Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Thems' Fighting Words

 Ya know I am all for letting everybody have their say, especially when it comes to politics. Most of you know that despite my own strong feelings on various matters, I do my utmost to be respectful of the fact not everyone looks out at life though my eyes. I even think that goes for not bad mouthing our President and doing my best to tolerate the difference of opinions he and I have on all kinds of fronts.

But guess what ladies and gents- my tolerance has found its limit. That would be the HHS Mandate. In case you don't yet know what that is yet, it is a bill forcing all employers  including the Catholic ones to  provide contraceptives, (even those whose properties act as abortifacients). Let me clear of what that list looks like:
  •  Catholic Charities
  •  Catholic Relief Services
  •  Catholic hospitals
  •  Food banks
  •  Homeless shelters
  •  Most Catholic schools
  •  Most diocesan offices
  •  Catholic business owners

Essentially the Obama administration has told all Catholic institutions they must comply with his decision that they need to violate their conscience. In every way this is wrong. I am incensed and disgusted that any nation would push this rubbish on its citizens. Our great nation was founded on principals that support religious freedom among many other freedoms that are now being trampled on. As a caveat, he has given us a year to get used to violating our conscience. 

Well, I'll tell you this Mr. President. I don't need a year to decide if I am willing to violate my conscience. I don't need even an extra day. It ain't gonna happen

As a mother of ten children, who has faced down more obgyn's then I'd care to remember- I can assure you I have had my conscience challenged plenty of times. I have heard all my Catholic girlfriends tell the same story baby after baby. You no sooner finish giving birth than have the entire hospital converge at your bedside to offer you a chance to violate your conscience and push pills on you despite the fact that you clearly tell them it goes against the teachings of your church and your conscience. 

How bout a snip?
What about your husband?
Want a prescription?
You know how this happens don't you?
Are You SURE????

I did not make it through that gauntlet and come this far in my life to be told by my President that it is suddenly time for him to decide the teachings of my church can be 'legally violated'. Seriously? Do you really believe I will let your word prevail against Jesus Christ? 

And make no mistake about this, this is not the DEMOCRAT position. This is not the LIBERAL position.
Sean Michael Winters is about the most liberal democrat Catholic in existence and even he finds terrible fault with this position. I will not lump all of you good folks out  there with this one. I know you are probably just as disgusted with this as I am ( and if you're not well, you SHOULD BE!) This is so Anti-American I could just scream. I am starting to actually believe this guy was not born here with views like this!

Mr President, you are seriously out of line. And if its a fight you want, 


Monday, January 30, 2012

The Tipping Point

Last week I didn't know if I would make it out alive. I was soooo buried under mountains of work, and doing my best not to lose my cool over it. I was glad for the weekend and dreading Monday. BUT today something wonderful happened. I had a very productive day and managed to get all of my grading done to send out second quarters reports to my Home-school program. Things just started to click. Once I got the grading done, I started catching up on other things too and now I feel like I have reach that tipping point and we can begin to glide a little! I am so excited about that. The sense of relief is just phenomenal.

Don't you just love days when you start to get a tiny bit ahead?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

I'm in In Love with Another Man

Gosh, this is a difficult and personal post. How does one begin to explain a love affair with another man? An older Man? A more distinguished man? Who also happens to be a writer. And  a philosopher. And an educator.  I suppose the hardest part of this romance is that he is already....well....dead. 

C.S.Lewis has been one of the greatest loves of my life. Goodness, he has had a profound impact on my soul. I can still recall the day I opened the pages of Mere Christianity and had one of the strangest experiences of my life. It was  as if -as I turned the pages, I began an interior dialogue. I felt as if I was listening to, and speaking with C.S.Lewis. He would say something, I would mentally digest it and respond, and the next paragraph he would answer me. It happened all the way through the book. I encountered him. He was breathtaking. I was hooked. It was a life changing moment. Fred and I don't speak about this private aspect of my life. I am glad he has accepted it for what it is, as it would be a charade to pretend it could be changed. I try not t let it get in between us, but some nights I still find myself engulfed in his thoughts long after Fred has begged me to turn off the lights. 

