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.

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.

Calling Aunt Melva…Raising Teen Girls

I need to call my Aunt Melva. No, I need to go take an intensive course with her on how she raised her five girls.

I can remember hanging out at their house and marveling at the fact that all the kids there were GIRLS. She had five. My five Arizona cousins. I love them all. I had big times with them growing up. But my Aunt Melva….she’s the one that pops into my head when my girls start driving me crazy.

They look so happy, don’t they? Changes on a dime! {please disregard the dry cleaning…ahem}

This weekend has been one of crazy intensive girls. I mean, the hormones seem to be sky high round here. The moods shift and swing in crazy unexpected arcs. Seriously, it’s enough to make a mom want a drink. Ok, me.

This morning, in the swirling prep time before Mass, I thought I had it together. Gabey is home sick so I’m staying with him and will attend the late Mass. But I surfed a few moods, did some hair, offered tastes of the pumpkin roll to a few…and then the surface starting cracking. Moods. Issues. Thunder rumbling through the kitchen with sparking tears, instantly.

Sigh….  It’s the change of seasons of course: autumn. I love it. But I always forget that while we love the colors and smells and crisp days, it brings the time change or the “Why hasn’t the time changed? Why is it so dark?” issues. Explaining this to M is tough. I just keep telling her it will be better in a few weeks. She’s frustrated. And the clothes. One day it’s very warm, the next awfully nippy. Which is fine and kind of fun. Unless it’s early in the morning and you need to get to Mass. Then, somehow, none of the girls (The boys do fine, they wear the same year ’round practically. So easy…ah….) can find anything to wear. A couple of them have legitimately grown. A couple are done growing. So some need a few more Mass clothes for the cold weather, a few have them…not that they can find them. And when a girl who has big troubles in the morning is pushed to hurry, she is like a T Rex bashing through your kitchen and frankly, it’s tiresome and pushes my buttons more often than not.

So, mom fail.

Not so great when you have a fuss with  your daughter on her way out the door to Mass, and she slams it as she goes.  Sigh.  And all about clothes…which makes my belly hurt because it’s first world problems.  She knows better and is, I know better than to engage and fail.

I need a pro.  I need my Aunt Melva.  She got through these years, with not four but FIVE teen daughters at one time in the house.  It’s the multiples of them that make it ever more complicated of course.  A swirling whirlpool of hyper hormones and flashing eyes.  Aunt Melva, thought, she managed it all with humor and grace, as far as I can tell.

Maybe she’ll come to my house and take up residence for awhile.  Maybe I’ll go hang with her for an interim intensive!  Sigh…teen girls.  I don’t know about you, but I need an Aunt Melva, right next door.

**UPDATE**  So, Mass is such a balm.  Such grace and softening of our hearts, opening them again.  Made up with daughter.  Hugs and laughs.  It helps that this one is such a mini-me..we understand each other to the core, good and bad.  Though even that idea is worth many posts to sort through it all. Oy!  But, the Sunday is restored to it’s proper balance.  At least for the next 5-10 minutes, I hope.

Peeking at the Horizon

What’s that you say? Well, that means it’s time to venture forth, to go and gaze at the future.  That’s right.  It’s time for the college visit trips.  It’s time to gaze past the high school morass and consider the horizon, scan the vistas ahead. Whoa.

Today my Hannah and I leave for the first of the few college trips.  This one is the mega trip, with the most colleges crammed carefully factored into the itinerary.  This trip has one or a few contenders, but the main goal of this trip is to create the comparison base.  After we return Thursday night, exhausted, she will have seen a wide spectrum of school features: larger, smaller, tiny, urban, suburban, Catholic, secular, pipe dream (a reach to get in), and safety (a fair bet on getting in).  The goal of this trip is inspiration and motivation and just plain info to file and compare.

We are basing, the first main part of the trip, out of my sister’s house in LA.  So, that part of the visit is just pure happy for all of us.  A great place to land when we are tired and eat and yak and decompress.  We will face many hours of driving through traffic in and out of LA every day.  But, it’s all good bonding time.  No kidding. And I’m grateful for it.

I’ve done these trips before, with my big boys.  They were exhausting but wonderful.  Now, to be able to have that time with my Hannah? Oh, I’m so grateful.  The underlying tension between the excitement of the big adventure on the horizon, college, and the frisson of disbelief that it’s so close, already, takes an emotional toll on both of us.  Plus, I’m all about the best education, per each kid’s unique style personality etc, the right fit…but at the same time I’ve been dipping heavily of late into a lot of articles on open-source learning, Gatto, Holt, and the failure of the educational system as it is.  So….is this trip gonna be a little schizophrenic for me? With my mind skipping here and there and back again….um….maybe!   So, I guess the plan is to just live in the moment. Soak it in.  Let her soak it in, all of it.  The decisions come much later.  This trip, it’s for this moment…..and a sneak peek at the horizon.  I’m excited.

Foundation Work

So, as you all know, I brought Little Man home to do school here, with me.  To help him learn to learn and at the same time really work on the attachment stuff that has been pinging on my radar.  Well, this is week three.  By last week even, it became clear that this move was so important.  For now.  Critical even.

It seems that the attachment work best begins at the foundation.

I don’t know why this surprises me.  But, it did.  Does.  A little. And then, not at all.  Because if you’re gonna work on something, you’d best start where it begins, right? Right. And it seems that by  bringing him home we have unsuspectingly opened the doors and provided the time and space and focus to let some of those issues surface.

I know, I’m being obtuse. Not on purpose. Or I  might seem to be rambling.   But, it’s this kind of unexpected strangeness.  A change.  Rather than just helping him get on a better academic route, for his learning style, I feel, very much, like we are working on repairing cracks in the foundation here.  Anytime there is a tough start, {an adoption in this case} then there are cracks that need to be healed/repaired.  There is old hurt and it can and will surface.  Trust issues and issues of self worth can surface.  And it’s oh so easy to sweep them aside in the crazy chaos of our busy lives.  It’s all TOO easy to do it.  But just covering them with the routine, ordered or hectic, won’t actually heal those tears.  It will only cover them.  I want to mend them.  And, now, I have the gift of time and space and place to do so.

