Monday, April 21, 2014

"And just like the prodigal son, I've returned. Anyone stepping to me you'll get burned..." Not Really.

I can't believe it's been a whole fracking year since I've updated this blog. But you know what? I'm not going to sweat it. The moment I turn something into a chore, the less likely I am to work hard at it. Just take a look at the ever-growing pile of dishes in my sink. Well, you won't be able to do that, will you? And I will provide no photographic evidence of that eye-sore either, so just use your imaginations.

I'm glad I was away. It's given me a bit of perspective. Over the course of this hiatus, which I hadn't planned by the way, I was even tempted to just kill off this blog, and start fresh. But I've decided to keep it, as flawed as it is. 

Today is Easter Monday, and I think it's fitting that I decided to come back on and "resurrect" this blog today. There's been a lot of growth, and some stagnation. (Um, perhaps I should switch the order of those to some growth and a lot of stagnation). The growth was mostly internal, while the stagnation was blatant and public enough for all to see. Don't you hate when that happens?

Rather than blather along endlessly, I'll refrain from sharing any full, meandering sort of update. That will come later, I'm sure. For now, I just want to wish you all a very blessed Easter!




Friday, March 29, 2013

It's Good Friday

I love Good Friday. Even my nominally Catholic side of the family observed this day in a solemn way. We weren't allowed to turn on the television, or listen to music. Silence, albeit not strict silence, was encouraged. There was no fasting. That was a foreign concept, although we did abstain from meat. Nearly every Friday of Lent, we'd have bacalao (salted cod) over white rice. These practices were actually quite incredible now that I think of it, considering we weren't really observant. My parents were fairly anti-Catholic, or rather, anti-clergy. My Dad often lamented the treatment he had received at the hands of nuns back when he attended Catholic school in Cuba. My Mom toed the line, right along with him. We didn't attend mass. Well, occasionally on Easter, and sometimes even midnight mass (Misa de Gallo, i.e., "Rooster's Mass"). I did however, attend Catholic school myself, up until half-way through the fifth grade. There was some issue involving my teacher that I can't fully recall, and my Mom had had it. I was promptly transferred out and started to attend public school a block away. That kind of marked the end of any external religious formation for me, for a few years at least.

As a child, I had a keen awareness of God, although it did little to keep me away from trouble. It seemed like I was always in some kind of trouble between the ages of 5 and 10. I was the child that was kept after school nearly every day of the week, only the punishment often backfired because I really loved school then. And I loved having the chance to actually write on the chalkboard, my teachers' chosen punishment. Of course, I'd be writing things like, "I will not talk in class," or "I will not disrupt the class," at least one-hundred times, but as I did so, I'd pretend that I was actually writing out a lesson, and that for that moment, I was the teacher, and that made me feel grown up and important.

One instance of my getting into trouble stands out more than the others. When I was still attending Catholic school, my best friend Maria Elena and I used to steal away from the rest of the class to sneak into the church to light candles. We'd sneak off a lot, but this time we had an especially good reason. She wanted to light a candle for her little sister who was ill. Completely ignoring the candle donation sign, we went along lighting candles, thinking that if we lit ten or twenty, we'd certainly get better results than if we lit just two. I had no concept of time back then. Some may argue that I still don't. But we must have been "missing" for a lot longer than I realized. I can't even imagine my mother's terror at not finding me with the others in my class. Eventually, it was realized that Maria Elena was missing as well, and of course by then, the tension was doubled with two frantic mothers, instead of one. We were, of course, eventually found. My mother was simultaneously irate and relieved, although I only acknowledged the anger. But she couldn't stay mad for long. We were only about six or seven, and we were so resolute in our desire to pray for Maria Elena's little sister. My Mom was touched enough to let it go.

Some time later, my friend's little sister died. She called me on the phone shortly after it happened. I hadn't realized how unwell she had been. The whole idea of children dying came as a shock. That doesn't happen. That can't happen! But we lit candles and everything! It was an early harsh lesson in the reality that not all prayers are answered, at least not in the way we'd like, and no matter how noble the intention.

