Friday, November 30, 2018

Over at the Register today...

This was a nice surprise.  Think I'm averaging about 50-50 at the moment.   Parenting is Not About Winning, but Winning them over.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Letter I've Sent...

Dear Bishops of the United States, 
(I've sent it to my archdiocese)

I am writing to you about the humanitarian crisis already in progress at the Southern border of our country and asking you to consider inviting each diocese, to be a witness to all the powers and principalities that currently ignore the sufferings of those caught in the crossfire, who can neither flee, nor find safety, shelter and peace, of an alternative to both war and ignoring their suffering. 

At the border of Texas, there is a tent city full of children, and there are many stories in the news, about caravans of refugees seeking to come here, seeking asylum.   We need to recognize that these people are pawns in a political game and opt not to be drawn into the trap of ignoring the good we could do, as a price for gaining some other good.  Spiritually, we must remember, we cannot bring about a good end, by an evil means, or a just outcome, via sin.   We must not ignore suffering, and/or willfully cause or enable it by policy or neglect of enforcement of said policy.  
If we remember, back when war with Syria seemed inevitable in 2013, Pope Francis asked the Church to pray and fast for peace.  Somehow, the war which seemed unavoidable, evaporated...overnight. Perhaps it is time to make that request again, and this time, add alms giving in the form of each parish taking on a family.  


Perhaps the Pope could ask all of the Church to do the same, and then our fellow Christians and Muslim and Jewish brothers and sisters to each take on a family at each church, each mosque, each temple. Collectively, we would be able to whittle that picture of endless despair down, and perhaps help prove there is another way to address "such relentless hate." Indifference, like hate, can be countered by "riding out to meet them."  Problems aren't intractable just because they're difficult to resolve. Problems remain intactable because people refuse to be moved or to move.
We don't have to solve all, but we could start by each parish adopting a family, and bringing them here, and giving them refuge, room in the inn. It would be a sign to the world of how we can do something other than nothing and better than imprisonment/indefinite detainment and impotent violence.  It would require of each of us, both as individuals and as a Church in each diocese, is embracing the cross.

 Somehow, we have to know, if we are Catholic, everything always requires sacrifice.  Part of why the church struggles now, is it keeps trying to preach the Gospel without the cost, without suffering, without willful sacrifice. We all know, the only way to the resurrection, is through the cross. The Gospel is a story of sacrifice, of love, and we cannot preach a Gospel of love if it requires nothing of us.  Love always requires everything of us.   That's why (given our fallen nature), it's difficult. 

Somehow, we have to know, peace isn't the merely absence of conflict.  Anyone who ever had a silent fight knows how a house feels when two people aren't getting along.  On a global scale, we can't know peace when we wilfully ignore suffering so as to "get along."
What we keep forgetting, as individuals and whole peoples, is when we ignore a problem because it is hard, it gets bigger.  It's true with weight. It's true with debt.  It's true with education. It's true with politics. It’s true with sin, it’s true with scandal.  It's true with everything that matters in life.  When we ignore problems because they are difficult, we eventually wind up ignoring people.   

Right now, some diocese are coordinating aid to help some, but we need to speak with one voice, to remind the world we can be a potent source of warmth, light, hope and love, and that we’re more than we’ve allowed ourselves to become. The Church, acting as one, despite being many, could do this.

Risk is always involved when we reach out to a stranger, to an other, whenever we offer love but to do otherwise, is indifference (which is the simplest path and what we've done as a world whenever we thought we could).  We've tried indifference. It has lead to where we are now, with countless people including children searching for room in the inn of the world. It’s time to lead the world and remind them, we are called to be far better, and we can with God’s grace, make the world ache less.

So please Bishops, imitate what you want done, and beg us to follow.  Ramp up your prayers, fasting and alms giving, storming Heaven, asking for the peace the world cannot give. If we show we are not living as this world would have us, but as the next, perhaps we can have better pictures and better stories to tell.
I know, there are many who view any opposition to the existing political leaders as reflexive, and I hope you can sway their hearts that we're not supposed to be unflinchingly loyal to anyone or any party but Christ. 

I also know it may seem unreasonable to pray for peace when we are at present, such a conflicted country. How could it possibly happen? That's okay. God loves unreasonably. We can be unreasonable with God in our prayers, and God wants true peace for all of us, even more than we do. It may seem crazy to give alms when there are so many in need. How could our little be sufficient?  That's okay. Give what you can. God will do the multiplying. He's done it before.   It may even seem scary to take on caring for people of a different faith, people we don't know, and to invite them into our lives. It is. Again, that's okay. 

