pity party squelched before it began

Just as I was beginning to feel sorry for myself for having to take all the kids to Mass without Bill while they, of course, were doing everything in their power to make it as difficult as possible to the point that we did not stay for donuts after Mass and I had to remind Katie that wailing about her sad fate was definitely not going to change my mind…just as I was beginning to give myself permission to be grumpy about my oh-so-hard existence and to adopt a woe-is-me demeanor…just then, I read these words of Sarah at just another day of Catholic pondering:

“…I would like to revisit what Mass really is. It’s a giving back to God. So when you offer him your hectic, chaotic parenthood; when you give him back the blessings he has given you – just look around you! You will not be disappointed.

I hope never again to say, with longing in my voice, “Ahh, the days of a quiet Mass.” It is the noise that is my prayer; it is the wiggling that is my joy; it is the child who reminds me of my vocation.”

OK, I’m sorry, kids, that I even dared use you, my little blessings, as an excuse for a bad attitude.

I should know better anyway. Just yesterday, I had a brief conversation with a woman I know, who is, in fact, having a very difficult life right now. Truly, she has all my sympathy and support for the heavy burden on her plate.

Suffering Woman: I just want to ask, “Why me, God?”

Me, with all the vim and vigor of a happy Catholic: Oh, I never say that. I know what I’ve done in my past to deserve this. I just say, “Please, Lord, mercy! I’m really sorry!”

Suffering Woman, after a momentary blank stare: Oh. I never looked at it like that. {fast retreat from the wacko}

I laughed out loud at that.

Thanks for the attitude realignment, Sarah. I’m all back on track now with joyfully suffering: “Thank you, Lord, might I have another?”

End of Baseball

Soccer ended last Saturday.

Baseball ended today.

Hooray!!!!

Some shots of Fritz’s last game.


Fritz at 1st base with one of his pals as the runner.

Fritz at bat.

Fritz on 3rd base.

Fritz scoring a run.

Pete feeling caged in.

Billy happy to pose.

And then a study in opposites: Katie who followed me around saying “Take my picture, Mommy, take my picture! Now, Mommy. Mommy, why aren’t you taking my picture?” and Jenny who I had in my sights but when I said, “Let me take your picture, Jenny,” answered, “NO.” You can actually see the words on her lips. grrrr.

Property Ownership

I am passionately opposed to the use of eminent domain except in very limited circumstances. Eminent domain is when the government can seize private property for the good of the public. It is meant to be used for big projects like dams or highways.

Recent court rulings have expanded government’s powers to the local level for reasons as simple as the government desiring a greater tax base which they obtain by selling this seized property to private developers who build nicer buildings and then sell them or lease them for profit. The new owners pay more property tax than the previous owners, so we all win in the end, right?

Everybody except the original property owner who has no home, no property, and received such paltry amount for their property that they cannot buy another home. The current targets of these eminent domain policies are poor people with rundown homes.

Like the people of New Orleans.

But please don’t believe for a moment that it would stop there.

I am thinking of my modest, 1100 sq ft Cape Cod home in a neighborhood of modest Cape Cod homes in an area where the McMansion dominates. My small lot is just about big enough for a 4 bedroom, 3 bath, 2 car garage mini-mansion with a tiny yard. I pay about $4000 a year in property taxes (did I just hear audible gasps from 90% of the country that doesn’t pay ridiculous property taxes?) but a mini-Mc would fetch double that, easy. Multiply that times the 500 houses in that small pocket of town and you can see why local governments salivate at the idea of suddenly increasing their tax revenue by $2 million. Do I feel that my property ownership right are threatened?

You bet I do. And you should too.

Thanks to Kathryn over at Suitable for Mixed Company for the link.

Wouldn’t you like to be a Gilbert too?

I needed to print out a 14 page document to read before tomorrow’s showdown at the local library with the local homeschool group, and I decided to do a blog stroll. One thing led to another, and I found myself at Chesterton and Friends reading about how I can Gilbert up my existence:

Make vows, and keep them; but always forgive those who can not. Challenge your foes, and defeat them; but offer always the hand of friendship once the foe is at your feet. Live, in short, with honour.

I haven’t had the opportunity to read much Chesterton, but what I have read is fantastic. Since most of you who visit my blog are moms with young kids and little time, I can’t seriously suggest you pick up a copy of Orthodoxy and dive in. But the Father Brown series is good for lighter summer reading, and Brave New Family (copyright 1990 by Ignatius Press) is a great collection of shorter essays that amaze me with their pertinance to today’s issues despite being written nearly a century ago.

And I simply must laugh…as I write this, the ink of my 14 page document long dry, I receive an email from the president of the homeschool group reminding us of our meeting tomorrow and telling us that we “may” bring our children, “but please bring something quiet for them to do (we’ll be in the same room). “

Oh, heaven help me make a friend of this foe.

