Friday, January 28, 2011

Tipping Points

 There are moments when you simply must say "No mas."  Not "No Mass." "No Mas." 

My children volunteer to serve mass.  We used to be the go to people for the seven.  When we reached having seven, we bowed out and opted for the 8:30. (We like to go before all of them are fully roused and capable of resistance).

 Around that time, there was the proposal that the servers' families wash  the albs as part of their service.  I'm normally a go to home team kind of gal but this was not a burden I could manage.  Phoning the woman in charge, I explained that only if the church did not mind if the albs were never returned or came back pink should I be kept on the list for this duty.   My house remains alb free even if the washing machine never is.  

I learned something in that exchange, that sometimes, just because my tipping point is radically skewed, does not mean I cannot occasionally ply on other people's threshold for stress.  So when snow days wiped the schedule clean for the week, I applied my newfound wisdom over the phone in rescheduling.   

The receptionist at the doctor's for my daughter was indifferent as she languidly explained she couldn't possibly see me until two weeks from today.   Two weeks would mean I'd be on my own, I didn't want that but said, "Well, that's fine as long as you don't mind if I come with five children including a newborn." There was a brief pause on the phone.  Suddenly, there was a slot open next week when it would just be the one daughter and the newborn and me. 

At the car dealership where I get the 12 passenger serviced for free, showing up with a five, three and two year old plus being pregnant gets extra mechanics hopping on my machine.  Apparently hanging out with the happy meals and the kiddos in the waiting room makes the menfolk nervous and what would probably take an hour in normal circumstances gets done in doubletime.  I'm considering renting my offspring out for those who want to expedite cumbersome errands that no one, not even the people being paid to do the labor, enjoy doing sufficiently to do with great urgency.

So when the doctors speculated that the reason my mouth broke out in blisters after delivering my daughter was stress induced, I had to wonder, what about number ten was so much moreso than anything else that one might call stressful in my life these past few years. Then I realized, I would have had this infection three children ago, if only I'd agreed to wash the albs.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

One Week Later...

First, thank you Dan, (that wasn't static by the way, I really did mean to say you are an awesome brother).  Of course it's all due in part to my superior example as your older sister.

To everyone who has left comments sans "What an informative and interesting take on a very relevant subject..." by generic viagra, thanks for the well wishes. 

Anna Maria is very sweet and her features finely chiseled.  She is the smallest non-premie I've had and we all keep marveling over how tiny she is; and are enjoying the snow days and the deliberate slowness of the world that a new baby and six to eight inches of wet snow demand.

My mom corrected my memory; it was Saint Joseph's, not Saint Luke's --Saint Luke's is where Will was born. 

Every time I go to the hospital, I get to retell my whole health life story and it brings me more stories.   For those who aren't privy to my past, I was a 2 lb 11 onz baby myself back in 1966.  Every once in a while, I go to the grocery store and try to pick out a chicken to see just how small that was.   The intubation tubes back then were brittle by comparison with modern plastic catheters.  This was before medicine had that wonderful steroid that helps open the lungs and assist premies to breathe without undue stress upon birth.  The catheter came out at some point and in the haste of trying to re-stabilize me, the tubing probably broke my right vocal cord bone, dislocating it and leaving me with half the airway of a normal 2 lb 11 onz baby.  Think Swizzle stick for a snorkeling tube and you get an idea of how much air was getting to my lungs.  

The anestsisiologist present at my birth had taken to me and asked every medical professional, even flying to Boston to consult at Children's instead of going to a scheduled conference to determine what to do because I was retracting.   The decision was unanimous.  "Trache."   and so I was.   You know the part about staying in the hospital now until I was almost six months.   The tracheotomy stayed for 8 years.   I really never thought about it much until after it was taken away, you can't know what you never experienced so I never gave it much mind, it simply was.  

But there were effects left to linger from that experience, I learned to fish early because I couldn't swim.  I think I still love fishing more than swimming for that reason.   I remember the first week after I got rid of the tracheotomy riding my bike against orders from the doctor.  I know the bike felt faster and that I've never quite felt that flying freedom I experienced that day.   I have a larger scar on my neck because of it, but the memory of that moment is bigger.

But you start telling this story and there is always so much more than can be explained by a single blog entry or even a slew...because there's the fact that we went to a charismatic retreat when I was six and the participants prayed for my neck to be healed and that weekend was the first time my  mom was ever able to plug my trache up and have me not instantly turn blue.

