In Whom Do You Trust?

I have several friends who will query facebook about health issues, particularly making dietary changes. And the answers they get always vary depending on who’s answering. Sometimes they end up more confused than when they started. Because every opinion has a “study” to back it up and they are suddenly reading links til Christmas. And, God forbid anyone say “in moderation,” because no one can seem to get behind the very legit theory of moderation.

Everything that is good for you, can be bad for you. Even spinach in too large quantities. Even the sun. Even exercise. Even water (ask me how I know about that one!).

What you will find when you examine the comments on posts asking about the healthiness of coffee or juice cleanses or whatever, are that the people who are most vehemently in favor of one thing or another, have made a choice to follow that protocol or eat food only cooked a certain way or whatever. And typically they made that choice based on purely anecdotal evidence and THEN found research to back them up. And nothing wrong with that, but you pretty much have to read it all and say honestly, “this is my friend’s opinion based upon choices she has made.”

But why do we choose to trust certain experts over others? Well, we tend to believe they are telling the truth, that’s why. Last week 10 doctors sent a letter to Columbia University asking for cardio-thoracic surgeon and tv star Dr Mehmet Oz to be removed from it’s staff. Dr Oz has had to testify before Congress for endorsing a bunk product and he’s quite influential. He has made pronouncements on diet, exercise, surgical procedures. He is often endorsing organic foods. And people eat his advice up. It should be noted that not all of these doctors signing this letter have completely pure hearts or intentions. It’s been revealed that at least two are heavy endorsers of GMOs. But that shouldn’t surprise us, because there is money to be made on all sides of the health care debate.

I often see posts and comments about how medical doctors are in the pocket of big pharma, and therefore out to make the most money all of them can. I see things saying all doctors are liars, thieves, and charlatons. And while in some cases, that may very well be true, well, it’s true on the other side too.

WaPo had an article yesterday on Belle Gibson, the health food guru and cookbook author who claims that her diet cured her of a rare and incurable brain cancer. Except: none of it was true. Gibson was never diagnosed with cancer. It was a very elaborate money-making hoax uncovered by journalists at an Australian newspaper who began to realize that Gibson’s story had large holes in and sweeping generalities and could not give any specifics when requested. And finally, she broken down and told the truth.

Many people are rightly angered and feel betrayed. I don’t blame them, they put their trust whole-heartedly in a person, and that person let them down.

I struggle with trusting God and not myself or my family members or friends or husband or whomever. I often turn to others before God which is so stupid I am sitting here shaking my head just writing it. Prayer, Bible study, the Sacraments, God will speak to me there and guide me. If I let Him. If I trust Him. This is true not just in health issues, but everything. And I somehow doubt God is telling me very often, “well, ask your over 700 friends on facebook!” God will use our friends and family to guide us in our decisions, but often we have to be very careful to ensure that we are listening to God when He tells us whom to ask or confide in, and whom not to.

Life is so incredibly complex. It doesn’t have to be. If we could just, “let go and Let God”…if we could just put our trust in the only place it was intended…

Yes, I know that children with autism can receive the Eucharist, that doesn’t mean my daughter can…or should

But for the time being, my daughter is not one of them. Maybe someday she will be, but not right now.

There’s been a lively debate in the special needs community, particularly among Catholic parents, about the sacraments and their kids with special needs. Lately, several both Catholic and non-Catholic friends have shared this post about Catholic parents who created a special curriculum for their daughter with autism and others. I think what they are doing is wonderful, I applaud and commend it, but it’s still not enough for Shelby,

In the post, the father is quoted as saying:

David explained, “What the bishops ask is that if you are going to receive First Communion and you’re a person with a disability, you need to be able to understand and do two things. You need to recognize the difference between communion and ordinary food, and you need to be able to receive reverently.”

Anyone who has spent more than five minutes with Shelby know that, at this time, she is not able to understand those two things. The tool the couple used to help their daughter is light years ahead of where my daughter is still at age almost nine.

It’s not so much autism that is holding Shelby back as it is developmental delays and sensory processing disorder. I will tell you right now, the SPD is what worries me most, because that very easily could impede receiving reverently. When you have an extreme reaction to certain tastes and textures, the experience could be one that horrifies me to imagine. But the developmental delays mean Shelby is cognitively only about two years old. In the Western Church, we don’t allow two-year-olds to receive the Eucharist (the Eastern Church does things a bit differently in that respect), and despite her chronological age, Shelby does not have the appropriate understanding. Period.

