/> Raising Angels: January 2007

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Aiden's Pledge

Aiden has been reciting the Pledge of Allegiance for months now. I think it’s amazing how clearly he says it. This afternoon in the car on the way home from school he announced that he was the helper today.

"And you know what Mama?! I held the flag really still. I didn't touch it to the ground or ANYTHING," he shouted proudly.

"What do you say when you're holding the flag?" I knew the answer and had heard it many times before but it never gets old.

He proceeded not only to say it, but to attempt to teach Dawson how to say it as well. Oh how I wish I had the camera then. "No Dawson. You put your hand here like this. No...just ONE hand. Now say this..."

So cute! It was memorable enough that before I plopped him in bed tonight, I got out the camera and had him do it again.

So go on. Race on over here and hear it for yourself. One thing I didn’t realize is that they do synchronized pledging at school. Where else would he come up with those moves? Also, I guess what they say is true. A man's heart truly is in his stomach!

Good job Aiden.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Wiring for The Light

Ah the house. That's what we call the current project that has taken over EVERY spare minute (do I have any spare minutes?) of our time as of late. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE that we are building our own home. It is so much fun to design something from the ground, or in our case, below the ground and up. But...it is a LOT of work. As overwhelmed as I become with it at moments, I try to spend even more moments thanking God for this tremendous opportunity. As with all things, He is using it to speak to me.

Lately the task at hand has been all things electrical. When Nelson announced to me that we would be going over electrical plans with our project manager New Year's night after the kids were in bed, I casually told him to go ahead without me. Quite frankly, I could care less where he put the lights and outlets...or so I thought. It was definitely not on my list of things to design for the house.

Of course, Nelson refused to let me out of that meeting assuring me that I would be very interested in all things electrical. Lovingly, I obliged. Four hours into the meeting, I realized that most things electrical did indeed matter to me.

I was dumbfounded at the amount of thought that was necessary. I discovered that you can't just say you want lights in every room. Decisions about recessed lights, sconces, fans, lamps and pendant lighting clouded my mind. Not only that but where all those lights will go, whether or not they should dim, where they will plug in, and where they can be turned off and on. Countless hours have gone into this.

Tonight it occurred to me that building a house is a lot like our Christian walk. For the most part we're not interested in the wires and pipes that go between the walls and under the floors. We don't want to spend all that time planning for things invisible to the eye. We want to pick out the things people see like wall color, furniture and art - the fun stuff.

What we forget is that before we can paint the walls, they have to be sheet rocked, and before that wired and plumbed, and before that framed, and before that planned and measured. It's a very real (pardon the pun here) building experience. You can't skip a step without having a serious disaster on your hands. Without all the prior work there would be no light. And without light, no one would be able to see the color of the walls, the leather on your couch or the painting on your wall because it would be very, very dark.

The same is true in our spiritual journey. Most of us look for mountain top experiences. We want lightening flashes, a booming voice from Heaven and yes, Heaven itself. What we sometimes forget is that in order to see the lightning or hear the voice, we have to build our faith. If there is no foundation, we could be in the midst of a spiritual storm so to speak and never even realize it.

Glory requires sacrifice and suffering. Just look at Jesus. Before Easter, there was Good Friday. Think about the saints. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta didn't get invited to speak to political powers and dignitaries because she lived a glorious life. She picked up dying people crawling with worms from the gutters. John Paul the Great was a servant to his death bed. When most of us would have given in to the pain and gone home to rest, he reached out to the public and was a witness to everyone he touched.

I need to remember that in order to radiate Christ on the outside, I have a lot of hard work to do on the inside. I need to do some assessing, studying and building of my own faith if I want others to be able to see His glory in me.

Let’s all make sure we’ve got our wires connected and The Power turned on in our hearts. Let’s allow Christ’s light to shine through us.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Princess Mama

This afternoon I was gathering some pictures that someone requested for a video. As I emailed the pictures, Aiden caught a glimpse of this one.

"Mama! Who's that? Let me see. Can I sit on your lap?" Aiden rattled off.

"Sure buddy," I said as I lifted him onto my lap and pulled up the picture.

Aiden giggled. "That's me! Why you a princess in that one? Are you a princess Mama?"

I laughed and hugged him tight. "That's right Aiden. I am a princess!"

