Gratitudinal pull


In the middle of the night, when I’m sitting in the dark living room, holding sweet Clifford, through my exhaustion, all I can think of is how truly grateful I am.

Cliff is a climber. At bedtime, he pretends he’s asleep so I’ll leave the room. And before the door handle latches closed, I hear him climb out of his crib. Then a little celebratory giggle. The key is to stand crib-side long enough so that he actually falls asleep as he’s pretending to sleep waiting for me to leave. And sometimes that takes a long time. If he raises his head, I cluck once or twice so he knows I’m there. And he quickly resumes the fake-out position.

I don’t think he’s ready for a big bed because he’ll never stay put. Except, I’m pretty sure with the way he hops the side of the crib, there’s not much of a difference. Perhaps I’m not ready for the big bed.

He’s almost two. He quit nursing early. After suffering through biting at every sitting for four-months, at 10 months, I finally got the hint. He wanted to see what was going on. I gave him his first bottle then, which he happily quit in one day just a few months later. And he’s never looked back.  Although he doesn’t say much, he plays and responds like a big boy. We had to stop strapping him in his seat at table because he complained the whole time. And not just once–I’m no push-over. But for months. As soon as we’d take him out of his booster seat, he’d scoot his plate to another chair, kneel up and eat. So, it only made sense. In his own non-verbal way, he’s very determined in asserting his independence. At lunch time, when he’s finished, he brings his plate to me at the kitchen sink without prompting. It’s one small thing. But it gives me hope. And I know a least a little more civility will (eventually) follow.

Wha? Who me?

So when it’s dark and I’m alone with him because he’s climbed out of his crib (again) at 2 a.m., I can only count my blessings.  Next year at this time, he’ll be rounding the corner to three, most-likely potty trained and needing two-piece jammies instead of one-piece fuzzy footies. He’ll be too long to hold the same way with his head on my shoulder and knees folded fitting perfectly the length of my torso. Who knows, he may actually be able to tell me a thing or two. I’m sure by then he’ll most likely have suffered through many more wounds from his wildness. More split lips and skinned knees are sure to follow him. He’ll so quickly go from toddler to preschooler in the same blink of an eye that brought him here from swaddled bundle.

He's dressed like an animal ... because he is one.

I’m not really sentimental about it, but I sure am appreciative. I still pinch myself in disbelief that we even have been granted the gift of this little guy. He’s certainly turbo-charged the chaos-o-meter in this household.

So, this morning, as I again moved all the dining room chairs to living room (to stop him from pushing them to climb on the kitchen counter), all I had to do is take one look at at that beautiful, wound-up brown-eyed boy–who was trying with all his might to move the piano bench into the kitchen–to be reminded again exactly how grateful I am. And I am easily pulled to my knees in thanksgiving.

40 deeds done dirt cheap


In addition to more prayer and observing church fasts, etc., some of my Lenten promises are

  1. to get rid of 40 bags of stuff around here (inspired by a post at Faith and Family Live).
  2. complete 40 tedious tasks –the stuff that doesn’t affect daily function, but needs to be done (like re-line the one kitchen drawer that needs it, fix the two-inches of peeled paint on a shoe molding in the bathroom, rotate children’s books, etc.). I know, it’s hard not to count the many tedious tasks of daily life in this, but apparently clothing and feeding my children actually affect daily life.
  3. Write 40 letters for life. The idea here is to send letters to corporations that have been tagged as donating to Planned Parenthood, and see if I can get their stories so we can make an informed decision about choosing not to purchase their products, etc. That has already been fruitful, and I’ve received several responses.

I’m not exactly sure how dirt cheap doing all this is. But I guess that’s the point of the sacrifice. I find it pretty much time consuming. Which takes me back to my idea of lentamente. And I’m wondering if I’m doing exactly what I didn’t want to do, and shooting myself in the foot.

The good part is, I do offer the darn tedious tasks and stuff-bagging as prayers. When I question what I’m doing, my heart does go back to Christ. In a round about way. But it makes it to him. I know I’m making my family’s life a little better, more peaceful, less cluttered,  and since my family is actually a product of my love for my spouse and our commitment to one another — through the sacrament of marriage — bound by God’s saving presence … I remember why I’m even tackling the task to begin with: it’s because I’m insane. And I know that even in my insanity, Jesus still loves me … see what I mean?

Yes I can!

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Here’s my first small success. I finally figured out how to get that button to appear on my blog!

Second, I convinced Lillian to wear socks, without counting, demanding, bribing, or threatening.

