Tag Archive | jesus

Living in a material world


Here’s the song reference.

We ended up scrapping yesterday’s book work lesson plans in favor of more practical lessons in technology, deportment, and budgeting.  In other words, the day began with a telephone problem that resulted in me having to spend a lot of time in online chat with the phone company, move furniture to disconnect and reconnect everything, and for the grand finale, climbing a ladder to disassemble the FiOS battery backup box to do a hard reset on the entire system.  Bugaboo and Beanie were hugely impressed, and, blessedly, Mr. Man and Baby Guy managed to sleep through most of the amateur theatrics.

Once the telephony problem had been resolved, the girls settled in for some fine motor skills work (in other words, they wanted to color, which sounded like a grand idea to me), and the boys woke up in the mood for a hearty breakfast.  They were ready for lunch an hour after breakfast, then for a nap.  By 11:30, the entire tribe had eaten two meals and gone back to sleep. I even caught a bit of a nap myself!

Early nap times lead to early waking times, which left us with an unexpectedly large expanse of afternoon to fill.  I briefly considered breaking out either the school books or the story books, then decided that such a lovely sunny day would be better spent running the errands that had gotten a little backed up this week.  When I asked the tribe if they’d like to visit the craft store to pick up a few supplies for projects they could do with their cousins while the Thanksgiving turkey cooks on Thursday, three little kids started jumping up and down and chanting, “Craft store, craft store, we love the craft store!”  while Baby Guy chortled and clapped his little hands.

Well, the long and short of it is that I left a large quantity of supplies on the counter.  The kids were actually pretty good until we got to the checkout line, but after 10 minutes of not being acknowledged by the cashier, who could not seem to process our payment or make eye contact without interrupting her description of her entertainment plans, Beanie and Mr. Man started to pick at each other, which led to Bugaboo trying to separate the combatants, which led to more and louder unpleasantness, and to me asking the manager to please void the sale and return my rewards voucher to me.  I will spare you the account of that particular conversation.  Suffice it to say that the kid volume continued to escalate while the manager tried to convince me to hang out for another 15 minutes so she could call the help desk and straighten out their computer problem and thus be able to process everyone in the (now considerable) line behind us’s payments.

Um, no thanks.

As I shepherded the now-sobbing tribe out to the van, I pointed out to them that if everyone had been able to use good manners in the store, we might  have been able to wait out the computer problem and thus return to base with our collection of foam sheets, glue dots, and brightly colored feathers, but since there had been screaming, lying on the floor, and too much grabbing of both people and things, we couldn’t stay in the store long enough to complete our purchase.  Once everyone was loaded into the van, we continued that conversation, which was at first punctuated by several reminders to Beanie to take a couple of deep breaths, as she is nearly impossible to understand when she is wailing.

Twenty minutes later, we’d had a thorough debriefing.  Bugaboo and Beanie pleaded to be allowed another chance to show they could behave properly, even in such an exciting place as a craft store.  We talked about the logistics of who would hold the stroller in which location to minimize conflicts, and decided that Beanie would walk by the back seat with Baby Guy, while Bugaboo would take point by Mr. Man, and clarified that the first wail or scream would abruptly end our outing.

Off to another craft store we drove.  Any errands that involves the mall must be completed within the next four days, as I refuse to venture anywhere near the place from the day before Thanksgiving to until after New Year’s Day, and our second attempt at acquiring craft supplies happens to be located in the front of our local retail palazzo.  I was tremendously pleased with the tribe’s good conduct on this stop; Mr. Man actually sat patiently in the stroller, and the girls graciously said their “excuse mes” every time we passed another shopper.  For their efforts, the girls each got to select a new coloring book, Baby Guy scored a koosh ball, and Mr. Man chose a flashing red reindeer nose, which he wore happily for the rest of the day.

On the way back to the van, Bugaboo helpfully pointed out that we were at the mall, and that the mall not only has a play park, but also features a number of places with highly desirable dinner options.  I heaved a very deep sigh and asked her to give me a moment to think about it.  As I considered my mental to-do list, I remembered that it included getting the girls’ hair cut, and possibly Mr. Man’s as well.  The mall has one particular establishment that goes nearly overboard in accommodating our tribe, and food was starting to sound like a pretty good idea.

