Speak now and forever hold a piece

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This has been an exciting few weeks.

Cliffy went on his first official speech therapy visit. And it was great. I’ll post more as we get into the process. But I know it’ll be fruitful. Just the little tidbit I learned at that one session has been helpful in my ability to interpret what he’s saying, so I can at least lessen some of his frustration and repeat things back to him correctly. Cool for sure. Brilliant woman — I’m calling her the Baby Whisperer.

Cliffy leaning on big brother.

And … we took Lillian to open house for first grade.I know. Yes. Already.

To my not-so-complete surprise, it was an experience fraught with anxiety for my sweet dumpling. Just a year ago I was wondering how she was going to function in this world because she’s always been such an über-imaginative child floating though her days. But since then, she has (rather precariously) tested the waters of reality. And I’m not so sure how well she likes it. This darn real world doesn’t seem to hold the same promise of her visions of pretend playmates, ponies, pink and princesses. That world brings her peace. This world? Not so much.

After a visit to the two first-grade classrooms in the school, we headed to the gym to check out the activities there. During our look around, Miss Blue Eyes looked up and me and informed me that we needed to go back up to the classrooms. She needed to meet the teachers again. And she needed to look around more. I could see her distress. It’s the same distress she has when she has trouble dressing her dolls, or Cliff destroys her carefully arranged menagerie. But — the big difference was — it was real. And I felt for her.

She led me back up the stairs. She walked in one classroom. Looked around. Then proceeded to the next. When we were there, she motioned to the books on the table in the front of the room. Without a word, her thumb went in her mouth, and she approached them. I stooped to her level, and we looked at the workbooks together. As a Montessori child, I think the workbooks looked daunting to her. I believe she was analyzing what was going to be expected of her. And — more importantly — whether she could even do it. I showed her some of the pages. We talked about them. She relaxed a little and announced she was ready to go. And we did.

At home while dressing for bed, she looked up at me — troubled — and asked (exact quote), “How did you determine I’m prepared for this?” I assured her she will be prepared. And school is about learning. And she’ll be fine. I’m not quite sure she bought any of it. But that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Hanging on.

I can say that I feel her inner conflict in a way I’ve not experienced with the three before her. I wish I could just blow confidence at her like bubbles through a wand. Some landing on her, while she joyfully chases the rest. More so, I wish I could help her hold on for dear life to the amazing parts of her that have made her childhood to this point so completely mesmerizing.  When I look into her thoughtful eyes, I know it will be a different kind of difficult to watch as her sweet pieces of childhood slowly melt away.

She’s brought us all an undeniable gift — her ability to express her thoughts has granted remarkable insight into the fabulous workings of a little one’s mind. A very early talker, she did so much more than just tell us what she was doing — she shared with all of us what she was thinking and feeling. And boy, it’s been grand.

With Lil, when things don’t pan out exactly as she’s so carefully imagined, the turmoil begins. And the more that darn reality so rudely butts into her life, the more that darn turmoil triumphs. The hard part is, I know there’s not a lot about this world that pans out as we imagine. So sadly, lots of folks just stop imagining.

I hope I can help my dear daughter slowly become rooted to the ground while she continues to joyfully and colorfully bloom in the worlds she creates. I will also diligently pray that as she grows she will never actually be of this world but instead live uniquely, vibrantly and faithfully in it.

So that’s what’s ahead of me. Teaching my baby how to talk like a child and teaching my big girl how to hold on to every piece of childhood she can.

And nothing is impossible, with God.

Arm yourself

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After having more than a few rotten days and serious consideration of putting my armor up for sale on ebay, a very tall and holy man suggested I read this prayer. Perfect. Just what I needed. (Well, after I really read it a few times.) I love the ways God works in our lives.

St. Patrick’s Breastplate

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today through God's strength to pilot me.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul.

Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.

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.



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.

Throw in the towel


That was going to be my post last weekend. You know … when the going gets tough, wash a load of towels and you’ll feel like you’ve accomplished something big. A whole basket full of laundry, folded in 2 minutes. Ahh. That was my simple post.

But then life happens. I spend days posting what a nincompoop I am, all while people I know and love are suffering through some really hard times. It doesn’t make me any less of a nincompoop, but the fact of the matter is … nincompoopness doesn’t matter. Being able to relate to and loving each other does.

Before I could click that publish button for my mundane little towel post, my dear friend’s spouse has decided to do exactly that — throw in the towel on their 17-year marriage. Without warning. Without chances for making amends. It’s done. I’m not going to tell you their story or allude to anything to be read between the lines. That part is not my story to tell in this setting.

My part of the story is in my own disbelief. It’s all just too much to handle.

There are so many beautiful, happy lives just turned topsy turvy. The mere fact that my friend is hurting and her children are suffering is beyond heart-wrenching. This is not what we teach. This is not what we live. Nor is this what my dear friend and her spouse have taught or lived. She, specifically, has always been one of the best examples of a person committed to her spouse and to her friendships than anyone I’ve ever met. I find myself talking to myself (more than usual … I should add) trying to understand the why and navigate through my own emotions while offering as much support and love that I can. My husband put it best, he said thinking about their situation has become like breathing. Just something we do.

