sins of ommission…

…and how they come back to haunt me.

We moved into this house in March of last year. I was just entering my third trimester of pregnancy with Pete. I had to finish school with Fritz, and I learned that I had to do a standardized test to comply with Virginia law.

Those first 50 boxes or so that I unpacked were all put away in my new home in a neat and orderly fashion. But then…

Sin of Omission #1: I failed to finish unpacking. Somethings just simply didn’t have a good spot in the new house. My sewing machine got shoved into the back of a closet. Ditto with boxes and boxes of photos (a future project…for my old age, I guess). Some decorative items didn’t have shelves, and there are boxes and boxes of Bill’s stuff that I had (have) no idea what to do with and he hasn’t had time to deal with either.

This haunts me as, time and again over the last year, one particular thing is needed from a buried box and retrieving said item becomes an olympic sport requiring strength and stamina. For months I avoided sewing the patches on Fritz’s uniform because it meant digging in the worst closet in the home. I finally managed to get the machine out, but the items surrounding it have collapsed making a return impossible without serious work (think about a mine shaft overcoming its supports).

So, my sewing machine is now a doorstop.

Sin of Omission #2: I failed to prep well for this school year. Pete was born just weeks after I finished the last school year. I bought school supplies for the coming year shortly after he was born, because I knew it would take lots of time with a newborn around to get things ready for the next year. But over that summer, I failed to scan those reproducable workbooks and tests and failed to assemble little workstations for my preschooler who requires (demands) more of my attention during the school day than my school-age boys.

So all school year long, I’ve been scrambling to scan weekly assignments and tests which delays the school day and makes for a nice mess of my school supplies. And every day is a struggle to provide interesting, educational and, most importantly, time-consuming and independant work for Katie and, more and more, Jenny. I have the stuff, it’s just not in a presentable format.

Sin of Omission #3: I failed to properly clean for my annual Oktoberfest. I pride myself on a neat, orderly and clean home. Please note the deadly sin of pride, because I want to kill myself over this one. Since we were having a yardful of people (over 100 this past year, I believe), I wanted to present a nice home for them to traipse through. My home is usually neat, but at this time, Pete was only 3 months old, so the clutter-monster had begun to take over. So, to get ready for the party, I took tons of clutter and deposited it in closets.

The house looked great, but the closets reminded me (still remind me) of the closet on Zaboomafoo, if you know what that show is.

And finally, Sin of Omission #4: I failed to clean properly after the Oktoberfest, and after Christmas too. Since those closets were already a wreck, what would it matter if I shoved the decorations from the party in there as well? And instead of going out to the shed and findng the right box for those chocolate molds I used at Christmas time and had in a cupboard, why don’t I just shove them back in the cupboard and worry about it some other time?

Well, that time is now.

The end result of all these dirty deeds is that my closets and cupboards are all big big messes. And now it’s time to move, so I finally have to face those disaster areas.

It will be like a mini-purgatory. Getting the soul of my home in order, purging the trash, putting things where they belong, and emerging in perfection.

And trying to avoid these sins in my next house.

moving date

Well, yesterday I called housing and set our moving date for April 27th. I am not confident that this date will actually be our move date. I went to the house last Sunday – the door was open so I walked in to look around. The bathtubs were in and the bathroom tile done. Other than that, no bathroom or kitchen fixtures were installed. No paint on any walls. At least the walls were up.

According to housing, the house will be done by April 10th. We’ll be able to get our keys and move stuff in, if we want (we want). So, every Sunday (when very few workers are around), we’ll sneak over and see what the progress is. Housing has been notorious in waiting until the last second to tell people that their new house won’t be ready. One neighbor was supposed to get her keys on a Friday and move on the following Monday and was told that Friday, uh, no, you won’t be moving for 3 weeks. That delay affected every family in that 3 week period. More than a week later, another family scheduled during that period had still not been contacted and informed of the delay. My guess is that they were waiting for the most inconvenient moment to tell them.

Anyway, with a move date less than a month away, I’m beginning to sort and organize. I did the toys. I wish I could give more away, but…we have a big bin of Rescue Heroes that the boys don’t play with, but I know in a short time (6 months or so) Pete will be thrilled to have them. And so, I store stuff.

The Awakening

We went into DC again this weekend to see the cherry blossoms, but they weren’t ready. It was pretty cold. We picnicked at Hains Point, not far from the Tidal Basin. There is a cool sculpture there called The Awakening.

It was made in Princeton, NJ by Johnson (sorry, can’t remember his first name).

Not far from Princeton, in Hamilton Square, is a really awesome park called The Grounds for Sculpture with tons of sculptures, mostly by Johnson, and the same ability to climb on/around/under them.

The Agony in the Living Room

My usual morning routine consists of getting out of bed at “O-Dark-Thirty” to spend a few minutes with Bill before he leaves for work. O-Dark-Thirty is mil-speak for “A Time Before Even Bakers Awake or Cocks Crow”.