Don’t get me wrong, we are learning.  He is learning.  School is happening.  He is so smart that his mind makes connections that make me grin with pleasure.  He grasps concepts and ideas so quickly.  He reads well,  though he much prefers to be read to than to read by himself.  And so, I read to him quite a bit.  Because that is part of the bigger picture, here, now.  Yes, I want to work on his behaviors and quirks and help him learn better and more and well.  But I also, oh so much more, need to work on the repair of that bubbling need to connect, to heal those cracks in that first foundation.

Some of you might say, “But he came home as a baby! I saw  you with him, you two TOTALLY bonded.”  Um. Yes.  Yup.  Did.  And also, “But you have other kids who were adopted, hard starts, what about them?”  Yes.  I do.  I’ve home-schooled a number of them.  This work, school and attachment, foundation work, it all is done on an individual basis – even as it’s done within the larger critical family framework.  And the needs of each shift and change, different needs, ages, stages.  This boy, this year, he’s the one who needs this, in this mode, now.  As he matures, and especially as he grows into a strong boy with BIG feelings and impulses….those tracks are best revisited and reinforced.  Eight years old is a critical era/stage.  Those feelings of value tend to really hammer home right about now, I think.  They are absolutely and critically influenced by their school experiences.  Those feelings of worth and tangled hurt and value, they’d best be sorted through and that value (not a pandering or coddling, a deep core assessment) had best be cemented.  I think, I know, that THIS is the work we are meant to be doing.  Right now.  This is why my radar was pinging and he needed to come home, now.

It’s the most important school. The first school. The deepest most true education of a person.  That they have value and matter, no matter what.  No matter the start.  No matter if they can keep papers organized or get bored quickly.  This boy, he matters.  He is good.

It’s hard work. I didn’t realize so much of it was going to be on the job list, frankly.   It’s exhausting; more so than just learning math concepts or parts of speech. Because when  you patch a heart foundation…it takes work.  The eyes to see and the ears to hear and the timing…well, you don’t get to pick.  But it’s worth the work.  Because, even so, that foundation repair: you might still see the lines of the original splits or dings and tears…but you can make it strong again.  Strong enough to support whatever needs to be built upon it.  Even better, strong enough to support a big adventure, healthy growing life, filled with learning and the ability to love.

Archangels, really?

Today is the Feast of the Archangels!

Now, some of you might dismiss this..slotting the idea into sentimental drivel.  But, I don’t.  Sure, the angel fad of the last few years/decade was filled with a glut of angel images and notions; sentimental drivel and bad paintings and pop culture bleeding into new age pap.  But, when you’re talking about the real deal, the theologically defined “Angel’, or, “Archangel” no less…then you are considering an entirely different being.  Literally.

Angels, Archangels are beings that we can’t really wrap our  minds around.  This excerpt is succinct:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that, “[T]he existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls “angels” is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition.”

Angels are pure, created spirits. The name angel means servant or messenger of God. Angels are celestial or heavenly beings, on a higher order than human beings. Angels have no bodies and do not depend on matter for their existence or activity. They are distinct from saints, which men can become. Angels have intellect and will, and are immortal. They are a vast multitude, but each is an individual person. Archangels are one of the nine choirs of angels listed in the Bible.

Angels are messengers.  The Archangels, they are the most exalted of them….they are like the navy seals of the angels.  You don’t send any wimpy or unskilled or incapable person to deliver the most important messages.  You send the most skilled, brightest, strongest of your company/team/family.  You send the one who can get the job done. RIght? Right. Even as a mom, when I need something dealt with and need a representative…I send my most able child at the time (most mature, bright, strong, kind: able).  God is no dummy, he knew that an angelic host was gonna be a big help with us recalcitrant foolish human children.  

So today I’m considering the Archangels.  I’m grateful for them, I love this concept and the actuality of them.  I believe in them, seriously.  Not in a Thomas Kinkade sentimental-light-fairy kind of way.  But in an olympic warrior kind of way.  They are not to be messed with, but rather, considered with wonder and awe and gratitude.

So, today I’m celebrating this feast of the Archangels.  It is – painfully – evident, our stone cold hard world needs them.

Happy Birthday to my Favorite Friar!

Happy Happy Birthday to my sweet son, Brother Peter Joseph!

He is having  his first birthday as an official Dominican.  He is a festive friar today!

And it’s hard to not have him here to hug in person, though over the college years and novitiate, I have gotten to practice that.  But, this year, I’m sending emissaries on my behalf; Tom and three of the girls are on their way to deliver my hugs and wishes, loaded right on top of theirs.

Birthdays for your kid when they are a religious are a little weird, for us at least.  Because what with that vow of poverty and all, we are not really supposed to give presents.  Hmmm.  Which seems to be harder on us than him.  He’s doing that detaching from worldly goods thing pretty well it seems.  Us? Not so much.  That urge to GIVE to your kid to mark the day is really bigger and more ingrained than I ever realized.  Poor Tom struggles with it even more as one of his love languages is gifts.  He is a giver.  He just wants to GIVE something.  So, he’s giving presence this time, in lieu of presents.  Which is, of course, the best gift of all.  {Unless, of course, the visit slips into crazy-making zone…which is likely, every time.  Family, gotta love us, but we are a burden in our own way…ha!}

So, today I will instead of wrapping up a new soft sweater or the perfect quirky something I will be wrapping up a spiritual bouquet of prayers for my son.

And, there might or might not just be a cake, special courier delivery (dad), on the way…..

