Monday, October 14, 2013

brain gum

my missionary son posted a page on his instagram a few days ago.  the words I can read on the page are...

"the second temptation is of a more sinister nature.  the temptation to hate yourself because you have not lived up to your ideal.  that is pride, and it is very dangerous.  it opens the door to much worse things."

I don't know where these words came from.  but I have been thinking about them a lot.


ok, so I came back to add...

I found out where these words come from.  a book called father Elijah: an apocalypse by Michael O'Brien.  it's one of six in a series.  I bought the first three for my guys to read.  catholic fiction?  ok.  we'll try it. 

also, I made a decision today.  I just have to let my guys know.  we're cutting back to one coop this semester.  the inclusive one I started.  we'd been doing the inclusive one since it started, but I also added a Christian coop this semester, so we've been attending Monday afternoons at the new one and Friday mornings at our old favorite.  and it's messing with my schedule.  and since I have such a slippery grasp on things this day, we're going to cut back to the old favorite next semester.  the new one will be an option, maybe next fall.  we'll see where we are.  but it is wearing me out....and I feel pretty worn.  it's a shorter semester at that coop, so we've only got four more weeks to go (whee!!!).  I think we can make it.  I feel so much better now that I've made this decision.  I just have to let everyone else know.  cross your fingers for me, please?

ok, that is all.

peace again

Sunday, October 13, 2013


I read this little prayer awhile back...

lord, help me to horizontally detach and vertically realign.

that's simple...elegant...makes the shapes of a cross...cute...I get it it...POW.  then I really got it.  detach horizontally...from the things that keep me rooted in the the stagnant...sometimes even in the past...and realign vertically...up....toward primary attachment...keep me moving forward and progressing and growing.

so I had my first migraine a month ago.  menstrual migraine, my husband has diagnosed...and I concur.  which left me with some dread.  because I don't know about you, but I menstruate about every four weeks or so.  and that meant this was probably not going to be a one time event, and that I would also know when it was coming (nice for the heads-up, but also cause for some dread).  so, last week, as I noticed I was feeling like everything sucked, and I was kind of hating people I don't normally hate, and I was entirely too focused on myself as the source and cause of everything wrong in the world....I was, as usual, glad to realize my period was probably coming and my attitude would adjust so I didn't have to feel like I really had to DO anything about all of these feelings, AND I also wanted to cry a little because I wondered if I would get another migraine.

I did have a hell of a headache...complete with a little dizziness and nausea and some pretty auras...on Friday afternoon.  so I slept a lot.  and then finally relented and took an Excedrin migraine.  and THAT was a little magical and fantastic.  I made it through Friday night, preparing my house for a huge party of teens and preteens and their families, complete with padded sword making and hot dogs and chili and s'mores.  and I woke up Saturday to no headache, but I had a pretty rough first day of my period with about thirty or so people here, half of them bashing each other with padded swords.  it was lovely and I made it through.  and that felt almost as good as my first half marathon, to tell the truth.  my head was only a little woozy at times, and my legs were only a little cramped this morning from walking so clamped together yesterday (insert dramatic eye roll here).

when I woke up this morning, I had a pretty big headache.  sigh.

I look back at yesterday, and I feel so grateful for such an amazing group of friends.  I start to wonder who I missed, who might be mad that I didn't invite them, and my brain stops working.  "i'm tired," it says, "and i'm not wasting my energy traveling down that stupid road."  uhm, ok.  so then I start thinking about all the funny stuff said, all the smiles...and then I start wondering if I offended anyone without realizing it.  and my brain shuts down again.  "really, I don't have the energy for this shit.  do you want to get a migraine from worrying?  seriously?  is it worth it?"  so I remember the laughing, the playing, the good stuff.

