Peace, Love, and French Fries

Catholic, children, faith, family, growth, humility, learning, love, motherhood, teaching, teenagers, truth

Peace Be Unto You – a standard getting in the Arab world predominated with members of the Muslim faith and a greeting I used, in its Arabic form, to break cultural and language barriers with a parent this week.

So grateful for that greeting, the father gestured that I sit down before he did, with a genuine smile and a knowing approval that we shared a willingness to dialogue no matter the barriers . We also shared a deep and abiding love for our son.

Happy at his son’s progress report, he offered to buy his son french fries. Not not just any french fries,  but the ones from Ted’s. He gestured about the cost of those, rubbing his fingers together, the international sign of expense, but a with a gleam in his eye and willingness to treat his son.

I shared with him that in my faith, Lent was coming and that we can’t eat meat on Friday and I, too, enjoy Ted’s for fish and fries. A translator helped with the logistics of the conversation, but I knew with the smiles and gestures that he understood.

My love for my son has been put to the test this week by those who wish to do harm unto him. My bond with him, forged in the womb, is a connection primal yet spiritual; with the yearning to protect him from the evils of this cruel world.

Peace be with you and with your spirit, is a standard response in my faith with a handshake or a kiss of peace.

Peace through fear, rage and betrayal is what I knew to give to stabilize his soul and keep his faith along with french fries and a milk shake.

As my Lenten journey soon begins,  I harken back to my early years in the Church, in the  Latin Rite. I close my eyes and knowingly can feel, see and hear the smells, the mysterious language, memorized but understood;  my visceral images of faith, unity and security.

Pax Dómini sit semper vobí- Et cum spíritu tuo. As-Salaam-Alaikum.  Mualaikumsalam.

Two  different languages and experiences; common and familiar.

Love, peace and french fries…

Simple love for our sons.

 

 

 

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Burning Desires

faith, grief, growth, humility, learning, lettinggo, love, motherhood, truth

I’m burned out. I’m exhausted. I’m tired. I’m sad. I’m overwhelmed.

Yet words written by my a friend to me today rocked my inner core:

“You are a ridiculously strong capable smart compassionate incredible caring mother and woman.”

Facing death, destruction and denial, I have been in a downward spiral of survivor’s guilt and soul crushing grief over the past month.  Grief and sadness that I have covered up with lipstick, scarves and a smile.

How could she still see me as strong when I felt so weak? How did she see me as caring mother and woman when I have been short-tempered and angry? How does she see – see me?

So we talked further, and I had an idea. I am writing all the negative hurtful things that have been weighing me down out on paper and burning them at midnight.

Cleansing my inner self and creating a new year’s path of positive thoughts and actions these negative weights will float away as ashes.

I AM a ridiculously strong capable smart compassionate incredible caring mother and woman and 2018 will start off with my burning desire to be who I know I am.

 

 

Check Your Spelling

children, coaching, disability, faith, family, growth, humility, learning, love, momoffive, motherhood, sportsmanship, teaching, truth

Writing this post this morning, I’m procrastinating from entering my interim grades and getting ready for school. My spelling and retelling of the past month’s events in my life are a necessary and bewitching challenge.

Grateful for being a “highly intelligent woman,” I still am crippled by the stress, grief and exhaustion of being a “first year” teacher in an urban school district, the sole competent member of my family’s bloodline after the sudden death of my only sister, matriarch of an above average sized family (both in size and number) and an entrepreneur trying to rekindle the flames a business that was put on the back burner due to disabling conditions that took away my spark for a few years.

Shall I just take the easy path – notes, rhetoric, tests, lather, rinse, repeat? To me that is a “wonderlandering” downward slide down the wicked path of mediocrity

Or do I Sinatra it – do it my way? Taking myself, yet again, down the challenging, relevant, albeit difficult and thorn filled path; casting a spell of relevance to corrupt the minds of youth?

And in so doing,  in taking them away from the fiery caldron of acceptance of norms created to control, and thereby charting a course towards a brave new world of courage, acceptance of difference and a remonstrance of the common, do I self immolate?

Either way, I’ll be sure to run a spell check…

 

 

 

Summer Enrichment

children, faith, graduation, growth, teenagers, truth, waiting

Here in upstate NY the days are either extremely hot and muggy or cool and rainy. I sit here with a pile of undone chores and an exhaustion level ( Over 9000) in my bones after finishing a grueling 4 week, 10 hour a day summer enrichment program where I had the opportunity to teach and create memories with rising 5th graders.

The goals – stop the summer slide, feed bodies, and create fun opportunities in a safe environment.

Accomplishments – traveled the world, wrote poetry, created carnival games, put on a show, made new friends – oh yeah we read 9 books, did math problems, experimented with scientific hypotheses, learned foreign languages, invented, painted, sculpted, created – and we laughed. We laughed a lot.

We Sang. We danced. Every day!

Then there was the day we ran out of hot dogs for dinner. Yup. I was, to use a nice phrase – agitated.

But we had beans. Lots of beans. So growing up in an oftentimes impoverished household with depression era parents, I thought well there are buns and beans, let’s have bean sandwiches. We have bananas. We have cookies.

Thinly veiling my disappointment of not having what was on the menu, I danced into the room singing “We have beans on buns with bananas. Beans on buns with bananas.” Picture a hot, sweaty, miffed 6′ 2″ woman singing a silly song at the top of her lungs. I still don’t know how I mustered (haha) the wherewithal to think of that.

My sweet little girl M, so shy and loving comes up and says, ” What a wonderful feast will we have together – it’s like we are a family.”

Yup summer enrichment.

 

 

 

 

 

Teaching, Learning, Life

children, faith, growth, learning, love, motherhood, teaching, teenagers, truth

As the semester comes to a close and along with it, my first full school year back in the classroom; I’m still as excited to be doing this today as I was in September.

I’ve had bumps along the way, tears were shed, self-doubt crept in, mistakes were made (again and again), but the awesome questions that keep coming, the laughter at my corny jokes, and the smiling (and sometimes fearful) faces of those that sit before me thirsting for knowledge inspire me even on my darkest days.

My own children ask me, “Mom, why do you read so much?”

Answers:

1) I enjoy reading.

2) I enjoy learning.

3) I would be a charlatan if I stood up in front of my students every day and expected them to take risks and learn if I wasn’t willing to do the same.

Our library is being cleaned out for renovations and an entire set of history books were up for the taking. I now have 6 boxes of books in the back of the land yacht (Psst don’t tell Papasaurus yet!) and as I excitedly looked through the them, I let out a squeal of delight about books on obscure Civil War battles that made the librarian chuckle. He said, “You are proof that one man’s trash is another’s treasure. I’m glad someone will put them to good use.”

Albert Eistein is credited with a quote, “Once we stop learning, we start dying.”

I have a long life ahead…

 

 

 

 

We Want You

children, faith, growth, love, truth

So many feelings inside fighting to make their way out of me today. Fridays always seem to exhaust me. The kids got under my skin. I was tired. I was cranky. I was hot.

A friend and spokesperson for a charity that is local that directly helps veterans with any of their readjustment (any) needs (new suits for job interviews, paper products, food, H&B aids,shampoo, towels, sheets,  beds, etc.) put out a call for food.

FOOD!!!! The  Veterans Miracle Center had depleted their food stores (except for cereal and ketchup) as their needs were so overwhelming they exhausted their food supply 2 weeks early.

Our Veterans who proudly served our country’s needs, and selflessly giving of themselves need us. I felt the peering gaze and finger pointing at me…uncle-sam-we-want-youOK Uncle Sam, I’m going. Suddenly while shopping, I felt the feeling. The self-pity and tired feeling was wiped away and a joy of helping others flooded over me.

An awakening – all the negative, all the ugly, can be washed away with just a small token of giving to others – at least within YOUR sphere of influence.

Buy someone a cup of coffee, smile at someone you pass by every day and say hello, call a friend on the phone to catch up or better yet, go visit!

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” (FDR)  We cannot let fear, sadness, and dread overwhelm us.

We are better than that. Heed Uncle Sam’s call.

 

I love sports. They were such an important part of my life from as long as I can remember, and I daresay, they still are.

Sportsmanship is Alive and Well

Upon reading this article, my heart just broke a little more; a feat I didn’t think was possible.

See, I was the first child of an athlete. My baby gift was a Johnny Unitas signed football. My treasured toy was my Dr. J. red, white and blue basketball. I really never played with dolls. I liked to play basketball. I loved to ride my bike for miles. I shot BB guns, ran the pastures around my house, and swam in the community pool.

I was a awkward, lanky, nerdy, exceedingly tall girl, that never quite fit in anywhere.  My home life with a constantly working father and a manically depressed and often abusive mother and disabled sister were not idyllic.

Sports and being a part of a team, were my escape. They were a place where I kind of fit due to my  height and genetic gifts for sport.

At 18 I blessed to Zing with my hubby, a former D1 baseball player and ice hockey lover, who grew up, a lot like me, just skating on the flats, hiking, camping and fishing, and playing in the sand lot.

We have been blessed with 5 incredibly wonderful children. We expected that sports would be a part of their lives. We allowed them to try all kind of things. Their sports glory or failures were not about us. It is about their development as a human. It was about being a part of something larger then themselves.

They mostly gravitated to their father’s sports of baseball/softball and ice hockey (although I have one volleyball player!) He and I have volunteered to help all children on the teams, no matter their ability. We love sports and obviously having kids (lots of them) in our lives. It seemed a natural progression to continue to be involved and share our love of sports with others through coaching, volunteering, driving kids to practices and games if necessary, just being present.

But something changed. Sports became big business. At young ages parents are sold a bill of goods that little Jonny or Mary, if they go to the right camps, play on the the best teams, buy the best equipment, they will have this magical, transformative experience. In what I have witnessed and experienced, the reality falls far short of the promises.

Gone are the days of multi-sport athletes. Children are being pushed to focus on one sport earlier and earlier. Countless studies have shown that it is bad for children, yet it persists.

Early Specialization: Nine Reasons Why It Is a Bad Idea

Why? It makes people money. It make parents feel good. It makes children feel good – for awhile.

What happens when winning becomes EVERYTHING? What happens when you no longer can win? What happen to you when you trounce an opponent so badly that you crush a person’s soul? Longitudinally – what, in being someone that participates in that trouncing, does it do to your soul?

Winning is fun. But should it be the focus of youth sport? Shouldn’t youth sport be geared to learning? Having fun? Becoming a better, healthier YOU?

Winning is fun, but sportsmanship is better. Let’s teach our children that shaking hands after a game is more important than the score. Let’s stop the madness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

baseball, Catholic, children, coaching, family, growth, hockey, hockeymom, love, momoffive, motherhood, skating, sports, sportsmanship, truth

Simple Gifts

children, faith, family, love, momoffive, motherhood, truth

If you ever sang in a choir in NYS (and Western Massachusetts) you’ll immediately have the song in your head. Simple Gifts

Yesterday, my life was filled with many simple gifts.

One in particular touched my heart and those in my family.

My son’s shoes “disappeared” yesterday morning. A frantic search was undertaken. I, in desperation, reached out to a friend, with a call. “Is there any way he could have left them at your house?!” with a voice cracking from my tears of being overwhelmed.

My son had told me he had looked in my car, looked in his room, looked everywhere, but could not find them. “I’m so sorry Mommy for losing my sneakers.” tears starting to drip out. Hugging him then, I said, “It’s OK, now let’s try and find yours.”

So rooting though the garage and house, (Now  he is already late for school and had missed the bus!) I had found an old pair of his brother’s, not too badly worn, so that he could get to school, but then floodgates of his tears opened.

Complaints of taunting and bullying, frustration and tears. Lots of tears. Lots of tears.

Gone were the worries about the sneakers and onto what was really the problem, the problem that only the lost shoes could bring to light.

Meetings, solutions and more tears  the major issue solved by 10:30 am. Solutions, advocacy, his gaining a sense of empowerment.

Me, now exhausted and trying to save strength for a long trip later on to a wake out of town, I sat down to rest.

I thought and prayed, “Dear God,  it has to be simpler than this? Why can’t we just enjoy one another, love one another, be kind to one another? Why does everything have to be a fight? Why is having new shoes so important? What is so wrong with the worn ones?”

I wanted a more simplified life. I wanted less stress. Less yelling. Less craziness.

Later on, driving with my friend, Miss Daisy, to the wake out of town,  we laughed and laughed on our long car ride and then we passed an Amish horse and buggy filled with women! They looked at us and we looked at them. Miss Daisy said, “You know they’re not all that much different than us… but they are.”

Didn’t think much of it until I got home, weary after a 7 hour round trip.

A box, with a short note:

“There is a gift receipt in the box if you need a different size or want to switch to high tops. Thank you for being a great friend.”

A simple gift.

Oh yeah, before I left, I had found his sneakers in the back of my car.

Simple gifts

 

 

Rules Don’t Apply Equally

Catholic, children, coaching, faith, family, growth, hockey, hockeymom, lettinggo, love, momoffive, motherhood, skating, sports, teenagers, truth

Happy Easter Monday!

My middle child has had a tough year with sports and in life in general. He has found that friends from childhood left him for the shiny new penny in town, he was jumped by a school teammate and the punishment was not fair and even excused away due to the other’s “rough childhood experiences” and then with great anticipation and excitement, he joined a new organization and new “old” team only to find that tigers don’t change their stripes and rules don’t apply equally.

Funny how people love to sit in their sanctimonious glass houses preaching about gratitude and appropriate behaviors while condoning cheating and cross-rostering across organizations without prior permissions – violations that caused other players to be removed from a league – and when we were faced with an abusive coach, to sit idly by in apathetic acceptance, too afraid to say anything, but expecting me to defend my child (and yours by association) further putting my own children in jeopardy?

Having learned that there is no fairness at a young age, while heartbreaking to watch unfold, will allow him to be a stronger, more faithful and more grateful person. Teaching hockey to those less fortunate, will allow him to realize that playing sports is a privilege.

So very pleased that I was told by an old friend that he did such a wonderful job with one of his young charges, I watched him wearily, but with a joyful countenance, amble to the car.

Beaming, on the way home, he regaled me with how he taught a young child how to skate and leave the security of the sled behind.

He, with great hope, untarnished by the ugliness that the has experienced and smiling ear to ear, was so joy-filled to be able to be back on the ice helping those learn to love the abject perfection of a clean sheet of ice, the coldness of the air and the sweat of your brow after crossing over a few hundred times.

While the rules may not apply equally, the love of skating will never leave his soul.

Rules don’t apply to your feelings.

 

 

Our Cross to Bear

Catholic, children, faith, family, motherhood, truth

Good Friday – God Friday – sitting here contemplating Jesus making the choice not to fight to prove it should not be him crucified? How would I have reacted? Would I have allowed myself to be punished for the deeds of others so that someone else should live?

Thinking about what is right and just a great deal lately. Why does it seem so hard to be the one that stands up for what is right and just in today’s world? Being Godly – what does that even mean?

To me it is a simple choice to try and be the best I can be in God’s eyes. Firstly for my own salvation, secondly to be a wife that is a sacramental partner for my husband and thirdly, and in my opinion most importantly, for my children’s spiritual understanding and moral development. My trinity of truth, faith and love.

Truth – doing what is right and just  even though it is oftentimes painful.

Faith – knowing that if you are righteous and just it will be forgiven when you make a mistake. Believing that there is something bigger than just you and that God is forgiving and loving, but not always easy to follow.

Love – having love in your heart – even for those that do you (and your children and spouse) wrong. The hardest part of the puzzle to find love for your enemies.

Truth = God Faith = Holy Spirit Love = Jesus

As a mother, those that hurt my children are the hardest for  me to forgive. While I know that disappointment and pain make you stronger, it hurts a part of me so primal, so vulnerable, that it is almost unbearable.

My children show me that love and compassion are easy. They forget the stupid little wrongs and move on, running off to play with someone, who just minutes ago, pushed them down, said, “I’m sorry.” and was forgiven.

We need to be more like children. We need to put down our worries and sadness and anger, say I’m sorry (and mean it!) and run along and play.

Galatians 4:6-7 “Because you are children, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a child; and if a child, then an heir through God.”

The last words that Jesus cried out as his crucifixion were “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46)

These two passages are intertwined aren’t they?  Never realized it – God has given us a road map to see children are the light and the hope (Holy Spirit), he is the truth and Jesus is the faith.

The Holy Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – in our life, our death and our resurrection.

Our cross is how we travel the  journey of life in God’s example of truth.