After fueling ourselves with chicken nuggets, milk, and fruit, we headed for the haircut place, which was, to my relief, empty of other clients.  The stylists all waved and smiled as we walked through their door, and Bugaboo, Beanie, and Mr. Man were quickly and simultaneously swathed in zoo animal aprons.  There are exactly two places in town where I’ll take the tribe for haircuts, and both earned our business for that kind of service!  Twenty minutes later, three kids were shaking hands with the hairdressers and thanking them for the nice haircuts, while Baby Guy was soaking up the adoration of the stylists and a couple of ladies who had come in to get their own haircuts.  Lollipops were handed around, and we were off to the play park, where the kids desported themselves until Daddy arrived about an hour later.

Upon his arrival at the playpark, Manie advised me that there was absolutely no one in line to see Santa Claus, and that we had four children with clean faces, three of whom had fresh haircuts.  After we quickly changed the boys into clean shirts, we all headed towards Santa’s little habitat, so named after Beanie informed us last year that the mall has a “pet Santa”.

After our visit, and now that Manie had arrived to help with the cat-herding involved with four kids under the age of six, I had a moment to look around, and noticed, to my horror, that the entire mall is opening at midnight on Black Friday, the day that traditionally heralds the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.  I was appalled.  As much as we enjoy our little shopping outings, there’s no sale in the world that’s worth dragging all those people away from their families on Thanksgiving night so the bargain hunters can trample each other.  It’s bad enough that the retail world barely pauses to acknowledge Thanksgiving — and, in some cases, Halloween — any longer before the Christmas lights, merchandise and popular music take over the stores.  I’m glad we caught all of the Christmas lights at the mall last night, because we won’t be returning to the mall until well after the holidays.  Monday’s writing project may include a letter to the mall’s management about the importance of family and rest, both of which should take priority over doorbuster deals.  I know economic times are tough, but that’s ridiculous and, to my mind, mean.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for little blessings to guide and teach, and for their hearts which are open to lessons of kindness and love.  Thank You for Bugaboo’s understanding that Christmas is Your birthday, and that while Saint Nicholas is a friend of Yours, You are the reason for all the pretty lights, for the presents we exchange in remembrance of Your matchless gift.  Please help me keep uppermost in their minds and mine that there is no material good that exceeds the value of Your law and Your love, and help me teach them to share those truths lovingly and gracefully.

In the shape of a heart


Here’s the song reference.

Not long after I settled the girls in at the kitchen table, Bugaboo with her morning waffle and Beanie with her morning milk, I had to go downstairs to let Smudgie out.  Hoping to get a little laundry folded, I asked the girls to please eat and drink quietly until I returned.  Of course, a piercing Beanie wail shook the house as I took the second shirt out of the dryer.

At the top of the stairs, I  met Beanie’s tear-filled eyes and asked her to go sit on her bed and take a few deep breaths, so she would be able to use her big-girl words and big-girl voice to explain the problem to me.  As she watched her sister exit the kitchen, Bugaboo held up her hands innocently and said, “I don’t know what got into her!”

As I entered the girls’ room, I took a deep breath myself.  Beanie has a notoriously short fuse and a bit of a penchant for melodrama. We are thankful that as she’s gotten older, her expression of temper has gone from physicial aggression to tears and screaming, which are far less injurious to her siblings and her environment.  I knelt down beside her bed and held her little hand.

“Okay, Beanie, what happened?”

“J-J-J-J-JACK-K-K-K-K-KIE Y-Y-Y-Y-Y-YELLED AT M-M-M-M-M-E!”

“Okay, what did she yell at you, and can you answer with your big-girl voice, please?”

“She yelled at me to drink my milk and pick out something for breakfast and give her my toys and she tried to take my toys away and she said I was a bad sister.”

Now, this is a tough one.  Getting Beanie to ingest anything in the morning is often a struggle, and one I’ve been trying not to push overmuch, preferring to let her start her day, then have her breakfast after she’s been awake for a while.  It took a while for me to get to that point, since I have a thing for structure and doing things as a family unit, but we had hit a point where half the morning was taken up butting heads with Beanie over eating breakfast.  I backed off, she eats something reasonable when she’s ready.  Since I usually have to be awake for a couple of hours before I can stand to eat, it seemed a reasonable accommodation.  If it had just been a question of Bugaboo fussing at Beanie for not eating, all that would have been required would have been a gentle reminder to Bugaboo that Beanie’s breakfast habits are just another example of how God made each of us just a little different.

