Monday, March 26, 2012

picture dump and assorted rambling

Spring is definitely here.  I'm not sure winter ever was. 

Things have been interesting in my household, to say the least.  I'm not sure that my other half recognizes there is a problem, but the rest of us do.  He has an appointment on Monday with his pain management doctor, and I am planning to go with him.  Hopefully, there will be a willingness on his part to be helped and the ability of the doctor to help. 

Tonight I was outside pulling weeds for a bit...there were enough mosquitoes to carry me away...and it occurred to me that the very thing that helps me get through whatever my days might hold....the thing that gives me peace and the what seems to be the biggest concern (threat) to my husband.   That I go to Mass every day, if I can, and that I spend time in a church before school, and that I enjoy prayer, fellowship with others, bothers him.  Sometimes, it feels like the evil one works through him.  Is that horrible to say?  But those minutes with the Lord, the wisdom from the readings and the homily, the things I have learned at Bible Study or talking to friends after Mass in the parking lot...they help me get through the day.

I have tried at length to get a picture of a bee.  We have lots of them when the trees are blooming.  But they really ARE busy little creatures, and not very photogenic.  But then I saw this one this evening.  Unfortunately for him, it looks like he died doing what he did best.  May he rest in peace. 

Last weekend was a busy one.  We helped this little guy Godchild and nephew... celebrate his 4th birthday.  I took exactly two pictures (thank you batteries) and the other one was blurry.  I enjoyed visiting with my siblings for a few hours...the weather was absolutely gorgeous. 

After a while, we wrapped things up and headed to my sister's parish for confession.  I have a good relationship with my confessor, and stick with him unless absolutely necessary, but my boys who are altar servers in our small parish feel like he knows them "too well".  So we went where they were anonymous.  People in churches are strange...and this one, more so than most.  I sat down in a pew to do some spiritual reading and wait for them, and ended up changing places three times in the 10 or 15 minutes I waited!  Weird! 

We visited with my parents, then with my grandfather who will be 96 in a month!  While we were there, passing time, my 15 year old ran across a set of 1949 encyclopedias.  I think he was truly fascinated.  My aunt and uncle from New Jersey were in town, so we visited a bit with them, too.  Back to my parents' for a quick Hamburger Helper supper and then to our final destination of the day. 

The planetarium  (located on the banks of the Mississippi River) had a Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon show, and my boys thought would be neat.  I had hoped that my husband would come, too, but he decided to go to the birthday party in his own vehicle and then headed back home afterwards.  He is limited in what he can do with his arthritis, and this had looked like something we could all enjoy.  Nonetheless, my teens and I went, and enjoyed.  It was a little like watching high quality screensavers with music in the background. 

Can I change subjects?  That brown stuff??  Oak pollen.  Yuk!  We got a blower and that's the pile that I blew together. 

And this from last week....It's oak pollen on the swimming pool cover.  Just icky.  We survived (and fished out) the 10 million acorns in the pool and every leaf in the tree in the pool, but for the pollen, we had to quickly fashion some kind of cover. 

My youngest is running track this year.  He ended up running the 2-mile...more by default than anything else, I think.  There wasn't much competition for that spot on the team.  In this meet last week, he finished "not last" improvement! 

I took this picture while I was sitting in the stadium watching the track meet.  It was the day after the blow-up at home.  I think it is a reminder that God does have everything under control, and that even when things seem not good...He is with us. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

protect us from all anxiety

I don't know where this post is going.  It may never see the light of day.  I have considered briefly about whether it is proper to post it, but I figure since I have about 3 regular readers (maybe fewer during Lent), and this is a fairly anonymous outlet for me, it would probably be alright.  I think by writing.  Writing helps me think.

For a long time, my dearly beloved has been very concerned about things in the world.  Too concerned.  Too worried, I thought.  I remember once many years ago, when he drove a truck at night and listened to all manner of late-night talk radio, he got home and woke me up to tell me something about an asteroid that was predicted to hit the earth sometime in the next year or so. 

Over time, but slowly, it has escalated into what I call "the-sky-is-falling" mentality.  Sometimes it is worse than others.  We have what my sons and I call "the food stash".  It's not a lot, and it's probably not a bad idea, but it's almost an obsessive thing. 

I think we have just kind of gone along with the flow, humoring as much as we could.  Just chalking it up to "you know how Dad is." 

I have started to notice how many of his sentences start with "I'm worried about...This really bothers me....I'm afraid...Things don't look good...." 

