About Kristen

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

The Unexpected Week of Vacation

After my kiddos went back to school on the fourth, they were in school for two weeks before this week.

The week of MLK Day (the third Monday in January in states that honor the federal holiday) also coincides with the end of the grading period here so after everyone is off Monday for the holiday, teachers go back for two teacher workdays and then the kids come back for an abbreviated week Thursday and Friday. This year it turned out to be only Thursday, but we’ll get to that in minute.

Friday evening I had to work but my mom drove in take the boys back to her house til Monday. I brought home sushi for her and I to eat for dinner and she spent the night here. The next morning after treating us all to breakfast at the 24/7/365 Denny’s a few miles down the road, she headed north with the boys and Jeff, Shelby and I went home.

The rest of the day Saturday Jeff had a few errands to run and Shelby and I chilled out and watched movies.

Up in Durhamland it was 65 degrees and since the next day was going to be in the 20s, my parents took the boys to the Museum of Life and Science which is around the corner from their house and they have a membership to.

They dug for fossils, visited lemurs and lamas (among other animals, I just heard about a miniature donkey), “drove” the wind power boats, visited the dinosaurs and snakes, the butterfly house (no pics, my mom was in a concessions line for that), had ice cream and soft pretzels, and played in a giant nest and treehouse (a new feature). They ran around for a few hours until the museum closed.

 

Then, because Mama had a total brain fart, they went to Big Box Mart to get new jackets, gloves and tooth brushes, and spend gift cards they got for Christmas.

Meanwhile around here we stopped by a local “winterfest” they missed real winter temps and weather by a week. There wasn’t much to interest Shelby so we took her out for dinner. She was a little bit fussy but upon entering, she heard a familiar song (one of my faves by my all-time favorite band) and she perked right up.

This smile brought to you by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Zaxby’s Chicken.Shelby Zaxby's

This smile brought to you by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Zaxby’s Chicken.

 

The next morning I went to mass here and the boys went with my parents. After mass, we had a quiet afternoon at home here but the boys went with their grandparents to see The Force Awakens. They woke up to 25 degree temps so it was definitely a good choice. Afterward, Uncle Matt, made them light sabers, they are Jedi in training, after all.

 

And the next day, the museum was closed for the holiday, so before heading home, they decided to build their own in my parents’ back yard.

Finally it was time to come home so we met at an exit about half way between our houses with a dinner at Wendy’s.

Tuesday Jeff had to go to work so the kids and I decided to have just a quiet day at home. But it was also the anniversary of Joseph’s baptism. I liked the idea that Kendra at Catholic All Year had about three special days per kid each year (baptism, patron saint feast and birthday) . I managed to find all three kids baptism candles so for a dinner of Joseph’s choice (he decided to stick with Taco Tuesday, our regular fare) before eating we lit his baptism candle and renewed our baptism vows, which was suggested to me by both Katherine of Having Left the Altar and Melanie of The Wine Dark Sea.

Joseph baptism vows

This is a new tradition we’ve started in our first year in our new home and I’m really excited that we started it the same week that Joseph would have another significant step in his spiritual life, which we’ll get to in a minute.

Wednesday was our last teacher workday (or so we thought). And I had to take Joseph in for a dental appointment. Jeff was at work so I had to take all three kids. I’ve switched dentists for the boys since our move to a family dentist and we couldn’t be happier. Since they don’t need the specialized dental care Shelby does, it makes all the sense in the world for them to go to an office with more availability and less wait time. Also, their previous dentist (who is still Shelby’s dentist as there is a second office in our new area)’s office had upset us because a baby tooth Joseph had for almost two years after the permanent tooth erupted behind it fully, they refused to pull. Now, I’m all for waiting for nature to take it’s course within reason, but I knew this was extreme and was already causing orthodontic issues which would only get worse in time. And the laissez-faire attitude of the pediatric dentist’s office was a no-go at this point for me.

Two weeks ago the boys went in for their regular cleanings and this appointment was with the exact purpose of removing this rogue tooth. The dentist and dental assistant who took care of him were outstanding and it took two different tools (after numbing) to get it out. And once it was out, we found out there was good reason why that tooth never even got loose.

Joe's tooth

That long skinny part, that’s an intact root that should have disappeared almost two years ago. Now here’s to hoping that we’ve minimized the orthodontic issues.

