Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Last Day of November

Today is the last day of November. Wow! In two days I will have a teenager in the house.


The Mad Toddler climbed up to the dinner table this evening and then took a tumble off the chair, head first onto the hard kitchen floor. Nothing like a little pre-dinner excitement! Now he has a nice bump (and yes, Mom, I did make sure he didn't have a concussion!). He keeps talking about it, how he fell and bonked his head and he was very sad. Of course, that has not stopped him from climbing on and off the arms of the couch and chair and tossing his red ball high in the living room, where he knows better.


The Mad Toddler, pre-bump. It is over his right eye.

We have been laying low this week. We all caught a terrible cold, and it has made school impossible (the boys are thrilled!). It looks like everyone is finally making a turn for the better (Awwww, man!).

This week I am pondering and struggling with how to be detached from worldly desires without becoming cold or less human.  What do you do when people hurt your feelings? Let you down? Do you let it go? Do you say something? How do you keep going and truly give it up, without being fake or just "stuffing it"? I know for sure that we are to be merciful if we want mercy for ourselves. Maybe that is the starting point for forgiveness.

Food for thought.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Classic Christmas Characters Go to Hogwarts

Happy belated Thanksgiving! I hope yours was wonderful and warm and cozy!

We were lucky enough to drive down to Austin to spend the holiday with my Little Bro and his family. My super-star sister-in-law Sarah is one of the best cooks I know, so the meal was incredible. Four words - bacon and sausage stuffing. Need I say more? Well, I will. Two more words - granola pie. One of the best pies I have had (it also doubles as a holiday breakfast food!).
Of course, the food was only part of it. We enjoyed the company even more. It was a relaxing, stress-free holiday. New family tradition? Oh, I think so!

Sarah carving her perfect turkey. 

Cousins waiting to eat

ArtGuy and I had to spend 4 hours together on the way to Austin and 4 hours on the way back, stuck in a car. The kids were playing video games or watching movies for the most part, so there was nothing to do for us but...talk!  Gasp! After several years of fast-paced, breakneck living, carting kids (or ourselves) from one event to another, hours of extended talking is something we are quite out of practice with. It was nice to to get a good work out in the "conversations" department!

On the way home, taveling on I35, somewhere around Waco, we came up with the brilliant idea of trying to figure out which Hogwarts house classic Christmas characters would belong to. I will share. You may have a different opinion or insight. Sadly, we are not as wise as the Sorting Hat, so take our classifications with a grain of salt!

Frosty the Snowman
  • Frosty the Snowman - definetly Hufflepuff, if that. In the classic Frosty the Snowman episode, he is friendly, but not super smart ("Happy birthday?"). In the end he is willing to give up his life for his friend, a redeeming quality. So, Hufflepuff. However, in all later Frosty stories, he is just pretty stupid. If you go by those, he may be more Squib than House-worthy!. 
  • Professor Hinkle - Slytherin - he is all about 'what's in it for me"
  • Karen - Gryffindor - she is brave and noble, willing to sacrifice for the good of her friend.


  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - I think he is pretty clearly Gryffindor. Heart of gold, bravery, fallible but redeemable, heroic, and facing almost impossible odds and prejudice. Yup. Gryfindor.
  • Hermey - probably Ravenclaw. He has the brains, you know. Although an arguement for Gryffindor will do.
  • Yukon Cornelius - I am going with Hufflepuff here. He is true and loyal and trustworthy. Dependable. Hufflepuff, in the very best way.
  • Clarice - Gryffindor. She loves her man with all her heart, and not even the sexist world of the North Pole reindeers can keep her down. 
  • Santa - he is pretty tough in this story. He may be the representative of all that is innocent and pure, but he acte more Slytherin than anything. He hates the elves' singing, he encourages the isolation and identification of "misfits". Tsk, tsk.
  • Donner - Slytherin. Does not want to accept anything less than what appears "perfect" in the eyes of society. All about how HE looks and not worried about his own child until things get really bad. Totally understandable why he and Santa are such chums. 
 That is all for now. Maybe more later. Time to take the Mad Toddler outside and try to run that energy level down for a good nap!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Thanksgiving Day is in two days. So hard to believe.

