Thursday, May 7, 2009


Entry for November 04, 2008
Happy Election Day! I hope all of you voted. I promised myself that this blog would be about family and that I wouldn't go all political. I will keep that promise. But I can indulge in a bit of patriotism.
I do sincerely hope all of you exercised your right to vote. People have suffered and died so that you can have the right to vote. Do not take this lightly.
We live in the greatest country on the face of the earth. I do not say that itn a hegemonic way, but with awe and humility. Think of the founding fathers and all they suffered to get this country going. Some lost their livelihoods, their entire families, even their lives. They had a vision and a dream of unencumbered freedom and they gave all to realize that dream. So, if you are tempted to be apathetic on this of all days, remember those who were there when this all started.
God Bless America!

Entry for October 17, 2008
Today was our 21st wedding anniversary. I spent it making pizza, surrounded by our kids. When Joe got home, we ate and had cake. The kids sang, "Happy Anniversary to you (cha, cha, cha)." We had fun.
Twenty-one years is a long time. Over the years we have learned a lot of lessons from eachother. I learned that men don't have rules. They're just coasting. Joe learned that women have rules-- lots of 'em.
Here's to you, Joe:

Entry for October 08, 2008
One Saturday night, we stayed up late with Noah and Bella and played Lord Of the Rings Trivial Pursuit. Thank goodness Joe and I weren't on the same team or the kids would have killed us. They are good. Each of them has read the trilogy (except, according to Noah, it is not a trilogy; it is a series of six books combined into three; he should know because he has read the appendices) at least five times each and seen the movies as much.
The game ended in a tie, and by the time we called it quits, it was 12:30 a.m. Joe and I were exhausted. Bella and Noah were wired. We agreed they should have a sleepover because the little girls were in dreamland and we didn't want to disturb them by sending Bella down to their room. The kids kept getting up. Noah begins to ask questions across the hall: "Does fire have one syllable or two? Did you know the word orchid comes from a Greek word that means testicle?" ...and on and on. Our response was always the same: "Go to SLEEP!!!"
Finally, the two of them creep in one last time. We read them the riot act. They tiptoe out into the dark hallway. The only light was the blue glow of the printer power light from the kitchen. "What's that?" One of them says. "A light," the other answers, "Oooooo...pretty."
That put Joe and I into hysterics. We were so tired and giddy and we just couldn't stop laughing. This scared the children. They stayed away after that.
Moral: Act crazy and they'll leave you alone.

Entry for October 07, 2008
Today we headed over to Immaculate Conception cathedral in KC. Bishop Finn was saying Mass there and it was to be televised on EWTN. Joe programmed the GPS and we woke up early, got in the car and away we went. As we approached downtown, the GPS lady had me make a right and then I think I either went too right or not enough right, because it was one of those octopus-like intersections and I wound up going out of my way for about 20 minutes. My cell phone rang and it was my friend, Genevieve. "We were right behind you. Why did you make a right???" I shamelessly put all the blame on the GPS. Genevieve talks me over into a place to park and tells me she has saved a pew and she will be standing outside the cathedral so I know where to go in. Didn't I tell you we made some awesome friends here???
I park on the street, feed the parking meter every silver coin in my wallet and off we go. We bump into a couple of nuns on the way and they are giddy with excitement about the Mass. My children say hello and the sisters compliment them on how nice they look. I sheepishly ask if we can follow them to the cathedral, which turns out to be practically in front of us. The nuns are charitable about my ignorance. And there is Genevieve, waiting. She escorts us in and we sit down in the pew. Whew! Made it.
Then panic sets in. I left the GPS on the window, in plain sight. Aaargh! I am not sure if I can find my way back to the car in order to hide the GPS. We decide to send Genevieve's son, Gus, as a guide for Noah, who knows the car and has the keys. They make it there and back in record time. Miraculous.
The cathedral is very crowded and there are lots of Knights of Columbus there in their "regalia" to act as color guard for the Bishop. They wear hats with some feathery stuff on them and, when Bella was about four, she began calling them "sheepheads." The name stuck and now my whole family refers to the K of C color guard as sheepheads. The music starts, the sheepheads walk in and the procession starts. The music is absolutely beautiful. I am turning my mind toward God when Bella tugs on my sleeve. "Mom, I have to go to the bathroom really bad." I hear a small voice say, "Me, too. Really bad." It is her sidekick, Genevieve. Sigh... We wait until the procession is over and dash to the restroom. We come back and enjoy the rest of the Mass. The Bishop gave an awesome talk on our responsibility as Christians to care for others and implore God for help in doing this.
The Mass is almost over, but the next child has to go. I have Bella take Angelina and they make it back just in time for communion. I really wanted to receive from the Bishop, but there was another priest right next to him that no one was going to, so I went to him instead. Bella and Noah received from the Bishop.
After Mass we met Bishop Finn. From his demeanor, he obviously loves being around kids. He was thrilled to see so many children.
I was just contemplating the drive home when Genevieve suggested we go out for lunch. I take her up on it and we head over to Cascone's in the City Market and have burgers or grilled cheese. The kids had fun being with their friends. Genevieve and I talked politics for awhile. It was a good time.
On the way home, my cell phone rings. It's Genevieve. "What road are you on?" "169," I answer. "Oh, good!" she sounds relieved, "We are, too and we just saw a purple van get on 29 and we thought it was you!" HA!
That night, my mother calls. She is watching a rerun of the Mass on EWTN and is looking for us. I put it on my computer, but my broadcast is several second behind hers. She narrates the whole thing for me. Finally, she spots Genevieve, who was sitting at the end of the pew. She is happy. Then she continues to narrate the whole rest of the Mass that I, too, am watching. It comes time for communion and she is looking for us. "I see the Bishop. He is giving out communion. Is that you? No. It's an old lady. Oh! Now they switched to showing candles. Why are they showing candles? Wait. No. It's a statue now. Can't they switch it back?" I patiently listen to the complaining. "Peter!" she yells, "That looks like Bella! I saw Bella receive communion!" "That's not Bella!" I hear my father yell. Then I see Bella on my computer screen receiving communion. I also see my left shoulder going past her to receive communion from the other priest. As soon as Bella receives, they show the choir. I tell my mother that she was right, it was Bella. "Peter!" she yells, "It WAS Bella!" Satisfied that she saw her granddaughter on TV, my mother hangs up.
So, we had a good day. We went to Mass, saw some friends and Bella and Genevieve each had 2 seconds of fame. But most of all, we took time out of the day to lift our minds to God. Mass was a small oasis of peace in the midst of the chaos that (usually) is my life.

