July



Our Lady of Fatima... Pray for us.
Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament... Hear us.
Our Lady of the Rosary... Strengthen us.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Funny Guy Friday… Theresa, I take it all back...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband, Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     At some point in everybody's life, people make sacrifices for others. We do it for friends, we do it for family and at times, we do it for strangers. Typically, they are small things like giving someone a ride, changing plans to accommodate others, delivering a meal or babysitting at the last minute.
     Recently, I learned about a sacrifice that my sister-in-law Theresa is about to undertake, and I must admit it is no small thing. I don't know all the specifics, because she has been "under the radar" with this. But not knowing the specifics in the past, has never stopped me from writing as if I do know the specifics. So here is what I think that I know.
     About a year ago, Theresa got a call from a woman friend whose husband was not doing well due to problems with his kidneys, and without a transplant, he would not survive. Theresa had lived with this couple when she was 19 years old. These folks were very kind to her at a time when she needed someone to be kind to her. They eventually became Godparents to Theresa's and my brother Jeff's oldest son.
     This call started the ball rolling on a plan that will come to fruition on February 6th---Theresa is going to donate one of her kidneys to help save this man's life.
     She spent last weekend at Duke University Medical Center undergoing the last tests to ensure that she is a good candidate. On a side note, I hate Duke so much that if I had to be treated at that facility I would be like Wesley in Princess Bride and demand "DEATH FIRST." I'm sure it is a good hospital but c'mon, it's Duke.
     Theresa is overjoyed that the last test came back positive, or negative. I am not sure which (remember that detail thing I talked about in the a previous paragraph), but whatever the result, she is, in fact a good candidate for the surgery. It is one of the most selfless things that a person can do, and I must say, I am very impressed. I ask that you keep her and her grateful friends in your prayers.
     
     Anyway, some of you may not have heard the story of how Theresa and I met. As I recall, we first met in the halls of our high school back in 1979. As the story goes, she would wait for me after my typing class and I would carry her books to our next class. Other students in the hallway would look admiringly at me as I, a mere sophomore, would walk the halls with a Senior---who happened to be a female, and not a bad looking female either. I was awesome.
     Alas, the relationship didn't last as she had eyes for another---my big brother. Others have suggested that she may have been using me to get to my big brother, but I am going to give her the benefit of the doubt. I was hard to resist. In fact, I don't want to brag or anything but back in the day I was "Kind of a Big Deal." I started that year as the back up to the back up point guard on the J.V. basketball team but by the end of the year I was the sole back up to the point guard on the J.V. basketball team. And if that wasn't enough, I was the starting shortstop on the J.V. baseball team and I dressed out for most Varsity games. Seriously, does it get any better than that?
    What's that? My brother was captain of both the varsity basketball team and the varsity baseball team? And he started on each team all three years he was there? Really? Really?!
     Wow, maybe she was using me!
     To be fair, she has a different recollection of our brief romance. She says that she was already dating my brother and was "just being nice" to her boyfriend's little brother. I'm not buying that "just being nice" line. I was there and I know what I thought I saw. Besides, who are you gonna believe, a guy who is keeping all of his major organs intact, in his own body? Or someone crazy enough to voluntarily give up one of hers. Case closed!
     Theresa and I have had a history of sparring mentally and I must say that I have dominated that competition. As my primary nemesis in life, I have formulated certain opinions and may have said some things about her that I now regret. Theresa's life giving sacrifice has now changed some of these opinions and I would like to take this opportunity to clear the air and publicly set the record straight. So, Theresa… This is for you...
   