There are those, however, who despite being well meaning, have insisted that Shelby is being discriminated against. Particularly in the special needs community, even with valid reasoning, when someone is denied something, anything there is a rallying cry of “discrimination!” It’s a product of our larger society but disability/special needs advocates, while wonderful and desperately needed, are sounding the wrong cry on this in many (although not all) cases.

In Shelby’s case, no such thing is true. Shelby is not being denied the Sacrament because of a technicality like not being able to recite the Lord’s Prayer despite being able to clearly demonstrate knowledge and the appropriate behavior to receive reverently. That would be, at it’s best, the clericalism Pope Francis is always talking about and very possibly could be discrimination. No, this is not discrimination. This is the careful discernment of a mother who’s spent time agonizing and is now at peace. It has nothing to do with her being non-verbal or even because she cannot write. In my heart of hearts, I know and understand that it is wrong for her to receive when she cannot distinguish what she is receiving and is not able to receive with the proper reverence due the true Body and Blood of our Savior. In his book, 7 Secrets of the Eucharist, author Vinny Flynn explains:

When I receive Communion properly, I am not merely receiving something into me; I am actively involved in the process, fully present to the One who is present within me, uniting my whole being with Him, and through Him entering into a uniquely personal encounter with the Father and th Holy Spirit as well…

Now Vinny is not referring to children with autism or individuals with special needs in this passage, he is referring to adults who lacksadaisicly come forth to receive each week while making mental check lists in their heads and barely uttering an “Amen.” But the idea still works for anyone not able to realize what they are receiving in the sacrament. Shelby falls into that category. It’s also why we don’t allow just anyone to receive at Communion. Protestants, for example, cannot receive the sacrament. (Catholic Answers has this explanation as to why.) Yes, Shelby was born with autism through no fault of her own, but that doesn’t entitle her to be excepted to the rules governing who can and cannot licitly receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in the sacrament of Holy Communion. Her having special needs doesn’t qualify her for special treatment. Especially in circumstances of salvation. God knows Shelby and her heart and it is not a punishment for her not to receive, at least not at this point in time.

I think it’s wonderful that many children who were once thought not able to receive have ways to learn and receive now, but this does not mean that every child now has those abilities. It also does not mean that anyone should or will get a free pass. My child will receive the sacrament if and when I can discern her ability to understand and receive reverently, and until that time, she will give God the best she can.

What Divine Mercy Sometimes Looks and Feels Like

We started this week off with Divine Mercy Sunday and with putting our house back on the market. To say it’s an act of faith is not something to take lightly. As friends of ours with a beautiful home in a desirable area can attest to…sometimes it takes more faith than you could imagine.

I was thinking of those friends this week. I had last spoken with them in January as they emailed asking if we still planned on moving. We did and do. They live a couple of states away and have still not sold a home that’s been on the market for 3 years. I’ve been to the previous home (they had to move for the husband’s job) and it is in a beautiful neighborhood in a very desirable suburb of a booming city. It is immaculately kept up and beautifully decorated. And yet, it cannot be moved despite being very competitively priced. They’ve gone through numerous realtors and price changes. They have even had the wife’s mother act as owner for a for sale by owner. They have never gotten a single offer. They even tried to see if the husband could transfer back to the old office, but it couldn’t be done. They’ve moved out all the staging furniture and such at this point and are hoping for renters. They are in full fledged despair. That “right buyer” has never come along. The husband describes the house as an “albatross around his neck.” It doesn’t help that houses older and not as well maintained are selling in their old neighborhood for more than what they are asking.

I try not to think too hard on their story as I know, it could happen to anyone. It could happen to us. I try also not to keep close tabs on friends whose houses sell quickly despite seeming drawbacks. I just try to keep thinking “Jesus, I trust in you” and give my struggle over to the Virgin Mary and St Joseph (no I have not buried a statue but my devotion is there!)

The closing prayer of the Divine Mercy chaplet reads:

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion, inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase your mercy in us so that in difficult moments, we might not despair nor become despondent but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your Holy Will, which is love and mercy itself.