Lately, though, I notice things directed more and more at me.  Things that were never before a problem - me going places, having lunch with friends...are more and more a cause of contention.  It costs money...or the gas.  Excuses, I think, to cover the real issues.  I'm looking back to gatherings that I've left early, because I didn't want someone to be upset.  Things that I've skipped rather than dealing with the drama.

There have been accusations, and I have talked them over with my confessor in general terms, but in all honesty, just to make there wasnt' something I wasn't seeing.  He was encouraging and reassuring.

It doesn't make sense.  It wasn't always like this.  Besides work, and my kids' activities, mostly what I am involved in now deals with the church.  I go to Mass in the mornings, Bible Study once every week or two, decorating for Christmas and Easter, pray the Rosary with my SIL's group a couple of times a month, spend 15 or 20 minutes before school before the Tabernacle, and occassionally manage an uninterrupted hour at the chapel near my house. 

But those things - for whatever reason - are a problem.  It's as if when he's home, he expects me to be home.  And he's always home lately. 

Last night things just exploded.  So out of proportion for nothing  - because I off-handedly mentioned that I was going to Bible Study later in the evening, as I regularly do on Wednesday nights.  I have been going to Bible Studies for 5's never been an issue.  My kids and I just stood there not even believing what we were hearing or seeing.  One minute cooking supper and the next storming out of the house ranting.  If it wouldn't have been so real, it would have been comical. 

I went to Bible Study, but I half expected him to storm in and make a scene.  This is not the person I married.  When I got home, I gathered all of his medications and wrote down the names and researched side effects.  There were some possible explanations there. 

Then I went to webmd and typed in the word "anxiety".  The description that came up for Generalized Anxiety Disorder described him almost perfectly.  I read it to the kids, and they, too, were amazed at how well it described their dad.  When I read it to my husband, he remarked that it described nearly everyone in the world.  Then I googled "spouse with anxiety disorder" and came across this wonderful article.    It, too, was very reaffirming.  It IS Ok for me to have outside interests, friends, etc. 

So here I am...last night cyrstalized the "this isn't right" feeling that I've had for a long time.  Something is wrong.  But at least I now have a solid name for it. And so, any prayers that you can spare would be so appreciated.  Prayers that he will admit that there is a problem and will seek a solution. 

So not a very cheery post.  More like the first step on what is likely to be a long journey or no journey at all.  But this is life. Grant us peace in your day...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

those little prisons

It has been a crazy, crazy week.  Monday, we got 15 inches of rain in about 12 hours.  Water just overflowed.  A friend had water in her house.  Another came very close.  I took off my shoes and socks at lunchtime to get down the sidewalk.

Tuesday, my children did not have school because of the flooding in that area, and I had a delayed start.  We started and ended an hour later...wasn't as bad as I that the buses wouldn't be on flooded roads in the pre-dawn darkness.  We had a bus load of kids who couldn't get to school, but it was pretty much business as usual.

Wednesday was a normal day.

Today many teachers went to the state capitol to protest changes to our educational system.  The superintendent did not cancel classes, but did mention that any absences would be excused.  So about half of our students showed up, maybe fewer.  It was a very peaceful day. 

In a post below, I mentioned my new favorite Matt Maher song..Every Little Prison.  Love it!

I have often thought that I would sooner die than make an appointment for confession.  But this week, I knew it was time to go, and I found myself looking at the calendar, knowing that it is impossible for me to make it before 6:30 Mass during the week, and knowing that I would be MIA the next two Saturday afternoons.  Soooo....rather than wait 2 weeks, I stared at the computer screen and wrote and rewrote an email, and asked my good priest if he had time after Mass.  And of course, he said, "Yes, catch me after Mass on Thursday."  And I didn't even die asking!

As I was preparing, I thought about the little prisons.  Surely sin is a prison, but sometimes we get sucked into the prisons of others, and that has been a issue for me, as of late.  And Bible Study last night (we are studying Acts), Jeff Cavins talked about the prisons that we are in sometimes...and that sometimes instead of trying to get out, we need to do like Paul and his companion and praise God and try to find Jesus there.  I was kind of "wow"....the prison thing was surely coincidental.

This morning started out with a very "animated" conversation before I left the house.  By the time I got to Mass, I was just glad to be there.  A little nervous about confession.  Wondering exactly how the logistics of it all would work out.  Mass was over, and I just kind of hung out for a few minutes.  Then I went and popped my head in the back to let him know I was there.  He smiled and said he hadn't forgotten, so I went back out and sat and waited while he purified the vessels and what not.  Then we took a walk to the back of the church...he went in his door, and I went in mine. 