I had gotten a sub for my Faith Formation class as our director wanted to make sure if there were any complications I would be readily available to Joseph (can I tell you how much I love a) being Catholic b) my parish and c) our director of Faith Formation!) and there was a Little Caesar’s pizza in the same plaza as the dentist office. Joseph asked if we could get a hot and ready pizza to reheat closer to dinner time and some crazy bread and sauce. Especially since Shelby and William were amazing at the dentist’s office waiting, I agreed. And Shelby got to choose the two liter of soda that came with our meal. She chose root beer, of course.

Thursday the kids went back to school. Their school is a PBIS school and Joseph’s grade had a celebration to celebrate the kids’ who had great behavior the previous nine weeks on Thursday (because they had all their special classes scheduled for Friday). They watched Ice Age and got popcorn and other treats. Shelby’s bus broke down on it’s way to pick her up so I drove her in that morning. I went to work at 1 and dreaded the impending doom of snow in the south…especially on the coast. You see, I work in a grocery store, so…

milk sandwiches

that is often my reality when a winter storm or hurricane shows up. In the winter it’s the locals who want milk sandwiches and during a hurricane it’s the carpet baggers.

I was blessed, people were kind and although a few were worried, most were getting comfort foods and beer. Lots ‘o’ beer. Anyway, I got a text from William’s teacher about an hour before shift end that said there would be a two hour delay the next day.

I came home and shortly after going to bed, the school system called again to say they would be cancelling school with an optional teacher workday. I still had to work on Friday but it made life much easier knowing Jeff could be home with the kiddos.

Friday morning Jeff did go in for a few hours before I had to head in for Milk Sandwiches Part II. And I was thrilled that although we were busy, it wasn’t crazy and well worth coming in! As it turned out there was no bad weather on Friday at any point so it was kind of a wasted day off but the kids had fun with Jeff and that boded well for today.

Today was Joseph’s first Reconciliation. He’s been preparing and was so ready!

Joseph reconciliation morning

He got dressed up and was ready for some grace! Prior to the beginning of the hearing of Confessions, our pastor spoke to the children about the sacrament running through what would happen one last time and telling them the importance of the sacrament. He used the parable of the Prodigal Son with the focus being on the father’s embrace.

Joseph was one of the first kiddos in and came to do his penance in the sanctuary. The plan was to stay til all the kids were done but 45 minutes after we really needed to get going. But we did take one pic with St Mark with a clean soul before going.

Joseph St Mark

We came home where after lunch, Joseph got to pick our movie to watch (The Empire Strikes Back) and enjoy some popcorn and snacks.

Currently it’s bitterly cold here with no precipitation, and I’m praying that precipitation stays away so we can make it to Mass with no drama tomorrow. So this week will hopefully be mostly back to normal (except that Joseph has one more dental appointment, to get sealants on which couldn’t be done until he had that tooth pulled). And then tomorrow is the feast day of William’s patron, Blessed William Ireland…so lots to start this week off right!

 

When Politics and Friendship Collide

I dislike politics. I operate on the belief that when someone enters the political arena, they do have to make certain compromises and sometimes, they make too many and all the wrong ones.

I posted something on facebook today about Sarah Palin and her recent woes (son arrested, daughter challenging her daughter’s father as to rights to a child) and her recent endorsement of Donald Trump.

As usual, it got very little response.

Until a friend said she would say something if her family was perfect. Ah glass houses, and what not.

Except…this is a person who takes to very vocal complaining about her teenagers on a regular basis. This is a person who call often profane names at complete strangers and newscasters she doesn’t agree with and politicians alike. This is a person who has a lot of guilt at how her own life turned out, especially after the death of a parent. By her logic, we should never point out the short-comings of others because of our own except…

When I pointed this out as nicely as I could and Palin’s own admitted failings (in particular in her first book when she acknowledges she handed her kids over to a relative when her daughter became pregnant out of wedlock the first time and that if she had been more involved this might not have happened) she shot back that bad kids come from good parents and that she lived in her glass house and left stones on the ground.

Except…

Let one thing be certain, politically, my friend and I are two apples from the same tree. Except when it comes to BS. Because that BS I don’t tolerate from anyone and she selectively accepts it. I don’t like calling friends out but sometimes we just have to speak our piece and move on.

The truth in this case is that like many someone thrust their family into the spotlight while trying to proclaim they were one way only for them to turn out very much another way and from there it just got ugly. Sadly, when you expose your faults to the world wrapped in layers of double-talk and BS, it upsets people.

It is why I choose carefully what politics I just throw out there for public consumption, because words matter. I once was a huge Palin fan. Circa 2008. I also accepted at face value the explanations I was given then. I can no longer, in good conscience just accept the platitudes and glossing over. And I chose to put that out there which friends from both political sides agreed on for the most part. And most chose not to attack me or my family when they engaged in.