I have read his fiction as well, and it is wonderful- but my favorites are his straight forward thoughts. There is simply nothing else out there like it for me.I could read his books over and over again. My friend Karen gave me a gift of  a book of his quotes which is about as thick as my Bible. I can have a fresh thought from him, pretty much any time I'd like. They are always wonderful. I used to post a quote on my facebook page each day, just because I so loved his thoughts that I wanted to share him with the world. Over time I sadly realized not everyone can have the taste I do for C.S. Although there are actually whole societies of people all over our planet who group themselves together and talk about C.S. Lewis regularly. But Jack ( the name he went by to all his close friends and family) and I are simply too close for that.

"You and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found  to wake us from the evil enchantedness of wordliness". 
The Weight of Glory

"A great many of those who 'debunk' traditional values have in the background values of their own, which they believe to be immune from the debunking process." 
The Abolition of Man

100 percent of us die, and that percentage cannot be increased
The Weight of Glory

A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist, cannot be too careful of his reading.
Mere Christianity(?)

I also had a surprising experience while reading Sheldon Vanauken's A Severe Mercy. The story was already great, but then I found he had included correspondences with C.S. that were meant only for Sheldon's eyes. It was a wonderful glimpse of him from a different angle. Especially because those letters were candid and unguarded. He never intended them for publication and so the glimpse is a pure one into his heart and mind.  He has had one of the greatest impacts of any writer and almost of any person on my life thus far. Love is the correct word for what I feel. 

Mortal lovers must not try to remain at the first step; for lasting passion is the dream of a harlot and from it we wake in despair. C. S. Lewis,  right you are Jack, right you are. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Twelve and Two

Today it was two fer one Birthday's at our house. Matty turned 12 and Sophie turned 2. Andrew took Matthew and Joe ice skating and out to lunch to celebrate. They had a blast. The big drama of the day came when my dear talented friend Sarah dropped off her masterpiece birthday cake for Matthew and Sophia. Matt has taken a shine to Sarah and so she wanted to make a special cake for his special day with an ice skating theme. As she left I found Mary and Sarah perched on top of the kitchen counter staring longingly at the cake. I scolded them for setting a bad example for Sophie who would not possibly be able to resist the cake if she could get near to it. 

Scooting them away I placed it gingerly on the furthest counter out of reach, and went back to work on the mountain of office and school  paperwork I had to finish. Within less then 5 minutes she had done it. Matt alerted me to the situation. I came in to find Sophie covered in blue icing and a missing ice skater off the top of the cake. She pulled a chair over and climbed onto the counter and WENT AT IT! I really almost, lost it.
I came oh so close, but thank God I was able to hold it together. I sent everyone out of the kitchen with my stern voice, and heard the scurrying of lots of little feet who knew there was trouble brewing. I did manage to fix the little girl ice-skater up enough to make it work, but am so sad I didn't first get a picture of it.Actually she looked kind of like she was sunk in the pond during an ice-skating session gone awry and Matt was rescuing her, but at least it was not simply a giant hole in the cake.  I am glad she didn't take a bigger chunk out of it or it would have been doomed. ( Michael did that to John Paul's birthday cake one year. he literally mangled the entire thing. THEN when I redid the cake, he went back at it again- same day- two cakes- finished. TRUE STORY!) 

In any case the cake still tasted awesome. Despite the skating accident. Especially after we swallowed down 4 pizzas for dinner. Pizza makes everything better doesn't it? Matt also was stellar in not blowing his top after wanting that cake so much. He has watched every episode of Cake Boss and picked Sarahs brain on how to make cakes for months now! He was sparkling with happiness when that cake arrived. (Ellen don't go back there- it done- phew)

Sophie was blissfully unaware she had caused any trouble. She managed to eat about 3 pieces of cake and also loved her new ELMO doll. (Hmm I wonder why she would have a liking for ELMO? Maybe it has to do with her little friend Baby A who loves Elmo too!) And, she is two after all, so it kinda fits how she should behave. 

