Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy Bday Dad!

It's my Dad's birthday!
He's a still going strong 79!

I can't tell you how much I wish I was there with  him, to hug him and peruse the paper over good strong hot coffee...
to discuss the merits of coffee and coffeemakers...

(Yeah, we Mahan's really appreciate some good donuts!)

to drive down to VG's donuts as we discuss the merits of really great donuts...

to bring all the loot (Read; donuts.  Yep. We throw those diabetic worries to the wind on these rare mornings...ahem....) back to the house and wait for Mom to wake and pad out to the kitchen and join us...
and continue our lazy morning pondering.

I wish I could discuss the latest books we've read, what we liked, why, what we didn't and why....
solve life's ongoing problems,
plan the futures of all the grandkids,
fine tune the lives of the siblings,
generally save the world - all from our comfy spot on the stools around the kitchen counter.

I would make him tamales and pour him some wine,
we'd discuss why Notre Dame's team is gonna get better even though he is unconvinced.
But we'd watch today's bowl game today anyhow, I'd shout and he'd tsk at the fumbles and shake his head.
I know my sister would show up and we would all get a bunch of laughs and Dad would get more bday hugs.
We would all agree that hanging out for a quiet birthday is simply and truly the very best way to spend New Year's Eve; that there is no other place we'd rather be.
We'd both start nodding off in front of the television,
and I'd peck his cheek as he got up to head to bed, shaking his head at the goofy dogs he his "housing" for my brother {but that he secretly likes quite a bit}.
He would pat my head goodnight.

I'd wish him one more happy bday, and wish him goodnight.
Because I love him.
He's my dad.

Happy Birthday Dad!
I hope all your birthday wishes come true!
Sending you birthday hugs and wishes and prayers from the south!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Moms Rock!!

I dare you....I dare you to step outside the comfort zone and do this.
Yup, that's an open challenge.

Now, you can read the details, here. The short version is this, spend fifteen minutes a day rocking your child who has that special need.  Ok, I know, they all do.  But you also know as well as I do, that some of your kids have much more intense needs and hurts.  Those are the ones I'm talking about.  If you have a big ol' covered porch with a rocking chair, all the better.  If not, a big sofa or big chair, a rocking chair, a swivel chair, whatever.  It's the snuggle closeness of focused time, not even needing to talk or DO anything.  It's just rocking, sitting, close together.   Everything else is gravy.

After reading the details, you may snort and snuff and say, perhaps, "Psshaww! That's nuthin! Piece of cake!"  Well, I hope so.  That would be great for you!  But for those of us parenting kids from hard places or with special needs...this challenge can be a huge, um, challenge!  And the idea of taking it on is, frankly, to me, kinda daunting.  {Why yes, I really am that selfish, thanks.  Sorry but true}.  
Pablo Picasso, "The Rocking Chair."

Because doing this is an act of will.
I must carve out the time to do it, and that means I have to steal it from some of the precious spare time in a day.  Though, I strongly suspect it's much akin to Mother Teresa's take on things, to paraphrase: "You should spend half an hour a day in adoration and prayer, talking with Jesus....If you are very busy, you should spend an hour."
Yup. Counterintuitive, all the way.
It works with prayer and just the same it works with therapeutic parenting.  If you take the time and invest in your kid who needs that extra time and focus, you actually shorten time (on the good days) that  you spend putting out fires.  Meaning, you are investing in healing them.  Which pays off in their coping better.  Which pays off in their happiness.  Which pays of in see how this plays.....

So, to that end, I'm in.
I'm stepping up, or, er, sitting down for the challenge.
Because I rock.
That's right.
I said it.
I rock.

And you can too.
I bet you'll be glad you did.
Go here, to join up.
See ya on the porch!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mi Amo A My Emmy....

Happy Happy Bday to my Emmy!
It's Emily's 12th bday today!!

It's a great day for a birthday, in the quieting week between Christmas and New Years, we have one very important day to mark: my sweet Emmy's birthday!

It might be easy for Emmy to feel lost in the shuffle of holiday festing frenzy.  But never, oh never, do we want that to happen...because our Emily's day is the sweet close to the year.  It reminds me, each year, of the goodness of God's abundance and makes me grin at the gift of this sweet wonderful girl!

Our Emily, virtually twinned with her sister Sarah, and yet so very different.  They share a special bond; but are so unique in their own ways. I can't imagine life without either one, but today, is my Em's day so this list is for her.

My Emmy, now you are twelve.
And you are still possibly the most stubborn, strong willed child in my house...though many would like to steal that crown. 

But I'm not sure they can, nor would I want them to. 
Because your strength of will means you will have one of the tools that will help you go far and do whatever you set your mind to do.  
You can set the world on fire, I daresay you will.

You are an animal lover:
Geckos, cats, horses, dogs - most especially jumping dachshund puppies.