I never said my house was in perfect order, but I did mention that for someone embroiled in so much personal chaos, perhaps running into the political front and center wasn’t the right task. It looks more like running away than dealing with it.

Someone, a friend, who didn’t like what I said, took aim and fired. At me. And that’s okay, because she’s still my friend and I still love her because I realize her response comes from sources I have seen first hand and have the utmost sympathy and empathy for. And she’s made the mistake of viewing the whole world through her own lens and thinking everything is a shot at her (I once got an angry DM about a status that posted from twitter in response to something going on there that she was SURE was directed at her because of something she had just posted that I hadn’t even seen…) a few times before.

I have to say, having a heart of flesh vs stone has made these kinds of things pretty difficult to live through. I’ve had to expose myself more and make myself more open to these kinds of incidences. And I’ve had to have mercy and forgive more as well.

Can friendship and politics live together? The jury is still out as I do not know her response yet in full, but I’m not going to sweat losing friends or friends who attack from their own wounded places. I realize now it’s one of the things I was chosen for. Lord, have mercy.

The Grief Olympics

Over at Aleteia, Simcha Fisher has written about the jerkwads who come out staunchly indifferent to a particular current event and mock those who care about them. 

If you don’t care about David Bowie or France or the Super Bowl, well then, let’s give it up for you.

Dwight Slow Clap gif.gif

But even more annoying, more childish, than the people bragging about their ignorance or indifference, are the ones claiming that someone else deserves your mourning more.

I call it, “The Grief Olympics,” and it goes a little something like this:

  1. A celebrity dies or their is a tragedy in the world.
  2. People react in grief.
  3. Other people react to first people’s reaction not just with derision but by proclaiming that some other celebrity or tragedy is more tragic and it must be racism, classism etc that is causing people not to notice.

Let’s take, for example, the Paris night club bombing. The same day, earlier the same day, a bombing took place in Lebanon that ISIS took responsibility for. There was a small outcry from people who said that it was shoved under the rug. In fairness to them, because of both things happening the same day and the comparative lack of free journalism out of Lebanon and the news cycle here in the US…there probably was some truth to that. Several of my friends admit that the earlier bombing (which occurred while most Americans were at work) they hadn’t heard about it and were equally upset by it when they did find out.

More egregious, however, were the people who began posting this story in outrage. First of all, the attack referenced happened months before, so we’re not even talking something recent. Second, all of my “friends” on facebook who posted this, never acknowledged these events when they happened either. So, evidently, they are only responsible for news they get off of social media and it’s up to social media who gets attention and there’s no way they could start a trend. Nope no way at all. The injustice being manufactured was disgusting, to say the least. Why? Because the flag overlay wasn’t available yet from facebook itself when the atrocities in Kenya occurred??? And people can’t be sad about France because of what happened months before in Kenya?

First of all, if facebook doesn’t give you a free over-lay, you can do it yourself for free on picmonkey. Second, why do we need to feel like some grief should outweigh others? It simply does not make sense.

This whole incident made it abundantly clear that the giant internet hand of spanking does in fact still exist.

It should be no surprise to anyone that one’s out-pouring of grief is directly proportional to the impact the tragedy or loss of life had on that particular person. That’s a “duh”moment right there. If my family member died the same day as David Bowie, obviously I’m going to be more upset about my family member’s death than Bowie’s but that doesn’t give me the right to shoot my mouth off to everyone in social media or the real world that my tragedy is so much more tragic!!!!

And it’s even more obnoxious when we are arguing over which celebrity gets the most grief. I have been mildly impressed that I did not see a single “Why everyone so sad about Bowie? Where was y’all when Natalie Cole died?” post. I’m not saying they don’t exist, but my friends seemed to keep it in check. Even more remarkable was when I saw a local reggae dj sending out respect and friends who really didn’t know the music sending prayers to the family.

We can appreciate each other’s grief without trying to make ours seem bigger. We can simply allow people to mourn and express grief without trampling all over them with how there are more things in this world to be upset about. Respect people. Just have respect and the manners will follow suit.

 

Seven Quick Takes…week one back to school in the books!