Happy Happy Birthday Peter Joseph.

We love  you so.

Marking the good: Play-dirt

Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Child fame, has a few common phrases she uses a lot.  These are fun and, even better, they stick in your/my head after you’ve listened to her for a few days at a conference.  One of those key terms is “pay-dirt.”   You all know this term, and use it too, I bet.  I say, “score,” some of you might say “all-right!” some of you might say “booyah!”  I don’t know, but you get the idea.

So, I have to mark the good, again…this time with Little Man.  As you know, we have brought him home to school here, with me.  We need to work on laying deeper tracks of connection; these should help his learning fly.  That’s the theory and I’m pretty sure it’s a good one.  That said, it’s a little bit of a steep learning curve on how to work well together.  We are working on finding the right rhythm to our days as well as the right stuff to work on.  We are making good progress I think, too.  But I’d be lying if I said it was without fits and starts (literally) and without some meltdown and temper.  Recovering from those breaks in connection can be challenging.  For both of us.

One of the great things about the timing of this conference I attended a few weeks ago {and there are many}, is that the importance of that connection was reinforced, many times over.  Tools to find that connection were laid out, and tailored to some of the challenges that can push it back.  Attachment can be hard work, and happily for so many of you, you don’t need to fully “get” the concept or do that work.  But we do, in our house.  We do for so many, I dare say all, of our kids.  Because our family is non-traditional and most of my kids have come to me from a tough start.  And that, without fail, means attachment work is paramount, ever.  WIthout attachment, the train stops (another Purvis’-ism‘).  And my goal, for all my kids, but especially this Little Man…is for that train to be cruising at it’s full speed.  And I think that speed is, someday, going to be supersonic.

So, what I have found is that the best of homeschool for him is the DOING with ME.  Not that I’m all that; but for some reason….he seems to crave that connection with me, go figure.  And I’m feeling just the same way toward him. But, of course! However, as it does on any and/or every day…our train stops.  It breaks down.  His mood can change on a dime.  A flash.  And then, he’s gone.  Disconnected.  Angry.  Unreachable.  Pushing back and away.

While he was IN school, regular school, my mode had to be “the enforcer”…much of the time.  “This is the deal, get it done, gotta do this, due tomorrow, c’mon buddy, enough, ok?” Basically sitting on his head to make the list get done. His list, my list, the family list. He didn’t like me much, much of the time.  Heck, I didn’t like me much, much of the time!  Now, in homeschool, we still have stuff to get done.  But we are a team with it. That’s how we’ve structured it, so far.  He is doing some stuff independently, because he can.  A lot, we do together.  We read every day on the sofa together: history and good fiction.  And he snuggles in and we talk about the connections that leap from his freaky smart fast brain.  If I need to reel him back in even closer, we will pop some popcorn and munch as we read, chilling…together.  Pay-dirt.

But, there is still a need for me to set myself aside.  For this boy.  To find that pay-dirt.  And now, a few times, it has been a need that I have to step myself through, with hard focus and intention.  Stupidly.  But still.  Like this: last week he had a big ol meltdown one day.  Big.  Angry.  Loud.  I found myself getting loud back and very frustrated.  All that Purvis stuff was GONE.  Not in MY brain, or mouth, or head.  Finally, I thought to just sit near him.  Let him be angry but if I was quiet and stopped pushing, his mind could reset from lockdown and open up again. I hoped.  But I was tired, so I wasn’t sure.  After a bit, he pulled out his lego’s with questioning eyes, “Can I?”  I nodded, still going for quiet.  So he started piecing them together, constructing his fantastic imagination in front of us.  I watched.  Tired.  Discouraged.  A fair bit blue about how to offset these meltdowns.

After a few minutes he looked up at me and said, “Mom, will you play with me?” And I looked into his sweet face, now wide open and seeing me again.  I looked at him.  He looked at me.  Both of us, tired but open to each other, again.  Now, did I WANT to play? Um, sadly, no.  I wanted to go to my own space, read, potter around, decompress, mix a martini maybe (kidding!….mostly)  But, I also WANTED and NEEDED to reconnect more than even those more grown up options.  So, I said, “You bet.

So I snapped legos together and helped him look for one he needed.  No big deal, right? Ha! I say.  A big deal.  More: Pay dirt.  No, Play dirt.  His level.  Connected.

Play dirt.  The best kind.  And so we begin again.  And it’s good.

Restart, with the Fundamentals

We are in the midst of a sea change here in the coffeehouse.  We have made the difficult decision to have Little Man come on  home to do school here, with  me.  Now, we have been homeschoolers from years ago.  School decisions are a per kid, per year, per circumstance decision.  Things shift and change all the time, especially with kids…especially with educating kids.  What might work well one year, doesn’t the next.  What might work badly one year, might be brilliant the next.  Thus, we leave the option of change wide open.  But, we don’t change without tremendous consideration, prayer, study and evaluation….mostly because I stew about things.  But hey, at least it’s not impulsive.

Anyhow, all that is to say that we are back to homeschool, for one: my Anthony and third grade.  The other kids are all doing great, so they are still at school.  He was not.  He is a kid with some issues and layers and this year at regular school (and we love our little school)….the new year has not been good. It’s been eroding connections around here and that, well, it’s unacceptable.  So last week we made the final decision to bring  him home, bring him close.  He’s super smart this kid.  The academics are not the issue.  The attachment is the issue.  We think that if he is supported in working through and building attachment and connection (and this conference last weekend totally hammered this home) then he will both  mature and be able to fly higher with his school.  I’m not willing to accept his frustration escalating and thus his skills and attachment eroding…I”m shooting for gain, for take off. So, for now, he is home.

