Sunday, March 22, 2015

Optimism or Condescension?

I know a lot of complainers. In fact, I'm a recovering complainer. Once a complainer, always a complainer, right? Well, sort of.

I can shamefully admit that I once thought that the grass truly was greener on the other side of the fence. Or it would have been, if I could have afforded to buy a yard with a fence. Or even just the fence. Or if I could have been as lucky as...but I digress.

I will admit, much like some of the twelve steppers with whom I'm familiar, I do find it difficult to completely refrain from complaining and the urge to complain often jumps to the forefront of my mouth, even in the most rosy and fabulous moments of life. But, thanks to my generally positive, optimistic husband, I am on the road to recovery. However, I am realizing that the road to being complaint-free is filled with a lot of complainers...and whiners...and cry-babies...all babbling on and on about how they've been cheated somehow, challenged harder than others (unjustly of course) get the idea.

This certainly makes it difficult for a recovering complainer to make her way in the world.  But, nonetheless, I vote, Less Complaining, More Living.  My life is not perfect.  Nor is yours.  But if we spend all of our time dwelling on the imperfect, we'd only see: the bank account not full enough; the wrinkles (heck, I'm almost 36 and not groomed at all!), the stretch marks, and the tired "life" circles under our eyes.  But why??!

No, I'm not a supermodel, nor will I ever be.  No, my husband doesn't look at me and think that nothing could be better.  Instead, life is a new challenge met everyday by a pair who has accepted that it's not all perfect, but it's our imperfection, ready for battle, conquering, and a little bit of fun along the way.  It means that every wrinkle is met with a smile, every experiment dinner with a viable takeout replacement, and laughter that makes it all good.  We can do this--as long as we keep perspective and do it as a family.  Keep on keeping on, my friends!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Decalogue for Daily Living

  1. Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.
  2. Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in my behavior; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself.
  3. Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one.
  4. Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.
  5. Only for today, I will devote ten minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.
  6. Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it.
  7. Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing; and if my feelings are hurt, I will make sure no one notices.
  8. Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision.
  9. Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances, that the good Providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in this world.
  10. Only for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. Indeed, for twelve hours I can certainly do what might cause me consternation were I to believe I had to do it all my life.

~Pope John XXIII

Monday, May 18, 2009

Rhetoric puts cloud over Our Lady...

I would like to think that the world is full of intelligent people. That the US is full of intelligent people. I would like to think that many have common sense and the ability to reason. So, why are so many missing the point of the pro-life/pro-choice debate?
I am fully aware that intelligent people can disagree. I realize that for every person who chooses white, someone else will say black. I recognize that for every left, there is a right. However, what I don't understand is why we, as a society, try to create more gray, and less black and white. More middle for every left and right. Why can't intelligent people disagree and then leave the choice to each individual to take a side or to remain indifferent. Why do we have to create non-existent, intellectually impossible middle zones where everyone can be validated by an alternative that is completely contrary to reason.

At least someone other than me recognizes the flaws glaring in Obama's supposed abortion stance.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What a lady!

The Laetare Medal is an annual award given by the University of Notre Dame in recognition of outstanding service to the Roman Catholic Church and society. The award is given to an American Catholic lay person "whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the church and enriched the heritage of humanity." First awarded in 1883, it is the oldest and most prestigious award for American Catholics. The medal is an external award which can be given to a person from outside the University of Notre Dame. It is named the Laetare Medal because the recipient of the award is announced in celebration of Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Lent. A candidate for the award must be a practicing American Catholic who has made a distinctively Catholic contribution in his professional or intellectual life.

Professor Mary Ann Glendon is an exemplary example of one deserving of the Laetare Medal. Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., president of Notre Dame University expressed his support of Ms.. Glendon, explaining why she would be Notre Dame's choice in 2009. “Both as a public intellectual and as a diplomat, Mary Ann Glendon has impressively served our Church and our country." Rev. Jenkins went on to say, "[Professor Glendon] is an articulate and compelling expositor of Catholic social teaching who exemplifies our University’s most cherished values and deserves its highest praise.”

Obviously qualified and deserving of the prestigious Laetare Medal, Ms. Glendon was chosen as the 2009 recipient. However, in the finest example of class, dignity and grace, Ms. Glendon has declined to receive such an honor. And with her statement, one can only wonder not whether Ms. Glendon should receive such an honor, but rather whether Notre Dame is qualified any longer to give it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

For those who take their chip-access seriously...