I have learned, in this short experience with migraines, not to depend so much on my own perception of things.  because my hindsight is a little fuzzy, and a lot weighed down at times with a fog of hurt, a fog of exhaustion, a fog of maybe a little confusion.  i'm  just not at the top of my game.  and it's okay.  because I am definitely detaching horizontally.  looking forward.  hoping people can see in my eyes, in my smile, how happy I am to see them.  how much I like them.  even if I can't remember if I actually said any of that to them.

yes, i'll probably end up making a doctor appt soon about these headaches.  just 'cuz.  but I think it's fairly typical and straightforward...especially given how screwed up the women's hormones in my family get around this stage of life.  I do not know how so many people live with migraines, though.  if this much of our population experiences pain like this so regularly, no wonder we're a pain-phobic, stressed out culture.  this is pretty bad. 

peace out

Thursday, October 3, 2013's good

I am better!  hurray!  no more pounding head.  no more aching sinuses.  no more hurty ears or throat.  I can breathe.  I don't have to shove Kleenex up my nose to keep it from dripping everywhere.  and i'm not on any drugs anymore.  unless you count coffee...

this is good.  life is good.

but I have a little detoxing to do in  my head.  like anyone who's been laid up for too long, I have overdosed on internet news.  which kind of sucks these days.  I had a hard time finding a neutral source to learn about the government shutdown.  wiki has become my go-to for that kind of info.  as much as I discouraged my kids from using wiki as a source, there I was, going there for my info.  but all the other sites have this tone of "here's what's going on and if you didn't know it and feel this way about it, you're an unconscionable idiot."  well, if I already KNEW everything, I wouldn't be looking for an article to TELL me what the hell's going on.  I don't need someone to tell me what to THINK...I just need someone to tell me what happened.

so here's the little bit of insight I broke through to while sick... 

we need to worry so much less about being right and think more about doing right.  because I've watched a number of arguments the past week where the facts were barely mentioned, but the insults about intelligence and ignorance were plentiful.  maybe  people are so worried about being right because there is such a blaring absence of facts...and it makes people insecure?  so in an effort to create a sense of security, they're just putting out their opinions and the whole birds of a feather thing is happening?  but to make a strong nation, people have to give up a little bit of personal security to work toward a greater whole?  right?  realize that not everyone in the nation is just like you and may have different needs from you?  I don't know.  I didn't come up with any grand solutions...just the insight that people seem awful focused on being right...even when they know what they're saying is wrong.  reminds me of when my mom kept sending me anti-Obama emails and I kept sending her back the snopes' links that debunked the emails.  she finally got kind of pissed at me and said, "whether or not my emails are true, can't you see the TRUTH?"  hmmm....i'll have to think on that some.

oh, i'll go ahead and go here for a minute...  because I see a lot of catholics struggling with truth lately, too.  pope francis is radically changing how Catholicism is lived.  I see catholics saying, "but he's not changing doctrine!!"  nope, he's not.  but he's certainly changing, by his actions, which doctrines are more important than others...which ones matter the most....what order that stuff is supposed to be lived.  I have more to say about all of that, but I just feel like my republican catholic friends have been having a tough couple of weeks.  and i'm praying for them.  there's this song that we've been rocking out to at church called, "build your kingdom here."  my guys say it sounds like a lumineers song.  there's a line that says, "win this nation back" or something like that.  I feel like so many of my friends are praying for Obama's sudden removal when they pray it.  but i'm hoping more people (and I know there already ARE people like this...I admire them tremendously) can get past whether or not they're right...and work toward a common good...what is right.  not just what supports their ego, but what supports their spirit, too.


Thursday, September 26, 2013


i'm sick.  like, for real.  wth?

I guess it's been awhile.  i'm a little out of practice.  I was so tired yesterday.  and then, when I went to bed, I just laid there.  I prayed.  yes, I do that.  a lot, actually.  it's weird.  like talking to someone with words who doesn't answer in words.  and you have to be still to understand the answer, or else you'll miss it.  and don't make grocery lists in your head, either...that makes it hard to get the answer, too (although, if you're like me, those grocery lists just make themselves sometimes).  last night I prayed for my oldest and his missionary team...for guidance, for courage, for humility.  I prayed for teens who commit suicide and their families and their communities...for healing, for strength, for peace.  I prayed for my nieces who don't really talk to us anymore...for love, for counsel, for wisdom.  I prayed for my husband, for my kids.  I like to say all of my oldest's team members' names, all of my small group of high schooler's names, and then all twenty-five of my middles schooler's names.  that usually wears my brain out.  I prayed for catholics distressed by the mainstream media's coverage of the pope's recent interview...I prayed for those encouraged by it...mostly, I pray for love and healing when it comes to the church.  I prayed for those who hate the president, and I prayed for the president and his family because that seems like a lot of hate to shoulder.  I prayed for a friend whose family has made the decision to put their grandmother in an assisted living place and no longer primarily provide her care because I think that's a brave and difficult and love-filled decision.  I prayed for all moms...because that's a hard job.  then I prayed for dads, because i'm ashamed at how they always come second in my mind, but at least I've got them in there somewhere consistently...  I prayed for my sister and her partner, on their anniversary, and their kids and the family they all make.  I prayed for all teens, because I just think that's such a hard time and I wish them to feel loved by someone who loves completely and perfectly and totally and without expectation.  then I prayed for young adults, because that's also a hard time and I wish them to find confidence in themselves and not get stuck trying to please others, because I believe we all have that voice inside of us that will take us where we're meant to be, if we can only ever find it.  I prayed for myself, too...for health, for selflessness, for trust and surrender.  I prayed for each of my kids...offering up whatever was on my heart for each of them...gratitude, concerns, requests to be open to their individual beauty, or just sitting there letting my perspective be guided or shaped or changed by the God I was praying to. 