Aparently I watched tv for a few minutes before deciding to go out and ride my bike.  My mom watched as I rode fearing I would collapse.  I didn't. Two years later, my dad took me to James Avery (Tx silversmith) after the surgery to get rid of the trache. I picked out a silver dove decending. He bought my mom a gold sand dollar pendant.  It has the date the trache was removed engraved on the back.  

To this day, I don't feel right if I'm not wearing my dove and I feel the closest affinity to the Holy Spirit.  It is like a wedding ring to my neck.

And all these little stories merge and reveal deeper patterns that one cannot see when one is in the process of being woven into other people's lives, they indicate the deeper tapestry envisioned by God when He loved each of us into existence.  As an amature weaver, I can only see some of the threads, but I know I've got to hold on to the 12 here and all the family and friends I've been given.

So when I told my brother "God is not Random," it was because my first nurse asked me about my Catholicism as she waited patiently for her boyfriend of five years who was also waiting for her, to find a new job so they could marry and he could provide for their family if they were blessed with children.  Having had a six year courtship myself, I knew how hard this is and then she peeled open, about how people don't understand but I could see the great beauty and gift she was revealing by her sacrifice and his, both showing great courage in a world that does not know the value of "waiting in joyful hope." It struck me as God's humor to give me a nurse living the theme we'd chosen for this year when I was feeling impatient about delivery.  

There is more, always more..there was another mother and two other nurses...will write more of it tomorrow.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Anna Maria Hope Antonetti

Hello Loyal Readers and Friends,

It’s me, Sherry’s brother, Dan. I’m the one who’s running the marathon, the one who lost the house, and Lord knows what else Sherry has told cyber world. …Did she ever mention the Lego incident between me and my little sister when I was seven? If so, I’d like to apologize publicly. If not, …it’s not worth discussing.

Today at Chocolate for the Brain, I am filling in for Sherry because she’s busy taking care of herself and the new baby, Anna Maria Hope Antonetti (great name, right?). Anyway, we have talked twice over the past week and she asked me to post for her. I don’t mind. I have always liked the role of guest.

The following is based on an interview I had with her just earlier today. As I am in Houston and she is in Maryland, this was done via bad speaker phone to bad speaker phone. Occasionally I was unable to hear her answers clearly. In those moments, I made up what I think must have been her answers. To help you decipher, I have capitalized the portions of the phone call wherein I simply had to make up what I think she must have said.

Me: So Sherry? how's it going?
Sherry: Well it’s Day 4 in the spa, but being stuck here is best for me right now.
Me: I’m sorry. The Shady Grove Spa?
Sherry: That's the name I have for the hospital. It's a place that guarantees I do no dishes, do no laundry, etc.
Me: I get it. Nice. So 4 days? Is everything okay?
Sherry: The Baby is fine. I can't leave until I get off some antibiotics. DID I MENTION THAT YOU ARE AN AWESOME BROTHER? …I don’t want to get into details about the delivery but...
Me: Please don't tell me anymore.
Sherry: You asked.
Me: Sisters are supposed to know what not to share with their brothers.
Sherry: Do you want to hear about the-
Me. No. Emphatically no. Whatever is the end of that sentence, I've already decided the answer is “no.”
Sherry: (laughs)
Me: …Tell me about the baby.
Sherry: Her name is Anna Maria Hope. She was born Thursday night at 8:27 in the evening, 7 lbs. 2 oz.
Me: Is that her crying in the background?
Sherry: Yes, that's her. She's a good nurser and she looks like a smaller version of Marta, because Marta was never this little. She's doing great.
Me: Marta was a big baby. I remember. I was there for that one.
Me: So who is at the house taking care of everyone?
Sherry: Well, my mother-in-law came to help before the birth. Between Marc and the oldest two kids, we have great support at home. Also Mom and Dad are there now and Aunt Joan will be here next week.
Me: Aunt Joan’s going to be there? Lucky.
Sherry: Don’t get jealous. Also, some good friends of mine are helping out: Gloria Rose, Maria, and Diane.
Me: So why Anna Maria Hope? It's a lovely name.
Sherry: Great story. Back in Houston, I was baptized by Sr. Anna Maria. She was working At St. Luke’s and I was stuck in the hospital for the first six months of my life. This meant Mom was too. One day Mom was complaining to the sister about how stressful it was to see me every day in the hospital, tubes attached here, there, and everywhere. Mom had been patient, but the doctors were so reluctant to release me. When Sr. Anna Maria saw Mom breaking down, she went into action immediately. Sr. Anna Maria went up to the top floor to talk to the hospital officials, she signed a few papers, removed every tube, and brought me to Mom. She put me in Mom’s arms and said, "Take her home. She's yours."
Me: Gotta love the nuns. They get things done.
Sherry: And Hope is just her name. We always try to give our kids their own name as well. Marc picked it out.
Me: That name is very appropriate. Anything else?
Sherry: We're both doing fine. I'll write when I get a chance.
Me: Do I get paid for this?
Sherry: As much as I do.
Me: Darn.
Sherry: I do have one thing.
Me: What’s that?
Sherry: Nothing God does is random.