The issue of Bugaboo’s acquisitiveness, however, is a little more serious.  We’ve had an ongoing problem with our eldest daughter appropriating her siblings’ playthings, and, while there are occasions when said siblings simply leave things near Bugaboo’s storage drawer and she just puts them away at toy pick-up time, it’s more common that she gets it into her head that she has a better use for their toys than they do, and tussles ensue over her desire to “borrow” this or that.  Calling Beanie a “bad sister” was just out of line.

“Beanie, what did you do to Bugaboo?”

“I screamed at her when she called me a bad sister.  Sh-sh-sh-she was being MEAN!”

“Okay, Beanie.”  I pulled her off the bed and into my lap.  “Can we remember to save the screaming for bleeding, broken bones, and somebody trying to take you away?”

“Oooooooooookaaaaaaaaaay.  I guess.”

“Did anything else happen while I was downstairs?  Is there any other reason Bugaboo might have yelled at you?”

“Nooooooooooooooooo.”

“Is Bugaboo going to tell me about some other reason she might have yelled at you?”  This usually works at getting untold bits of story.

“Nope.”  Calmer now.  Hugs can work wonders.

“Okay, then.  You are not a bad sister.  You’re a very good little sister, and a very good Beanie.  It’s kind to share your toys, but since we’re not supposed to have toys at the breakfast table, you were right not to share just then.  Did you have the toy with you?”

“Nope.”

“Okay, then.  Go back in the kitchen and finish your milk.  Are you better now?”

“Yeah.”  She skipped back off to the kitchen, and I followed with a slightly less springy gait.  Bugaboo sat in her chair, munching on a piece of waffle and studying an ink spot on the table fascinatedly.

“Hey, Bugaboo, can you tell me what happened there?”

“It looks like somebody missed their paper with a marker and got the table instead.”

“It does, doesn’t it?  But I meant what happened with the Beanie.”

“Oh.  I don’t know.  I was sitting here eating my waffle and being quiet and all of a sudden she just started yelling for no reason.”

As I took another deep breath, looked at the ceiling, and started to pray silently, Beanie piped up, “That’s not true!  You lied to Mommy!”

I looked back at Bugaboo, who had suddenly discovered something terribly interesting on the floor.

“Well, Bugaboo? Beanie says you yelled at her and told her she was a bad sister.  Is she telling me the truth?”

“A little.”

“Did you tell a lie?”

“A little.”

I sat down at the table, and Bugaboo confessed.  We talked about how lying hurts people just as much as calling them ugly things does, and that both are things that sadden Jesus, who wants us to be kind and gentle with one another.  I gently worked in the word “betrayal” after remembering what some of the day’s homeschool lesson plans held, and reminded them that Jesus also calls us, in love, to forgive all hurts as we wish to be forgiven by Him.  After a few minutes of discussion, Bugaboo apologized to Beanie, Beanie forgave Bugaboo, and it was time to get on with our school day.

Beanie’s school day started with a reading and coloring page about Judas’s betrayal of Jesus.  Both girls colored while I read the story, first from the picture Bible, then from a more mature edition that included how Peter severed the servant’s ear, which earned him a rebuke from Jesus.  I pointed out that even in the face of His betrayal, Jesus didn’t hit or scream at anyone, and He even forgave the people who came to arrest Him, taking the time both to heal the servant’s ear and to remind His disciples that their weapons were of faith, not of iron.

Later in the day, we read the story of Pocahontas.  I pointed out to the girls the Pocahontas was betrayed by one of her friends, and asked them if they knew of anyone else who was betrayed.  Beanie and Bugaboo both, with wide eyes, breathed, “Jesus was, ” which prompted me to remind them that one of the reasons we study history is so that we can learn to see the patterns in the way people act and how those patterns can help us predict what the consequences of decisions will be. We talked a little more about what it means to be a good friend, and a good neighbor, and repaying kindness with kindness.

After we’d read all the books and finished all the written work for the day, Bugaboo and Beanie helped clear the table for their favorite part of the day, which is whatever art or craft project we have on tap to reinforce some lesson from the day.  As the girls put away their pencils, they peeked over their shoulders to watch me draw big hearts on two pieces of red construction paper.

“Do we get to cut those out?”

“Yep.”

“Can we keep them and hang them in our room?”

“Once we’re done with them, you may do that if you like.”

They bustled excitedly to the drawer where their scissors live, returned to their seats, and looked up at me expectantly.  I handed each of them a heart and instructed them to cut carefully and slowly, showing our loving Lord that love and hearts are important.  As they worked, I got out a couple of pieces of regular paper and a roll of tape.