God’s will is mercy and love, even when and especially when it is confusing to our limited human understanding. God’s will during our last stint on the market, turned out to be a lesson in pride. Jeff was sure we could sell the house without replacing our carpet and offering an allowance and even leaving our old wallpaper up. God sent us looky-loos who were quick to say they didn’t want to see more upon entering and many who gave vocal complaints to their realtor for showing them our house. To say it didn’t sting would be a lie. And we did get an offer. An offer so laughably low, we didn’t even acknowledge it. Jeff kept saying he was looking for a buyer who would look at schools, neighbors and structural integrity of the house. God never sent that buyer. And it’s clear now why. So, more new paint, new carpet, no wallpaper, new realtor who would never have advised us (as our previous one did) that people can look past the carpet with the right curb appeal, and a lot of faith in God and realizing that in His mercy, God sometimes tells us “no” or “not yet.”

I have prayed that my friends will realize, despite their obvious disappointment and setbacks, that God has a plan none of us quite “get” at this point. That they have no lost confidence in the Divine Mercy because it is God’s will and is therefore always for the good, even when not obviously so. Sometimes Divine Mercy looks like failure in man’s limited vision or feels like rejection because we cannot know the enormity of God’s will for our own lives, much less anyone else’s.

That’s what I cling to this go-round. In three months we will either have sold or get renters, whatever God wills. Does that mean I will always be cheerful and never worry? Not even remotely. But I still have hope and confidence in Divine Mercy.

Easter and Spring Break Redux

Last Sunday, Easter Sunday, we made our way to Durham, NC to visit my parents and pick up my boys who spent from Good Friday night with them. Thanks to facebook, I was able to get pictures and updates of them…

Egg Coloring 2015 3 Egg Coloring 2015 4 Egg Coloring 2015 Egg Coloring 2105 2 Egg Hunt 1 Egg Hunt 2 Egg Hunt 3 Egg Hunt 4

As you can see fun was had by all. William went from not wanting to participate in his class egg hunt to having a blast at the hunt at my parents’ parish. His teacher convinced him to stay at school the day of the egg hunt by having a “sight word egg hunt” where the kids had to find the eggs with a certain sight word on them. Each child was guaranteed fourteen eggs! After that he was so excited for the egg hunt my parents took him to. They also very seriously colored eggs with my parents and my brother Matt.

Saturday night, my dad took them to the beginning of the Easter Vigil aka “The Fire.” My parents originally planned to take the boys to the entire vigil, but I think they thought better of it. My mother had to sing at the vigil so she stayed and my dad took the boys home. Then they went for a walk around the golf course where they saw a full moon. Here are some of the pics from that:

Joe and the moon Joe and Will and the moon Will and the moon

Yes, they are “holding the moon.” And between the egg hunt and walk, they both got hair cuts.

After dinner with my parents (ham, pork loin, cheesy potato and asparagus) we headed home. Jeff went back to school Monday morning but the kids were home for the week. We spent most of the days this week rotating from computer, books, wii, and backyard games. We also had to get the house ready to go on the market (which it does…tomorrow!) so lots of cleaning too. And I worked four hours every night!

By Friday, my nerves were razor thin because Thursday we had severe thunderstorms during the day and that meant everyone was inside and the dog was freaking the freak out. Thankfully, instead of trying to sit on all of us, he mostly stayed in the bathtub and “dug.” Joseph described the digging as being like Wall-E digging when the spaceship landed. We all got on each other’s nerves and when Jeff got home, I was never so ready to go into work.

Thankfully, Jeff was able to get off on Friday because the realtor was coming Friday evening to take pictures for the MLS listing. And while the house was clean, it was keeping it clean and all the little last minute “keep it perfect” things. And the boys were tired of each other, so it helped to have another parent to hand off some of the interventions to. Thankfully, everything went off with just a few minor hitches. Jeff got flowers in our beds to compliment our blooming azaleas and dogwood tree, we fixed a few nagging things and pictures happened.

Saturday I worked during the day while Jeff held down the fort. I came home to an intact house which was awesome.

