take deliberate naps.
4) The Television is off.
3) Stalking the ice cream truck is a competitive sport.
2) Don't know what day of the week it is...not sure of the time...not sure why anyone would need to know this.
1) Offered a pina-colada.  It's not yet twelve.  

Monday, June 19, 2017

New Piece at the Register

It began as an intellectual response to a fellow writer's lament at rage being all the rage these days, it resulted in a piece over at the National Catholic Register.

The Gift of Being Bored


This is a really good article on the gift of boredom.  Now every year, we make what would seem to be a list in direct contrast to the counsel to let your children discover how to entertain themselves, but it's not. It's what I point to when a child says, "Mommmmmm. (and it's always Mommmmm), never Dad, and never with Mom being pronounced with fewer than three sylables.

So here's this summer's list.

100.  Read a book a week.
99. swimming lessons.
98.  play cards.
97. Camp out.
96. Go fishing.
95. make puzzles.
94. eat ice cream from the truck.
93. go to baseball games.
92. blow bubbles.
91. fireworks.
90. hike.
89. crossword puzzles.
88. firefly catching.
87. grow a garden.
86. attend the fair.
85. drive in movie
84. Game night.
83. barbecue --perfect the brisket!
82. outdoor concert.
81. sandcastles.
80. bike riding.
79. chalk drawing.
78.  play pool.
77. make ice cream.
76. water balloon fight.
75. capture the flag.
74. 5k.
73. go to the zoo.
72. aquarium.
71.  Ride on a boat.
70. ride a horse.
69. Stargaze
68. spend a whole day reading comics.
67. paint.
66. get rid of all the broken stuff.
65. picnic.
64. write
63.  Video game contest.
62. Guitar
61. Learn to cook something new
60. hammock time.
59. parade
58. camping in the back yard.
57. for four of them, get summer jobs.
56. for two of them, get fall jobs.
55. overnight trip.
54. shopping at the outlets.
53. paint nails.
52. build a rocket.
51. play wiffleball.
50. beachcombing.
49. rock climbing.
48.  Boogie boarding.
47.  Go-carts
46. Spend time at a farm.
45. make jam.
44. Volunteer with some place.
43. Go to the library.
42. Go to an art museum.
41. Go to the park once a week.
40. Civil War battle grounds.
39.  The Washington DC monuments.
38. Go on a Roller Coaster
37.  Feed the ducks
36. International Spy Museum.
35. Air and Space Museum.
34. Winery.
33. See a horse race.
32. Visit Grandparents
31. Visit cousins.
30.  Throw a party.
29. Write a book.
28. Pass Praxis test.
27. Sleep in.
26. Get Learner's permit for Peter.
25. Paint a room.
24. Skip rocks.
23. Learn new pieces on the piano.
22. Apply for college/graduate school
21. Lemonade Stand
20.  Dance
19. Learn to skate
18. Learn to ride a two wheeler without training wheels.
17. Get hair done.
16.  Bounce House.
15.  Skateboard park
14.  Get to the gym
13.  Study for the SAT
12.  Take the SAT
11.  Audition for a play.
10.  Try out for Volley Ball
9.  Find new places in Maryland to explore.
8.  Make gumbo.
7.  Clean out garage.
6.  Weekly lunch with a friend.
5.  Read with my kids every night.
4.  Rock-band/Karyoke with the kids.
3.  Marathon Movie Weekend --watch HP or LOTR.
2.  Weekly Family Rosary
1.  Adoration once a week.

We don't have to get to all of it, it's just all there for the fun of imagining what we could do, with all this time we haven't yet spent.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Funny Thing When We Pray

The theme kept coming up in my head, about what it means to have awe of the Lord.  I'd seen it in the face of a person who fell to her knees in adoration.  It wasn't the gesture, it was the whole of her.  Just watching, I knew she held the Lord in her eyes the way one holds a newborn or a dying friend in one's heart.  Each moment amounted to an enternity of love flooding the air.

It's one thing to see it.  It's another to hold that grace yourself.  So I asked.

We'd been sitting in the front of mass lately, but today, we wound up near the back.  The kids tend to grow more restless the further back they are and sure enough, there were requests for bathroom breaks, casual interruptions to report so and so had shoes on the wrong foot, and someone else was bouncing their knees.  Try as I might, I felt the whole mass wash over me, up until the consecration.

When Paul walked up for his blessing, of his own accord, he put his hands together and he, like the woman I saw in adoration, came forward with a quiet reverence.  Like so many other answered prayers, it was right there.  Paul didn't have all the mess or distractions in his head or self conciousness, he simply came forward.  And all I could think was, "and a little child shall lead them."

Overthinking it Sherry.  Overthinking it.  Thanks again Paul.  



