Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Reflections on our son turning 18...

Michael turned 18 this weekend. And I found myself thinking of the silly things in his life that are uniquely memories of him...

The little boy who always wanted to be picked up...he would stand at your feet and say "Up me, up me, up me, up me," until you gave in and picked him up.

The special locks we had to put on all 3 doors because he was a master escape artist and the neighbors would drag him home in his diaper, which is all he slept in because it was too hot. We had to put them WAY UP on the door, almost at the very top, so he couldn't even reach them with a chair (I'm amazed he didn't figure out how to push out the screens and get out that way).

The scary pyromaniac phase he went through, setting his dresser, a basketball and the back yard grass on fire. Thank GOD he outgrew that.

The way he was always talking to everyone on the bus, so that everytime we all got off the bus all the women on the bus would wave and say, "Bye, Michael". He was a consummate flirt even then.

The day he got off the bus when Sean was an infant in my arms, and raced onto the ACC campus. I didn't know what to do, put Sean down and risk the bus taking off with him, run with Sean in my arms, I knew I'd never catch him...when a gentleman on the bus took off after him and brought him back in 60 seconds. Thank GOD.

The funny way he and Sean first related once Sean learned to talk. He always wanted Michael to pay attention to him, but Michael was usually too busy to. So you'd hear, "Michael," "Michael," "Michael," "Michael," "Shut up, Sean." Only to begin again in 5 minutes!!! Too funny.

I miss my little boy, but I know that he will be ok. That kids grow up everyday. That he'll find his way, whatever that is, and that he'll have a full and interesting life. Thanks for sharing the first 18 years of your life with me, Michael. I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Giveaway Button

Fabulous Hoover Cordless Stick Vac *Giveaway!!*

I found this page, where a lady is giving away a Hoover Cordless Stick Vac and HAD to share it with my blog buddies!!!

Hoover Cordless Stick Vac *Giveaway!!*

Friday, October 16, 2009


Today I am feeling superfluous...and also hurt. Let me explain...

Main Entry: su·per·flu·ous
Pronunciation: \s-ˈpər-flü-əs\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin superfluus, literally, running over, from superfluere to overflow, from super- + fluere to flow — more at fluid
Date: 15th century
1 a : exceeding what is sufficient or necessary : extra b : not needed : unnecessary

My 15 year old son is going to the homecoming dance tomorrow night. No biggie, he went last year. But this year he tells me he is going "stag". Alone. No date. I take him at his word and don't question him, because he so rarely lies to me. So, this morning we are all at the coffee shop on the way to work (we being myself, my husband, my son) and his dad asks who he is taking to homecoming. I say he's going stag. Sean nods his head. Jon stops walking, looks at Sean and says, no. No you aren't. Sean looks at him and says, yes I am. Jon says no you aren't, are you? To which sean mumbles ummmmm.

OK...so he's going with Brittany. And why did he lie to me? Because "you'd make a fuss". And what is the fussI would make? Making sure he didn't go in ratty jeans and a UT tee shirt and making sure the girl had a flower. I ask you...IS THAT A FUSS?

SIGH. I feel utterly dis-mommified.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Reposting from John Michael Talbot's Facebook Blog...

The Internet Community of Faith

I have been most blessed lately through the community of faith I see on my Facebook and Twitter activity. It is most certainly a positive way for immediate communication. It also has some pitfalls. I mentioned this through a comment about mutually respectful and civil dialogue on my FB pages, and it had a huge response. I have been asked to write something about it. This will just be a thumbnail, and far from complete. I will limit my remarks to my Facebook and Twitter activity, but some of it applies to other such tech vehicles and e-mail as well.

The Internet, and specifically FB and Twitter, is a great tool for immediate communication among those who would probably not normally correspond. Pope John Paul II encouraged the use of the Internet in general as a means to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. It is also just a good tool for human communication on a personal, or business level. FB and Twitter are by nature less formal than e-mail, and e-mail less formal than snail mail letters. Both FB and Twitter are limited to the length of a normal entry, and Twitter is more limited than FB. On FB you may, however, post " Notes" like this one, and refer folks to them. So, there are limitations.

These can allow people to communicate without finding hard addresses and such. Folks are pretty easy to find if they want to be found. There are also plenty of privacy controls to keep the general public from finding out private things you would prefer stay private. But you must use the privacy controls. Without them you can place yourself at some real risk by allowing all the world to know more about you then it needs to know.

Communication does build community, thus the similarity of the words. It is also where we get the word "communion." I am blessed by being able to get to know folks from all around the world of every faith persuasion. I find common ground with all, though admittedly greater common ground with those who are closer to my own faith. But we all share our humanity in common, and most believers share one God. At the very least most on my page are seeking a higher and deeper spirituality based on God, and usually Jesus Christ.