The great things about this week were I got to spend a ton of time with my kids, William read to me the first non-school book ever, I got to exercise with Joseph several days, our house stayed pretty clean, and I was able to keep up my prayer schedule! Go me. And I worked a ton of hours.

Spring break is over for everyone in the house now. Tomorrow it is back to school and more regular work schedules for me. Also the house is officially back on the market tomorrow!!! So what better way to start this week off with Divine Mercy Sunday. So, here we go…

All Faith is Baby Steps

A few weeks ago, Katherine at Having Left the Altar and I were having a conversation about facebook and since I have no idea what the topic was on, I have no idea what brought this up but I mentioned Jeff not being Catholic. Her response was, “I didn’t know Jeff wasn’t Catholic.” And while I have brought it up here and on facebook and a few other places, I tend not to make a big deal. Because it’s a HUGE deal and it isn’t at all.

I had the super great idea about marrying a Catholic husband. The only problem: that wasn’t God’s plan for me. I met lots of nice Catholic guys, who were mostly considering the priesthood or were zero interested in me and I wasn’t into them either. My heart was open, however, to the fact that I may not find a Catholic husband (and for a long time, my heart was certain there was no husband but I wasn’t being called to the consecrated life, although I tried very hard to be…that’s a story for another time) because I’ll let you in on a little secret: my dad wasn’t Catholic when my parents got married, he wasn’t even baptized, he and I were baptized in the same ceremony in December of 1979 and my mother’s parents are his Godparents. There wasn’t RCIA back then, so I always get a kick out of my dad saying that he met with an old retired priest who lived in the rectory each week. This poor old priest would sometimes not remember my dad’s name from week to week and sometimes would be in his bathrobe when my dad would show up (leading the housekeeper who answered the door to wonder if my dad really was supposed to meet with him), and I want to say he forgot to put his teeth in one time…I may be confused on that point though. Also, in another funny aside, some cursillstas (sp?) happened to be returning and came and sat in the back of the church during the baptisms (I wasn’t the only baby there…however my Dad got to go first because as the priest said, “If the first baby doesn’t cry, the others won’t follow”) and upon seeing my Dad get baptized they made some kind of joyful noise unto the Lord and my mother said she was shocked her sisters didn’t faint dead away because they did turn an interesting color of white. Moving right along then, when I was sure I met “the one” and we got engaged and then married, I was totally unprepared for the latent hostility of some Catholics and many, many Protestants toward this kind of “mixed marriage.” Most people were great, but when they weren’t wow. Would Jeff become a Catholic like my dad and my uncle Ed? Well, we just didn’t know. I didn’t know. I’d force him to come to mass with me (wow was that a dumb thing to do looking back on it, perhaps just inviting him would have been more appropriate). A devout friend told me to simply pray and not to needle, so I backed off.

And after Shelby was born and diagnosed, well, I really backed off. All our kids were baptized and there was no real discussion, they were Catholic. I was Catholic, they were Catholic. There was no real discussion (despite a lofty theoretical one before we were married) because Jeff professes to be Christian but has never belonged to any denomination or church since I have known him. He was raised a cultural Protestant in a Presbyterian church (you were Christian, because that’s what people were) and briefly attended a local Baptist church as an adult shortly before I met him (he has definite opinions on Baptists…again, a discussion for another time). He didn’t dislike anything particular about Catholicism or Protestant Christianity…he just never found a place he loved. So, okay, he was supportive of me and our kids, that’s what mattered (and matters) most.

I won’t discuss in details Jeff’s issues with Christianity in general, but he often comes to mass with us, sitting in the vestibule with Shelby where they can see and hear without the entire congregation hearing and seeing Shelby and her antics. I know they receive grace just by being there. And we’ve become much more focused at home at the boys learning prayers and grace etc.

Over Easter weekend, we let the boys stay with my parents and at lunch on Saturday, I silently began to cross myself to say grace when out of my peripheral vision, I saw Jeff doing the same.  I was going to silently say grace (Shelby had dug in already…it’s very much a work in progress) but seeing Jeff’s Sign of the Cross, I began to pray our family grace out loud. And he prayed it with me.

