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… 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.