Saturday, January 27, 2007

A Lesson In Motherhood

This morning I was relishing a few moments of quiet before the demands of the day began. Around the 30 minute mark I emerged from my bedroom to the shouts of my children.

"Stop it boys!" Mackenzie was yelling. "No! Don't do that!"

I came into the scene as Mackenzie came towards me with hands on hips. "Mama! I woke up and started cleaning this WHOLE house for you and the boys are messing EVERYTHING up!" She was very frustrated indeed.

After speaking to the boys, I pulled Mackenzie aside. "Mackenzie, thank you so much for cleaning for me. It is such a nice surprise to wake up to a clean house! You did an excellent job," I encouraged. "I know how hard it is to clean this house. Now you understand why I get frustrated sometimes when you guys just leave your things out instead of picking them up." Mackenzie nodded in perfect understanding. I could tell that she had seen the light, so I added, "You know I usually wait until the boys are napping or asleep for the night before I clean up."

She was easily appeased. "Could you tell me when they are going to nap so I can do it again?"

I was amazed at this burst of organization and didn't want to squash it with the reality that no matter how hard she tried, or how clean she got it, it would be messed up the minute the boys entered the scene. It's one of the most frustrating parts of motherhood to me. Every day is a constant battle to try to reach a goal that often seems completely unreachable. Even when you think you see the end, something always seems to happen that sets you further back than where you started. It's an endless cycle that I have to mentally fight by telling myself over and over again, "I have three small kids. My house will never be perfectly in order."

Nap time came and went and Mackenzie's cleaning urge got sidetracked by an opportunity to go out for ice cream with her Daddy. I didn't say anything because Daddy time is much more important and a rare commodity during this house building phase. While they were out, I cleaned the bathrooms.

Tonight, after I sang to her and tucked her in, she whispered in a tired voice, "Mama, I'm going to sleep in a little tomorrow but when I wake up, I'm going to work as hard as I can to get this house clean again." Her sweet resolve and desire to serve melted my heart.

You know what Mackenzie? I will too.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A First for Mackenzie

Here is a record of a first for Mackenzie -first time ever on skates of any kind. We went with most of the girls in her elementary school. I can’t tell you how funny it was to see our group of 10 first graders, all for the first time on skates. As much exercise as my legs got, I think my abs got the best workout from laughing so hard at all these little girls insisting on skating themselves.

Mackenzie started out holding my hand or the rail but after about 10 minutes she took off on her own. Well "took off" is a bit of an exaggeration, it was more like she teetered off. She fell quite a bit but only shed tears once. She wanted to take a break after that, but by the time we skated over to the exit, she was ready to go again. She even managed a pretty decent hokey pokey.

I was a bit nervous about putting skates on since I couldn't remember the last time I roller skated. I'm guessing I was probably about 11. Needless to say, I was not the essence of grace but I made it without falling. I was just so grateful to be with Mackenzie. I am enjoying every minute of this time when she still thinks it's fantastic to have me tag along on her outings.

I'll Take That!

Today while I was working out at the Y, a total stranger approached me and began speaking.

"Has anyone ever told you that you have a twin?" she asked.

"Umm...no," I said looking at her blonde hair wondering where she was going with this.

"Well, do you know Mr. and Mrs. "X"?"

"I've heard of them and my husband knows them but I don't," I said honestly.

"They have a 17 year old daughter who could be your twin. I've seen you in Publix before and you must have thought I was crazy because I just couldn't stop staring. You look SO much like her!" she gushed overly friendly and then added, "I hope you don't think I'm a weirdo."

"Oh no," I said laughing while I was thinking to myself, 'A 17 year old! Whoo hoo!'

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


The cat ate my homework!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

In Case You're Ever In Italy...

This morning as we were getting ready to go to school, Mackenzie and her classmate were discussing how she was going to stay with us when her parents go to Rome.

"Hey want to learn some Italian?" Mackenzie asked.

"Yeah!" was her friend's response.

"Okay 'Ciao' means hello AND goodbye in Italian. Can you say Ciao?"


Then there was a pause. I hinted, "Grazie."

"Oh yeah," Mackenzie began to remember, "that means you're welcome...or thank you?"

"Thank you," I said, "you're welcome is prego."

"OH!" Mackenzie said as the light went on. "Gelato means ICE CREAM!"

