Show me the money


Henry got $50 for Christmas and he’s been saving it for something “big.” Throughout the year, whenever he said he wanted something, I’d remind him about his money.

“No. I don’t want to waste my $50 on that.” It was a good regulator. He liked having that $50 bill more than a SuperSoaker. More than a new Nintendo DS game, more than anything else. Until Wednesday, when he saw “it.”

He’d been talking about wanting something like it. But I didn’t know how serious he was until when walking through Costco he stopped in his tracks and said, “I want to go home and get my $50! Can I?”

We went home. Discussed his purchase. Waited a day, and then I took him back.

He grabbed the box off the shelf and started walking toward the checkout, saying, “Okay, let’s get this party started.” The box was wider than his body.

In the checkout line, he was bouncing. He was concerned about how he was going to manage giving the clerk the Costco card and count his cash. He had to chip in a few bucks to cover the tax. I told him to relax, he could handle it. He wanted my help but I reassured him. He put his purchase on the conveyor and waited his turn.

There was a little boy in line in front of us eying Henry’s choice. Henry told him he was buying it with his own money. Money he’d had since Christmas. The boy’s dad told his son there was a lesson in that. Henry’s excitement was infectious. The clerk was excited for him. The people behind us were excited.

Henry counted his money, handed it over, waited for the penny change, pocketed it, pocketed his wallet and proudly walked out of the store with his treasure in his arms.

When we got to the van, with only the dim overhead light, we assembled it and made sure it fit properly. He wanted me to drive to grandma and grandpa’s so he could show them.

On the way, he asked why the box said for children 5 and up. “I’m not a child.”

“You’re not?” I asked. “What are you?”

And he said, “I’m a man.”

And I’m sure, for that moment, he felt like one.

My little man.

My little man.

I wish and I want

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I would like to  …

  • Bottle the sweet smell of baby’s breath so I can wear it in my old age.
  • Turn the sound of toddler giggles into a song that keeps running through my head.
  • Fall asleep each night to the sound of my daughters making up harmonies to my favorite show tunes.
  • Frame the image of my son winking and giving me a thumbs up to reassure me all is well.

There are days I wish …

  • I were as intelligent as our oldest.
  • As determined as our next.
  • As hilarious as our third.
  • As imaginative as our fourth.
  • And as wide-eyed with wonder as our sweet baby boy.

The rest of the time, I just want …

  • A cup of coffee without warming it in the microwave three times, before tossing it out.
  • Productive sleep.
  • A cleaner  house.
  • Less gray hair.
  • Spit-up repellent clothing.
  • My children to be nicer to one another.
  • Less anxiety.
  • More time to pray.
  • More time to play.
  • Time to take off my toenail polish.
  • Someone to do the laundry (and put it away).
  • A really big piece of chocolate.
  • A new pair completely impracticle shoes.
  • An orderly laundry room.
  • My son to lift the seat.
  • My daughters to get up on time.
  • Clean clothes in drawers (not the hamper).
  • A pen that works.
  • To have invented OxiClean. (Is that asking too much?)

But I am always grateful for…

  • A loving family.
  • Being married to the my very best friend.
  • Five amazing children.
  • Healthy, fun and supportive parents.
  • An artistic big sister.
  • A protective big brother.
  • A dear and caring baby sister.
  • Wonderful in-laws.
  • Many special friends.
  • A great pastor.
  • Quiet prayer.
  • Music. Music and music.
  • Our awesome God.

The higher the heels the closer to God


Didn’t Mother Theresa say that? Oh, right, she didn’t wear shoes. It was my friend and sista in faith Jennifer, on facebook. But I love the sentiment. 

Thou shalt not covet thy sister's homecoming shoes

Thou shalt not covet thy sister's homecoming shoes

The other day, we found three-year-old Lillian hiding on the stairs loving her big sister’s homecoming shoes. High heels. She was hugging them. To her face. So I ran and got the camera.

Yesterday was the dance. This morning when Lillian woke up, she saw Helen’s fancy purse on the kitchen table.

“Is Helen home from the dance?” she asked.

“Yes.” I replied.

“Where are her shoes?”

Tears, tiaras, tantrums and teens

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This has been a weekend filled with joy, angst, wins, losses and lots of love.