“Are we going to tape the hearts to the paper, Mommy?”

“Eventually.  We have to do something else with them first.  You both did a very good job cutting them out.”

Two very round pairs of eyes, one hazel, one deep brown, stared expectantly at me.

“Okay, tear them in half.”

“Rip them up?!?!?!?”

“Yes, rip them in half.”

They did, half confused, half intrigued, then looked back to me expectantly.

“Tear them again.”

I had to stop Beanie from turning hers into heart confetti as I tore of pieces of tape and stuck them to the edge of the table.

“Okay, now take the white paper and try to put your hearts back together.”

They looked at me, flabbergasted.  Why had I told them to tear up perfectly good construction paper hearts and tape them back together?  Had Mommy slipped a gear?  As they worked, uttering little exclamations of frustration at the impossibility of getting them to go back together just exactly right, I explained.

“You see, when we lie, when we take things that aren’t ours, when we betray each other and God, we hurt both another person’s heart and God’s heart.  We do everything we can to fix what we’ve done, but that heart is never quite the same, is it?”

“No.  It doesn’t go back together right.”

“Exactly.  We’re only human, ladies.  We still apologize, to each other and to God, but we can never totally make it right on our own.  Can a broken heart be made whole again, ever?”

“Maybe?”

“Yes.  If we ask Jesus, He can heal a broken heart.  So when we do the wrong thing, when we hurt somebody, we ask to be forgiven, and we also ask God to heal the other person’s heart, and our own hearts.  It hurts us when we do hurtful things, too, and we want God heal our hearts so they want to love instead of being mean.”

“Oh.”  Bugaboo paused for a minute.  “That makes sense.  He’s God.”

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for little blessings who understand that You can heal broken hearts.  Help me teach them to always turn to You when they are downcast either because of an injury caused by another or committed by themselves, and that You call us to forgive as we wish You to forgive us.  Please burn into our hearts and minds that forgiveness and the need for it are not a cause for guilt, but for rejoicing, and that the more we forgive, the more we grow in the love You taught.  While we sin through our own free choice, Your love and mercy are boundless, and You will grant us infinite grace and help to avoid it if we ask You with humble hearts.

Fish heads


Here’s the song reference.

Bugaboo, Beanie and I passed a pleasant hour this morning reading the story of Jesus multiplying the loaves and fishes.  It’s a perennial favorite around here, partly because we are a fish-loving family, partly because it’s a good reminder that Our Lord always provides us with more than we need, but does not want us to waste a crumb of it.   The girls and Baby Guy, who was up early and making merry mayhem as his sisters worked, enjoyed slices of bread as an after-breakfast snack while they colored.

After we had finished the day’s assignments, we decided to make tuna melts for lunch, since we had been talking about the loaves and fishes.  Bugaboo piped up, “Mommy, it will be kind of like we’re having lunch with Jesus!”  It’s a favorite meal around here, and an easy one for little hands to help prepare . . . unless, of course, those little hands are busy digging through the dress-up bin.

While we ate, I asked the girls if they remembered whether Jesus had anything other than bread and fish with which to feed everyone, including himself, that day.  They both shook their heads in the negative, so I followed up by asking them what we had that Jesus did not that day.  Beanie pointed out that our fish had mayonnaise and cheese on it, and Bugaboo noted that we had yummy fruit cocktail to go with our meal.

“Girls, did Jesus complain about only having bread and fish to eat?”

“No, they story just said they had lots of leftovers.”

“Look at your plates, and think about what you just told me about our lunch.  Think about it for a minute.  Jesus provided something better for us than he provided for Himself.”

“He must love us a lot.”

“Indeed.  Can we tell people we love them by giving them the best we have?”

“Yeah, but what if we like what we have?”

“That’s okay, too, but always remember that Jesus gave us His best.  Can we remember to give our best, too, whether it’s sharing our food or doing our chores or our schoolwork?”

“Okay.  Did Jesus have to sweep the hallway?”

“I’ll bet He helped His mother, Mary.”

“Yeah, He probably did.  He was a good little boy. He probably didn’t complain about it, either.”

Our little blessings amaze me sometimes.

Later that afternoon, we set about making feathers for our annual “turkey of thanks.”  I cut orange construction paper feathers until my fingers got numb, and had to ask Bugaboo and Beanie to save some of their gratitude for tomorrow.