It’s no Rosary or even a Hail Mary. It’s definitely not an expressed desire to join RCIA. But it’s there. It’s a baby step. It counts. I’ve read countless accounts of husbands choosing to become Catholic, and they all have this in common, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is such a powerful gift Christ gave us at the Pentecost. When we are able to trust in the third person of the Holy Trinity, we find that all our acts of faith are mere baby steps moving closer to Him who saves. Some of us move more quickly but still with baby steps. Because God knows our hearts and our individual ability to do what we can when we can, and He is infinitely patient with the skeptical and the stubborn. But it is incredibly difficult to not want to “fix” things ourselves and stand back and let the Holy Spirit do His work. But that’s another baby step of faith, particularly when it involves someone we love and we can see so clearly how something can be improved…but we have to trust and obey. We have to take our baby steps and move closer and closer to eternity.

Baymax, Groot, Wreck-It Ralph and Jesus

Spoiler Alert: Major plot elements will be revealed about Big Hero Six, Guardians of the Galaxy and Wreck-It Ralph…and the Bible too…

About a week ago we rented Big Hero 6 from Redbox, Joseph had been dying to see it and it intrigued Jeff because it won an Academy Award and I thought it looked cool. At the beginning of the movie, to save his Professor, Hiro’s brother Tadashi runs into the burning building as everyone else is running away. He does not survive. At the end of the movie, to save Hiro and Abigail, Baymax must propel his fist with Hiro and Abigail toward the portal opening. But he cannot join them. I turned, at this point in the movie, to see William in tears. Not just sniffles, but full blown sobbing.

After the movie’s end (and much consolation of William), he Joseph and I had the following conversation:

Me: What did Baymax do that made you cry William?

William: He had to die to save Hiro and Abigail.

Joseph: That’s like Groot!

About two weeks before we had rented Guardians of the Galaxy which included the character of Groot, a walking tree who says only three words, “I am Groot.” Near the movie’s conclusion, Groot establishes roots and envelops the other guardians saying “We are Groot” to save them from certain destruction. Rocket heavily protests this saying, “Groot! You’ll die.” But Groot persists and saves his friends. I seized on Joseph’s connection!

Me: That’s right! Groot also sacrificed himself, can you think of anyone else who did that?

William (sniffling): Wreck-It Ralph was going to to save Vanellope but she saved him after he saved her.

Me: Goood. Can you think of a real person? A person who died? A person who died for you and me?

Both boys: JESUS!

Me: That’s right. And why did Jesus have to die?

Joseph: To save us. So our sins could be forgiven.

William: So we won’t have to die.

Boom. God will use anything, including movies, for His plan and purpose. We discussed how the acts of sacrifice were made in these movies out of love and that Jesus loves us more than all those characters loved the people they chose to save. And in talking, the boys pointed out how a sapling of Groot’s was able to be saved and that Baymax had clenched in his fist his health care chip so Hiro was able to rebuild him. We talked about how just as Jesus left his Apostles to continue His mission, these characters had left something behind so that they could continue. And how we today, are offshoots of the seeds Jesus planted in the Apostles over 2000 years ago. I had no idea I would get to use these characters to help teach about sacrificial love and the ultimate sacrifice Jesus would make for us, but I could easily see the Holy Spirit lining it up for me with these boys. I can have them memorize John 3:16, but now they can see it and understand it in a new way. And I am so thankful.

I had a really clever title for this post…but was worried no one would get it was a joke

Good evening. How are you? I’m, well, tired.

This week began with travel. Due to no camera, I have no pictures. We traveled on Sunday up to Asheboro, NC to the North Carolina Zoological Park. Now, if you live in NC and have never been, go. Today. If you’ve been to any of the smaller “zoos” that dot the state, many with animals in cages with bars, YOU MUST GO. I had the privilege of going several times as a child but the zoo has changed quite a bit since then.

We came in around 12 pm. The weather was cool and we warned the boys we may not get to see many of the African animals as a result. All parking was in the lot for North America (the zoo is divided by continents, so far they only have African and North America…I’ve heard rumors either Australia or South America would be next), which I took to be a not so great sign for our African animal viewing, but we persevered.