Finally, I have a breather! Soccer is over until spring, homeschool coop is finished up. I love our homeschool coop. The kids have a chance to take really cool classes, be in a classroom setting, have classmates, and get a break from me (unless they take my class!). The down side is the time - lots of time spent on lesson planning, gathering materials, and then getting us all ready and out the door for a day at "school". We have spent 11 semesters in coop, and I am pretty burned out! So, in the spring, ArtGuy is taking over teaching on Fridays at coop and I get a few hours to myself! I am very, very excited. I might even be able to write again!

My little First Lego League team is limping towards the finish line. We have 2 1/2 weeks until the competition, and still a long way to go. The boys put in eight hours of work together this week, and a few hours on their own at their homes. They look dazed and worn, and alternately excited and terrified. I am very, very proud of them (when I don't want to bang their heads together). They are managing to get a lot together.

Our best chance of making it past the Qualifier to the Championships lies with our Project Presentation. Every team must do a 5 minute creative, informative presentation in front of a panel of judges on this year's theme. The theme is "biomedical engineering" and our team chose to brave the waters of nanotechnology to research  how to prevent strokes through the destruction of blood clots via nanotechnology.

Yeah. Nothin' like a little scientific challenge to make the year interesting.

The boys plan to do a talk with posters, then a funny skit. It looks promising!

We'll see!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hi. My name is Christine, and I am a parent.

Hi, everyone. My name is Christine, and I am a parent.

Yes, I know I chose this life for myself (well, ArtGuy and I chose it together). I wanted to be a parent and a stay-at-home-mom, and although homeschooling was not originally on my "to-do" list, it is most certainly a choice. I accept all that.

However, I do increasingly resent the growing popular thought that my children are "luxuries". That I am somehow indulgent for having multiple children. I am not even going into the theological reasons for having children (when possible). I am just talking about practical, down-to-earth reasons.

I read an article on Slate this morning about parenthood that was meant to be cute, but really just annoyed me. Called "Parents Are Junkies", the premise is that parenthood stinks, makes you unhappy and depressed, but parents get addicted to the love of a child or the precious moments and those few moments make us addicted to parenthood.

Admittedly, this is not a scientific article, but that is part of the problem. If it were in a journal, not many people would read it. A popular, snarky article gets a lot of hits.

The writer compares parents to gambling addicts. Gamblers like the thrill of the chase, the hope of reward. "Like addicts, parents will sacrifice anything for the glimpses of heaven that their offspring periodically provide."

This equates parenthood to shopping and children to accessories. And yes, if you view your children as accessories, then you are going to be unhappy most of the time. You can put an ugly purse away in the closet. An ugly (behaviored) child needs a lot of attention, and should not be ignored. Children will take hours and hours and hours of your day. They are not meant to be seen for a brief moment before you get back to your "real" life.

I mean, really, who would choose children as accessories, anyway? That is an unrealistic view. My four "accessories" have given me 50 extra pounds to work off, perpetual headaches, and bad hair. Not to mention the boobs. They totally ruined those, too. Because of my "accessories", I drive a mini-van that barely works and I cannot afford to replace. My dryer takes 2x as long to dry mounds of laundry. If I had no children, or only one, I could afford a nice washer and dryer and do my little load of laundry in half a day each week. Without children, ArtGuy and I would not be tens of thousands of dollars in debt (medical and repairs), and be able to get through one conversation a day without constant interruptions. Heck, we would actually be able to spend time together.

No amount of addiction would make my life worthwhile at the moment.

It is so much more than that.

I know this is terribly not PC, but I am doing a social service - a favor to my community. I have given birth to four beautiful children. I am raising them to be kind, socially aware, strong-minded, involved citizens. I am educating them to be well-versed in history, science, theology, literature, geography, philosophy, and the arts. I cannot makes specific promises yet, but I feel confident that you will be getting a doctor, a priest, an engineer, an artist, a chef, a teacher - something very useful out of my boys one day.

Children are not accessories or drugs - they are work. They require vast amounts of sacrifice - painful at times. Yet parenthood opens you up to whole new horizons. Your world becomes so much larger than it was before. You become connected to the universe and to the community in a way you did not understand BC (Before Children).