All is well that ends well. Happy Birthday Matt and Lo Lo!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Zombies Revisted

Its been almost forever since I have updated you on the Zombie Apocalypse, but I assure you it is not because we are out of harms way. It is simply because I don't want to alarm all of you; since I know so many of you preppers are out there getting ready for the whole Mayan countdown. I am not big countdown girl myself. That whole "You do not know the day nor the hour" passage, keeps me safely in the dark to the actual world end date. However, Zombies are an entirely different story. You just never know when an infectious illness could catapult us into the nearest Wal- Mart for safety. I am afraid Paige and I will have to part ways over the whole Target vs. Wal-Mart issue, at least for now, as I address other aspects of the impending  zombie invasion.
Without blathering on, I suppose I should make sure you all have the latest information on zombie defensive weaponry. The hot debate currently in our house is whether or not nuclear tactics are more harmful or helpful in zombie military strategy. Peter thinks we need to build up our nukes to defeat the outbreak of zombie attacks worldwide; while John-Paul more thoughtfully points out that nuclear weaponry can actually spawn more zombies in a few cases, and therefore is to be shunned in its totality. *Clarification* ( he is leaning over my shoulder as I type telling me I am misrepresenting his views) He does not think it should be TOTALLY shunned, but he does not think it should be our sole method of advancement.
He prefers razor wire perimeter defenses, with strategically placed turrets around the home. Ideally, they would be remotely controlled. Claymores are a must have for John-Paul's cache. He also parts ways with Peter in defensive vehicle choices. While you might recall Peter is an advocate of Hum-Vee's with mounted weaponry, John-Paul believes Ferrari's with laser enhanced sighted missiles and reinforced ramming devices, would be more effective in exploiting the genetic weakness of zombies slow movement. He could be right.
I personally think it is important to stay open-minded about these choices- as once the outbreak begins, we will have to be willing to move quickly and decisively- but also not be so committed to one style of defense that we inadvertently box ourselves in. I would urge the same willingness to engage other perspectives in your own conversations. It could certainly lead to a better sharing of our mental resources , you know our 'brain power' ( pun intended) when the day arrives.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Happy Birthday Jess!

Hope you had a great day, even with a missing body part! Hopefully Alison let you visit with your organ. I thought of you today as I sat listening to Paul fall off his horse. Hmmm. There must be some mystical meaning to figure out there- don't you think? Anyway, I know you love good music and so here is a super cool song for your birthday! (And an entire blog post just for you? Whhhhatttt???? Clearly, you're special.) Boy can she sing. Happy Birthday to Charlie too!!! Xoxo.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Occupy Catholicism