You are a lover of sports as well: basketball, swimming, boating, volleyball.
Which works well since you are an impressive athlete.

You love to learn to cook, which works well since  you love to eat.
You have sophisticated taste buds: shrimp, pasta carbonara, toffee, berries, coffee drinks, antipasta salami and olives and cheeses.
Which would work well as you travel the world in your adventures to come....
except that you are a homebody and might be most content to hang out around the house, preferably in flannel pj pants.

You are a terrific friend, loyal and kind with a keen sense of justice.
Which makes middle school a little prickly and painful at times,
and will probably do the same for high school...
but will be a golden toolbox for college and beyond.

You are so smart, but don't always admit it.
YOu will make a most excellent marine biologist one day;
and I will come tour your aquarium and clap with amazement at your work, so proud I could pop.

In the meantime, I watch you growing, so fast, into a young lady.
And I am already so proud I could pop.
So is your pop.
You are good through and through, my Emmy....{despite your moody self sometimes}.

So on this  your birthday, we wish for all your birthday wishes to come true (except for the permanent pet gecko one).
And we want to  make sure you know, for now and for ever, how very much we love  you.

Happy Happy 12th Birthday Emily!
We love you so!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Imitating Life....

So, maybe I don't snarl at the kids...ok, at least not on a good day {and we just don't talk about those bad days do we?}...but still.  Made me laugh out loud, needed today, so thank you Booboo! So goes the Christmas vacation...
**disclaimer: I have never watched this show and probably won't. So this is not an endorsement of it. But this clip makes me laugh, it's my house.  Mom mom mom mom gabe gabey gabe gabe me me me me......**

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Holy Family!

Michelangelo, "The Holy Family"

What perfect timing, of course!
I love this feast, its a reminder to me that even Christ got to, had to, live in a family.  
Think about that one.....
Now his family was all holy and everything, true...but even so, it's a great example.  Heck, we have sports stars that we look up to and try to be as good as they are (for the most part, at least when we are talking about their skills of endurance and perseverance and practice, right?).  So, that's one of the great things about the saints and feast days, they are like the posters kids put up in bedrooms...heroes to emulate, gaze at and wonder and dream.  

So today I have put up the gorgeous  painting by Michelangelo, I got to see it in person this summer at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.  Just wow!  This is the heroic icon of family.  The holy family, I could just look at it all day long.  

But the really cool part about all of this, is that WE are called to be like them.  Really.  We are called to be, in our own little (or big) families, the domestic church.  Which is just the coolest thing to me.  We are supposed to model that love that faithfulness that care and keeping of each other...because that's what families do.  It can take different forms for the different needs and concerns of each family, of course.  But the basics remain.  We care for each other to our best ability, because we are family.  Just like the Holy Family did.  If we shoot for that, we are on the right track.  Which is helpful to remember as I correct my fast growing (in size and temper) son and he stomps up the stairs and shouts that I am "despicable."  {Yes, he's got a heck of a temper, but his vocabulary is impressive!}

So as we/I all recover from the excess and crazies of Christmas day {and hand out 'write-offs' to the kids who are having fall apart syndrome from too much muchness yesterday}, and review in our mind the sweetnesses of this holiday {sleeping toddlers breathing against your neck at midnight Mass} and the irritants {maybe even Jesus had an annoying distant uncle made Mary roll her eyes at the dinner table}....I need to keep this in mind:
It's not just something we endure or that imposes chores....
it's what our deepest hearts long for.  
Because it's holy.

From Evening Prayer for this day:

Father, help us to live as the holy family,
united in respect and love.  
Bring us to the joy and peace of your eternal home.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, 
one God, forever and ever. 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas Birthday Girl!!

Merry Christmas to all, but most especially to my best present ever: 
My Sarahbird!!

It's her birthday once again, she is twelve now!

And I think we are finally coming to terms with the jiving up of the Christmas fun and the birthday fun.
We've tried many many things over the years, variations and tweaks.  But what works best is what has become solid tradition: Christmas in the morning, Bday after noon.  And before you get all "aw, gee" about it all, lets look at this clearly:
My Sweet Sarah has the biggest birthday of the year.
It has a month of buildup leading up to it.
The entire world celebrates alongside her; because she has the best most awesome birthday companion possible: Christ himself!
Christmas babies are inherently special, they just are. 
She gets the best breakfast, homemade cinnamon rolls, every year.
She will never have school or work on her birthday.
And she gets the yum of the fancypoo Christmas dinner on the eve of her bday and then gets her pick of dinner and desert for Christmas day.  Even if she chooses hot dogs (and she has)!

 So, we think having a Christmas birthday is pretty special; just like her.
Because my sweet Sarah bird is twelve.
She was my tiniest baby, hands down, the tiniest baby I had ever held.
 I might have told you that before, I still can't get over it!