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So, here we are, at the end of the first week of the new year. And the first week of back to school…

  1. I took our tree down yesterday. By myself. All of it. It wasn’t a moment too soon because that thing was so dead I am in shock there were any needles at all left on it. I spent a solid hour just on needle clean-up. Jeff got it at a national chain home improvement store. I am thinking next year, we go local.
  2. Wednesday the boys had dentist appointments. It was their first visit with their new dentist since we moved. Previously we had them at the same pediatric dentist Shelby uses (Shelby is still a patient, they have a nearby office in our new location) but we found that they really didn’t need all the bells and whistles (and extremely long wait times) of that type of office so I moved them to a family dentist. Everything looked great and I am so pleased with our move especially because after the pediatric dentist told us they wouldn’t take out Joseph’s baby tooth that had a permanent tooth fully erupted behind it for a year, this dentist said, come back in two weeks and we’ll get it out and hopefully the spacing will correct itself without braces.
  3. Things I learned from my grandparents over the holiday: When my grandmother was young, her father moved her family out of a traditional Italian neighborhood in Buffalo to what was then the outskirts of town. When she attended Catholic school there, a nun (who she remember as a favorite) named Sister Joan had her stand up as an example in class of people with dark hair and coloring (my grandmother’s family is not just Italian, but Sicilian). Imagine that happening today!

    Also, when my grandmother began dating my grandfather (who is Polish), my great-grandfather used to tell family, “Sue’s going with a Polish boy but he’s one of the smart ones.” (My grandfather has two masters degrees, one in chemisty and one in business.) It was a great source of pride, apparently, to my Italian great-grandfather.

  4. Who else is in denial about Ash Wednesday being February 10th? Seriously though, I am in complete denial but it is a good thing in that it means we have a few weeks between Easter and First Communion now. But that means it is going to feel like the beginning of this year is so crunched up together. Lent starting in early February, Easter in March, First Communion in April…oh yeah, First Reconciliation is in two weeks. And to think when all that is over, we’ll have been in our house almost a year.
  5. I am so exhausted from this first week back to school, I suggest we have another two week break…who’s with me?!
  6. Want to know what our best Christmas present was? It came from my youngest brother Ben and his wife of just over 6 months who is super crafty. And we all have to share it to prevent fights from breaking out…here is Shelby wrapped up in it:Shelby blanketIt is personalized  to “the Herretts” and it happens to match our bedding perfectly (they haven’t been to our house since we moved) is very soft and warm.
  7. Last but not least, prayer request time. William has his first allergist appointment Wednesday for his “scratch test.” He is always nervous but then in the last weeks he’s seen two on television (fictionalized) and he’s terrified now. So prayers that he is relieved and we finally get some answers (aka allergy shots).

More Quick Takes, go here!

Confession and the Boov

This fall Jeff rented the movie Home from Redbox and William fell in love with the film. So much so that I gave it as a suggestion for a gift to my mom who got it to be William’s gift from my grandmother.

We watched Home this weekend after we got home from my parents’ house (Shelby and Jeff did not join us because they were both sick). Despite having seen it before, Jeff had almost no memory of it and my memory was a bit faded.

For a little background, the movie is about an alien named Oh (voiced by the amazing Jim Parsons) whose alien race, the Boov, take over the planet Earth as they try to escape from the Gorg (a starfish-like alien race). They relocate all the humans to “Happy Humans Land” (aka Australia).

Oh is a very simple member of the Boov race. He believes that all the other Boov like him, when in fact, he’s a bit of an outcast. Much like Emmett in Lego Movie, Oh is a “company man.” He is a yes man and a huge fan of Captain Smek, the Boov leader (voiced by Steve Martin).

After arriving on Earth, in an attempt to invite fellow Boov to his home, Oh accidentally sends a message that reveals to the Gorg the location of the Boov causing a massive panic and making Oh a fugitive.

As he goes on the run to  try and get to the one place on the planet where there are no Boov (Antarctica), he meets up with a human girl name Gratuity Tucci but called Tip (voiced by Rihanna) for short. When the humans were being rounded up, Tip was separated from her mother (Jennifer Lopez) when the humans were rounded up and she was left behind after a Boov scanner identified her as cat since her cat (named Pig) was on her head. Tip and Oh begin a quest to find Tip’s mother and get Oh away from his fellow Boov.

Oh is innocent and believes that his race came to Earth not just to escape the Gorg but also help the humans as this is what he was told. However, his experiences with Tip challenge his knowledge and long held beliefs. He is forced to learn lessons he did not anticipate.

Through the course of the movie we see Oh not only change as his understanding of what he thought previously changes we also see him formally acknowledge his past missteps and attempt to atone for them. This is best exemplified toward the movie’s end when the Boov are fleeing Earth and the Gorg. Oh challenges Captain Smek’s assessment of the humans and his abilities as a leader based on his experiences with Tip. (After he saves his race by running to the danger instead of away, as Boov are prone to do.) His argument is so persuasive that a fellow Boov, Kyle, steps in and asserts that Oh should be the new Boov leader.