I am a parent. That is my way of giving to my world. The love ArtGuy and I share grew so big it had to overflow who we are. Who we are become a physical manifestation in the Young Adult, Cookie Boy, Romeo, and the Mad Toddler.
I sacrifice my little self in order to become a vessel of life for something much bigger than who I am and what I wish I was doing right now (instead of staring at mounds of laundry, broken train tracks, mud on the kitchen floor, and an over-tired toddler).

That sounds exclusive. Some people long to become parents, and just cannot do it. It does not mean that they get shut out of this - parenthood comes in many forms. But for those who do have children, it is not just an addiction - some random impulse that you get stuck with for life (although it can feel like that at times!). I am not trying to judge why you may have no children or one or two - those are private, and something painful, decisions or reasons. But I am asking for the same consideration - I wish people would please stop looking at me like I am crazy for having four children....and boys, at that. (I cannot tell you how many times I have had someone tell me that that is why they did not have a third or fourth - it might have been another boy! Oh, the horrors!!!!)

Parenthood is my job, and like any job, it has its rewards and its problems. It is a vocation - a calling.
It is life-affirming. It is something we plunge into with our eyes shut because we know if we saw the truth, we could never do it. Parenthood is love.

One thing I know it is not - an addiction.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Bliss

Things have been very busy here lately. Way busy. I hate even saying it, becuase some people brag about busyness, but trust me - I am not one of them. It is just the simple truth. We have flown in and out of the house since Thursday. Every week seems to get a little busier. It will stay this way at least until mid-December. I am about falling over with tiredness and my mind has ceased to function in any intelligent way.

Today, though, has been almost lovely. It is chilly, and the morning sun has given way to drab afternoon clouds that hold the promise of rain. My living room is cozy, with the lights on since 2pm. Remnants of a train track litter the floor, where the Mad Toddler ripped apart the carefully laid track. Clean laundry stands in folded piles, like soldiers at the ready. There is more waiting for me in the dryer, but for now, it can wait. Books from last week's library trip lie here and there, on the couch, the floor, the coffee table, the cabinet. I should feel more concerned about the group of unmatched socks on the table, but I don't. Not yet.

Bliss. For a little while. In a moment, I will get up to get the laundry. In an hour I will dress for the service I will be singing for at church tonight. Oh, but before that I must deliver the Young Adult to a friend so they can get to scouts. And after the service, I will go to pay for his camping trip and pick him up. And stop and get milk (I just had to dump the Mad Toddler's afternoon cereal down the drain after I got a whiff of the milk).


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Random Thoughts

Random Thoughts

1. This is why I don't exercise - my goal was just 10 minutes on the stationary bike yesterday. TEN minutes. That is not very long, but reasonable in the midst of my day. After the third interruption (all of which featured the Mad Toddler, one of which involved the word "poopy" and another of which involved a confession of "I eat M&M's"), I looked at the timer on the bike - 58 seconds. Yup. Three interruptions in less than one minute. I guess it is more exercise to keep getting up to do things (i.e. change diapers or rescue M&M's).

2. I called a moraorium on extracurriculuar family activities for the day. We are all cancelling every event this afternoon and just spending an evening as a family. That is how busy it has been. I don't care what you are missing and where you need to be. We are staying home.

3. Why does everyone want money all the time? The government, the electric company, the mortgage company - sheesh.

4. Why do more people want money? A fee to help appreciate the soccer coach, a fee for staff appreciation at our coop location, money for class fees, money to get into the location for the Young Adult's dance competition, and so on. I mean, the soccer coach is awesome and deserves a nice thank you, but everything always seems to hit at once.

5. My checkbook is sad.

6. I have had to tell the 12 year old to stop getting into a power struggle with the 2 year old 5 times in 3 minutes.

7. The Mad Toddler awoke in a crabby mood from nap.

8. That is it for today!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Almost That Time of the Year

As my kids keep pointing out to me, it is already November.

I still don't have the year straight, and it is almost over?

Less than three weeks to go until Advent. Unbelievable.

Advent is one of my favorite times of the year. Hands-down my favorite time of the church year. Yes,  I love Advent even more than Christmas. There is a holy stillness to the season. It builds in anticipation in such a delightful way. I have not managed to get the same sense of purpose out of Lent. I know Lent is good for the soul and all, but I love the joy of Advent. And the decorations. And the food. And the music. Oh, the music.....

If you need some tips for some neat Advent traditions, you can read my article about Advent Traditions in a Christmas-Oriented World.

