About Kristen

A 30-something wife and mama of 3 (so far) living out my faith (Catholic) in the southeastern US.

Happy Birthday Jeff…

today I feel like you deserve better, but you got me.

See, today is your birthday. The anniversary of your birth 52 years ago. And we didn’t get you cards or make you a cake. In fairness, I should explain to those reading this that you asked for no cake and to save paper and not make cards. I asked if you wanted a present and you said, “no, save the money for back to school supplies.” I asked what you wanted to eat and you said that I was to use the gift card my mom sent us to the grocery store as your gift and get some steaks they have on sale, and our regular weekly shopping.

You wanted to travel up to look at houses. I said sure without looking at the weather report. It rained and poured. You wanted to go anyway, so we went. We endured fast food and kids who were less than thrilled. I was very underprepared. I didn’t take down all the right information and confused two different properties. But you stayed in good spirits throughout.

I know I’ve been lacking in the whole “getting our home sold and finding a new one” in practical ways. Of course I am praying for God’s will and God’s timing and direction but that doesn’t get people through our door and it certainly doesn’t pick a new neighborhood. And I know you value practical assistance in all matters.

We had brownies after dinner because that’s what you wanted instead of cake. You grilled your own steaks. A more homey wife would have done it for you but, I’m not so great at cooking or baking and don’t grill at all so…

You said you had a very nice birthday, despite all the chaos, the lack of planning on my part, the lack of presents, cake and the weather not cooperating, you still had a good time. And so, yes, you deserve better. But I sure am glad you chose me.

Happy Birthday Jeff, I love you and thanks for putting up with me for one more year!

In which I watch a disagreement break out and people get sensitive about an event I didn’t go to

I did not go to Edel. 

The reasons: 1. I didn’t have the bank and 2.my family’s annual vacation was that week anyway.

Instead I spent that weekend and the week before with my husband, kids, parents, 2 of my brothers, my maternal grandparents and maternal aunt and cousin on an island an hour and a half from where I live.

When I first heard about Edel, I thought, that sounds great! But my big ol’ introvert self breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the dates and knew that I had a reason beyond money not to go. Because I have a couple of friends who like to give me “scholarships” occasionally for events like that.

But, last weekend I was lying around a beach house my parents were paying for eating food they paid for and having no regrets. I got online and looked on twitter.

It started out as a question: Is Edel only for Catholic mothers or are all Catholic women welcome?

I won’t link to tweets or mention handles here, but it evolved into a series of people trying to answer the question of the intent of the gathering (for moms who need a break? for all women who need a break? mostly for moms but non-moms can still come but might feel left out of a lot?) And the issue of exclusivity was raised. I left the debate before a successful conclusion was reached (I didn’t engage, but I did follow out of curiousity) so I’m not sure if there was a conclusion. Also, no one actually at Edel who was in the convo (there was at least one) could confirm if there were any non-moms in attendance.

The original asker of the question does not have children and admitted to possibly being over-sensitive about it. The one participant I saw who I knew was at Edel took exception to the question even being asked. She first got upset and misunderstood the asker’s intention (note to all: twitter is not a good debate forum. Ever. For anything.) and felt the asker was saying that mom’s don’t deserve a break. And that God forbid they get a break because it might cause offense. Quickly it was resolved that yes, mom’s deserve a break, but is there ever a time when moms and non-moms can take a break together? This participant then accused the others in the thread of being unkind and uncharitable toward the participants and organizers of Edel. Several both moms and non-moms jumped in saying they didn’t think that was the case at all.

Now on the Edel website it clearly states this:

Edel is an event for mothers who need a break.

It’s a chance to form meaningful connections with like-minded women.

It’s an opportunity to hear inspiring speakers who will encourage you in your vocation.

To me it clearly lets one know, hey this is a mom’s only conference. I think the original asker of the question was ambiguous because various blog posts regarding the event made less mention of the event being for moms and had more of an “all are welcome” tone and vibe. As she stated it was exciting to hear about a great gathering and then get to the page and read that headline was like, “oh, I see.”

I don’t think this was a case of outright exclusivity. I think the event was created by two wonderful women who created an event like they would like to go to. Not the traditional Catholic conference fare. And knowing Hallie for a few years now, I can say with certainty she did not sit down and think, “Let me create an event that focuses on  Catholic motherhood so we can leave out those Catholic women unable to have children, who are licitly trying to avoid conception or are single.”

