Sunday, May 29, 2011


My pastor says that there are no coincidences in God....

Going back through old posts as I linked some things in the post below, I discovered something.  Well, maybe more than one thing, but only one that I'm going to comment on...

On the first day of school, I went to Mass, "...and the homily was about living so that others can see Jesus in us."

On the last day of school, I went to Mass (scroll down; I'm not linking something so close).  And the bottom line of the homily was:  Jesus will ask,  "Have you lived your life in such a way as to show others that I love you?"

Different readings, different parishes, different priests.

I report, you decide.  Coincidence?  Or God speaking?


Or I could call it "endings part 2", but "lemons" is more interesting, I think.  Let me apologize in advance for the length and the lack of pictures...

This school year was sweet.  One of the best in recent (or distant) memory.  My schedule was great, my students were wonderful, and I made the acquaintance friendship of a new co-worker who made things so much better.  Considering how last year ended, this year was a special treat.  (Almost certainly arranged by God...who didn't follow my plans at all.)

But it surely ended on a sour note!  The final week just sucked...pardon the language.

I knew all along that my new favorite co-worker might not have a position for the coming year, and I did my best to just enjoy what was for what was.  But I had hope (faith?) that everything would work out (according to my plans, of course) and that she would still be with us next year.  As the year wound to a close, it became more and more apparent that things weren't going to work out according to my plans.  :-(  And then it became official.

At the same time, with less than 2 weeks of school, I had heard from a friend, who had heard from "someone reliable" that the school system was contemplating cutting about 100 of our teacher assistants.  My teacher assistant went to the board meeting that week, but nothing along those lines was discussed.  Nonetheless, at some point that no one really knows, the decision was made.  We only know because one of our teacher assistants was called by human resources and told that he was being displaced and offered other teacher assistant positions.  Those with less seniority hadn't even been called, last I heard.  And so even though no one directly told us, it became obvious that I would no longer have a teacher assistant and that my assistant would be moved to a different class on our campus.  We have worked together for several years, and it has been a pretty good match.  She spent her last day cleaning out her desk.  It just sucks that this happened and it sucks that no one really cares enough to tell the people that it impacts.  The grapevine is good enough, I suppose.  It also sucks that next year, there will be 2 people remaining to do the work that 5 or 6 people did this year.

The final straw came when I went to turn in my key on the last day.  An off-hand comment was made that I might not be in that room next year.  That they might have to "consolidate" us.  My first thought was of my Promethean Board.  It was bought by Special Ed for me, but it is bolted to the front wall of my room.  My second thought was of whom I might be "consolidated" with.  Nope, not happening without a huge fuss from me.  I don't fuss often or much, but this person just has some boundary issues.  Not gonna be just he and I in a room!  And my third thought was...2 classes in one room?  Really? With kids that already have attention issues.  That's sure to work!

So that was the end of my really wonderful year...the loss of a great co-worker friend, the loss of a oh-so-helpful teacher assistant, and the threat of a loss of personal space.  Going into the summer with much uncertainty.  (It also does not help that with an impending change of residence, there is also uncertainty about what my morning schedule/routine will be like.)

And yet I have this year to look back on...surely there have been lessons there.  After last year, I dreaded this year with a fear that you don't know.  Look what happened...God had my back.  One thing after another after another.  The pieces fell into place, and it made a beautiful picture.

Our last day was Thursday, so Friday I was at Mass early...not having to worry about getting a teenager out of bed and out the door.  It is quiet, quiet, quiet at our parish before Mass, and the anger, the sadness, and the disappointment swirled through my head.  The words that came to mind were from James.  Having just completed a Bible study on the book of James, the memory verse from the first lesson written in purple sharpie was still taped to my computer at school.  "...count it all joy...when you meet various trials...."  Joy?  How convenient!  The homily from the day before (that sucky last day) had been about none other than JOY!  What is joy?  Not that happy face thing, the good Father said.  Good thing, because I wasn't feeling much of that!  Joy is the quiet peace of the Presence of Christ within us.

My penance last time I went to confession was to have a conversation with God about what it might be that He wanted me to give up on the journey to Him.  Many possibilities have entered that conversation, but I was never quite satisfied that I had "the" answer.  I'm not certain ;-), but I think it is my uncertainty that needs to be surrendered.  It sucks up energy to worry.  What will be will be.  I will do what I can to influence things that I can change, but other than that, God can have the rest of it.  I'm pretty sure I found my answer there!

Have you lived your life in such a way as to show others that I love you?  ~Jesus

P.S.  Things are proceeding well on the new house front.  The appraisal went well.  The title research is happening now.  The closing date should be in the next few weeks.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

endings...part 1

Blog posts have been hard to come by this month, but if it's any consolation, I've blogged more than I've worked out!  Not that the once-a-week workout schedule has been very effective...

I made it through the final school Mass with my 8th grader...with no tears, oddly enough.  Here is my 8th grader with his kindergarten munchkin.  I like the picture below because they have about the same deer-in-the headlights expression on their faces.  The kindergartners made booklets patterned after the book I'll Love You Forever.  Then they sat with their big buddies as the kindergarten teachers read the booklet to the group and the Munchkins chorused, "I'll love you buddy you'll be." 

Even the candle ceremony, which has evoked tears even in years that I didn't have a kindergartner or eighth grader, did not seem to have the emotional impact this year.

The homily at the Mass was directed at the eighth graders who were told that they (and each of us) were a word spoken in love from the heart of God from all eternity.  Whether or not they choose to live out of that truth....

Thursday night was a prayer service and "promotion ceremony".  Heaven forbid that we refer to it as Eighth Grade GRADUATION!!  The prayer part was pretty short and sweet.  A few songs.  A couple of readings.  Some prayers read by some of the students, and a final blessing from the good Monsignor (who quickly headed for the exit before the awards portion started.)

Awards and "certificates of completion" followed, along with each 8th grader reading a "faith statement" they had written.

Really, Mom?  Why do I have to stand next to this stupid tree? 

Acting like a doofus during the ceremony.  Encouraged by his big brother. 

All in all, it was good.  He received certificates for Perfect Attendance and "Blue Star" conduct, as well as the coveted Certificate of Completion.  I think, though, that the Award he received from his peers on Wednesday as "Most Awesome" far outranks the attendance and conduct awards!

Looking across the church during the evening ceremony.  That's the silhouette of St. Elizabeth Seton in front of the window.  Just thought it was kind of cool.

There were good-byes and pictures after the ceremony.  A few people that almost seemed to take it personally that kid #2 is not following along with the majority of the class to Catholic High School.  Truly, I do not see what they all see that is worth the many thousands per year.  The price tag to send my two there for 4 years would be approximately $50,000.  

Dear child seemed a little emotional (understandably) to be leaving his class behind, but it never quite kicked in for me...

Monday, May 23, 2011

all those years

This morning it hit me.  I was in the car-rider drop-off line where I have been for many of the last 11 years, and I looked over at the boy-man sitting in the passenger seat beside me, and said, "This is it."  Only twice more (actually once, since he managed to get detention tomorrow) will I ride through the line and deposit him in the parking lot.  My mind flashed back to the first time I dropped him off there.  He was 4 years old, probably not 40 pounds, still in a carseat, and his little XXS shirts were too big. 

And now, ten years later, he sits there listening to his iPod on the way to school.  He has  hairy legs and always looks like he missed something when he shaved. 

So where did those years go?  They have vanished in the blink of an eye.  Where did that little boy go?  Where did this man-child come from?

It didn't hit me last year when my oldest finished eighth grade.  Perhaps I was just too stressed with all the other stuff going on in my life right then.  Or maybe there was the knowledge in the back of my mind that it wasn't the end...I still had one more year.

How much of my time has been spent at that school the last 11 years?  How many hours have I sat waiting in line there to pick-up or drop-off?  I have celebrated most of the "lasts" this year.  Last registration check.   Last tuition payment.  Last field trip payment.  Last "Living Faith" sheet.  But tomorrow is another "last".  His last school Mass.  This I must pack kleenex for.  I have taken the morning off, so that I can attend.  And just like that, we move on to another chapter in our lives.

Moms of littles...enjoy it!  Savor it!  It passes way too fast!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

winding down

It has been a busy, busy week following our very busy weekend.

Monday was my day to check out special education paperwork with my supervisor.  All the nit picky things are still not done, but we were done with enough on Monday to get through check-out.  I think if they would have given us another hour, I would be through with it all.  Sometimes when you interrupt "the flow", you just never quite get it back.

Our Honors Night (which I am in charge of) was Wednesday night.  It went fairly well.  Both Tuesday and Wednesday were a little crazy as I turned my attention to that.  Programs, paper goods, set up, trophy pick-up, etc.  I tried to pace myself and get some things done ahead, so that I wasn't like a crazy woman on Wednesday, and that helped.  It also helped to have the special ed check-out not hanging over me.

In the background of everything is the idea of moving, packing, negotiating for repairs, borrowing money, following up on this and that.

Today I was on the road for 5:30 A.M.  My younger child had his 8th grade field trip to New Orleans.  They went on a charter bus, and I was happy to ride along with them. 

Of prime interest, was "the water".  Yes, it was high.  The picture above is near Lake Pontchartrain near New Orleans.  There is always water here, but you can see how close it is to a previous high water mark.  There was a spot that we passed, where the water was just rushing in...where the Bonet Carre Spillway empties into Lake Pontchartrain.  I failed to get a good picture of that.  :-(

The Mississippi River at Baton Rouge resembled a very full bowl, just about ready to spill over the top.  This is a picture of the levee on the Port Allen side of the river.  Kind of reminds me of one of my favorite songs...let the water rise if You want it to...I will follow You...I will follow You....  Something like that, anyway.

 And, just in case you were wondering...This is the Mississippi River at New Orleans.  It was very high there, as well.  No surprise!

Pretty much sums it up!  The WWII Museum, specifically the 4-D movie (Beyond All  Boundaries) was awesome.  

And here is where we finished out day.  It's one of those things that most of us have been there, done that.  There was too much time devoted to this activity, which led to too much time in the gift shop for our group of kids.

The traffic was lovely as we left New Orleans!

This class of's one of those that the teachers are really not going to miss all that much.  The shirt is somewhat appropriate, in an infamous kind of way....Leaving a Legend in 20-11.

I missed my 6:30 Mass this morning, but that was part of the deal.  I saw the sun rise over the Atchafalaya Basin (and for all those news reporters down here reporting news about the Basin flooding, here's a pronunciation is NOT Atcha-fa-laya  like it's's uh-CHAF-uh-lie-uh).  My seatmate slept most of both ways, and there was really no one I wanted to talk to, so I was able to find some time with God in the coming and going.

A long day, but fairly enjoyable!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

get 'er done

I knelt at church one morning this past week, before Mass, (I think it was Thursday) and the prayer that formed in my mind was, "Lord, please help me get all the crap done."  I hope He wasn't offended. 

Thursday was a very difficult day for more than one reasone, but once it was done, life looked a lot better. 

At this point, I am finished with my professional growth plan and proof.  I have ordered and picked up (and paid for) 1100 buns.  My 8th grader has gotten his hair cut, and it actually looks pretty good.  I have ordered cakes and trophies and dropped off papers at the credit union.  I have made progress on my paperwork at school...I think it will be finished by Monday when we check-out. 

I have been to my husband's ex-wife's house three times in the last 3 days.  Because you see, when the kids grow up...there are grandkids...and it happens faster than you know it.  One of my regrets there is that we didn't get along better when my stepson was growing up.  Things are good now, but it wasn't always that way. 

Changing tacks a little bit...there is a "mission camp" for teenagers sponsored by our diocese.  They only go about 20 miles away, and they help the poor in the nearby communities.  My niece went last year and loved it.  I have been encouraging my boys for a while, as well as talking to some other parents, because, "I'll go if someone else I know is going."  One mom has seemed more interested than the others, and after she had done some research, she called me early this week.  Perhaps her son and some of his friends would be interested, she said, but the $250 price tag was a little much.  Did I think that our parish consider helping with the cost.  Well, you know, "Ask and you shall receive, knock and it shall be opened..."  I told her I would email our kind pastor and inquire.  I was thrilled to get the email a few days later (the bright spot in my Thursday) that he said he would "more than happy to pick up the entire tab" for these boys.  Just one more reason (as if I needed more) why we are fortunate to have him. 

We had a good visit with the grandkids today (or at least 4 of the 6).  I had been stressing about that on Thursday, too, when my sister-in-law was acting like she might not be available today...what was I going to do with six kids + my own two?  How was I even going to transport them all?  One of my morning Mass friends, says, "You better talk to 'the Big Mama'."  Had to laugh because I've never heard the Blessed Mother referred to as 'the Big Mama'".  And of course, it all worked out!

We visited a small farm that one of my sister-in-law's friend owns.  Her husband gave us a short tour and the kids got to see some goats up close.  After we were done, we sampled some delicious goat cheese with apricots and cranberries (I think).  In this picture, my 15 year old (the uncle) is the tallest, with grandchildren #5, 2, 3, and 1. 

Afterwards, we had lunch at Chick-Fil-A and then divided and conquered.  My boys had to serve at 4:00 Mass, so the oldest came with me.  The two girls went with my sister-in-law to 4:00 Mass at another parish.  And the 4-year old boy (who doesn't have a reputation of behaving very well in Mass), went home with Paw-Paw.  Although both parents are Catholic, they have stepped away from the Church, and the kids are being raised in what my kids refer to as "the fun church", since my daughter-in-law goes on about how much fun the kids have at church.  I thought it was a great touch of irony that the 11 year old whispered to me as we were sitting in the pre-Mass hear-a-pin-drop silence, "My church is boring; your church is fun!"  Whatever.  Maybe it's all the up and down that we do during the Mass that counts for "fun"? 

It is late, and I must be up early tomorrow for the Great Sausage Po-Boy sale!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

the end is near

The end of the school year...and of spring, it seems.  There are 11 or 12 days left of school.  Every year, this is easily the most stressful part of the year.  This year, I thought I was doing good.  I held my last IEP meeting today.  I picked the date for Honors night a month ago, and sent out the papers for teachers to list their awards a couple of weeks ago.  Yet everything comes to a point at the same time.

Our annual scout po-boy sale is this weekend.  I must remember to order 1100 buns tomorrow.  Honors Night is Wednesday and there are still cakes and trophies to order.  Paperwork at school is due.  Stuff that has slacked throughout the year has to be caught up.  Grades have to be inputted.  My 8th grader needs a haircut before graduation.  Paperwork needs to dropped off at the credit union so our loan can continue on its merry way.  Grandkids are coming this weekend.

I had a faculty meeting this morning.  They could have just emailed me all of the dates and saved me the trouble of being there 40 minutes early.  I missed my time with God this morning.  I thought I would go this evening, but my child needed help with his English paper.  The phone has been steadily ringing and now my offspring is in my room, playing Words With Friend on his iPod one moment and texting on his phone the next.  

God and I did continue our conversation yesterday...the one about what He wants for me to leave behind...  It was a little clearer to me, but I think it will be an ongoing conversation. 

A couple of spiritual nuggets:  Let us seek the God of all consolations, rather than the consolations of our God. ~ St. other words, Seek God for Himself. ~ Good Monsignor

And a few things that I thought were noteworthy from a Mother's Day Prayer Breakfast that I attended on Saturday:

The Four Stages of Prayer
  • Talking AT God....ready-made prayers like the Rosary
  • Talking TO God....sharing our hearts with God
  • Listening to God...through scriptures, friends, good homilies, etc
  • Resting in God...wordless contemplation of the holiness of God
You must SIT with God every day. (not walk, not drive, SIT)

As long as I agree to be with God, God agrees to be with me.  (Pretty sweet, isn't it?)

So, tomorrow, since I don't have any stupid meetings, I will agree to go and be with God, to sit with Him....listening, maybe resting. 

Lord, help me finish it all. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011


I have been SO slacking with blogging.  There is one thing on my mind lately.  It starts with an H, ends with an E and has an OUS in the middle.  I can't even give you the countdown to the end of school, so pre-occupied am I with inspections and closing costs and interest rates and paper work and trying to wrap my mind around the impossibilities of packing and moving and living in a space this big.  Afraid we'll mess it up by moving in!

The house is b.e.a.u.t.i.f.u.l. I don't want to totally bore you with pictures, but, indulge me....

This is the sitting room to the master bedroom.  Henceforth to be known as The Mom Cave.

And this is the younger child surveying his kingdom from the balcony outside his room.

A pool was not even on my list, but since it's there....

The inspection went reasonably well.  There is some water damage to the roof around the chimney and roof vents and the roof is "nearing the end of its useful life", but those are fixable things.  The meeting with the credit union also went well.  We qualified for the lowest rate, and even though we don't have final approval, we don't forsee anything that will be a problem. 

Our homily this weekend was great.  The Gospel was the story about the two disciples encountering the Risen Lord on the way to Emmaus.  The good Father noted that so many in the Bible encounter God while on a journey.  Abraham.  Moses.  Paul.   And now, these two.  They encounter God on the journey because they are fertile ground.  They must first leave something behind...a place or a possession.  Secondly, they are not stuck...they are moving forward.  And third...they are open to change...that is what makes them "fertile ground for redemption".   What are we called to leave behind in order that God might move us forward in our lives and change us?  I went to confession before Mass, and my penance was essentially to  read the gospel and meditate on those engage in a convesation with God about those things.  God and I spoke last night, but sometimes you don't get immediate answers to questions like that.  We agreed that we'd talk again soon.  ;-)

Maybe its the clutter that I'm called to leave behind.  Or maybe it's something more abstract like irritation at teens or doing unnecessary things on Sunday or procrastinating.  Maybe it's all of the above.  Or something altogether different?  So we'll talk again when it is quiet!

Before I exited the confessional, I mentioned to my good priest, who has heard my struggles with work (even though he says he doesn't remember) how much I had dreaded the beginning of the school year, and how even though God has not followed my script at all, it has turned out to be a great year.  He quietly said, "That's why...because he doesn't follow our script!"

Happy Mothers Day to all the Moms!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

last week

I did not set out to take a blog break last week, but I did.  Fitting, perhaps, since I was out of school!  (Here, we still have EASTER vacation, although some of the politically correct schmucks have taken to calling it "Spring Break".)

This past week:  

I attended Mass with my friends at the Library Chapel of the burned down church down the road.  They recently broke ground on their rebuilding, but I don't think any actual rebuilding has occurred.
They were my Mass choice this week because my own pastor took some time off!

Planted some cantaloupe, watermelon and more strawberries in my garden.

I bought my boys a straight iron.  
Or is it a flat iron?  
In any case, he discovered (courtesy of his friend's 16 year old cousin) that it helped to tame this:

Looked at houses.

Bought a plane ticket to Philadelphia for the summer.
$$ Ouch! $$
But worth it to see my BFF and enjoy some peace!

Helped change the missalettes at church.

Helped my Granddad celebrate his 95th birthday!

That's him in the green shirt.
He looks good for 95, no?

Signed a contract to purchase a house!!!!
It is beautiful!  I never dreamed I would live in something this nice!
And it's surely not what I planned on doing this week!
But things came together nicely, and so far so good.
Inspections and financing stand in the way, but neither should be an issue.
(Pictures to follow when it's really, really for real!)
 And, no, it's not the property that we were praying about a month ago.
Prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet with my Ad Altare Dei group of Boy Scouts.
I don't think any of them (or my co-counselor) had ever prayed it before.


What I did NOT do this week:

Score the stacks of progress monitoring that I brought home to deal with.

Cut the grass.

Hang out with friends.

Wake up to watch the Royal Wedding.
Care enough to see it in the zillions of replays later in the day.
See Soul Surfer.

Buy clothes.

Win the lottery!

Iron my pants for school on Monday.
Which I really should!

Just gotta say...before I go.... EIGHTEEN more days of school!!  But I'm not counting or anything!