Here a potty, there a potty, everywhere a potty, potty

When we got to the restaurant last night, Jenny informed me she was wet. She’s been really good about using the potty at home, and even managed to go at my friend’s house when the friend watched her for three hours so I could take Fritz to the doctor. Luckily, I had put her in rubber pants and had a spare set in the car.

I told her, “Jenny, if you have to go potty, tell me. I will take you to the potty, even in the restaurant.”

She responded in the most incredulous tone, “They have potty’s here?”

I already know what’s up next: the Grand Potty Tour, whereby newly trained toddler must confirm in every public place exactly where the potty is and if it works just like the one at home.

Just count to ten ten times

Katie: Mommy, may I have some milk?

Me: Just a minute, honey.

Katie: (on the verge of crying) But I’m thirsty, Mommy!

Me: You can wait a minute.

Katie: (with scrunched up face and tremoring voice) Noooo, Mommy, a minute is toooo loooong.

Me: Katie, I just want to finish this. Count to one hundred, and I’ll be done.

Katie: (almost wailing) But I don’t know how to count to one hundred!

Oh, yeah.

Low-key birthday

Today is my wonderful husband’s birthday. Unfortunately for him, I am not at all on the ball, and I have nothing special planned for him. Of course, if I did, I could not post it here because he has figured out how to access my blog while at work and now reads it (if he has the chance).

Happy birthday, honey.

I guess we’re switching roles this year. He did a great job orchestrating a fantastic birthday for me this past April. In return, I’ve ordered some things for him, but I waited until, oh, yesterday, thereby guaranteeing their late arrival. I do have one small thing for him, but I don’t even have a card.

We were given four free tickets to the Washington Nationals game tonight. Bill plans to take the older three kids. This requires me to drive the kids into Arlington at least, because there is no way Bill can make it home and back into DC by game time. Fritz had an afternoon appointment at Walter Reed, and I thought we could go out to dinner after that and before the game. But the surgeon’s office just called and rescheduled the appointment for next Tuesday at 9 AM (not only will THAT be a fun rush-hour commute, but I guess I’ll start school on WEDNESDAY instead). So, we’ll just meet Bill at a restaurant in Arlington and see if the game gets rained out.

Not even a special home cooked meal for my honey. I’m slippin’.

But I was flipping through The Fanny Farmer Baking Book looking for a special dessert to make, and I noticed a meringue pie crust. I couldn’t find any subsequent recipes that actually used this crust, and I’m really disappointed, because it sounds yummy. Anybody ever heard of or used this kind of pie crust? I’ll find an excuse to bake if the recipe is a good one.

Well, off to shop for groceries. Special dessert must be kept a secret for now. But I’m salivating already.

Choose your own version

If you are in your thirties (or close to it), you may recall the choose-your-own adventure books. I loved those books. Today, I’m offering a choose-your-own version of my life.

Yesterday, Fritz had a noon appointment at Walter Reed to see how his mouth was doing. His surgeon had told me that he would not be there, but he hoped the results of the biopsy would be done by then. A nurse had told me the results would take ten days, so, excusing any doctors who may be reading this (ahem…Catholic Mom), I didn’t really expect to have any definite answers at his check-up.

Nonetheless, I was extremely anxious about taking him. I honestly did not want to go. The desire to figuratively crawl back into bed and bury my head under the covers was barely checked by that logical part of me that knows such actions are pointless. Cysts in the mouth do not go away all by themselves. Pretending that there was no problem wasn’t going to make it all better.

My friend watched the middle three kids while Fritz, Pete and I went for a ride. Walter Reed is about 27 miles from my house, but half those miles are through the city streets of DC with traffic lights and pedestrians. On good days/times, the drive takes about 50 minutes. The agony of this commute just heightened my nervous mood.

We got there and tried to find a spot in the parking deck.

Here’s where you choose:

If you are an atheist or an agonostic, go here.

If you believe in a Higher Power, but don’t really think that this HP has much to do with our daily lives, go here.

If you believe in an all-powerful Creator who holds you in the palm of His hand, feels the suppressed sob within your sorrowful chest, knows how much salt is in the tear you wipe from your eye, and loves you with an everlasting love, go here.

Note: all these versions tell the same basic story. There’s just more of “me” in each successive link.

The Dog Sniff

Now that I own a dog, I am noticing just how similar dogs and humans are. It’s not so much how human-like dogs are, rather how pack-like we are.

Take the dog-sniff as an example.

Dogs sniff each other to get an idea if the other dog is a friend or foe. It’s kind of a hey-nice-to-meetcha-do-ya-bite thing. We do the same thing, but in a more sophisticated fashion.