I also don’t think the original writer of the question was trying to pick a fight. I think she felt left out and it stung. It wasn’t intentional, but it happened. Having experienced infertility and pregnancy loss (which that writer was very clear she was NOT suffering from) I could remember sitting in mass week after week and hearing a priest extol the virtues of motherhood and sometimes it really hurt. When I thought I was being overly sensitive about it, a friend whose husband was diagnosed with cancer a week after their honeymoon and was unable to have children because of his on-going treatment and a single friend both told me, it wasn’t my imagination, the religious life and motherhood were the gold standards at their parish and in their diocese as well. Most of the time you try to ignore it but sometimes that sense of loss or feeling left out really does hurt, as unintentional as it may be.

If I could go back to talk to myself 10 odd years ago I would tell myself what I’m saying now: you are Catholic. All ARE welcome. Catholic means universal and that includes you. So maybe this conference wasn’t designed with you in mind, so make your own! There are other parts of the Body of Christ out there like you who need to share your unique experiences of vocation as a wife. Start your own group in the parish for women in your situation. It doesn’t have to be big! Yes, you deserve a break too but it’s okay to create that yourself!  If you don’t, who will?

I think about this as my new parish hosts a group for parents suffering miscarriage, still-birth or infant-loss but no group for infertile couples. If I was still without children, I would need to start that group after having reached this age and maturity level. But, I get it, it still can hurt at times. That’s normal.

I hope that the women who went to Edel enjoyed themselves. I hope the women who didn’t and wanted to will be able to someday. And for the women who felt left out, I hope that they can continue to live out their vocations joyfully and maybe create that gathering that represents them and their station in life.

Weekend Wrap-Up

Well, we sent the boys to their grandparents’ house this weekend. My parents. Friday evening we met my dad at an exit off I-40 half-way between our houses. After dinner at Wendy’s with my dad, we headed south, he headed north with two little boys.

Shelby was, noticably, uncertain about what to do with no brothers and we heard a report that William stated he missed her several times.

Apparently they had a great time:

 

Joe at batting practice

Joe at batting practice

Will, pitching practice...or aiming

Will, pitching practice…or aiming

My parents and boys in the Durham Bulls' dug out

My parents and boys in the Durham Bulls’ dug out

 

Joe, Will and another team's mascot

Joe, Will and another team’s mascot

Joe, Will and My mom with the Durham Bulls mascot Wool E. Bull

Joe, Will and My mom with the Durham Bulls mascot Wool E. Bull

 

Joe, Will D Bulls

Joe and Will at the Bulls’ Stadium

Joe and Will digging for fossils

Joe and Will digging for fossils

Will and Joe riding dinosaurs

Will and Joe riding dinosaurs

 

Joe and Will at How to Train Your Dragon

Joe and Will at How to Train Your Dragon

 

Friday night, my brother came over to join in the fun. Apparently they stayed up late, with Joseph being up past 1 AM. Saturday morning, hair cuts were on the agenda. As William was reluctant to get a cut, my mom bribed negotiated with him to get a Bowser figure if he agreed to a cut. Joseph wanted his cut, so no worries there. As Joseph also outgrew his shoes at the end of the school year and didn’t tell us until the week after school let out, my parents also wanted to get him new sneakers (we intended to let him wear beach shoes all summer and spring for them at back to school time). After haircuts and breakfast, they went to Target to search for Bowser which Joseph finally got William to admit he hadn’t seen there before, it was just a stab in the dark. Joseph looked at the sneakers there but confessed to my parents he really wanted a pair of Nike’s which they didn’t carry. So, off to Shoe Carnival it was where Joseph scored a new pair of Nike’s that he loves. Then to Toys ‘R Us. Now, there was a Bowser to be found there but William decided he instead wanted a different set of Mario figures. And Joseph found a clearance Angry Bird’s plush they didn’t already have. Loaded down with scored grandparent loot, my parents took them to the Durham Athletic Park, home of the AAA Tampa Bay Rays farm team, the Durham Bulls. My parents are season ticket holders with a group of friends and the DAP is host to this year’s AAA All-Star Game and had festivities all weekend. The boys got to sit in the dug out, meet Wool E. Bull and other AAA mascots, and participate in various activities for kids. My parents had initially wanted to visit the Duke Lemur Center, but decided it might be more than William could handle. As a result, they instead decided to go to the Museum of Life and Science also there in Durham, close by their home. Joseph and William enjoyed the dinosaurs and digging for fossils. They also did get to see lemurs there. Finally, they went to see How to Train Your Dragon 2. Everyone enjoyed it. Apparently my mother and Joseph cried. They also had pizza that  night with my brother Matt and his girlfriend Sarah. This morning they went to mass at my parents’ church. Apparently, William slept through that. I don’t claim they’re angels all the time! We met them at the same exit and had dinner this evening at Smithfield’s.