Turkey of thanks

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for Your abundant provision for us, and for little blessings who give praise and thanks to You for Your bounty. You feed us when we are weary with living bread, and quench all our thirsts with Your living water.  Thank You for never having let our children know hunger, not for food, not for love, not for comfort.  Please enrich our hearts with humble gratitude and a fervent desire to share Your blessings with all those who hunger and despair; open our eyes to their sufferings and their eyes to Your love.

 

Hello, I love you


Here’s the song reference.

Taking kids to vote

We voted as a bloc, as it were, yesterday.

Before we disembarked from Fran the Van, I reminded Bugaboo, Beanie, Mr. Man, and Baby Guy that we would greet each and every person we met with a warm, “Good morning, sir,” or, “Good morning, ma’am,” and an honest smile.  We spent the drive to our precinct singing selections from “Wee Sing America” and talking about how the Lord gives us free will.  We had talked about choices earlier in the day, and even took a vote on what we would have for breakfast (President Pancakes and Vice President Sausage were the victors).

As we walked the gauntlet of electioneers, Bugaboo, Beanie, Mr. Man and I greeted every poll worker for every candidate exactly as we had discussed.  Baby Guy chimed in with giggles and waves.  Each man and woman returned our greeting warmly and offered us sample ballots, which we politely declined.  Mr. Man hopefully extended his hand to each one, and was rewarded by at least a dozen smiling handshakes.

Inside the precinct, we continued greeting the people we met, from the election judges to the other voters.  People smiled, and told the tiny people what nice children they were, and commended me on their good manners.  With the exception of a minor Beanie meltdown, they weathered the 45 minute wait to cast our ballot beautifully, and made a couple of new little friends along the way.  After we voted, one of the electioneers was kind enough to take our picture.  Once we returned home, we taped a sign to the door of our little house in a swing neighborhood of a swing state so some very weary children could take their afternoon nap.

Deterring doorknockers

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for little blessings who rejoice in being salt and light to the world.  Help me teach them always, in my words, in my deeds, and in my silences, that we owe our first allegiance always to You, Who sacrificed Your life for ours.  Let my words and deeds also show them that we render unto our temporal leaders the respect they are due, and we love all of our neighbors, not just the ones who agree with us.  Lord, we serve You first, and we serve You best by being Your face to this world, in hopes of bringing others into the warm embrace of Your friendship.  We do this because we love You; grant us the strength, the courage, and the grace to share that authentic love, which does not fall into easy, feel-good gestures, but which daringly passes through the narrow gate.

STOP! Jamma time!


Here’s the song reference.

By 7:00 tonight, Baby Guy’s clothes were covered in three meals, one dessert, plenty of spilled milk, and a dog hair topcoat.  Since it was within a half hour of his bedtime anyway, I decided to change him into his pajamas before something decided to eat him.  Our youngest, however, was not at all pleased with the proposed wardrobe change, and babbled his displeasure all the way to the changing table.  Once we arrived at the changing table, the babbling turned to a rather vociferous series of complaints, accompanied by plenty of flailing and kicking.

I rubbed noses with the smallest member of our tribe to distract him long enough to get his pants off, got his diaper changed by distracting him with his toes (I swear, I feel like an octopus sometimes), then played a quick round of peekaboo while wrestling him out of his shirt without getting any of the goo from the shirt on his hair.  Once divested of his cruddy clothes, Baby Guy decided to use this sudden ease of movement to attempt a triple-twisting somersault off the changing table.  This athletic endeavor was met by my thunderous shout of “STOP!

His lower lip started to quiver, and I felt bad for bellowing.  Granted, I had to make the point, quickly and unambiguously, that triple-twisting somersaults off the changing table are a terrible idea, but I didn’t have to be quite as loud as I was.  I whipped his pajamas in a circle around my head and chortled, “Jamma time!”

Baby Guy’s little face erupted into a broad grin, and he started to giggle.  As I wrangled him into his footy pajamas, I sang in my most ludicrous voice, “Doon doon doon doon, doon doon, doon doon CAN’T TOUCH THIS!” and tickled him.  We were both still laughing when we made it back to the living room where the rest of the family was waiting, with somewhat bewildered expressions, for a bedtime story, prayers, and lullabies.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for the four little blessings You have entrusted to us.  Help us teach them and protect them gently, so that they have no doubt about what is right and good, but also have no doubt of our love for them.  Your yoke is light; grant us the humility of heart to follow Your example.