Monday was the start.  And, what better first task, than to start with the most basic of…everything:  Bread.  Yup.  Anthony made his first loaf of bread, ever.  We read my recipe together, he measured, he stirred, kneaded, waited, watched, shaped, and baked.  It was science and math and cooking…but it was bonding.  He did it. He was thrilled.  So was I.  It was yummy goodness.  And in that first day, we had more CONNECTION than in the past month, altogether. But, it was serious, true eye to eye, intentional focused connection.  (We did other stuff too, not only cook…don’t get all judgmental….)

Anthony, first bread ever and it was delicious!

Now, can you say “Honeymoon?” I can!  Because yesterday, day two, was really tough.  So, we had a one day honeymoon.  But, while it’s tempting to be discouraged, I’m gonna chalk this whole week up to the choppy waters of changing seas.  We, I pray, will find our sea legs.  And we will figure out what works and what doesn’t, the timings, the flow.  If  you have a thought, toss a prayer for us our way.  This is important stuff.  Sure, the school stuff, the academics, it’s super important, vital.  But the connection and heart of this boy? Critical.  It’s everything.

Day two, messier in every sense of the word….but…it’s a work in progress, right?

She is Us

For Every Mom; Lady of Sorrows

drawing by Kate Kollwitz, 1903
Today is the day we remember Our Lady of Sorrows.
Oh, there is so much to this one…
As a mom, this resonates with me.
Ok, maybe as an older mom it resonates.
As a mom of sons who’ve gone to college, who has sobbed goodbye to them…
as a mom who has given her son back to God, as he has vowed himself to God and to thereligious life…
as a mom of kids who come from hard places and  have endured hardship and trauma…
as a mom who has held other mom’s babies and children across the world in dark hot smelly orphanages, waving flies off their face as I feel their damp bottoms but also their arms clinging to my neck, or see them lying limp in my arms just gazing out – disconnected…
as a mom of kids who have struggled with different needs, some of them very hard and/or intense…
as a mom of kids who’ve gone through life-threatening events and as a mom who has sat vigil bedside in the PICU….
gosh, as a mom who has lain awake countless nights worrying over  her kids…
over things big or small….
As a friend to moms who have lost children…
as a friend to moms who’s kids have been in the PICU, or hospital too….
as a friend to moms who have had kids go through the hardest scariest time in their lives and/or those of their parents…
goodness, as a mom who WATCHES THE NEWS, for pity’s sake…
….this memorial is for the mom
It’s for me.
 It’s for YOU.
 It’s for US.
A mom.
Any Mom.
EVERY mom.
This memorial is for us.
Because our Blessed Mother, she is us. 
Our Sorrowful, Blessed Mother, she is us.
She is every mom.
She is the mom giving  her portion of food for her hungry child.
She is the mom sitting bedside by her sick child.
She is the mom who weeps sending her child off, to work, to college, to a new life in a new country.
She is the mom who wishes she could hurt so her child doesn’t have to.
She is the mom who carries them, bodily, but also in mind and heart….all day, every day, all night, every night.
She is the mama.
She is us.
She gets it.
And she helps us carry it all….all those things that no one but a mom can fathom, truly…well, she does, she ‘fathoms’ it to her core.
As I have had some major transitions with my older sons this past year or so…as I wept and grieved and even grinned at the goodness of it despite the pangs……my eldest reminded me,  “Our Lady of Sorrows mom….the litany, it will help.“  I nodded, and do again.  It was all I can do, then, and it’s one of the best things I can do, now: to remember.  To pray and crack open my heart in solidarity with our Blessed Mother.  With you, all the other mothers.
So…with that, I give you this, it helped me then, and it is a reminder that she is not just the remote Mother of God.
She is everywoman.
Every mom.  Us.

Lord, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of heaven,
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, .
God the Holy Ghost,
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.
Holy Virgin of virgins, 
pray for us
Mother of the Crucified, pray for us
Sorrowful Mother, pray for us
Mournful Mother, pray for us
Sighing Mother, pray for us
Afflicted Mother, pray for us
Foresaken Mother, pray for us
Desolate Mother, pray for us
Mother most sad, pray for us
Mother set around with anguish, pray for us
Mother overwhelmed by grief, pray for us
Mother transfixed by a sword, pray for us
Mother crucified in thy heart, pray for us
Mother bereaved of thy Son, pray for us
Sighing Dove, pray for us
Mother of Dolors, pray for us
Fount of tears, pray for us
Sea of bitterness, pray for us
Field of tribulation, pray for us
Mass of suffering, pray for us
Mirror of patience, pray for us
Rock of constancy, pray for us
Remedy in perplexity, pray for us
Joy of the afflicted, pray for us
Ark of the desolate, pray for us
Refuge of the abandoned,pray for us
Shiled of the oppressed, pray for us
Conqueror of the incredulous, pray for us
Solace of the wretched, pray for us
Medicine of the sick, pray for us
Help of the faint, pray for us
Strength of the weak, pray for us
Protectress of those who fight, pray for us
Haven of the shipwrecked, pray for us
Calmer of tempests, pray for us
Companion of the sorrowful, pray for us
Retreat of those who groan, pray for us
Terror of the treacherous, pray for us
Standard-bearer of the Martyrs, pray for us
Treasure of the Faithful, pray for us
Light of Confessors, pray for us
Pearl of Virgins, pray for us
Comfort of Widows, pray for us
Joy of all Saints, pray for us
Queen of thy Servants,pray for us
Holy Mary, who alone art unexampled, pray for us

Pray for us, most Sorrowful Virgin, That we may be made worthy
of the promises of Christ.

**Full disclosure:  I wrote part of this last year, and part of this, this morning.  But I feel just the same…so, I’m reposting. Plus I’m attending the Empowered to Connect conference and really, it’s all about THIS.  But that’s a whole ‘nother post….to come!”

Feast of the Cross: the Triumph


Triumph? A cross, really…..?

 Dali, of course.