     First, there were many occasions when I witnessed discussions between you, your husband and your sons about various sporting events. Typically, this would occur after a big game, and you would throw in your two cents with some cockamamie strategy that you would have used had you been the coach. I must admit that there were times that I would roll my eyes behind your back at some of the things you would say. Now that I know you are donating a kidney, I realize that you were right and that you do know more about baseball than your husband and your sons. I am sorry I rolled my eyes. Perhaps, someday, your husband and sons will also realize that their eye rolling was uncalled for.
    Second, there were many occasions where you would give me advice about relationships that more often than not ruined whatever relationship that I happened to be in at the time.  I used to think that you purposely sabotaged these relationships. Now that I know that you are donating a kidney, I realize that you gave good sound advice and that it was not intended to ruin my relationships because you harbored some false notion that you could have me for your own someday. Although I will say, thank goodness I didn't dump Cheryl like you had suggested. After asking Cheryl to marry me after only six weeks of dating, I believe your exact quote was, "Are you out of your mind?" Again, now that I know you are donating a kidney, perhaps I was a bit premature with my proposal.
    Third, your devotion to your sons is unquestionable, but at times, I must admit that I did question whether you were a bit over-protective of the lads. Chasing down 50 cent balloons throughout the neighborhood, challenging game officials to fights, challenging coaches to fights (forget about the fact that most of the time their coach was their father), or dressing them in some ridiculous costume to curry favor from their teachers or sympathy from their friends. It all just seemed so unnecessary to me at the time. But now that I know that you are donating a kidney, I see clearly that your boys needed all the help they could get just to survive. What a bunch of losers!
     Finally, you used to be loud and opinionated. Now that I know that you are donating a kidney, you are……………well, you are…………..well, you are still kind of loud and opinionated but your opinions are correct. I guess.

     There, that just about does it. Keep in mind that we kid because we love.
     In all seriousness, a decision like this is not to be taken lightly. I have talked to my brother and to Theresa and it is clear that she never hesitated in her desire to help this man and would have been terribly disappointed had it not been possible. I always think that I would react similarly if presented with the opportunity. But I also always say it is an easier decision to make when it is only a hypothetical. Theresa was presented with a real opportunity, and she responded like a hero.
     The last thing I will say about this topic is that if Theresa really wants to put the icing on the cake and make what I would consider to be the ultimate sacrifice, she would offer up…….right now with no questions asked…...her other kidney to me in the event that I ever needed an extra one.
     Now that kind of sacrifice would make her a super hero!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Funny Guy Friday… 'Sup... Welcome to Cheryl World!

    Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
    Every year, my family manages to score some tickets to different professional or college games. When I say college games, what I really mean is University of Maryland games. I went to the University of Maryland; Cheryl graduated from the University of Maryland; and my kids will attend the University of Maryland---at least that is my plan.
     My nephew works in the Athletic Department at Maryland, and, this past weekend, was kind enough to get us tickets to go see Maryland play Georgia Tech in basketball. Typically, I would have taken the kids, and Cheryl would have stayed home to do whatever she does when she is home alone---BORING! But this was not our typical situation because Grace is still visiting in Houston. Four tickets, four of us. Guess what---Cheryl was going to cheer on the Terps.
     My girl was all in. She put on her Terrapin turtle neck, she painted Noah's face with red, gold and black, and she pulled Matthew's and my Maryland sweatshirts out of the wash.  
     A few years ago, a certain coach that I do not like, from a certain University that I cannot stand, came to College Park and whined that the fans at Cole Field House were rude. The University of which I speak has a name that rhymes with Puke and the coach has a name that rhymes with… with… er… uh... rhymes with… well, it rhymes with nothing because it is ridiculously unpronounceable.
     Well, the White Rat---my nickname for the coach, it's not official or anything---got a bunch of press and all of the sudden things had to change. Admittedly, some of the things the students did were crude and unnecessary, but kids will be kids. I can say this because they are University of Maryland kids---it would have been obnoxious at any other school.
     One of the things that the students still do when the opposing team is announced is pretend to read a newspaper and then yell a subtle comment about each player's abilities on the basketball court as they are announced. The students then crumple up the newspapers and throw them up in the air.
     Okay, it is not all that subtle---they yell Sucks! after each player's name is announced.  For example: The announcer says, At guard, Fred Smith---SUCKS! immediately follows. This used to be followed up by taking the crumpled  up newspapers and throwing them toward the opposing bench (they have since moved the student section to the other side of the gym, away from the benches). Harmless fun by the Maryland student body, but again, other schools could never pull this off.
     Well, when this happened on Sunday, I looked at Cheryl expecting her to be appalled at these shenanigans. To my surprise, she was smiling and nodding. Dare I say, she was all but joining in on the fun. This was shocking given Cheryl's past history of goody-two-shoe-ness.
     We had a great time at the game. Matthew was all into it, joining in every cheer and college game day taunt. Typically, his antics embarrass his sister, who is sure that all 20,000 people in the arena yelling AIR-BALL are focusing in on Matthew and his AIR-BALL chant. On the other hand, his enthusiasm thrills his mother. Noah fist pumped each Terp basket, got his photo taken with the Terrapin mascot, and even got to meet the University President while getting fries with his cousin. Don't tell anyone this, but he was more impressed with the Turtle than he was with the President.
     After a convincing Terp victory, we were on our way to dinner and had a chance to discuss the students' pregame chants. Again, I was shocked to hear Cheryl tell us that she thought it was clever.
     Stop the world because I am getting off. This is very un-Cheryl-like.
     Clever? You thought that the students yelling SUCKS after each opposing player's name was announced was clever? 
     That's not what they yelled, she insisted. They yelled 'SUP... As in, We don't care about you, we are barely acknowledging you, and we are reading a paper, and just asking What's up? But we don't really care enough to say the whole thing, so we just yell 'sup? 
     Are you serious? That is what you thought they were yelling? 
     This brought a chuckle from both Noah, age 7, and Matthew, age 11. Matthew admitted that he knew his mother did not understand what they were yelling because he was sitting next to her the whole time and at no point during the introductions did she turn and begin lecturing him on good sportsmanship.
     I dropped the bomb and informed her that the student body was telling the players that they stunk---- in a very rude way! Wow, this really was her first rodeo. Four hours later, and now she was appropriately appalled!
     Why would they do that? Saying 'Sup is way more clever, and it tells them that we are not impolite, but we don't care enough about them to clap. It is nice and it is demeaning at the same time! If you boys ever do something like that I will be very disappointed! I am going to write a letter!
     Ahhh! The world is spinning on its axis again. Cheryl is righteously indignant, and the Chancellor at Maryland will be getting a letter about it.
     Everyone should realize that this is the way life is in Cheryl World. Everyone is nice and polite even when they are trying to be offensive. She gets upset when players steal the ball. She thinks the kids who have their shots rejected should be entitled to counseling. She thinks that every scrub player should get a chance no matter how far down the bench they may be. Traveling should be allowed for those players that don't do it all the time. And above all else, nobody is mean.
     I even think that Cheryl would find something nice to say about the White Rat. Disgusting! Seriously, put yourself in my shoes and imagine trying to live with this kind of attitude all your life----especially when Duke comes to town.
    My only hope is that she will be so disappointed by the fact that they are called the Blue Devils that she won't even deem them worthy of a lukewarm 'SUP.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Funny Guy Friday….Sometimes the answer is no!

