Boom

*January: The world slips down the slushy slope of Seasonal Affective Disorder, and we write our feelings. If it’s bad enough, we stop writing. I am shockingly un-depressed. Thank you, God, and what?

*Cisco is building a toy box in the basement, and Snert is sliding across the ice rink with the neighbors.

*We have an ice rink. Cisco did it, and it takes up our whole back yard, and what with all the snow this Winter there has been a lot of shoveling up in here. One night we got home after midnight, and I tucked Snert in bed, went out back and shoveled with the moon. I could hear the snow fall, and not much else. Cisco came out and helped. He swirled in tight loops, giggling like a six-year-old, while I shoveled in neat little rows. Marital personality switching – what new surprises?

*Don’t we love a new year? So much unknown. What fresh horrors this year, Lord? What gifts? Last year brought three surgeries (me), two failed adoptions, one breast cancer scare and no pregnancies. Looks terrible on paper, doesn’t it? We’re doing fine, though. Huh!

*Dinner-making apathy has reached new lows. I love food. I even like to cook a lot of the time. But it’s gotten to that January place of “What wodge of ground beef/italian sausage/Frozen Fatty Thing did I forget to thaw today?” Soups and stews sound uninspired, and salads insufficient. More and more often I think of the “olden days”, when people had to make it through eight or more months of the year on things like corn meal, salt pork, and old potatoes (can you tell that my only resource is Laura Ingalls Wilder books?). “It could be so much worse” is an invaluable mind trick, even if it is screwed up. I have it so good.

*Still sick of making dinner, though.

*I am stalled half-way through Anna Karenina. I want to like it, and Tolstoy is wonderful wise about people, but Anna is such a drip. Plenty of the other characters are fascinating, though.

*Two of my nephews make me laugh a lot. One of them just turned three, and he calls me Aunt Roses, and his mittens his “fittins”. The other (from a different family) says “I’m two and I’m huge,” by way of introduction. Weird, awesome little people.

I hope you laugh today.

For The Hard Days

Today isn’t a hard day, by they way, so no sturm und drang. It’s better that way. But on those days that are hard, for they will come and come again, I want to tell you about something that gives me comfort. I don’t know the origins of this practice – someone told me about it months ago, and I’ve been wanting to pass it along. It goes like this: On a hard day, or any day, see if you can make it to mass. If you can’t physically make it, direct your heart to the nearest tabernacle. At the offertory, put your struggles on the sacred vessels. Put your whole heart there. Watch as they’re carried up to the altar. Watch as the newly consecrated Precious Body of Christ is placed back down on them.

That’s all. You don’t have to feel anything. It’s less about your sacrifice, anyway, and more about knowing that the deepest needs and desires of your heart are right there next to Him.

(On a related note, there’s a story about St. Josemaria Escriva that I love. I think it was when he was staying at the home of a bishop during the Spanish Civil War. He was praying alone in the chapel, and there were some newly-consecrated sacred vessels on the altar. He went up and kissed each one, so that the first time Jesus arrived there He would be met with love.)

I hope today isn’t a hard day for you, but I’ll put your needs there with mine, whoever you are. And I don’t mean this to be preachy – yeah right – I just think it’s beautiful.

I Did Not Know That

“The Worst Case Scenario Survival Game” may have to become a regular feature around here. It’s both entertaining and helpful. For example:

How To Foil A UFO Abduction

A. Never travel alone in the woods. No UFO abduction has ever involved more than seven people.

B. Dress like a tourist and carry cameras and a map. Appear willing to go with the aliens.

C. Focus your thoughts toward the alien. Tell it, “Leave me alone. Go away, I have a virus.”

I did not make any of that up. The correct answer (in bold) is C, by the way. If I had met an alien before I read that I would have been all, “See my cameras and map! I am a tourist! Take me to the mothership.” Close one.

 

Wednesday Things

It’s one of those dark mornings, when the night never really ends. It’s good and thundery out, and the rain can’t make up its mind whether or not it cares. It spits or pours on the debris in our back yard – Snert’s bike (oops), the roller skate in the rose bush, bats and things.

Inside, we’re cozy. I’ve had my two cups of coffee, snug in my chair. Snert is finally up, banging doors. I don’t know if there’s much in life that’s more pleasant than a morning started off right. I see us spending the rest of it in front of the fire, reading our favorite books and dreaming about the Spring that’s just under ground. I know it is.