The morning 'conversation' was still fresh, and it fit nicely into "getting sucked into the prisons and anxieties of others."  "Are we supposed to stay in those prisons with them?" I asked.  He paused for a minute and said, "No, that would be slavery.  There needs to be a boundary."  We all have our own baggage, and that is where God works in our lives...he doesn't work on us in other people's baggage.... And setting a boundary will almost certainly be met with a hardened heart.  But that is OK.  So very helpful. 

It is confession, because I still have my list, and he listens to it all, but I very much appreciate the spiritual direction that sometimes - but not always - comes with it.  He is so wise. 

Can I encourage any one to go to confession during Lent?  Even if it's been 20 years or so?  Even if you have to make an appointment?  I am living proof that you do not die if you make an appointment.

The rest of the day - even with it's tumultous start - went on to be very peaceful...half of the normal students, spiritual wisdom, and the Lord's merciful love.  A great combo!

The dog had a peaceful day, too.  She took some time to smell the flowers.

Monday, March 12, 2012

have ark...will travel

Today the skies opened up where I live and just stayed open. 

Went to bed with thunder and lightening last night and woke up to it again about 4 a.m. this morning.  It continued.  I dropped the kids at the bus, went to wasn't too bad.  Went to work out and watched the lightening strikes out the window.  Dashed to the car, and decided still to stop, as is my usual routine. at the church near my school for just a few minutes of quiet.  I parked in the fire lane, though...that much closer to the door.

With the time change, I am back to sitting in darkness, once the last people leave after Mass, and I like it that way.  Today was like night.  And then the heavens opened.  After a little while, I thought I saw a break in the rain, so I dashed towards my car.  And then dashed to my classroom a few minutes later.  I made my way to first hour, and the rains came down. 

All of our classrooms open to the great outdoors, and we watched as the water washed over the sidewalks and filled the pasture next door.  And still it came.  We carefully made our way to second hour...tiptoeing close to the walls.  And the rain continued to come and the water continued to rise.  Into the classrooms. 

A mouse ran across the floor in second hour, but fortunately only the teacher saw it.  Driven from its dry little nest somewhere.  Only a couple of the classrooms actually flooded to the point of not being able to hold class in them.

When it came time to leave second hour, we couldn't.  So we stayed put for another 45 minutes or so. The rain slowed and the water had subsided some.  So I took off my shoes and socks and rolled up pants and gingerly tiptoed through the water.  About ankle-deep at that point.

That was pretty much it for the day.  We fed them.  Which is more than I can say for my own children.  They were stuck in first hour for hours with no electricity.  When lunch time came, they got room service...3 snack-sized bags of Graham Teddies. 

My fifth hour class watched Sandlot, and after they finished part of a test, the teacher in my last hour class also put on a movie.  At about that time, my own offspring called to say their bus hadn't arrived at school, and for me to come and get them. 

And so I left, and did not return.   As of 6:30 tonight, there are still some schools with children remaining...whose parents can't get to them.  Last I heard they were transporting them to my school's gym. 

My own children are delighted that school at their facility was cancelled tomorrow.  The above picture is of our football field.  For some reason, when they built it, they put a levee around it.  I have seen it swampy, but I have never seen it completely a tea cup.  From end zone to end zone.  15 inches of rain in 12 hours will do that, though.

Here's hoping for a drier tomorrow and a prayer for those whose homes were flooded today.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

another week

Yep...nearly another week has passed!

Last year during Lent, I had so much to say that I felt like I was boring people by posting it all.  And this year...  Well, we appear to be about on the once-a-week plan!  And still I worry that I am boring people. Life has been very busy and somewhat aggravating. 

Monday?  Tuesday?  Too long ago to remember!

Wednesday, during my 7th grade math class, I heard sirens.  When class was over, I checked the parking lot.  There were not 1, not 2, not even 3 or 4...but FIVE police cars.  Parents behaving badly.  And we wonder why the kids act like they do?  Not's not rocket science.  Perhaps it was the full moon...

Wednesday night my boys and I fashioned this stunning pool cover.  We survived a winter of leaves and acorns in the pool, but the infernal oak pollen will surely turn it into a icky yellowish tea.  You haven't really lived until you've fought oak pollen!

As we were putting the "cover" on it, we wondered aloud how the dog might react to it...she enjoys taking a dip in the pool in all sorts of weather.  She promptly answered our question by walking on it and nearly drowning in the process.  She hasn't walked on it since.This morning we pulled it off and tried to put it on a little better.  Hubby was home to help this time.  He belongs to the "if-duct-tape-can't-fix-it...then-it's-broke" club.  So yeah...he duct-taped it down in places... Cajun ingenuity?