Fast forward many years, and I still have faith, despite by now being so accustomed to my prayers not being answered the way I'd prefer them to be. And yes, I do sometimes admit to despair. But I tend to direct a lot of the blame onto myself. If only I wasn't so distracted in prayer. If only I was more steady and deserving. If only I really felt the words I was saying.

And then came the Seven Sorrows Rosary.

The traditional rosary is the devotion we commit to praying daily, and I'm in no way belittling it. In fact, I love it. I love praying it. It brings me peace and comfort. Generally, however, I think it's good to mix things up, and keep things fresh by exploring other devotions. Despite having a Seven Sorrows Rosary and book handy for a few weeks, I had neglected to pray it until just this week, at the prompting of a friend. She had just shared how a long time prayer intention of hers was answered almost immediately after starting it. Now, I don't really have a current pressing intention. In fact, I'm awfully guarded with my intentions. I often feel that I'm only entitled to request help for things that are completely out of my control...issues having to do with the health and safety of family and friends. But everything else? I often feel those are completely up to me. I may ask for peace of mind, wisdom, encouragement, and strength in order to work towards the changes I seek, but I don't ever expect not to work hard for these things. I'm also seldom, if ever, specific. For instance, it wouldn't be like me to pray for a new job. Instead, I'd pray for more diligence. Huh, it just occurred to me in writing all of this, that perhaps I'm going about things the wrong way, although I know that God understands my petitions despite my inadequate attempts to communicate them. That's actually a very comforting thought for me.

Anyway, back to the Seven Sorrows Rosary. I prayed it for the first time this week, and it was extremely moving. While I knew and understood that Mary's suffering had to have been great, reading reflections on her seven sorrows was almost too much to bear. For the first time, I was able to really experience the events of Jesus' life from her perspective, and I found myself crying more than once. As a parent, I lie awake at night worrying about my kids' futures, but my worries are based on just anxiety and speculation. Mary, on the other hand, already knew what was to happen to her Son. It wasn't conjecture. It was prophesied. The very first sorrow is the Prophecy of Simeon given at the time of the presentation at the temple when Jesus was just an infant, when Mary is told that a sword will pierce her soul, too. The second sorrow is the Flight to Egypt. Imagine having to flee your home due to a threat against your infant son's life. Imagine the pain of seeing your child moved in what weren't the best conditions, knowing all the while that your child is God incarnate. And imagine the pain a mother would feel at learning of the murder of so many children at Herod's hands, knowing full well that it was her child he was after.

And the third sorrow, the Child Jesus Lost in the Temple, wasn't all that difficult to imagine, for obvious reasons. It was easy to transport myself back through time, back to my own mother's experience of having lost me for those agonizing few minutes, which I'm sure felt like hours to her. I can't even fathom the fear she would have felt if it was for a day or longer.

It wasn't my intention to list all of the sorrows here, but I may as well do so. Here they are, from the beginning:

1. The Prophecy of Simeon; Luke 2:25-35
 

2. The Flight into Egypt; Matthew 2:13-15

3. The Child Jesus Lost in the Temple; Luke 2: 41-50

4. Mary Meets Jesus Carrying the Cross; Luke 23: 27-29 *There is no specific biblical reference for this. This sorrow corresponds with the Fourth Station of the Cross, but we can refer to the private revelations of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich in this case.

5. Mary at the Foot of the Cross; John 19: 25-30
 

6. Mary Receives the Body of Jesus; *No scriptural reference, but there are accounts from visionary saints such as St. Bridget of Sweden, and Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich. This sorrow also corresponds with the thirteenth Station of the Cross. 
 

7. Mary Witnesses the Burial of Jesus; Luke 23: 50-56.

Our Lady of Kibeho

I used the meditations and prayers that were printed in Immaculée Ilibagiza's book on Our Lady of Kibeho. I have since learned, that apparently, there is some variance in how to pray it. Ultimately, I don't think it should matter which instructions you follow, provided you start with the Sign of the Cross, an Act of Contrition, then three Hail Marys for the tears shed by Our Lady (some sites I saw recommend reserving these three Hail Marys for the end), and then start meditating on the mysteries in order, following each one by an Our Father, and seven Hail Marys. The rosary ends with a short prayer you repeat three times. I've seen at least two versions of this. One is from the Kibeho book, and it goes, "Mary who was conceived without sin and suffered for us, pray for us." Another end prayer I found online goes, "Virgin Most Sorrowful, pray for us." Again, this final prayer is repeated three times. End with the Sign of the Cross. According to the visionaries in Kibeho, Rwanda, Our Lady asked that this rosary be prayed on Tuesdays and Fridays. This devotion has a very clear penitential aspect, and it is particularly well-suited, I think, for a day like today.