But we don’t have a fireplace, and I get so lazy about reading.

Here’s to the infinite possibility of the day just begun – the peace and warmth inside when it’s booming outside. A metaphor for the soul, what?I hope so, anyway.

I’m so glad to have a home.

Memory

For our first date, Cisco took me to Greek town for dinner. He was a dreamboat, so my busting excitement combined with a deep fear of eating-related mishaps (spitting in his face, choking on my own spit, fork missing my mouth, mouth full when asked a question, need I go on?) meant that I could hardly swallow. (Never one to keep things simple, it was also important to me that I not be one of those girls who eats like a bird. (Because that would be a lie, because I’ve never eaten like a bird, or even a small flock of them. Lay off me, I’m starving.))

Even with all of this Very Big Drama, I made it through the meal just fine. Cisco pulled out his stud moves and ordered flaming cheese for an appetizer. That’s about all I remember. Also, he brought me yellow roses, and we were like two years old.

That night comes back to me now and again, and brings with it a mix of emotions: relief that I don’t have to go on first dates any more, embarrassment over being such a spazz, and horror at the pig-dog way I eat now. Yeah, that’s what this is about.

When we were engaged some friends were telling us about the perks of marriage, things like, “you get so comfortable with each other you can go to the bathroom with the door open!” For the record, that is a lie. I have not I will not. That thought strikes me with the same level of disgust today as it did then (but to each his own or whatever?). We don’t need to “go” together, we don’t need to clip our nails together, and we should not eat like a barnyard animal. Me, I shouldn’t. Cisco’s table manners are super.

It’s this eating together every night for years… I forget. You know food amnesia? It’s like road amnesia – when you’re driving a car and suddenly you realize that you don’t remember the last ten miles – except with dinner. You’re spacing out, wondering how long that one chandelier shade has had those weird stains all over it, when your eyes shift back into focus and you realize that you’re hunched over your empty plate um… panting. You look up to see Dearly Beloved staring at you, pale and dead-eyed. Time stands still. You swallow.

He smiles weakly, but it’s too late.

It’s too late.

(Music swells and the lights dim as she breaks into poignant but commanding ballad. Scene.)

Conversations With My Phlebotomist

She’s tapping my veins and looking at me suspiciously. “Why do you keep coming in here?”

“I’m having my progesterone tested and I have to have multiple draws to figure out what it’s doing during my cycle.”

“Why?”

“Well, PMS mostly.”

“No way. That’s a real thing? I thought that was just something men made up!”

“Um no, it’s real. Either that or I just have a bad personality. Ha ha.”

“Well, I didn’t want to say it. So, what does your husband say?”

“….?”

Come on. He thinks it’s awesome, lady. He thinks it’s the flipping best.

I guess it wasn’t bad as the time before that, though, when she told me, in graphic detail, about the murder of her husband’s friend.

“… So they don’t even know how long he was lying there with his head beat in before they found him.” Slaps a bandaid on my arm, “You’re all set!”

“Um, thanks… sorry about… the murder.”

I don’t know. It bothers me when conversations don’t have a normal resolution.

Say What Now?

Cisco and Snert were playing “Worst Case Scenario Survival Game” yesterday. It’s a game made for Cisco – basically like Trivial Pursuit for out-doorsy types. You get a question and three answers to choose from. This has just recently become a game one of us can play with Snert, because he is a new reader, and I love hearing him sound out words like “buh-bonic plagoo” and “con con con taminated”.

Anyway, Snert was reading a question to Cisco – something about how to treat a sore lower back.

“Number one: Stretch it out and put ice on it. Number two: Lie on your back in bed, and don’t move for four whores.”

 

“Um, Hours?” says Cisco.

 

 

“Everybody’s Ready For a Hug”

Snert just told me this, arms outstretched. Sounds good to me, dude. Even if your nose is way crusty and you smell like old hay because I never bathe you. Sounds pretty dang good.

One of my life’s goals is to be a hugger. Either hugging just isn’t in my Irish nature, or it is in my nature, and I’ve stifled it for too long. Die coldness. Get over yourself, stiff one. Welcome Spring, love expressed, joy re-found! Again. Again.

I think people who hug generously are either terribly brave, or deeply assured of how loved they are by the One Who Hugs First.