On Saturday, I walked over to a new neighbor’s house to invite her to a back-to-homeschool ice cream social at my house next weekend. We had communicated via email, but had not met in person. She lives right around the corner from me, and I was eager to meet her since her younger daughter is about the same age as Katie (and 5 – 6 year old girls are rare in this neighborhood). She invited me (and my 3 youngest children) in for a visit.

This is why it takes me an hour to check my mail at the mailbox three blocks away.

So we sat and chit-chatted for about 5 minutes. Has she started school yet? Did she get directions to the local Target? Isn’t it nice how close the commissary is?

And then she threw out an acronym to which I responded with a blank stare. She then identified the group as the Protestant Women’s group found on most military installations. I then said, “Oh, yes, I know what you’re talking about,” in that vague way that indicated I know about that group to which I do not belong.

And my first thought was, “Hey! I just got sniffed!”

Then I thought, “Great, now she thinks I’m a godless barbarian.”

Then I thought, “I should explain that I’m Catholic.”

Then I thought, “Hmmm…but then she’ll know I’m a godless barbarian.”

Then I thought, “This silent debate in my mind has taken way too long. Oh, well. So what if she thinks I’ll be Left Behind…”

There was a bit of a restless silence, and then we talked about something mundane like school cirriculums, and I called the girls, and we departed for another homeschooler’s house.

I wonder if she’ll let her daughter play with my daughter, seeing as we’re not in the same pack?

Today’s readings

The First Reading
Jos 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b

Joshua gathered together all the tribes of Israel at Shechem, summoning their elders, their leaders, their judges, and their officers. When they stood in ranks before God, Joshua addressed all the people: “If it does not please you to serve the LORD, decide today whom you will serve, the gods your fathers served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now dwelling. As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

But the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the LORD for the service of other gods. For it was the LORD, our God, who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, out of a state of slavery. He performed those great miracles before our very eyes and protected us along our entire journey and among the peoples through whom we passed. Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God.”

I had no faith. I prayed for faith. I was given an unshakeable faith.

I was frustrated and impatient with life, my husband and my children. I prayed for patience. And now somehow I manage to remain calm in the midst of insanity most of the time.

God has blessed me with a devoted husband, five healthy children, and a comfortable life beyond what I deserve. I have seen miracles worked before my eyes, from my “miracle baby” born with a true knot in his embilical cord to the closing of the hole in another son’s heart.

What other god could I serve? Like Joshua and the Israelites, I must serve the Lord, for He is my God.

The Gospel
Jn 6:60-69

Many of Jesus’ disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.”

As a result of this,many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

I praise the Father for answering my prayer and drawing me to Him. Jesus’ words are hard, but, like Simon Peter, I ask myself where else can I go? his words are Spirit and life. The choice is clear.

Second Reading
Eph 5:21-32 or 5:2a, 25-32

Brothers and sisters: Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. So also husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.

It was much easier to obey the Lord’s order to subordinate myself to my husband once I had committed to serving Him. What allegience would that be if I could choose the times and places that suited me to serving Him? It was also much easier for me to subordinate myself when I trusted my husband to love me and cherish me and always seek what was best for me.

Like Joshua, Moses asked the Israelites to make a choice: life or death? I, too, choose life!

How to win a race – toddler style

I had to attend a meeting on Thursday afternoon for the homeschool group. This time, my kids weren’t the only little ones. At first I was a bit concerned that it was going to be another meeting with barely contained chaos. Pete is at that age where shrieking loudly for no reason at all is loads of fun. And Jenny just dances and plays around him getting him wound up.

Then I noticed the older, “quieter” boys were having a conversation in a secret burp language.

Fortunately, the meeting was short and the kids managed to keep the noise down to a rumble. And I got a chance to remark at just how smart a baby can be.

Jenny and another friend were racing from one wall to another. Back and forth. Back and forth. Pete thought this was great. He waddled along behind the girls and imitated the way they threw their bodies on the wall. Then, they took off for the other side and left him in the dust. He quickly realized that they would race to the other side, throw their bodies on that wall and then race back to where he was.

So he stopped, turned, went back to the wall, and threw his body up against it. And then he waited, watching over his shoulder and laughing at his own cleverness. Soon, the girls returned to his wall and joined him. They thought he was pretty funny too, and declared him the “winner.”

If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t trying.

Five People in Five Categories Meme

I was tagged by SFO Mom days ago.

“If you could meet and have a deep conversation with any five people on earth, living or dead, from any time period, who would they be?” (Explaining why is optional.)

Name five people from each of the following categories: Saints, Those in the Process of Being Canonized, Heroes from your native country, Authors/Writers, celebrities.