One of my yearly Advent traditions is buying Advent calendars for my godchildren. It is one of my favorite things to do, ever! The only problem now is, I am starting to forget which ones I have bought for them before and which ones I haven't! I find myself looking at one and thinking, 'that one is cute, but it looks really familiar', or, 'I know I bought that one for Anna but did I also buy it for Dana?'.

Ah, clearly the brain is not what it used to be!

I have three god-daughters and one godson (with one more on the way - I will get to see him towards the beginning of Advent, but he will be too little for a calendar...this year!). They range in age from 15 to 4 (or -3 weeks until showtime). Each one gets a calendar picked expressly for them by me! So much fun! This year someone is getting a sticker calendar and someone is getting a cool house calendar. Okay, so that is all I have bought so far. It's a process, people!

Before you know it we will be dusting off the Advent wreaths and hunting for candles (every year I can never seem to find purple ones. We end up with "Mulberry" or "Cranberry" or other assorted berries!)

Do you have cool Advent traditions?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Time to Learn

My inspiration for today's entry is from Not Just Cute, and this entry on why "Age Does Matter". Read it. It is good.

We get questions all the time about why we homeschool/ how we homeschool/am I crazy to be homeschooling?

The reasons were many, but one of the biggest was the desire to let the Young Adult grow and develop at his own pace. The emphasis since the time the Young Adult was about to enter Kindergarten has shifted even more towards standardized testing, which is not a good way to teach. Well, it often does not allow a lot of teaching at all.

We talk about how bad we feel for the students in public schools these days, but I also feel bad for the teachers. So many of them have creative ideas that cannot be implemented because of the drive for testing (more often in the elementary level). I overheard a group of teaches discussing the upcoming school year one August. They were talking about how one of their favorite field trips got canceled. The destination - an recreated "old settlers" kind of place. They asked one of the women, who was on a committee concerning such things, and she replied, "Well, it doesn't meet the requirements for the standardized testing, so we had to drop it".
How sad! It was like saying there was nothing of real value the kids could get from that field trip. The teachers were all very dissapointed, but their hands were tied, too.

One of the bug-a-boos in homeschooling can be the fear of not accomplishing enough. Of looking like slackers who are bucking the system. But really, sometimes we have to reclaim the ability to not be scheduled every single part of the day. Back when I was a working mom, I oversaw the religious ed of elementary students for a large parish. One class had repeated trouble with one 5th grade boy. He was in my office a lot. One evening I talked to him about it. I asked him, "Do you want to be here?"?
"Why not," I prodded.
He shrugged. Then he burst out, "I'm just tired."
"What did you do today?"
"I went to school, then piano, then we went to McDonald's. Now I am here, but after this I have soccer practice."

I didn't have the heart to take him to task. It wasn't his fault, too much. Now, if I could have gotten the parents, they might have heard an earful.

ArtGuy and I have a policy that says the boys can do scouts, church group,  and one other activity. That is it. No more. Not only do we want to be running all over the place all the time (Too late for that!), we don't want them overscheduled. We sit and listen to the parents talk about the mutiple soccer teams, multiple sports teams their kids are on. We just can't do that to the boys. They need time to be creative. Our boys create their own card games, their own board games, art projects, and crafts.  If they were too scheduled, when would there be time for this?

One last story - at our First Lego League meeting last night, the 7 (homeschooled) boys got to talking. The Young Adult was illustrating his point with a story from Greek Mythology, and the tale of Odysseus. As he mentioned the story, almost all the other boys went, "ooooo, I love that story, too!" , and then launched into details. One other boy said, "I don't know that one. Can someone send it to me?"

 I laughed at them! Homeschoolers!!!!!

Friday, November 5, 2010


It has been a heck of a week.

Why? I don't really know. There isn't anything major, like an illness or anything like that. It has just been a rough week.

I think I need a vacation. I need to learn how to love my family again, how to feel like a wife and a mother, and not a seriously underpaid maid (isn't an unpaid maid a slave?).