She is still petite and always will be.
That frustrates her sometimes, but it suits her perfectly.
Except perhaps when she is guarding in basketball.
Which is probably why she does such a fierce trash talking job of it!

She is a girly girl and probably always will be.
She loves ruffles and sparkles and bling...
and dolls and ponies and kittens...
but not wild jumping dachshund puppies.

She loves to be social and is making many friends at her school.
But  her best friend for ever and ever will always be her sister Em.
They shared a basket, they shared bottles (I know, gross, but try it w/ virtual twins, try keeping them always separate, I double dog dare you), they shared clothes, toys, snacks, baths, beds, and still share a room.
They are just each others best buddy.
Except when they aren't, because they are preteen girls and that explains it all!

Sarah is creative and loves to draw and craft and cut and design.
Which usually makes quite a mess.
Which makes her mom crazy.
Because Sarah is not and  may never be, a natural cleaner or tidier.
Though she can do a great job when motivated.

Storms and spiders scare her.
As do large dogs, and jumpy puppies.
She loves sugary foods beyond anything else to eat.
And has a knack for figuring out how to score them.

Sarah can be prickly, and moody.
But deep down, she is a sweet not so little (12 now!) girl who just wants to be liked, fit in, and have fun. 
Just like most twelve  year old girls.
Especially the have fun, preferably a party, part. 

So today we will hang the streamers and cut the cake.
We will open (more!) presents and we will sing the birthday song loudly.

And we will hug this special girl tight and tell her:
"Happy Happy Birthday Sweet SarahBird!"

"We love you so much!"
 "We hope all your bday wishes come true!"

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Eve of Christmas for a Mom!

Well, we still have much of this holiday to come...
but this Christmas eve, this mom/me just got what might be my best Christmas present, below:

That note?  It is a huge giant step forward for my daughter, my newest one from hard places.
Seems like a typical kid love note.
Tomorrow might be hard again.  I hope not.
But even so, I'm marking this.
Because this is big and tonight she was happy enough to write this and hand it to me with a huge grin, ducking her head as she came to hug and kiss me.
It might as well be gold.

It's good.
It's progress.
Which is, of course, the best present of all to us both.
Brought, of course, by a "little" child.....and I've been given the eyes to see and this is Christmas Joy.

Merry Christmas Eve!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel: O Emmanuel, God with us, our King and lawgiver, 
the expected of the nations and their Savior; 
come to save us, O Lord our God. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

O Rex Gentium

O Rex Gentium
O King of the Gentiles

O King of the Gentiles and desired One, the cornerstone that makes both one: 
come, and deliver man, whom you formed out of the dust of the earth.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

O Oriens

O Oriens
O Rising Dawn

O Oriens, O dawn of the east, brightness of light eternal, and sun of justice; 
come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

Behind the curtain....

Yeah you moms know what I'm talking about...
It's really really great to act like and try to make the world, or at least your own little family unit, think that you are the "great and powerful Oz."  Right? Right.
And much of the time we can fake it.  Or we can fool ourselves into thinking that we are making or faking it. And when we are really "on" we make it look effortless.  {Insert maniacal laugh here.} 
Sometimes we'll even have other folks say to us, "Oh but  you are so pulled together!" Yeah.  That's it.
But then, now and then, you run into those times when everyone gets to see behind the curtain. And the truth is revealed. Not only are you not the "great and all powerful Oz Mom" but you are pedaling and pushing the levers as fast as you can, sweating even!

Yup.  Mom fail.  It happens, to the best of us.
Some of us however have more opportunities to fail...yeah,  you moms, you still know what I'm talking about.  I believe that the number of kids you have is a direct correlation to the number of fail opportunities that will present.  Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.  So, follow me here: if you think about it....with my eight kids (and I get extra chance points for having some with particular needs...) I have, um, let's see...approximately 11,000 chances per week.

And, today I got another.  I got the Christmas version, oh boy oh boy.
You see, most of my kids got out of school last Friday on the 17th.  One of my daughters is at a different school and had a few days left in class this week.  Three.  Or so I thought.  So she said.  So I thought the website said.  And don't get all snippy and ask why I didn't get the schedule handouts.  Because I didn't get the schedule handouts. I don't even know if they had schedule handouts.  Because this daughter doesn't let me get to her backpack and go through her papers often, it becomes a battle and therefore I choose not to.  But I digress.  Anyhow, so even this morning, she traipsed off to school and as she got on the bus she I said, "2:30 pickup?" and she said, "Yup."