But this is no substitute for face to face human relationships if at all possible. It can be a great alternative, especially for shut ins. But if at all possible face to face relationships are what humanity, and faith communities are really all about. We share a living God, and we are a living humanity. Virtual community remains just that: virtual. We Catholic Christians emphasize the need for being the "body of Christ." So do many other Christians.

The Eucharist is the Presence of Jesus under the appearance of physical elements, the Creator under the appearance of the created. Jesus himself is fully God, and fully human. Eucharist is a sacramental way to bring the spiritual and the physical together in complete love union. To receive Communion ideally you must be physically present and actually receive Him into your entire being, spirit, soul, and body. It is like a marriage. You must be physically together in order to fully consummate the love union. And if you do not want to be together, that raises serious issues about the love behind the marriage. The same is true of the Church. There is no substitute for actually being there with brothers and sisters in Jesus. Even Christian hermits are communal in that they support one another in their life of solitude, and come together from time to time to share their insights with one another. To see their faces, to hear the tone of their voices, to see their body language and such are all very important to good communication. However, if you really cannot be there, there is a Communion of desire, and a community of desire as well. This is helped remarkably through the use of the internet, and FB and Twitter in particular.

On the other hand this anonymity is sometimes helpful, kind of like the old confessional where the face of the penitent and the confessor were hidden from one another. Sometimes we can speak more freely when we do not see the facial responses, or hear the voice inflections. This is especially true with race or ethnicity. Some have said that due to their self consciousess about their appearance these means are a great way for them to converse with others wo might be a bit put off by their appearance otherwise. Or it is a way for the uneducated to converse with a university profesor and such. This can be a good thing.

But it can also backfire. Anonymity sometimes brings out the worst in people. We can be a bit too bold with folks that we would be more polite with if we had to look them in the face. Thus, the need for civility and mutual respect. I have heard some truly nasty remarks directed towards me and others on my pages. Usually this is just one or two individuals. But it skews the spirit of the whole thing. And no matter how loving the rest of the community might try to be, it rarely does much to pacify the anger in the other.

As a rule of thumb I always say do not say anything that you do not want the whole world to hear, because it just might, and say it like Jesus is in the one you are addressing, because, whether you know it or not, He is!

I also advocate the monastic ideal of listening obedience. We really listen to one another before we respond. Otherwise it is just reaction, and reaction is rarely helpful in communication. In this medium listening means really reading the full text of a post before reacting when one or another part of a post sets us off, or makes us angry. It also means trying to really empathize with where the other person is coming from, and listening to there spirit through self emptying mediation and prayer. For the Christian this is united with the kenosis, or self emptying of Jesus Christ. Only through such meditation and prayer can we really let go of our ego about our own opinions so that we do not get angry when someone disagrees with us. Then we can respond selflessly and lovingly.

I also recommend stating differences with a certain moderation of tone and with real polite civility. I advocate a return to civility! What does this mean? It is not a good idea to emotionally attack another person because of difference of opinion about evn major issues. It lacks what the monastic tradition calls "decorum." Stating your understanding of an issue is generally better than stating a point absolutely. Asking questions with respect is better thatn accusing. Sharing how another person's position or answer makes you feel is better than striking back. We are not perfect, and some have the actual authority to teach as teachers and professors and such, but I have found the above rules of thumb helpful in dialogue.

On our tours we often employ musicians and crew that hold many different beliefs and approaches about God. My rule of thumb is: You can share anything, but we will argue about nothing. Ironically, the only person I have ever had to threaten about this was a very conservative Catholic who was implying the need for Eucharist for salvation in an excessive manner!

I pretty much use the same rule on my FB pages. If folks cross over from time to time it is OK. But if they persist, we suggest that they go elsewhere. If they do not, we eventually just block them.

Arguing is something St. Paul says that we should almost never do. It usually leads nowhere. Scholastic arguments are best left to scholastics in scholastic settings of controlled debate. FB and Twitter, or even e-mail, is not for that. Most of us are relatively well educated laity at best in an uncontrolled environment. It is very easy to hurt another's feeling here.

This leads to another point: Grammar and such. Due to the immediacy of such communication there is often some truly terrible grammar and spelling in most folk's posts. On one level some feel that this is contributing to the further breakdown of the art of language and writing in our civilization. True. But on the other hand, immediacy means by its definition that we often do not proof read our posts like we would a letter or book. I use no copy editors on my FB entries! I think that is part of the beauty of it. It is immediate, and personal, and lets us see that everyone is most human. But we need to retain a higher level of the art of language and writing in our other more serious forms of communication. I am always blessed by the beauty of the lyrics of ancient hymns when compared to modern worship choruses, though these are also good in their proper place. Or simple soldiers writing home to their loved ones displays a use of language that has long since been lost to the god of efficiency. Regrettably, the sound bite rules our day.