Love is always unreasonable, generous and courageous.  I believe, we are called to be an unreasonably generous and courageous loving people to this large crowd of people, all bearing Christ’s face in distressing disguise.  Please.  Lead. 

Sincerely,

Sherry Antonetti

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Overstuffed...

Today, there are three boxes of ornaments on the couch, the game is on, five kids played cards while two are on the computer, one went to the movies with friends and two are napping.  Everyone rotates through the kitchen scrounging for a steady stream of turkey sandwiches, stuffing, apple date cake and blueberry pie.   There is a stack of recycling, three milk cartons, two OJ, three diet cokes, two root beers, five waters and a sprite, not to mention Saturday's paper, five cardboard boxes from packages and a three inch thick stack of Christmas catalogs from Friday which needs to be taken out.  A barbie and fifteen teddy bears grace the couch and giant Jenga blocks in a Stonehenge formation adorned with dinosaurs create a walking hazard in the dining room. 

I've not ventured up or downstairs, for fear of finding out more.   I have two loads of laundry to fold and sixteen shoes I see which need to be put away so I retreat to my bedroom to the computer. No one is seeing anything.  Everyone is content and full.  Real life will start up again soon, but for now,  the Christmas carol station competes with Spotify disco, and books, games, movies and balloon dances trump homework, housework and schedules.   

I am overstuffed with joy, all of them are home.  There have been dances and paper books created, jokes and pranks, impromptu song fests and dancing, balloon cheerleaders and emergency runs for milk, bread, pie crusts and apples. Someone is making homemade mac and cheese. Another kid is experimenting with hot chocolate. They're also going for track practice runs, signing cards and decorating for Christmas.

It is a necessary rest in between the ordinary and the more that is to come, what with Christmas, exams and other things.   Every minute feels both wonderfully endless and fragile.   I polled the kids about going to evening mass and they opted for Sunday at nine, to let today continue to spool out uninterrupted by going out.  The weather echoed the idea, with huge soaking cold rain from four o'clock on.   So we played more cards, moved along a wash and emptied a laundry basket, looked for dresses online and started new games. My daughter set up the Nativity set for Christmas, and we watched the football and quizzed me on baby animal names.  I learned a baby oyster is called a spat, and a baby platypus is called a puggle. I read a book. 

Such a day...overstuffed with peace.  It's a great day to be here, to enjoy all of it, to be present, and to allow time to spill out like water.  It is a grace and a gift. 


Thursday, November 22, 2018

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Culinary Free Radical

If consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, my brain is officially gremlin free. At least, it is with respect to all things in the kitchen when Thanksgiving rolls around. 

Sometime back in my formative years, it got stuck in my psyche that making a dish the same way twice was some sort of cheat on the cooking experience, both for the eater and the chef. Like tracing a picture or violating copyright laws, repeating a meal was a less worthy, less creative endeavor than inventing a new one. I’d make a cake from scratch. People would say, “Hey, that’s delicious.” And I’d never make it again. Even if someone requested a specific recipe, I’d have to add a little something, so it would never be exactly the same. For example, after the first time of making pumpkin pie and getting rave reviews, the next time I added a touch of apple slices, just to make it different. That didn’t work very well. 

Thus, as an adult, it has been a source of vexation to have to serve the same meal day in and day out to meet the demands of multiple palates with a minimum of refusal. My children would be happy with bagels with butter for breakfast, peanut butter for lunch, and pasta and carrot sticks for dinner six days out of seven. So when the fall High Eating Holiday season begins, (Thanksgiving to January 1st), I set my cooking muse free. She starts with the basics: turkey, cranberries, potatoes, green beans. Then, the tweaking gets serious. Unfortunately, with only two months to express herself, my inner artistic chef does not handle her newfound freedom responsibly. 

First, the stuffing needed mushrooms, sautéed in butter and maybe a touch of wine. She added all the other ingredients, onions, peppers, celery and thought, you know, we could chop a bit of other vegetables and emptied my veggie drawer in the process. What about a little garlic or ooh, chicken broth in those potatoes? Yeah! Now we’re talking. You know, we could boil those green beans but what about braising them with a touch of balsamic vinegar? Then they’d be special! No dish can go untouched and multiple trips to the gourmet grocery store ensue. 

