Going Visiting: Feast day!

It’s the Feast of the Visitation!

I love this feast (Ok, I love most any feast!)…because I really think of it as a girl feast, in a way.  It’s about how we girls support each other.  We women, we support each other.  Sometimes it takes getting past those crazy younger years maybe, when there is that weird competition thing going on (do you all still have/do that?).  But, we women are there for each other.  And it’s one of the great riches in life.  So on this feast day I think about that.  Mary went to her older cousin, Elizabeth, and stayed with her to help her as she approached the end of her amazing surprise pregnancy (carrying John the Baptist).  It’s what we do when we can and it’s such a vital part of being a woman that we see it even in the mother of God.  Cool, huh?

I think on this day of all my great good girlfriends and sister and how they have helped me up when I’ve tripped or messed up, listened to me ramble, cooked and cleaned for me and watched me sob to the point of puffy eyes and running snot.  They’ve listened through gulping tears and through seemingly endless venting and pondering and navel gazing rambling.  And that was all just yesterday!!  Kidding…  Still… They’ve consoled and cheered me on in more ways than I can count, saved my marriage and assisted my kids.  This is a feast, in my mind at least, for all of us gals. So, let’s celebrate, lift a glass of something cold and yummy and toast the women and girlfriends, sisters and  moms.  We’re some of each other’s best gifts.  Thank you for that, ladies!

Mariotto Albertinelli
1503 – Oil on wood, 232 x 146 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence {I saw this with my own eyes! Gorgeous, one of my favs!}

Happy Feast Day!

Lovely Rita….

It’s the  Feast of St Rita today.

Now I have grown fond of her over the years.  She is a patron of ‘lost causes,’ officially, because so many seemingly impossible things happened to her during her lifetime.  Unofficially, I kind of consider her a patron saint of marriages and persevering during rocky times.  Her husband was a rough tough man, reportedly mean and ill-tempered; involved in all sorts of sketchy dealings and questionable conduct.  Through Rita’s constant prayer and kindness, she eventually “converted her cruel husband from his wicked ways, making their home a peaceful sanctuary of holy bliss.” (from a bio).  So, she must also have had some real inner strength and savvy on knowing how to stand her ground and be strong and assertive but in a loving manner…which we all need to work on, right?

Marriage and living a holy life is a challenge, every day.  St Rita gives us a patron who ‘gets it.”  I’m sure she is a great intercessor, for marriages, for challenges, for those impossible causes.  She ultimately entered religious life; surely  her skills at conflict resolution and mediation and strength in prayer was an asset in the convent too.  So, I like her.  You might too, she’s an old saint, but a goodie.  If you have any ‘lost causes’ or struggles, she might be a good one to hit up for a little extra prayer on your behalf.

St Rita, pray for us!

Like Sun Shook Foil

Yesterday my Little Man, my Anthony made his First Holy Communion.

Yes, I got a little teary…just a little.  But, it was, ever again, one of those frozen in time moments.  Something about First Communion: the sweetness, the wild loud kids dressed in their best ever, trying so hard to find some decorum, sometimes failing.  The juxtaposition of their still flashing bright nature with the hovering pause before the consecration and them each approaching the altar….it makes me blink hard and hold my breath.  I smile as I see those wiggly boys just not quite be able to contain those wiggles or those distractions.  I gasp a little to see those sweet girls look like angels – old fashioned, maybe – but oh their sweet shining faces, glowing with the excitement of the afternoon and the fuss and hubub of veils and standing just so.

It’s a beautiful sacrament, one of the core foundations of our faith and our, ok – MY, strength and essential need.  These kids are old enough to “get it” and young enough to not be too jaded to care.  They really do embody the heart and flame of the love in this sacrament, to use Hopkins’ better words {one of my fav poems}, “like shining from shook foil.”

No wonder all of us parents and older folks stand around gaping and snuffling and grinning.  I’m so happy for my Little Man.  This sacrament is pure gift.

It was a sweet, happy day.

Going UP, please….

Today is the Feast of the Ascension of Christ.