These are just a few initial thoughts on internet communication through e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and the like. I hope they are helpful.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Sparrow - A book review

I don't read a lot of fiction anymore, I simply don't have time. Twice in the past year, however, my husband, who reads very little, has read about a book that piqued his interest on my behalf. The first was a trilogy: The Thief/The Queen of Attolia/The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner...an extremely likeable set of books, which almost my whole family has read by now. So when he suggested The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, I said sure.

The Sparrow is about a fluke discovery of music being broadcast from Alpha Centauri and the effect that has on the young man who first hears it, and on his group of friends, Anne and George, an older married couple, Sophia, a young woman who was hired to decided if Jimmy's (the young man) job could be automated and Emilio Sandoz, a priest. Later, they are joined by DW Yarbrough, another, rougher, priest, Marc and Alan.

This book fascinated me because I'm always thinking of the sacred and the profane...how we have these divine moments, these spiritual highs in the midst of our rather mundane life. This book highlights this contrast in spades. I was also fascinated because music is so intrinsically important to me, and the first contact with this species/planet was music.

In many ways, I feel this book is a must read. Anyone who likes Science Fiction, or just good fiction, or who has ever sought a touch by GOD or who has ever loved/hated GOD...in other words, everyone, would be moved to laughter and tears by this book...

Not that this is an utterly "up" experience. There is a great deal of sadness and despair in this book. There is horror and death and life and love and passion and faith and loss of faith and truth and trust and betrayal...in other words, this is a book that LIVES. It lives in your mind, it grabs onto your heart and you feel you live in the book with these amazing, nuanced people and beings. I hated to see it end...even though it was very difficult to read at the end and I sobbed my guts out at the emotion and revelations. (Oh, I have since then discovered there is a sequel).

I hesitate to say more, because I don't want to contaminate your experience with the book. But I highly recommend this to everyone...I know it's fiction, but it describes one of the longest, darkest nights of the soul that someone has ever survived.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

My current stress...

Do any of you have aunts? Older aunts? (like in their 80s?) who tortured you your whole life? Well this is my stress. In a moment of weakness I told my daughter-in-law that we could have her baby shower at my house. 15 strange women i don't know, who work with or who are friends with her AND 2 of my 3 aunts/great-aunts. Now one of them is an old sweetie. Wouldn't hurt me for anything. The other?

The other aunt married my mother's oldest brother and they were ALWAYS well off (as opposed to us, we were dirt poor). They had a fancy house (huge), lots of cars, lots of money, vacations, best schools, rich and conservative

My mother, my uncles youngest and only sister, was a wild child. Always in trouble, always drunk, often violent. The aunt seemed unable to STAND her, and by extension, me. Mom was the black sheep I was the gray.

My cousin, (their oldest daughter) was one of those rigid, up-tight, have to do everything right, neurotic kids. I always dragged her away from that and made her "play". Her mother hated that. We got dirty together (OMG DIRT!!! NOT ALLOWED). We climbed in the hayloft at the other aunts house. We rolled down the hills around their ranch (all my great aunts are wealthy). In short? we were kids. The aunt hated this. The cousin was NEVER to be "mussed". Sigh.

OK, on to the torture: I was born a slob. Seriously. when they gave out house cleaning genes I wasn't even on the same planet. I have been a slob since I was a child. You had to "wade" through my rooms. And later, in an unhappy marriage, I was WORSE if you can imagine. It was how i punished him because he was a Virgo and DEMANDED a clean (spotless) house. And I would not give it to him. GOD, I was horrid.

Anyway, one time my mom dressed herself in white bell bottoms, a wild shirt & a beehive hairdo. HEAVY on the makeup. Then she dressed me that way (I am normally a VERY modest and conservative dresser). And THEN, for some reason, she got gram to dress the same way, even with the beehive, but with less makeup. And THEN she drove us to the aunts house. It was a kodak moment when she opened the door and I think she'd have slammed it in our faces if gram hadn't been with us. Sigh. We were not nice right back to her, now that I think about it.

OK, so, what does this have to do with the baby shower tomorrow? THE VERY AUNT IS COMING. This woman has not been in my house since my older 4 kids were really little (2/4/6/8). AND SHE'S GOING TO BE HERE TOMORROW.

Needless to say I've been an utter basket case. Cleaning everything in and out of site, knowing it will NEVER be enough.

Wow, I think I feel better having spoken it.

Thanks for wading through my past that is haunting my now with me.