Sunday, January 21, 2007

From a Member of the Meat Eater's Club

We were gathering at the table for brunch at my mom's house this morning when I noticed a major mistake. Aiden had been placed next to Dawson...something we've seen does NOT work well. As Aiden rushed to the seat I began moving his plate one place over.

"Mamaaa..." he began to whine, "I don't want to sit there!"

"Aiden," I said picking him up and placing him in the correct chair, "you don't get to choose."

As he was getting settled and still whining just a bit, he made a terrific discovery, "OOOH," his tone changed to elation immediately, “now I'm closer to the SAUSAGE!"

Friday, January 19, 2007

Things I Will Remind Them of When They Get Older

When I went to pick Aiden and Dawson up from school today, Aiden ran to me with a shiny new water gun in hand. He was overly excited and screamed, "Mama! You have to give me a bath! I'm VERY dirty."

"Ah," I said seeing the wheels turning in his mind. "Did you get that in the treasure box?"

"Yes! And, I HAVE to have a bath when we get home!"

We went into the next room to get Dawson. Aiden ran ahead of me, gun in hand, and opened the door shouting, "Dawson! Look what I got from the treasure box! We gotta take a bath when we get home!"

"OOOH!" Dawson admired. "I want water gun."

"No Dawson," Aiden reminded him, "this gun is mine."

There was a lot of stuff to carry out so I placed Dawson's lunch box around his neck. He did not like this at all. "Mama, I don't want this lunch box," he whined. "It's too heavy."

Aiden ran right over to him and handed him the gun. "Here ya go Dawson. You can have my gun."

I was very impressed with Aiden's supreme act of love for his brother. "Aiden, I am so proud of you! That was so nice of you to give that gun to Dawson."

"Mama," Aiden replied nonchalantly, "I love my brother. He's my best friend."

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Tiny Miracle

The more in tune you are with God, the more you hear His voice, feel His touch and see His hand in everything you do. I think, in fact I know, that God is always with us, but when you're trying to follow Him, He opens your eyes to the miracles He works around you on a daily basis. He's done it for me again and again and again.

In the last few weeks I've noticed that Aiden's winter coat is getting a little small. Not quite Tommy Boy's "fat guy in a little coat" little, but by next year definitely there.

Yesterday I went into a store looking for one hopefully on clearance. There was not one boy's coat in the entire store. I may have thought about this a little too late. I had visions of having to pay full price for one next year the instant it got cold.

Today I went into another store. I said a little prayer, "Please God let me find a coat on sale for Aiden." I didn't get too specific but I did mention it would be nice to find one for about $15. God and I have that kind of relationship. I have learned that I have to ask very specifically about some things, otherwise God answers my prayers the way I pray them instead of the way I mean to say them.

I walked into the store and headed straight for the boys' department. Again, not one coat. I asked a sales person and she said they were all gone. She did kind of point me in the direction of the toddler's section saying something about how they sometimes get misplaced.

I did a quick overview of the section and there were no coats. Then I walked a little closer towards the clearance racks hoping for a miracle. Hanging on the front of the rack was one boy's winter coat complete with hat and gloves. It was just the size he'll need next year. I didn't even look at the tag. I just grabbed it for fear of losing it to another mother in my predicament. When I did find a price checking machine, I scanned the tag and $15 appeared on the screen!

Now I know you're probably thinking that this is no big deal. And, in the grand scheme of things it's really not. It's not a physical healing. It's not a life changing conversion. It's not going to change the world. That's not the point. The point is that in all of God's universe, amidst all the things going on that need His attention, He listened to my tiny, itty bitty, inconsequential prayer and He answered it.

That my friends, is miracle enough for me.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

God Works in Mysterious Ways

This weekend I posted about how God often prepares our hearts for what's ahead. Nelson and I had the discussion about suffering right before I found out my uncle has cancer. I emailed the post to my brother, now Rev. Mr. Aaron Killips. He was in the midst of preparing his homily for yesterday at the North American College. He responded by sending me a copy of that homily which I am including below.

Let me just say, "Wow, Aaron!” Not only are you a good homilist, as I witnessed in Rome and while you were home over Christmas, but now I see that you listen to the Holy Spirit too. Isn't it amazing how God moves across time and space (and oceans) to give us what we need when we need it? Thank you for sharing this with me and allowing me to share it with others.