last night, it took awhile to fall asleep, so there were lots of prayers.  I still feel pretty junky this morning.  I think a cold has settled itself pretty securely in my sinuses and head.  yesterday, all I wanted to eat were frozen fish filets (gag, right?) with lots of catsup.  today, I feel so hungry but don't want anything.  blah.  i'll try more coffee and a hot shower.  I probably shouldn't try to pop my ear drums to release this crazy, painful pressure in them, huh?  see, I haven't lost all sense.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

words can be powerful...or not

at book club last night, one of the mamas said she hated how when school started and the season changed, it was like everyone got sick and by the end of fall, she was hating all of her activities that get them out in the community that shares its germs and makes them sick.  (I paraphrased.)  she was laughing about it all, but I remember thinking that I never correlate illness with the season.  I think my last fleeting thought, as I got distracted by the next thing, was that my family really had not been sick much this summer.

then I woke up this morning.

I think that friend of mine sent me a little curse...or sick juju...or something.  I hit snooze and snooze and snooze.  I was really working on getting out of bed.   (baby girl's leotards made it in the wash yesterday, but had to be put in the dryer this morning...I had stuffs to do!)  but I could feel my throat swollen.  I kept trying to relax my neck...hoping it was just a muscle cramp I could work out.  but then i'd swallow, and I knew it was no neck cramp.  my head hurts so much this morning.  and i'm a little achy in the joints.  I am hoping Tylenol, ibuprofen, coffee, and some soup later can kick this.  we shall see.  I see an early bedtime in my future.

but...the fourteen year old made his cake yesterday.  with some help.  from all of us.  which is sometimes not as much help as you'd hope.  but he did it.  it was awesome.  we put it in a bundt pan and it ended up looking kind of like a rainbow.  it was super cool.  he was really excited.  I love that kid.

also, our book club book this past month was called the snow child.  and I really loved that book.  it did this incredible job of marrying the real worldliness and the mystical-ness of parenting in unlikely parents...who long so deeply, but find themselves clumsy.  and really, aren't we all clumsy as parents?  some of us just seem more at home because we have this delusion of knowing what we're doing that is ripped down in pieces as our kids grow.  but maybe this was just my experience.

an old friend of mine called last night.  (this line cracks me up...because my friend will be fifty-four next month and I think she'd make a big hassle about this statement and her age, but really, it's because we realized, as we were talking last night, that we've been friends for twenty-two that's why she's an old friend...but we're both a helluva lot older now, too...)  anyway...she is a special ed teacher.  which is how we met.  working at a camp for special needs kids.  she gave me a confidence in instincts I was discovering and was just someone I shared the joy of using those instincts with.  we both enjoy sitting and trying to figure out what a kid is perceiving, what their world is like, what they might be responding to, how to bring them a smile, give their world more meaning, create a bridge from their world to the world around them that they often have no idea is even there.  (i'm talking about working with kids who are deaf and blind here...those kids have always had a special place in my friend's heart)  anyway, she works on an indian reservation in Arizona.  in special ed.  actually, her kids are preschoolers...three and four years old.  there is not a lot of money out the families or in the school.  and people seem to have...attitudes.  and my friend...well, she's kind of weird in that culture.  I mean, a grown woman wearing a fish hat and a dinosaur shirt, with pumpkins on her shoelaces and whatever else she has on for the week....she sort of stands out.  (I know this because I got to go to work with her once.)  like, last night, she was telling a story where one of her four year olds told her "sit down" and she did.  and another adult said, "well, that kid has you trained, doesn't he?"  and my friend responded, "he talked!  if he'd have told me to take a shit, I would've, just to let him know I heard him!"  which almost made me have a wreck, I was laughing so hard.  well, last night, she called because she was writing her principal a note.  apparently a huge box came in through the office and was "claimed" by different teachers, making its way around the school, and my friend wanted it.  but the box ended up in a bitchy computer resource woman's room that my friend said she does not mess with.  so she asked the principal to please get her the box.  I don't think she expected the principal to succeed.  but, at the end of the day, the box ended up in my friend's classroom and my friend was all emotional about it.  so she wrote a note to the principal and called and shared it with me.  she wrote this note from a student's perspective.  the student she wanted the box for.  she had the student explain their disability and how my friend was going to make this sensory box to help this three year old student meet her goals and interact with the world around her...and world that is difficult for her to access and understand.  she thanked the principal.  it was a really sweet note. 

