Flipping for Lent

It’s Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras.  It’s the last day of ordinary time before Lent begins tomorrow. (For those of you confused or seeing double…this post mistakenly went up a day early…but hopefully now it’s the proper day and date…my bad..see, busy distracted me….)

So, I have been pondering and praying and stewing and thinking…and I think I’m going on a blog hiatus.  For now, I’m doing it as a Lenten exercise. I want to live and feel an intentional quiet (or, well, quieter….let’s not lose our heads).

I’ve been drifting away from the blog just because I’ve been living a bit more in the moment than I used to, or was.  Sometimes that whole “in the moment” was gladly welcomed, indeed, cultivated.  And sometimes, it, um….wasn’t.  By which I mean, it was steamrolled over me and I was just working on breathing and dealing with the fire, or meltdown, or juggling act of the minute.

But Lent arrives.  It’s the perfect gift of time and space to open up my head and heart more and more fully to those in my immediate here and now.  And to God himself, of course.  It’s time for me to pray better, or try.  To shut up and listen better.  To be more here, here.  Or there, there.

I fear feeling isolated.  I fear not being able to sort through my ponderings well enough and somehow going a little crazy.  I think by typing.  And just journaling privately doesn’t do it, it feels redundant somehow.  But I think that Lent is about letting go of fears and crutches.  This is a big one for me, a comfy chair to nestle in and think aloud, so to speak.  But I feel drawn to move away from it, for now.  Maybe for good.  Maybe not. I reserve the right to change my mind and to come back swinging.

I’ll wish each of you who might stop by a blessed Lent.  I will miss you and this little community and it’s links beyond.  But this time, now, it’s time….for now.  Maybe we’ll share another espresso soon.

Attachment School, lent and trust

Lots of thoughts bouncing round my brain as I contemplate the approach of Lent and the two wild boys rocketing around me on this rainy Sunday afternoon.  Forgive the rambling: I need to try to sort out the threads in my head on this blustery day.

It seems that my approach to raising these kids, all my kids, has become more and more a focus on attachment and connecting.  It is a much more holistic approach, in a way, than we used to do….although that seems like an odd thing to say. It’s not that I raised my first sons differently, or less, or with less love or “all in” approach (heavens no, I couldn’t possibly love them more or have done more than I did with what I had at the time)….but rather, that I knew less, was less confident in the worth and reach of the boundless love we had for them.  I/we felt we had to make sure that we filled them with….oh, as much as we could of everything. Every fact, experience, tidbit of knowing, doing, etc…it was rushing past us and could we possibly capture it all?

Now, it seems that the bigger, harder, more intensive thing to do is to fill them, any and all of our kids, with as much as we can of…us. By which I mean, connection.  Our time, our presence, our mindfulness, our ‘no matter whatness” of our love for them…at the same time as we gently nudge ahead and hold boundaries.  We encourage and console.  We trust and hope.  But maybe we don’t have to be doing the DOING of filling that kid-jar of self…rather we need to let them unfold a bit more.

And I think this whole-ness of approach to the parenting, now, is an older, fuller, more relaxed and  more encompassing way, in a way.  Even as it’s a looser, relaxed and trusting way.  And, school, for now, for these little boys, must also run these rails.  Because I believe that it is what will launch them best. It is actually a way of schooling that I can only call Attachment Homeschool.  Attachschool?  A blend of unschool, homeschool, living life, attachment parenting.  Loving no matter what, all in.   If they are allowed to relax into the who of themselves, and secure their attachment to the us of our family, then they have the most powerful launchpad that there is. They will have the toolbox to become who they will and are made to be.

There is a price to it. It is the dear cost of hope and trust.  It means spending effort to beat back the demons of fear and worry and fretting. Mine, of course. It means trusting in these kids, who they are all meant to become.  It means cracking open my rusty crusty soul and trusting in God himself who made them and brought them here, to us.

And so as we approach the desert of Lent, one of my most difficult Lenten exercises will be to trust in the learning of these boys.  To let them relax into themselves and me/us.  To LIVE our family life as fully and mindfully as I can.  To live this liturgical season as fully as I can, with the family and all the kids.  Not easy.  Sounds so.  But, so not.

Because for me to step out into the desert in faith and trust…well, it’s a desert for me for sure.  That’s where all my demons screech and thrash.  But, lent approaches.  I’m girding up.  I’ve got the crowbar out to break open the iron doors of my trust and control and let them step out of that musty box and into the fresher air of faithful hope.  This lent is a time to be still and listen and pray and watch the blooms that are found, even in the desert.  Some of those are the most beautiful; even so for the struggle of it all.


Three days.  I wish you a deeply blessed spare and rich Lent.   I’ll pray for you, if you would, please pray for me.

Nine? Already!??

My Anthony is NINE!