The problem with trying to out Martha Stewart the Food Network is two-fold. 1) No one can afford my foodie cooking habit, and 2) No one eats it. One time, I found a cranberry dish I thought was cool and made it, but everyone looked at it and an emergency run was made to the grocery store for those round shivery red discs instead. Over the years, I’ve submitted cooked pumpkin slices with onions, cornbread stuffing and all manner of pie to make each Thanksgiving “just a little different.” I even flirted with ordering a fried turkey. 

Each year, the response has been about the same, the kids take their slices of turkey plain, their boiled potatoes mashed, their green beans with a dash of butter, pop-n-fresh rolls and disc of cranberry Jell-O. I’ve pointed out we could get the exact same meal at the local hospital. I saw hopeful eyes glancing towards the car. 

To cope with my need to experiment, each of the children plus my husband have taken ownership of a different dish at Thanksgiving to ensure that nothing remotely resembling the caramelized carrots with parboiled brussel sprouts in a reduced vinaigrette ever makes its way to the table ever again. They’ve put me in charge of dessert, where I’m allowed to make one outlandish item provided real pumpkin and real apple (not merged) pie remains on the menu. 

This arrangement worked last year. 

“This pumpkin chocolate chip bread is awesome Mom.” 
They love it. There’s not a crumb left. 
“Wow!” 

Don’t ever expect to see it on my table again. Maybe if we add cranberries, chopped dates, toasted pecans…then it would be special.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Over at the Register

It's been a while, but here's a humor piece I did because sometimes, the world just needs a little lightness, a dessert if you will, in the midst of a desert of unpleasantness.   It's why I started writing humor in the first place. 

I hope you enjoy it. 

The Evil Parenting League of Evil Taking Applicants.

In other news, I tried my hand at Editorial Cartoons this week, and one was accepted. The other, at a different market, is still pending. 

If you're wondering, where in heck is Small Success Thursday, the answer is, I've taken a break for the time being, as there's just too much going on in our house to do it justice on a regular weekly basis.  (I've got five kids in a play after Thanksgiving).    It doesn't mean I'm not counting my blessings, just I'm not writing up a set up every week. 

I am still writing. I'm still reading. I'm still editing. I'm still working at a school, and yes, still trying to manage all these people's lives.  I'm just trying to streamline what I do and when I do it, so that I'm not quite as overwhelmed.   Trying to squeeze in some exercising, reading, practicing music, writing letters, and the ordinary stuff like making dinners, reading to my kids, cheering at their sports/activities, and getting an occasional night out.   

--Love to you all, thanks for stopping by. 

Friday, November 9, 2018

For Posterity

Having written this blog fitfully but faithfully since 2007, I can safely say, much of the chaos of childhood for many of my children, has been recorded here for posterity.  They will know the reality of their growing up, even if they do not remember it as such. 

One thing blogging does for a person, is give a sense of perspective. I can look back and determine, "Haven't we done this before," and trust to my own testimony over my own memory. 

So when my youngest lamented over the apparent uselessness of math, I could show her, a long line of brothers and sisters who complained before her, survived second grade and went on to handle even more complex mathematical equations.  She took the news harder than one might have hoped, seeing the past performance of her siblings as proof her complaints would be noted, logged and ignored.  (She's not wrong). Math would indeed, go on being assigned despite her displeasure. 

"Some day." she warned, "I'm going to write  a blog, and prove to the world that no one needs math." 

The problem with having nine older siblings is, at least one of them at any given point in time, longs to prove you wrong, and has the psuedo data to do it. Sure enough, three siblings immediately launched into a vigorous defense of all things math, sternly warning her of the need to become proficient in basic facts.  They touted their own experience, all the times they did well on tests, and as an added gesture of sibling kindness, offered to tutor her for the next test. 

I've helped enough of these kiddos with math enough to know, if someone else wanted the job, I'd be just fine.   What the helpful brothers and sisters don't realize is, she doesn't want the info necessarily. I know she can do all this math with her eyes shut.  She wants to be the author of a revolution, to eradicate the field of study.  Her older brothers and sisters are far too invested in the status quo to mollify her temper in this matter.   They enjoy the satisfaction of telling her, there is no third option.