In the meantime, I need to go load my six-shooters…

memo

To: all family members

From: The Lady of the House and the Laundry Mistress

re: laundry

1. Please allow a minimum of 24 hours for all special laundry requests.

2. Please reduce the need for special laundry requests by taking dirty laundry to any of the appropriate “dirty laundry” receptacles located in the house.

a. The main laundry receptacle is located in the laundry room. Even the floor is acceptable, if the proper receptacle is full, or if you are too lazy or ignorant to sort your laundry.

b. The master laundry receptacle is located in the master bathroom.

c. The kids’ laundry receptacle is located in the upstairs hall bathroom.

d. Please ask for further assistance if you are unable to locate the appropriate receptacles or if you desire knowledge about proper laundry sorting.

3. If special laundry requests are necessary, gifts and favors for the Laundry Mistress are acceptable and prevent the need to extend the special laundry request time frame to 48 hours notice.

a. Appropriate gifts and favors include, but are not limited to: appreciative remarks, hugs and kisses, flowers, cash and diamonds.

b. Rude or obnoxious behavior or additional special requests of the Lady of the House will result in a termination of your special laundry request and bar you for a period of at least one week, but not to exceed one month, from any special requests.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

And for goodness sake, if you give the Laundry Mistress a special request, please at least pretend to need those clothes after all.

Does it get any better than this?

Yesterday afternoon I sat on the steps of the pool with Pete in my lap and the hot sun on my back. Jenny scampered nearby – up and down the steps, but never too deep.

The pool wasn’t very crowded and wasn’t very noisy. It was rather peaceful.

Fritz and Billy were playing on a round float that looked like a tree stump. Katie wanted on, so Fritz boosted her up. There was barely room for the three of them, and Katie was on the outside edge. Fritz was rocking the float, and Katie was a bit scared of falling off. Without my prompting, the kids did their own problem solving and put Katie in the middle. Now, with both boys on the sides, they had the float rocking up and down with Katie gleefully clinging for dear life!

I sat and watched them play. The float was bobbing and spinning on the water. There they turned toward me: my three older children lying on their stomachs in a tight row with grins lighting their faces. A perfect picture of the happiness of childhood. A perfect picture of the joy of motherhood.

This image, this memory, this moment: please, God, help me perserve it in my mind and in my children’s minds. Let us all remember this slice of heaven on earth, this half-breath of peace and harmony, this time of joy and contentment.

Panties in Bunches

My mom never had the time or the need to get involved in volunteer activities. She doesn’t know how lucky she was.

Yesterday’s meeting at my house was…interesting. One of Bill’s favorite phrases to describe somebody in a snit is that “he’s got his panties all in a bunch.” Well, I seemed to have a few wedgies here. I’m just thankful that I could sit back and watch. Unfortunately, though, I have to be very careful. This group is related to my husband’s job, and I can’t do anything that would reflect poorly on him. It would seriously affect his job progression.

Perhaps this is good, for it gives me the chance to practice deference. And keeping my mouth shut. And controlling my passions.

I told Bill that he worked at echelon’s so high, that the thin air and reduced oxygen seemed to be affecting everybody’s ability to think. Perhaps that’s just the way it is everywhere. You would think that the higher up in the pecking order you go, the more useful you could be. But it feels like the higher up you go, the more bogged down in legalities and political correctness and diplomacy and other crap you get. I have to remember, though, that a point on the outside of a really big wheel moves only a little bit, but all the points inside that wheel move much more in comparison. Perhaps what we do won’t seem to matter, but perhaps changes are really taking place without seeming to do so.

Today I have another meeting, at my husband’s office. ding ding Round Two.

And then this is the week of meetings for I have another meeting on Friday. The homeschool group here on post needed a Director of Membership, and I volunteered. I don’t know exactly why I did this. Bill was pretty upset about it.

I really don’t like the homeschool group and do very little with them. I was feeling pretty stupid about volunteering to work with a group that I didn’t like. I was worried that I was going to be a big thorn in everybody’s side. They’ve decided that members of the group aren’t involved enough, so they want to assign points for various jobs and make everybody earn a certain amount or else.

Or else…30 lashes with a wet noodle?
Or else…we won’t like you? (Oh, wait, we already don’t like you and that’s why you don’t participate…)
Or else…you can’t be a member of the group? (But since you never participate, will we really notice your absense?)

Anyway, just as I was really thinking that I was foolish to take on this entrenched group that, also, seems to have it’s panties in bunches, and straighten them out, give them an attitude adjustment…just as I was wondering if I could really make a difference, I met Piper on the playground yesterday afternoon.

I actually met Piper about 7 months ago. She followed me to Manassas on the one field trip I took with this homeschool group, but I didn’t interact with her much on the trip and hadn’t seen her since then. She lives in my neighborhood now. Her boys are the same ages as my boys. She homeschools. And guess what?

She can’t stand the homeschool group either.

She had similar complaints about the attitude among the leaders.

“Don’t be late on a field trip – it makes ALL homeschoolers look bad.” I agree that tardiness is annoying, but are non-homeschoolers always on time?