I cleaned out the hallway coat closet this morning. I need to be getting ready for our homeschool coop, but I am looking for where I put my supplies. So far, no luck (and feeling stupid enough about that. I used to have a great memory, but now?).  I have a few supplies in the coat closet, so I looked there. Unfortunately, I could not even get into what is supposed to be a walk-in closet, so I had to pull everything out of the closet and clean the dang thing out.
It is not a huge closet, but should fit our coats and some miscellaneous supplies with enough room left over for 1-2 pairs of shoes per person.
I discovered 24 socks (I will not say 12 pairs, because I would hate to presume any of them match), and about 1,000 shoes. Obviously, no one has paid attention to my 2-pair-of-shoes limit. ArtGuy is the worst, with 4 or 5 pairs in there.

But can I complain?

No. He is out there, earning a living for the family, and as a good Christian helpmate, I can't complain. And I am grateful for his job and for his working for us.
But I have a job, too. Lately, more and more I feel it is pathetic. No one in my house listens to me. Well, they do when I yell. They all exchange sympathetic glances that seem to say, Poor Mommy has lost it again.
What they don't seem to understand is that if they pulled their weight, Mommy wouldn't have to lose it. And when a million little things go undone, or ignored....again....then Mommy does lose it over One Small Thing. Yes, it seems ridiculous, but why can't they see that I am buried under an avalanche of school, grading, lesson planning, coaching, cleaning, laundry, menu planning, shopping, and yes, I do work, too, for money. (Not much, but it helps.)

My work is appreciated by my family - I will give them that. But it is also treated as "unnecessary". They tend to view all I do with amusement. I wonder what would happen if I just stopped. When the black, hairy toilets bite them in the butt, maybe they will stop to think about how they take a clean seat for granted.

I know motherhood involves sacrifice, and stay at home is a major sacrifice. I know not everything I do will be noticed, and I do offer many, many things up.

But when does it become too much? I guess I thought there would be...not payment as in money...for what I do, but a kind of barter system. I would be paid in attention (of a good kind, not the feeling I am under psychiatric evaluation), help (not the kind you get only if you asked, no matter how many times you said it, or willing help only when you reach the point of a nervous breakdown), and a kind of partnership of the family (not the feeling like it is me vs them).

Here I sit, when I have a million things to do to get 5 people ready to leave the house for the day for a school coop.

Why do they call it homeshool when you are never at home.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bitter Ravings of a Mad Woman

Today is one of those days. The world falls apart, because I am too tired to hold it on my shoulders any longer.

Even Atlas wanted a break.

For the second morning in a row, the Mad Toddler has asked for seconds at breakfast, only to announce as soon as I pour the milk over his cereal that he is all done. A total waste of food.

I went into the Young Adult's room to check on his progress in straightening up ("straightening up" is a lesser form of "cleaning", implying less work and less stress). He really hadn't done much, but it was hard to tell since his small room was littered in teen debris. What brought me to tears was his bed. It looked like a four-year-old made it. He is about to turn 13, and has had many lesson on how to make his bed, and many, many check's by me, his mom. But if I do not stand over him, he puts about the same effort into it as the Cowboy's did on their last game - almost none.

I know - why let a bed upset me?

It is part of the seamy underside of homeschooling. Everything your children do reflects you - because there is not anyone else. If they can't make their bed, it isn't because they had to run catch the bus or because they were almost late to football practice. What if they totally fail their history test? Sure, maybe they didn't study hard enough, but then it occurs to you that perhaps you never taught them HOW to study. Or why the $100 practice shoes are bunched up in the closet again - because you obviously did not make things clear enough. There really is not an excuse. So, you must be the cause, right?

I am tired of being the police in my family. I know many moms are, but there is no escape for me, nor is there anyone else to help out. You would think that if you talked to someone about a schedule, they would remember and "get it". Only you come to realize that they never will.

If I want my kids' rooms to be clean, then I have to stand over them and bark orders. No one else will police them, no one else will even poke their heads in the room to see if they cleaned when they said they did. Just me. So I get to be the bad guy every single time.(Like this past weekend, when I was working Saturday morning. I came home and asked if the boys cleaned their room. They all said yes. Did they? No. How do I know - I ACTUALLY WENT AND CHECKED. So I got to be the bad guy that grounded the boys from video games and yelled at "fun dad". Great.)

I am the one who teaches, assigns homework, grades homework, corrects and guides schoolwork, teaches manners (like table manners), oversees housework, oversees someone else overseeing housework, teaches faith and theology, practices soccer or baseball, does the laundry (oh wait - everyone helps when they are made to!), makes sure our schedule is set and on-track for the week, and I still find time to exercise and pray and try to write.