He usually leaves for work at 515 am, and I sit on the living room couch and begin to pray the rosary. If I’m really lucky, I can get through 3 or 4 decades before Pete starts crying for me.

Today, I was mediating on the Agony in the Garden (the FIRST decade) when I heard the baby. So, as usual, I go up to bed, nurse him back to sleep and then slip back downstairs and pick up the rosary where I left off.

I was mid-way through the Scourging at the Pillar (decade #2) when I heard the boys in their bedroom, which is a downstairs room. It was 550 am. My already distracted thoughts are now completed shattered as I ponder why in the world they are up so early. Besides, of course, the fact that it’s beginning to be daylight.

I hear them come out of their room and peer into the living room. Then I hear Fritz whisper, “Billy, let’s go back to our room.” “Why?” “Mom’s praying.” And off they go.

Good, I think. They’ll stay there for a half hour or so. They have interrupted my early morning prayers before and they’ve been given three options: go back to bed, pray with me, or sit silently in the same room. The confines of their bedroom are much more appealing.

But I’m wrong. Each successive decade is interrupted by the sound of their door quietly opening, little feet trying to be stealthy, and an exasperated sigh as they discover that Mom is STILL praying. And so, instead of meditating on Jesus carrying the cross, I’m stuck in the Agony in the Garden as I ponder how Jesus prayed for a long period of time despite the distractions of unsupportive disciples, plotting betrayers and enemies and approaching soldiers.

week 27

Yessiree, we started week 27 this week. Can you guess who wants the school year to end most? We have 6 weeks to go in our curriculum, so if all goes well, we can take the week before Easter off and be done – totally – by the time Fritz makes his First Holy Communion on May 14th.

The big wrench in the gears, potentially, is that Housing claims my new house will be ready for our occupancy by the end of April. I may be good, I may be determined, and I may want to be done already, but I really think moving into another house – even a local move done by movers – will set me back by at least a week. I plan to spend all of Holy Week doing my spring cleaning – as I usually do. But this time, the focus will truly be on sorting, organizing, and weeding things out in prep for the move.

the joys of having a big family

Holly Pierlot, author of A Mother’s Rule of Life, has a website as an extension of her book. Moms who have questions about how to apply a “mother’s rule” to their life can ask Holly, and other readers are encouraged to respond as well. Recently, one woman, pregnant with her 5th child, asked for advice on handling those annoying people who feel like commenting on the size of your family.

One person offered this link which has some pretty funny retorts – not that I would ever remember any of them when the opportunity presents itself – as it does…OFTEN. And from there I found this t-shirt and suggested (to Bill) that it would be a great gift for mother’s day for the next time I have to spend all day in a public place – like the zoo – and I’ll meet person after person who will say the same thing (with some slight variation) all day long.

Meanwhile, my advice to those who are not as thick-skinned as I: leave a couple of kids home or with a neighbor whenever the opportunity presents itself. I try to do this to make errands a bit faster and less stressful, even though the comments are pretty amusing to me.

Wednesday, though, all the kids came along for the trip to the doctor for Pete’s 9 month check up.

They waited patiently in the waiting room.
They followed nicely to the exam room.
They used indoor-small space quiet voices in the room (mostly).
They entertained the doctor, who thinks they’re the greatest kids she knows.
They followed closely as we marched across the hallway to the immunization clinic.
They waited patiently again for our turn.
They were good in the tiny room where shots are given (next time, the appointment will be more controversial, but so far the shots he’s gotten are ok).
They said please and thank you for the stickers the nurse gave out.
They followed (again) nicely as we went to another part of the building to drop off the records.
They continued to stick together and not block traffic (too much) as we went to this horrible, huge, central waiting area for multiple offices and purposes including the pharmacy.

Pete has a diaper rash that’s become a yeast infection and I needed stuff to treat that. I got my “number” and found seats to wait. My ticket estimated my wait time to be 6 minutes. I thought we could manage that. We had been at the hospital for 1 hour and 20 minutes at this point. Six minutes was probable do-able, but seven would be pushing it.

Sure enough, 6 minutes came and went very quickly with no indication that our turn would ever come up. In those 6 minutes I managed to nurse Pete to sleep, which was really good because I needed to focus my attention on Jenny who wanted to be home eating noodles and everybody knew it because she was telling me so in a very loud voice. Even the other kids started to push the limits, but responded well to my lowly voiced death threats. We waited for about a half hour altogether, the latter 10 minutes of which I held a squirming toddler on my lap (with Pete sleeping on my chest). FINALLY, our number was called and we picked up the lotion and left. Boy, did I need a nap.

Yesterday, I really needed to go to the grocery store, but was not up to taking the whole crew after that whole deal at the doctor’s. Plus, we really needed to do school work. So I waited until last night when Bill was home. I took Pete, who wouldn’t have behaved as well for him as for me and drove my relatively empty 12 passanger van to the commissary.