My dad would call this "Irish ingenuity" despite being from our resident Pole.
I say it's a husband who needs a longer "honey-do" list and more vegetables.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Every girl's dream...

Ummm...yeah, I NEED all of these...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Thursday, July 24, 2008

When the cat's away...

... You obviously climb into your baby sister's crib with her and jump around!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What you say when...

...your 1 year old insists on feeding herself the very expensive yogurt you buy:
Have at it my dear!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Well-trained or Dysfunctional?

Your 1-year-old finds the remote control for the TV and starts wandering the house aimlessly yelling "dada"...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Kindergarten Romance

Sidney: Hey mom, did you know that boys in Kindergarten fall in love with girls.

Mom: How do you know that?

Sidney: Well, the boys write notes about it.

Mom: Did you get one of these notes?

Sidneys: Yes! Three of them.

Mom: What did they say?

Sidney: Well, Joseph's said "Joseph. Hi."

Mom: So, if a boy writes you a note that says hi, he loves you??

Sidney: Um, yeah, when it has hearts all over it!

Apparently these notes get written during "workshop" where the kids are to practice handwriting, but can write whatever they want. And the 6 boys in Sid's class of 22 are apparently quite smitten with her (and, I'm sure, many of the other girls).

I asked Sidney if she ever wrote any of these notes during workshop and she vehemently said no. Unfortunately for the boys, Sidney made it quite clear over dinner last night that she does not return their affections because she never wants to get married. It obviously conflicts with her career goals of becoming a jungle girl. (Yeah, it's not obvious to me either.)

Friday, February 1, 2008

Why it doesn't matter...

...that my house isn't clean ...that my phone is ringing ...that the stove timer is buzzing ...that my friends think I fell off the face of the earth (I haven't) ...that dinner isn't on the table (or even thought about) when Matt gets home from work at night ...that my inbox is full and my outbox is empty (or that my inbox is empty!)...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Does hope really ride alone?