Little eyes and ears


My election day plea is not a pitch for any candidate, but a simple request:  Many people bring their children to the polls with them.  Please do everything you can to ensure that the quality of adult social behavior those impressionable eyes see is the quality of behavior you would want them to emulate.

John 13:34-35

Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)

34 A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

35 By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.

Peace be with you all.

— Kelly

Slime, slime, everywhere there’s slime


Here’s the song reference.

One of the great Halloween traditions at our house, and the one perhaps most eagerly anticipated by the tribe, is the presentation of gifts to our wee tribe that are, shall we say, not suitable for polite company.  There are gummy body parts, toy bugs, snakes, and spiders, and other treats that verge on the vile.  The kids, of course, think this is perhaps the coolest set of little surprises they receive all year, and as a result, we rarely have any trouble getting them to eat dinner on Halloween night — the brown paper bags will not appear if so much as a morsel remains on their plates.

This year’s offerings, in addition to ghoulishly blue ring pops and pumpkin-shaped marshmallows, included little canisters of glow-in-the-dark slime.  My husband and I remember the goo fondly from our own childhoods, and giggled madly when we discovered it in the dollar bin at Target.  We rationalized giving this to a kindergartner and two preschoolers by considering the possibility of a science lesson about non-Newtonian fluids.  Homeschooling has its perks, you know.

The slime in question was the surprise hit of Halloween.  As soon as each child finishes breakfast in the morning, she or he sets about clamoring for a tub of slime. Beanie is particularly enamored of her wee vat of green goo, and has merry adventures with it and her little Care Bears toys.  This morning, while Bugaboo was curled up on the couch watching her Saturday morning cartoons, Beanie meandered into the kitchen, where I was attempting to assemble a grocery list, and plumped her rump into her chair.

“Mommy, I want to play with my slime, please.”

“Okay, Beanie.  Please keep it out of my coupons, okay?”

“Can I get a Care Bear to hide in it?”

“Sure, why not?”

As she pelted out of the kitchen to retrieve a toy, she chortled back over her shoulder, “I’m getting Share Bear, because slime is more fun when you share it, and Share Bear knows lots about sharing!”

For the next hour, a curly-haired, shining-eyed little blessing of a girl played contentedly with her pool of slime and a pink plastic bear, narrating the bear’s adventures as she went.   First the slime was a mud puddle, then a sleeping bag to wrap around the bear, then a skating rink, then a green donut, then a meadow, then a frisbee, then a pizza, then a BIG GOOEY MONSTER that would have eaten the poor bear had Beanie not rescued her from its evil clutches.

I could sit and listen to Beanie tell stories for hours.  She is completely unselfconscious about it, and equally oblivious to anything that’s going on around her.  Give her a pile of confetti, and she names the pieces and sends them on quests.  The common thread in all of her adventures is kindness — everyone has to share and use nice words.  I love that about her.

Today’s prayer: Lord, thank You for this little blessing who cannot abide ugliness. Help me teach her that she must show the same love towards others that she insists upon in her play, the same gentleness of manner and speech that You used.  Cleanse my heart of anger and rancor, that I may be Your face to her and thus teach her with more than words.

The best I ever had


Here’s the song reference.

Nine years ago, I married the love of my life, the song in my heart, the light of my eyes.  Without him, there would be no Dailymomprayers.  It is something of a family joke that our priest obtained dispensation for our marriage to take place on All Saints’ Day figuring, having met the two of us, that we would probably need the intercession of the entire communion of saints along the way.  I’m of Irish descent.  He is of Italian descent.  Our kids got both, and there are certain stereotypes about tempers that are funny because they’re true.  And yet, here we are, still very much in love and still building our family by the grace of God.

Last night, after I had finished writing the blog post, Manie looked at me and grinned.  If you are a regular reader of this blog, the conversation that ensued will probably make you smile, but not surprise you.

“So what do you want to do tomorrow?”

“I don’t know.  It would be nice to go out to dinner.  When I talked to your mom this morning, I asked her if maybe we could come over for dinner.”

“I feel awful.  I didn’t get you anything.”

“I didn’t get you anything either.  I didn’t even get a card!”

“I’m a rotten husband.  Come on, there has to be something you want.”

“Yeah, a nap.  Really, it would be nice to go out to dinner.”

“We should probably do something with a play area.”

