My Babies Are Your Babies Are My Babies

“We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”  Steve King

I have grown.

I used to fear and pray for and love over only my own children. For so long, that was my measure of personal well-being, if my own babies were healthy and happy.

My world was small because I was so scared. And I was scared because my world was so small.

Once I saw it, I fought hard to spread my net of love and prayer farther than just my own babies. And when I did, when I reached out my hands in benediction for more than just my own, my world got bigger. I touched hands with other mamas, spreading their light of prayers and love outward over more than just their own too, and my babies got safer.

My babies are your babies are my babies.

There’s a responsibility here though. To feel the pain. To stand in solidarity with the mothers who have lost.

Who are losing.

Are fighting.

Hiding.

Fleeing.

Searching.

Grieving.

No matter their color, country or creed.

“There’s no such thing as other people’s children.” Hillary Clinton

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How To Get Ready For Lent–From My Sunday School Class

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Dear Ms. Jen’s people,

We want to tell you how to get ready for Lent.

So first, read Matthew 6:1-6 and 16-18. It’s the Ash Wednesday reading in the Catholic church. It may confuse you because it’s all “Don’t let the right hand know what the left hand is doing” on a day when we walk around with ASHES ON OUR FOREHEADS, but Ms. Jen says those ashes tell the world we are sinners, not do-gooders. So it’s actually not hypocritical. And the point is that when we do good things, we do them to honor God and NOT to honor ourselves. If you give up chocolate but go around telling people you gave up chocolate, they cancel each other out.

And Lent is not just about giving something up. You can also take something on. That sounds good but we didn’t know what it meant. Ms. Jen says you can stop doing something or start doing something. Angel said “Like stop eating vegetables and start playing XBOX 1 all day long?”

Ms. Jen said no. Angel was bummed.

If you don’t know what to give up or take on, you could think about these three lines from the prayer at the end of our chapter:

Help us to work with you to bring justice, love and peace to everyone.

This could be giving up mean words, fighting with a brother or sister, talking too much at school. It could also taking on hugging someone every day, giving a compliment to someone every day or leaving an anonymous note on your teacher’s desk (you should type it because teachers are really good at figuring out handwriting and they might thank you and then everyone would think you were teacher’s pet).

Free us from being careless and lazy.

This could be making your bed, folding your laundry, setting the table, clearing the table, doing the dishes, walking the dog, cleaning your room, feeding the dog, cleaning the toilets and so on.

(Really, we only came up with the first three and then Ms. Jen and Ms. Elena, her helper who is also Joseph’s mom, took the markers away from us and kept making the list longer)

Keep us from being blind to goodness.

This could be things like giving up regular music and listening to Christian music, or not playing that one violent video game. Maybe turning off the news or Facebook. This one was weird for us because why is it hard to see goodness? Ms. Jen said it’s more of a grown-up problem.

After you pick something, you should think of someone in your life who made a sacrifice for you. Then you could write them a letter thanking them and telling them what your sacrifice for Lent will be. This is a nice gesture, and it will also help you stick to your thing, whatever it is, because you said it to another person.

(At first we didn’t want to do this, but then Ms. Jen was all “Jesus DIED on a CROSS for you, can’t you write a letter?” It was kind of like, Oh. Yeah.)

So that’s it. Good luck!

Ms. Jen’s 4th grade Sunday School

PS: You get Sunday’s off!

PPS: From Lenten sacrifice, not church.

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Thank you to Angel, Ashleigh, Carolina, Joseph, Margaret and Blaine for such a great class on Sunday and for inspiring this post. You guys crack me up! And the future of the Church is safe in your smart, logical, artistic and kind hands.

Introducing Our Before

I bought a 60 pack of moving boxes on Amazon and told my family to pack carefully because if it doesn’t fit in 60 boxes, it’s not coming. Kate wailed that it took 1,000 boxes to move here from California and I said “Exactly” and let her chew on it.

I called all the people to stop and start service. I called all the other people about floors and walls and  dragging gas lines from the street to the stove. I sweet-talked the nice sales lady into keeping the hutch I just bought in her store until I actually move because Shea said I could only get it if we didn’t have to move it.

I chose paint colors. I culled wine glasses.

I lay in bed at night and try to fit this house into that one. It’s 700 square feet smaller, but I have lots of empty cupboards in this one so I know it’s possible. I’m doing well except for the books. I can’t figure out where to put the books. This is a big problem, since 8 of the 60 boxes are full of books.

(Kate says they shouldn’t count in the final tally if we aren’t going to unpack them until the next house.)

AND DID I MENTION WE’VE HAD THE STOMACH FLU????

Here we go with some Before pictures of our 1983 charmer, as well as some thoughts about what will happen next.

