Sunday, October 29, 2006

More Stuff

My dad visited this week. My sitter was off work for the week and he came to watch the baby for a couple of days. He brought a box of "stuff" with him. There is one part of me that wants to just shut the box and stick it on the top of the closet with other stuff I don't want to throw away, and yet that box contains my grandparents' wedding picture (only very slightly flood damaged), my parents' wedding picture (there is a good one in there) my parents' high school graduation photos, pictures of the last family reunion before my paternal grandmother died and more. He even gave me back all the pictures of my kids I've given them through the years. Also, mom (who hated hand sewing) made Christmas stockings for each of us kids, and somehow I've ended up with most of them--flood damaged as they are. I hate to throw them away, and yet I wonder what to do with them. Do I keep them in a box for my kids to find one day and wonder about? How many pictures can I hang on a all before it is too many? If I hang them on the wall they are enjoyable, but if I put them and the other photos in a large plastic box, it will be easy to grab and evacuate with. What do I do with family memorabilia?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

My Baby is Gone!

My baby is gone. She is lost forever. I'll never see her again. Today her curls were cut. She now looks like a little girl, not like a baby.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Special People Came to Dinner

When I started dinner tonite, I started thinking about my last post. I decided that those dishes aren't giving me much pleasure sitting in the cabinet. I was off work today because my sitter is, so I got home about 4:30 (had to pick up my son from school)and figured my husband would get home about 6:00. This gave me plenty of time to get dinner on the table and I decided to use my grandmother's dishes. I figured that we had enough of a head start on homework that I could take the time to hand wash them. When the kids saw the table they asked why I had the fancy dishes out. I replied "some very special people are coming to dinner". The first guess was "Grandpa" and I replied that they were the most special people in the world to me. The dishes survived the dinner without mishap and clean up took only a little longer than usual. I'll have to have those special folks to dinner some other day.

Two Sets of China

I have two sets of china, one new, one used. Had I made a different choice, I could have two sets of new china. Ok, the new sets aren't really new. One is the set I got when I got married 17 years ago. It has probably been used about 17 times, maybe less. The other "new" set is almost 50 years old and was my mother's. It looks like it just came out of the box--and why not? I'm sure it was used less than 50 times. However, I don't have that set, my sister does. Instead, I have a set that is over 50 years old, that was my grandmother's. I'm not sure when she got it, but it was after she got married, and before my mother did. It is definitely a used set though. Even though those dishes have never seen the inside of a dishwasher, the gold trim is wearing off in spots. A few of the dishes have been carefully glued back together. Yes, Grandma used her good dishes. I didn't live near her, so I don't know exactly when she used them. She didn't use them when the family with five kids visited but I'll bet she used them when the card club came over.

Looking at the dishes got me thinking about the differences in our life styles now and then. When Grandma and Grandpa had "company" they brought out the good stuff. They dressed up, and so did the company. Grandma cooked special food and served it on the good dishes. Their friends returned in kind. Today we don't have "company" we have our friends come over. We pull out the paper plates and cups we write people's names on. We do potluck or pick up party trays from the grocery store. Everyone dresses casually. Part of it is just a change in lifestyle in general--I don't dress up to go grocery shopping like my mom did and the only reason my kids have "school clothes" and "play clothes" is that they wear school uniforms. On the other hand, my grandmother treated company like they were special, whereas today we say "don't go to all that trouble for me" (because I'm not special?) so I guess one of my daughters will inherit some "new" china and one a definitely used set.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


My daughter's Girl Scout troop, along with other troops from our parish, went camping this weekend. I've known a lot of the leaders for several years now. While the troops I led were not parish girls, the school was in the same service unit, meaning neighborhood, as our parish and we did activities with them regularly. We were talking about how we got dragged into being leaders--some were recruited by other volunteers, others (like me) were recruited by our daughters. Looking at that group it struck me how most of us had every reason not to volunteer--with only one exception, we are working moms with more than one child. The one exception is the lady who was running the show. I know she helps her husband with his business, but she doesn't work full time. However, she raised four kids and now often babysits the profoundly handicapped daughter of one of them. Besides the Girl Scouts, she is active in the Boy Scouts, she teaches religion in our parish and is the parish babysitter on Sunday morning (and my baby loves her). I'm one of those people who suffers from "helium hand" and have at times found myself overcommitted; yet my life would be so much less without these things I do. I know not everyone is called to do everything, but I think most of us are called to do SOMETHING for those outside our little circle.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Cardinal Vices

Our parish recently got a new Parochial Vicar. He also teaches at the seminary. Today at mass he talked about the cardinal vices, which I learned in high school English as the seven deadly sins. He talked like a teacher, sometimes touching briefly on another subject--he mentioned that the cardinal virtues also exist--and saying "and we'll talk about that some other day". He was enjoyable to listen to and said that "for homework, consider which of these sins give you the most trouble, and if you say none do, you are lying". In case you don't remember your high school English class (or whatever religion class may have covered them) those seven sins are:

Pride: The root of most of the rest of them. Can be expressed as "never being wrong", having a "superiority complex" or an "inferiority complex".

Envy: Wanting what others have--usually money, physical atributes or fame

Anger: Not always sinful, has to be properly channeled. Sleep on it, rather than acting in anger. Don't take it out on loved ones.

Lust: Treating people like objects to be used for your own pleasure. Hard to overcome; for some people will be a constant struggle.

Gluttony: Using food to fill a void that God should fill.

Sloth: Not doing what we need to do. Doesn't mean we must avoid proper rest and recreation.

Greed: We need to look out for those less fortunate than ourselves. Having nice stuff isn't necessarily bad though.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Interfering Mother?