Here's yet another version I found online that is particularly helpful, complete with meditations, and background information on the history of this devotion, as well as the promises associated with the faithful recitation of it.

Let me know if you get to pray this rosary. It has brought me such a sense of peace, and has allowed me such an amazing window into the sorrows of Our Lady. I would love to hear if it has done the same for anyone out there reading this.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Cabin Fever

What is it about this time of year anyway? I feel like I'm pulling teeth. Everyone is spent, and going all non co-op on me. Things that should take ten minutes, are taking an hour or more, and to make matters worse, my allergies have made me crabby. I find myself just about to snap at someone, only to be unceremoniously interrupted by a dozen or so sneezes. I'm no real winner here either, as my efficiency levels have been gradually waning since about two weeks into winter, so a fair amount of my crabbiness is directed at myself. But I'm finding that even the tiniest things can set me off lately, like this new "thing" about naming every single winter storm. Apparently, winter storm Virgil is now brewing. I mean, what is the criteria for naming these things anyway? Names only make them seem more ominous. Maybe that's what they're after...making everyone paranoid, fearing power outages as extreme as those we had during Sandy. Once a storm is forecasted, it's like everyone goes into survivalist mode. Stores are wiped clean of water, milk, bread, and duct tape. My mother is always the first to call, pleading with me to stock up on water and toilet paper (???) for the kids' sakes. I don't know how best to stock up anyway. I've got a twelve year old son, and his appetite has reached astronomical proportions. There is nary an item I can buy in bulk that isn't consumed or devoured in a day or two, rendering us all completely unprepared by storm day two or three.

So anyway, yes, we've had cabin fever for weeks now. I thought that we could remedy a bit of the frustration we were all feeling by starting up my husband's Netflix gift subscription. What would work better to distract us from this abysmal weather than streaming movies over the net? We were so proud of ourselves for having thought to give him a three month trial subscription for Christmas, but he held onto the codes for a lot longer than we had hoped. His reasoning was that he wanted to have a list handy of all of the films he wanted to watch. I figured I'd write my own list, too. Finally, the pressure was too great, so he succumbed to starting it up a couple of weeks ago. And let me tell you, I was completely and utterly uninformed about what Netflix was really like. I naively thought that I could watch just about everything on it. As I used the search function to check for the films on my list, I was met with one disappointment after another. Not one of the films I wanted to watch was even on there. Mind you, we just have the Instant Watch part of the package. So there was no watching A Man For All Seasons, Bella, Some Kind of Wonderful, Neverending Story, Grosse Pointe Blank, and a number of other titles I had been itching to watch. I felt like a big dope. It just really never occurred to me that 1) these wouldn't be on there, and 2) that the current shows and films on there would eventually expire and be replaced. That said, I did manage to watch some stuff I've enjoyed, namely season one of Downton Abbey. Of course, Netflix doesn't have season two, nor are they like to. Apparently, Amazon has an exclusive deal on Downton going forward. So of course, now I'm coveting Amazon Prime.

Off to rally the troops, and pull some more teeth. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Thursday Reflection

So yesterday, my husband and I took the kids to a talk given by Immaculee Ilibagiza, a survivor of the Rwandan holocaust. You may catch a bit of her story in the following video:


Her talk was heart-wrenching, as you can imagine. But she was funny as well, which was such a welcome gift considering the heaviness of the topic. And by the end of it, I had felt that I had just gotten off of a roller coaster of emotion. Crying in parts, laughing in others. In short, I felt bipolar, and exhausted from all of the BIG feelings.