The rest of the conversation went the way all of ours do -some theology, some worry, some joke, etc. Sherry will be home and posting very soon.

Anna Maria Hope Antonetti is a beautiful young girl. We are all so blessed to have her in our family. …She’s also so blessed to have so much life waiting for her back at the Antonetti house.

Anna Maria Hope,

Welcome to the world, kid.


Uncle Danny

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Never Make Plans That Far Ahead

I have come up with nicknames for this little girl who likes to set her own schedule.

After two days of induction medicine to no effect, the daughter who is making me wait...making me waiiiiiiit is to be called Heinz. Now that I've got "Anticipation" stuck in your are a few other nominations for she who is to show up in the next week.

Bartleby the Scribner --as she has stated, "I would prefer not to..."

The Boss.   After all, she has clearly indicated that I am certainly not in charge.

Little in how big are the little changes?  In typical understatement, Gigantic. 

Hard Head...really, she's joining a family of stubborn people so can I actually be surprised?

Other things of note...
This morning, the first song on the radio set the theme for the day....Should I stay or should I go?

Her projected due date?  Jan 21st.  The readings for that day, choosing the 12. 

Okay, so the theme of the year is to wait in joyful hope.  So maybe I have to work on the joyful part now that I've been sent home for being far to comfortable.  Apparently going to the hospital is way to relaxing for me.  It's much too stationary a situation given my normal life and labor in this case will only come it seems from returning to my daily labors.
I'll keep you all posted.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Taking the Week Off...


with Anna Maria Hope scheduled to be induced on Monday and my computer still languishing over at Best Buy with the Geek Squad awaiting final reformatting, I am taking this week off.  Probably, I'll think of seventeen plus things to write about as a result but in the meantime, know I'll be back and promise to post pictures now that I have the tech support of my two oldest daughters who excell at this sort of thing.  


Saturday, January 8, 2011

File under Don't Ask....and Please Don't Tell Me

Today, I went to the freezer in our garage and found a bag.

In the bag was a blue balloon.

The balloon was roughly the size of a 3 pound chicken.  It was inflated but flat on one side.  I touched it and found it was rock hard.  Some child had filled the balloon with water.  It had half frozen and then popped leaving the shell of the balloon covering a block of ice with water cupped within.  

I have an idea who.  I have no idea why.  

I have decided ignorance is best in this circumstance.  

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Motivation for the Marathon (Guest Post by my brother Dan)

My family and I are slowly losing my father to Alzheimer's. It is very hard to see the man, whom I have always revered as one of the smartest I've ever known, gradually forget his own history.

Luckily for all of us, Dad still has his quick wit and ready smile. Despite the disease, his Irish charm shines through whenever company arrives, he holds a grandchild, sits with Mom, watches Notre Dame win, or sings a song. I pick up the guitar, we play a Kingston Trio song together, and suddenly the world makes sense. We have Dad.

However having lost my grandmother to this degenerative disease back in 1997, I know there are tougher days ahead. There will come days when Dad forgets the words to the songs. There will come days when Dad forgets more than that. Despite the wonders of the patch, and other equally impressive medicines, this disease cannot be stopped.

Alzheimer's worsens over time. A progressive disease, the symptoms only increase over years. In the earliest stages, memory loss is mild. With late-stage Alzheimer's, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment.

According to the Alzheimer's Association website, 5.3 million people are currently living with this disease. Additionally, there are over 10.9 million unpaid caretakers at work with these patients. These are the wives, husbands, children, neighbors, and colleagues who give of their time, talent, and treasure.

So for my mom, a caretaker of my grandmother and now my father, I run.

For my brother and sisters, who love Dad as much as anyone ever could, I run.

For Dad I run.

There is no cure ...yet.

And just so you know, I plan on putting in that much more effort on the 26.2 mile course for every 100 dollars I can raise. (If you could see me right now, you'd know that my arms are extended really wide to suggest the level of extra effort I will give. ...They are really stretched).

For all those families dealing with Alzheimer's, you're in my thoughts and prayers.