As for us here at the old homestead, on Saturday morning, after some cleaning and I went grocery shopping, we took Shelby to our area’s adaptive park playground. There is also a “Miracle Field” there for children and adults with special needs. It exists inside a larger park complex. We’d never been before and we had the place to ourselves. We will be returning with the boys for sure.IMG_1194 IMG_1197 IMG_1198 IMG_1205 IMG_1206 IMG_1208 IMG_1209 IMG_1211

I had to work that afternoon/evening but even than was unexpected. I was asked to run to another store to get some product delivered there by mistake. Got paid my time and mileage. This morning we attended mass at what we later decided is our new parish and napped this afternoon before getting the boys. It sounds kind of lazy, but we did do a lot of cleaning/painting/housework that is pretty boring.

Back to work for me tomorrow and school for Shelby! Have a great week!

Moving on…in so many ways

Last Wednesday our house officially went on the market. Thursday we had our first (and so far only) showing. From what I’m told it’s great we’ve had a showing in our first week (officially our first 24 hours) on the market.  We have to sell this home before we put in an offer/move, so here’s to hoping! It’s in God (and St Joseph’s) capable hands.

A lot of change has gone on in our lives in the past few months. Not the least of which was that Shelby’s Godfather was assigned to a local parish. Over the past 2 years, I have felt that perhaps my parish was no longer where God wanted me to be. Nothing dramatic happened, it was just various little things and nudges. And Shelby’s Godfather being so close kind of prodded me into action. I began praying and talking a lot more to Jeff about it. Well, we figured, if we move, the whole point is moot as we will be too far to regularly attend any of the current local parishes on a weekly basis, and will have a parish in our new town. One of them. So, you know, not this conundrum any longer. But, on the other hand, if it takes a while for the house to sell, well, then is it worth waiting it out because we can’t predict the future?

This weekend, the boys went with my parents for a fun weekend and we decided to take Shelby to mass at her Godfather’s parish. Shelby and Jeff sat out in the vestibule while I was in the sanctuary which was not ideal, but it was 7:30 AM mass and quiet and a new place for Shelby. She’ll probably spend a few weeks out there.

After mass, Jeff talked about how nice it was there and how great it was to see Shelby’s Godfather. The associate pastor, a newly ordained priest, said mass. He did an excellent job and his homily focused on the Gospel reading and how each of us is a mixture of the soil described. He also talked about how closeness and familiarity with Scripture can help our souls be the more fertile soil. Now, if you’ve read the blog recently, you know that was like my patron for 2014, St Jerome, grabbing me up out of my seat! I looked through the bulletin and found the director of music and liturgy had written something about what a “typical mass” is. Reading it I could feel my heart opening up. We live in a country with the first world problem of having too many parishes/masses etc to choose from. And while most of us are grateful to be able to take part in the sacrifice of the mass no matter where, there are people in our pews each week there solely out of obligation. Their hearts are not filled with joy but with contempt for the music minister because On Eagle’s Wings is being sung, anger toward the priest because he didn’t chastise something harshly enough, or resentment toward the family in front of us with the toddler babbling happily interrupting “our” mass. Is that any way to receive the Body of Christ? Honestly, changing parishes won’t change your attitude. No parish is perfect. There are things at all parishes that need improvement. And while it is certainly one thing to point out liturgical abuse, there are a lot of complaints that are just nit-picky. I have resisted changing parishes because I don’t want to go to a new one because there are no drums or electric guitars at mass (a pet peeve), or the lack of a Catholic based VBS program, or anything like that. No, even with the annoyances I felt at my parish, I was determined to present myself to God with a joyful and gracious heart and receive Him in that state.

But at Mass this morning, I felt something. Something moved deeply in me. Something that said, “This, This is where I want you. This time, this place.”