And I choked. I choked back tears, and only barely avoided the the ugly cry...in public no less. But then when it came to the book signing part, I choked again, but in a different way. While on line to see her, I played out what I would say, how I wished her signature to be personalized and addressed to our family, how impressed I was with her strength and clarity. Basically, ALL THE THINGS. I can be very articulate *in my head.* Then before I knew it, I was up. And my husband, my safety net for such situations, was busy off to the side, poised to take a picture, and I was left to remember all the things on my own. The kids were no help. I kind of forgot they existed for a few seconds. All I thought was, "What can I possibly say to someone who has experienced some of the most horrid stuff ever?" This is a woman whose family and friends were wiped out. The horror of that realization hit me hard as I stood there. I felt inarticulate and completely inadequate. I set the books on the table, smiled awkwardly, mumbled something about how I had been following her story for a while now, and thanked her for her talk. I don't even know if she was able to make out a word I said. All I wanted, was to leave and not inconvenience her any further. But she wasn't inconvenienced. As a matter of fact, she was super gracious. And of course she would be. This is also a woman who forgave her family's killers. How more gracious can any person be?

As I picked up my books and turned to go, I saw how she was greeted by the next person in line...with a handshake and a hug. There was a genuine ease to it. Why didn't I think to do that? Gosh, I sometimes feel so totally awkward in my own skin, and boy do I think too much (although you'd likely doubt I thought much at all just a few seconds earlier). And then I realized that I had forgotten to ask her to make out the dedication to my family, and I felt like I had let everyone down. Silly, I know, but this is how my mind works. I was kicking myself over it, too, for a little longer than I care to admit. This of course, led to a lot of teasing from my husband and the kids, which I had a bit of difficulty taking in stride. I felt justified in wallowing a while longer in my guilt. It's like a self-induced period of purgation I have to go through. And of course, the whole thing is silly. There I was worrying about choking just a few minutes after listening to a talk about one woman's harrowing ordeal in surviving the Rwandan Holocaust. What a completely ridiculous juxtaposition! And maybe that realization is what caused me to choke in the first place. What have I ever experienced that can compare to her experiences? The answer: Nothing at all. Yeah, I've got problems. First world problems. In other words, no problems at all.

The talk itself was rather varied. Of course, Immaculee spoke mainly about her ordeal, the loss of her family, and the anger she initially harbored over the violence unleashed on Tutsis by the majority Hutu tribe immediately following the death of the Hutu Rwandan president in a plane crash in 1994. But she also spoke of her faith in God, her dependence on prayer while in hiding, her ultimate acceptance of what happened, and even a bit about the process of getting published.

She spoke of Our Lady of Kibeho, a Marian apparition in the 1980's in Rwanda which she and many others feel prophesied the coming genocide. I hadn't even heard of Our Lady of Kibeho, whose apparitions the Vatican approved in 2001. After the talk, I read through a few of the messages the visionaries received and was taken aback at how precise and accurate these were, particularly in light of what happened afterwards. In Kibeho, Mary appeared as Our Lady of Sorrows, and encouraged the praying of the Chaplet/Rosary of the Seven Sorrows, a devotion that officially took root in the 13th century, even though there is evidence that the devotion played a part in general Catholic piety long before that time. While I had heard of this chaplet (thanks to my handy dandy book on chaplets), I have never prayed it before. I hope to do so this week. So many chaplets, so little time! I've been meaning to start the Chaplet of St. Michael as well, after reading all of the promises associated with that one (An escort of nine angels, one from each choir of angels, when approaching Holy Communion?!?!? How neat is that?!?!?). Thankfully, I was able to pick up a beautiful Seven Sorrows rosary yesterday, too...one made with Job's tears seed beads from Rwanda. How appropriate that they used Job's tears! Anyway, so now I have no excuse to get started.

