Thursday, October 31, 2013

Small Success Thursday!

And we have a new Logo!

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

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Starting Over

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 24, 2013

What NSA Heard When Listening in on 35 Leaders

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

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

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

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

7) "Can you hear me now?" 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Small Success Thursday!!!

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

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Blog Rosary

Today, I am doing a Blog Rosary.

What does that mean?

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Twenty One Years After The Stranger Baby Smiles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 18, 2013

7 Quick Takes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proof I'm a Mom...

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Educate Me

I was in such a good mood today.  I'd received a call from my sister-in-law about a treat for one of my sons, a visit with a long lost college roommate via the wonders of Facebook, I'd tidied up the upstairs, done all the wash except for the girls downstairs, and played blocks with my toddlers. My mom had called and I'd written 400 words on my WIP (work in progress) with an idea of where I was going. Yes, things were going very well until I clicked on a favorite blog to see the comment:

"If studies show (as I believe they do) that a grammar school teacher's effectiveness is decreased proportionally for each child added to her class of 20 students, why should we not conclude the same is true for parenting? Educate me."

Now my reaction is two-fold, Pastoral and Parental.  As the Parent, mama bear wanted to come out, maul the commenter, stomp around a bit, growl threateningly, and then ask the person which of my children shouldn't be.   

It hurt because it isn't like we don't spend much of our parenting energy trying to make sure to the extent humanly possible, they know solidly, that we love love love love love love love them all, and that we would crawl over broken glass for each and every one of them and fight off sharks and scale tall buildings and work until we are bones to provide them with what they need to live, to thrive, to know beauty, to know truth, and to have a deep faith and solid education.  

That being said, it's damn hard work and we don't always hit the mark.  Sometimes I don't have all the supplies we need, or the homework gets lost in the shuffle, maybe I could have read to this one more or we could have done more enrichment with that one. I probably shouldn't ever blow off Cub scouts, we've lost library books a lot of times, and yes we're often late and frazzled when we get there. I can continue the litany of self flagellation but you get the point.  The comment hits bone and blood of my heart.  

It is a constant prayer, because it is clear, doing this sometimes feel really feels forever impossible.  I ask God every day for serious help.  

Pastorally, I want to (as the person asked), educate.   How do I educate someone on the value of the infinite?

How many sunsets are too many?
How many flowers should cover a field?
How many stars should there be in the universe?
How many drops in the ocean?
How many smiles in a lifetime?
How many hugs?
How many birthdays do you want to celebrate?
How much do you want to love?
How much do you want to be loved?
How much do you want to serve?  
What would you give to love forever?
How many souls do you hope to love in Heaven?
How many souls do you want to love on Earth?
What is the limit of your capacity to love?
Can you love for more than a sprint, more than a million marathons? 
Are you willing to try?
Do you want someone to love you that much?   
These are my answers.  

If you're grading on if we have Ivy League bound and academic superstars, Olympic athletes and senators...not yet by the world's standard, but who knows what the future holds?  We do know we have smart talented beautiful people who care about each other, who think, who know how to serve, who know how to share, who know what sacrifice means, and who help each other out.  Some play musical instruments, some paint, some run, some do plays, some play softball, some read, some write, some are still discovering their talents.  They are children.  I can't explain except to say, love is not the same as education.  Love multiplies.  It never subtracts.  The grade is Heaven or not.  Love or not.  Not A's or not.  

And then I thought about each of them.

My oldest intends to become a teacher. Perhaps because he has been part of a family of many, he understands the degree of diversity in learning better than most. He's lived it.

My next oldest is deeply driven to excel.  We have never helicoptered. It is all her and she knows it.

My next oldest holds a gentleness that I marvel at, and credit with her having to open and reopen and reopen her heart, to share her family with her siblings.

My next oldest said his favorite family memories are when we all play together --football or races or something outside, but everyone, even the sister he normally likes to tease.  So even the seemingly lone wolf of the family, defines the happiness of his family, as all of it.

The fifth loves beauty. She holds regular salons for the younger girls, doing their hair, painting nails, and all come back inside all smiles. Hers is a nurturing sparkling spirit.