So when I casually mentioned to Jeff that I was considering changing our parish registration, and he said, “It’s time,” I felt waves of peace. I wasn’t “parish shopping” or fleeing an “ugly” church. I wasn’t even switching because the priest is one of my oldest and dearest friends and the Godfather of my only daughter. This morning, I only went because I wanted Shelby to see him, I intended to remain at my current parish. But when the Holy Spirit grabs you and convicts you, you know what you need to do. I went online and registered us.

Now, why would I switch parishes as we are trying to sell our home? Well, as I already pointed out, we could still be here a while! And on top of that, I’m not in any position to argue with God about this. Okay, I’m never in any position to argue with God ever, but this was a message both Jeff and I felt convicted about in such a way it was undeniable. There was/is no ambiguity.

So, regardless of the situation with the house at the moment, we’ve changed parishes. I submitted our registration online. It’s done. It’s all in God’s hands.

What it really means for the government to “be in your uterus”

I am sick and tired. Literally but also sick and tired of young, predominantly white, upper classed privileged women saying stupid things like, “Get Out of My Uterus” when referring to pro-life campaigns or yelling “get out of my bedroom” and then demanding for tax payers to pay for their birth control by government mandate. Enough.

There was a time when governments in the US were literally in the uteruses of women. It happened right here in my state. North Carolina had a strictly enforced forced sterilization policy in the early part of the 20th Century. Young women whose only crimes were being, unmarried, poor, minority, disabled, or some combination of the above, had hysterectomies thrust upon them or face other less than desireable consequences. Many were not told the extent of what was being done to them. Okay, let’s be honest almost none of them knew. And it wasn’t until 1977 that we realized we could not negate poverty and drum down welfare costs with a eugenics program and not til 2003 that we officially got that on the books. No, the government of NC spent the better part of almost 45 years in the uteruses of many women quite literally taking away their ability to create new life and causing unspeakable mental anguish. And read the story of the man in that link who was castrated who comes from the area I live in now…I kind of want to throw that in there too and say “what now?!” to the people claiming the government is controlling them by telling private employers that it is okay to deny contraception coverage (and FYI, read the briefs, Hobby Lobby is only not covering 4 contraceptives not refusing all of them). Come back and talk to me when you’ve been wrongly accused, falsely imprisoned and been cleared of charges but no one let you know…and all that AFTER you were sterilized.

And that’s not even to speak of the atrocities done to women around the world that are government sanctioned. And do a little research, there are lots of private and local government groups that give out ABC at low cost or no cost. And yes, they’re in your area. Asking the government to pay for your birth control is inviting it into your uterus. You’ve put out a welcome mat and offered little pigs in a blanket as appetizers. You want it to be between you, your partner, and your doctor then YOU have to pay for it! And no, as NC proved, you can’t even sterilize your way out of a welfare state (FYI surviving victims are getting $50,000 guberment payout now) so gimme all your arguments about it being cheaper than paying for childbirth. And let’s keep it real here, the ones screaming loudest right now, are the ones that just don’t want to be responsible for their own behavior because their parents bailed them out a few times too many as children.

We live in a world where everything: our elderly, our disabled, our children–both born and unborn, and our fertility are throw-away. They mean nothing. If you want to throw your reproductive abilities away, fine, God gave you free will and that’s how you choose to use it. Just don’t ask the rest of us to foot the bill for your sins and scream, “Human rights!” when others were strapped down physically and were, in fact, violated.

Friendship, socialization and the Introvert

So all this building community talk has gotten me thinking about how we build community. When most of us think of community building we think big. Neighborhood barbecues, church picnics, conventions of like-minded individuals. Unfortunately, those type of large get-togethers can be wildly impersonal and often put introverts on edge. Many won’t even bother to attend. They are only one way to build community.

I’ve often been told that certain people won’t participate in various get-togethers and it got me thinking (and realizing) I’m often “certain people.” And what do I look for in community building as an introvert.

Community building can (and often does) begin with one-on-one connection. Coffee with one neighbor. Having the family across the street to dinner. Lunch with a co-worker.

Introverts find all interaction in large groups physically and mentally exhausting. And sometimes, even with small groups this can occur. Contrary to popular belief, introverts actually do want friends and interaction, but on a much smaller scale than extroverts are typically used to. It is easy to dismiss an introvert as being snobby or stand-offish when he or she doesn’t attend any of your parties but often it is crippling anxiety that prevents them from going not some notion of being better than you and your friends.