Today is the feast of the Triumph of the Cross.
Which always seems all counter-intuitive.  Like we Catholics and Christians have lost our collective minds.  Really? A cross? That horrible gory ghastly unspeakable death?  Or, that so common it’s lost it’s punch story of the crucifixion….yeah yeah yeah, I know I know.  Easy to kind of give a mental nod to it and move on, right?
Well, yeah……..except when it’s YOUR cross.
Because that’s what this is about: You.  Your cross too.
By which I mean, mine.
And then it all takes on QUITE a different tone doesn’t it?
Because these “crosses”…..doggone if they don’t HURT!
Like HELL!

Yeah, see, you get the idea.
Takes me a while and I still forget, but yeah.
That’s the idea.  Because you don’t get to Christ without the Cross.
But you don’t.
And really, you don’t even want to. No, really, think about it, you don’t…because it is in our suffering that we strip away the dross, the unimportant, and find the realest of real, the true.  It is in that process that we find what is most important about our lives, ourselves….and it is always the same truth: Love.  And that of course, is God.  God is love.  Done.

Why it takes the Cross to get that through our stubborn mulish heads I don’t know.  I guess because I am so stubborn.  Such a mule.  Such a slow slow learner.
So proud. So controlling.
All of that has to be kicked out of me, again and again before I can set it all down and give over….
so that I can let real love wash over me, the way it’s supposed to instead of the way I’d like to direct it…. to learn to actually LOVE, in action and deeds instead of only good intentions….to just do it {and yes, I”m still working on it, thanks for asking…sigh}.

And it’s that. In the doing, where we find the love, even as we might be carrying the cross.  Then too is when we see the triumph, yeah, even the exaltation and joy of that very cross, so despised before.  We see it’s beauty.  Because it transformed…..everything.  It transformed suffering. It transformed ugly, and pain, and horror, and fear, and weeping, and exhaustion.  It took it all and flipped it inside out….into our very reason for shouting and clapping for joy, for hugging with grateful tears, for that catch in our chest when we know that it’s ok, not even ok, but oh so unspeakably good.
Because it is love.  It is our suffering, which is our giving to the last drop of ourselves that we go the cross, Christ’s cross, and only then do we get to really learn what it means to really love, in the way that is real.
Love that word.
Today’s the day to remember it.


“We adore you Oh Christ, and we praise you, because by your Holy Cross, you have redeemed the world.”


{full disclosure: I’m reposting this from years past because today I am going to this conference, with this dear friend and it’s a busy day}

Feast for the weary moms: St. Monica


I am traveling all day today, so im reposting this.  I love this saint!  I hope i can just post this…having connection issues….but i want to remember Monica, she is a faithful friend and example:

Its the feast ofSt. monica!  Monica is special in so many ways….and especially special to me.  She hails from North Africa, so many forget that about her and Augustine..But I love her because she prayed without ceasing for her son (and her husband). I mean, it’s fairly widely agreed that her fervent prayers, and persevering ones, were effective in the conversion of her wild boy, Augustine.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  To fully understand why she is such a role model for me (and moms in general)…read on….

Painting of St. Monica, by Janet McKenzie
Monica was from North Africa, and from a culture where women didn’t always have the amount of power that we enjoy today (ok that was worldwide, but still…to set hte stage here…).  She was married to a tough husband and had a mother in law who hated her.  Not easy.  Even so, she weathered her Mother in laws barbs and she prayed for the conversion of husband….which he did, on  his deathbed.  Then there was her son.  You mom’s of teens, listen up:  Augustine was a son that would give any mom fits!  In our era raising him would mean many sleepless nights and teary phone calls with girlfriends. I suspect she had many a night awake fretting over her boy, and possibly many a tsking talk with her girlfriends as they worked.  Maybe she had to be quiet and weather the gossip about him…not easy…but OH so much fodder for it!  Her son was wild and ignored her pleas, getting into all sorts of revelry; ok, trouble…the kind of trouble we moms go gray over (can read more about him tomorrow on his feast day!).

But Monica persevered, because this was her son, she knew the truth and that he was Good (capital G good) and she had the faith that her prayers would be answered according to God’s will….sooner or later. Well, it was something like 17 years later, but it happened. Not only did Augustine turn his life around and step back onto more solid ground, but he converted to the faith and was ordained by St. Ambrose himself. So, not only were her prayers answered, they were abundantly answered!  How cool is that??

I am just pretty darn sure that ol Augie’s conversion (as he might have been called in his party days) was in large part due to the faithful lasting sure prayers of his mom, as well as her prayerful example and steadfast love, no matter what. See that painting, just above?  It’s St. Monica praying for St. Augustine…see that intensity, this mom means business!  And no matter what trouble he got into, Monica didn’t shun him. She might well have corrected him, being his mom and all (whether or not he listened)…..….but she never stopped loving him.

And that is what will turn even the hardest furthest of hearts back to the truth of Real Love. So I love St Monica, and she reminds me to never give up. Ever. We mom’s can’t give up…it’s one of the things that keeps the world spinning correctly on it’s axis.  I know it.


Happy feast day, moms! 

St. Monica, pray for us! 

Jumping for Joy

So I got some fantastic exciting news today.  I was literally jumping for joy and yup, might have cried a wee bit.

