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

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.

Great Eight

It’s my Little Man’s big birthday!

He is eight today! Whoa.

I asked him how he felt this morning, did he feel different, did he feel good? He said, “Yes, I feel excited!”  And well he should.  I told him eight is a GREAT year!

Eight is the year when you are past being a really little kid, you are kind of a middle kid.  You’re not learning all the rights and wrongs anymore; mostly, you know ’em.  You’re not caught up in the crazy hormones and boy/girl dramas.  You don’t have to get a job yet.  All ya gotta do is stay steady in school, do the  usual chores, and be a kid…a happy kid.  Play, preferably outside, a LOT.  It’s a great time.

That, just that, is what my birthday wish for my boy.  I wish for him to have a happy few years, starting today, of just “kid stuff.”  I’m not sure I can give him that wish or make it come true.  Life tends to be a bit more complicated than that it seems, and already for him it is, a bit.  But even so…his heart and laugh can carry him a long long way to having a few really simple happy kid years and we are gonna do our best to help him make them happen.

So, today on his birthday I’ve just gotta list a few pointers on my Little Man:

  • He is a happy, good boy,
  • with a heart that is bigger than most any others,
  • and a keen sense of justice.
  • He has energy to burn,
  • if our best scientists could figure out how to harness it, we’d solve the global energy crisis with the greenest energy going: his.
  • He is crazy creative,
  • a talented artist and budding musician, already.
  • He is athletic and strong (and did I mention, energetic), and loving his basketball team and his teammates.
  • He is not happy that the season is drawing to a close, he could play forever…
  • and is gonna try.
  • He is so fast.
  • When he goes to steal the ball in a game and then rips off the other way with it, I can’t help but shout out, “GO! GO, GO!”
  • He’s so fast and fun to watch play.
  • He is so doggone smart, sometimes his warp speed mind spinning makes him distracted, but it’s because his attention and synapses run at Maserati speed.
  • He is loving and sweet and, still – on the good days – writes me “love letters” or, even sweeter, talks them to me as we drive to/fro those practices.
  • He is a night owl, the king of night owl’s.
  • We need to find a career for him where this will be an asset, because this boy can’t seem to sleep much when the moon is high.
  • He really does NOT like spiders or snakes, period.
  • He is a great eater, especially if you are talking about cheeseburgers…not much better than a good cheeseburger in my son’s eyes.
  • I could brag on this sweet son of mine forever, but I won’t.
  • But I will kiss his head today and hug him tight, feed him basketball cake and clap when he blows out his eight candles,
  • and I will wish for him a few really simple joyful happy years of kidhood…
  • to revel in the crashing loud happy singing quiet muddy wondrous years of middle kid time.

My Anthony, he is eight today.  He’s getting bigger at an astonishing rate; like they do.  So I will spend this year trying to really see him, with clear eyes and heart.  I will make sure we do all we can to have our hearts beat together, even as we shout and cheer him on through his fun middle kid years.

Happy Happy Eighth Birthday My Anthony.

We are SO very proud of  you and we love you so!

Mom, it’s my birthday!

Oh, my baby is five. And he has told my “It’s my birthday!” today, oh, 83 times I think so far.  And it’s only 8 am.  He says it with wonder and mild surprise, every time.  It makes me laugh.   Happily, he also dives in for a hug each and every time; which makes me grin.  Because yup, it’s my baby’s birthday, and he is five.  Oh happy happy day, to be five.

He is no baby, anymore.  He will be quick to tell you that. And I will be quicker still to tell you he will always be my baby.  But, be that as it may…he’s a rough and rowdy five year old now!

Happy Birthday to my Gabriel!

You came to us, and we to you, when you were just a tiny little toddler.  And now  you have grown into a loud busy wild sweet funny smart big boy.  For your birthday today we will sing songs, take you to your buddy’s party (thanks Beck!) and celebrate double.  We will cook  hot dogs and serve spiderman cake tonight.  We will clap and cheer and hug you tight all day long, for your big birthday.