Entry for September 21, 2008
At Mass today, we had a visiting priest, Fr. Charles, who was originally from Uganda and lives now in Michigan. Thirty weekends a year he travels to other parishes asking people to sponsor children in need. He gave a great sermon and the kids really wanted to meet him. After Mass, we approached him and I noticed that he had the most joyful smile I had ever seen. It was infectious. He went right over to Charlie and introduced himself. After some prompting, Charlie reciprocated. He explained to Charlie that they shared a name. Then he got really close to me, so close that I could only see his eyes, put his hand on my shoulders and said, "You are truly a mother, because you will always have a baby."
Now, this really struck me, because the way he said it was so sincere. Quickly, the story of the presentation of Jesus in the temple flashed through my mind and I could hear Simeon saying to Mary, "And your own heart will be pierced by a sword." I am sure Simeon didn't say it in some condescending way; full of pity. No, he was merely stating a fact. This is how I took it.
Lots of people say stuff to me about being the mother of a child with a disability. They tell me I'm special. I hate that. "Oh, God knew you were special and that is why He gave you Charlie." Bah. I am no more special than you, or your Uncle Carmine, if you happen to have one. I am a mother, plain and simple. I am raising the children who were entrusted to me by God. That's all. Motherhood is no walk in the park, whether you have one child or seventeen kids. It's all in the attitude. You can whine about it or you can laugh about it. You can embrace it or run away from it. You can throw yourself into it and give it your best shot or spend your life just phoning it in. It is a choice. Most of the time you make that choice moment by moment. Sometimes it is a little of both. There are some days, when things are so wild that I can't even stop for a second. But then, when all is quiet and I am in bed reflecting on my day, I burst out laughing at the sheer nuttiness of it all.
After Mass , Joe and the kids wanted to go for a hike. Now, if you are a regular reader, you know that I hate going outside. But my encounter with Fr. Charles left me in such a joyful mood that I tossed caution to the wind and agreed to go.
We went up near Lake Smithville, to some hiking trails there. Joe was in front and I was in the rear, with the kids in between, except for Genevieve, who held my hand. She told me she needed to hold my hand "Just in case, Mom, because you never know."
As soon as civilization was out of sight, Charlie said, "Use the bathroom, please." Sigh. Thank goodness there were no other hikers in sight. I escorted the rest of the clan a discreet distance ahead, while Joe complied with Charlie's request. The hiking resumed.
Bella brought a small cloth bag in which to collect things. We saw some flowers that we hadn't seen before, so Joe cut one and Bella put it in the bag. In also, went a thorn from a tree that had thorns. There were some mushrooms that Bella thought might be poisoncup mushrooms and she warned me not to touch them. Angelina took a picture and we will try to identify them sometime. Joe pointed out a spot on a tree that ws used by deer for rubbing their antlers. Again, Angelina took a picture. We had to hike across a dry creek bed and the bank was very steep. When Charlie got to the top he turned around and saw me approaching. He came back down, offered me his arm, and assisted me up the bank. I offer up a silent song of praise for this silent, but thoughtful young man.
Noah was diligent about looking for poison ivy. "Remember, Mom, leaves of three, let it be," he reminded me often throughout our journey. He made sure to point out to his sisters all the places that were most likely animal homes. "But don't put your hand in there," he would warn.
At one point, when the trail was easy, Joe came to the back of the line and we held hands for a bit while the kids took the lead. Small rays of light shone through the trees, keeping the temperature comfortable for walking. The forest, with the gentle sounds of wildlife, was peaceful. I must admit that I was actually enjoying the outing. Then a huge hornet started following us and I freaked. A couple of times I thought we lost it, because the loud buzzing stopped. But I realized it was still there; just hovering. Eeeww. That gave me the willies. Eventually it went away, though, and I calmed down.
Deep into the hike, we saw a deer. It stayed so still, that we were able to gaze at it for a long time. Joe and Angelina got some pictures. Then I found some snail shells, which were deposited in the bag. Almost at the end of the hike, the kids spotted a snakeskin. What a prize! After everyone had a turn holding it and feeling it, in the bag it went.
Just when we were starting to tire out, we came to the end of the first trail. We looked at the map and determined that to get back to the car, we had about 0.7 miles to go. Everyone was a good sport and spotting some caterpillars and dead, but intact, cicadas along the way, helped the last part of the hike go quickly.
On the ride home, the children looked over their bag of treasures. They were so happy with the specimens they collected. As I listened to their excited chatter, I thanked God for giving them the gifts of curiousity and love of learning.
Life is a series of moments. In each moment we make an unconscious decision to be happy or wallow in self pity; to take what is given us and deal with it or run away from pain, sorrow or discomfort; to live or merely exist.
One thing I can say for myself is today, I lived.

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