It weighs so heavily on our hearts and minds.

Here’s the deal. People are imperfect. I know. I get it. I guess episodes like this  are wake-up reminders our imperfect nature as human beings.  I really want to embrace this as part of God’s perfect plan. And I do actually. Because I trust in him. I just wish I knew what is supposed to be revealed through this pain to us mere mortals. Is this her part in sharing in the suffering of Christ? I’m pretty sure she’s shared quite a bit already. And I think whether my dearest girl knows this or not, this must be part of the emptying of herself only to fill herself even more with the love of Christ. I don’t know. Who knows, but God?

I do know, I am pretty sure she’s running on empty. And she’s been working so hard in her growth in her relationship with Christ through the church. I’m taking deep breaths and trusting. And praying for that same trust for her. Whenever she gets there.

For another dose of irony by association, when this was all happening last week–when my dear girl was first learning what was in store for her– Richard and I were at an event that celebrates the sacrament of marriage. It’s an event put on every year, hosted by the local Worldwide Marriage Encounter folks. It was nice. But felt somewhat surreal after the fact.

So, please, pray for my friend. Pray for her children. Pray for her spouse. Pray they recognize and are drawn to the healing power of our Lord and can trust in him.

Every now and then

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… it hits me that people are a little bit crazy.

Today, when pulling into the drive-thru at a fast food joint, someone blindly backing out of a parking spot, stopped abruptly. Turned to me, and waved me on while mouthing the word a**hole.

I was entirely perplexed. I wasn’t speeding, driving erratically, or anything worthy of a comment, let alone an expletive. I stopped. Cocked my head and stared at the driver for just a few seconds before proceeding. She was just a young woman.

I think she must have realized I was baffled by her inaudible outburst. My windows were closed, as were hers. She just sat there looking back. Her own voice ringing in her ears. I saw her face wash with embarrassment. Which it should have.  Then she quickly put her car in gear and zoomed out of the lot.

Not to be old-fashioned … but where has courteousness gone? Is it that parents don’t teach their children? Are we in such a hurry to get to the next place that we’re willing to speed passed anyone who slows down, even for a second. Or shout profanities at those who can’t read our minds?

Last week I watched a teenager picking up her brother at Henry’s school completely disregard the rules of pick up. Back up, take cuts in the line up, and zoom around other cars to get out while completely ignoring the halting hands of staff trying to direct the flow for the safety of the children. My kids gasped in horror. Who would do that? They wondered aloud. What’s wrong with her?

Okay, so my kids get it. They get the rules. They know about courteousness, traffic flow and societal order so that there can be freedom within that order (how Montessori-ish). But what will they do when they encounter the overwhelming flagrant disregard for the same rules by which they abide?

I don’t have anything clever to say on this one. I can’t really discount it, because I see it everywhere. I guess, I’ll keep doing my part and hope that enough parents are doing theirs. I’ll also continue to have faith that this is all part of God’s great plan.

Oh. And I’ll pray.

A little more than two decades

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That’s how long Richard and I have been married. Twenty-one years in December.

That’s also how far we got saying a family rosary tonight, before Lillian stormed out of the room, stomped her feet all the way to her room and slammed the door. Why? Because Cliff was whipping her with the rosary he was holding, and she wanted to lead every prayer.

Which is actually admirable.

But if you have to tell her everything to say in bite-size phrases, it gets a little cumbersome for everyone else. Distraction is inevitable. We decided to quit while we were ahead. Twenty-one Hail Marys amid kicking, whipping and screaming has to count for something.

Better luck next time.

Hope floats

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As do many household items, verified by the baby in the toilet. Lots of things sink, too. But hope does actually float.

I think of all the thing for which I am hopeful. The things and intentions for which I pray. Healing of loved ones and acquaintances. Peace for those in sorrow and pain. Happiness for those with new roads yet taken.  I pray for joy, forgiveness, calm, charity, love, family, prosperity, wisdom, sleep, good coffee (’cause although I’m always hopeful for good sleep …) thoughtfulness, compassion, intellect, challenges, trials, humility, mercy, resourcefulness, friendship,  yesterday, today and tomorrow and all that is yet to be.

And I always pray to continue searching for God confident in his presence.

All those prayers are surrounded with hope that only comes from the One who has risen and reminds me that hope actually does much more than just float, it soars.

Lord of all hopefulness,
Lord of all joy,
whose trust, ever childlike,
no cares could destroy,
be there at our waking,
and give us, we pray,
your bliss in our hearts, Lord,
at the break of the day.

Lord of all eagerness,
Lord of all faith,
whose strong hands were skilled
at the plan and the lathe,
be there at our labors,
and give us, we pray,
your strength in our hearts, Lord,
at the noon of the day.

Lord of all kindliness,
Lord of all grace,
your hands swift to welcome,
your arms to embrace,
be there at our homing,
and give us, we pray,
your love in our hearts, Lord,
at the end of the day.

Lord of all gentleness,
Lord of all calm,
whose voice is contentment,
whose presence is balm,
be there at our sleeping,
and give us, we pray,
your peace in our hearts, Lord,
at the end of the day.

–Jan Struther