Saturday, June 10, 2017

Shower of Hope

For the uninitiated, searching for a person to repair stuff in your home is parallel to picking your spouse by throwing darts at the phone book. You might find a keeper. You might find an axe murderer. You most likely will find someone who won't agree to the matter. They'll come, they'll look at your most private room in the house, and it's a tad insulting when they won't even take your money to get the job done.

The first guy I brougth to the master bath to examine the... shower chatted me up. I think he saw how big my family was and wanted to impress. He talked about the fifty year reunion with all his brothers and sisters. He told me how he'd been around the area and his family had for over one hundred years. He told me he'd write up an estimate and get back to me next week after the reunion. I'm guessing his blood line was hit by a plague or wave of Klingon warriors, because I never heard a word afterwords, and I even called and left a message. 

Nothing. 

You'd think I would have read about it in the paper.

Undeterred and still having tile in the shower held together by duct tape, I tried again. I'd gone to a tile shop to ask about what to do. Our shower is circa 1994. No backer board. Could I DIY? A gentleman introduced himself, explained he was the guy to do the job. I took his card. He made an appointment and showed up early.

After looking at my shower, he explained he could do the job, but he couldn't rehang the shower. Right now, the shower door/fixtures work fine, but the tile is bad. He could fix it so the tile would be good, but the fixtures and door wouldn't exist.
"So I'd still have only half a working shower, which would mean I'd still have a broken shower, but I'd pay you for the trouble."
"Yes. I'll write up a contract and email it to you."

I asked if he could get someone to finish the job. He said yes again. I entertained hope. But a week later, no email, no phone call, no nothing. He took my twenty-five dollars and left. I feel soo used.
So I'm back in the hunting season again. Trolling Home Depot like a barfly hoping for a quick fix. This time I'll be smarter, wiser, faster. This time, I'll get them drunk first and I won't let them leave without the equivalent of a pre-nup.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Juneitis

Residents of Maryland know the Governor of our state decided school should not start back up again in the fall until after Labor Day.   However, he missread the tea leaves which counseled him about altering the school schedule.  What we really needed, was to end school at Memorial Day Weekend.

The freshmen tell us, they're fresh out.
The sophomores are acting, sophmoric, and the juniors tell us, they have junioritis, a variant on Senioritis, which has plagued high schools since seniors and any class time after March, was invented.

No.  They have Juneitis, a recessive seasonal trait encouraging within each human being, a desire to be like Phineas and Ferb, or at least have 104 days of summer vacation once pools open.   My own children are not immune.

Regina's holled up on a hammock reading her sixth book of Harry Potter.
John's pledged to use every lego in the house.
Faith and Marta are searching for a binge worthy summer series.
Paul thinks the only thing greater than Lego Batman is going swiming, and dresses with hopeful anticipation each day he finds his swimsuit.   These are the beginnings of Summer.  Rita and Anna are lobbying for afternoons at the pool.   Peter's gone on trail runs until sunset each day.  Mind you, they still have school, they just aren't taking it as seriously as they are the pursuit of summer.

I tried to think of a reason they shouldn't.  I can't.  Normally we make a list of all the things we want to do, but this year we didn't because instead, we've already begun doing them.  So I did the only thing I could do, scooped myself some ice cream, took over the hammock and read.   It's going to be a delicious sticky summer.  I hope we never recover from Junitis until September.  

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

They did it!

When they were younger, I'd tell them the cable's out, and change the code to the TV so as to cut screen time.   I've been known to hide the plug to the Wi-Fi on occasion as well.  So when the cable company which provides both the internet and television streaming on demand cut out, my children naturally presumed the culprit to be me. 

One thought the reason for the "cable outage" was exam week.  "You just want us to study."
Well yes, but no, I didn't do this, I promise. 
Another two thought, "This is just a ruse to get us to read or exercise more."
"No, but it's not a bad idea. After all, you can't do anything else." They went to stare at the box, in hopes maintaining a vigil would entice the cable gods to relent.  

Not that some of them didn't try.  One sought to play his DS, but without the link up to his friends DS games, it wasn't much fun. Another watched a DVD and for a time, entertained the masses with movies, but most of our movies now are digital, and they've grown accustomed to On Demand for any show, so not being able to access a show, vexes more than one might think it should.

The older ones ran  for the comfort of Netflix, but that doesn't work on a computer when the internet is out.  To prove it wasn't me, I spent an hour on the phone with the cable man convincing him that yes indeed, we did have a problem which couldn't be solved merely by turning the machine on and off or replacing the batteries in the remote.  The cable guy is coming sometime on Thursday between eight in the morning and eight in the evening.  He's said he'll call.  In the meantime, we're old school in all things.  

Come Friday, there will be channels again.  By coincidence, exams will be over.  I promise I didn't do it...but I may have to send my cable company a thank you note once the report cards are in, and file away the idea of having a seasonal outage whenever test taking rolls around.     

It's just, for the record, this time, it wasn't me. 

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!