A Man for All Seasons….

It’s the feast of St Thomas More!

He is an awesome saint, and a fascinating person…plus he’s a patron of my dear Tom.  So, I have to mark the day, though simply.  So, go see the movie if you haven’t and read up on him.  He was a wealthy and sucessful businessman and lawyer, had a large family (biological and adopted children, gotta love it) and rather a menagerie as well.  He was the confident of his close friend the king, until the king decided the Church’s rules were restrictive to his fickle love life.  Then it all went bad, to the point of martyrdom.  St. Thomas More represents, to us, to me…..trust, courage, conviction, perseverance, loyalty, generosity, and acceptance (of children, life situations, the truth, and the present moment) of what life brings you.  Quite a bit to emulate and to virtues to pray for as well.

Painting, St. Thomas More, by Lydia Mahan, 2011

St. Thomas More, pray for us. My Thomas, Happy Feast Day!

From a letter to his daughter, Meg, while imprisoned by  his friend, the king:

And, therefore, my own good daughter, do not let your mind be troubled over anything that shall happen to me in this world.  Nothing can come but what God wills.  And I am very sure that whatever that be, however bad it may seem it shall indeed be the best.”

Knot Again….

Remember this?

Yeah, I wrote about this here.   Go, read it if you will and get caught up. Yes, it’s a rosary, but this one…we think it’s kinda special.  Just to recap: that rosary, right up there, is the rosary the Tom/Coffedoc/theDad made for Chris/Brother Peter Joseph as he entered the Novitiate.  All Dominican’s (like many or most or all living in a Catholic religious order – brothers sisters monks priests nuns) wear a full 15 decade rosary attached to the belt of their habit.  Thus, this was one of the items of a very short list we actually were to send along with him as he entered his Novice year.  Tom, being who he is, thought to make the rosary.  And so he did.  Again, read all about it here, it’s kinda cool.

The rosary was working great…so to speak.  Peter Joseph prayed it daily, it hung just right on his habit and all was well.  Until sometime midway through the year…and then, it hit a little snag.  Or, to be precise, it got caught on a doorknob as Peter Joseph was running along a hallway to go grab a guitar (boys are boys are men are boys….).  And it didn’t exactly break.  But it did rather streeetch the rosary out and pull on the (vintage, weaker) loop of the crucifix.  So.  Peter Joseph asked his Dad if anything could be done.

Now, we know the answer to that one:  Of course!

So, Tom decided it was best to not just fix it.  No, it was best to REMAKE it.  You know, We can rebuild it.  Better. Faster.{..ahem, ok mabye not that part} Stronger...”  And so he did.  It took him months to research a better source for the cord – one that won’t stretch out if pulled, hard, with the translational momentum and torque of running friars.  The loop attaching the crucifix has been finely welded together to be stronger and more secure, despite it’s age.  The knots have been redesigned and retied, my math isn’t up to the precise number of knots but there are knots between each bead and there over 150 of those.  Yeah, my fingers ache just thinking about it….

The knot for the centerpiece has been redone, and in fact created from an original knot design by Tom because he couldn’t find a suitable and strong enough knot that he liked; though he tested out too many to count.  So he designed his own.  Each bead has been prayed over and with.

This rosary, the beads the knots, once again. still, carry Toms heart and head and hands.  They are a gift of himself to his son, in the most complete way. And I’m not trying to blather on about this to  boast…but rather to point out the joy in the effort and the meaning of these simple beads.  

They are, of course, beautiful in and of themselves.  They are beautiful for the prayers they represent and encourage.

But for me, they are beautiful for the simplest reason of all: These beads carry our prayers with them, to our son, and join his.  

50 for 50

So, it’s my 50th birthday today.  Yeh, I can hardly believe it myself. I surprise myself every time I catch a glance in a passing window, wondering why my mom is tagging along.  Oh wait…..

But, instead of focusing on some of the mournful aspects of turning officially 50 (body changes oh my…)…..I want to mark this day with my own personal list of 50 things for which I am grateful.  I want to put up this list for me (to mark as my memory goes, sooner I fear rather than later); it is not anywhere close to all encompassing, it will not list every person because that list would probably be endless and my memory is going so I wouldn’t remember the names and then I’d get all stressed out and, well, you get the idea…..

It’s my birthday and I’ll list as I want to.  No particular order or relevance or profundity – mundane and inane and momentous included.  It’s barely a scratch of the surface of the goodness in my blessed life.  Just as with people, impossible to list every thing to be thankful for.  Comments will be closed because this post/list, really, it’s for me to officially recognize all the bounty of goodness and wonder in my life.  

Now, today at 50, here we go….