Had a wonderful visit from an old friend today.Actually it was half a visit as John's wife was not along for the ride. Fred and I first met John and Lisa years ago while we lived in Vermont. We were on a retreat together and saw this younger couple who kind of snuck around and whispered to each other a whole lot. They stuck out for this in our minds, since-clearly- we were the only couple that were supposed to be sneaking around and whispering to one another. They seemed to have the same 'type' of marriage Fred and I had, only they wore hipper clothing. In fact there clothes were on the crunchy side. Looking back I can see the OCCUPY movement took their early cues from John and Lisa. It wasn't long before we struck up a conversation with them and found they could possibly be even more radical then we were in our world view.Early conversations were more like critical interviews where we sized each other up and made mental checklists on invisible report cards. Amazingly we had all the same responses. A match made in heaven. The four of us all seemed to realize pretty quickly too that we were about one decade separated from each other in life in all things. This had its advantages for both sides. It helped keep Fred and I cognizant of where we'd been, and gave John and Lisa someone to view as proof that they could survive for at least another ten years. Since we literally live a half a country away from each other- we don't get to spend much time together as we go through the thick part of life and so facebook has been a technological gift in that way.
Gotta tell you that John has a simply amazing story of how he came into the church. I could never do it justice here. Let me see if I can sum him up for you succinctly without exaggerating or embellishing too much. John is like the Jason Borne of the Catholic Church. He has the feel of a prophet when he speaks. He is currently living as a FOCUS missionary while raising 5 children. And ( not surprisingly) he is doing it well. He introduces college students to Jesus and keeps the presence alive at a critical time in their life. Trying to reach college students on a spiritual level is not exactly what I would call easy work and yet John is fully alive in that element. He also travels around the country giving witness talks on his conversion. Tonight Fred and I asked him to come back over and give a freebie talk to our teenage boys. It was impressive.
Lisa on the other hand is the string to this helium balloon.She is always holding fast to John to keep one of his feet firmly attached to the earth while he goes traipsing off to claim more room on this earth for heaven. She just had their fifth little baby Lucy and is homeschooling her brood like a champ. I don't think I ever 'just' see or visit with John. I always encounter him as a force in my life. A way to check my own gauges and how my own spiritual journey is going. He is a trustworthy person, and so very real.
How many people can you really say that about? What a gift.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Did You Figure Out Yet I'm Pro-Life?

I assume most of you have figured out from my Catholic, conservative, simply-unending-by-today's-standards family size that I am unabashedly Pro-Life. If not, well you're a little slow on the uptake. I think babies are people,and they should have rights. I base this on the fact that every time I have been pregnant, a person miraculously appeared from my body 9 months later. An entirely separate human being from myself. To terminate that life which I legally could have done, but never morally could have- would have kept one of my children from entering this world. And I don't think you need to argue with a woman who has spent approximately 90 months of her life puking over a toilet that pregnancy can be difficult. I got that one down pretty good. You also don't have to tell her that it can be life threatening- as I spent my whole pregnancy with Andrew ( he was my first ) on my back since I had a placental abruption and I was told I could easily bleed to death and he be lost any second. I got the danger part.
I also had 4 miscarriages and wept over all of them but one. The last miscarriage I didn't cry about at all. I had been 11 weeks pregnant when things started to go wrong. I finally went to the doctor after 11 days and he told me instead of doing an ultrasound and having to have me see an empty uterus on the screen where there once had been a full one- he'd simply confirm the loss with a blood test. The next morning he called and said "Get right in here" and lo and behold on the screen was a bouncing baby boy, and yes an empty sac next to it. I lost one baby, but kept the other. And I was so happy that I was still pregnant that I decided never to mourn for that other baby, and instead keep the memory alive in this other little child whom I named Thomas ( the name means twin).

Here is something else I will tell you. I know a few women who have had abortions. I know they are still very sad about that. I am still your friend and I love you and am so sorry, and I never forget you on days like today. I promise I hold you even tighter in my heart and am always here to listen if you need me, or give a hug.  

I also know some folks who support abortion rights, and while I disagree with you vehemently on this issue, and cannot forfeit that position even a tiny bit -I still love you  all too ( but for goodness sake when are you going to change your minds???? Hurry up would ya? The clock is tick, tick, ticking!) 

Remember Life is good- don't take it for granted!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Natural History

Fred took  four of the boys to the museum of Natural History in DC today. They had a blast. They were planning on staying overnight, but it didn't work out that way. The place they were planning on staying wound up being closed off.  Before things got too complicated with sleeping arrangements, he pulled the plug.  Thankfully, they were only an hour away from home, and still has a great day. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Etta James and Paul

Aside from having an incredibly cool name, I am posting because Etta James died today. I am not a big music person. I don't listen to it much, and I don't know a whole lot about it. BUT,  I do know an incredibly good song when I hear it, and Etta James managed to capture my attention. Apparently dear Etta battled a whole lot in her long life, you may read about that elsewhere, but she will be remembered most especially for her unbelievable voice. 