Homily—Monday January 15, 2007—Hebrews 5:10

The Value of Suffering

“He learned obedience from what He suffered.” Suffering is never an easy subject to bring up and yet it is present at some point in everyone’s life. One has only to glance at our prayer board here at the house to see that many of us are suffering right now personally or have family and friends who are suffering. When people find out that I am studying to be a priest some of them ask, “Why does God allow suffering?” Suffering is looked upon by so many people as punishment.

Suffering however, should not be viewed as a punishment but as a gift. You may be asking yourself how in the world can suffering be a gift. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta said that suffering is the most underutilized gift which God gives to us. When I first heard this I must admit that I was taken aback. Did I hear her correctly? Did she really say that suffering was a gift from God? How can pain and hurt be a gift? God didn’t create suffering, but God uses it for greater purposes.

In my first year of seminary I had the opportunity to learn about suffering first hand. I tore the ACL in my right knee and needed surgery to receive a new ligament. The doctor told me that this would be a very painful surgery and boy was he right! I was blessed to have had a spiritual director who spent the month before the surgery talking to me about the opportunity I had been given by God. Opportunity! I asked? He explained how I had a chance to offer my pain for the souls in purgatory and for those who had no one to pray for them. He drilled this into me. Looking back I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to offer up my pain for others.

Jesus Christ chose to redeem us through His suffering. He could have chosen a less painful way to save us but He didn’t. He chose to suffer for each one of us. Loving and obeying God is easy when things are going well. When we are able to love and obey God when we suffer, how much greater is that love and how much more grace we receive in those times. John Paul II says in Salvifici Doloris, “it is suffering, more than anything else, which clears the way for the grace which transforms human souls.” Most of us are priests or will be priests. As the author of Hebrews tells us, “every high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.” What an opportunity we have to take our suffering and offer it up for the people who are entrusted to us!

As we begin this New Year, let us be mindful of those who are suffering. If you are suffering, know that you are not alone. Jesus Christ, He who redeemed us by His suffering, walks with you. If you see a brother who is suffering go to him. Pray for him. Pray with him. Take him to dinner or out for a beer. Bear the cross you are given with great hope and support others in carrying their crosses, for we truly can take great comfort in the words of St. Paul in his letter to the Romans, “We are…fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him. I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in us.”

Monday, January 15, 2007

Just Another Morning at the House of Parris

Yes! You too can get your plants watered AND your floor mopped in one morning.

Not only that, but you can get half your PJs washed as well.

For a small fee I will let you borrow Aiden for one morning to get your morning "to do" list done in one fell swoop with a gigantic smile and loud giggles as your reward.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Persistent Prayer and a Request

Last night Nelson and I were on our way across town to a benefit for local children. We had plenty of time in the car to talk so the topics bounced from house building to prayer.

I told him that a good friend of ours who we have been praying for over the past few years as she battles cancer was put on hospice yesterday. He wondered how she felt about that since she knew so many people have been praying for her healing for so long.

We had a long discussion about prayer. Why do we pray? What difference does it make if God knows the outcome already? Why does God heal some and not others? We wondered why children get sick and suffer. They are innocent souls. They don't have any sins to work through.

Needless to say, it got pretty deep. The bottom line, we concluded, is that faith is necessary. God always hears our prayers and always answers them. Unfortunately, and fortunately most of the time, His will is not always our will.

Yesterday's Gospel reading was about the paralytic who was lowered through the roof by his friends to be healed. Most homilies about this Gospel center around the paralytic and Jesus’ interchange with the people present at his healing. What stood out to me about it, especially after the previous conversation, was not the paralytic or even Jesus – it was the friends.

Think about it. These friends carried this paralytic who knows how far or how long just to get the chance to be near Jesus. When they arrived at the house, there were so many people waiting that they couldn’t get near the door. They didn’t let that stop them though. Next they pushed their way through the people and then hoisted the guy onto the roof. That couldn’t have been easy after the trip. Then, with what little strength they had left, they cut a whole through the roof, lowered their friend down and laid him at the feet of Jesus. After that we don’t hear about them again.

After all that. After the long journey. After the aching back and arms. After all they endured. Jesus didn’t give them what they really wanted. He didn’t heal their friend right away. He forgave him. We all know that’s really the best gift Jesus could have given him but something tells me that’s not the reason those friends were so persistent. In the end, after a brief confrontation, Jesus did heal the man who stood up and walked out of the house himself. Can you imagine the celebration he must have had with his friends that day?