I am not bragging.

It is killing me.

Even if I get a "day off", I know that means being willing to do the laundry when I get home or clean the mess in the playroom the next morning, or put away the box of skates and kneepads that I did not get out, but which litter my entryway. Either way, I pay.

I am the boss of the family, hated and feared like many bosses. Closed out of the fun of the rest of the bunch. And all without the higher pay scale or benefits or anything.

I am hoping I get a pink slip. The economy being bad and all, surely management will be the first to go.

I did the whole working-mom thing, and it was hard. Especially since I still was the only one who cleaned (or who made others clean), did all the laundry, the shopping and so on. Even during my busy season, when I worked 90 hours a week. The difference there is that I actually got to spend some hours of every day with people who paid attention to me, who liked me, who listened to my ideas and thought they were good, who wanted to spend time with me. And I got paid for it - not much. Not nearly enough, but more than any form of payment I get out of my current job.
Today is a day I completely regret letting another job pass me by this summer. It seemed like the right call at the time.

But now.....

If I had the money, I would be on a plane to somewhere. Alone.

Dream big!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wednesday Things

Hello, Wednesday!

This time of year is hard for someone trying to lose weight! Halloween candy is hidden in various parts of the kitchen. There is always sooooooo much of it. We usually end up throwing a bunch out right before Easter. Add to that the leftover brownies from Cookie Boy's birthday sitting on the counter. Despite being covered up, I can smell the faint, intoxicating chocolate aroma wafting into the living room.

I am going to make those boys finish the brownies up in just a moment! Get thee behind me, Satan!

This is the last week of fall soccer for Romeo. I am very excited! That will be one less thing to do on Wednesdays and one less thing on Saturdays. Hooray! But first, there is a make-up game tonight. After receiving over 2 inches of rain yesterday, I am anticipating a lot of mud this evening. Oughta go well with the white shirt, no? The Mad Toddler will have a blast in the mud. The only shoes that fit his feet at the moment are sandals. I do not think that is going to work! Better dig around.

Three more weeks of our homeschool coop. I am beyond happy. I am so burned out. I am taking next semester off. Whoo hoooo! It is fun for the boys, but it is so much work for me.

Sometimes I wonder if I should ever have been a mother or a wife.

Maybe I just need a vacation.




Yeah, right!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

11 Years

Cookie Boy is 11 today.


I really can't believe it.


I remember seeing him the first time - he was kind of blue and still, but the doctor didn't seem concerned, so I tried not to panic. The doctor held up this little guy for me to see, then took him back and a moment later, a little, annoyed cry sounded. I breathed easier.

Cookie Boy's 1st, and only, soccer season

The first thing I noticed was that he really did not look like the Young Adult much at all. The Young Adult came out wide-eyed, alert, and strong enough that his favorite position was being held standing up on our laps, right from the start. Cookie Boy was smaller, more compact, and could hardly be persuaded to open his eyes at all. He looked so much darker complected than the Young Adult. He was....perfect. He wanted to be left alone in his little burrito - the blanket all snug and tight around him. Dare to unwrap him for a diaper change, and boy! Cover your ears!

There were many tears with this costume!

Cookie Boy was serious, where the Young Adult was goofy. Cookie Boy was a watcher, while the Young Adult was a social butterfly. The Young Adult would go to anyone as a little guy. Cookie Boy liked precisely two people - his granny and his mommy. That's it, thank you. Daddy? No, thank you! (Until he was 18 months old, he barely tolerated his loving father).
Cookie Boy could get very interested in something, and stay absorbed for a long time. On his first birthday, he received a electronic caterpillar toy. That was hours of enjoyment!

Turning 5

Cookie Boy greeted everything the same way - by crying! We used to sing a song about him. It went like this:
When I'm happy....I cry!
When I'm sad......I cry!
When I'm hungry.....I cry!
When I eat.....I cry!

You get the point.

Cookie Boy greeted each new morning with a good bout of crying. Every. Single. Morning. The Young Adult was happy in the morning, and later, Romeo would be good-natured as well. Frankly, The Mad Toddler tends to be like Cookie Boy that way. It is a little exhausting!