I know, he’s big he looks nine…but really, nine? I mean, I know HE runs faster than the wind but does time have to? Gee whiz.  My Anthony is nine.

And he’s some great kid! He’s smart and funny and kind and sweet and good. He’s fast and sharp and can kick a ball faster and farther than I can see.  He’s handful and he’s a lamb.  He’s my sweet boy.

And today he is nine.  And we love him and are SO proud of him.

Happy Happy Birthday sweet Anthony! Nine is a fantastic age (and your last year of single digits, wowee)!

We are so proud of you!
We hope all your birthday wishes come true!!

We love you!


I’ve got Bowie rattling around in my head this morning…oh heck, all the past week.  It’s an odd new year of change for me/us round here.

One of the big huge changes for me/us in the coffeehouse: I brought my baby Gabey (who is NO baby…ahem) home to learn yesterday.  By which I mean, to  homeschool.  It was a tough decision, we all LOVE his teacher!  But, I’ve been stewing over this one a lot, haven’t been able to let the idea of it go.  Up til now, January, he’s LOVED every bit of school.  He’s asked “Is it a school day?” with eagerness and anticipation in his voice.  When he got his little kindergarden worksheet packet on Monday’s, he’d insist on drilling through the entire thing in one setting (to my amazement and glee, for a change, a kid who likes homework!).  He wasn’t jealous of his big bro being home for school with me, it was all “See ya later, let’s go!”  I’m not sure what changed.  I think, developmentally, we are in one of the downswings of that attachment cycle: you know, stable/secure/confident then swinging down to insecure/shame/clingy-fussy-angry.  Well, no learning can take place while a kid is fearful or angry.  Combine that with the reports from his teacher, corroborating what I saw here and worried about, that he is shutting down in class. Skills that he zipped through before the break, are now being woven together and he’s hit his readiness limit.  Seeing that it’s not clicking, he shuts down; an unhappy boy, waiting for them to move on.  He comes home angry and begs, clinging, to stay with me.  When he does stay here, he’s his loud lively cheery self, but with added hugs and snuggles for me.

So, the decision which seemed so tough for a month or so…is not so tough after all.  And it’s done.  He’s home for now.  Where he can work through this uptick of those deep worries on security and his value and place in his family.  He can do this deep work on his own time, in his own way and through play.  He’s home where he can move at his own natural pace to be ready to really read and have the time and space to sing loudly all day (his current mode) and to think whatever thoughts he wants or need to think.  Big brother is pretty happy about this new shift, mostly, there will be some spikes of jealousy here and there, and also more chances for them to work out the skills of taking turns and negotiating and patience.

Little Man is back to himself in the most literal way.  He is off any and all adhd meds and that has brought his sweetness back.  Annnd, it has brought his hyper energy and impulses back like a Tasmanian Devil…whirling and leaping all through the house, most all the time.  He has the attention span of a squirrel, fascinated by any and all things that flit through his peripheral vision or notice.  But he is a happy wild, rather than an angry wild.  So, it’s a huge wonderful shift for us, even as I have to totally rethink  my approach to him and his learning.

As for me, it all is part of this tide of change.  I’m adjusting to my “new ears.” I’m liking them a lot! Heck, just to cut down the number of hours a day I hear that infernal ringing/tinnitis…these things are a godsend!  I am switching to contacts, and might have found some that work with the  new mulitfocal technology (science can be so cool!); because the space behind my ears for glasses AND aids is just too dang small.  Wearing both at the same time hurts.  Contacts are kind of wonderful, liberating.  And I feel like myself from years ago in a way, even though I keep trying to push my glasses up on my nose when they aren’t there.

This  year is beginning with a bang.  For me to know that I need, and in a way, want, to bring my little boys home to learn? Whoa, that’s a sea change.  And, truthfully, not without me dragging my heels.  My selfishness knows no bounds and I am sort of wincing at the extra work and doing and lack of privacy/my time and such.  It’s why Gabe didn’t get pulled out a few weeks ago. Why yes, I AM that selfish, indeed.  Took me a bit to kowtow to the need of it.  Shocked? Well, see, I had considered myself to be done, Done, DONE with homeschool.  But, never say never, even when you’re old, eh?  I’ve got some other big changes that I’m pondering for the blog too…but that’s another post, closer to Lent, I think….

So, for now, here we are.  My little boys are home.  I have to approach this a whole new way because they are totally different kinds of kids than the big kids, when I home-schooled them.  I’m hoping for a more relaxed approach, a trust in their ability and desire to learn. They certainly have that whole CURIOUS, investigative, always into something, part down.   So, I think we will be alright.  The trick is for me to roll with it: the changes, the new mode, the mess, the noise, the mess, the ACTIVE-ity.    But I’ve got new eyes to see and new ears to hear.  Literally.  Ha!  So, I”m all in.  Me and my boys…..

rainy sunday

Sound Tsunami

Day two.