So, how does introvert friendship work? Well, it starts typically one-on-one like most friendships do. But your expectations for a big night with all your friends might not be an introverts cup of tea, so they may turn you down on social dates. Also, if you make plans with an introvert, it is courteous to not invite others unless you let them know in advance. I was once asked by a friend to go to dinner with her. I interpreted this to mean a nice dinner just us, a time to catch up and relax. Instead, I arrived to find she had invited 10 other friends. I didn’t know any of them and we had little in common aside from our mutual friend. They were all co-workers and all the conversation geared that way leaving me largely out. I couldn’t find any way in for most of the night and left feeling upset and ignored. I know that wasn’t my friend’s intent, but it’s what happened. If you want to get together with an introvert friend AND another friend. Try to limit the number of people you invite (obviously this doesn’t apply for things like birthday parties, weddings etc but more intimate less party atomospheres). And be courteous and let your friend know, “hey, would it be okay if my other friend x, comes along.” And if you are all the people have in common and you are the one who invited everyone, you’ve become the de-facto host who needs to make sure everyone is included. That means introducing everyone individually to each other and trying to think of something they have in common in the introductions. Example, “Kristen, please meet my friend, Angela, she’s from New Jersey but grew up in NC too.” It will give your introvert a common ground with the new person and make them feel more intimate in the situation.

Also (and this is kind of bad manners anyway), if an introvert friend is the host, say for dinner at her house, it is not okay to just show up with extra people. And yes, this has happened to me too. If you suddenly have family drop in on you or friends your options are, 1. Explain the situation to your unexpected guests and let them know you have plans and they may need to amuse themselves for a couple of hours 2. Call your friend to cancel/reschedule 3. (and this should be a last resort) call and explain to your friend that, hey, your parents just dropped by, would it be okay for them to join you two or maybe abbreviate your visit. Again, this is really not an introvert thing so much as being a considerate guest thing in general. If this sort of thing happens to you often, you probably shouldn’t be surprised if your introvert friend or any friend, really, stops inviting you to do stuff or doesn’t want to commit to plans with you.

If you invite an introvert friend to a place where you know a lot of people but they won’t, look out for them like you would if it were your own event. A co-worker’s Mary Kay party, invite your friend to ride with you and introduce her around. Jeff brought me to his high school reunion pre-party after we were only dating a short time. I knew only a couple of people there and we walked into a party of over 100 people and he promptly disappeared. I knew no one and was younger than everyone by several years. Thankfully the host introduced himself and made himself available to me for whatever I needed and brought me over to a group where I did know a couple of people and introduced me around. A few minutes later, Jeff showed up and I was ready to kill him but considerably less so since the people the host introduced me to were very kind. It could have quickly gone the other way.

Community can be built to great levels even with introvert participation but you have to be ready that it might be a little trickier and much less grandiose  in the starting out phases. When all else fails, ask the person what would make them most comfortable. Sometimes it’s an easy fix that way to get them plugged in. We all want and crave community and friendship, we just don’t all have the same ability to attain it.

Self…the ultimate devil

My friend and neighbor Randi has published a great post about giving up/limiting facebook and how the real enemy isn’t facebook but self. She admits her own struggles and how she feels it draws her (and others) into their selfish ways and causes us to sin by allowing ourselves to be addicted to it’s allures.

I especially liked this section of her post:

Self gets addicted to Facebook because self is full of pride, laziness, coveting, selfishness, lustful conditions. Self is the issue.  And we all know that issues are multiplied and magnified 100 x on media (social or not).
So it should be quite clear for all of us to see – Facebook addiction is an issue.
I see this issue now for what it really is.
Facebook addiction is to community what porn is to marriage.
Porn is an easy substitute for true intimacy, that takes time, effort & work.  True intimacy takes a lot of *giving* — not just taking!  Porn is selfish.  Porn is a counterfeit relationship. Facebook addiction is an easy substitute for true intimacy.  Facebook addiction is selfish.   Facebook addiction maintains an entire neighborhood of counterfeit relationships.
On Facebook, all the images and updates, just like porn,  are addictive.  It’s an easy fix to get quick conversation.  Quick feedback, quick affirmation.  Our facebook activity quickly can take a nasty turn from admiring people, being inspired by people —- into outright sin.  Coveting & lusting over what other people have – even good things.  We covet others’ success in ministry that they SEEM to have, quality friendships they SEEM to have, quality family life they SEEM to have.