We left it at that, and curled up to watch the end of Apollo 18.  The movie was forgettable, but the company was terrific.

Although he was off today, Manie went into work for an hour to get a couple of things off his desk.  By the time he came home, Bugaboo and Beanie had finished their breakfast and were attempting to coordinate a raid on the Halloween candy.  The secret to their lack of success was their inability to agree who would be the mission leader.  I suppose I need to work on teaching them to cooperate, but it’s so terribly convenient when their bickering over who gets to be in charge keeps them out of the pantry.  While the girls were having their breakfast, Deedaw called to see if we might, perhaps, like to come over for lunch.  That sounded like a terrific idea, so I offered to run to Wegmans and bring lunch.  Nonno was in the hospital again last week, and is still a little weak and weary from it, so I didn’t want to put Deedaw to a lot of trouble cooking unless she was looking for a diversion.

Deedaw liked the Wegmans idea, so when Manie came home, he helped me get Mr. Man and Baby Guy some waffles to eat and clothes to wear, after which we bundled the bambini into the van and headed off to acquire the makings of an anniversary lunch.  Suffice it to say that sushi, cream of crab soup, salad and a roast chicken were involved.  We had a feast indeed for the Feast of All Saints; it was good to see Nonno and Deedaw laughing.

After lunch, we trooped home and settled the tiny people in for a desperately-needed nap, then sprawled ourselves across the loveseat (he) and the couch (me) to relish a few moments of quiet relaxation.  We talked for a while about things we needed to do later in the week, had a desultory discussion of some long-range plans, then enjoyed a warm silence for a bit.  I was pondering, with great wonder, the miracle of our little family, recalling the years before the children came, when we prayed and prayed to be entrusted with even one little life on this earth,and our joy when He answered our prayer with Bugaboo, then answered it again thirteen months later with Beanie, twenty-two months after that with Mr. Man, and fifteen months after that with Baby Guy.  For the record, there are presently no buns in the oven, as it were.  As I considered, smiling, that vow we made, nine years ago, to welcome new life joyfully, I realized there was a pretty good opportunity for a somewhat unorthodox prayer of thanksgiving to our mighty and merciful Lord.

“Hey, I know where I want to go for dinner tonight.”

“Okay . . .”

“Let’s take the tribe to Chuck E. Cheese.”

“Perfect.  We’ll have fun!”

And so, there we were, planning our anniversary dinner at the Rodent Redoubt, thanking God for blessing us with the children who made us want to do such a thing.  He and I agree that there will be many years for the quiet, intimate dinners at fancy restaurants, but the Temple of the Rat years are precious and few.  So, for now, we trade neckties and pearls for strings of plastic beads and mouse stickers . . . and count it as the most extraordinary of blessings, worth savoring and cherishing.

Afterwards, when the kids were loaded into the van for the ride home, Manie and I paused for a moment.  We looked at each other, started giggling, wrapped our arms around each other and chorused, “Best . . . anniversary dinner . . . ever!”

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You have blessed our marriage with love, laughter, strength, and grace.  Your design, from the beginning, was that two should become one in flesh and spirit, and we praise you for Your wisdom.  Thank You for blessing us with children, and for the wisdom to recognize the beauty, wonder, and brevity of their childhood.  Please help us teach them that all blessings come from You, and that a stalwart, humble faith in You, coupled with reliance on the guidance You left in Your book of love letters to us, will provide them with everything they need to love as they should.  What You have joined, no many may put asunder, Lord, and we thank You for joining us together forever.  Please mold us into an example of Your will for married couples, and grant that our hearts may turn always to You, whether we face exhilarating joy or exhausting grief, with a psalm of praise.  Keep us ever mindful that marriage is so important to You that You performed Your first public miracle at a wedding, and keep us ever mindful of the sanctity of the sacrament You created.

To them, life is a great big bang up


Here’s the song reference.

Thank you to everyone who offered prayers for our family.  Everyone we know made it through Hurricane Sandy unscathed, and for that we are grateful to all of you and to our merciful Lord.

Our daughters learned the meaning of “head-on collision” this evening.  Daddy was on his way home from work, which sent Bugaboo, Beanie, and Mr. Man scampering to pick up toys so Daddy wouldn’t come home to a humongous mess.  Baby Guy was cheerfully wrestling his way through a diaper change when he realized that his sippy cup was nowhere within reach, most distressing to a toddler who finds himself in sudden, urgent need of a swig of milk.  I quickly dispatched Beanie to the living room to retrieve the missing beverage, and she sped out of the girls’ room at top speed to oblige.  Unfortunately, Bugaboo happened to be entering through the same door Beanie was exiting at that moment, also at top speed, with a handful of fairies.