After a quick picnic lunch of homemade subs in the car, we ventured to the gate. For Joseph’s birthday last year my in-laws gave us a zoo membership (which also entitles us to the aquariums locally and many other places around the country). Thanks to our membership, general admission was free and we zoomed through the line. The North America section of the zoo is divided by the many North American climates and regions. The boys wanted to see the Polar Bear in the “Rocky Coast” so we headed there first. Sadly, the polar bear was not out on display but harbor seals, a peregrine falcon and a sleeping arctic fox were. We initially by-passed the marsh and the cypress swamp as those are the habitats where we live. We went on to the Plains where we saw bison and antler-less elk. One of the bison entertained the boys by rolling on his back, legs in the air. We also saw a sleeping black bear. The grizzly bear was out, but also sleeping, in a cave in his enclosure. Many of the North American reptiles were not on display, but we did see a nasty looking rattle snake and some turtles. We also went “stream side” where we saw otter and many fish and frogs. Unfortunately, the last exhibit in North America, the Sonoran Desert exhibit, was closed for re-model. It will re-open this fall. Also because of temps, the Honey Bee Garden was not on full display.

We headed over to the Africa section with a reminder to the boys we may not see any animals. We initally passed Lemur Island with no Lemurs. Joseph thought the chimps would probably not be out so we kept on and found the lions were out! Many were napping but one lioness was wide awake and walking around. We talked about how there is one male in a pride and many lionesses. (Jeff had much confusion–yes, I said Jeff–about this, I told him it was a harem-type set-up.) William sat in front of the glass and said, “Mama, they’re all so beautiful!” From there we saw the biggest hog I’ve ever seen in person, a sleeping red-river hog (think Pumba in The Lion King). We came around to the entrance to the Africa section from the parking lot which, when I was a kid, was the only entrance. We weren’t hopeful, but hope came through, the temps had warmed up and two zebra were munching on some grass close to where we could see them and ostriches were coming up over the hill! We got to see a zoo-keeper in the enclosure tying branches to trees with leaves in anticipation of the giraffes coming out (in this part of the state, the trees are no in bloom quite yet). One of the zebra was sure he could steal them from the zoo keeper and made a valiant attempt. From there we went and saw the elephants and rhinos. The rhinos stayed a good distance away, but one elephant came very close up. On our way out we caught the giraffes on their way out which made William’s day. By this time poor Shelby’s stomach was acting up and William was getting very tired of walking. We had to skip the aviary with African birds and crocodiles and the monkey house (the gorilla exhibit was under re-model and closed). On our way back we stopped to see the chimps who were being fed and were very loud. Jeff took the boys down to see them but Shelby, between her stomach and the noise of the chimps wanted no part. From what I’m told they were as obnoxious as they sounded, but William said there was a mother and baby he thought were cute. As we passed the Lemur exhibit, a few ring tails had been let out which really excited the boys. Joseph requested to see the Cypress Swamp on our way out as it was right by the entrance. We did and in addition to many gators and turtles, we also saw a Carolina Cougar. Sadly, there are only these cougars left in captivity as they were killed for their threats to livestock and their habitat vanished in NC. Normally, in season, there is a shuttle that would have taken us back to our car so we would not have had to walk back through the zoo, but we were fine.

Joseph said his favorite things were the lions and cougars. William liked the giraffes. Shelby liked all the water in the exhibits. At the zebras, I pointed out the zebras to her, she pointed out the water to me. Sorry big girl, not a chance! Joseph really wants to be a zoologist so this was a great visit for him. He also got the bonus of seeing zoo-keepers in action at several exhibits!

After leaving the zoo we headed about an hour and a half north to Elkin, NC. Not for vacation. We were there so Jeff could have a job interview. Elkin is a small town of less than 5000 people in the foothills of NC. This region was once a source of furniture makers and textile mills but those plants are now shuttered. Instead, towns like Elkin are now tourist destinations surrounded by vineyards. Elkin is located at the bottom of Surry County where it is immediately adjacent to Wilkes County and Yadkin County. I jokingly told Jeff Elkin was like Radiator Springs in Cars but it turned out to be more truth than joke because on Main Street they have days and times when cruising actually does occur! Jeff wanted the family to come as it would be a major change for us if he were offered and accepted a job here. There are only three schools in the district, one elementary, one middle and one high school. No private, charter, parochial, Christian, options in town. Also, the one Catholic church is a mission church offering one mass a week on Sundays, in a different diocese than the one we currently reside in. While we didn’t get to visit the church, we were able to meet the principal of the elementary school and visit the self-contained special needs classroom there. I was pleasantly surprised/relieved that they could offer Shelby nearly everything she currently has here in way of services! The boys and I went to the school without Shelby and Jeff. That was a good thing as I do believe Shelby would have wanted to stay in the self-contained classroom! William wanted to stay there! We enjoyed our visit but the job offer has not yet been extended so we are not in a decision making process yet. We stayed at a very nice Fairfield Inn in a suite. They had an indoor pool which the kids made use of and loved. Monday afternoon we headed home.