And in tangentially related news, we are all so grateful to have a new Pope. I am loving everything I'm reading about Pope Francis already. It was actually nice to be at the talk yesterday just after the news came out of Rome. There was something neat about being in a room full of Catholics, all equally excited about having a new shepherd. It was just the right crowd to be among on a day like that. Most of my friends are Cultural Catholics, non-practicing Catholics, or non-Catholics. And some among my acquaintances, and yes, even some family, are fairly anti-Catholic. It's not like I'm used to sharing this sort of religion-related excitement publicly, at least outside of this blog, and an occasional Twitter update, or Facebook status. Often, I refrain from sharing because I feel that I would just be inviting a whole lot of negativity from others. And negativity is something I like to avoid, particularly when it's aimed at something about which I care so deeply. Usually it's just comments like, "When will the Church catch up with the times?" that make my head hurt. I sometimes feel that that's just too large a question to address. I know what I'd like to say, but I'd need an hour to say it. I'd start with something about how God exists outside of time, and how just because we change, that doesn't mean that God's Word changes. And then if challenged with, "But the Church isn't God's word," or,  "Jesus never said this or that," I'd say something like, "But He gave Peter the authority to 'bind and loose'...", and then of course, we'd fall into an argument over papal infallibility, and we'd never be done. Seriously, I feel that it would require too much time and effort to really capture my thoughts on this. Heaven knows just how inarticulate I can be when it comes to getting my points across. And considering that issues as basic as that already dig at my threshold, I am likely doing the right thing by keeping some of these things to myself. Otherwise, I'd monopolize everyone's time, and end up not making a whole lot of sense anyway. But doing that here wouldn't be practical, nor would it be fun...or therapeutic. And I need my therapy.

   

Friday, March 1, 2013

What We've Been Up To...In Pictures

I'm tired of starting off my posts with apologies for sucking so bad at keeping up with this here blog, complete with lofty promises that I'll get better at updating and such. It's just that writing frequently doesn't appear to be something I can do for any extended period of time. For starters, I kind of get tired of hearing myself talk...or in this case, having my often under-developed thoughts read by others. Not a whole helluva lot happens "up there" at times, and nothing makes it all the more obvious then a perusal over my past posts. They never turn out the way I intend them, and then when I finally fall into a groove, life interferes.

So dear reader (yes, singular), I offer a pictorial update of some of the stuff we've been up to. Honesty above all things. And it won't be pretty...

Per usual, I threw myself "whole hog" into another food/diet routine. That of the Green Drink.


That lasted all of a few weeks. Somehow, my Ninja blender didn't work as well as the ones they show on t.v. One glass certainly felt like a meal, what with all of the chewing I had to do. Anyway, the Ninja blender carafe thingy bit the dust, and there ended my Green Drink experiment.

Then I figured, "Well, why not eat vegan?" I had done it before and even managed to lose 36 lb. So I got a whole mess of books out of the library, including this one.


Um, aside from thumbing through it like one would a coffee table book, I used not a single recipe. In my defense, I did manage to eat vegan anyway, but they were my old tired stand-by recipes, like rice and beans and such.

Then we went to a drive-through safari where the animals got super close.


Then Hurricane Sandy came and took with her our power. Boy was it cold. I spent my days like this...


Only I wasn't really smiling all of the time. It was rapidly approaching a state of delirium by day three.

And then came Halloween. We were all going to go as the Five Deadly Venoms. These guys...


But that involved work that was procrastinated upon. And my papier mache skills are lacking. I still haven't quite figured out how to make the masks right. We made something, but they're probably still wet. How long does it take to dry those things? Anyway, next time, if there is a next time, I'll be more prepared.

Turns out that it wasn't a big deal anyhow as Halloween was canceled due to Sandy. Okay, just the trick-or-treating was canceled, but that's like the same thing in my mind.

At least we got to carve pumpkins.


Of course, it didn't occur to me take pictures of them when they were still fresh.

And then came Christmas. My son, who hasn't believed in Santa in years, still puts out a Santa dish with cookies for, um, "Mrs. Claus." That would be me. Notice the pills on there. Those are my vitamins. Gotta love this kid for helping to keep his Momma healthy. And as for the cookies...


These are the gluten free chocolate chip ones from Trader Joe's. Yep, I didn't make any cookies from scratch for Christmas this year. Of course, the flu hit the kids hard on Christmas, so that's my excuse.


One of my favorite Christmas gifts: A felted owl from my daughter number two! The child is a natural with a felting needle.