And so, on your fifth birthday, here is what I see:

  • I see a little boy who runs FAST and jumps high and laughs hard:
  • who loves to make jokes
  • and funny faces
  • and go places, most ANY places will do.
  • I see a big boy who just loves silly things,
  • and be mischievous; as is proper to any true five year old.
  •  I see a boy who is literally too big for his britches,
  • but still loves a cuddle,
  • especially at bedtime and first thing in the morning…
  • unless you’re the dog, and then it’s a cuddle and a nuzzle, anytime!
  • I see a big boy who loves superheroes,
  • especially spiderman and batman,
  • who is learning to read and write his name,
  • but isn’t too too interested in numbers, yet…
  • unless we are counting cookies!
  • My big boy loves to play outside, swim, ride bikes and scooters, and play basketball and jump on the trampoline…
  • but he also loves loves to watch tv (oy).
  • Happily, he loves to also listen to stories and begs me to keep going when it’s time to stop.
  • He still has the little crinkle on his nose when he smiles,
  • and he knowingly uses it to charm…most everyone.
  • My big boy still has, and I hope he keeps, his sensitive heart.
  • It is a big softie of a heart, but it has a little bit of a carefully constructed turtle shell around it too.
  • We try to keep extra special care of that precious part of him.
  • Because his heart, it’s tied to each and every one of ours….
  • our lives would be so much paler and poorer if we missed our Gabe.
  • Because this big rowdy five year old big boy…..?

We are crazy about him!

So, happy happy happy happy happy Birthday to our Gabey!  

It’s an exciting day and we love you so!


Did you hear that? It’s his birthday! What d’ya know?  Too fun!

Twenty times, my Jon

Happy Happy Birthday to my boy, my second born son, my Booboo!

You are twenty!!

And I know that you’re in finals and you’re swamped….and that you want to take a raincheck, or an exam-check, on your birthday until you are home to celebrate properly.  And we will.  But, even so, you have to know that today I am thinking about you, remembering your birth, the day, the entire crazy morning…and I’m sitting here doing it with a grin.  I’ve said my morning prayers for your birthday intentions, you’ll be in my heart and head and prayers all day long.  I can’t wait until you’re up so I can call you, but out of deference to your age (did I mention, it’s 20?!?!?) I will wait until a more reasonable hour when I’m sure you’re awake.  How about around noon?

I’ve said all your birthday wishes and notes before.  But, I can’t  help it, I’ve gotta post something for you, for this momentous day.  So, without further ado, yes, you guessed it, twenty things about you, my Jon, in no particular order of rank, on your birthday:

  1. I love it that  you are so creative.
  2. and so musical and I get to listen to you play.
  3. and that  you have so much fun being a DJ and it makes me grin that you’re so successful at it.
  4. I love it that you have a mind that is always scheming,
  5. even when it also kind of worries me.
  6. I figure you will always land on your feet
  7. because you have crazy sharp common sense and savvy
  8. and let’s face it, you were an old man the day you were born.
  9. You have such a soft compassionate heart
  10. that you hide from most
  11. though you have a harder time hiding your keen sense of justice
  12. and your eyes to see the littler ones.
  13. You are an amazing big brother
  14. and we count on  you to be that, more than you might realize.
  15. You can make me laugh til I cry
  16. which is one of my favorite things.
  17. You love babies and dogs
  18. and, perhaps not surprisingly, they love you back (they are natural good judges of character!)
  19. You seek the truth, no matter what
  20. and have the heart to go there, wherever you find it.

And it’s not part of the list, because it’s way too big for that…but we love you and are so very proud of you, today and every day.  We miss you and cannot wait to hug you in person.  In the meantime, enjoy your birthday cake (I hope it arrives in good, delicious, shape!).

Happy Happy Birthday My Jon, Happy 20!

We hope all your birthday wishes come true….and we love you so……

Novitiate, how’s it going?

So, my son has been at the Novitiate for almost four months.  He’s been in spiritual boot camp for almost 1/3 of a year; or, he’s almost 1/3 of the way through his intensive friar boot camp.

He has a new name, Brother Peter Joseph.  He has new clothes, for most of the time, his white habit and black copa (cape).  He has 12 new brothers, and as I’ve now begun to get to know them….they are great guys.  Now, I guess that’s no surprise, they would be, right? Well, by and large, they are.  Which is a comfort to my mom’s heart too.  It’s getting cold up there but I sent up his coat (and cookies).