Coveting, lusting, desiring immediate affirmation when we want it – all addictive, all sinful.

Addiction is addiction is addiction. And the reason we fall so easily into it, mostly (I will make exceptions for genetic alcoholism, pre-natal exposure to drugs etc which make a person much more susceptible than the average Joe to fall into addictions), is that we would rather settle on making ourselves happy immediately vs following God’s plan.
I’m not as much a community person as Randi is. We’re neighbors so I can say this and I’m sure she’d agree.  I’m extremely introverted and have a lot of social anxieties. I realize the importance of community and real connection, but I’m not great at it. It exhausts me, so when I make an effort, I really am dying to my own selfish desires to just crawl into my bed and ignore the world because, eh, who needs ‘em? Social media takes care of the difficulties I face in face-to-face interactions, but it’s not the reward of those interactions so I keep going back for more and more. See how easy it is to be sucked in?!
And while I may not covet very much of what I see on facebook, I sin there too. Pride when I feel better about myself and my family compared to others and wrath when I look down on myself for not being enough. Not a better wife or mother or daughter or friend.
I’ve needed to stray back to facebook for a few things this summer and my twitter mysteriously starting posting tweets (mostly World Cup stuff) to facebook (I figured out how to stop that) but overall, I am feeling better about when and how I use it. Connection…helping with quick things (like swimsuits that might be more modest and also flattering) but not getting bogged down in ridiculous comments threads. Birthday wishes and Father’s Day commemorations. Remembering someone lost. But none of the nonsensical liking of every person’s posts. Far less Buzzfeed sharing and random ranting (Jeff kind of likes facebook now that he has to endure all my rants in person!).
And now I’m hoping to move on to a new community. New place. New people. New everything. And I’m wondering, will I fall back on those I know. Those who were once physically close enough for community but I can now only connect with? Will I be addicted to facebook again? Will I actually go to new people meet and greets at church or wherever? Me, me, me. I’ve given this house-selling thing solely to God and maybe I need to make a conscious effort to give our new life, when it begins, to Him as well. It’s not my life, it’s on loan to me for a brief period so maybe I better stop whining and start paying attention. Maybe I can die to self more than I’m used to and grow in grace.

The Things We Carry

I just read a blog about a foreign service family that is leaving one post for their next one. And I admit it. I cried.

In some ways what they are going through is much more difficult. They are moving from one foreign country to another. They have to do things like exchange currency and arrange for pets to be transported internationally.

In some ways what we are doing is more difficult. There are no mixers for new families in the area. No housing allowances.

But in most ways, it’s the same. We say good-bye to people we’ve grown to care about, even love. We hope that the teachers in town x are as great as the ones in town y (or better than). We hope our new parish is welcoming. We wonder if the now jobless spouse will be able to find work.

What we carry with us when we move from one place to another is our faith that God will provide and fill in those gaps that exist. That God will provide that job and good kids for our kids to be friends with. That everything will work out according to His plan when our plans seem to be falling apart.

We carry young children with anxiety that we try to quell while working through our own emotions. We carry memories made in houses we have made into homes. Over and over I’ve told William, “we’ll all be together, and as long as we’re together, we’ll be home, it doesn’t matter where we are!” And I believe myself enough to make him believe me.

Right now, after the anxiety of will our house actually sell (and I’ve seriously given that to Jesus, Mary and Joseph) my biggest anxiety is if I will be able to get a job. Yes, there are grocery stores there, but I’m wary of finding another boss who will work with my schedule the way my current one does. Jeff wants me to work in the school system. He can get me interviews, but he certainly can’t make anyone hire me. And all the interviews he got me in the past, the job went to someone else with the same reason, I “wasn’t what (they) were looking for,” or wasn’t “the right fit.”

I try to put that out of my mind because, we have to sell this house first before I can even begin to think about job hunting. I also have to have us moved and unpacked before I can even begin to be so worried…

Yes, I carry worry and fear but also excitement and joy. Anxiety and stress but hope and dreams too. Any major life change carries with it these things. But it does not define them. It is not so much what we carry with us as the way we carry it. Do we choose to focus on the positive more than the negative? Do we ask for God’s will and really want it? Or do we want God to bend His will to our desires? When we carry with us our trust in God, we carry all we need for that next phase no matter how odd or stressful or even downright awful it may seem.