The outside:

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Here is the color scheme for the outside. Shea—who repainted his Maui Sugar Shack twice growing up, assures me he and the kids can do this themselves. However, I can’t think about that today. I’ll think about that tomorrow.

The living room:

Why yes, that is cedar paneling. And yes, the brick fireplace was installed over the paneling. So we’re hoping to do something along these lines, with a whitewash on the fireplace and a chunkier beam mantle.

I love those windows though and the fact that the room is sunken. Call me a child of the 80s but I have always wanted a sunken living room.

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Look at that staircase. That thing is why I wanted the house. It’s magnificent. It’s not original to the house—it leads to an attic loft space that will be Gabe’s bedroom. But those stairs—I have plans for them. Big, lighted, joyful Christmas-y plans.

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I’m good with the kitchen. The former homeowner refinished the cabinets herself and did a wonderful job. She and I would like to chat with the fool who built the brick island though. We had a good laugh over that thing. We’re going to pop some white quartz counters on top, create a taller breakfast bar, paint those bricks black and call it a day.

And then there’s the master. It is by far the biggest master we’ve ever had, which is cool. But the wood. I don’t even know. I honestly want to go to bed and hope for drywall.  Does that work? If you leave some money by the bed, will the drywall fairies come in the night?

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I’m keeping the bathrooms to myself for now. The good news is that the cabinets are real wood and the counters are tiled. The bad news is that both those things are original to 1983.

Right now the plan is tile paint and Grandma on a plane to help me refinish the cabinets. It’s a solid plan. There will be wine. I feel good about Grandma and wine.

I’m super excited about all of it. I can see what the house can be and I love the challenge of doing it as economically as possible. I am also open to suggestions. Apple Hill Cottage, I’m looking at you.

Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

Why We Let Her Play

On Saturday, Kate and some of her teammates found out they were badass.

They’re playing basketball for the YMCA. Shea is coaching them. He’s taught them to run the 3rd and 4th grade version of the Michigan State offense. You should see my girl set a pick. It’s a thing of beauty. And she only had to set it once. The rest of the game, that poor other girl was looking over her shoulder.

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That’s Kate setting the pick and Abby rolling off. Down inside is JoJo, waiting for the outlet.

As any coach of young girls will tell you, it’s a struggle to get them to be aggressive. Part of it is nature, but part of it is nurture, too. There’s something to that song Sit Still, Look Pretty and if you disagree consider this:  Coaches implore boy’s teams to stop shooting and pass. But they implore girl’s teams to stop passing and shoot.

All week, Shea worked with our team on stealing the ball. Because they wouldn’t. Would not. And Kate let go of a contested rebound two weeks ago because it was the other girl’s turn to have it. So every day when she woke up and before she went to bed he said to her “Kate, what do you do if someone sticks the ball in your face?”

“You steal it, dad.”

“That’s right. Then what do you do?”

“You drive for the basket.”

The team we played beat us four times last year because they have a gifted little point guard whose older brothers have taught her well. She was the star of the league because no one would challenge her.

Saturday, Kate stole the ball from her in the first thirty seconds of the game, and it was on. I mean on. As a team, we had over 20 steals and ended that game pink-cheeked, sweaty and winners. Our girls were lit up. You know why?

Because they LIT IT UP and no one told them to slow down, be quiet, or fix their hair.

I can make an argument that the song and dance class Kate takes and her desire to play the guitar and her artistic talents will all contribute to her sense of self-worth and giftedness.

But not the way sports will. Nothing else will ground her strength to her feet and help her hold her space in quite the same way.

Sports will raise her chin, her goals and her voice. And that is why we let her play.

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Ok, you got me.

“Let her play”. Ha!

As if we could stop her.

 

#Candles4hope

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From my mom, Terri.

I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. ~ Oath of Office for the President of the United States

I am so scared.

I have lived 70 years in a country in which I felt free to live my life, achieve what I worked for, practice my religion freely.   I knew that the United States was something special and that those in power knew it, too   There were good presidents and some not so good, but for the most part they were intelligent, informed, and concerned about the country and its people.  They understood the need to follow the constitution as a legacy from our very beginnings.  They realized that we are a great nation, but one of many that make up this world and we need to collaborate, not dictate.

In the last 9 days, it feels like an alternate universe.  “Alternative facts” not truth.  Closed borders.  Arguing over silly things like who had more people at the inauguration.  Pronouncements one day, that get altered the next because no one seems to speak with a background of knowledge or understanding.  It’s like a few of them read the Clif Notes, but no one bothers with the book.  Top appointments appear to be made not with experience in mind, but with billions in the bank as the priority.  White House spokespersons will lie, embellish, interrupt or bully to get their message out.  Rude attitudes as they tell their story, not the true story.  Anger at the legitimate press who are our means to clarity and are trying to help us understand.