Tuesday it was back to school for the kids. Jeff is on spring break this week. I went into work during the day, then came home and did homework and dinner and took a two hour nap before going back into work overnight. At 6 AM on Wednesday morning, I headed home to get everyone up and off to school…after a 20 minute nap. But there was no rest for me! Our carpet installation was happening that day, so we had to finish getting ready. While we had removed the carpet ourselves, we had to move all our living room and bed room furniture off the to be carpeted area. Which means we broke down three beds. Jeff and I did online work and ran a few errands (one at a time, of course) and I did manage another short 2-ish hour nap on the garage floor (which is concrete…I made a pallet for myself) before they were done and the kids home from school. More homework and dinner later (oh and re-assembling all the furniture) and finally it was bedtime. FINALLY.

But no rest for the weary, Thursday we took the kids to school because it was awards day and Shelby had a field trip. Oh, Shelby decided to get up at 3 AM on Thursday morning…good times, good times. Anyway, Jeff and I checked in and walked the boys to class (we sent Shelby with one of her teacher assistants who was coming down the hall with the breakfast cart). We then sat in the gym for the awards ceremony. It was just the kindergarteners and first graders. William got the Gifted Gator (honor roll), Writing Wall (his writing was chosen to be featured on a wall outside of the classroom) and Media Center awards. Joseph received the Gifted Gator, Writing Wall, and Music awards. After congratulating our boys, we headed home. Jeff went out to run errands while I cleaned up. After school we took the kids to meet up with Jeff’s Dad and Step-Mom at Bessie Burgers, a new local burger joint. We had a nice dinner and visit where the boys got to show their grandparents their awards. They also brought souvenirs for the kids from their recent visit to the US Virgin Islands and St Maarten.

After dinner we came home and William did four nights of homework because somehow, we never got the homework sheet til yesterday. He really impressed me with his knowledge of the life-cycle of the chicken which he both illustrated accurately and independently wrote sentences describing (this is huge for him). Jeff and I discussed awards day (this was Jeff’s first time going to a ceremony for it ever) and we agreed how impressed we were with the boys’ friends. They have chosen friends who not only have the same interests but the same values and core beliefs. They are kind and frienly to everyone but those they are closest to happen to be kids we would pick for them ourselves! We were so proud of both their achievements and character!

Today was a half day of school and considering Monday was missed and the plagues that descended upon our house this year, everyone went to school. Shelby did not attend awards day yesterday because of her horseback riding field trip for Special Olympics yesterday but she got the Outstanding Artist award from Art class and the “Techie” award from the computer class (boy is that ever appropriate). She had an egg hunt with her class today (the boys had egg hunts yesterday: Joseph’s involved math problems and William’s involved sight words). Right now Jeff is handing the boys off to my brother Matt in Goldsboro to head to Durham to be with my parents til Easter Sunday when we go pick them up. I had to venture out earlier today to cash a check (thanks Mom!) and pick up lunch for Jeff and I. We live right off US 17 headed to Myrtle Beach. It was sheer insanity. Jeff took the boys to visit his mom first before they spend the weekend with Gigi and Papa. We will come up Easter Sunday for dinner and to get the boys. We would have liked to go for longer but with new carpeting and Charlie…not going to happen. Plus, Jeff heads back to school on Monday and the kids are off next week. It will be nice to have a couple days of quiet days before I’m stuck at home with all 3 for five days! Prayers are appreciated for everyone’s safe travels today and for my parents who are taking the boys to their very first Easter Vigil.

Shelby and I are getting ready for dinner now and she is definitely getting a bath after her free time in the backyard this afternoon. Hope your Holy Week was full of prayer and contemplation…mine was not as much as I had hoped!