They have not reckoned with Anna-Maria's fierce spirit. 

My money's on the revolutionary.   

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

It's Election Day and...

My children are discussing how soon it's legitimate to put on the all Christmas carols radio station. While the 24-7 Christmas cheese please music enjoys almost unhealthy popularity in my home, there are some who feel (quite strongly), it must wait until the day after Thanksgiving at the very least.  Normally, I side with the people with Christmas in their hearts, but Christmas creep has begun to weary even my spirit. Commercialism being the devouring beast that it is, determined this year's kick off on the local radio is November 17th. 

Some of my kids have access to Spotify, and thus the Whos start singing whenever the muse of Mariah Carey inspires. We've already had several impromptu concerts.  It's okay for a small shot, like an occasional ginger snap or hot cocoa before it's really cold, but the steady diet channels my inner curmudgeon and you know, if you complain or protest, it's almost seen as  a challenge...a dare...can I do this seemingly innocent/innocuous thing to the point of driving older siblings and my parents insane?

Answer...yes.  You can. You have. 

However, I promise you, if it is to be war between us, I shall win.  I have years of Christmas tradition to draw upon...to that end, I'm thinking...

1) matching Christmas sweaters with a mandatory photo, which I'll share on social media on their pages, twitter accounts...etc.

2) Technology is my friend...so I'm going to close out all but Christmas movies, paging Hallmark for an extra serving of sap and heart fluff from the cable package.   All their avatars shall be icons from classic films.  I'm doing it by pure randomness...so someone will get the Grinch, another Kris Kringle, another Herbie, and another Rudolph and Frosty. I'll also fix the ring tones. 

3) Christmas cleaning...because we have to make room in the inn, so everybody needs to clear things out... and I'll blast out the classical versions, the stuff that doesn't make it on the radio/hand selected play list...we shall out cheese them by singing along.   

4) Creating Christmas projects.  Yes, I'll ask the musical ones in my family to practice songs for performance purposes, to give to relatives.  They'll love it.  I'll ask the bakers to make cookies.  I'll make them peppermint and pumpkin everything until they beg for springtime fare like hot dogs and sugar cookies. 

5) Eggnog and fruitcake...and Christmas movies...I'm going to Thomas Kinkade the daylights out of these premature Christmas carolers in my home...until they cry uncle,

or at the very least,  want to go cold turkey. 

Happy Holidays! from the Christmas hearted not entirely evil genius parent they constantly underestimate.   Love, Mom. 