Day two of trying on newbie hearing aids. To my surprise, really, it’s something of a sound tsunami.  Really.  They warned me about this, the audiologist did, the net/google searches did.  But did I believe them? Nah.  I thought they were talking about people with different kinds of hearing issues, like profound loss.  Evidently, they were talking about me too!  Seems that my old brain has gotten quite used to not hearing a lot of the background sounds and now those same sounds…..are SO loud! And there are so many!  I mean, my house is a ridiculously loud place!  No wonder I managed for so many years, not realizing I was missing stuff, because there is just SO much to hear, here.  Seriously, little boys, dogs, machines, beeping of ovens and dishwashers and microwaves and alarms, little wild boys, teen girls, dryers, washing machines, faxes, little hollering boys, snoring dogs, and oh my goodness, smoke alarms when grilled cheese sandwiches are attmpted by an almost 9 year old, dishes in the sink.  Oh my! Dishes clanking and clattering in the sink like machine guns next to my head.  Duck!

It’s a tsunami of sound. I’m trusting that my brain is still quite agile enough to sort through it all and start ignoring the inconsequential bits and ratchet up the important parts: boys sneaking about, oven timers, muffled ponderings from the back seat, teens needing a heart to heart.

And, so far, truly, despite the wall of sounds….I DID hear my Gabey ask me a great question from the back seat of my gigantic car yesterday (with no one needing to repeat it to me), and I did have a private quick convo with my eldest girl that was actually, um, private and in low tones.  Whoa.  So, I can see some possibility of benefit here…..

So, for now, I’m aurally surfing the tsunami as best I can.


It’s weird, wild and, just maybe, a little wonderful.

Bionic Ears.


So, today is the day, the day I ‘test drive’ a set of hearing aids.

I’m excited, nervous, hopeful and a little conflicted.  I wrote about the whole genetic kooky glitch, here.  See, I told my dad about it the other day; that I was about to try ’em out.  And he was kind of surprised and not sure about it…because, of course, he never did.  Get aids, that is.  And, so, what with it being him and all…by which I mean the stoic, stick it out kind of ‘tough old bird’ kind of guy…. he’s not impressed with the idea.  It seems.  He wasn’t negative, really.  But, in his life, he doesn’t feel the need.  I get that.  But his life is quite quiet.  Mine.  Quite not.

So, I feel that by at least giving it a go I’m trying, at the very least, to be fair to my kids, to my family.  I’m trying to at least satisfy my perfectionist curiosity….and see if they can make a difference.  I’m hopeful.  In the best case scenario, they’ll make a marked and better difference for my hearing and responsiveness.  In the worst case, they will be useless or just make everything worse.  Yeah, because my household is SO loud that maybe having hearing assist is actually NOT the thing I’m really wanting, eh?  Maybe there is a certain bliss in not hearing it all.  I could make that argument and run with it.  Ignorance might well be, often, bliss.

But, here I sit.  Now.  Typing at you and with my little high tech computers tucked up behind my ears.  And I have had them on for a few hours now.  And man, is it LOUD here!  I’m getting tired, actually.  The audiologist warned me that I might be so.  That it might be just TOO MUCH SOUND at first.  I psshawed; thinking, “No way.  I hear most everything, it’s just I can’t understand some of it.”  But. Oh my goodness.  She was right.  Just the “Bing” on my cell phone that alerts me, you know, “you’ve got mail“….SO loud.  I asked her if it sounded LOUD to her? She smiled.  Said, um, no, normal.  Oh.  Me, my voice…I sound like a loud Minnie Mouse.  That’s unfortunate.  At first, as we twiddled with settings, every turn of my head crackled in my ears, oh dear.  She fixed that, hurrah.  At first, it sounded like we were both in barrels, then holding a microphone, really close.  Fixed, hurrah.  After a while, we got it leveled out, we hope.  So, with some instruction, she sent me out.

I went to the  market.  Because I’m a european by my habits, I suppose, and find I have to go most every day (meaning, the kids are still eating me out of house and home and produce doesn’t keep, nor does it get the chance to and oh my goodness how many clementines and bananas can one family go through in a week?????).  Anyhow, it was my first real test drive.  It was…ok.  It was NOT like putting on a new glasses rx and feeling a biblical relief.  “I can SEE!”  It was not like I had superwoman hearing and could hear the bagger gossip across the store (not that they DO….).  It was just kind of like, more, somehow.  Not only amplified either.  Just kind of like more sounds altogether with some standing out, sharply.  She warned me that it would take my brain time to adjust but it would.