I have learned that I have an opinion about nearly every topic that comes my way. And in the interest of conversation, I'm happy to discuss my opinion about anything with almost anyone. But, I have realized something only recently--my opinions are rarely based on the "big picture"--often it stems from piece-meal bits of info (often biased one way or another). The war in Iraq is one of those topics for sure--the media (or at least most of it) has a slanted view of the war and our current government leaders, yet I rely on that same media for information about the war, politics, education, and any number of other topics. So, when I came across this article, I felt proud to be an American in the true sense of the word, but ashamed that I don't do more to stand up for what I know to be true and right. And I know that I'm thankful to have another opinion to rely on to help me form my own...
"Hope Rides Alone."
By SGT Edmund John Jeffers of the 2-2 INF, 2 BCT, who died in Iraq in September, 2007
I stare out into the darkness from my post, and I watch the city burn to the ground. I smell the familiar smells, I walk through the familiar rubble, and I look at the frightened faces that watch me pass down the streets of their neighborhoods. My nerves hardly rest; my hands are steady on a device that has been given to me from my government for the purpose of taking the lives of others.
I sweat, and I am tired. My back aches from the loads I carry. Young American boys look to me to direct them in a manner that will someday allow them to see their families again...and yet, I too, am just a age not but a few years more than that of the ones I lead. I am stressed, I am scared, and I am paranoid...because death is everywhere. It waits for me, it calls to me from around street corners and windows, and it is always there.
There are the demons that follow me, and tempt me into thoughts and actions that are not my own...but that are necessary for survival. I've made compromises with my humanity. And I am not alone in this. Miles from me are my brethren in this world, who walk in the same streets...who feel the same things, whether they admit to it or not.
And to think, I volunteered for this... And I am ignorant to the rest of the world...or so I thought.
But even thousands of miles away, in Ramadi , Iraq, the cries and screams and complaints of the ungrateful reach me. In a year, I will be thrust back into society from a life and mentality that doesn't fit your average man. And then, I will be alone. And then, I will walk down the streets of America , and see the yellow ribbon stickers on the cars of the same people who compare our President to Hitler.
I will watch the television and watch the Cindy Sheehans, and the Al Frankens, and the rest of the ignorant sheep of America spout off their mouths about a subject they know nothing about. It is their right, however, and it is a right that is defended by hundreds of thousands of boys and girls scattered across the world, far from home. I use the word boys and girls, because that's what they are. In the Army, the average age of the infantryman is nineteen years old. The average rank of soldiers killed in action is Private First Class.
People like Cindy Sheehan are ignorant. Not just to this war, but to the results of their idiotic ramblings, or at least I hope they are. They don't realize its effects on this war. In this war, there are no Geneva Conventions, no cease fires. Medics and Chaplains are not spared from the enemy's brutality because it's against the rules. I can only imagine the horrors a military Chaplain would experience at the hands of the enemy. The enemy slinks in the shadows and fights a coward's war against us. It is effective though, as many men and women have died since the start of this war. And the memory of their service to America is tainted by the inconsiderate remarks on our nation's news outlets. And every day, the enemy changes...only now, the enemy is becoming something new. The enemy is transitioning from the Muslim extremists to Americans. The enemy is becoming the very people whom we defend with our lives. And they do not realize it.
But in denouncing our actions, denouncing our leaders, denouncing the war we live and fight, they are isolating the military from society...and they are becoming our enemy.
Democrats and peace activists like to toss the word "quagmire" around and compare this war to Vietnam . In a way they are right, this war is becoming like Vietnam . Not the actual war, but in the isolation of country and military. America is not a nation at war; they are a nation with its military at war. Like it or not, we are here, some of us for our second, or third times; some even for their fourth and so on. Americans are so concerned now with politics, that it is interfering with our war.
Terrorists cut the heads off of American citizens on the Internet...and there is no outrage, but an American soldier kills an Iraqi in the midst of battle, and there are investigations, and sometimes soldiers are even jailed...for doing their job.
It is absolutely sickening to me to think our country has come to this. Why are we so obsessed with the bad news? Why will people stop at nothing to be against this war, no matter how much evidence of the good we've done is thrown in their face? When is the last time CNN or MSNBC or CBS reported the opening of schools and hospitals in Iraq ? Or the leaders of terror cells being detained or killed? It's all happening, but people will not let up their hatred of Bush. They will ignore the good news, because it just might show people that Bush was right.
America has lost its will to fight. It has lost its will to defend what is right and just in the world. The crazy thing of it all is that the American people have not even been asked to sacrifice a single thing. It's not like World War Two, where people rationed food, and turned in cars to be made into metal for tanks. The American people have not been asked to sacrifice anything. Unless you are in the military or the family member of a service member, its life as usual...the war doesn't affect you.
But it affects us. And when it is over, and the troops come home, and they try to piece together what's left of them after their service...where will the detractors be then? Where will the Cindy Sheehans be to comfort and talk to soldiers and help them sort out the last couple years of their lives, most of which have been spent dodging death and wading through the deaths of their friends? They will be where they always are, somewhere far away, where the horrors of the world can't touch them. Somewhere where they can complain about things they will never experience in their lifetime; things that the young men and women of America have willingly taken upon their shoulders.
We are the hope of the Iraqi people. They want what everyone else wants in life: safety, security, somewhere to call home. They want a country that is safe to raise their children in. Not a place where their children will be abducted, raped, and murdered if they do not comply with the terrorists demands. They want to live on, rebuild and prosper. And America has given them the opportunity, but only if we stay true to the cause, and see it to its end. But the country must unite in this endeavor...we cannot place the burden on our military alone. We must all stand up and fight, whether in uniform or not. And supporting us is more than sticking yellow ribbon stickers on your cars. It's supporting our President, our troops and our cause.
Right now, the burden is all on the American soldiers. Right now, hope rides alone. But it can change, it must change. Because there is only failure and darkness ahead for us as a country, as a people, if it doesn't. Let's stop all the political nonsense, let's stop all the bickering, let's stop all the hatred and bad news, and let's stand and fight!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Giving Thanks...

Sidney's class is putting on a little Thanksgiving play this week, so we spent some time practicing her lines as a historian this weekend. The play closes with the well-informed historian reminding us that the pilgrims and Indians who spent that first Thanksgiving together didn't always get along. In fact, the pilgrims and Indians had a great deal of trouble between them. But, that didn't stop them from sitting down at table that first Thanksgiving and sharing a common bond of living off the land. It didn't stop the Indians from showing those pilgrims how to hunt, farm, and survive.
My favorite historian reminded me that the American Thanksgiving is an opportunity for families to gather together in love and give thanks for the blessings we have, regardless of the fact that sometimes we may not get along very well. We gather to share thanks about the homes that always need cleaning, the clothes that always need washing, the kids that always need bathing. We gather to be thankful that we've been given the chance to share these little problems with even bigger blessings. And for that, I am thankful.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Blessings incognito...