Also, you know. People are waiting on you.

Everybody’s ready for a hug.

 

Rose Tells Christmasly

Quicktakes! Am trying to get back on the writing horse, and this seems just about my speed.

1. I just got back from the awesomest little toy/train-hobby shop, where I dug through Schleich animals (look at the teeny weeny seven-dollar falcon!) and drooled over playmobil scenes. Once Snert told me “Mom, you’re not very good at Playmobil. Dad is better.” I guess I wanted to arrange spears and knives, and fluff plastic plants, and he wanted to shoot stuff at stuff. Whatever, dude. 

So I got him some more Playmobils?

Snert's the very pious brown blur.

Christmas Pageant. Snert’s the very pious brown blur.

2. Speaking of Snert, who does actually like me, what’s your take on this? We were introduced to Angry Birds recently, and I went through a pretty addicted phase. (My advice to you in this situation: push through it and play ALL the time. Eventually it gets old, but I think you have to log a certain number of hours first.) Anyway, one time things got pretty heated and I said “This game hates me!”

“Mom,” Snert laughed. “The game doesn’t even know you’re a girl.”

IMG_0773_3

3. Well shit, does Santa know?

4. A week or so ago I cut Snert’s hair (“I hate haircuts! This is the worst!”). I think a hair got stuck in my clothes somewhere around my hindquarter region, and it started poking me while I was wandering the never-ending toy aisles of Target. So I started walking weird to avoid the poking, which made my sciatica flare up, which made me limp more, which made me leave the store angry and without toys.

Have just realized that I’ve become a mean old man. I wonder how long until Cisco notices.

And now you’re dumber for having read that. Merry Christmas.

o, holy lego ship

o, holy lego ship

5. This is one of those chill-the-heck-out Christmases for me, and I really like it. I feel like the more I relax about stuff the more Advent… comes to me, in a way. It’s like when you’re trying to get a baby to sleep and they can smell your desperation, as opposed to those times when you more-or-less ignore them and hark! they konk out right away.

I got our Advent wreath out late, I didn’t do a Jesse tree, our calendar came late, and we did not sing “O Come, Immanuel” before dinner even once. I am not sending Christmas cards or putting lights up outside. On the flip-side, Snert and I have talked more about Christmas than years before, and I’m taking every opportunity to have a cocktail with Cisco, a friend, the Christmas tree… And the other day when Snert and I were looking at a church’s very large Nativity Scene he said, “Do you want to say a decade of the Rosary?” So we did. It’s one of my best Advent moments ever, I think, and I didn’t do anything to make it happen.

If you’re feeling like Advent blew by, and you didn’t do enough liturgical, crafty, memory-makingish things, I get it. But don’t beat yourself up over it. The shepherds probably didn’t bring much to the new Baby. They just showed up. I can do that.

IMG_0776

6. Now that Yoda has spoken, I want to tell you about Something Awful: we are getting a dog. I don’t know when or what kind, and I don’t really want to talk about it any more. I’ll be happy to make the boys happy. No, I won’t think it’s cute. It might as well be a toad with like… dandruff in its mustache.

IMG_0774_3

That is cute. (Cisco in first-or-so grade.)

7. The whining for “Yogurt! Juice! Snack! Parcheesi!” has commenced, right on the nose. It is that magic hour when children become insanely loud and ravenously hungry, and Moms chuckle lovingly and skip around the kitchen in a whirl of inspired dinner-making. Or shove left-overs in the oven and reach for the vodka and cranberry juice.

Ok, off to feed the loving family. God bless you all!

"Don't put me on the internet."

“Don’t put me on the internet.”

Today

I have a kindergartener who came home from school on Friday.

I have a warm(ish) house.

I had coffee in the glow of the Christmas tree early this morning. Just me and Him.

I have a husband who loves me.

I have sisters.

I have dear dear friends. (I have social awkwardness, too, but that’s not such a big deal when there are real friends, is it?)

I have a little boy who, for a little while longer, is blissfully unaware of how sad the world can be. He’s just looking forward to his Christmas pageant like those other little saints should be.

Today there is music.

There will even be some joy, I bet.

IMG_0736

My sister, who has her own blog (you really should stop by – so funny, and awesome photography), posted this poem. Go read it.

So many thoughts and prayers for everyone affected by the attack in Connecticut, and for all of you.