And then came our decidedly NOT vegan Christmas day meal of Swedish Meatballs. My son has them with quinoa noodles, and the rest of the clan requested potatoes. I froze 218 meatballs. Excessive, yes, but they got eaten over the course of a week. And they left behind a whole lot of extra baggage on me.


It seemed like the kids were sick for-freaking-ever with the flu. Just when I thought they were getting better, one would spike another fever. It was horrible. And they were miserable. When they finally started feeling a bit better, I was just so relieved that I didn't decline when they made repeated requests for me to craft with them. I'm not particularly crafty, and I have to be in the mood to do it. I guess you can say that I'm a reluctant crafter. What often happens is that they ask and ask, I finally succumb, and then just when I'm enjoying myself, they move onto other things, leaving me on my own. That's exactly what happened when they asked me to try needle felting with them. Halfway through this project, they were clamoring for me to play Scrabble.


But I stood my ground, and finished it first.


It's supposed to be the piggy bunny from the You're Beautiful Korean drama.

And then I got my butt kicked at Scrabble by a twelve year old. My son will not play a word unless it garners him at least 20 points. I play for fun, and don't spend more than a minute or two deliberating my next move. But alas, he needed to take his time to rack up those points. About five hours later, the game was over.

Then we had a nice visit with my 25 year-old nephew. He was forewarned that the kids were just getting over the flu, but he was brave and came anyway...delaying one day to give them some extra time to recuperate. We had a nice visit, even though I was starting to feel under the weather by then, too. I am so lucky to have him in my life. He, his sister, and brothers are just fully awesome. How did I get so lucky?

And check out the totally awesome shirt he gave me. I'm actually wearing it right now.


Yes, I'm a browncoat.

We got the girls some knitting and crochet books for Christmas. And seeing as they are both Asiaphiles, I settled on some amigurumi books. These are knitted, but often crocheted, Japanese stuffed dolls. I was more than a little excited about these myself, and I started to make one, too.


He kind of looks like a turtle, or a baby brontosaurus. But he's meant to be a giraffe when he's done. And yes, he's still not done. I've run into a snag with his legs. I keep making legs, and haven't quite gotten them right. Some were crocheted tightly and are smaller than the ones I've crocheted loosely. Gauge isn't just important for sweaters. It's just as important for amigurumi legs as well.

And then there was a wonderful development. The youngest of my children learned to cook something. The girls have been cooking for a while now, but my son hadn't yet attempted anything at all, that is until he requested a cake out of the blue. You can not just spring a cake request at me. I'm not a particularly skilled baker or anything like that, nor do I love cooking. I cook because I have to. It's a very practical skill, and my meals are tasty, but functional and unostentatious. After several requests that failed to drag me away from what I was doing...can't remember what it was, but I probably had my nose in a book, he took matters into his own hands and made this:


A gluten free coffee cake! Yes, he used a box mix, but it was tasty. And it wasn't burnt to a crisp. In fact, it was delicious, and I kind of felt like a heel afterwards, as it was like he was the little red hen and I was the lazy dog.

"Mom, would you help me make a cake?"

"Not, I!" said the dog...er, um, the lazy Mom.

Then fast forward...

"Who would like to help me eat the cake?"

"I will!" said the lazy, opportunist dog...er, Mom.

Moving on... Occasionally, over the past few months, there was actually some schoolwork getting done.



And some slacking off, too.



And then on February 11, as the whole world knows, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he was stepping down.

This gave me some BIG feelings. Some people were shocked at my reaction. Yes, I cried, so sue me. I was asked, "But aren't you happy for him?" Um, yes...but... Just because someone you love and admire  is going off to pursue something else, however positive it is for said person, doesn't mean that you won't miss them, you know?

Then Dr. Scott Hahn forwarded something on Facebook that he had read about how Pope Benedict XVI made two trips to Pope St. Celestine V's tomb and reliquary during his papacy, and that Pope St. Celestine V was the last pope to step down 600 or so years ago. And of course, that piqued my interest. A friend on Facebook mentioned recently having read a book about the former pope and the circumstances surrounding his resignation, and offered to loan me the book. Fast forward a few days later, and guess what I find delivered on my front steps?