Curiously I also am CERTAIN that my dear brother Paul will be very sad she has passed. Paul, unlike me has always loved good music. And, if I know anything at all about music it is likely because I had interrupted my amazing brother, in his room while he was in the midst of listening to music as we grew up; and he patiently sat listening to me ask him about the meaning of life for the millionth time, spoiling his plans for yet another quiet evening in exchange for a silly young teenage girl who didn't know which way was up.

I have vague memories of asking him what he was listening to while I pondered my mortality and Paul's gentle responses of "Jazz"  or "I am listening to the blues Ellie- what do ya think of it?" and I would answer with a plethora of  more philosophical questions , and finally when Paul had really come to the end of his wits- he would hand me a book, and I would know it was time to leave. Paul loved Science Fiction ( loves- sorry, not everyone has died tonight along with Etta!). And every book Paul ever handed to me I read. (which might also explain why I often try to find the meaning of life outside of this universe! It has been a long time since my mind has been settled on this planet only!) When I found that Fred loved Science Fiction too, it pretty much sealed the deal. 

And since my sub-conscience has soaked in enough of those conversations to give me a real glimpse of my wonderful brother; whom I absolutely love and will always be eternally grateful God placed on this planet with me  to understand- I know this is the type of music he just loves.  And because he loved it, and didn't kick me out of his room- I love it too!

Thanks Paul- in case I haven't mentioned it before. You really are a gem! And sadly-this one goes out to you from both me and Etta- God rest her soul ( and yes, I will still be wondering where she now is?)~

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Most Dangerous Place in the World

Fred and I had sushi for dinner tonight. While I had no meat, it sure didn't feel very sacrificial.  I am a major sushi fan. We drove to Wegman's to obtain the deliciousness. I pretty much avoid Wegman's at all costs. It is one of the most dangerous places on the planet for me. I swear the store could just swallow me up for days at a time if I didn't seriously put blinders on as I entered. They have selections of every kind of food known to mankind. It looks and smells heavenly, and they vacuum your pockets clean as you leave the store as a particular courtesy -just in case you managed to keep a few spare pennies. I don't go there because I would be broke on my first trip. But I do so love sushi- and today I just had to have it- so- off to that terrible, horrible, no-good place!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Health Fitness Again

I am still running. A few miles every day. I am LOVING IT! It puts me in a great mood and makes me feel happy. My treadmill rocks. I am inspired for 30 minutes by the music I listen to. Fred is doing even better than I am. He is not only running daily, but he's already dropped 13 pounds in 3 weeks- Woohoo! My friend Elizabeth told me that I should thank God for the gift of running in my life as it is making such a difference in my whole outlook. I totally agree and hope he'll count this post as a small THANK YOU from me!
If you need some motivation- think of me.I started by only walking around the track a few times and am now running a few miles daily. You can walk too!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Sarah climbed into my lap today and said" Mom- it's snowin' outside-so that means it's Christmas Eve." She was so certain of it, that for a moment she brought Christmas directly back to my heart- What a happy cold day it was out there today! The sun tried to climb through my windows to cheer me and remind me that life is good.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bystander Syndrome

OK, so here is a really strange thing that happened to Freddy last night. To give a little background to the story, every Monday night Fred and I attend Mass at the local parish. There is a 7:30 novena mass and after the first day back at work for the week, we are happy to spend a little time in prayer. On Sunday night my friend Karen emailed she wouldn't be available to do her usual heroic work at the boys tutorial and so I volunteered to take her place for the day and found myself attending mass Monday morning, instead of the usual Monday evening.

After dinner Fred headed off to church alone. Shortly after the homily Fred noticed a woman, (also by the name of Karen) and a local nurse, get up from her seat and approach another women in a pew up front. She then turned and looked back into the congregation wide eyed. Fred said instinct kicked in and he found himself heading to the front of the church as he was certain something was terribly wrong.