“Ascension of Christ” by Salvadore Dali

Really.  Doesn’t the entire concept just blow the mind?
Well, it does mine, anyhow.  Now, I have written before about this, and how it kind of always boggles my mind.  Because I am a visual kind of gal, I always get stuck in the imagining of this event, in the unimaginable visuals.  My mind wants to do a whole movie panorama on it, more old Cecil B DeMille flicks, less Spielberg…but I digress.  My point is that I can get all hung up in trying to SEE this, visualize and understand it….which of course totally misses the point.  As usual.
But there are two cool parts to this that I could spend the rest of my life meditating upon, and in fact it would surely do me much good. I won’t, but I should.
The first part is the whole concept that Jesus went to prepare a place for us.   He went to get things ready for us, at HOME.  Home.  Not our current abodes, apartments, houses, condos…but our true home.  And that is with Him, eternally, in heaven (I hope and pray). I mean,  how cool is that?? I don’t know about  you, but I’m  not the greatest hostess on the planet.  I failed Martha Stewart 101.  I have to write post-its to remember to put nice folded towels in the guest bath.  But here, the God of the Universe, of everything, is heading off to prepare a place for us! Now I don’t know what that entails in heaven and all, but even still, he’s already on the details and is prepping with each of us in mind.  Really, how cool is that?
I know I know, this is really talking about bigger picture stuff, but even so, God is in the details too and  you know it.  Ever looked at the marbling in granite?? Or the  marbling in marble? Huh? Stared into a tiger lily? Don’t tell me that God doesn’t pay attention to the tiny details…so I can marvel that Christ left the apostles, ascended even (another spectacular detail),  to go and prepare a place for us, the best place: Home.  Ahhhhh……joy.
The second part of this very cool event, this mind tripping visual, is that this ascension also signified a new and different status for the apostles…which of course trickles right down to us, to me.  He said to them that he would go, but he would send the Holy Spirit and then they were going to be sent too.  Out.  To witness.  To tell the world about this wild amazing truth, this mind blowing love.  That it was real.  He let those apostles SEE him ascend, not just fade away like the Cheshire Cat with his grin the last to go…
Nope, Christ ascended as they watched (and surely, gaped and pointed, nudged and grabbed each other and held out their hands and maybe both laughed a bit and cried a bit too).    But certainly they had to be electrified; how could you not? Surely, this very change from followers of the earthly bodily Jesus to witnesses was facilitated by this ascension.  I mean, literally, they witnessed it.  They witnessed it all: yeah, the ascension, but also Christ himself on earth, his miracles, his passion, his resurrection, his heart, his voice, his smell, his smile.
They knew him, like the world could not.
And thus they were the first, sent out with a bang – a spectacular electric jolt – to bring that excitement to everyone.  Big job, but then again, big cool.  Much to think about with this day….

Ascension of Christ, by Garofalo, 1520

O King of Glory,
Lord of Hosts,
Who didst this day ascend in triumph
above all the heavens!
Leave us not orphans,
but send upon us the Spirit of Truth,
promised by the Father.
The Liturgical Year: Book 9
*disclaimer: some of this post from several years back.  Very swamped w/ family life, but liturgical life is still so cool that I want to mark it, always!

Canary in a Coal Mine

That’s me. The mom, I mean.

I know this isn’t a groundbreaking idea. The old adage “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” is still circulating for good reason. But as I’ve been stuck in the quicksand of diva drama lately, the image of the canary has been occurring to me repeatedly. I am a canary. And yes, sometimes in the deep dark murk of a coal mine.

The swirling moods of teen girls, the reverberations and wafting spread of the gaseous poisonous presence of those same moods on any given day can be toxic to us all. As mom it’s my job to offset those moods; yes, to redirect and reframe and temper and sooth and ignore (often all within minutes). It’s up to me to keep my equanimity (a favorite turn of phrase of the dad in the house) and to carry on and muddle through.

But, there’s more. It’s my job to be the marker. I have a hyper-vigilant daughter who gauges many of her reactions based on mine. Yeah, talk about pressure, eh? Or, on a good day: opportunity. It can really swing either way, based on my sleep deprivation, sugar levels, weather, you get the idea. And of course, sometimes, no matter my reaction or cheer or calm, she can’t maintain. But, sure as shootin’ (as they say here in the south) she will look to me first, to gauge my reaction/mood/approach to whatever is happening that has any volatile twinge to it. Sister late to be ready for school? Marta’s eyes are upon me, watching if I am cool and can smile and give an eye roll of “no big deal, all’s well” or “big sis is so busted” so Marta can be angry too. Seriously. Since Marta IS hyper vigilant and hates having anything off routine or mark (leaving at 7:10 NOT 7:11, 12 or 15….) her anxiety is just looking for a reason to overflow. She watches to see if the canary is choking or singing. Me.