Dan Green

If you see me running by, feel free to scream all words of encouragement you have. Here are some suggestions:

"GO GREEN GO!" (Watch out for saying it too quickly and making it sound like "Go Gringo!" People might find that offensive.)
"Dan the Man" (It will be on my shirt)
"Go Badgers!" (Spring Hill)
"Ruined for Life!" (JVC)
"Go St. Thomas!" (Work)
"Yeah Beaumont!" (hometown love)
"Sr. Verde!" (for my Spanish speaking friends)
"Look out! There's a mad man behind you! RUUUUUUN!" (just to see what happens).

SISTER'S NOTE: To donate to Dan's run for our dad:


Too Much Today

The Westboro Baptist Church protesters are out in full force today at my son's school.   Having given them the courtesy glance over their very accusatory website with the posted schedule of where they will protest next, they essentially argue that this is "tough love" for their Catholic brethren (my words).   I only can say that one day, when they and I are both in purgatory receiving the necessary consequences of our failures to love and to act as we ought, with full charity in all things big and small for all peoples, big and small, God will respond, "Me too."  In that searing moment we will grasp for the first time what absolute justice and absolute mercy and absolute love all in one means and see by how far we missed the mark and wonder at our own blindness when the opportunities to be lights were everywhere at our fingertips during our lifetimes.

No matter our religion, we as individuals all labor under the misunderstanding brought on by our own fallen natures that we somehow have a greater grasp on the infinite mind of God than all that came before us and all that are here now.  It is a spiritual narcissism that gains the upper hand once we come of age and that all must battle ruthlessly unto death or be consumed by our own darker more narrow or less truthful vision of God.  Even the Apostles spoke of testing themselves to see if the spirits were of God or fallen; Even the disciples on the boat after witnessing the feeding of the 5000 with 12 plus baskets left over from the five loaves and fishes, misunderstood what they had experienced and sought to have an exclusive understanding of Christ, apart from the rest of the crowded masses who had pressed to hear Jesus speak.  Saint John tells us, their hearts were hardened as all of ours become when we fail to recognize the absolute gift nature of all grace; be it understanding or mere witnessing of a miracle or the opportunity to illustrate courage or the desire to speak truth to others.    

So I told my son to pray for them and simply go about his day and I hope that is what happens, that they come and hold up their signs and the men of my son's school, act as men and simply pray for these people who come to hold up angry signs at their doorstep.   Show the charity that we would wish they would have.  It would be a greater witness to speak silently with love than to engage in clever retorts; as to do so would give credence to the people with the hateful messages by placing them on equal footing in a debate type scenario.  

Looking at all this, I am grateful God does not weary of all of us in our desires to gnash our teeth at each other because admittedly, it is my first instinct and I'm sure that of many in this situation.  Thank God He Loves us infinitely and understands our great littleness and all our willful blindness better than we do ourselves. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Expert is In

I admit, as a child I identified with Lucy Van Pelt far more than one ought.  I understood her need to occasionally just be crabby and bossy to her younger brother.  Those cartoon hits "POW" were emotionally satisfying.  My younger brother can testify to this reality as well.  Lucy was many things, but always passionate about her own opinion, the Cartoon Patroness of bloggers so to speak. Theoretically, I've matured since then but there are moments when I backslide.

My current stash of knowledge and expertise generated from 44 years on this earth, a Master's plus and independent study seems absent some sort of creative campaign with bells and whistles, insufficient to lure my offspring into 1) seeking my counsel 2) sticking around long enough for me to say something and 3) following through.  

For example:

Yesterday, my eight year old came to me and said, "My stomach hurts."  I looked her over, suggested putting on some less restrictive sweatpants and maybe lying down.   Five minutes later, she complained again, but her attire indicated no adjustments had been made.  I gave the same advice.  She then marched over to the TV, sat down and said, "It feels better now" only to then dramatically groan when her sister came to sit down and explain, "My stomach hurts." all over again.   

Two weeks ago when school let out, I asked everyone to clean out their backpacks of all food, paper and stuff on the first day home.  I explained why.   I called everyone to the kitchen with a trash can at the ready.   Yesterday, if penicillin still needed to be discovered, I would have been in business.  

When I spent three weeks organizing people's drawers, I created a system.  I briefed each child on the system to make sorting and putting away clothing a breeze.  Let us just say, a tornado ripped through the system and we are starting over.   

So I have to acknowledge that Mom's counsel however sage --brush your teeth, study in advance, practice practice practice, lay out your clothes the night before, write it down, make a list, set your alarm...gets lost before it ever graces the eardrums and I need a new medium for conveying all that it is my obligation to impart.    I am thinking of hanging up a sign over my door, "The Expert is IN" as a means of gaining street cred with my children. 