When as the new Boov leader, Oh returns to Earth to help Tip find her mom, he discovers the real reason the Gorg are pursuing the Boov and in order to save not only his race, but his new friend and her race he confronts the Gorg to make amends. And in a surprise turn of events, the Gorg forgives all the Boov and makes a clean start.

As Oh learns better, he does better. But he doesn’t just change his future behavior, he acknowledges his past behavior and asks forgiveness.

In two weeks, Joseph will make his First Confession. As the last year has gone by, I’ve watched Joseph make better decisions and learn how to acknowledge his missteps. I’ve watched him learn and grow and as he learns better, he does better.

We make Confession seem scary to kids with our reluctance to go but we have nothing to fear from it. In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, I am so excited to share with my oldest son that God is a merciful, forgiving God. And that He has given us the wonderful gift of the sacrament of Reconciliation that we might acknowledge our sins and ask forgiveness. And we have the chance to move forward.

Children are much like Oh at the beginning of the film, sometimes believing things that aren’t true or not being able to fully comprehend situations that arise because of their limited life experience and education, but as they grow and mature they realize that life is more complicated and that there are reasons for what is right and wrong.

The Church currently has children receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation at what is called the “age of reason” which is roughly seven to eight years of age. The grace of the sacrament comes at a time when children are beginning to experience and understand more of the world. It can be a very confusing time as previously held ideas are challenged and children realize that new knowledge has a purpose and must be acted upon. The Church seizes this time to introduce this great gift of Reconciliation to the children in hopes that they will love and cherish God’s mercy in His forgiveness of our sins.

But it can’t be one and done. Before Oh reconciles with the Gorg he first has to make amends with Tip, whom he abandoned after breaking his word. While on the Boov escape pod he tells the Boov that Tip cares for him, despite his not having done much to earn that care. It is like that with us and God too. We don’t deserve His mercy and forgivness, but He gives it, freely. We have only to ask. Oh is able to do the right thing with the Gorg because he first came back and apologized and helped Tip.

And so instead of just making a big deal about the first Confession, we need to make it about every single one. This is a joyful time when we get to experience God’s love, grace, mercy and forgiveness not by running away like we might have previously (and like the movie mentions, the Boov were best at doing) but running to Him. When it comes to Confession, we don’t want to be the Boov under Captain Smek but the Boov led by Oh.

Slaying the New Year

So, I haven’t made it to confession yet (tomorrow is a possible) and haven’t had a chance to open my January book yet nor my Bible BUT…guys I’ve worked out for three days straight. Take that January non-resolution!

 

I have this thing where I don’t make resolutions involving diet, exercise or health. I have found that putting that “emphasis” of a resolution to ultimately be destructive.

Also, I have fitness rules:

  1. Must be free. If it requires me to drive to it, it costs gas and is therefore not free.
  2. It must not require any special equipment aside from sneakers
  3. It has to be manageable portions that I can work my day around. Cause my day be jacked up sometimes.
  4. I avoid talking about it at all cost.

In light of number four I’m going to shut up about that now. We’re in day two of back to school and I managed a full shift at work yesterday thanks to no one getting sick at home and people actually shopping at work.

I also got tons of cleaning done yesterday and laundry and I’m feeling pretty darn good about my progress. The tree is still up (I’ll get it down tomorrow.) I got Joseph his prescription filled for his prevantative inhaler, both boys have dentist appointments tomorrow and I’ve gotten William in for an allergist consult next Wednesday!

So that’s it…that’s ho I’m doing it for the time being!

 

Resolutions

If you’ve read this blog for a while I’m sure you’re reading that title and thinking…

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I’m not a fan of the whole “New Year’s Resolution” thing but I want to improve some things in my life at the very least spiritually. I am hoping for improvement, not miracles or radical transformation.

So here they go…

  1. Attend mass on every Holy Day of Obligation. So far we’re two for two making it to mass on New Year’s Day at my parents’ parish and at our alternate parish today.
  2. Make it to Confession at least once a month. I’m truly not picky as to parish or priest for this, which will make it easier if I’m able to go at an assigned time. In the event that I am stuck with making an appointment, it might be trickier because my parish is a haul for an off day but I think it can be done.
  3. Read one faith-building book a month. I have a few I need to read already and some I want to read. I just have to stick to it!
  4. Continue reading the Bible and finish the Old Testament.

So here we go, a few things to work on over the course of the calendar year. I’m hopeful that in bettering my spiritual life everything else will fall into place. I know it will.