over the last few years, it has become so easy for me to see the world just from my perspective.  to define the world in categories of "this pleases me"/"this doesn't"/"this makes me feel good about myself"/"this makes me feel like crap"/"this is hard for me"/"this is easy for me"...and it's all about me.  I often forget, on my own, without being asked or drawn into a story, to try to see the world from another's perspective.  I've forgotten the magic of quietly watching and learning.  it was awesome that my friend called last night.

and now I must go retrieve leotards from the dryer.  and stand in a hot shower and let the water pour over my face and work some magic. 

have a good one in your neck...
(of the woods...but it sounded funnier just like that...)


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

another day in paradise

i'm sitting here, drinking my coffee....after hitting the snooze on my alarm for an hour...I've finished catching up on daughter just pointed out a pretty good sized "stick bug" on a window that she noticed as she was eating breakfast with the tarantula my guys caught in the garage and decided to home...the roadrunners just ran by....yes, there's two...they're a family....they like running all over our front yard, sometimes perching on our cars, eating hopgrassers and such.  last night, when we got home from my middle son's fourteenth birthday dinner, there was a fox in our driveway to greet us.  but he didn't run when we got out of the car...he just stood there, looking at us.  as he did run off, I noticed a deer sitting in the grass...her head just visible near the tree with the swing in it.

who's life is this?  really?  mine?  weird.

sometimes I wish for the shady, grassy, critter free days of living in a neighborhood.  yes, I had a few snakes in my backyard when I was in the "city."  but never a venomous one.  (did I mention we found a baby rattlesnake in my garden last week?  gag...yuck...grrr!)  I just miss how tidy things felt.  the house could be a mess, but mowing the yard took less than an hour and gave you a cool, shady spot to have a beer and feel so accomplished.  and we never had scorpions or giant centipedes IN.  OUR.  HOUSE.  but then the kids get all excited about keeping a tarantula for a little while.  and the little girl says something like, "can we feed him hopgrassers?"  and "look at that stick bug, mama!"  with such excitement and wonder and, yes, acceptance.  barely a trace of terror.  (in her Disney belle dress...she's amazing, let me tell ya...I mean my daughter...not belle.)  and I think maybe it's okay.  maybe i'm not crazy to love being here. 

things are settling down some around here.  we are getting the hang of our new schedules.  life is developing a rhythm.  we still miss the firstborn...and know he's doing great.  but it's a dull ache that we wouldn't give up for the world and is probably just part of growing up as a parent.  the rest of us are kind of rediscovering each other around his absence.  it's been good.  there has been time for talking, for laughing, for sharing.  I guess this way it'll hurt just as much when each of them it should. 

it's kind of a strange point in life as a parent when your middle child turns fourteen.  like...we're really growing up as parents.  no turning back.  no innocently pleading ignorance.  we're not TEN anymore...  we know better.  the funny thing is, somethings we DO know better...but we also know what's important.  it's the first time I can confidently make a decision I know may not be best in the continuum of choices for that decision.  but I know the continuum of my life and where i'm working to get pretty well.  and that gives me a boldness I didn't have back in the day when I was trying to make EACH.  DECISION.  PERFECT.  it doesn't crush me to have someone say I should've made a different choice.  it may challenge me.  but i'm a little more comfortable in challenge than I used to be.  funny how we start out as adults craving success and being knocked down by the smallest challenges.  and now i'm more comfortable with challenge...less focused on success.  weird.