Turns out that we might have a quick drop in visit from the Novices this weekend! I know! Haven’t seen  my boy since October…and have been gearing up to go see him in August for first vows.  Another whole post or two, that.  Anyhow, turns out they are helping one of their priests move down to the our town and so the whole crew is coming along to lend a hand, and visit some of their sister Dominicans.  Mercifully, Fr. James has decided that we are on the way home and that they might just be having a craving for some MamaDo’s (the brownies that I make from the recipe of one of Peter Joseph’s best friend’s mom).  So they have asked if it would be too much trouble to stop in for a quick visit, “Just family, no muss no fuss.”  Hmmm….”Um, yeah, yup, I think that would be all right…”  That’s what I said, I’m pretty sure.  All cool and collected like that, just like that.  (Tho, it might, just maybe, have also had a few leaking tears, stupid grin, and gibbering, “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh!” )

gonna do some visiting


So it’s a family only quick visit, but with all those brothers and ours too and I am simply giddy in anticipation.  I have been warned to not kill myself cleaning or make too big a fuss.  So I will try, try I tell you, to heed that directive and simply bask in the pure joy of it all.  But I will admit to a little happy dancing around my kitchen this morning when I told the big girls, and that I will be thrilled to be hugging the neck of my other big boy heading home when he arrives in the wee hours of Friday morning.

best brothers

And I’m gearing up: gonna be making multiple batches of MamaDo’s, some for here and some to go!

I can’t wait!

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!

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}

Silence of the wait. Holy Saturday

Painting by Mantengna, c 1490

Holy Saturday.

We wait.
It is finished.
It is so silent, so sad.
It is a somber quiet day.
I think of his Mom.
And I ache for her.

And today is an achy day, all around.

It hurts.
It should.
It is too quiet, too somber.
And yet, of course, not.
And we wait, happily for us, in joyful knowledge and hope, for tomorrow.
But still, today, a pause.  We wait.


Painting by Tissot

Holy Thursday.
Maundy Thursday.
Last Supper.
Washing Feet.
Beginning of the Passion.
A hard somber night, leading into a hard day.
Jangled, disjointed, stripping the altar, moving the Blessed Sacrament out of the tabernacle.
I always feel like crying at this service, “Don’t take him!” my heart foolishly calls.
And then it is silent.
And we file out, in the sad silent dark from the now empty church.
He is gone.
It’s Holy Thursday…..so it begins.

*reposted from a years ago.  Every year. It’s this.

white mom, black son: the raging heartbreak of Trayvon Martin

I try to choke down the news, the nightmare, of Trayvon Martin this past week.  This is such a big thing…..and I feel but a shadowy glance of what his mother must feel…but feel that mother heartbreak, I do.

How can I even begin with all this?  I have wrestled with this all week;  what happened,  what is happening, how to process it, for myself, my prayers, my family, my kids.  Wrestled with writing about it.  Or not.  As I have nothing profound to add, I keep thinking, “Don’t.”  But, as I process by typing….I need to.  So, onward type….

I am a white mom.  I am a white mom to five kids of color. I am a white mom to eight kids in all.  But, make no mistake, what is important today is that I am a mom to two black sons.   I am a mom to one young black son who will grow into a rather large black man.  This boy, my own sweet son, he is on my mind as I read the news, pray for his mom and family, and try to sort my furious whirlwind sorrow over this.

Trayvon Martin.

I knew.  I have known.  I have known and thought and considered how my own sweet young boy might be perceived as he grows into his height and build and ages up.  And I have been trying to begin his instruction for that time: “Strong men are gentle.” “Strong men are kind and good.” “Strong men control their actions.” I knew I would have to give him more particular instructions as he became an older teen.  Some of these instructions I gave to my two older sons, my white sons: “If you are pulled over, keep your hands on the steering wheel.” “Do not talk back, just say ‘Yes Sir, no sir. Be respectful and direct.”  But now, I realize that soon, too soon, perhaps even now, I have to begin to introduce some different rules to my son. I have to train him to see another possibility: that he might be presumed to be criminal simply due to his deep beautiful brown skin.  As many writers point out, he might be guilty of “walking while black.”  And that makes my heart break, and it makes me churn with anger….no different from other moms.  I might be a white mom. But I am a mom of black sons.  And that makes me worry and pray in a special way for my children.

The death of Trayvon Martin makes me so angry; hurt for his family, hurt for the injustice, hurt for this innocent kid….. It’s unspeakable.  And yet, of course, we must speak.  I’m not adding anything to the dialogue spreading like wildfire around the net.  The outrage over this story is building; it’s set in motion what we can only hope to be justice.  And yet, even with that justice, the investigation, and yes, hopefully, the arrest of the Zimmerman…..I feel conflicted.  I do not want to join any bloodlust chorus for revenge.  Revenge is hollow, empty, nothing.  Justice is needed.  And so, I will unite my prayers with those across the world, for the repose of this innocent’s soul.  I will unite my prayers with those across the world for the comfort and peace and courage for his family and friends and community.  I will unite my prayers with those around the world for justice.

Because here is what I think.  I think this was a racist act (the reported racist slurs make my blood boil).  I think this was unconscionable and unspeakable senseless violence.  I think an innocent kid was murdered.  And the only way I can reconcile all this is to say…..Zimmerman, he is a broken man.  How can he not be? That is not, even for a a moment, to dismiss what he did, or have that be an excuse.  There is no excuse.  But, he is a man seemingly filled with rage and paranoia and racist bile.  But, even so, surely, now, surely…he  must realize what he has done?  I haven’t  heard if he has.  But surely, in his core, he knows.  He knows.  He must.  Trayvon was a child.  That alone, should shatter him.  That, right there, is where I need to look in order to be able to choke back my own rage towards him and try, try to find a way to pray for him.  I need to find – to beg for – the Grace to pray for his remorse.  My husband points out that he needs our prayers too.  And so, I pray for that grace…to be able pray for Zimmerman too…..for his justice, yes, but also for the mercy of deep true remorse and understanding in his soul.

The news on this keeps breaking through the cacophony of our busy days.  And it should. We all should be outraged.  We all should shout for justice.  We all should be shocked.  And we are.  But, while we all weep and pray and should and do and will continue to pray for Trayvon and his parents and family…as the call for justice rings out ……I pray we find a way to change our nation and heal the rage and ignorance that simmers just below the surface.  Because until it does heal and change….

my anthony

…all of our sons are at risk.  Perhaps not of such precise shocking immediate violence.  But certainly they are at risk – or indeed perhaps they are guaranteed – of a loss of their innocent hearts as they learn the hard lessons of being a black young man in America.  As a mom of a young black boy in America, Trayvon is ‘my son.’ He is all of our son’s.  God have mercy on us all.