Just as the weeping, wailing, and blaming of siblings began, Daddy came through the front door.  He paused to listen to the commotion for a moment before commenting, “Gee, if you’re that happy to see me, I’ll just go back to work,” then running up the steps to see what had transpired.  I was still wrangling a thoroughly uncooperative Baby Guy into a clean diaper and pleading with the kids for an explanation of what had happened in a big kid voice with big kid words.  Mr. Man helpfully piped up, “Dey go BOOM!” as Bugaboo wailed that Beanie had hit her and Beanie wailed that Bugaboo had hit her.

Eventually we got it all sorted out, and two dish towels full of ice were applied to two goose-egg-sprouting foreheads.  We have concluded that Beanie’s head is harder than Bugaboo’s, which will come as no surprise to regular readers of this blog.  Twenty minutes later, after we had tucked two protesting little boys into their cozy beds, two much-recovered  little girls were ensconced at the kitchen table, coloring fuzzy Halloween stickers for a banner project tomorrow.  If you’re curious, our schoolwork tomorrow will consist of roasting pumpkin seeds, measuring by quarter-cups so they can be put in snack sized bags, making a giant door decoration to welcome trick-or-treaters, and finishing the illustrated classics version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  I’ll sneak in a little penmanship on the door decoration.

Shortly before the collision, the tribe and I were snuggled up in the living room for story time.  Bugaboo found Mr. Man’s copy of “The Amazing Spider-Man (World of Reading Level 1 edition),” much to everyone’s delight.  As I started to read it, it struck me that Peter Parker lived in Queens, a part of New York that I’ve read was hit fairly hard by last night’s storm.  That got me thinking about all the political ads I’ve seen during this election cycle, each of which attempts to divide people into groups and present a given candidate as some sort of superhero to that group, usually by “standing up” to some other group.

You know, I never heard of Spider-Man asking someone about ethnic background, religious affiliation, economic status, marital status, national origin, sexual orientation, or political party.  Something tells me that the emergency responders in New England aren’t asking about those things, either.  They see someone in danger, in trouble, in pain, and offer what help they have to give.  There’s no blaming someone else for the problem, there’s no waiting to see if there’s some other program or agency that could solve the person’s problem — there is a simple recognition of, and response to, a human need.

Frankly, when it comes to who I want my children to look to as examples, I’d rather they saw Spider-Man, firefighters, police officers, EMTs, and members of all the other emergency response agencies, real and fictional, as their role models than almost anyone running for office this year.  Those people’s faces look more like Jesus to me than any of the political leaders I’ve seen giving speeches on the news.  You see, they’re asking the right question, which is “what help do you need that I can give,” not “how can I pit you against your brother so I can gain power?”

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for the thick skulls that You, in Your wisdom, gave Your little blessings, and thank You for ice and the wisdom to use it to good effect to soothe injuries.  Thank You for all those men and women who help without questioning what they have in common with the helped, for these beautiful reflections of Your face You have placed in our midst.  Thank You for the generous friend who, though he is horrified by so many things I believe, was Your face this morning when he called and offered help to my family.  Please help me teach Your blessings that the things that divide us are of our own making, and that when a call for help goes out, You bless those who answer that call without inquiring what they have in common with the caller.  Help me teach them that You alone are perfect, and that the rest of us need to help each other along the way in order to find You.  We who believe in You must live what we believe, and You will bear us up and give us the grace we need.  Please kindle in the hearts of my family and my readers a steadfast love for Your law, and for our neighbors.

Slightly busy tonight


We have gusty winds and rain from Hurricane (now Superstorm, I’m told) Sandy raging outside, but I did want to get a quick post up to let those who have inquired know that we are all fine, feisty, warm and dry.  Please consider donating to a local food bank or organization serving the homeless.  It’s awful out there, and the news footage is frightening.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, let this storm remind us how blessed we are to have safe shelter, clean water, ample food, sturdy clothing, and a community with a robust emergency response capacity.  Please guard and guide all those who are caught in harm’s way tonight, or who courageously walk into harm’s way to save others.  May Your peace and comfort attend all those who fear.  In the mighty name of Jesus I ask you to protect them.