We started this day as planned with our Lenten morning offering, all together. Amen.

Just a closer walk with thee

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We sat down yesterday with the kids to discuss our plans for lent. Each of theirs individually, and ours as a family.

We talked about our family’s theme (which is actually my theme, but I’m the mom … so … what I say …). We discussed the prayer about Christ having no body but ours. Henry quickly reminded me of the song we know with those words. (Which we used as homeschooling  anthem a few years ago).

We talked about how each of us needs to think of Jesus before we speak to one another in an unkind tone. How we could all use this season to remember all the things we appreciate about each other — we are all God’s children, and brothers and sisters in Christ. If we think of him in all we do, our relationship with Him will change and with each other, too. And wouldn’t that be nice? And — after all — look at what our brother did for us.

“What?” Lillian questioned.

“He died on the cross.”

“But I don’t want Jesus to die. ‘Cause he’s walking around in my heart.”

Which is good. I’m glad she gets that part (sort 0f) and can only pray it sees her through.

Because after 7 a.m. mass and receiving ashes, she announced she needed to wash her face right away. I explained she could tell her friends at school that Ash Wednesday marks the day that Jesus went off to pray in the desert. And she quickly said, “Why would I want to tell anyone THAT?” Then marched in the bathroom.

Then in the mid-afternoon she melted in a puddle on the floor crying that she was exhausted from coloring her Lenten calendar and couldn’t do it anymore. Not quite how I was hoping this long season would start.

Wait, what’s my theme? Lentamente or insanity. Oh yeah, that was it.

Lucky me

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Catch me if you can.

This morning Henry said, “You’re lucky. You don’t have to go to school.”

Then after thoughtful consideration he said, “But then again, you have to stay home and take care of Clifford. I guess that’s torture enough.”

Please pass the biscotti


Trade ya?

“Remember when you said if I ate all my dinner, I could have a cookie after?” Lillian asked me across the dinner table.

“Yes. I do.” I responded.

“Well, I thought it was going to be a GOOD dinner. Not THIS,” she said shoving her plate of carefully homemade lasagna across the table.

“I’ll just take the biscotti.”



It’s almost here.


The season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. As we trace the steps of Christ. Not only to the cross, but as we retrace our steps, according to the Holy Father, toward Christian Initiation, “for catechumens, in preparation for receiving the Sacrament of rebirth; for the baptized, in light of the new and decisive steps to be taken in the sequela Christi and a fuller giving of oneself to him.”

I’ll be stepping slowly.

In music (and Italian) lentamente means slow. Which, as I’ve grown in wisdom, is the way I choose to approach Lent. As I’ve matured (notice how I side-step the words “gotten older”), I’ve recognized the importance of taking it slowly. Making it methodical. I don’t have a schedule that supports sporadic — if I plan to accomplish anything. If I’m not metered during Lent, I might as well just hang it up right now. Two days before I bear ashes.

So, my theme is going to be that prayer about Christ having no body now, but ours. And then I’ll make some promises that center around breaking habits that draw me from, rather to, our Lord, and trying to replace them with something more meaningful: Prayer time.  Mass time. Patience. Compassion. Forgiveness. Sacrifice.

I will make an effort to fill what I’m trying to remove with the love that is and can only be Christ. And I will try to do this, remain sane, not get crabby and help my children grow in their Lenten journeys as well. So it’s lentamente or insanity. (Maybe that should be my Lenten theme instead?)

Although I’m sure it’ll start off slowly, soon enough I hope to look forward to the promise of Spring and the promise of new life, of course knowing that it has already been fulfilled in Him that first Easter. A fact that I think is truly the beauty of the season. Our willingness as Catholic Christians to sacrifice and do more to become closer to Christ, recognizing that He’s already conquered death. We already know that He’s already offered everything for us. So, the least we can do is (keep trying to) do our best to offer our paltry sacrifices for Him and remember His sacrifice for us that, you know, redeemed the world.

Christ has no body now on earth but yours
no hands but yours
no feet but yours
yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion
is to look out to the earth
yours are the feet by which He is to go about doing good
and yours are the hands by which He is to bless us now.

Gone so long

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I need my pocket protector.

I know.

But I’m back. And this is why.

The baby who doesn’t talk (at least in English), who will soon be the two-year-old who doesn’t talk … sings.

Feliz Navidad. Actually.

So, not only does he speak Mandarin, Chinese (which I, unfortunately, don’t), he speaks Spanish.

Why? Because, he’s a genius. Dontcha know?