Brother Peter Joseph spends his days in prayer, study, and service, with time out for basketball and hikes and music as well.  He is choir master, for now.  Halfway through they switch jobs, and they might then make his new job master of the laundry…or maybe not…  They have movie night, dvds from their library, every week.  They have game night, I think.  They walk into town for errands.  He drives now and then; every week he has a day when  his team of brothers works at an assisted living facility, doing whatever is needed to help out.  They do a lot of manual labor, they have some big projects in process around the parish and priory.  They laugh a lot, they are a funny bunch – and that makes me so so very glad too.  The brothers have class most days, but not the test/paper kind of class…more the deeper learning/study kind of class.

It all sounds kind of calm and quiet and routine.  And, in so many ways, it is, I think.  But it is carefully crafted to be so, in order to detach from the noise and distraction of this loud busy world and go into the deep; to turn the heart and soul toward God and the ear to his voice.  To listen, fully, finally, and really.  But that, right there, is where the real rigor begins.  I don’t know about you, but oy, for me to really QUIET, and listen…?  That’s a workout.  I am like a gabbling goose (I know, I know – evidently, right?!) and to actually STILL my body and mind…well it’s a JOB.  It’s actually totally countercultural anymore, really, isn’t it? I think so.  And that, the very rigor in that process, is why this novitiate year is hard.  To come face to face with your attachments, distractions, little idols, irritations and indulgences and set them aside for something so much bigger that you can’t even wrap your head around it fully?  That’s something kind of unfathomable to me.

It’s radical.

So, when my son says he’s “…really good. But it’s hard.”  He means just that I think.  It is a deep, but good difficulty.  It’s time.  It’s his time.  And he is approaching one of the hard seasons of the novitiate year.  Not the most difficult; that would be Lent.  But the next two holidays are big.  Big changes, big adjustment…for us all.  He will miss, for the first time and for onward, Thanksgiving and Christmas (and lent/Easter, etc) at home with his family.  We will miss, for the first time and for onward, having him with us.  Oh, it makes me tear up to even type it, dork that I am.  And it’s not like I didn’t know…I KNEW, even last year, that it was the last.  But, there it is.  It is hard.  For us all.  But, even so, it is good.

He says, “Please keep praying for me.”  So, I ask  you, any or all, to please keep my boy in your prayers; heck, keep all those young men in prayer. Because it’s a tough season ahead.  Jolly, yes. Joyful, yes.  And rich? Beyond description, I suspect.

So, how is it going, that novitiate?  It’s going really well.  It’s going just like it’s supposed to.  It’s hard.  It’s rich, peaceful, bittersweet, lonely, irritating, surprising, funny…it’s good.  It’s radical in the desire and the depth and the choosing of it all.  And, I suspect, and hope and pray, that’s it’s radical in it’s accompanying (divine) light and goodness and joy.

>Missing Monday

>So, it’s Monday again, already and I guess I’m not quite ready for it.

Dragging myself into the dawn and the day. 
I don’t know if it’s the gloom of the incoming rain or if it’s the lingering of the bugs in the house or just my old age and moody nature, but this morning I’m dragging and moody.

I miss my boys.

So, what I do, and even coffeedoc does, when we miss our boys is torture ourselves somewhat by listening to their music.  Sometimes.  Sometimes I can’t even bring  myself to do it.
But today, I want to hear Chris sing.
So you get to as well.

This was from a year or so ago, my Chris is on the keyboard, his pals are terrific too.
A bit melancholy Monday….

>Life with Boys, Saturday edition

>Booboo has his best buddy over today, hanging out. We’ll call him Hockey Star…but we should call the pair of them “Fric N Frac.” Don’t get me wrong. This boy too, he’s like one of my own, they’ve been buds for years.

But those two…..They are “too cool for you” 16 year olds, but still can be boys enough to run into the house from the pool and shout with glee “Mom, we’re gonna have a fight between a frog and a black widow!”

Yeah, I’m gonna want front row seats for that one…