“Don’t bring little children on this field trip if they can’t behave – it makes ALL homeschoolers look bad.” I agree that a tantruming toddler is a bad thing, but how well behaved are they expected to be? And if I’m concerned that a 15 second outburst will exceed the tolerance level of the homeschool gestapo, please excuse me if I decide to not go on field trips, since, you know, I homeschool my kids and don’t put my toddler in day care full time and won’t be able to find a babysitter since the teenage girls in the neighborhood are, you know, in school.

“Absolutely no toddlers or babies may go to the Theatreworks programs – they might make ALL homeschoolers look bad.” Oh, really, and none of the public school kids attending the one hour performance will be out of line, ever? They will all sit quietly and politely the whole time? And none of their moms chaperoning the trip will bring a younger sibling?

Piper also asked me, “Is their ‘friends card’ full or something?” She got the same cold shoulder at meetings that I did. Nobody felt the need to even try to include her in conversation. I thought I just smelled bad.

When I told her that I was to be the Director of Membership, she told me that she had volunteered to do one of the activities that fell under that job. So, I have an ally. Somebody who is crazy enough to volunteer to work with an organization that she loathes in an effort to improve the organization. So, I’m glad I volunteered.

Yeah.

cleaning up

I used to think that my mom was obsessive-compulsive. I have distinct memories of having to clean the legs of the dining room table and chairs. We were a family of seven, and the dining room table was used daily; often the table was used for every single meal. The dining room set was intricately carved and this cleaning chore was so tedious that to this day I absolutely despise dusting.

And it’s all my mother’s fault.

I am hosting a meeting this morning. I can’t help but want to present a neat, clean, well-organized home to this handful of women. Vanity? Pride? Possibly…but mostly denial of my vocation. I used to have a neat, clean, well-organized home all the time. And then I had children. And then I began homeschooling. Now my house is neat, clean and well-organized if one compares it to the many clutterbugs I know. But it’s not up to my pre-children standards, and this bothers me greatly. I’ve learned to live with it, but for a few hours, I want to hide evidence of toys, schoolbooks, crayons, scrap paper, and sticky fingerprints and pretend that I live in tranquil simplicity most of the time.

I decided that the best place to have the meeting was the dining room. There are enough chairs for everyone (4 to 6 of us altogether) and a table for writing and for holding a nice hot cup of tea. So I looked at my dining room with a critical eye and discovered why my mom made me clean the legs of the chairs and table so often. They were disgusting.

Up until the end of April when we moved into this house and bought a kitchen table to use for breakfast and lunch, my dining room set hosted every meal of my house. And daily schoolwork. And every craft session. Despite washable slipcovers on the chairs and the use of a tablecloth at meals, drips, globs and goo had managed to decorate every leg of every chair, the legs of the table and the underside edge of the table which doesn’t get wiped up after dinner.

So last night, there I was, suffering from PTSD as I scrubbed away at the legs of the table and chairs. Fortunately, my dining set has much simpler lines and isn’t nearly as annoying to clean. And Jenny helped too. I guess she thought it was fun.

But I’ll bet if she had to do it every week, she’d grow to believe her mother was obsessive-compulsive.

Parental Guidance

Catholic Mom has this to say about the PG rating for the film, Facing the Giants:

What if the movie had the same plot but instead of finding his Christian faith, the coach attributes his life improvements to becoming a Muslim? What if he begins to practice Wicca? Christian parents might very well object. In the same way, Muslim, Wiccan, Atheist, or even Jewish parents might be uncomfortable with their young children viewing a movie that points to Christianity as the road to true happiness.

I agree. Even within Christianity, I’m not sure I want my children to be exposed to other concepts without me there to act as a buffer. Last summer, my kids participated in the VBS program here on post. This was a joint VBS hosted by both the Catholic and Protestant Christians. I wasn’t thrilled at this idea, but I went with it anyway. It wasn’t bad…

…the kids began each day in a “homeroom” for attendance and opening comments before heading off to the different stations. The woman who ran Fritz’s homeroom was asking the kids questions and trying to drill them in the appropriate rote responses. Name a book in the Bible. Who wrote the four Gospels?

How many books are in the Bible?

Whose Bible?

I went home that night and told Fritz: there are 73 books in the Catholic Bible. Repeat after me: 73 books in the Catholic Bible…73 books in the Catholic Bible…

It’s not a really big deal, but I’m happier with knowing what my children are being taught. I have no problem with other parents being equally cautious about what their kids may be exposed to over at my house.

I once had a neighbor attribute her preschooler’s recognition of an image of the Blessed Mother he saw on tv to playing over at my house. Yes, I have multiple images of Mary in my home, but I told her I had never, ever identified those images as Mary, Jesus’ mother.

And the last time I checked, even the Baptists approve of an image of Mary every time they display a nativity scene.

But still, I understand someone’s caution about the possible bad influence of my home. I have the same qualms about them!