Further Up, Further In

So, it’s just past the half year mark for my son at the Novitiate.  So people ask me all the time, “How is he?  How’s it going?”  And…I don’t have a perfect answer for that.  So I say, “He’s good.  Please keep praying for him.

That seems to sum it up, really.  He’s good. He sounds like himself when we talk.  That alone is such a big deal!  He still has the essence of ‘him’ and doesn’t sound or talk differently when we chat on the phone.  Stupid, I know, to think he might.  But, ya worry.  Ok, I worry.  I worried. Past tense now.

This year is such a huge year of change for him; a radical year of leaving behind and choosing other…that I guess deep down part of me worried that I’d lose the essence of him somehow too.  But, I have seen and heard that it is not so.  In fact, of course, it is much the opposite.  He is becoming  MORE him.  That is the really radical beautiful part of this choice….by growing closer to God, we become more ourselves, our truest selves.  By him living this life, intentionally and fully without reserve, he too is growing closer to God and thus becoming more and more himself.  It’s kind of like a warp speed growing out and growing in all at the same time.  Rather Narnian. “Further up, further in!” as the children were called into the Aslan’s country; and the land became bigger and more beautiful the further  and the higher in they went.  So too, it seems, novice life, Dominican life.

Not that Novice life is all easy.  It’s rigorous. It’s spiritual bootcamp, as I’ve noted many times before.  And, now, of course it’s February <Shudder>.  February is a tough month no matter where  you are, I think.  It is/was the dreaded month in the homeschool calendar.  It’s the  housebound gray cold dull month where everyone gets on each other’s last nerve.  Ok, well, it is here at any rate.  I can only imagine that it must be that way for the novices too.  I’m guessing.  But, still.  Thankfully, it’s the shortest month in the year.

Spring approaches.  But first, lent.  And this is where the real crux of the novice year (I think) lies.  The novices have completely settled into their life.  They have new clothes, habits.  They have new religious names: my son, now  Brother Peter Joseph.  They  have new jobs and learn new skills, they have classes, they study, the do work outside the parish in the community.  They know each other very well, are becoming a sort of family.

But lent is upon us and I have been told that this lent is the one lent they will get the opportunity to really, FULLY, live the liturgical season of lent.  I have been told its the most beautiful lent they will ever have (due to really mindfully living it, daily) but also the most rigorous and with the most spiritual growth.   This lent, this growth, will help lay the foundation these novices need if they are to go on and live the call to Dominican life.  If my son is called to this, I want him to have that foundation to stand on.  Thus, this next forty days will be an intense growth period for these young men.  It will be rigorous, challenging; filled with hard and beautiful both.   So, I will ask for your prayers for my son, for all these novices.  They will need them.

So, how is it going? It’s going well.  It’s a struggle, it’s a joy.  It’s funny and hard and happy and peaceful and difficult.  It’s a year of living prayer; of learning to live prayer.  Please, keep them in yours.  They are halfway through.  Further up and further in….

Now, they will be spending much much time in prayer over this lent, of course.  But this video shows the Irish Dominicans, having a bit of fun.  These Dominicans, globally, they have such laughter and fun, even with their deep prayer life – it just  makes me grin.  And it’s totally in sync with that whole ‘further up, further in” thing……

Eyes Open: Marking the good, again

Because I am cynical, cranky, and quite possibly almost old enough to be called a curmudgeon (Is that gender specific? Can girls be curmudgeons? I think so….)….I try to, once in a blue moon routinely make a point of noticing some of the goodness and/or progress in attachment and healing ’round this crazy home.  It’s been a few months, let’s have a look-see:

  • Marta has been home for 2 1/2 years now! And, honestly, it’s better.  It’s far far from perfect.  It’s nothing at all like any of us thought it would be.  But maybe (yup, I”ll say it out loud) just maybe that’s not only ok, but it’s a good thing.  It has it’s own sweetness amidst the baffling hard stuff

  • She is the manager for the varsity girls basketball team.  This not only is something she enjoys, it has given her purpose, joy, and a greater sense of belonging.  Her job is simple, she keeps them in water and towels and fusses over the players a bit.  But, she loves it and the team has seemingly, blessedly, embraced her.  Her coach simply rocks.  And the girls on the team? An amazing bunch of players, but even better, really kind lovely girls.  The whole ‘manager’ gig: it’s all gift.  Thank you Coach Serra.

  • She got a 75 on her 2d art test.  It was a written test, hard for her.  And while we had to discuss it (per her need, not ours, we don’t care what she gets in art), with a couple of tears over a couple of days, she accepted it without meltdown.  Sounds like a no big deal kind of thing? Au Contraire!  So, so big.  She is a perfectionist, a little crazed about it and wants to make an “A” in every class or assignment.  This, even last year, would have been enough to send her off kilter and into a meltdown, possibly for a rocky intense week or more.

  • She made the honor roll.  She had her name in the paper and on the school website.  She felt famous.  Sure her classes are  in the school’s (amazing fantastic) special ed program; different classes/levels.  But, I propose that she studies about as hard as many of the kids at that school and she works possibly harder than most.  She earned it.  She’s so proud.  And so are we.

  • She had a double ear infection last week.  And she coped.  Ear infections hurt. But she even went to school.  And she was a trooper.  This, coping with something  hurting, is a skill she did not have when she first came home.  Not for almost two years, actually.  This is the first time for real and a big step forward for her.