ok, well, I've avoided being productive til almost ten o'clock this morning.  I mean, I've cut up watermelon for everyone to eat for breakfast and made coffee, swept...talked a few things through.  but that's it.  well, and worked with baby girl on her letters this morning.  but I still need to make a tie dye cake with the fourteen year old to share with his biology group, take two littles swimming while fourteen year old does biology, come home and cook, and go to book club.  in between there, I should work on schooling, check in with fifteen year old, throw baby girl's laundry in (to avoid tomorrow's dirty leotard/pre-dance argument), shower, and other things that will become apparent as I walk through my house.  it's a good thing it's mostly a line...i'd run circles all day if my house were shaped differently.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

a little breathing room

this is our schedule this semester... and pray for high schoolers at 4:30, mass at 5, high school youth ministry til 7:30 from 12:30 til 4ish, sometimes my almost 14 year old will go from there to meet with his biology class for an extra experiment each week, rock climbing from 5 to 8, and the almost 14 year old has choir from 6 to 7:30 (but thankfully his biology teacher has a daughter in choir, so she does that drop off and I just pick up)

Tuesday...pretty much blissfully empty.  sometimes I have book club.  there is a group of mamas that meets for coffee, but we're probably going to make that an every-other type deal just because we're all getting busy.  love Tuesdays! (but this will become the other "extra experiment day" soon...sigh)

Wednesday...try to make it to 8:30 mass, sweet girl has dance from 10:30 to 11:15, all the guys have piano from 2 to 3:30, cce is 6:15 to 7:30.

Thursday...just climbing from 5 to 8.  whew.  we'll also be going to praise and worship on the second Thursday of the month from 7 to 8:30, so they'll leave climbing early for that. from 9 to noon.  we usually eat lunch at the park afterward, but this week, we'll have a friend come over here and eat lunch (and cut my hair!).

Saturday...generally open, but filled in with competitions, training classes, any trips we'd like to take

add to that schedule different rock climbing competitions, planning dinners, a homecoming football game we're hoping to attend, the renaissance festival, birthdays (i'm so happy they only come once a year, but at the same time, couldn't we just designate a day of the week as birthday day?  that way you know there's always a birthday on, say, Thursdays, and no one gets forgotten!  it's not a bad idea....), and anything else we'd like to do besides run in the little hamster wheel...and I feel like my brain resembles a colander and things just keep falling right out of it.

cce was good last night.  my team teacher and I are teaching seventh and eighth graders this year.  yes.  we are sharing the gospels and the love of God with seventh and eighth graders.  i'm not sure why I signed up to do this.  it's not that there's anything wrong with seventh and eighth graders.  well, yes there is.  I don't remember a lot of specifics about seventh and eighth grade, but I can tell you that those years have ALWAYS been years I would not, for anything, redo.  anne lamott says she felt those two years were a giant game of farmer in the dell, and that this cheese stood alone.  I don't really remember much about my friends at that age (I do remember Tanya McDonald...she was my friend..), but I know I felt alone.  uck.  and here I am, hoping God uses me to share his love with these twenty kids.  who were absolutely hilarious, playing the name game last night.  it was surprisingly good times.  especially when you consider we had not planned to play the name game, but they suggested it, taught us how to do it, and it was really good fun.  plus, I think they learned each other's names while playing.  think we can just play games all semester? 

my fifteen year old said it was pretty much a zoo in the preschool/kindergarten room.  but they'll split that group next week, so maybe it'll be better.  it was so funny...he said the teacher talked so much, it would've made a good nap time for the kids.  he also had a boy eat a blue crayon.  I often tell my kids that the world is not "like us"....that everyone has different talents.  my almost fourteen year old (only a couple more weeks with that "almost" stuff) figured that out last night when he was explaining the game, and kept losing some of the kids because he was just talking too too much information.  my fifteen year old realized that as loud and crazy as his little sister seems in our house of pretty calm and quiet people, she's really pretty subdued in a group of her peers.  I think it's going to be good having him working with the youngest kids on cce night and me working with the oldest group.  we can trade stories and help each other appreciate where we're at. 

and life continues to plug along.  i'm not ready to reorganize my blog roll yet.  I've got way too much other work to catch up on before that job comes up on my to-do list.  but it was nice to look at my weekly schedule and write for just a few.