Around the age of 8, Cookie Boy seemed to start growing out of his crying, sensitive persona. Oh, he is still very sensitive, but he is much more good-natured.

4-yr-Old Cookie Boy

But he is still quiet. And you know you have to watch out for the quiet ones. I mentioned to one of his homeschool coop teachers one day that I bet she was glad to have a quiet kid in the class (meaning Cookie Boy). Her eyes widened and she said. "Cookie Boy? Quiet? He is a class clown, always being goofy and cracking jokes!".

A goofy little Cookie Boy

What? MY Cookie Boy? A class clown? Cracking jokes?

He is a second son. So is ArtGuy. ArtGuy has a soft spot for Cookie Boy. Always has. I think because he knows what it is like to have a big brother who always gets attention. ArtGuy's older brother is a great guy - a priest now. Yah, a priest. You can see how ArtGuy may have felt liiiiitle overshadowed by this really neat, smart, kind, helpful big brother. So, ArtGuy watches out for Cookie Boy.

Today, Cookie Boy is a really, really neat kid. He is still pretty quiet, but with a snarky, goofy sense of humor that whips out of him at unexpected times. He has a strong sense of fairness and justice. He loves strategy games, like checkers, chess, and Blokus. Cookie Boy likes to be in the background of things - active and involved, but more of a supporting cast kind of guy. He is restful to be around. He is also terribly practical and logical.

I love my Cookie Boy!

About 6 years ago. Cookie Boy on right.

Have a great year!

My sweet Cookie Boy

Monday, November 1, 2010

Saints of God Abiding

Happy Feast of All Saints!

I love this feast day. For a Christian, what is there not to love?  A day that celebrates all those who have passed before us, especially those who can be held up as a worthy example to those left behind. I love to imagine all the saints crowded around the throne of God, leaning down to look upon the earth, delighted with the increased prayers and celebrations of the day.

What is a saint? A saint is not perfect, that is for sure. One has only to pick up a book on the lives of saints in order to see that. They struggled with everything anyone else does, and each one had their own peculiar temptations and distractions. Some loved food, some were proud, some tended towards snottiness, while others fought against anger. Some were nuns and priests, while others were wives, fathers, children, missionaries, ministers, or popes. In the end, what defines them is how they view the world and their own relationship to it. Saints really get it. They manage to understand (as far as true understanding is even possible) that as lovely as the world is, it only points to its Creator. There is so... much.... more.

Even their own stories, the examples that we look up to on this feast day, are never meant to be an end in themselves. A saint's life ultimately points to God. That is why we read about them. That is why we pray. St. Terese can do nothing for me. St. Anthony is helpless on his own. But both of them can pray, intercede to God,  for me. We all need intermediaries. Not that God won't hear us on our own - He will. But asking others, especially those who have gone before us, especially those who lived their lives in a much better way than I am managing - their prayers, their extra pleading to God, help my pitiful case so much more.

I need all the prayers I can get.

We read the lives of the saints - or we should - because they remind us. They help us to remember

  1. it is actually possible to live a life of good here in this world. No excuses.
  2. what is important and what is dross. 
  3. to open our minds and hearts to God, and to God through those around us.
  4. the kingdom of Heaven begins here, in this world

I find that when I read, even just a little, about the life of....oh, say St. Augustine or St. Elizabeth Leseur, that I find myself wondering why I don't pray more, more earnestly, why I don't volunteer more, why I let the little things get to me. I remember that the things that bother me are the things that are passing. I (usually) realize that my mind has wondered from the real road. Like Dante in The Inferno, I find myself awakened to see I have strayed from the path and am in danger of never reaching the summit.

St. Cecilia, patron saint of musicians

The boys and I planned on making it to noon mass today, but I had the brilliant idea of doing the shopping this morning with the Mad Toddler. We barely made it home with sanity intact, and needless to say, did not make mass. I miss it being a day of obligation. I will miss chanting the litanty of the saints in a warm, dim church. We will do it at home, instead.

I read this article today, about a couple's amazing 6 million dollar dream house. I thought it was ironic to see it on Yahoo news on this day. Not that wealthy people cannot build a beautiful home, but the whole article just reeked of self-centeredness and.......being weighted down by possessions. Perhaps it was because I read it just after I put a book down about the lives of women saints. It just paled by comparison.

Pray for us, all you saints of God, as we gather here this day.