The sixth is a gentleman. He loves books and games and randomly compliments his siblings and family out of the blue, leaving the rest of us bemused, pleased and slightly puzzled as to what we did to merit anything.  He also shepherds his younger brother with a kind heart that echoes his father.

The seventh is a bright sunny smile almost all the time. She wants everyone around, and everything is a celebration.

The eighth is quieter, but fiercer in spirit.  She comes to me and gives great hugs when she senses I am stressed.

The ninth holds my heart tightly.  His smile is widest when he runs arms spread out to me from the bus.  It's a one tenth of a mile from the street up our driveway to the house, so it's a dramatic scene that brings a smile to everyone's faces, the busdriver and the attendant love it.  It is a favorite time of the day for me.

And the tenth, she is the exclamation point. She is fiery, she is funny, she guides her older brother and brings him along. He speaks more now that she is speaking.  They are best friends.  It is a special gift to him, for her to be here.

This is not to say there aren't dozy fights or colds that seem to hold on forever as they jump from kid to kid or messy rooms or lost books or forgotten assignments or endless laundry or bills. I sure wouldn't have said, I'd like to have to change diapers and pay college tuitions for 22 years each, but I do know, this is the genius of God, to give us a community to love and pull us out of ourselves beyond what we would have imagined.

Considering each of them as an island, they would benefit it is true if they had been the sole focus with respect to academics or athletics or whatever the specialized interest might be, but they are a nation, the whole of them, and what affects one, affects all.  They are family. They protect and love each other fiercely.  They don't always appreciate each other. (What sibling does?).   But when one is sick or one is hurt or one is struggling, there is a surge of alliance in the others.  They all sing full throttle at a birthday, even the ones who don't like the pink cake or the choice in frosting.  They go to each other's games and plays and they read each other's stories and celebrate each other's victories.  

I wondered if it sounded like self justification, except it isn't.  I know their talents are their own. Maybe they'd be more polished if there were fewer of them, but I wouldn't want the absence of any of them for more polished versions of the others.  

These are my children.  They are like my fingers.  I love and need them all.  

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Parading on my Reign

Friday was a hard day to get people moving.  I don't know why but every human being, self included needed the equivalent of a cheerleader hopped up on Red Bull with the strength of the Incredible Hulk to get their eyelids propped open.  When your teen drops into the bin of socks and starts to snore, you know it's not good.   I am a doggedly cheerful person in the morning and eventually got them marching.  However I crashed later and no about of diet coke was going to work. So I put on a DVD and let the two youngest watch UP with me in hopes all three of us would nap.  Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.  Slow clap if you wish.  It was a dumb bit of optimism on my part.

What I should have done, is strap them in the van, drive around the block once with music on, and then parked in the driveway for a snooze.  However, the reality is, I didn't.  So I awoke to my toddlers planning a surprise picnic on our bed.  They had out the bread and the milk and the bagels and the grapes and cheese sticks.  It was messy and delicious and I had to vacuum my bed.  

The sluggishness of getting going continued to persist.  We had pick up at 2:45.  At 2:30 I was still searching for socks and shoes.  Getting them on everyone, I said, "Let's go!" in my most enthusiastic voice.  Paul marched out.  Anna refused.   She didn't want to go.  "Come on!" I cajoled.  "Look, your big brother is going. Paulie is going.  Look at Paul.  Don't you want to be like Paul? He's a good boy..."  She started to go out the door.  I hadn't checked Paul while I was singing his praises for going out the door.

He was sloshing through puddles.  I mean kicking up Gene Kelly Big Finish Singing in the Rain I can out crash the cymbals kind of splashing.   His sister had heard my appeal to be just like him perfectly.  Guess who followed suit?

I grab the two soaking wet toddlers but they're already beyond salvage.  Each will need a complete redo on the outfits down to the shoes.  They are soaked soaked soaked soaked.  I get them in the car and shut them in their car seats, making the car seats damp while I run back inside for fresh diapers and outfits.  I bag the extra shoes, they can be barefoot.  