In the store, I was happily pretending that I was a normal mother. One of those women who has one little baby. Remember those days? Quiet baby interested in all the sights and sounds. Nobody climbing on the cart. Nobody selecting other products from the shelves. Nobody walking backwards with his eyes closed.

Ah, peace.

And then, about 90 seconds into my bliss, a woman I have never seen before in my life with her toddler in the basket of the cart says, “So, are the other 4 children not yours?”

She was smiling. I was pink. “Oh, you’ve seen me somewhere with the rest?”

“Yes, I saw you yesterday at the pharmacy.” eeks!

“Oh. Yes. They’re all mine. Not the best day, yesterday. Bye.” And I hastily turned to the honeydew and canteloupe.

Gee, God, couldn’t I have had just a half hour to pretend to be something I’m not?


Since Bill wasn’t home in time to take him, we all went last night to Fritz’s Cub Scout den meeting. Fortunately, the meetings are in the Scout Hut and not someone’s house, so there was enough space to accommodate my family.

I chatted with another mom. She had seen Bill’s ashes at the beginning of Lent and was asking me a few questions. How long was Lent? When was Easter? It turns out that a girl in her daughter’s Brownie troop had said that she had given up beverages other than milk and water for Lent. Most of the girls had no clue what Lent was (South of the Mason-Dixon you’ll find pockets of Catholics, but whole swathes of country with nary a Catholic Church to be found), and this woman had explained Lent as best as a non-Catholic could.
Now I thought that it was a great sacrifice for a 9 year old girl to give up juice boxes and Kool-Aid and all those other beverages. It seems that every activity my kids belong to – from CCD to baseball – requires the parents to take turns bringing snacks and drinks. I am pretty sure that I never had snacks at my CCD classes oh so many years ago, and wonder about a generation of kids unable to go 2 hours without food or drink, but whatever. Giving up juice boxes when you’re 9 is a big deal. Kudos to her.

But then the woman said she just wanted to know how long the troop needed to continue to supply the girl with a water bottle in lieu of a juice box.

Now hold on there.

First of all, we are supposed to fast in secret. I don’t think it’s a big deal to add a “I gave it up for Lent” to a “No, thank you” when offered chocolate chip cookies or cake or some other treat at someone’s house. Sometimes it’s easier to say that than to have your declination be perceived as a rejection of the homemade delicacies. Such a statement implies, “I really WANT one of those brownies, and am being tortured by their very sight, but I can’t. Just ask me again in a few weeks and I’ll devour the whole plate!” And this will mollify a proud and sensitive baker (like me).

But if you are offered a juice box at a club meeting, all that is necessary is to say, “No, thank you.” No one will be offended if you don’t drink the store-bought Juicy-Juice. Maybe you’re just not thirsty.

Secondly, what sort of a sacrifice are you making if you give up something and then expect everybody to kow-tow to your situation? A friend of mine said her husband gave up cooked food one year for Lent. She then felt compelled to get creative in her meal preparation: chopping vegetables and fruit for him, shopping and scouring the aisles for acceptable alternative foods, etc. His sacrifice became her sacrifice. Perhaps a better Lenten sacrifice would be to fend for oneself for food during Lent – proclaim any dish prepared by someone other than yourself off limits.

Now, I don’t expect a 9 year old to be fully aware of the social niceties surrounding Lent. Besides, around here, at least, children are taught that everybody should accomodate their special requirements. Not only am I expected to provide a snack for my kids’ social functions, but I’m made aware of all the banned foods due to allergies. I’m lucky that my kids are, so far, free from allergies. I guess I should be more sympathetic to those who have to deal with and worry about this issue. But when I was a kid (yeah, one of those awful phrases), kids who had allergies brought their own snacks.

So, it’s no wonder that a young girl would expect the same treatment: I am entitled to a snack and drink; I can’t have juice; you must bring me water. But when the woman suggested mentioning the situation to the parents of the girl, I agreed completely. She really should bring her own water bottle.

We all need to look at our Lenten sacrifices and make sure others aren’t suffering with us. If we give up American Idol to pray the rosary – great! If we give up reading bedtime stories to the kids to do it – not so great.

freedom of religion for the insane

Too bad they didn’t have an insanity defense 2000 years ago. Or even a hundred years ago in Mexico. Think how many martyrs might have been spared a quick death, and just left to rot in a loony bin for the rest of their lives.

Regarding the Christian who is being tried for the crime of being a Christian in Afghanistan:

…prosecutor Sarinwal Zamari said questions have been raised about his mental fitness.
“We think he could be mad. He is not a normal person. He doesn’t talk like a normal person,” he told The Associated Press.

Of course not! Normal people aren’t willing to die for their beliefs. Time and time again, oppressors have managed to subdue the masses with threats of death for those who countered their mandates. You’ve GOT to be insane to stand up against that.

We got involved with this country, why?