Powderpuff Rally

Powderpuff team charges into the gym.

On Friday morning there was a rally kicking off homecoming weekend at my eldest daughter’s all-girls Catholic school. To thunderous applause, the senior class powederpuff football team burst into a glow-lighted gym. I was in tears before they shut off the lights. Actually, I was fighting them back the moment I entered the gym. In part, reminiscing about my own high school experience, but also the shear emotion connected to recognizing the finality of this phase in my daughter’s life.

This is the year of lasts. I also recognize, it will be the year of firsts for her. But that’s another post.

Helen is not an athlete, but she embraced powderpuff the same way she embraces so many things: completely. And that made losing painful. Not just for her, but for all of them. But they will forever be bound in the battle.

For the many weeks they practiced, they learned not only about football, but about themselves and each other. They share the war stories, the wounds, the weariness. As much as they would have shared the win, they share the loss. Still they lost nothing in the experience that led up to that final score. The devastation of defeat is equally as powerful as the jubilation of victory. True to form, not long after the game, Helen was already reflecting on the meaningfulness of the whole experience.

After yesterday’s grueling defeat on the grid iron, she shifted gears to the other part of homecoming: the dance. Dolled up and looking lovely, we sent her on her way to her last high school homecoming dance. After I watched her drive away, I once again found myself fighting back the tears.

All the crying aside, I am happy to be where I am. Burning my finger as I hot-glue Lillian’s dollar store tiara for the third time. Reviewing college applications and changing diapers. Inspecting Lego creations and artistic masterpieces. Cheering at swim meets, football, soccer and baseball games. Applauding in the audience and celebrating first steps and next steps. I am happy to be here to wipe away the tears of tantrums, frustration, sorrow and defeat. (Even if at times they are my own!) 

When I find myself occassionally dwelling on dispair in this often challenging world, I try to keep focused on my family and doing my part: completely. I also recognize and find strength in the fact that I am part of a greater Christian team that will forever be bound in the battle. I hope that with each setback faced proclaiming the word in our world, I too can reflect on the fact that Christ won the victory over darkness for all at the hour when He freely gave himself up to death to give us his life.

Basil the Great

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I know, you’re expecting something about St. Basil, but no. I’m talking about this.

Basil the Great

Basil the Great

 A family can only eat so much pesto and pasta sauce. Any suggestions? Because this monster has nothing on the other two in our veggie garden bed. I’m happy to share. Want some?

“I want to eat with her!”

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Just a week into Montessori school, Lillian declared her love for her new friend.

“I want to have a party with her,” she told me. Then she pleaded: “I want to eat with her!”

It brings me joy and fills me with wonder, the fact that our three-year-old daughter relates eating together as the most intimate form of love and friendship.

I think of the communal act of sharing the Eucharist at Mass. We share together the most intimate form of love and friendship with and of the One who loves us and whom we should love above all things.

And there it is, out of the mouths of babes.

Love thy neighbor …

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Or at least be able to recognize her in the grocery store or pick her out in a line up. Neither of which I could do.

We’ve been in this house four years, and when I saw our neighbor today I realized I wouldn’t know her if I saw her on the street. It made me sad.

At our old house, our neighbors were drawn to each other for conversation. Greetings at the end of the day, inquiries about each other’s health and family. It was partly because most people didn’t have garages so they couldn’t drive into their private bat caves and secretly enter their lairs unscathed by human contact. It was also partly because a many of our old neighbors were just that: old.

They were from a different generation with a different sense of neighborhood and fellowship. I miss that. I also miss them, but fortunately still see them a church, which makes me that much more grateful for the sense of community our parish provides. The regular contact with people young, old and everywhere in between with Christ at the center almost seems like the Lord knew what he was doing.

Maybe in four years, the next time our neighbor is visible, I’ll run to her and greet her …

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Mat 18:20

Living the vocation of marriage

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This is an interview with the daughter of one of my favorite saints, Gianna Berretta Molla. There is a lovely book of St. Gianna’s letters called Love Letters to My Husband. 

She was a doctor and mother of four. She died in 1962 not long after giving birth to her fourth child. She’s very relatable because she lived so close to our time and was a working woman and mother.