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     Well, it is Sunday evening, and I am sitting here on the couch watching football while my little man, Noah, plays on my new iPad. Noah and I just had an almost perfect afternoon together.
     He wanted his favorite dinner, steak, so we went shopping for steak. While shopping, I bought him all of his favorite fruits and snacks. He wanted to go to Cold Stones for his favorite ice cream, cotton candy with gummy bears, so we went to Cold Stones and got him his favorite ice cream before we went shopping and before we had dinner. And get this, we did not get the small size that his mother always makes us order. We got the larger size with the waffle cone. Take that, Mommy.
     During the course of the afternoon, Noah mentioned that it had been a perfect afternoon. I corrected him and told him it had been almost perfect. I told him it would have been perfect had he not been shot in the rear end earlier in the day. That's right, Noah had to get shot in the bottom to warrant such royal treatment.
     And get this... I was the one that shot him.
     As you may have guessed, it was his mother's fault.
     Let me explain.
     The afternoon did not start off that great for poor Noah. At lunch he dropped one or two of his oh-so-subtle hints that I wrote about last week. Cheryl advised him to stop; he was not getting soda. But in his defense, all he was doing was saying that the soda looked good and that he was thirsty.
     Not sure why she reacted so terribly, raising her voice and telling him that he was not getting soda and to stop asking. He responded that he really hadn't asked. Technically, he was correct, he hadn't asked. But she went on, and, in my humble opinion, mocked the poor boy and told him that she wasn't really saying no, she was practicing saying no because she was going to say no all day. Inexcusable behavior on her part and not good parenting.
     After lunch, Noah's big brother Matthew had a friend over and they went outside to play with their air soft guns. Noah was disappointed that he could not go out and play with them, but his mother stuck to form and said NO! She may not have screamed it as my capitalizing implies, but she definitely said no.
     So Noah came back in the house and wondered aloud what it would feel like to get shot by an air soft gun. He asked me if he could see how it feels. Now his mother had been the Queen of No all day---poor boy had nothing but disappointment---and I had seen enough. Why, sure! Why not. It will only sting a little bit. So off we went.
     Matthew was initially excited by the plan and produced the appropriate weapon. Noah turned and walked about ten feet away. I took aim, and in an attempt to make the poor boy's dream come true, I fired away.
     The first shot was a glancing blow. The second shot went right between his legs, and Noah insisted that it did not hurt at all. You would think that at this point, I would have just let it go, but Noah wanted the real experience, and I was there to give it to him. Shot three found its mark.
     Matthew plays this game all the time, and he has never indicated that it hurts when you get shot. I just assumed that it would sting a tiny little bit. There were two clues that I was wrong; the first was Noah's reaction. He darted inside and was on the verge of tears. He was a trooper and hung tough and did not cry. Thankfully, I might add, because the wrath of Cheryl was imminent, and tears would have only made things worse.
     The second clue was Matthew's reaction after I delivered the near lethal shot. Dad, you are way too close. Wait a second Matthew, you sat and watched me shoot at him twice and this never crossed your mind before now? C'mon man!
     Cheryl took a look at his bottom and demanded an explanation.
     What could I say? I shot the boy!
     I thought that I would try to make things right with Noah and let him take a few shots at my rear end. The problem is that Noah is not a very good shot, and I have a small rear end. Cheryl was standing by his side, and surprisingly, she did not pick up a weapon and start firing off a few rounds at me herself. Not surprisingly, she was completely on board with Noah getting some retribution.
     I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to convince Noah that I am not the worst dad in the world. Noah was very kind and kept telling me that he did, in fact, ask to be shot.
     Again, technically, he was right, so I felt a little better about the whole episode, but I reassured him that it was not his fault.
     It was his mother's.
     In retrospect, I will grudgingly admit that sometimes the answer really needs to be no!
   
     Noah has asked if he can write about this. The whole experience is still etched in my mind, so I can't start telling him no until tomorrow. Here is Noah's story as told to Cheryl. Remember, he is just a seven-year-old coming off a horrific shooting. Ignore any bad stuff about me.

     The first time it didn't hurt. And then the second time, it didn't hurt. But the third time… YYYYOOOWWWW!!!!!  According to my mom, there was a welt on my bottom that looked like a donut. I like donuts. But not that one! 
     These are my parents: Here's some ice. You only have to sit on it for five minutes. After 5 minutes, it was another 5 minutes. And then another. Five minutes is a really long time.
     After the whole donut shooting thing, my dad and I went out for some ice cream. I told him I could fight through the pain, and I ate my Gummy Bears like a man. And I suggested I should sit on my ice cream. Donuts and ice cream… what a combination.  Consider them both marked as my territory.

     There you have it, right from the horse's mouth. I must say that I was a little worried that he was going to write something that was going to make me look like an idiot.  Fortunately, I think I dodged that bullet! 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Looking back… Looking ahead...

     So, here we are at the start of a new year. Naturally, I've been looking at the year in review, and noticing some big changes.
     If you have followed this blog since its beginning, you probably have noticed that I used to post many more political/current events stories than I do now. It isn't that I don't care anymore. It's just that nothing ever seems to change. And when it does, it doesn't last.
     Take the Tea Party victory, for instance. What a disappointment how the Republican leadership repeatedly squandered the mandate for restoration... both by their votes and by their voices. And shame on the media for being complicit in the fundamental transformation of our Republic. Historians will have a field day. Someday.
     In the meantime, if you are looking for political commentary, you can go back into my archives. It's all there. I sounded the alarm for a year and a half. And my sidebar still offers a wealth of information and useful links.
     People ask me who I like in the field of Republicans. My answer is whoever runs against Barack Obama. It's not tricky really. Four more years of this, and America will cease to exist as we know her. She's different already.
     I guess for the primary election, for me, it will come down to who is the least statist of all of the statists. And who truly recognizes the threats to America, both foreign and domestic. Show me a true, small-government, protect our borders, constitutional conservative, and he will get my vote. Doesn't America deserve civic leaders who will ensure freedom, and who won't spend and regulate her to death?
     Enough about politics.
     On a personal note, so much has changed for me. Of course the passing of Mark's dad has left a gaping hole in our family. Time and hope are what help there.
     Sweeping across the year… by the end of last school year, we had decided to withdraw from institutional education and teach our kids at home.
     Best. Decision. Ever.
     They genuinely enjoy their days and each other. God is present all day long. Our family has a freedom we had never enjoyed before. Our daily rhythms are natural. The kids play outside. And they are learning.
     Teaching them has been a big challenge for me, as I have a tenth grader, a sixth grader and a second grader, all with different learning styles and at different stages… all at the same time. Very difficult for me, as order does not come naturally. But I am very happy. And I thank God for each new day. Plus, I have a lot of support from my homeschooling, and non-homeschooling friends. I thank God for that, too. Mark is still skeptical, but he'll see the fruits soon enough. Onward I go.
     In the fall, I attended my 30th high school reunion. The time period that followed that night took me by surprise. I went through a bit of spiritual upheaval. Mostly involving forgiveness and letting go of my pride. Thank you Lord for my time with you in Adoration to really take a long look at my heart.
     I have often said that I prefer the woman I have become to the young girl I left behind. A girl who was mostly self conscious, insecure and somewhat detached. But I faced that girl from graduation day and finally embraced her. A girl that I had considered silly and fearful, always telling her, You should have been more confident.
     I have realized that she had protected me on many occasions. And she was mostly kind. And she loved God and her family. That's still me. It may sound silly, but I thanked her. And I told her that she did good. For the first time ever, I told her she did good.
     Subsequently, I opened up a Facebook page. For years, I had told myself I didn't need to stay connected, but I was wrong. I like to reach out. I like to share little nuggets for the day. I like to see other people lifting each other up. I still hesitate a little when "friending" others, for fear of intruding in their lives without having been invited. A remnant of the teenage me, I guess.
     Thanksgiving, and then Christmas, came and went, carrying with them so many blessings. And now we are at the start of a brand new year.
     My word for this year is order. This year, I will try to establish order in my days… in our schooling, in our home, and in my prayer life. This is the Lord's house, too. A calm lake reflects the sun. Calmer days for us will reflect the Son.
     Blessings to you in the new year. May the peace of Christ be always in your hearts and in your homes.

The answer that should have been given...

     This is why I don't watch presidential debates. It's not the candidates; it's the moderators and their ridiculous narrative. When, oh when, will they wake up?
     See this, in American Thinker.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Funny Guy Friday… No way! No how!