Five Saints:

1. St. Therese of Lisieux
2. St. Michael the Archangel
3. St. Augustine
4. St. William of Gellone
5. The Blessed Mother

Those in the Process of Being Canonized:

1. Pope John Paul II
2. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta
3. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
4. Blessed Charles de Foucauld
5. Pope Pius XII

Five U.S. Heroes:

1. Patrick Henry
2. George Mason
3. Thomas Jefferson
4. Benjamin Franklin
5. George Washington

(I’m in a Revolutionary War rut, I admit.)

Five Authors/Writers:

1. Robert Louis Stevenson
2. Jane Austin
3. William Shakespeare
4. William Safire
5. Danielle Bean !!

Five Celebrities:

1. Bill Cosby
2. Anne Rice
3. Dr. Laura Schlessinger
4. Michelle Malkin
5. Bill O’Reilly

Tag Five People:

1. Amy at Raising Angels
2. Suzanne at Raising Saints
3. Catholic Mom
4. Melissa
5. The Kitchen Madonna

Poll: How many outfits?

One thing about having a bunch of kids: lots of people feel inspired to be charitable.

I get offers for free babysitting all the time because people think I need a break.

People bring me food, especially for the kids. Snacks, treats, juice boxes. I wonder if they think my kids aren’t spoiled enough.

And I get bags and bags of gently used clothing. My sister, in witnessing mysterious bags appearing at my front door as if by magic, suggested I get one of those metal drop-off bins. Sometimes I feel I need one!

I’m not complaining. I know how blessed I am. Last winter was the first time I ever bought a winter coat for one of my kids. Usually, if my child needed a winter coat, I would just start asking around. Winter coats were one item that my group of friends and I shared. Whenever one of my kids got a “new” coat, we would also get a litany of the previous owners. I loved it, and felt like we were already participating in the communion of saints! Thank goodness my kids were (and still are) too young to care that it wasn’t brand new.

Right now, I am waist-deep in clothes. I’m trying to inventory the kids’ fall/winter wardrobes. I’m getting rid of worn, ripped, stained or ugly outfits. I’m sorting the sizes into piles and separating those piles into warm vs. cool seasons. And soon I’ll begin deciding if each kid has enough shirts, pants, sweaters, and pajamas. This is quite a chore for one kid…and then I have to multiply by 5!

But because of the bags and bags of donations, I rarely have a problem with not enough clothes. Usually I have a problem with too much clothing. And I really don’t want it all. Even if I had the room, even if every outfit was adorable, comfortable and hardy, even if I could go a week without doing laundry (yeah, right), even then…I think it is greedy to hoard all these outfits when there other children who could be wearing them. Even with baby clothes I’ve learned that I don’t need to save every onesie and every set of pajamas for future babies…because I always get more clothes anyway.

So I reduce, reuse and recycle and share the love. And the question of the week, as I sort and filter, is how many outfits does a child need? Not uniforms for school, not chinos or dresses for church. Just everyday clothes, going out to play clothes, rainy day read-a-book clothes.

I asked my husband and he said 6 outfits. I think, given the option, I would do more so that we could go away for a week and come home to at least one or two clean outfits. A friend suggested 10 outfits…or at least 10 shirts and maybe fewer pants. That sounds a bit more reasonable.

I want your opinion. Tell me what you think! How many outfits do you plan for your kids?

Old Fogie Dating

As part of our doggie adoption agreement, Bill and I need to take Greta to obedience school. German Shepherds need discipline, they said. Their owners need discipline too, they implied. This is fine with me. She’s a pretty good dog anyway, and I can see how being able to communicate to her what we want and having her do it will make us all happy.

Besides, maybe I’ll pick up a few tricks I can use on the kids.

They recommended a school, and we signed her up beginning this Saturday. I asked the woman: who should take her? – Bill or I? I spend more time with her than he does, but she listens to me better than she listens to him. The woman suggested that we both attend the first class, if possible, so we could be on the same page when bringing the training home. If the same person could bring her to the next two classes, by class 4 it wouldn’t matter who brought her.

For Bill and I to go together, we obviously need a babysitter. And I know for sure that Bill will be out of town for one of the classes, so I need a babysitter for that day too. I called one of the girls in the neighborhood. She’s very sweet and the oldest of 5, including a baby sister who is only a few months older than Pete. If anybody has good techniques for distracting young toddlers who are weepy for mommy, she’d be the one.

I left a message asking if she could babysit specifically for the 2 days I needed her, but decided spur-of-the-moment to ask if she could just do every week for the 6 weeks. This would give Bill and I two to three hours every Saturday morning with no children (except for that 65 pound baby). Yes, yes, 45 minutes to an hour will be spent in travel and 1 to 1 1/2 hours will be spent in class. That’s ok.

The babysitter phoned back and agreed to come, so YIPPEE! She’s probably thrilled to have a “regular” gig, and we’re thrilled to have a regular “date.”

Maybe we’ll include a trip to Dunkin Donuts to add a touch of romance…