The point for me was the power of persistent prayer. It would have been so easy for those friends to turn around and go home when they saw the crowd. It would have been easy to just stay at home and send word to Jesus and hope he had time to pay the guy a visit. But they didn’t do that. They kept at it. They were in it for the long haul.

We all have the opportunity to be a friend like that for someone we know. We can fast and pray and lay hands on and offer our sufferings and frustrations for people who have it worse than we do. We have to be willing to do WHATEVER it takes to lay them at the feet of Jesus. And then…we have to leave them there and let Jesus decide what’s best for them.

It was a long ride across town but a good one. We had fun at the benefit and then made the trip back. When I walked in the door I received word that my Uncle Dick went in for a routine physical and they discovered he has colon cancer and will have surgery on the 24th of this month. Isn’t it amazing how God prepares us for certain situations?

I hope, if you get the chance, you will join me in bringing my uncle to the feet of Jesus. Pray for his peace. Pray for his family. Pray for his healing. Uncle Dick, I hope you know that I will! I love you.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Sometimes All Jesus Asks...

We attend a Prayer Meeting every Thursday night as a whole family. It consists of an hour and a half of good old fashioned prayer and praise. The last two years have been a challenge to me as my husband almost always works late and I have to tote all three little ones by myself. I used to love it and I still do...it's just really hard to pay attention while trying to keep all three quiet during the quiet times. It's not been easy but I continue to go because the kids love it.

Tonight the music and songs turned more reflective for awhile. That's always the biggest challenge. People around me seem to be so into the Lord while I'm answering a million and one questions from the kids, taking them to the bathroom, doling out snacks and colors, etc. Tonight I was really asking God to speak to me in the midst of the distraction of my children. I was singing whole-heartedly to Jesus and then I stepped on some coloring books and a toy plane. I looked down to see Mackenzie dancing with a friend, Dawson playing with a lion, and Aiden coloring.

Then God told me to look more closely. He told me to look at their surroundings. Then He told me that it didn't matter so much what I was getting out of these meetings at this point. I have my faith. I know God is real whether I "feel" Him or not. My children however are at very formative ages. They are like sponges, soaking up everything around them. They are being raised in the true presence of Jesus. When they come to mass (even if they spill Cheerios :)) or prayer meetings, He doesn't expect them to enter into worship like the adults. When Jesus said, “Let the children come unto me,” He didn’t put forth any stipulations. He didn’t lay out a set of expectations or a how to list. He just wanted them to be close to Him – in His presence.

After the meeting Mackenzie ran to me almost breathless from the dancing and said, “This was the BEST prayer meeting ever!” And you know what, she was right. It wasn’t the best because of perfect behavior. It wasn’t the best because of an immaculate row of chairs and floor beneath us. It was the best because we were there. And sometimes that’s all Jesus asks of us.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Poetic End of Today

Making and decorating the sugar cookies was a big success,
But taking down Christmas makes the house a mess.
That's all I have to say tonight, I must confess.
Now off I'll go to get some rest.

Good Night!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Heart-Shaped Cookies and a Little Love

Last night I looked on the calendar to see what was in store for the remainder of the week. I saw a star on Wednesday and looked a little closer. Oops! I almost forgot. I'm in charge of bringing snacks for the 10 girls in Mackenzie's Little Sisters Group (our school's alternative to Girl Scouts).

The wheels started turning. Back in August when we went to the orientation meeting, the leader said that the girls love it when their mom is in charge of snacks. "It makes them so proud," she said "so be sure to bring something special."

I spent some time online looking for a wonderful, fantastic treat for the girls. They are going to an air trampoline place called Jumping Beans so I thought I could find a snack that had to do with jumping or even jelly beans. Funny enough, it seems that not many people have trampoline themed parties and the only jelly bean snacks were Easter themed. I went to bed disappointed.

Today I thought some more about it but nothing came to me. I resorted to looking through the cabinets and refrigerator to see what I could pull together for tomorrow.

When Mackenzie came home from school, I told her that I was bringing the snacks for tomorrow. Her eyes lit up, "What are you going to bring Mama?"

Afraid of the response but having nothing else to offer I said, "How about some heart-shaped sugar cookies and apples with caramel dip?"

There was a slight pause and then, "Oooh Mama," she said with delight. "You're just going to spoil us rotten!"

Seems all it takes to make an impression is a little love.

Monday, January 08, 2007

These Boots Were Made For Walking

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Happy Epiphany

Although Epiphany is a joyous feast that we celebrate every year with gifts (namely ornaments for each person) from the three kings, it always makes me a little sad too. Today ends the Christmas season in our church so tomorrow means the taking down of the tree and all things Christmas. Like always, it was a great one, ending with Nelson and I FINALLY exchanging gifts next to the soft glow of the tree after the kids went to bed. I'm sad to see it go.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Big Christmas Surprise in Pictures

Friday, January 05, 2007

Aiden's BIG Christmas Surprise

Every once in awhile I get really inspired with a gift idea for someone I love. This year, Aiden was definitely the winner.

One day, a few weeks before Christmas, I was driving down the road thinking about what I wanted to get the kids. Mackenzie's big surprise would be a real pair of boots - something she didn't think to ask for but I knew would be a hit. Dawson needed dinosaurs. And, Aiden, well he needed a school bus.

Over the last year, Aiden has fallen head over heals in love with school buses. He can spot them from miles away and squeals with delight when he does. He screams, "Look Mama! School bus!" over and over until I acknowledge that I see it too. We live only a few miles from the county school bus parking place so we see a lot of school buses every day. About a month before Christmas we were at a light in front of a school just as it let out and we counted 8 buses in a row. You would have thought he died and went to Heaven.

I had been searching every store and looking online to find him the perfect toy school bus but nothing was standing out. Then, I had an epiphany of sorts. I saw a school bus drive by and thought, 'Wouldn't it be great to give Aiden a bus RIDE for Christmas.'

The more I thought about it, the more excited I became. Then, I really started thinking about how I could make that happen. I knew that there would be no way to get a real yellow city school bus to give one little three year old a ride. But, wouldn’t it be great to not only get him a ride but get him a ride on Christmas! Hmm…Mackenzie goes to a small private school - the school I graduated from, the one I taught at, the one my daughter now attends. Hey, I know the guy in charge of the buses. And…I know lots of bus drivers. The wheels were turning and my face was beaming. I could feel it.

Over the next several days I made some phone calls and office visits. One school bus loaned on Christmas morning – check. One bus driver willing to not only drive the bus Christmas morning but volunteering to put on a Santa hat and beard – check. One excited mama – double check.

When the big day finally arrived, I was more excited than any of the kids. I couldn’t wait. As we were opening presents, the big bus pulled up. We heard it arrive and told Aiden to come look out the window. He reached the window just as Santa stepped out of the bus.

Oh the look on his face was priceless! Santa came to the door and asked for Aiden and then led him onto the bus. There he was, all alone in that huge bus looking out of the window, grinning from ear to ear and waving like crazy. It was GREAT, just as GREAT as I had hoped for. We all joined him for the ride and all of the kids had a good time but Aiden was thrilled beyond measure.

I am eternally grateful for our “Santa” who sacrificed his Christmas morning to make one little three year old’s dream come true. He went above and beyond the call of duty and cheerfully ho-ho-ho’d his way through the pouring rain. I am also grateful for a school that allows buses to be borrowed. Most of all I am grateful for the divine inspiration that began it all.

It was indeed a very merry Christmas!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Mama, When You Said There'll be Days Like This You Forgot to Mention Cheerios

This morning while Aiden attended his Catechism class, Dawson and I went to daily mass. We always sit just outside the day chapel in folding chairs placed specifically for mothers with young children. Today, those chairs were not there.

I tentatively entered the chapel with Dawson and sat in the front row (the chapel was FULL), right under the lectern. Dawson was being relatively well behaved but he was talking endlessly. I thought a good way to keep him quiet would be to hand him the 12 oz. cup of Cheerios I had with me.

He munched his way through the first two readings and on through the Gospel, which just happened to be the one about Martha and Mary. I was really meditating on this one - thinking how all too often I am like Martha, too busy working to make things perfect to sit back and relish the people I am trying to impress. Yes, I thought, I need to spend more time like Mary.

I was thinking all of this through the intentions right up until the final prayer before we sat down for the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer. Right up...until the moment...when Dawson dropped that 12 oz. cup FULL of Cheerios.