50 for 50:

  1. My family: husband, each and all my kids.
  2. My mom and dad and sister and brothers;  my nieces and nephews.
  3. My Godchildren.
  4. My faith and my church, the Catholic Church and all that comes with it: the saints, the smells the bells the big perpetual global prayer that unites us all, the eucharist and the simplicity and beauty of this mind blowing truest thing.
  5. my friends, old, new, virtual and in real life….don’t know what I’d do without them/you. close ones far ones near and dear and darn ones……
  6. raspberries and blackberries
  7. coffee, espresso, iced coffee
  8. Vanilla almond milk for my iced coffee
  9. the warm soft early summer air in the south before the air turns heavy dripping with humidity later
  10. the beach, any and all
  11. Carlsbad, perhaps my favorite place, anywhere
  12. novenas
  13. the rosary
  14. the Dominican Provence of St Joseph
  15. my bulldog sitting next to me as I read
  16. spending much of my childhood riding my horse all over
  17. horseback rides with my dad, both the long trail rides through the desert and the local walkabouts around the neighborhoods
  18. sitting out in the ocean, beyond the breakers waiting for the next set on the boogie board as a teen
  19. yakking in the sun with girlfriends who are (still) like sisters as we waited and teased each other (or they teased me) for being scared for the next set of waves
  20. figuring out, finally, how to make really good homemade bread/boule with a crunchy crust and a soft airy inside
  21. watching my kids, especially my big boys, devour the bread I make
  22. singing badly in the car to old songs just to aggravate the kids, as needed
  23. having run a few marathons, having loved running a few half marathons
  24. college. grad school. all of it.
  25. reading, forever my favorite thing
  26. electronics and our convenient world; the net, iphones, email
  27. e-readers, the kindle and ipad for the liberating ease of use and portability
  28. routines of stretching for helping my body age and transition
  29. girls night out, especially when it involves my sister
  30. wine and lemon drop martinis
  31. the “love letters” my son makes me: books and songs and pictures
  32. saturday night standing date night with my tom
  33. movies, especially going OUT to movies
  34. hearing my kids play music and sing
  35. listening to my kids play the music and sing downstairs in the living room as I lie above them drifting to sleep in bed
  36. late afternoons at the beach as the sun starts sinking lower and the crowds fade off and the sand starts to cool but the last bites of conversation or being are still being savored
  37. late afternoons at the pool watching my kids swim and reading as the heat of the day ebbs away
  38. prepping and making a sunday dinner as tom takes the kids out on boat and the house gets quiet and I can prepare a simple ‘feast’ to mark the best day of the week
  39. sundays
  40.  my family still being connected despite all of us being different and in different places, we are and will be there for each other
  41. watching my nephews graduate from college with my sister
  42. a baby, especially my babies, falling asleep on my chest
  43. the difficult events in my life that have scared me, tested me, indeed darn near or indeed broken me…because I healed stronger.
  44. being able to give an assist, however small, to others who’ve found themselves struggling with the same or similar events or issues
  45. the Liturgy of the Hours
  46. telling my kids jokes that only their dad and I get, sharing the high fives with him
  47. making sure my kids know I’m a laugh riot
  48. the smell of tom’s neck and his arms around me
  49. bubbly water, bubbly anything
  50. waking up to face this next era, knowing that life is beautiful, challenging, and all gift.


The Perfect Job?

So, my eldest daughter has gotten her first job.

I’m so proud!


However, in reviewing the job description of this first job, her dad and I have to laugh. Because our girl, she is clearly a genius.

Our girl, in finding her FIRST job has cleverly managed to land herself the PERFECT first job, for her.

How’s that you might ask? Well, let’s review. Most first jobs are of the service sort: working in fast food, child care, baggers at the supermarket, mowing lawns, walking dogs, taking tickets, bussing tables, hostessing and leading to tables, hanging up clothes from dressing rooms and straightening racks in stores. All good jobs. Heck ANY job is a good job! The usual starters are all honorable and necessary work, and indeed, the first jobs that her dad and I had were among these. These are any and all the sort of jobs that we had in mind when we ordered gently suggested to our daughter that this summer, a job was a must good idea.

Not to be outdone in the good luck department, she found a job as a lifeguard at our local YMCA.

Let’s read that again. She found a job as a lifeguard. At a pool.

  • So, no, she will NOT be bussing tables or asking if you’d like fries with that.
  • She will NOT be wearing a silly hat or a polyester retro off color uniform top.
  • She will NOT be politely handing out tickets or drinks, smiling til it hurts.

Nope, she’s landed herself a “Bossy job.”