He arrived at the pew along with one other man, in time to catch the woman in the pew and lay her gently on the floor. They checked for a pulse, NONE. Was she breathing- NOPE. The entire rest of the congregation stood motionless. Everyone was wide eyed, knowing something was needed but completely able to respond. Silence enveloped the hallowed place.Fred looking toward the altar shouted out to Father- "GET THE DEFIBRILLATOR!" Father scurried into the sacristy. He looked  around again- no movement in anyone to help.Turning back to the woman Karen he saw she had hesitatingly started mouth to mouth. He said something inside him just knew that was the wrong thing to do and he recalled hearing on the radio the practice had been mostly stopped. He again found his voice and said loudly to Karen " START COMPRESSION!" and his voice startled her into obedience. She leaned over the woman and forcefully shoved down on her chest, and with that the woman laying unconscious gasped for air! Hallelujah! She began shallow breathing once again and slowly regained consciousness.

Father Holiday rushed over - not with the defibrillator but with Chrism Oil ( which of course was my favorite part of the story. When our friends had died just outside the church a little over a year ago- we heard that in the commotion of the accident  all the priests failed to anoint them. Gosh that is an epic fail! You die directly outside a church and a whole gaggle of priests show up and NONE of them anoint you???? So hearing that Fr. Holiday went for the oil gave me unbelievable joy. PHEW!)

Fred managed to call 911 and get an ambulance there quickly who then carted this 70ish woman off to the hospital. She was on blood pressure medication, but Fred thinks it was a heart attack from the looks of it. Hiss greatest disappointment was that he never got to use the paddle and he had vain imaginings of screaming CLEAR! and shocking the hell  out of her ( no pun intended). He said it was surrealistic to find himself in the front of the church and have all the people suffering from bystander syndrome. He saw no one responding and thought 'There is just NO WAY I am supposed to be in charge of this situation!"

Today I am puzzled at the whole curiosity of the event. I really believe every moment of our life has meaning. Why was Fred there and able to respond in a life saving way? Was it really a coincidence that after years of going to the Monday night novena, I had to fill in for a dear friend removing me from being at my husbands side? So much to think about and be grateful for- isn't there?

Don't take life for granted- you just don't know the day or the hour!

Monday, January 16, 2012

I Have a Dream

I memorized this for my seventh grade class. I wish I still new all the words. It is very powerful:

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."
And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Meet the Parents

The 3 older boys went to a Lock-In with their youth group last night. This entails staying up all night and listening to peer talks on God and morality, playing games, and eating pizza until you're stuffed.That sounds like a full weekend doesn't it? Not quite enough for my second son Peter.Last week I told you Peter had a new girlfriend. Tonight I met her, (and her Mom!). Peter asked if he could make dinner for Lauren. I kinda love that he asked that. For years now I have been teaching my boys to cook. Andrew can do all things breakfast related, but wants nothing much to do with it after that. Peter, John Paul, and Matty on the other hand love to cook. One of the comments I always made when teaching them why it was good to learn to cook was that someday they might need to feed themselves OR someday they might like a girl, and it would be awful nice to be able to cook her dinner! Peter remembered that little gem. Lauren is a new driver and since you've already read my post on my heart walking out the door with Andy and the car, it was no surprise when she asked if her Mom could come along since it was a long drive (about an hour).
Peter made his famous Chicken Marsala and it was delish! Lauren and her Mom Miriam arrived promptly and the house felt like we were welcoming old friends. Honestly, with 10 kids milling around it would be really difficult to not keep up the conversation, but Miriam was really easy to talk to and Lauren is polite and pretty with a smile that lights up the room. She even offered to play the guitar for us after dinner. She has taught herself most of what she knows and my little girls danced around the room while she strummed out some tunes. Since Fred and I got along so well with her Mom, we're thinking of setting it up as a new policy for all our boys-

Dear Sons,
From here on in, please bring your girlfriend and her Mom over for 3 hours of observation time.Dinner will be served. (As a matter of fact, you'll be cooking it.)
Thank you, 
Your Parents 