I come from a blue state, and have a Democratic representative and 2 (women) Democratic US senators.  I am confused and concerned about how to  get my voice heard.

My husband is in a men’s fellowship group and they are reading a book by Ronald Rolheiser called The Hidden Longing.  He read this passage to me last night.

 “In South Africa, prior to the abolition of apartheid, people used to light a candle and place it in their windows as a sign of hope, a sign that one day this evil would be overcome.  At one point, this was declared illegal, just as illegal as carrying a gun.  The children used to joke about this, saying: “Our government is scared of lit candles!” Eventually, as we know, apartheid was overcome.  Reflecting upon what ultimately brought its demise it is fair to suggest that “lit candles” (which the government so wisely feared) were considerably more powerful than were guns.” 

I got up, went to the cupboard and got a candle which will sit in my window to symbolize my hope until I am no longer afraid, until all will again be welcomed to the US and I figure out how to more actively speak my mind for all to hear.

Light drives out darkness. Hope trumps hate. Will you join me?

We Will Rise

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On Sunday at Mass, our visiting priest from Tanzania told this story:

A farmer was given an egg. He didn’t know what kind of an egg it was so he put it with his chickens and waited to see what might happen.

The egg hatched. It was an eagle. But the eagle didn’t know he was an eagle, so he grew up as a chicken.

One day a wild eagle landed nearby and said “Friend, what are you doing among the chickens?” And the eagle said “I AM a chicken.” The wild eagle shook his head. “No, my friend. You are not a chicken. You are an eagle. You can fly. You can hunt. The world is yours.” But the eagle said “I have always been here, in this coop, eating corn and termites. I know nothing about those other things. I am a chicken.”

The wild eagle flew away. But the next day he came back. “You know what life is like as a chicken, cooped and corn and termites. Come with me for one week and see what life is like as an eagle.”

The eagle agreed to one week, and the two eagles flew away. For a week, the eagle flew as high as the heavens and saw all the world below him: mountains, oceans, prairies, lakes. He hunted fiercely and visited nests built in the tops of the tallest trees and clinging to the steepest cliffs. He saw all the vagaries of life and death, beauty and pain, courage and fear.

But at the end of the week, he went back to the chickens.

The wild eagle flew after him. “What are you doing?” he asked. “You’ve lived the life of an eagle! Why would you go back to the chickens in their coop, eating corn and termites and never having the chance to fly???”

And the eagle said “I like the chickens. I belong with the chickens. I am a chicken.”

The world calls us to be chickens, content in our cages, heads down, eating what we are fed.

But we are not chickens.

We are fearfully and wonderfully made. We are beloved children of God.

We are eagles.

They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength,
    they will soar on eagles’ wings;
They will run and not grow weary,
    walk and not grow faint.
Isaiah 40:31

Mogul-ish.

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Hold on to your hats and glasses:

 

We’re selling our house. And buying another!

We lived in our home in CA for the 10 worst years of the housing market since the Depression. We knew that everything we did to make that house nicer was throwing money to the wind, since at one point our home was worth half what we paid for it.

Then we moved to Oregon, where our CA dollars walked bigly. We bought the house we thought we always wanted, 3000 square feet, terrific view, enormous master bath, wood floors, and molding on every door, floorboard and window casing. It has all the trendy tics: main floor master, great room configuration, walk-out basement, on almost 1/3 of an acre in the best school district in town.

Whoop, whoop!

Don’t you believe it. The great room is the worst design idea since wood paneling; when the master bath is that big, people hang out there all the time; wood molding gets awfully dusty and wood floors show every single dog hair; and it may be 3000 square feet but the usable space is half that thanks to Harry Potter-sized closets.

About six months after we moved in, I looked at Shea and said “You know this is not my house.” He collapsed on the floor. I stood over him and said “When this thing hits a certain dollar amount, we have to sell it.”

This Fall, it hit that dollar amount. We buried a St. Joe in the front yard, hung a sign and sold it in the two weeks including Christmas and New Year’s and during the 100 year snow storm. Boom. Shea looked at the sale price and said “Hey, it’s like you’ve had a job the last two years!”

God knows, I don’t want to get a job, but with Annie heading off to kinder next year I was feeling guilty about all that stay at home (by myself) mom time. But if I can turn this house thing into the equivalent of a first year teacher’s salary? Brilliant!

I called my financial advisor (aka my brother) and asked him his thoughts on a repeat of 2008. He assures me it was a once in a lifetime event. I trust him.

Then I went looking for a fixer upper.  I LOVE looking at houses! Love it! So much that our realtor says I should become a realtor myself and make money from my obsession. I tell her to shush, so that she can make money from my obsession. We all have kids to feed!

I don’t believe in the jinx but I’m still not going to count my chickens before they hatch. Just know that oh my gosh there could be fixer upper posts in our future!!!