The others too, however, all of them, also check the canary gauge/cage. If I’m busy and flitting around, maybe chirping about this or that or even handing out directions then life is puttering along just like it’s supposed to. But if I get sick, then the crews stop and stare, wondering what to do. Worse, if I start choking in frustration and toxic fumes of mood (mine or others) and falling with ruffled feathers….well, everyone else will, swiftly, too.

So, instead of putting pressure on myself to only sit on my perch (in the kitchen, of course) and keep a beady eye on the toxicity in my house…….I am deciding that this gives me a power of influence that I shouldn’t waste.

I want to, I choose to, sing.

…and to cook. Always. {Sunday brunch}

For a Monday: “Fix You.”

To start the week off right:

My girl.  Can’t see  her face well enough to suit me, but I still like hearing her sing….

{production note: the girl playing violin is her friend  Jacqui Ramos, a very talented musician and nice girl.  This was the school talent show at end of March….but it seems that there was a production glitch in the upload and the song plays twice though.  So, if you love it, by all means, listen twice; otherwise, it’s only actually 5-ish mins long, not 10, don’t panic}

Blog Blockade

Soooo, things have been a little slow around the blog, eh?

Yeah, I know.  And it’s not because life in the coffeehouse has been slow, though part of me desires to cultivate that intentional slowness.  No, no.  Rather, life has been way too fast.  It’s not even been way too fast due to a pile of graduations or events…no, no.  Rather, life has been way too fast and full of the shifting moods and emotions and…wait for it…yes, DRAMA, of having four teen girls in the house.

The Drama-rama has become a blog blockade.

This picture actually sums it up well: a herd of sheep, jostling for position, bleating and scowling, occasionally moving aside in a kind gesture, other times shoving through, leaving a mess behind them.  Teen girls.  The drama might put me under.  Add to the fact the complications of adoption and attachement issues, older child adoption transition issues (yes, still, ever?), special needs, intellectual disability and developmental delays, standard sibling rivalry, pressure cooker schools and just, oh, our modern culture and our desire to swim against the tide to a fair degree (as Catholics)…and well…you’ve got a blockade of drama that it most impressive.

Add to that my own circular thoughts on whether or not I should or shall continue blogging…some days I absolutely want to keep on because I process my swirling thoughts by typing; and some days I think, you know, the blog-o-sphere doesn’t need another whiny mom throwing  her opinions up on the net.  Go quiet.  You’re busy.  And then my practical side reminds me that I’m also losing my memory and I’ll never remember these moments or thoughts unless i document them on blog.  So, I’m dithering too.  Adding to the bleating noisy sheep up in that roadblock.

Lovely aren’t they? But, oh, a handful!

So, this is just a once again too long short post to say, I’m still here.  Just kind of slamming busy being mom to four teen girls (and four busy boys to boot)…and it keeps my days and nights in OVERDRIVE.  But for now, please bear with me and don’t disappear entirely (though I understand if you do).  Because the thing that keeps me tethered here, is, ultimately, the community that I have found on this blog and the many others that I read and cheer onward.  That’s the best of it all….but you already know all that….. So for now, I’m not quitting.  I’m just on diva delay……..

For the month of May: Mind your Mom…

Happy May! Thank goodness, it’s May!  Now, for us Catholics, May is the month of honoring Mary as the Mother of God, indeed, as our  mother too.  It’s the month for remembering we have a role model and someone who really “gets it.”

As we all should, it’s the month to tell your mom you love her and to just give her a break and treat each other well.  So, to that end, we have the annual video put out by the May Feelings folks, drawn from the witness of Pope John Paul II and his encouragement to youth the world over to go out and be a light in this world.

We are all so connected, more than we realize, even with the pervasive reach of social media.  We need each other, it’s our greatest gift: connection, caring.  Mind your mom: