Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sarah Gives Thanks...

We've been up since six. Sarah wanted to get a head-start on her turkeys. Each multi-colored feather is labeled with an "attitude of gratitude" that begins: I am thankful for my mom and dad and __________ (brother, toys, baby sister, etc.)

Yesterday Benita, the school secretary, greeted me with six words guaranteed to stop me in my tracks: "Guess what your daughter did today."

It seems Benita was taking around a group of prospective South Arbor moms, and met Sarah in the hall on her way back to class. "What's new, Sarah?" Benita asked my daughter.

Sarah's face lit up. "My mom is having her BABY tomorrow! I'm going to have a Baby Sister, Meghan!" she announced. Sensing she had an audience hanging on her every word, Sarah launched into a heartfelt monologue, giving chapter and verse on how happy she was to be a Big Sister. "If I hadn't known you," Benita chuckled, "I would have been absolutely convinced she was telling the truth." She paused. "You're not having a baby tomorrow, right?"

Every person in the office stopped talking. The principal popped his head out of his office. Dana, the other secretary, stopped talking.

"Not tomorrow, sorry. Sarah's been asking for a baby sister or brother for some time, and I told her to talk to God about it. But at this rate, I'm pretty sure I know what the answer is - I've caught my limit!"

Yes, my daughter can be very convincing. I just hope one day she'll use her gift for good!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Gotta Book? What Does It Cost to Publish

Today I came across this insightful post at Rachel Gardener's blog, which gives breakdown of the hidden costs of publishing abook.

Bottom line: A publisher has to be able to pay the bills. So if a publisher is going to invest in your book, is it going to be worth the investment?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Beleagered from Battle...

"You gonna catch up on your blog today?" my husband asked as I stumbled out of the bedroom. "You haven't written anything in almost a week now."

I smiled. I didn't think he'd noticed. But Craig had seen me stress out all week, and did a sneaky husband bit -- went to the blog to find out what was REALLY going on. Smart guy. If only I'd written on it!

This week I was reminded again of the importance of "seasons" in life. Not just the BIG seasons like college, marriage, motherhood, and empty-nesting . . . the mini-seasons as well: the cycles of productive activity, celebration, and rest.

This week was South Arbor Booster's first "Holiday Store," selling gifts and scrip for holiday shopping. We've worked hard to create our cookbooks, order the merchandise and scrip, and get everything set up. Too hard, frankly -- Christopher and Sarah were definitely shwoing signs of wear. The end of the second day, Sarah had the mother of all melt-downs in the middle of the school parking lot as Dad walked her to the car. "I WANT MOMMMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!"

Clearly, Mommy had not been as available this week as usual. And her absence had not gone unnoticed. So I cleared us out of there as quickly as possible, planning to come in the next morning to finish clearing up the mess.

That morning, I was met at the door by an indignant staff member, who lectured me on my responsibility to take care of the facility. It did not go over well. I don't respond well to lectures on the best of days -- and this was not a good day. I fumed. I cried. I felt twelve shades of sorry for myself. And I lectured back, once I was safely out of earshot.

In a word, I had overdone it.

When a seven-year-old has a meltdown, there's no mistaking it: kicking and screaming, snot and tears everywhere. The grown-up version is slightly more dignified, but has many of the same sources. We get overwhelmed, and feel neglected and unappreciated. We want to feel connected and loved. We need a quiet place to reconnect and restore.

Are you feeling beleaguered today?

Monday, November 02, 2009

All Souls' Day

This morning as I put the final touches on my religious education lesson for my 20 fifth graders, I think about how to make the lesson memorable for each child. What will they take away from that class? What will they remember a day, a week . . . dare I say it? a decade from now?

Today, we study the life of St. Miguel Pro, who donned disguises in order to bring the sacraments to the faithful of Mexico who were willing to risk their lives rather than deny their faith. Which raises the question of the day: If I knew that the police were going to rush the sanctuary and arrest anyone who had received Eucharist -- would I be willing to risk it?

As President Obama signs the "hate speech" legislation into law, am I going to speak up publicly regarding the teachings of the Church on natural family order and the theology of the body? Or will I melt into a philosophical pile of relativistic goo, so as not to offend those determined to live outside those parameters?

As we pray for the souls in purgatory, who need the refining fire of God's burning love to cleanse them prior to receiving the beatific vision, will I remember not to idealize my dearly departed, and to allow that they were not as perfect on earth as God will make them in heaven? And will I extend that grace to those who are still living -- being willing to learn from them, and love them despite their flaws and weaknesses?

St. Gertrude, patronness of travelers and souls in purgatory, pray for us! As we travel this road of life, may we read the signs God places in our path and to follow them faithfully.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Trick or . . . Terrified?

Last night when I took my little goblins for their annual "sugar rush" -- circling our friend's development in search of a bucketful of chocolate treats -- the experience was very different than in years past.

While the number of dinosaurs and ballerinas and superheroes and ghosts had not diminished, the number of porch lights certainly had. "Times are tough" commented parents to one another as we passed on the sidewalk. "Or maybe it's the virus scare," said others.

Either way, it was not the Happiest Halloween on record. It was cold. It was dark. And for two little kids who were eager to show off their Halloween etiquette (no walking on grass, always say thank you, take just one, and be ready to burst into song if someone asks for a "trick") it was downright discouraging.

The experience got me to thinking about this time about a decade ago, when the Y2K scare had people hunkering down and squirreling away gallons of water. One relation of mine (I won't mention names here, as we all need covering for our stupidity from time to time) stored so much water on her laundry room shelves that the shelves collapsed, sending about an inch of water to the nether regions of the house. At that time, John Paul II was admonishing the faithful, "Be not afraid . . . open the doors of your heart to Christ!"

This advice is no less relevant today. Given a choice to hide in fear or celebrate life . . . choose life. Hand out penny candy and ask for a trick. Wear gloves and mask if you absolutely must (call it a costume). But bear witness to the community, the need to need each other.

Today at Catholic Exchange, I've written an article on the subject. Here's the link. Enjoy . . . and Happy All Soul's Day!