Do you have any idea how many Cheerios fit into a cup that size? Well, I don't know exactly either but from the damage I was surveying at that moment I'd say it is somewhere around 500.

In a split second I assessed the mess and realized immediately that I was going to have to get all those Cheerios up and get them up quick. You do remember that we were sitting in the front row…the aisle everyone in that packed chapel had to walk down to receive Communion. Visions of the crunching of each Cheerio as this scene unfolded sent me into a tail spin.

I passed Dawson quickly to my mom and exited with a member of the parish who came out to show me the broom closet. Of course, there were no brooms in that closet so another parishioner joined us at that point with a key to another closet that actually had a broom with a dust pan. As we were walking back into the church she actually said, "Bob, can you get a few folding chairs and set them up out here for us?"

So back into the chapel I hurried, head down, not able to look anyone in the eye. The priest was still sitting in his chair, silent I might add, waiting for me to finish so that he could carry on with mass.

I felt as if there were holes being stared through me as I quickly swept the Cheerios into the dust pan so kindly held by the man who helped me find it. Other mothers got out of their seats to pick up a few strays I had missed. Finally, we put the trash can and broom into the adjoining Sacristy and I sat back down as the priest ceased his pause. Just as I sat down Dawson came up and said, "I want more Cheerios in the cup Mama."

I tried my best to hold it together through the rest of mass but, bottom line, I was completely humiliated. I mean not two minutes before I had been dwelling on the whole Martha thing and then "Crash!" there I was holding up the Liturgy of the Eucharist with broom in hand. By the time mass ended, I was in tears.

I wasn't mad at Dawson. It wasn't his fault. I was mortified. Embarrassed. Kicking myself. Why did this happen? What did I do wrong to deserve this? Was God playing some kind of cruel joke on me? I couldn’t help but to think that maybe “choosing the better part” for me today would have been to skip mass altogether. I was deflated for a good couple of hours after mass.

I spent most of the rest of the day trying to get some big meaning of the whole event, but I just couldn’t find one. I know God didn’t do that to me. The reality is that sometimes things like that just happen.

When Nelson came home around 11 p.m., I relayed the whole story to him and the tears came again. However, with the tears came a bit of laughter on my part and a whole lot of full belly laughing on Nelson’s part. “I’m sorry,” he said with true sympathy through the chuckles, “but it really is funny. You’ll laugh about it one day.”

Well, I’m not there quite yet, but I’m making progress. I guess the biggest lesson is NO MORE CHEERIOS IN MASS.

From Mama To Babysitter

Tonight the kids and I were at the Prayer Meeting. The lively music was playing loudly so the three of them took to the aisle to do a little dancing.

It was so cute to watch them dance around together. They were holding hands and moving in a circle, making a bridge for the third to go under, and just moving freely about. I stayed in our row of seats and kept a very close eye on them.

After a few minutes, Mackenzie came over to me and said, "Mama, I have to go to the bathroom. Could you keep an eye on the boys for me while I'm gone?"

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

You Can Say That Again

Nelson and I were watching a bit of the half time show of the bowl game tonight. When Notre Dame's band took the field he said, "You used to do that didn't you?"

"No," I answered. "I never got that far. I only played in the stands during the junior high games. I moved here in 9th grade and our school didn't have a marching band."

"Heh, heh...you were a band geek!" he taunted.

"I was not," I retorted and then came back with, "you were a dumb jock."

"Hey!" he said with a faked tinge of hurt in his voice. "That's stereotyping, don't you think?"

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Pursuit of Happyness

We have a strange Christmas tradition in my family. Santa always leaves us a movie ticket in our stocking and then my parents require us to go to a movie together as a family.

Tonight we saw The Pursuit of Happyness. I won't say much about it so I don't ruin it for those who haven't seen it yet. It is good. It is clean (only one bad word and its use is appropriate). I cried. I think most of us did. And, in case you are wondering, this did not include my children. I took them to see Charlotte’s Web.

I walked away with Nelson saying, "Thank God I have never had to live like that. Please God don't ever let me have to live like that." And then I realized, I don't think it would be possible for me to live like that. I know that no matter what happens, we both have family members who would give us a place to stay if we needed it. I have friends who would do the same.

I will probably never have the millions that Chris Gardner now has, but I know I am just as wealthy.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!