As a senior in high school, I can remember praying relentlessly that my parents would win the lottery so I could go to a great college in preparation for a great law school. I figured it was the least He could do for me after I did mostly everything I should with my time in high school. I went here and was formed in ways I didn't even know I needed to be formed. While at Franciscan, I gently reminded God that I still wanted to be able to to go to an amazing law school. I begged him to help me find a way to get there, despite being at a "second-rate" university. In my second semester, I met Matt, who eventually peeled me out of the armpit of America and planted me in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ok...not bad...University of Michigan was definitely in the top tier and within perfect commuting distance from our little apartment.
But the question didn't become, "Can I get accepted to UofM"--it became "what will we do with our adorable precious baby girl while I'm ferociously studying the intricacies of the American legal system." Hmm...
The story goes on, but the point is the same...we were looking for all the right things in all the wrong places. And as each goal became more and more farfetched, I was becoming more and more unhappy with the way things were turning out. Sure, I loved my baby girl, and I was definitely enjoying being married to my best friend. But outside of those two important things, I was lonely, depressed and really unsatisfied. I wasn't a good stay at home mom--I had no idea how to do most things related to babycare (but I had lots of books and of course the internet to guide me) and I definitely was a rookie at being a housewife. Heck, I couldn't even cook a meal! My best friends were spread out across the US, enjoying their 20s single or at least without kids, while I was consumed with poop, tears (some my own) and baby barf. And no one who was interested in hearing about it.
There was always something else I "needed" that I could have...a house, a sibling for Sidney, a law degree, a better job, less student loans, a night out on the town, my girlfriends...blah blah blah.
It's taken me seven years to make a half-circle to where I am today. And the funny thing--I have the same best friend for a husband, the same daughter along with her new little sister (yes, more poop, tears, and baby barf), more student loans, and those same best girlfriends are still spread out in every state except the one I live in. In fact, nothing major has changed except me. I learned that life is about a lot of common sense, putting others before myself, and trying really hard to live in the present.

I learned that worry is disobedience to God, faith is only as strong as the abandonment we practice. I discovered that it's not my job to do it all, that there will be failures and difficult moments in life. There will be people who let us down. There will be evil. It's nothing I can control. Worry only impacts me, not the situation.

So now I pay close attention to my blessings, address the burdens the best I can, and seek prayers when I can't. I try to do everything as if it all depends on me, but leave the results to the One on whom everything actually depends.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Nature sure is confusing...

Sidney: Mom, do you know why bees sting people?
Mom: Do you know why?
Sidney: They sting to protect themselves. But it doesn't make much sense because when a bee stings it loses its stinger and then it dies anyway. I don't know why they would want to do that.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Be Fair...

"That's not fair!" Preschoolers say it. School children say it. Adults even say it.

In our house, we talk a lot about raising our kids to be independent thinkers who work hard to achieve success. We try to teach them about earning rewards for good decisions and good efforts as well as the notion that poor decision-making leads to negative consequences. We also try to instill in our children that sometimes we do the right thing simply because it's the right thing and not because a reward is being dangled on a string in front of us. We focus on the fact that sometimes the reward is in doing the right thing.

My husband and I both come from large families with a lot of similarities and many more differences. We are often amused by how different the environment was in which we grew up and the irony of the fact that we still ended up together. My parents were always big on "fairness"--we still joke about how my parents would sit up late at night counting out jelly beans in our Easter baskets to make sure there wasn't a fight the next morning between kids. We learned that if one of us had candy, we had better make sure we had enough for everyone before we could enjoy it. None of us had anything unless everyone had it--we were all "even" and it was "fair". At the same time, if one of us chose to use that infamous phrase "It's not fair" the reply would immediately be "Life's not fair, get used to it."

And I think the principles my parents tried to teach were the same that were taught in most families--sharing, equality, concern for others. And while these seem like necessary concepts to embrace, it seems the ideas are often taken out of context, and thus become extreme in nature.