10 things I…

So, I’m largely off facebook…because it is such a huge time-waster and our house goes on the market tomorrow so I do not have time to waste. And I have 3 kids off for the summer. Week 1 is almost done! I’ve ventured a little onto facebook. Mostly because I had to make this image my cover photo:

 

And I had to wish Dad’s happy Father’s Day, of course. But by and large…I’m just not going there. And happily so.

Here is a list of better things I’ve found to do with my time:

1. Clean my house.

Because no matter what it always needs to be cleaned. I live with three children, a cat and a dog. It should really go without saying.

2. Watch the World Cup Football Matches

And I watch them online on Univision’s sight. It’s in Spanish, a language I speak not one word of, but futbol is universal.

3. Re-read my old Judy Blume books.

Because they are all still as good as I remember them. But I’m learning new things from them. I think if you haven’t read Blubber or read it a long time ago, you need to re-read it. Especially as a parent. It is a very clever novel with bullying as it’s central element and it addresses it from the standpoint of a tormentor and tormentee. The edition I own has a note from Judy Blume in the back talking about a bullying situation her daughter witnessed in fifth grade that was the inspiration for the story. This book was originally published in 1974 which shows this is not a new problem and we’re still way behind the ball in how we address it. It also makes you re-think the incorrect notion that bullies torment others because of a deficiency in themselves. In 1974, I’m sure that idea was pretty revolutionary, and while we in general know better now, we also tend to still fall back on that idea as an excuse.

4. Declutter and throw away.

Being a pack-rat is great. Til you want to move somewhere.

5. Water the lawn.

It hasn’t rained here in over a week. My tomato plants are finally producing fruit…now’s not the time for them to die.

6. Chasing children who refuse to keep their rooms clean.

Long story, but you know….

7. Being creative with menu planning

I’d like to avoid using our oven as much as possible. And eat as seasonally as possible.

8. Exercise

Stop laughing everyone.

9. Have Joseph read to me

10. Have fun on twitter (which is so much less time consuming than facebook! I can barely believe it!)

Things I thought I’d be doing but am not

1. Blogging more

I dunno…too much fun enjoying life or some such nonsense.

2. Catching up on blog reading

Again, just not time!

3. Wishing I was on facebook

Because most days, I just don’t care. And that’s a good thing in light of my life.

4. Taking my kids places.

Okay this is just so far, and starting next week it will change. Even though hopefully I will be working a lot more hours next week. Without Jeff’s help, a lot of places are just not easy to take them to. That, and well, gas lately!

5. Sleeping

It’s pretty hard to nap with 3 kids at home, even when 2 are rather self-sufficient and the one who isn’t, loves to lie in bed with you. Plus, I’m having too much fun with them.

6. Having play dates

Summer is just too new for everyone, we all need some kind of de-compression chamber so we don’t get the bends. That’s kind of what this week is for us, at least.

7. Stressing about the move

Whatever will be, will be. Hopefully the house will sell quickly, but I’ve put it in Mary, Joseph and most definitely, Jesus’ very capable hands.

8. Worrying about my cat who lost his collar

He still comes home and mostly stays close to home (that may, in part, because it’s too hot to move outside). He’s happy, we’re happy. We do worry a little, but we’re mostly good.

9. Eating more junk food

I admit I’m trying to cut back but you know what, it’s okay if I have a little but I’m not wanting a lot.

10. Crying about the Rangers loss in the Stanley Cup

I’m actually avoiding thinking about it which is a great thing to do if you want to not cry about it.

Things I’m glad I’m missing on facebook

1. American living in Brazil ranting and raving about how much he hates soccer/futbol and how he’s not a party to any of it.

Pffffft! That’s my big raspberry for ya sour grapes!

2. People arguing with each other on Mark Shea’s posts.

I’m pretty sure Mark is the original Gadfly. I love him, but I’m usually exhausted when reading comments threads on his posts.

3.  People posting blatantly false things and reminding myself it’s not my place to get worked up about them and/or care.

I just saw somewhere that a veterinarian has spoken out against a viral post about not giving your dogs ice water. I’m sure my feed is slammed with the original viral post.

4. People who mistake their status update box for a therapist’s office.

You know who you are!