My son's godmother had seen my Facebook post and knew of my interest in the topic, so she went ahead and gifted me with a copy of The Pope Who Quit, by Jon M. Sweeney. How neat is that? I have some nice friends, and my son's godmother, S, is the epitome of nice...and awesome.

The book is fascinating. Oh, the intrigue, and oh, the mess that was the middle ages! And we think we have problems!

And last but not least, there was Chinese New Year. We made the trek out to Chinatown again, braved the crowds, but mostly the frigid weather. Thankfully, we dressed in layers. I cannot do without my heat tech tights from Uniqlo. Those were a lifesaver that day. We went with some old friends this time, and had a blast. Had some tasty Chinese food, and finally bought some Kung Fu shoes for my husband and the kids. All in all, it was a good day.


And that is all, and that's the end.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

So Who's Been Spying On Us?

Recently a friend mentioned that television show, "The Middle." At first, I thought she was talking about "Malcolm in the Middle," which I've never seen, but have heard of before. Anyway, what she said about the show piqued my interest, so I caught a few episodes here and there online, and oh my goodness, it was way too familiar. I found myself laughing hysterically more than a few times, and more often than not, it's because I've experienced the same or similar situations in my own life. For those of you out there who have watched the show, you'll realize that there's nothing to be proud of here. Appliances breaking down, sink and tub backing up (ON EACH OTHER)...um, yeah, bathing and washing dishes have to be done with care. Our fridge often refuses to stay shut, so I have to get creative with ways to keep the door from opening. Thankfully, as a homeschooling family, we're never short on items (namely wheeled containers full of supplies) to stick in front of the door. We seldom use our kitchen table for its intended purpose, and it's not because we don't want to, we just can't all fit around it. The last time we tried to have everyone eat at the table, my husband sat on his guitar amp, wedged into a corner between the sink and the air conditioner, and whenever someone had to get up, we all had to get up to move the table, and allow the person out, via chair-stepping no less. Classy.

So yes, there was a lot with which to identify.

Hahaha, and now I just had a flashback to when I was a kid. We'd freak out whenever someone would walk into the bathroom when one of us was showering. And no, we weren't allowed to lock the door. We had one bathroom, none of this 1-1/2 bath business, so we had to remain accommodating, even while showering. Anyway, it always followed that the person showering, would beg the person visiting the john, to please not flush for fear of being scalded to death. It's even a sniglet--thermalophobia! That's actually the only "The Middle"ish type of situation I remember from childhood. Things sort of went downhill since then!

Anyway, as sobering as it was for me to see just how tragically comic such living arrangements and family situations can be, it kind of cheered me up a bit. If anything, I tell myself that living this way builds character. And as for me, either I'll achieve nirvana via the perpetual trying of my patience until I've lost all my worldliness (the little that's left of it), or I'll have an aneurysm at 40.




If this school year has a theme, it’s color coding...


Ever since my kids started homeschooling, or rather, ever since I started schooling more than one child, I have taken to color coding. E was always pink, S was purple, and F was blue. Up until yesterday, the color coding was mainly done in my record keeping. Each kid’s schedules were highlighted in their individual colors. For a while, I did all of my record keeping in just one planner. That was messy, albeit colorful. I briefly tried out a record-keeping software program which didn’t have a color coding option. I’m old school anyway, and preferred writing everything out by hand. So one planner, turned into three, but at least I could color code in them. And yes, that’s an awful lot of writing, and I’m sure that that may seem tedious to many. For me, it’s soothing.

This year, after many many MANY episodes of “this-is-mine-no-this-is-mine,” I decided to color code just about everything—schedules and all school supplies. What couldn’t be purchased in color is initialed. What couldn’t be initialed stays with me. I’m like the keeper of the keys. I’ve debated making my personal stash of supplies available to the kids in a lending library sort of way. Okay, I haven’t really planned on this, but writing it all out makes me wish I’d actually follow through with this idea. After years of homeschooling in a cramped apartment where everything seems to go missing, I’ll hold fast to any idea that gives me a semblance of order.

As usual, each year comes with a whole bunch of new expectations, attempted improvements, and a dose of anticipation. This time it will come with an added bit of color.