Why is it wrong for one child to have more jelly beans than another on Easter morning? Is it because it creates an appearance of favoritism within a family? Or is it because we have been trained to think that no one is entitled to have anything more than any other? This thinking permeates our families because it permeates our society. Kids are taught that it's not "fair" to have more than someone else, and that we are all entitled to the same things that everyone else has.

At first glance, this seems to convey the right notion--that no person is any better than anyone else. But, does believing that all people are equal really translate into every person being able to have everything that anyone else has, simply because we want it?

We are all individuals from the same mold, but with important unique characteristics. Some of us have brown hair, some blonde, blue eyes or brown, short or tall, fat or thin. We are male and female. But even more importantly than our physical differences, we are each given characteristics and traits tailor-made for us by God. Some of us are gifted with leadership skills, while others demonstrate keen ability to solve problems. An artist with an eye for the most beautiful of scenes, a talented surgeon with a steady hand. Some of us excel in academics, others are more talented in the use of their hands.

In light of these differences, doesn't it seem to make sense that equality is not encompassed in the tangible? Equality doesn't mean being able to attend the same ivy-league college, irrespective of our academic achievements or our ability to afford the financial investment that entails.

While it's nice that each child in my house knew that we didn't need to count our jelly beans because our parents recognized it wasn't "fair" for any of us to have more, wouldn't it have been a better lesson to demonstrate that how many jelly beans we have doesn't translate into how much our parents love us?

Isn't it more true that equality is demonstrated when we treat everyone with respect and genuine love of neighbor? Doesn't equality mean that we all have the same opportunity to make good choices and to work hard to develop our gifts and talents. Wouldn't the lesson be better taught where we recognize the value of the work people do because they are doing the work in the first place? Or if we taught our children that different talents, achievements and choices reap different rewards or consequences. And that as long as one is using the gifts given to him by the One who created us, that there is only one reward that can truly demonstrate the equality we share as people.

Our actions, our accomplishments and our choices can bring us closer or farther away from the One who created us. Whether we get there because we worked hard to become a successful surgeon who is compensated monetarily or because we served hamgurgers at McDonalds with a smile doesn't matter. But, it does matter whether we get there, and we all start with the same "fair" chance.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Mother Goose at her best...

...Mom's video skills at her worst. But I think this captures most of Sidney's first day on the big stage, despite her sister's efforts to grab the camera and her principal's head blocking the lower half of the stage. If you watch the clips in order, and imagine the kiddos singing Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary in between it will be like you were there! And bear with us...we're still a few steps below Broadway!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Where the fun is...

...the babe is sure to bounce!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I'm joining the feminist movement... I can wake up in the middle of the night and still be thankful that not one other person in the world can ease my little one back to sleep as well as I can. I can still expect a man to open a door for me, walk me to my car in a dark parking lot and pay for dinner.

... so I don't have to take out the trash at my house, but can if I want to. I don't have to wear the pants in my relationship to be considered my husband's equal. I can recognize that birth control is actually some man's cruel way of manipulating women to do what they want us to do without any obligation to us the next day, or 10 minutes later, however the course may be. I can exchange my 4 letter last name for someone else's instead of using both to create a "liberating" 8 letter last name that my husband and I can co-exist in perfect complementarity in our home without fighting over who gets to change the oil in the car or unclog the toilets.

I am truly often curious about the "feminist movement" of which I am not, nor ever will be, a part. I have considered the points about feminism made by women such as Hillary Clinton, Rosie O'Donnell and most of Hollywood and I honestly have yet to discover how they are seeking to promote women in society. I consistently see the notions of feminism as they are portrayed in everyday American society as degrading to me and to all women. To be a feminist in the popular sense is to fight against everything that comes natural to me and why? So that I can wear stiff clothes with buttons on the wrong side and expect to be promoted, glorified and recognized simply because I am a woman in a man's cruel world.

It's a world where true competition is eliminated, because a man surely could never receive a promotion over a women without some sort of underhanded sexist interviewer whose wife left him because he was an abusive alcoholic.

It's a world where a woman who achieves success in her field of choice will always hear murmurings about how she got the handout needed for her success, except on Oprah.

It's a world where women often hang their heads low to utter the harshest of phrases "I'm just a stay-at-home mom.