Saturday, November 3, 2018

How Do We Soften the World? 100 Ways to Make Life Lighter

100) Smile and compliment the people you encounter as you encounter them.
99) Give someone else the premium parking spot.
98) Write more letters.
97) Read a book to a child.
96) Put on beautiful music.  Kids right now into jazz, pretending the house is a night club, complete with flashlights acting as spotlights. 
95) Exercise (I know, but taking care of you counts too). 
94) Spend some time in prayer for someone you know needs it.  (It can be you). 
93) Plan a date. 
92) Clean a room. 
91) Recycle more than you planned.
90) Clean out a garden, so it's ready for winter. 
89) Give food to the local pantry.
88) Offer to carpool for someone who normally takes on the task. 
87) Vote.
86) Eat in, as a family.
85) Decorate for the holiday, will yourself into the right mood. 
84) Play a game. 
83) Find out what you can do to get involved in the local level about something of import. 
82) Comfort the mourning --by visiting a graveyard, calling on a widow, or sitting with someone who is facing a hard trial and just being there.
81) Volunteer at a school or a nursing home or hospital, make it a regular habit. 
80) Read the news, stay informed, push beyond your own bubble of understanding or preference. 
79) Turn off the screens when you go out with people. 
78) Turn off the screens when you stay in with people. 
77) Go to a museum.
76) Build a fire, spend the evening beside it. 
75) Purge your closet, donate what doesn't fit. 
74) Sit in adoration.
73) Invite someone out for lunch. 
72) Put cut flowers on the table. 
71) Wrap and mail a birthday present, instead of pushing the buttons through Amazon. 
70) Draw. 
69) Dance.
68) Take a family photo, get it developed and framed. 
67) Write family tree.
66) Write family history.
65) Institute family game night.
64) Have a monthly date night with each of your kids (I know, for me this would take up 1/3 of the month).  
63) Call your siblings. 
62) Call friends you haven't reached out to in a while. 
61) introduce your kid to a classic movie.
60) Vote.
59) Organize a drawer.
58) Tuck in your kids at bed time. Kiss them goodnight. 
57) Clean someone else's room.
56) Sign up for a clean up along a park.
55) Bake cookies for someone.
54) Visit a historical site. 
53) Listen to a free concert.
52) Text your kids, "I love you." They'll secretly love it.
51) Sing something from the radio, with everything you've got.
50) Plan a trip.
49) Spend some time out looking at the stars, finding constellations.
48) Bake breakfast, make it something special.
47) Pray a rosary for someone.  Send them a note letting them know.
46) Tip well.
45) fast for someone. 
44) Invite someone over to give them a feast.  (Maybe the same person).
43) fix something that needs fixing that you've been fixing to...
42) Support a local business.
41) Make a donation to a charity.
40) Plant bulbs for the spring.
39) Take a family photo. 
38) Plan a neighborhood pot-luck to meet your neighbors.
37) Be a good sport.
36) Practice listening, and asking questions, rather than jumping in...(I so need to work on this).
35) Do an examination of conscience, really look at where you fall down.
34) Be unafraid to speak. 
33) Call your folks.
32) Thank a teacher of your kids.
31) Plan as a family to spend a week with no take-out or fast food, donate what you didn't spend.
30) try something new.
29) Make a bucket list of your hopes/dreams/goals.
28) Make a list of the things that keep you from #29.
27) Compliment your spouse. 
26) Give someone a foot rub.
25) Do the dishes/chore whatever it is, without being asked, and without pointing it out. 
24) Make a list of gifts you hope to give.
23) Find out where the local shelter is for crisis pregnancies.  Call and ask what they need.
22) Write a letter to your representative/senator about an issue.
21) Apologize to someone.
20) Defend someone.
19) Remember all behavior is communication, so ask when something is wrong, angry, upset, loud or cruel, the why/reason behind the harshness...meet harsh with kind/clear, meet wrong with gentle correction, angry with kindness, upset with sympathy, and loud with quiet...it will melt more of what is wrong than anything else.
18) Take some time to rest.
17) laugh more.
16) reconnect with a friend you've lost touch with...
15) read a book to yourself.
14) write something for your children to read later.
13) practice music if you play an instrument, for fifteen minutes a day.
12) Make a list of your to do's you've been putting off. Pick one and do it.
11) Hug your children often.
10) Teach your kiddos how to cook something you learned that is a family tradition.
9) Be more generous than you planned when the opportunity presents itself. (With time, treasure and talent).
8) Be kind in real life.
7) Be kind online.
6) Be kind in what you say.
5) Be kind in what you don't say.
4) Be kind in thoughts.
3) Be kind in what you do.
2) Be kind in what you do not do.
1) Above all, in all things, to everyone, in every situation, be kind. 

Catching Up Again

Part of the problem of posting articles linking them to the blog, is writing when you've submitted a piece. You don't want to walk over what you already wrote, or to lose out to pieces but I have to remember, there's always more and trust that the more will reveal itself.  So, here's a link to my most recent piece over at the Register, on the Lessons from the Lives of the Saints (suitable for November 1st). 

I'll also take this moment to remind people to vote on Tuesday, and to consider when you cast your vote, the hard reality of this time we live in, which requires we stand up more than we'd prefer, speak up more than would be comfortable.  We don't get to sit in our hobbit homes and worry about doilies.  We must go out and have an adventure...and when we do, we will be changed.   So vote.  Win, lose or draw, hold the people given the reigns of power accountable.   Call them when you read about something that troubles you. Ask them to act.  Ask them to look into it. 

Read what people are doing, even if it frustrates you to read it.   Write to them. Write to the paper.  Changing the culture, the political climate of the culture will require more than righteous wrath, political fire, or emotional appeals. It will require logos, pathos and ethos, in addition to witness.  We cannot presume outcomes, nor should we presume all acts will be in good faith.  We must scrutinize the newsmakers and the news, the laws and the lawmakers, and weigh all of them with are they true, are they good, are they necessary. 

Irrespective of outcome, we must not despair of either the capacity of our country to do good, to be good, nor of our ability to affect the world.  Begin today with whatever moves your heart.  Share your five loaves and fishes and trust, God will do the multiplying. 

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