  • She gets to wear a cute bathing suit (she says it’s not, but …. de facto: at 16, every bathing suit is cute).
  • She gets to wear a cute visor and cool shades.
  • She gets to cultivate a tan and has cute supervisors.
  • Not only does she NOT have to ask “would you like fries with that?” and smile til it hurts….she gets to glare at the small annoying children from her perch on high.
  • She gets to point her finger at them and say “Hey, you kids, knock it off!” (she might need to be slightly more tactful on the job, but that’s her home version).
  • She GETS A WHISTLE, for pity’s sake!

Read that again. My 16 year old daughter, for her first job ever, has gotten a job where she gets to wield a whistle and boss people around.

So I ask you: Is she a mad genius and has found the perfect job….


is it the end of the world as we know it?

Consider it wisely…..but, in the meantime, make sure you walk in the pool zone.

Corpus Christie: mind blowing feast day

It’s the feast of Corpus Christi: the Body of Christ.
It’s one of the greatest Mysteries of the faith, capital “M” mystery again…one of those that boggle and baffle the mind. One of those you believe or you don’t. Period.
I do.

It’s the Eucharist. The body of Christ. It’s a gift, a sacrament, it’s utterly holy and sacred and, at the same time, the most intimate thing on earth.

I can’t do this justice of course. To read more about this, with historical support, go here.
To read a good piece on how to bring together your mind, heart and senses on this, go here.

All I know is that I like thinking about connections a lot. You know that. I like that whole connected relational brought together linked adopted bonded sense in (my) life. I see it so many places that it gives me chills if I stop to think about it. And that is what I find to the utmost, mindblowing, heart zinging way in the sacrament of Communion and the Eucharist: the most intimate connection and unity that can be. Ever – in this world. And I yearn for it and reach for it and I sink into it with relief and gratitude and wallowing comfort and thankfulness.
And I don’t understand it with my mind.
But my heart and soul know it’s more real than anything else.
John 6

*reposted from a few years ago. This doesn’t change for me, just keeps me sighing in awe and relief.*

Teen Green….

Nope, not talking about cash. That’s what many, my girls included, would think of first. Nope. Talking about that green eyed monster: Jealousy.

In our big messy house, we’ve been running into a lot of jealousy. I have. I am telling you that this spring, but oh my goodness even more so, this summer, every time I turn around one or another of my girls is jealous of a sister. As they say here in the south, “You can’t swing a dead cat” without hitting a jealous sister. I know, yikes!

Jealousy. It’s the grown up, breathing, creature risen from the little kid version of sibling rivalry. This has morphed from little kid “gimme’s” and grabs to a stewing breath of resentment and envy. It’s jealousy. I think especially for girls, it’s a serious monster that waits in the closet, needing only a crack in the door to step out. Especially for teens. Especially when it comes to teen sisters. {And there are many who can/will point to the idea that we/I haven’t ‘formed’ them well enough….maybe. But I think this is part of our human nature, and it peaks in the toddler and teen years. And with the complexities in our family and it’s forming, well, I’m not sure how we could have sidestepped this entirely…But maybe I’m just being defensive; it could happen!}

Now, most of the jealousy ’round here centers around time with me. Which, on one level, is grand. They like me! Or, more to the point, they need time with me. And they WANT it! But on another level, it’s tough. It’s a pressure. Because I do make a point of trying my best to make sure each kid gets time with me, one on one, face time, checking in, sitting by them, ears and heart open…etc etc. Typically, the jealous version plays out around the idea of…wait for it….shopping. No surprise that, eh? If one of them needs something from the store: another pair of shorts, a new sports bra, heck, more conditioner…… then if I take them to the store to shop and/or get it…..then I can be quite certain that when I get home one or several will now be “jealous.” {Which explains why I try to do a great lot of the shopping alone, when they are in school….but it’s summer…..yeah, circling back to the problem now….} Heck I can lay money on it. They don’t seem to be nearly as jealous of time spent with me chopping vegetables for dinner….hmmmm…

Michael D. Edens, “Jealousy”

It’s wearing me out.

So, this is a post to ask for ideas from anyone who has multiple teen girls at home: How do you soothe and settle the green eyed teen? How do you address the cries of “H first! (no fair, me jealous),” “It’s just that I NEVER get to go with you.” “You NEVER get me stuff.” You only take/buy/do for ____fill in the blank____?” All of these statements have a fractional basis in reality – in that I cannot buy for every single child every single time another needs something. We’d go bankrupt. And I cannot take every child every time; nor can I take every child every day or week. I’d simply drop dead from insanity or sheer exertion.

I have four teen girls right now. I love them so. Each of them is an amazing individual; each with so many great qualities. But, collectively? The sisters, the hormones, the drama, the JEALOUSY?? It’s making for a LONG summer. And summer has only begun….

Moms?? Experience, tips…anything??

The Triplet: Feast of the Holy Trinity

Triples.  Triplets.  It’s all about the abundance, of course.  That’s one of the best things about faith, our faith, the Catholic church.  Abundanza!