I'll take my feminism over that world any day. My society is where no one is "just" anything. Where my pediatrician and the men who collect my trash each week are valuable because they are working hard to provide for themselves, their families and me. Where I don't actually care what anyone does for a living, but where I do care that they work hard at whatever they do. My feminist society is one where each person is valued because they contribute to my life in some way--albeit often in unknown or unnoticed ways.

My feminism teaches that each person should act with responsibility for themselves and concern for others. My feminism is where I am accountable for my actions, where excuses are a waste of time and solutions are my obligation.

In my world, I am proud to be a feminist.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Stay-at-home moms looking for extra income?

Just convince your hubby to move to Russia and do what we Catholic families do best...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Rewards and Consequences...

Dad before our evening snack: "Sidney, you can eat that in the family room, but if you spill one drop because you're not careful, there is going to be a punishment."

So what do I get if I don't spill anything?

Dad: You get to live.

We mean serious business when it comes to food in our family room. :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I'm caught...

So I've been doing this for at least a week but now my mom was finally sneaky enough to see it and catch it on video too and I am not happy about first...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Playdate to Heaven...

A little bit of background:
1. I gag when I brush my teeth.
2. When I was younger, I was known for the Shea-shudder--an uncontrollable whole-body tremor when drinking any strong alcohol.
3. When Sidney was an infant, I could not clean her umbilical cord stump without gagging and leaving the room after every swipe. That was the first time. After that, it just didn't get cleaned unless Matt was home.
4. Thinking about anything the texture of runny egg whites, no matter what color causes an instant gag. Seeing it almost guarantees a trip to the restroom.

So, Sidney had a playdate the other day. She was long overdue for some non-adult and non-infant interaction, so I finally took the initiative I should have taken much earlier this summer and called one of her schoolmates to arrange a visit. The plan--I would pick up her little friend and bring her back to our house pretty early in the morning so her mom could take full advantage of her toddler's midmorning nap. We'd return sometime in the afternoon so mom and I could enjoy a chat while our girls gained some extra play time.

Despite the lack of sleep our 4 month old is imposing on us these days, we miraculously get out the door shortly after 8am and make the trek through the morning traffic to pick up Sid's friend. As we're heading to the car, the two girls holding hands, mom calls after me to let me know that her daughter was too excited to eat much breakfast, so she barely even finished a kid-sized yogurt. No problem. We get in the car and we're off, the baby screaming as is her traveling habit, the two girls buckled in but still managing all kinds of loud interactive movement. I begin offering up the Hail Marys as my weak attempt at not scolding them for all the unnecessary noise in the car.

When we're about 10 minutes from our house and stuck in slow moving highway traffic, Sid's friend announces that her tummy doesn't feel too well. I'm not surprised or too concerned--she's been awake for hours, with just a small yogurt to fill her tummy and she and Sidney have spent the last few minutes looking at one of those seek-and-find books...just a little case of the carsick-queasies. I give an offhand reassurance that we're almost home and then suggest she tell me if she thinks I need to pull over for her. The girls resume their backseat fun and I go back to my Hail Marys. Phew.

We finally manage to get away from the slow-moving highway fumes onto our exit, when the little girl again announces that she still isn't feeling well. I offer some suggestions about what could be wrong in a weak effort to reassure her--perhaps she's warm, reading in the car makes me carsick, empty stomach, the fumes. Nope, nope, nope, nope. "I think it's driving too fast," she states matter-of-factly through her now greenish-hued glance. Ok, I think, better pull over.

We make it to a McDonald's parking lot, where I park and let her out of the car and guide her to a grassy patch, hand her a water bottle and suggest she just sit for a few minutes. We sit a long time, and she doesn't look any better, but we're just sitting. No need for a bag or a stop in the restroom. We're 2 minutes from home now, so back in the car we go. Because we've worked hard to instill a sense of concern and care in our daughter, Sidney repeatedly asks her friend if she's going to puke and then proceeds to talk about how gross that is. More Hail Marys.

We pull into the garage, I let the girls out of the car and move to get the baby seat out and into the house. As I'm putting the car seat down in our front room, I hear a request for the bathroom. As Sidney directs her friend, I hear the splash on the hallway tile.

Somehow I was able to mentally check out for a few minutes--just enough time to give the poor little girl a roll of paper towels to clean herself off as I wiped up the rest with minimal gagging. The little girl was so devastated--can you imagine adding insult to injury by gagging and being sick while trying to help her clean up. Somehow I don't think that getting sick immediately after someone else qualifies as compassion.