Quite honestly, there might be huge wisdom in this. I cannot begin to tell you how nice it is to see a family instead of just a person. It seemed so much more natural an environment in many ways,and I am sure it had to be nice for the 2 of them to have each other in the midst of our crowd.I guess it shouldn't surprise me that we all seemed to be on the same page.(Dad and younger brother were away for an overnight, so well have to check them out at a later date!)
In any case, the evening was a success and Peter seems super happy- and super sleepy!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Mother Goose Time

Diddle Diddle Dumpling

Diddle diddle dumpling
my son John
Went to bed
with his trousers on
One shoe off
and one shoe on
Diddle diddle dumpling
my son John.

My Rewrite

Diddle, diddle, dumpling
my son Matt
Went to bed
with his baseball bat
prepared to kill
any kidnapping rat
diddle diddle dumpling my son Matt

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Social Utilities, Social Grace, and Shut-Ins

Today one of my sons posted a status on his Facebook wall saying he was tired of reading complaints, and song lyrics and that he didn't want to be friends with folks who do that. I am not trying to point out this particular son tonight, as I have read about 43,567,676 similar complaints since joining Facebook. (That was forty-three million, five hundred-and-sixty seven-thousand, six-hundred and seventy-six complaints for those of you who thought I randomly hit some keys).

There are lots of people who complain about Facebook and other social utilities. And granted they can be both a good and a bad thing at different times. Here's the thing though- they're not all bad. And to be really honest, it shows how difficult it can really be for some people to start a simple conversation with others. Not everyone seems to have a whole lot of social grace. You know, that ability to say interesting or witty things on a moments notice, to know their place and also know others in the pecking order in life.They don't seem to know how to 'do it' correctly, so instead they blurt out something stupid or foolish or silly, and everyone that hears it, behaves accordingly. Only a few people I meet in the world are fascinating and the rest, well they're OK too- but you may just have to work a bit harder to get to know them. And of course that work is generally worthwhile. 

In fact, I don't find Facebook must different than I find the real world. Some people are engaging, some people are not, some people have foul mouths, and some people do not, some people have strong political ideas, and some people do not,and some people complain- allll the way hommmmme!
( did you see the little piggy reference coming? me neither.)

In any case, my 'friend' list appropriately reflects all that. I have taught my boys that they can stay connected to friends on Facebook, but not to replace real life interaction with it whenever possible. I actually enjoy some aspects of Facebook and wish it would carry over to the 'real world' (as if people chatting on line are suddenly not real? hmmmm? still trying to figure that one out?) Can you for instance imagine:

  • being at a party and having  a relative you know is embarrassing walk up and be able to simply 'hide' them? 
  • How'd you like to get rid of a nuisance person in your real life by simply 'unfriending them'
  • If only I had the 'delete post' option for some tedious conversations I have been forced to sit through in my day!
  • For those of you out there who are also 'vocally challenged' (I cannot sing a lick), isn't it nice to post the lyrics to a song or the video and have people actually THANK YOU for sharing it? 

That last one could never happen in my 'real world'. Is it a time waster? Can be. Do you sometimes hear more than you'd like? uh-huh. Can you be so silly that you get lost in it and think over what someone else says way too much- yes- but that happens in 'real life' too. We all bring our own troubles to the game and that affects the way we play it.

*UPDATED* After initial publication, my wonderful and significantly more thoughtful cousin Monica pointed out that for many teenagers today cyber-bullying is a problem. As a homeschooling family we haven't really encountered that aspect so far, and so it wasn't really 'on the radar' as I wrote. I am glad she pointed out that in certain cases the above behaviors such as 'unfriending'' people can be abused and cause real damage. I don't know all that much about cyber bullying, but I've heard a few horror stories and can imagine how painful it might be. Thanks Monica for the heads-up!  

 Has it the potential to also keep you connected to fun, vibrant, people with different ideas- many times with people who are miles and miles away? Yes! I can think of a million ways having a few friends connected to you on a social utility might be simply terrific, and is. 

 Lastly, when I was a little girl I had an Aunt Betty and Uncle Charlie who were 'shut-ins'.( little prayer here for their souls- thanks) That's a strange phrase isn't it? They weren't reclusive but because of ill health, became shut-in to their own home. My Mom would make us go visit my Aunt Betty a few times every year and she would always make comments like "Poor Betty, she doesn't see anyone except a few times a year and she was always so social."

That always made me so sad to think of. She wanted to get out and engage the world, but simply could not. As I grew older I realized there was a whole army of shut-ins as I heard the term in every parish. There are always good souls who go and visit the shut-ins and keep them connected to life. While I don't imagine we could get all those elderly shut-ins to start using Facebook, I do think we have the ability to keep this younger generation from ever being totally shut-in. The 'world' has been at their fingertips since they were born, and  that can be a good thing.

 So, I'll leave you with one last thought, and to do so I'll use a few lyrics that in the 'real world' I could never sing for you, or even find on an iPod before the moment had passed, but through the magic of technology I am able to send to all of you- my friends- on Facebook and elsewhere in our little fake world. ( you'll thank me later!).

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Well, I just finished reading my first book on a kindle. It's not mine. John-Paul asked for it this Christmas, and since he is an avid reader, it made sense. I am not a big fan of the concept. I like books. I like the feel of them in my hands. I like to turn pages. I like the weight of them. I like the paper and the ink and the typeset and the absolute world they transport you into once the first crack comes. 

But I was checking out John-Paul's 'reading device' (or maybe we should just call it his portable bookstore) and I found a title I liked and it was actually cheaper then the real thing, so I bought it- and downloaded it- and began to read it- in under 20 seconds. No check--out lines, no paperback versus hard copy decision making required. It was here in seconds. 

So, I read all the useful information and I got accustomed to this new experience, but I really didn't like it. And I probably will only do it by force from now on. I had no sense of closure when I was done. I couldn't flip back to my favorite passages and read aloud to Freddy for a few moments. It just wasn't the same to have a cup of tea and curl up with an electronic reading device. There was nothing cozy about it. I sorta felt like a traitor. I couldn't rest it on a shelf with the proud knowledge "I had read that'. Something inside said I had betrayed the 'real' book industry by taking this easy way out. Its almost sinful ( but in a venial way.)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A World Without Twinkies (and Other Random Thoughts)

Random thoughts are presenting themselves to me once again today. Since this seemed to please you all so much last time, I figured I'd let you in on them once again. Here goes:

  • Today I was forced to consider a world without Twinkies. Hostess is having difficulty pulling itself out of bankruptcy. As if it wasn't bad enough that Greece was spreading her errors throughout Europe, now the contagion is affecting my baked goods.

  • Fred has a simple policy  lately  for choosing a Presidential candidate. He has decided NOT TO VOTE for any candidate whose name  resembles an ice-cream flavor. "I'll have a Mitt Romney please!" That reality is simply chilling ( no pun intended). My husband is so wise.

  • Those cute little Valentine hearts we should be seeing ANY DAY now in stores known as 'Conversation Hearts' which have all sorts of great messages on them- don't contain nearly enough sugar to qualify as real candy. Lets boycott them.

  • Why is it that Clark Kent's parents cannot recognize him without glasses? WORST DISGUISE EVER in my opinion.

I am the the holder of a Red Royalty card Ladies and Gentlemen- and I intend to use it. In case you are not aware of what a Red Royalty card is- I'll let you in on my little secret. Every time I visit the AWESOME RED ROBIN, they punch my card for every burger I purchase, and when I get to ten I get a FREE AWESOME BURGER! Move over coffee club, you look pathetic next to my Red Royalty card! (Did you really think I could do a random post without mentioning Red Robin? Really???)

  • I do my best writing while I am actually running on my treadmill.