One of the hardest things for me as a mother has been deciding when to interfere, and when to back off and let my kids take a fall, or have to grow because I'm not there to handle the problem. It is especially hard regarding my son because he isn't normal, his problems aren't normal nor are his reactions. Some things I've had to accept. I've had to accept that getting through a normal school curriculum means he is going to spend his evening doing homework, with me supervising, closely. I know that one day he'll have to make it on his own, but I've decided that "one day" will be after high school. I know we spend more time on homework than most kids do, so I'm hesitant to criticise homework assignments. Tonite, however, I did. Exams are Thursday and Friday. His school is on a 4 by 4 block, which means they take four classes each semester, so in essence, this isn't a 9 weeks test but a semester exam (in terms of material covered). He has two on Thursday and two on Friday, and he gets out of school at 11 on Thursday and Friday. Yesterday (Monday) he came home with his old tests to study in 3/4 classes. I've been leaving voice mail messages and emailing the teacher in the other class for another reason, but I'll call him again tomorrow, but I digress. Yesterday he also came home with a research assignment--to write a two page, single spaced 12 point font paper on one of several Roman emperors. I just copied a bunch of text, pasted it into a word processing document and made it 12 point type, single spaced, two pages long. It was over 1000 words. When I was in high school a 1000 word paper was ten hand-written pages long and was considered a TERM paper, and you had several weeks to finish it. This paper is due tomorrow. We worked on it for an hour last nite. The lesson plan says they worked on it in class today (but I saw no evidence of that) and we worked on it for an hour tonite (and are up to about 300 words) before I called it quits and said it was time to study for exams. I emailed the teacher and told him that his assignment basically made my son choose between studying for exams or writing his paper. I just don't get it.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Girl Scouts, The Easy Way

My daugher joined a new Girl Scout troop tonite. She has been in GS for four years already, with me as the leader. This year I said no. She is out of elementary school,I don't have time for it, and there weren't many girls left in the troop. I said she could join another troop if we could find one. We did, it is one from my parish. Most of the girls attend or have attended the parish school, but she has met them at service unit activities. I said I'd help, and I registered, but I'M NOT THE LEADER, I DON'T HAVE TO GO TO ALL THE MEETINGS AND I DON'T HAVE TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR GETTING STUFF THERE. I did volunteer to be cookie mom, and we are going camping in a couple of weeks, and I'm going to that. Hey, I know what's fun.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

You are so lucky!

Today I was told how lucky I am. Someone I work with gave birth to her first child, a beautiful little girl, about nine months before I had my baby. Somehow the topic of kids came up and she said "You are so lucky to have been able to have your baby". She is a couple of years younger than I am, but has been told that she is no longer fertile. Interesting food for thought after yesterday's post.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Open to Life?

Sunday was Respect Life Sunday. My pastor is big on life issues and spoke about them, touching on contraception, abortion and care of the elderly among other things. He said that God loves to create human life, but needs the cooperation of husbands and wives. Reflecting on that has gotten me reflecting on my own life recently.

I'm 45 years old, the mother of three, ages 14, 11 and 2. Guess which pregnancies were planned by me, and which one was planned by God? I love my baby dearly and in a lot of ways, I'm glad I have her, but I'd be lying if I said I never thought about how life might have been without her (or if she'd shown up a little closer to the other two). I've always enjoyed babies and my first positive thought when I found out I was pregnant with the baby was that I would get to nurse another baby. However, I told my husband when I had her that while I couldn't promise him I'd never want another baby (he was a lot more attached to the idea of two kids than I was) I could absolutely positively guarantee him that I NEVER wanted to be pregnant again.

What does that have to do with recent life? Well, one of the joys of getting older is that clockwork cycles aren't always clock-like anymore. My cycles had started to get irregular before the baby, and getting tired of waiting them out led to her. Last month we took a chance once, and then my period didn't come, and didn't come, and didn't come--but the second line never showed up on the pregnancy test either. However, I did worry a lot. Couple this with getting some bug that made me nauseous and I was less than happy. The thought of another pregnancy almost had me in tears. One Sunday I was in bed trying sleep off that stomach bug and the phone rang. It was a friend who was calling to tell me that another friend, about my age, who has a son who is 14, was pregnant. I was elated, because I knew my friend had been trying to have a baby for a LONG time. I started wondering why I couldn't be elated at the idea of me having another baby. Unfortunately my friend lost her baby, and fortunately, I've learned that I am defintely NOT pregnant. I just thought it was interesting that those things happened about the same time, and wondered if Someone is trying to tell me something.

Monday, October 02, 2006


There, I've said it. I'm a bad parent, I don't want to put forth the effort necessary to see that my children are well-educated. I'm lazy. I'd rather do so many things in the evening other than supervise homework and studying. However, it seems that some experts don't see me as so bad--they too see a point of diminishing returns on homework.

I'll be the first to admit that if I had given school more effort, I could have done better. I was the classic underachiever--the National Merit finalist who did not graduate with honors from high school, and who every year of high school had a class that kept me from the honor roll. Now, they weren't blow-off classes, but they were certainly classes I could have mastered with more effort. It is difficult to get A's and B's in Latin, Chemistry and Trig without studying or homework, especially if, as was the case with chemistry and trig, I had a lousy teacher. All that being said, I think that had I spent an hour a nite regularly on homework and studying, I would have done fine. My kids however, who leave for school earlier than I did, and get home later, often have much more than an hour of homework, especially my son, who has problems that make homework even more time-consuming than it is for normal kids. While my daughter usually manages to finish hers without a problem, last week she had to finish it on the bus, since religion class cut into homework time. I'd like to find some sort of activity in which to involve my son, but he just doesn't have time after homework most nites. Why so much homwork so often?

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