God doesn't called the equipped. God equips the called. Thank You God!

I'm thankful today for the realization that sometimes I feel completely out of my league in this adventure of my vocation. I'm thankful for the reminder that if I was so great at everything I was called to do, I would fail to seek the One who called me to this job in the first place. And, I'm thankful today for long naps.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Dreams can come true...

even in animation!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007


Don't forget why we celebrate this day!

I can't say it any better...

"Just a little note to wish all of you a very Happy 4th of July. Today you all celebrate America’s 231st birthday and that’s something quite special. To some, it may just be a day off, and a break from the everyday routine of going to work, school or just doing the necessary chores to maintain our busy households.

I caution the former however, as that would indeed miss the significance of the day. America gives us much but it’s up to you to embrace her promise. Today, hopefully, you will all take time out to enjoy her gifts, by perhaps enjoying your families, your homes, and your freedoms to do just about anything you want. All because your country has given you that gift and that opportunity. Please take the time to thank her in your own way for these wonderful gifts. Gifts not shared by the majority of the populations of the world.

Take the time to realize just how special and wonderful it is to be an American, especially today. Patriotism, love of country and the love of the colors red, white and blue, should never be dismissed as corny or unfashionable. Whether young or old we must never forget this and must never turn our backs on the Great Lady in the Harbor who has stood as a symbol for so many throughout all these years. To do so would ignore the sacrifices of so many Americans who have served in her wars and her military, worked in her factories, studied in her schools, taught her children, built muti-million dollar companies from her garages, comforted the sick in her hospitals, protected us from crime and fire, volunteered millions of hours to her children, among countless other examples. Let us continue to be proud, not ashamed, to embrace the words, “In God We Trust” and recognize that without the opportunity to embrace any God or Supreme Being, we can not be truly thankful for the blessings of today and reality of America.

I have been away from the shores of our country on this day before. It is both rather remarkable and rather sad. To those who have not experienced this, it is quite unique. Today, I miss the hills of Georgia and the shores of America more than ever. I miss the scents of a burning BBQ, and the sounds of children running, of pool water splashing, of parades, of fireworks at night, of the crack of a bat and a ball, of flags snapping in the wind and most of all laughter in the air. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to be at the US Embassy in Kabul. The first thing I saw, after going through the steel gate with my helmet, weapons and protective gear, was Old Glory waving brilliantly from a huge flagpole. As they say, “I was on American soil,” and my God you can’t imagine how wonderful and different that felt.

We all serve our country in many ways. Know this is our wish to you from all your Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen, who wish we could be there with you today and enjoy all those sounds above. We’re very proud to serve you today and always. The Honor is ours. Please continue to serve your great country. Teach your children what it means to be American and what it means to celebrate Independence Day. God bless America. " ~MAJ Nick Satriano
Legal Advisor
Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan

"No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation..." ~General Douglas MacArthur

Monday, July 2, 2007

Proud of the house we've built...

Of course I don't literally mean THE House. I mean the environment. The warmth. The comfort. The friendship. The fun.

Have you ever walked into someone's home and you just knew you didn't need to take your shoes off if you didn't want to, but that you totally could throw shoes and socks to the wind if your pretty little heart desired? I think that's our house in a nutshell. At least I hope it is.

I often look at the Pottery Barn catalog. Actually, I pine over it every time I get a new one in the mail. I adore The Pottery Barn. I want every single item I see in those catalogs. I pour over every sleigh bed in a variety of finishes. Every day bed. Every bedding ensemble and organizational piece of furniture. The items in the Pottery Barn catalog are elegant and expensive. They are rich in fabric, in texture. The pieces that look like they are made with real wood are actually made with real wood! Everything has a color coordinated everything else!