  • And one of my favorites: she is more playful.  Play is a funny thing.   Marta didn’t really play when she came home, not for a long time.  We don’t know if it’s because of the transition, fear, insecurity, or her disabilities.  I’m sure it’s a big old mixture of all of the above.  But, nowadays, she is more playful.  NOT every day, not by a longshot.  She’s still a teen, of course, with all the moods and hormones that entails!  But, she is relaxed enough now, on a good day, to make jokes, to poke fun, to be silly, and to sometimes hang out while we visit instead of disappearing or interrupting to redirect the activity to go do something for her.  (It doesn’t last long, but, apropos of this post, I want to mark that it does happen.).


  • Marta is a great pray-er.   I’ve mentioned before how she is a very devout girl. It’s lovely.  We pray together every day that we can, which is almost every single day  (unless there is a late basketball game).  And, for those in the know, once you make it onto her prayer list, well, you are there  (so far as I can tell) forever.  She is one of my two ‘secret weapons’ when it comes to serious prayer; they have a connection and focus I can only wish for.

  • Last but not least, she has been unseated, for days or weeks at a time, in the “monopolize all the time and attention in the house and my conversation” status.   That might sound kooky or a weird thing to mark, but a dear friend noticed it last week when we were talking and it dawned on me that she was right.  Marta wasn’t top of the roster of my rambling and ranting measured reports anymore.  It’s a tossup on any given day who’s going to be the neediest or highest maintenance child.  She’s among the top three, typically, but to have lost the crown…..that’s a major game changer, right there.  So, I’m marking it.

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!

Rickety Scaffolds: Resolutions

So, it’s the new  year! Happy goodness, right!? Well, yeah.  I had a great New Years Eve as I went out to see my dear Dad for his 80th bday and we had a whole big ol’ bash for the celebration, also joined to my sisters 55th bday; a double whammy.  So it was a big deal.  BIG fun.  Full of laughs and goodness.  Exhausting crazy pricelessness.

The birthday kids - I LOVE them!

Now of course though, I’m in re-entry.  This re-entry is doubled and magnified by the whole “new years resolution” tradition.  Now, I’m not a resolver; not usually a “New Years Resolution” kind of gal.  What kind of fool do you take me for? I know  myself well enough to know that I can go on a tear, and then sputter out.  My good intentions are like a firecracker: big show, big bang start, spit and sputter to a sad withered left behind ending.  No surprise there.  And, not so uncommon either, eh? But, I’m feeling the press.  It might not last. But, I’m feeling the press of needing to impose more order on the bedlam of life here in the coffeehouse.  So, for a few bright burning moments of this fresh new  year, I’m brainstorming a bit.  Yeah, got lots of qualifiers in this post. Hence the title, ricketly scaffolds….I know my attention will wane and wander.  But, oh, how great to build a new, cleaner, smoother stronger scaffold for our family life! So, here goes the first brainstorming:

  • I am looking at tighter budgets for groceries and sundries and such.  I’m not so great at serious coupons, but can be frugal overall and am a scratch cook on the good days. And saving/freeing up cash, what’s not to love?
  • I’m looking at time patterns and thinking of ways to cut dreck tv viewing  (none on school nights anyhow, but how to ramp up the worthwhile programs while still engaging teen girls….anyone? The little boys are a snap to nudge into better content…the teens…now there is the challenge!) and improve the quality of media in the house.
  • I’m thinking about my friend and her terrifying inspiring efforts at playful engagement…maybe another post there…still stewing.  But, maybe: game on!
  • I want to really dig in and order the house.  I mean, I was just hanging out for the weekend at my folk’s house and it was a big deep inhale of clear clutter free air.  So refreshing! Such envy!  I mean, sure, they don’t have 8 + kids and various friends and visitors crashing about and all, dropping all manner of items in their wake, but even so…it’s a worthy goal, that ordered home, isn’t it?  To open a closet without the threat of concussion? To peruse a shelf without having to bring a flashlight and crowbar to mine the depths? I think so.  Surely, somehow I must have inherited just one or two of those purposeful organization neat freak genes, right? To that end, I am dreaming thinking of going room by room and clearing, organizing, decluttering (don’t freak out Tom, I did this when you went to Haiti last time  with the schoolroom/dining room and it was fabulous…but such a big job that I sputtered out after that one room).  I want to find a way to purposefully, functionally order the things we need and use, the stuff we might want to access/use I want to neatly stow, and the stuff that we just tend to collect like weird hoarder magnets I want to give away and set free.  I think I leave the kid bedrooms to the last, because that’s their personal space.  It’s tempting to start with them, as they tend to be the worst hurricane sites, but even so, I think I need to start with either the public space or MY junk space, the art room (the catchall room that used to be a garage).  
  • And, last and maybe least, I’m thinking of moving my body more, more intentionally.  By this I mean lasting, sustainable, intentional movement.  Not back to my running days.  My body still has chronic gripes from the beating it took from those long years on and off.  But as I’m looking down the barrel at 50, this year, (I know, still shocks me too!) I am really thinking about longevity and pushing back the stiffness and soreness and tired.  So I’m thinking stretches and walking and such.  Not to sound like an old fogey…but those are where I get lazy. I’m really pretty strong from all the hefting and toting and whatnot that just IS in my daily life.  I walk fast, and zip around…but I think I might need to be better at keeping flexibility and endorphins cranking.

So, rambling finished for now.  Any of you, especially you larger families, out there have any great tips for organizing genius ideas or simplifying households or market or whatever, please leave a comment! Especially regarding the teen media issue…it just keeps getting harder and  harder to raise kids without the sludge of the culture taking too big a hold.  I told  ya, I’m brainstorming!  As I said, these are just a rickety scaffold of ideas and things I’m turning around in my head.  I might just bail on it all as life starts cranking up again, oh, this afternoon.  But, now that I’ve made it semi official by throwing the brainstorm online…I can remind myself when my energy flags!

Happy New Year to All!