But in my haste to get back to the house, I'd neglected the reality that I put them in each other's car seats.  Paul can escape Anna's.  So I'm zipping up the backpack and I hear HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HOOONNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNK! and I'm running back to the car to find my son beside himself with joy, soaking wet, drenching my seat and holding down the horn.  It is in this uncontrollable moment of pure chaos, that the rain begins to drop down as a solid sheet once again.

After I get them changed, dry down the seats and get them strapped back into the correct seats, I call my husband to tell him the whole story.

"At least they listened." he quipped.  

Friday, October 11, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday

1. So what did you learn on your week off?

I need to write. It helps me to deal with everything.  It also keeps my family and friends in the loop. It also helps me to keep my sense of humor.  The biggest problem with this blog business is I merged all of my types of writing to one format.  Humor, spiritual, book writing, on writing, politics, personal. The blog lost its focus over years and I let it, because it was the need to write more than the need to create a particular product.   However, having taken the week off, I found my funny bone again.  I'm not scrapping this blog, I think it is part of what makes sure I write, having an audience, having a place to place memories and material.

2.  What does this mean, are you taking another week off?

No.  I'm here. I intend to keep writing, but I've placed Small Success Thursday back over at where it belongs, I'll just link to it on Thursday.  I'm going to start submitting pieces to places that publish again --the Catholic Standard and the Catholic Digest and Catholic Stand, National Catholic Register, and I'm going to keep this place, a source of mirth on the internet.   I'm still writing Penelope, she's now at 32,600+words.

3. What are you reading?    Well, I just finished Rock Bottom Blessings, a beautiful life story about a woman and her husband and their growth as people and as a married couple as they faced the pain of infertility and the hardness of trying to adopt.  It was very enjoyable read.  Now I have three books on the side of my night stand, first is We Followed Odysseus --actual people who traced and visited every place Odysseus went as far as they could tell based on maps, currents, references, etc.  Should be fun, the second is 50 Major Plots, which I'm half through and starting to get bored with, but think it is probably important to finish, and the third is on my PC kindle, How To Defend the Faith Without Raising Your Voice. Just started so I'm still in the introduction.  Also received a nice email from Bettany Hughes, I wrote her about how her book Helen of Troy was instrumental in research for The Book of Helen.  She wrote back. Very cool.

4.  What are you doing?  Trying out the I can do anything for 15 minutes. I'm a believer.  If I set the timer, the house can be in tolerable shape in 45 minutes (15 per floor) and I don't hate life.   We're also trying (my daughter and I) the -5 rule.  I have a pile of 5 things to get rid of, today I will add 5 more.  She is too. We're both packrats of the wrong kind, so this is helpful. We've decided to do this for 30 days and see how things look at the end.  Where'd I get these two ideas?  Flylady and Real Simple.

5.  Exercising?  I'd say no, but my personal trainer pointed out what I said in #4 so I'm now putting down 15 minutes, and now because of #4, I've eliminated my excuse so yesterday I did 40 push ups.   (During commercial breaks of Dr. Who).

6.  What else is going on?   We're taking our second oldest to look at colleges.  Should have done this sooner.  Will hopefully one day get on the right schedule so it is less stressful. Her brother is going to take her around UMD today.   We also have to plan a birthday party for Rita and get an airline ticket for Bonnie so she can fly out and visit college #2 first week of November.  Busy.

7.  Goals.  I'm setting them for my children. (They don't know it yet).

Oldest: Not setting a goal for him, he's doing great, loving college, loving his major, really loving student teaching.
Next oldest: Finish applications.  All of them.
Next oldest: Make Honor roll by May.
8th grader:  Begin service project, get faster at speed round mathematics.
6th grader: Keep up fitness program and -5 program.
4th grader: Add 15 minutes of studying a night during the week, and once on Sunday --any subject, just to get in the habit.
2nd Grader: Chapter Books
1st Grader: Tie shoes
5 year old: Potty Training, Big boy bed.
2 year old:  Potty Training, toddler bed.
Me: Write 5K a week on Penelope, lose 17 lbs, continue doing all the juggling.   Don't drop any of those balls.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I Scream at Ice Cream

Wednesday, three of my middle children had after school activities. The high schoolers wouldn't be en route home until five o'clock.  Looking at the odd grouping I had assembled before me, the three youngest and one middle son, I hit upon taking the four kids to Cold Stone Creamery and ordering what I thought would be a treat, something they'd never had before.  