In my mind, I imagine a beautiful and amazing Pottery Barn house where each and every item is put in the place perfect for its display. Everything in that house is meticulously organized. The junk-drawer-that-everyone-has-but-can't-admit-to-having is actually a beautiful fabric lined basket tucked neatly away. All the kids have monogrammed polos which are folded nicely and put in the proper monogrammed bin in the closet. Every time I imagine this nonexistent house, I can't help but think of all the things I would do if I ever visited someone there. Of course, I would be wearing something linen, my hair would be perfectly windblown and my freckles would be glowing from having just stepped off my boat from an afternoon frolic on the ocean with the sun beaming on my face. I would probably be wearing sandals that may be a bit sandy, but I would enter the house with them on anyway. My host would generously offer me a cup of tea, because despite weather befitting an afternoon on the water, the wind blowing up from the beachfront is just enough to create a chill in the house. A light breeze that perfectly accompanies an afternoon cup of tea. My host would politely remind me that the tea will take "just a few minutes" and that I shouldn't hesitate to "make myself comfortable." This will immediately bring a bright smile to my face, because I am already in her living room with my sandals kicked off and my feet pulled up onto one of those beautiful armchairs, happily flipping through the most recent Pottery Barn catalog.
Gosh, that image makes me so happy! It makes me miss my dearest friend in the whole world--the one who would be furious if her husband brought an important guest home without at least giving her the 20 minute warning so she could whip around the house desperately trying to create just the right order and ambience. This is the same friend who would be delighted if I popped in just to say hello and spent the whole afternoon gabbing with her instead. And the order in her home at my random pop-by is basically the same as the special guest would receive. Because her home is that elegant and comfortable all at the same time, all the time. Everyone is always welcome, and everyone feels as if the environment is just perfect for whatever the occasion.

When I think of my friend, I realize her house isn't full of expensive catalog furniture and accessories. There are neatly organized areas for kids' things. The furniture is nice, but comfortable. And there is always a cup of tea brewing on the counter. It's never perfectly neat and clean, but it's never a disorderly mess either. It's not about creating an image for her, it's just simply living. Everyday, it's the same way--a day full of games and fun with the kids or an afternoon gab with a good friend. It's simply a home filled with love.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

~You can't be serious Dad...

My 5-year Plan

I always make 5 year plans.
1993: I will finish out my 8th grade field hockey season and become a really awesome goalie. Yeah, that's right, awesome. Then I will spend the next 4 years of high school being the Varsity goalie and being adored by numerous fans when our team goes to State and wins. I will make as much money as I can babysitting so that as soon as I get my driver's license I can buy a sweet ride all my own. Then, after completely glamourous high school years, I will head off to an ivy-league college to begin my preparations for a career as a successful and famous prosecutor.
The summer before 9th grade I had the perfect job arranged and was on the path of my 5 year plan. But on the way home from Day #2 as the world's coolest babysitter, I crashed my bike into a guard rail and broke my femur bone. I was on crutches for over 4 months, had no babysitting to do and had to miss the whole field hockey season. The team got a new starting goalie. After saving up for a new car all my own, my mom's car broke down and I had to let her use mine for my whole senior year. I took the bus to school. I made all the preparations for graduating from high school near the top of my class so that I could get into a "good" school. I made my final decision and was all set to go, but then we realized that I couldn't afford to go to the college I wanted to.
When I headed to the college of my parents' dreams, I made a new 5-year plan.
1997: Ignore all the people, make the best of a stinky college situation and just focus on preparing to get into a "good" law school.
Despite my efforts, the second semester of my freshman year I started dating my husband, was enjoying every minute of college (even the people!) and I definitely became a better person in the process. Hmmm...not any closer to going to law school.
When I got married, I gained a partner to help with the 5-year plan.
2001: Both work for a year out of college and save up my whole salary. Apply to law schools, After graduation, get that dream job of becoming a prosecutor. Then the white picket fence, the new cars and kids.
9 months after we got married (and only 7 mos. after I started working), Siddo joined our family.
November 2002: Work full time as social worker. Juggle family life. White Picket Fence. New Cars. Sibling for Sidney.
After 9 months, I got randomly accepted to family friendly law school in our town. (Long story.)
August 2003: Full time to law school. Add sibling for Sidney to our family in June, so I could enjoy the summer at home before starting second year of law school. Arrange classes around being a mom of 2. Graduate law school. Dream job as prosecutor. White picket fence.
June came, and so did July, August, September etc. Law school reopened, no sibling. Juggling staying home with Sidney and law school full time.
May, 2006: Spend the summer studying for the bar exam. Pray that I pass. Accept that a sibling for Sidney doesn't seem to be in the cards. Sidney to school full time. Dream job as prosecutor.
Enter morning sickness. In March, Avery joined our family.
June, 2007: No more 5 year plans.