Alas, Lucy's approach of saying, "You Blockhead.  Five cents please." won't assist in this matter however cathartic it might seem to feel in the moment anymore than the recriminations, "Did you study? practice? plan? Call? Think? Clean?  Look? Try?  Remember?"    

Somewhere in the morphing from child to adult, from adult to Mom, I became Charlie Brown and now spend my days believing I can kick that football if only I try once more.  Except I'm tired of running and falling on my back and saying, "AUUGHH."

I miss being Lucy.   So I'm hanging up a sign.  "Homework Help  5 Cents."  with an IN and an OUT sign.  Novelty will get me at least a dime's worth of their time, which is more than I can muster now with cookies and milk.   If nothing else, when they don't listen, I can charge more and explain, "You get what you pay for."  

Saturday, January 1, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday

1.   Happy New Year!  It's 2011!

To everyone that visits, may this year bring you good health, peace in your hearts and home and unexpected joy.   Every year my husband and I chose a prayer theme for the year.  This year's selected phrase is "Wait in joyful hope."   Fitting as we're in the final weeks until we see Anna-Maria.  

2.  Conversion Diary  Saint Generator

Yesterday I mentioned that this would be a year of getting to know Saint Valentine.  I promised to explain more.  Jennifer over at Conversion Diary --creator of this little Friday exercise, developed a saint generator.  As a lurker and sometimes participant, I saw the saint generator and thought about it but didn't push the button. Then I saw a link again when I was over at First Things on the Anchoress. I decided to try. I got Saint Valentine of Rome. Feeling vaguely disappointed, like oh, I already know this saint....I scanned his biography but didn't give the matter much thought.

Two hours later, my second daughter was helping in the kitchen and explained out of the blue, how she loved all the celebrations at her school except for Valentine's day. I asked why. She said, "It is just an excuse to give paper and candy, it doesn't have anything to do with the real Saint Valentine." I knew right then and there I needed to go back and start to know this saint better. God doesn't do random.

Now as you know, my middle daughter has struggled with double vision since November. We have been scared out of our minds about the possibilities --cancer, tumors, stroke, blindness, diabetes, you name it, and had all sorts of tests to try and determine the cause but to no avail. We also had her eyes tested in November and December and visits to a Neurologist and were in the process of trying to bang down a door for an Educational Psychologist on the theory that she might be seeing things that weren't actually there. All we ever got was "We don't know. Let's do more tests."

However, they had asked that this week, I take her back to the eye doctor and lo, they were finally able to address her vision properly and now she has glasses that correct her vision and her handwriting which had deteriorated to the point of being illegible is beautiful. She is 8. She fell asleep the last three nights reading. I can't tell you the last time that happened. It was a great joy to me and a blessed relief.

I went back to reread the story of Saint Valentine and the part about the daughter of the jailer being cured of her blindness leapt out at me. I had not seen it or taken it in before. Again, the non randomness of God struck home.  Here's the link for the Saint Generator if you want to try it too.

3. How Am I doing?

With less than twenty days to go, I have to tell you, of all the months of pregnancy, I hate the ninth.  It goes on forever, nothing is comfortable, I feel as big as a house and tired of being as big as a house, no one fits in my lap and there isn't a way to sit or stand without feeling just the sheer weight of being.  It is the only time I get really grumpy about this condition.  Honestly, if I thought jumping up and down would be a safe way to get things going, I'd take up jump rope on a trampoline.    But I'm fine really, just impatient.

4.  Setting up for Christmas was ....easy.

We now know how Santa does it.   Having four additional elves in on the deal made for swift work in the wrapping department.  Normally, we wind up working well past 3 to give everyone a joyful and lavish experience.  This time, all lights out and bed by 1--a land speed record by our standards given that we traditionally don't start on this until Dec 24th.   Now, how to streamline Christmas (Epiphany) cards.....

5. Date  Night --reestablished...needed my date to be home for it to actually work.

Saw True Grit.  It was good.  It's been a long time since I saw a "grown up" movie.  It made me hopeful for more good cinematic fare in 2011.  

6.  Resolutions. 

I make them.  I make my kids make them.  I make them for my kids that don't make them.  They will be posted on our refrigerator as encouragement to all.  

7.  Today

Making black beans and rice (with ham bone) in a slow cooker today, also venison chili in  a regular pot.  As an added bonus, I'm taking my oldest daughter shopping for a Winter Dance dress.  Hoping we will find something we can both agree on and without multiple stops.   Wish me luck. 

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!