The theory of all things parenting promises infinitely better results than the reality.   I was reminded yet again of the non transitive property of food likes found most prominently in children.  They like strawberries.  They like whipped cream.  They like funnel cake. They like vanilla ice cream.  Purchase a strawberry funnel cake sundae for the four of them to split and amazingly, I went 0 for 4.

 That's right.  I tried to splurge and surprise the unusual set of kiddos I had in tow with a heretofore unknown treat and it was an epic fail.  Everyone presumes a mother of ten is an expert.  I promise you, the one thing I am expert on, is knowing based on the ice cream incident, that no matter how much I practice this parenting thing, I remain clueless. Not wanting to waste it, I tried to deconstruct said ice cream creation and got a few grudging bites from some, a sulky look from the first grader who went over and pointed at the chocolate covered caramel apples. Having already bought a treat, I said "No." This earned me her permanent scowl.  She went to stare at the chocolates.  

"Next time..." my son started to instruct.  My brain already shut down. I would not take this defeat without a fight.  So I kept trying to spoon vanilla ice cream into my youngest son's mouth. He'd eat it, and then spit out the funnel cake or the strawberries or the whipped cream.  How do you divide the ice cream from the whipped cream with your tongue I'd like to know!  Surrendering on the feeding, I did the only thing I could do, try to pick at the funnel cake ice cream and finish it.   It felt weird having one son scanning through the ice cream cakes for order, one daughter sulking at the candies, a toddler begging for the giant stuffed bear and another toddler who simply refused any bites but kept scooping it anyway to feed me.   It was time to leave.

As we exited, to complete the experience, my 5 year old dumped his shoes.  We'd formed a human chain to walk out of the place so I had the two toddlers by the hand.  Next to the street, I couldn't let go of eithers so I couldn't get the shoes.  I tried to hoist my son into my arms but he went boneless in protest.  I used a football hold and my other son grabbed the shoes but his brother was flailing for not getting the teddy bear in the store.  The daughter toddler took this opportunity to also go boneless such that I was holding her by a clenched arm and the other one under the arm.  

"Run for the car!" I shouted.  The car was locked but the older son ran over, grabbed the keys around my neck and pushed the unlocking button.

It was  a compelling instagram type shot. Mom drags shoeless Down Syndrome Boy out of ice cream store. I momentarily envision the news story feed.  The employee confided, "I thought there was something fishy about her.  When she was in the store, only she ate the ice cream."

Bad Parenting Police will be at my door in 3...2....1.  

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Small Success Thursday

The other day I dug out an old humor piece for a writer's forum.  I used to be funny.  This blog has had few spats of funny in between being a soap box and hopefully, a source of Evangelization in recent years, it's moved away from being a humor blog, in part because my children have grown older. They're no less funny mind you, but they are of an age in many cases, where it might seem to them that I am laughing at, rather than through the experience of raising them.  So I've curtailed my writing of stories about their lives as a result.  Something was lost in that decision, memories that otherwise would be remembered, but now only are as hazy background.  I've tried to start up again, but forced humor always sounds exactly that way, forced. I can write humor easily, but it started to feel more like a cry for attention than a desire to tell a story.  I say this because I wonder what I'm supposed to do with this blog that I've tried twice before to shut down, and twice before, I came back to with a vengeance.  

Writing is important to me.  But does blogging keep me from writing what is important?  I'm not sure.   I've decided to pray about this, and to take a week to fast from blogging.  Not much I admit, but I want to know, am I called to continue this little hobby, or is it time to stop.  I'll be praying to discern how God wants me to use this gift of writing and I do promise to return next Thursday, to tell you my reflections on the week without.   So my small success for today, is the surrender of this little corner of cyberspace for the next seven days.   See you October 10th.

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If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!