It’s the Feast of the Holy Trinity!

Which means it’s another day of mystery, with a capital M.  This mystery is one of the biggies, of course.  Uber Catholic to boot {we Catholics love a good mystery!}.  One that really, we are not truly meant to fully figure out – because as soon as you think you have; you’ve probably fallen into presumption (with a capital P) and are not on target to boot.

So, here’s what we do know, ok, let’s be more precise, what I think about this day: it’s a feast of love, really.  How’s that? Well, God the Father so loved everything, but even more so,us, that he gave us his Son, and the love between those two was so immeasurably great that it begat it’s own third “person”: the Holy Spirit.  Thus those three began the “begatting” that we read in the Old Testament (pages and pages of it, right?) and that, when we are doing it right, here on earth, begets us each other.

El Greco, “The Holy Trinity”

The Trinity was and is (and ever will be) the prime, premier, example of how to love – well and truly.  And that right there, is enough mystery for my little brain for, um, the rest of  my life.  Which is really, of course, part of it’s charm.  Mind blowing charm and goodness.  Something to celebrate. And that’s why it’s a feast day: was then, is now, and will be forever.  Amen.

Happy Feast of the Holy Trinity!

Eyes Open: Marking the Reading Good

So, I have done a few posts on “marking the good.” I call these posts “Eyes Open” because too often I run around with my hair on fire and I forget to open my eyes to see the goodness abounding or the small flickering glimmer.  So, now and then I luck out and it runs smack into me.  

The other day (I would’ve put this up sooner, but again, hair on fire, crazy busy w/ the freight train slow savor of summer) this bit of good literally barreled into me as I stood, per usual, folding clothes.  Marta rushed over to me from her room, carrying a book I had handed her just the day before.

This book was one where had she rolled her eyes at me.  I had been on a jag of pulling books and old homeschool materials out of the bookshelves, working up a lather on getting the kids to ‘get busy’ during summer.  The freaky slow simmering fire drill of many kids loafing around the house, bored or soon to be bored, or not nearly  bored enough because they were finding ways to maim themselves was already on my nerves.  So I had started a minor rampage through the house.  When she protested against that idea, stating firmly that there was no homework for her over the summer I just grinned a big grin and said “Oh yeah!”  And when she said her teacher only said “Read” during the summer months I said, “Okay!” and loaded her up with a few books to take.  Like, five small ones.  If I had dumped all of the books I might have in mind on her small self she would just shut down.  I got a glare and a sigh and a big eye roll.  Then she disappeared and the books with her.

I forgot all about it, went about my day or two putting out fires, folding laundry, cooking, swapping laundry, cooking, picking up towels, folding laundry and cooking.  But, as I was, um, folding laundry and thinking about what to cook for dinner, Marta came darting over to me, holding out a book with a grin and jabbering.  I had to slow her down, take the book and examine it and then grin at her.  I asked her to tell me about the book.  She did. I asked her if she read it.

She said, “Yes! Very good book! Black girl, very sad, last {page of} book very nice, so nice very happy.  Black people white people girls very friends.  Very good book!”  I dropped my laundry, I hugged her tight and told her how cool that was!!!

Now, I don’t want to make too much of this….ok, forget that, this is big.  Huge.  I know that she read more of the key words and skipped a few others. I  know that she looked at the pictures to help decode the story.  But, um, I believe that way back when I was a “Miss” that was still called ‘reading!’  That is the whole process: decoding, using cues, figuring out  meaning through context, bringing it all together to  make sense.  And, that, that is exactly what she did.  My Marta, read a book and followed a story arc.  I don’t think she was or has read this book before.  Not by me.  (Adrienne? {-her teacher} Let me know if you see this…).  So, you could quibble and say, she didn’t read every word and understand every single word.  But here’s the deal: Marta read the book, she understood the story.  She got excited about it.  She totally related to that scared little girl, which is a whole ‘nother post, I know.  Still.  Let me say that again: She got excited about it.  I mean, LIT up.  Which lit me up.  We knuckle bumped, we high fived, we hugged and grinned stupidly at each other.  And I was simply thrilled; as much as she was.  Seriously.

So, I am proud of her.  I want to go on record and mark that good. It’s SO good.  Reading is power.  No  matter who or what, thats the bottom line.  Reading opens up your world.  It empowers, excites, helps.  It’s huge.

So what’s next? I don’t know. {Yes, I do: more laundry and cooking and reading!}  But I do know I promptly got on Amazon and ordered all the copies (used, this is an old series) of the Scholastic First Biographies I could find.  I’m excited. I’m marking the good with a big shout out.  It’s an” Eyes Open to Read!”