So, at this point, I’m waiting.  I might take them off for a while, just to take a break.  But, as my college boy points out….I’m quieter too.  My voice is.  Aw….. I know!  But that right there might contribute to lowering the overall sound volume in the house, soon.  Now, it feels very loud.  My goodness those small boys are noisy.  I suddenly feel rather old….  So…..my opinion on these hearing aids is on hold.  It’s just a test drive, after all.  I want to love them.  I’m not sure, yet.  But it’s day one.  If I DO love them, I’m gonna get em in a REAL color instead of the basic tech gray.  I figure if they help me out and cost the big bucks…I’m not gonna try to pretend they don’t exist (but also not gonna put a neon sign on either…it’s all balance, right?).

So, there it is.  I have ear helps.  I’m not sure yet if they are – helps.  I suspect they might be.  But am not sure. I’m hopeful.  Uncertain.  And…a little tired. They still feel a little weird, physically.  I cannot imagine having the little ones INSIDE the ear canal, yikes.  But I trust that I’ll stop being so conscious of them, soon.  At any rate, maybe this will help me not feel like I need to shout so much, right?  Maybe it will help me be a stealth ninja mom and sneak up on my kids who are sneaking…..ok.  Maybe not.  But, for today, for this month, I’m test driving some baby bionics.  Some teensy weensy mini computers on both my ears….too bad they don’t vacuum and make cappucino’s too……

And Now We are Six…

Oh my Gabey…he’s NO baby!

No.  He’s six.

Of course he’s getting the book, duh!  That’s tradition.

But anyhow, all I can say is that this sweet boy is growing into the most delightful boy.  He is SO six.  A stupendous six.

We love you sweet Gabey!

We hope ALL your birthday wishes come true and are SO proud of you!

Happy Happy Sixth Birthday!

“But now I am six, I’m as clever as clever;

So I think I’ll be six now for ever and ever”


Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.

Now this solemnity/feast is one that causes so much hubub, so often! And really, that kind of baffles me….because this title, it just makes so much sense. Try being a pregnant woman, with ALL that entails and then decide if you’re entitled to be called the mother of that little baby, or not. Try giving birth, nursing, wiping, swaddling, hugging, smooching, smelling that little amazing being……see if you know in your bones that this has changed who you are, ontologically. Go, ahead, I’ll wait…….. See? Right. Exactly. Kerfuffle soothed. For me anyhow. She bore Christ, brought him to us. And, she raised loved nurtured fed rocked taught him. She wiped his nose, kissed scratches, rubbed his head and rolled her eyes sometimes, I betcha. He was a boy, too. Hers. She’s the mom. I’m a mom, I can totally relate. Except for the whole sinless, divine child angle…….Still…..

It’s a big feast. It’s Mary, Mother of God! I love her, this solemnity, this IS cause for celebration.

And…for those of you who just need to tease out the objections, read below:

Mary, Mother of God

by Father William Saunders

I was visiting an inner-city Church one day and in the vestibule some graffiti was written on the wall which said, “Catholics, God has no mother,” obviously referring to Mary’s title as “Mother of God.” How does one respond to such an objection? — A reader in Springfield

As Catholics, we firmly believe in the incarnation of our Lord: Mary conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Lk 1:26-38 and Mt 1:18-25) Through her, Jesus Christ–second person of the Holy Trinity, one-in-being (consubstantial) with the Father, and true God from true God–entered this world, taking on human flesh and a human soul. Jesus is true God and true man. In His person are united both a divine nature and a human nature.

Mary did not create the divine person of Jesus, who existed with the Father from all eternity. “In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly ‘Mother of God’ (Theotokos)” (CCC, No. 495). As St. John wrote, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us, and we have seen His glory: The glory of an only Son coming from the Father filled with enduring love” (Jn 1:14).

For this reason, sometime in the early history of the Church, our Blessed Mother was given the title “Mother of God.” St. John Chrysostom (d. 407), for example, composed in his Eucharistic Prayer for the Mass an anthem in honor of her: “It is truly just to proclaim you blessed, O Mother of God, who are most blessed, all pure and Mother of our God. We magnify you who are more honorable than the Cherubim and incomparably more glorious than the Seraphim. You who, without losing your virginity, gave birth to the Word of God. You who are truly the Mother of God.”

However, objection to the title “Mother of God” arose in the fifth century, due to confusion concerning the mystery of the incarnation. Nestorius, Bishop of Constantinople (428-431), incited a major controversy. He stated that Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ, a regular human person, period. To this human person was united the person of the Word of God (the divine Jesus). This union of two persons–the human Christ and the divine Word– was “sublime and unique” but merely accidental. The divine person dwelt in the human person “as in a temple.” Following his own reasoning, Nestorius asserted that the human Jesus died on the cross, not the divine Jesus. As such, Mary is not “Mother of God,” but simply “Mother of Christ”–the human Jesus. Sound confusing? It is, but the result is the splitting of Christ into two persons and the denial of the incarnation.

St. Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria (d. 440) refuted Nestorius, asserting, “It was not that an ordinary man was born first of the Holy Virgin, on whom afterwards the Word descended; what we say is that, being united with the flesh from the womb, (the Word) has undergone birth in the flesh, making the birth in the flesh His own…” This statement affirms the belief asserted in the first paragraph.

On June 22, 431, the Council of Ephesus convened to settle this argument. The Council declared, “If anyone does not confess that the Emmanuel is truly God and therefore that the holy Virgin is the Mother of God (Theotokos) (since she begot according to the flesh the Word of God made flesh), anathema sit.” Therefore, the Council officially recognized that Jesus is one person, with two natures–human and divine–united in a true union. Second, Ephesus affirmed that our Blessed Mother can rightfully be called the Mother of God. Mary is not Mother of God, the Father, or Mother of God, the Holy Spirit; rather, she is Mother of God, the Son–Jesus Christ. The Council of Ephesus declared Nestorius a heretic, and the Emperor Theodosius ordered him deposed and exiled. (Interestingly, a small Nestorian Church still exists in Iraq, Iran and Syria.)

The incarnation is indeed a profound mystery. The Church uses very precise–albeit philosophical–language to prevent confusion and error. Nevertheless, as we celebrate Christmas, we must ponder this great mystery of how our divine Savior entered this world, taking on our human flesh, to free us from sin. We must also ponder and emulate the great example of our Blessed Mother, who said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to Thy word.” May we turn to her always as our own Mother, pleading, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”

Fr. Saunders is president of Notre Dame Institute and associate pastor of Queen of Apostles Parish, both in Alexandria.

Feast of the Holy Family

It’s still Christmas!

It’s the Feast of the Holy Family!

Michelangelo, Holy Family

Pope John Paul II – Prayer from Angelus Message for the Feast of the Holy Family 2004

“May the Holy Family, who had to overcome many painful trials, watch over all the families in the world, especially those who are experiencing difficult situations. May the Holy Family also help men and women of culture and political leaders so that they may defend the institution of the family, based on marriage, and so that they may sustain the family as it confronts the grave challenges of the modern age!




Fabulous Fourteen!

Oh my, my Emmy is fourteen!

My girl, who has a heart of beauty that surpasses all…she is a wise old fourteen today!

She’s my other “old soul” in the house and I hope she has a fabulous happy birthday! She’s the only kid who gets a visit from Peter Joseph for her birthday, so that’s pretty special too.  The WHOLE family here to celebrate with her; yeah, because she’s all that.

Happy Birthday beautiful Emily!

We are SO proud of you and love you so!

The Holy Innocents

I hate this memorial.  I know it, as a Catholic, I pray it and ponder it.

It’s a hard kind of Hallelujah, knowing that once again, and then, our hard cold world is willing to steal innocent lives….all too often with some twisted evil agenda or just plain broken minds and souls.  Then. Now.  It’s too close to us, once again, this year.

But as I pray through this hard solemn day in the feasting of the octave of Christmas, I take blind faith and cold comfort in the knowledge that these kids – all the kids from way back to these first innocent babes to the shocking ones this month – ARE INNOCENTS.  And in our faith, we are taught that they are martyrs and immediately received into the joyful comfort and bliss and understanding of their role in the unfolding of creation and our world.

So, today I weep, again, for these babies.  I don’t begin to understand. I weep for the the hard extraction of holiness from our hell on earth.  And I cry out to find the goodness in such unspeakable hard.  But I trust, I trust in the promise of my  faith, and the grace that fills the void.  And, just as with the first innocents…..we remember these.

Feast of St John, Apostle

It’s still Christmas!

It’s the feast of St. John the Apostle!

I love this one because it means it’s also my Jon’s feast day and it’s all about friends.  Even Jesus had a good best friend.  What a great example that is to all of us; how important close friends are to us all!

El Greco, St John

Collect: O God, who through the blessed Apostle John have unlocked for us the secrets of your Word, grant, we pray, that we may grasp with proper understanding what he has so marvelously brought to our ears. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Feast of St Stephen

It’s still Christmas!

It’s the feast of St Stephan!

by Pope John Paul II: Angelus Message: Vatican, December 31, 2003

Giorgio Vasari, Stoning of St Stephen

1. Today, in the joyful atmosphere of Christmas, we are celebrating the Feast of St Stephen, one of the first deacons of the Church. He is also known as the “Protomartyr” because he was the first disciple of Christ to pour out his blood for him. Stephen was stoned to death because of false accusations similar to those levelled at Jesus himself and, like the Master, he died forgiving those who killed him.

2. The Church calls the day of martyrdom a dies natalis (birthday). Indeed, by virtue of Christ’s death and Resurrection, the death of the martyr isa birth in Heaven. This is why it is so meaningful to celebrate the First Martyr the day after Christmas: Jesus who was born in Bethlehem gave his life for us so that we too, reborn “from on high” through faith and Baptism, might be willing to give up our own lives for love of our brothers and sisters.

Today I would especially like to remember the Christian communities that are suffering persecution and all the faithful who suffer for the faith. May the Lord give them the strength to persevere and the ability to love even those who cause their suffering.

3. May Mary, Mother and disciple of her Son Jesus, accompany all Christians on their journey, from the baptismal font to the hour of their death. May she, Queen of the Martyrs, help us too to be “martyrs”, that is, witnesses on every occasion to the love of Christ whom we contemplate in these days as a Child in the crib.

Finally, 21!

It’s my Booboo’s birthday! 21!

Oops, maybe now that he’s all officially ‘of age’ and all, I can’t call him that anymore……NAHHHHH.  That’s not gonna happen.  He’s my boy.  No matter how old! Though, I’ll tell you.  This boy, since he was a tiny boy…he’s been an old soul.  He’s always  had a certain gravitas…combined with a wickedly sharp wit.  So funny.  But, even so, this 21 felt a long time coming.  Because really, he’s like a 68 year old man on the inside; complete with cardigan and worn out slippers.

But, on the outside, today…he’s 21!

Jon and his sweet beautiful girlfriend Leslie. Love them!

Unfortunately, he’s also getting SLAMMED by killer engineering finals.  So I don’t know how much big time celebrating there will be going on.  But then again, he’s always been resourceful.  Ahem.  Just stay safe ok, man?

Anyhow, I can’t go off on a tear about all the ways I love this boy.  But you have read the bday posts that came before….so you know.  And if you didn’t, well, you can just know. I LOVE this boy. I am so proud of him.  There just aren’t words to say it well and my fingers would get all crampy doing it.  So, I”m keeping it short and sweet.

We love you Jonjon!

We are SO SO SO proud of you! Not only because you’re doing great and working so hard but because of the core of your character and heart.  Because of the man you have become, and will be.

We wish you the happiest birthday and can’t wait to see you after finals!

Happy 21st birthday Jon Jon.

We love you so.

Joyous solemnity

It’s a high feast day, a solemnity. It’s the Feast of the Immaculate Conception!

It’s a very big feast and a happy great day. I’m happy for it! I love Mary and I love this feast. So, don’t forget your Blessed Mother today, she’s a gift to us all. I’m so grateful.


God gave her his help from the dawning of her days; the Most High has made his dwelling place a holy temple

A Different Kind of Cookie Bite


“What’s that you say? How’s that? Come again? Excuse me? Say it again?

Yeah, how about that for the top expressions you don’t want to have on your short list? But, they are mine.

Because I’m losing my hearing a bit. Yeah. It bugs me like crazy.

And, I feel old. I’d like to say that this was just another piece of the hit list that is turning fifty. But I fear that I have that more genetic loss: the “cookie bite.” (I know, so apropos of my sweet tooth, you’d think it was tailor made for me. Oh, it’s genetic, I guess it was….)

But, I’ve noticed this loss for years. In fact, the doc has called me at home after my hearing test for years to say, “You’d really benefit from a hearing aid.” I’ve dismissed it. Pssssh. Moi? Nah. Who’s got time for the fiddle factor? I don’t need to another gadget to have to fool with. And, since my ears already ring a great lot of the time and I don’t need to add hissing or squeaking to the mix. I’ve already got enough of THOSE sounds from the children.

But, I’m starting, after years and years, to finally consider it. I’m even past the point of caring much what it looks like; though I feel bad that poor Tom would have a wife that looks like a senior citizen. I have the hardest time hearing Gabey. He can be my loudest child, to be sure, but when he’s just talking, he can have a voice that sounds muffled, even if he’s talking in english versus Gabelish. I have to ask him all the time, daily, “What? Say it again.” The girls will come down and tell me that the timer on the oven is ringing or that Anthony is calling me. I can’t hear the kids from the far back seat, though, granted, my car is like an ocean liner it’s so big. Don’t even get me started about talking on the phone, it makes me nuts and is making me feel stupid. In fact, lately I feel stupid all the time. I will often guess what is being said, but frequently I’m wrong. Or I will nod and make polite listening sounds. It works pretty well, unless someone actually is talking about something that I’m supposed to respond to, say at a large table dinner at a gala or event. Then, forget it…I usually get up and cruise the room or go refill my drink (Soda, people! Ok, the OCCASIONAL vodka soda…..Gee whiz….)

It’s not that I can’t hear anything, it’s that the hearing is all wonky. Often sounds physically hurt. The TV and radio is usually just WAY too loud. Movies hurt. Unless, they are too low and then I can’t make the voices out. I can hear tiny beeps, sometimes, that others cannot. I can hear footsteps up the stairs. I sometimes have freaky ninja hearing. But I can’t hear the oven timer. I can’t hear my washer spinning though I can feel it. Erratic speaker microphones are brutal. The priests homilies are often a muffle. It’s erratic. It’s annoying, or even crazymaking, to me and to my family.

On the other hand. It might be more peaceful this way, ha! I cope. I compensate. I can’t tell if it’s pretty bad or if I’m just a perfectionist. I KNOW I’m a perfectionist. (except in housekeeping…and fashion…) But, I don’t know if I’m just a perfectionist whiner (sshhh, I know. I am.) or if this is actually a real problem that would be helped with a hearing aid. I suspect it might be. I read an article about the increase in dementia in people with untreated hearing loss. WHAT?! So, that’s a brick on my head. I’ll take the senior style look of a hearing aid over memory loss in a heartbeat!

So, I have a Cookie Bite hearing loss. It’s genetic. I might just be ready and willing to take advantage of modern technology and see if I can hear better. But……my dad has this very same loss pattern too, and he never has gotten a hearing aid. He’s made it to 80 and is still sharp and gets along fine. So, he has been my role model. My measuring stick. I wonder if I should just suck it up and deal like he has. But, I wonder….he didn’t do the hands on, 24/7 mom-raising of 8 kids.

I don’t want to jump the gun if it can’t help or if it’s just me being a drama queen. But, I don’t want to blow it, because I’d see and live with the fallout, even if I couldn’t hear it.


Feast of St. Francis Xavier

It’s the feast of St. Francis Xavier!


O God, who through the preaching of Saint Francis Xavier
won many peoples to yourself,
grant that the hearts of the faithful
may burn with the same zeal for the faith
and that Holy Church may everywhere rejoice
in an abundance of offspring.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

Feast of St Andrew

El Greco, 1606, “St Andrew”

It’s the Feast of St Andrew!

Now, you know I have a soft spot for brothers, well, St Andrew is, of course, the brother of another big hitter saint: St Peter.  He was the first apostle called by Christ, and he and his brother dropped everything, their nets, and followed Christ.  Impulsive intuitive certain faith; recognizing the nudge of the Holy Spirit…..they were a courageous pair.

Fitting that today his feast day lands on Friday, as he was a fisherman and Friday’s are typically no meat days.  So we can have some lovely fish tonight in celebration of this saint who lead the way.  I love the saints, and I love stories of brothers.

We humbly entreat thy majesty, O Lord,
that the blessed apostle Andrew may be as constant an advocate for us in Thy court as he was eminent in preaching and ruling over Thy Church. Amen.

– Collect for the Feast of Saint Andrew


Hope and Healing in Older Child Adoption


How long does it take to heal the body? How long does it take to bring a child from hard places, especially places where they spent a long time in deprivation and/or sick, to a healthy level? How long does it take to say, for certain, “Ah, they are healthy now, really”?

The answer: Far far longer than you might imagine.

The other answer: Be patient, because it can happen.

Our Marta has been home for over three years. They have, at times, felt like forever. Those years have, at times, felt like a blink. She came home to us bearing scars from her past life that will never leave her, inside and out. She came home to us much less well than we expected; thought not actively ill. Perhaps, that sounds like I’m using double-speak. I’m not trying to, rather, I’m trying to be accurate because I think this discussion of our older adopted kid’s health is important. It’s not discussed at length, possibly because each child is unique, of course, and each one comes with their own constellation of issues and needs and whatnot, on every level.

Adopting older children is complicated beyond imagining. All too often that phrase is thrown out and folks nod their head and then move on. Unless you’re actually in the trenches of older child adoption. Then you might sigh with recognition, shudder with dread, break down weeping that someone else has said it out loud, or lift a wry toast of your martini in homage. But, it is – challenging.

One of the really complicated parts of older child adoption can be the nurturing them back to health. And I used the term “nurturing” not “nursing” them back to health. Because only sometimes does the child come home actively ill and needing to be ‘nursed.” And then, I presume, the transition to a base level of recovery from that illness is marked; but then you fall back into this category of health/wellness that marker is much more blurry.

We must NURTURE our older children back to health. For their heart, that nurture will be a lifetime job. For their body, it can take so very much longer than expected. Indeed, new physical issues and problems can take time to reveal themselves just because they have to get over more serious issues first. For instance, they might have a certain parasite issue that you couldn’t even know about because of their overall lack of nutrition and/or other illness or bacterial problems. It can be like peeling an onion. But even once you’ve gotten the bases covered, seen platoons of specialists and had reams of tests, you might not be there. You might think that kid is healthy now, SO much more healthy. And they are….they are objectively healthier than they were on arrival.

But health, it’s a continuum, isn’t it? And that continuum is so much longer and wider than I realized. As I said, Marta has been home almost 3.5 years. She came home just recovered from a very serious bout of TB. But she came home well. On paper. As the years have passed, we have watched her health improving in her skin, her hair, her body filling out, her immune system strengthening. In fact, I thought by last year, about this time that we had made it. We had nurtured her to a really good, lasting base level of health.