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     For Christmas, we gave Grace a trip to Houston to visit her cousin and best friend, Katherine. We were a bit nervous to leave her with my sister Michel, aka Nurse Kevorkian. As you may recall, my sister nearly killed my dad with oxygen deprivation. Anyway, we decided that Grace was in good enough health to entrust her to the good folks in Texas for a week.
      She left on December 26th and was scheduled to come back on January 3rd.  After being there for five days, she called and asked if she could stay a few extra weeks.  
     Weeks! Are you kidding me? No way! No how! 
     Gracie made her case:
     Point… Aunt Michel home schools too, and Grace and Katherine are both doing the same biology; and besides, Aunt Michel is a Biology teacher.
Point… We can send her her math and social studies work and she can extend her stay and still get in all the home schooling that she needs.
Point… Two of her cousins are flying into Maryland for the Right to Life March in late January so she can fly home with them and will not have to fly alone.
Point… The neighbors are Catholic so she can get to Mass on Sunday.
Point… Although Aunt Michel is a terrible nurse, she is a pretty good parent.
Point… Grace is having a great time.
     Counter point… I am here and she is there! I don't like this at all. 
     After much deliberation, we decided to let her stay.
     So far, this is what we have learned: our house is much quieter without Grace---not better, mind you, but quieter. Second, the family dynamics with the boys and without Grace are much different---not better, mind you, just different.
     The time with boys has allowed me to focus a bit more on 7-year-old Noah---he of the subtle hints. For example:
Noah: Dad, did you know that Coldstone Creamery moved?
Me: Yes, I am fully aware of that because I told you that yesterday.
Noah: I love ice cream
Me: So do I.
Noah: I love cotton candy with gummy bears.
Me: I know, but you are not getting any today.
Noah: I didn't ask, but since you brought it up, can we?
Me: No.
Noah: I didn't think so, but you would be the best dad in the world if you surprised me.
Me: It wouldn't be a surprise since you already asked.
Noah: Technically, I didn't ask, so it would still be a surprise.
     Noah also has a disconnect when it comes to being tickled. Matthew (age 11), Noah and I were all lying on our bed watching a football game when for some unknown reason, Matthew decided it was time to launch a sneak tickle attack on Noah. Noah broke down in tears and began to yell. I inquired as to what prompted Matthew to launch his offensive and Noah chimed in with a tearful, I KNOW, WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?!
     At this point, I asked Noah if he were hurt. Well, er uh well, no. Then why the yelling and the tears? He tickled me. Did it tickle? Yes. Then why don't you laugh, you dodo. Because he tickled me. I see
     This was reminiscent of the time that Cheryl lined the kids up to talk to them about something very important. I don't recall what it was about, nor do I care. But I did have to get involved when Noah began to mimic Cheryl. I pointed at him and raised my eyebrows. Very intimidating in an authoritative way.
     About a half-hour later, I was upstairs and heard Noah in full-out cry mode. In the middle of his little tirade, I could have sworn that I heard him say, "Now Dad is really mad at me!" I was in my underwear watching Sports Center; all was good in the world as far as I was concerned.
     I put a towel around my waist, and went to the top of the steps to inquire... What did I do to make you say that I am mad at you? Did I spank you? No. Did I yell at you? No. Did I pull your hair? No. What did I do? You pointed at me!
     Yes, I did. I never realized what power I had in my little index finger. Ever since that day, I have been going around the house and pointing at Cheryl and then pointing at the dirty laundry. I must say, this has been met with mixed results. No laundry has been done, but Cheryl has come up with several clever places on my body where I could put my pointing finger. I must say, she has a lot to learn about the male anatomy because I don't think that I would enjoy having my finger at that location at all. Perhaps Cheryl should go to Texas and sit in on a few science classes herself.
     Gracie comes home on January 20th and our little family will get back to normal. I know what you are thinking if you read this every Friday---Normal? Are you kidding me? No way.. No how... is that family normal!
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