5. Jerky posts about how much some people hate soccer/futbol and how it’s the most terrible sport ever.

Go stand in the corner and think about what you just said!

6. The weird pictures facebook chooses as the image for links

Don’t get me started

7. Moderating groups

Just, no. Not right now. Give me my summer back.

8. Five hundred people tagging me in autism posts

9. Conspiracy theorists

10. People gushing about a book I’ve deliberately chosen NOT to read nor post on nor apply

Because I’m already doing most of it and you know what, so are a lot of the people gushing. And seriously, I don’t find the author to be a very kind person. I’m sure he/she is pleasant enough, but my encounters have been a holier-than-thou-let-me-smash-your-face-in-with-how-right-I-am-and-how-wrong-you-are kind of thing when asking a question and I’ve witnessed some straight up ugly, so just NO…too many other good things to pass up.

 

Awards Day…a conflicting day

Each quarter, the school has an award’s day presentation. I prep Joseph (and next year William) that you may not get any award. But Mama and Daddy still are proud of you and your efforts.  And he usually does get some award every quarter. Shelby typically does as well. The awards range from honor roll to behavioral awards to awards for exhibiting various character traits. And then the resource teachers (art, media, technology, music and physical education) give out awards for students who did exemplary in their class.

This final nine-weeks Joseph got the all-around citizenship award (only offered at the year’s end and the highest non-academic award a student can receive), an award for perfect attendance and the gifted gator award (an honor-roll type award for kindergarten and first graders as they do not get graded on the A-F scale). Shelby received the Presidential Outstanding Performance in Academics award, a bus award (f0r good behavior on the bus), and outstanding performance in Technology class. I go in with low expectations as aside from the honor roll type awards, students are typically not allowed to repeat in an award category. So, for example, in the first quarter, Joseph got the awards for outstanding performance in art and music so he did not receive those again in this academic year.

I sat through three awards ceremonies on Wednesday. One for 1st and 2nd graders. One for third and fourth graders. And kindergarten graduation. They occurred in that order and since I have a 2nd grader and kindergartener, I sat through the ceremony in the middle that I didn’t have a kid in. It didn’t make sense to go home and come back. Anyway, during that middle ceremony, I sat with my neighbor who has a fourth grader. Her son had many awards through the year. So as award after award was given and he did not get any of them, he became more and more upset. Finally, he did get some awards. He received an award for his participation in an all-county chorus and another for performing in the county’s annual arts performance celebration. And he got the Presidential Outstanding Performance in Academics award, which was very demanding for fourth and fifth graders.

But seeing that and then listening to grandparents sitting behind me in the kindergarten graduation saying how all these awards were terrible and didn’t represent any kind of exceptional performance (this was mostly during the “gifted gator” which many kids qualified for based on their good grades; 0f course their granddaughter won several awards and they stood up, hooted and whistled each time they heard her name; I’m sure she was much more qualified for those awards than any other child–sarcasm, people) got me thinking. If a child isn’t qualified for any award, none at all, should they really have to sit there and watch many of their peers get awards? Should the award ceremony be only for kids actually getting awards, perhaps occurring outside of school? And why are we giving awards for honor roll? Maybe for all As but so many kids get As and Bs should they all really get called out?

After the last awards ceremony, another mom texted me because her son didn’t make A-B honor roll. It turns out the requirements for each grade were different than what she though and her son had one C. We texted back and forth for a while. Me most listening, her venting. And finally, we got back around to “why do we, as parents, get so worked up about our kids’ awards?” Our society tells us that only the best matters but not everyone can be the best. And we should award mediocrity, except when we do so no one is bummed out. She and I finally decided that these awards are nothing compared to the award we receive of eternal life. We also agreed that these awards were something we needed to place significantly less emphasis on this aspect of education and life with our kids.

I guess I always felt like an outsider to many parents because I don’t bust my kids’ chops about being the best and being super competitive. Actually, with my kids, we have to tone down some of the competitive nature because they have it in spades naturally. I think most people thought I just didn’t want them to have ambition. Nothing is further from the truth. The truth is, the awards we get here on Earth, we can’t take with us. And A-B honor roll is not a criteria for eternal life.  If we are living Christ centered lives, we will be able to be excited for the good and not worry if we are overlooked or ignored or just not quite at the level of a bunch of others. So, maybe I’m not that conflicted after all.