Off she went.  Back in the house I went.  Then I went off to the market and flipped the laundry and checked in with the other kids and so on.  As soon as I made it in to start wrapping her teacher gifts, my cell rang. It was her school. It was her principle.  Uh oh?  So, I picked it up and her very nice principle, we'll call her Ms. Principle, said, "Is anyone coming to get Sarah today?"  "Wha??," was my eloquent reply,  "Aren't they done at 2:30?" Genius, right?  "No," says kind and long suffering Ms. Principle, "they are out at 10:30 this  morning." "Is today the last day of school," I say in my flash of numbingly stupid insight, "I thought it was tomorrow! Oh no! I have her teacher gifts right here.  Ok, Ok, I'm on my way."  "Are you far?" asks Ms. Principle because now it's after 11 and she wants to go home.  "No, at home, on my way now!"
And I threw the yummy teacher treats in gift bags and taped their cards to the front so fast it was like a cartoon.  And I grabbed my purse and coat and box of gift bags and keys and went outside to find that my son had taken my car.  And I went back inside to dig through the drawers to find the truck key. And I found it and raced up to the street and threw the box and purse and self in and took off to school.  Clock ticking, I knew the principle and maybe one teacher was waiting patiently as my sweet daughter sat in the office, last kid at school, waiting for her slacker mom to come pick her up.
I screeched to a stop in front of the school in the almost empty parking lot, grabbed my keys and box of gift bags and raced inside the now empty school building.  Two of the teachers were still there, plus Sarah's and the principle.  They were all ready to go.  Oh dear.  Bad mom.  I crashed into the office, and smiled crookedly at Sarah, and said, "I am SO sorry!  This is why God gives babies to YOUNG women (line stolen from best friend's dear mom, thank you Jean!) !"  Now they were all sweet and kind and made nice polite small talk, so as not to embarrass me further.  
But, they knew.  
Mom fail.
Christmas edition.

See that mom behind the curtain??? She's working those pedals and levers and buttons as fast as she can....but sometimes the whole contraption clanks to a heap.
Maybe I need me some ruby slippers....

Monday, December 20, 2010

O Clavis David

O Clavis David
O Key of David

“O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of Heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.”

Sunday, December 19, 2010

O Radix Jesse

O Radix Jesse
O Root of Jesse

O Root of Jesse,  you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.

Happy Bday Bro!

 {That's him behind my sis, she was always stealing the show.....but they are 11 months apart so all pics tend to have them both.  This pic makes me grin.}

It's my big brother's bday today!
Happy Birthday David!

My eldest brother and the one I don't see nearly often enough.
So much so that finding current pics is like finding a needle in a haystack, so I'm going with the fun old ones.
He's a mountain man at heart, a GIA certified jeweler (I know! Cool, huh?!),  an entrepreneur now importer/exporter, and a world traveler extraordinaire.
He's the kid in our family that would alway surprise you, and at the same time, NEVER surprise you.  Because with Dave, anything could happen.

(the infamous 70's prom pic, with my beautiful sis next to him)

He was the one to strike out, on his own, across the globe.  Totally and utterly self-sufficient - an Eagle Scout you know - he was kind of an early version of "Man vs Wild" but without the gross out food stuff and the video cam strapped to his pack.
He likes to pose as a gruff curmudgeon, but he has the best of hearts under that and his twinkly eyes give him away.

(Trumpkin reminds me of my big bro, every time, just a shorter warrior version.  
It makes me smile.)

He can make me laugh til I cry, he is innately funny, always has been.
I love him to pieces and am sending him bday hugs from the south.

I miss you Dave and hope you have the best happiest of birthdays!!
I love you!

We will have cake on your behalf.
Happy Happy Bday David!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

O Adonai

 O Adonai!
O Lord and Ruler!
O Lord and Ruler of the house of Israel, who appeared to  Moses in the flame of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: come, and redeem us with outstretched arms.

Friday, December 17, 2010

O Sapientia

Raphael, "Wisdom"

O Sapientia {O Wisdom}
O WISDOM, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly:
COME , and teach us the way of prudence. Amen. 

O Antiphons

The " O! Antiphons " are a strictly Advent tradition in the Church.
They are prayed during vespers in the liturgy of the hours.
They are prayed just before the Magnificat, one of the most beautiful prayers of thanksgiving that we have.
Anyhow, I love the O antiphons for their long rich tradition, because they pull me back into Advent each night, and for the art that is tied to them as well. As usual, I love the whole rich woven package. What can I say, it's a Catholic thing, I love it.

Here is an explanation of them, better than I could do:
The importance of “O Antiphons” is twofold: Each one highlights a title for the Messiah: O Sapientia (O Wisdom), O Adonai (O Lord), O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (O Key of David), O Oriens (O Rising Sun), O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations), and O Emmanuel. Also, each one refers to the prophecy of Isaiah of the coming of the Messiah.

So, I'm putting up these antiphons each evening, just as a reminder to myself that we are waiting on the Messiah, and why.
Blessed Advent everyone!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Almost Wordless Wednesday

 On a mission:

Keep in mind her legs are, what, two inches tall?  
Pretty impressive I'd say!

for more wordless wednesday, go here.