But ya know what? She had more leaps to make! Who knew? This girl had more health to gain and grab onto. I was sure she was as healthy as she could be. And she was, for that point (2+ years in). But, guess what she did? Not only has Marta finally gained about 10-15 pounds, last spring she GREW AN INCH!!!! NO kidding! I know! I was stunned myself! I had to remeasure twice, no three times. She grew. She grew!

Marta came to us as a tiny girl. Not a young little girl. Just a tiny person girl. Her age is roughly a mid teen. Her growth was stunted due to deprivation. Her growth was FINISHED by every standard medical marker. Her health got better, and we knew that she would always have compromised lungs from scarring and a big cough and asthma. We feared she’d always be first down to any bug. But, we had no expectations of her actually growing, in any way, certainly not taller. BUT SHE DID. She grew. An inch. That’s HUGE! Maybe not huge on the yardstick but huge in terms of wellness. But -and mark this- it took almost THREE years home to before she was able to grow one inch! She is healthier, she is NOT first down with any bug. Her immune system can be a touch fragile but she was one of the last to get the most recent cold in the house. Her cough is dreadful and lasting, but it’s just a cough. We got her another of her biannual chest x-rays this week. And it is noticeably improved!! Scarred, yes. But, her doc said she her films just keep improving.

How long is that? How much time and patience and work and nurture and food and care and safety and relaxing into a new home does the body need to deeply heal? Because that’s what this is: DEEP HEALING of the body. Her heart and head will be a lifetime of the same nurture, with skirmishes from hormones and trauma triggers. But her body, it’s healing. It’s healing not just on the surface with her now luminous skin and her bright eyes and her features filled out instead of gaunt. It’s healing on a deep inner level, a truer wellness.

So, how long should you expect that deep healing to take when you bring home a child from hard places? I think you should be thrilled by the first stages of healing, heck, by every stage. But, I think that I wish someone had told me to be patient and to hope for more than we first imagined. To expect it to take so very very much longer to heal deeply, physically, than I ever could guess. Don’t get me wrong, I also know that every new marker is so worth it, and such a welcome sign of healing and hope. And I’m so grateful. I’m amazed. I’m shocked that her health is still making such forward progress. It’s been so long. A second lifetime. But this one, it’s all about the healing.



I haven’t written much about Gabey of late. He’s just been busy growing and blooming and being a busy snuggly wild five year old. But he’s been doing something more and more that is unique among our kids and my parenting years.

It’s his language. By which I mean, his own unique sound-language. It’s a babble, really. A gibberish of sorts. We have taken to calling it “Gabelish.”

This language of his getting pretty sophisticated in it’s usage, with clear sentence breaks and intonation. However he doesn’t have a consistent vocabulary, so it’s not that evolved or in reality a language constructed for real life use. I think.  It seems to be just play. I think he’s playing. He’s pretty darn intent on it though, and only corrects back to actual English when we make him do so because we can’t understand. It sounds vaguely like a kooky blend of Russian, Turkish, French, and a smidgen of Amharic, maybe.  All the sounds.  He will answer my questions in Gabelish. He will make requests for stuff, in Gabelish. When I cannot understand he repeats in Gabelish. Sometimes, the same, identical words/sounds. Sometimes it changes. Which is how I know he’s playing. And, let me be clear, this boy has been speaking complex sentences, no, paragraphs, for years now in English.  He is a very well spoken five year old.

He’s such a goofball. Oh, and who is that in the background? My dear friend Jen! From http://morganleapoffaith.blogspot.com/

He just often will goof around; babbling out such sound and texture. I think he dreams it up, on the fly, and it springs forth for the pleasure of the mouthing and sound of it. But, really, for me, the remarkable bit is that he uses this with such aplomb;  wIth such confidence and presence. As if, he’s just speaking another language, duh, just not ours.  His. And it clearly tickles him that he knows more languages than we do.

So, it’s kind of cute. But also kind of wacky. I did the research of course (I can’t help myself, don’t judge me). And the net pulls up info on this sort of activity across the board: from gifted to being on the spectrum. So, for now, I’m gonna split the difference. I’m going with age and stage.  I’m gonna presume it’s just his wacky silly nature and a silly game for him. But I want to mark it down. Because I suspect that this is a mere goofy blip as he grows. Perhaps he’ll turn into a great linguist when he grows up, and we will smile at each other knowingly, for we saw it first.

For now, it’s just Gabelish: A little babbling river of sound that is fun and full of make believe and makes him smile with a quiet glee, every time. He is “Master of his world” when he speaks this, and clearly revels in that. For our part in this game? We smile at each other and listen to the rollicking river of Gabelish.