And then there was one small part that the big tarp didn't cover - due to the pool's irregular shape.  So we tried to attach another one, but the holes didn't line up.  That's OK - string it together and duct tape it!  And the best part - this man is so creative - He wanted to keep this part out of the water so the tape might he got some empty containers that float, and put them underneath.  I knew we would do a better job with his help.  He is creative like that!

Wednesday was not great, but Thursday was just nuts.  My car made "that" sound when I started it in the morning.  There was nothing to do, but to go on.  Hubby was on a job, away from home, and there was no other vehicle at home for me to use.  I dropped the kids at the bus stop and went to Mass...where else are you going to go at 6:15 in the morning?.  I prayed the whole time that it would start again when I came out.  It did - barely.  So I drove to the auto parts store.  They didn't open for another 30 minutes, but I had no choice. 

I figured I'd buy a battery, they'd put it in for me, and I would be on my merry way.  Oh no, couldn't be that simple.  They tested the battery, and the result showed the battery was still good.  The man said it might be the starter??  Didn't really sound right to me, but he gave me a jump, and I went to get hubby's vehicle, which was parked at his brother's house. 

When I called my dear husband to update him on the situation, he said he couldn't talk right then, because HIS truck was breaking down.  Sigh.  Had to have his work truck towed back home from 30 or so miles away.

Meanwhile, we had left the dog in the house that morning, not wanting her to drown in our "pool cover". 

I had a 9:00 meeting that I hadn't finished the paperwork for, and my supervisor shows up at 8:30. 

It was just too much.  I was able to find a sub on the second phone call, and left at noon.  I was reminded at one point of the quote attributed to St. Teresa of Avila..."Lord, if this is how you treat your friends, its no wonder you have so few of them!"

We enjoyed a track meet that evening in gorgeous weather and had Chick-Fil-A for dinner, so the day ended pretty well.

One of my friends pointed out on Facebook that if we view trials and tribulations as gifts from the Father, then I had certainly had a very blessed couple of days!

Fast forward a day, a different battery test said it was the battery, and we are trying to decide whether it is even worth it to fix hubby's truck.  He has the sense that he will not be approved for his medical card in the coming months and is freely tossing the word "retirement" around. 

We spent a few hours outside today, trying to get the back "yard" cleaned up.  It looks a lot better, though there are still plenty of weeds to pull.  The citrus trees are on their second bloom.  We will have 10 zillion lemons...again.  The grapefruit tree has a lot of flowers, but it also seems to be "aborting" a lot of the baby grapefruits. 

These flowers are getting ready to bloom...

Lent it going well enough, I suppose.  No dramatic changes or revelations (although I have realized that I can focus much better on the Stations of the Cross if I close my eyes and listen rather than reading along in the booklet.  A nice quiet steady progress overall - at least here and there.  Compassionate Shepherd.  Bread of Life.  Giver of Hope. 

And finally - my favorite picture of the week....

Looking forward to losing an hour of sleep this weekend, anyone??  Have a good one!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

bread of life

Reconciliation and laundry.  That could kind of sum up my weekend.  All in all, I think a lot was accomplished.

Got most of the laundry done!  Yay!  Got some paperwork from school taken care of.  Unnecessary, but required.  Special Ed progress reports are the most useless piece of paperwork that we do.  (Report cards should be enough of a progress report, in my humble opinion.)  You want to know how useless they are??  I didn't do them for years...and the world did not come to an end!  No child was harmed.  Education was not impeded.  But now with the computer age, Big Brother can check on us to make sure they were done.  So they were done.

You remember my penance from a couple of weeks ago....the one about asking God to show me how to be Compassionate Shepherd, Bread of Life, Giver of Hope in my life?  I had one long conversation with the Lord about that, and it left as many questions as answers.  The advice from my good priest was to "keep talking and keep listening."  So I have been listening with at least half an ear.  One thing that I found interesting was that nearly every day (this Sunday being an exception) I have come across at least one of those words in the Scripture readings of the day.  I was wondering if the string would continue throughout Lent.

But in the conversation, I had kind of skipped over the whole Bread of Life thing.  I figured that was the Good Lord's job.  How could I possibly be the Bread of Life??  But this weekend, I was reading Mother Teresa's Come Be My Light (excellent!!) and I came across an answer to just that!  She wondered at "the greatness of the humility of God? in making Himself the "Bread of Life", and believed that "our live must be woven with the Eucharist"...that we must give ourselves just as totally to others...especially since Christ makes Himself present in the poor.  We are to become "bread" to feed the "hungry Christ".

And really...that kind of makes sense.  Especially when we consume the Eucharist...the Eucharist doesn't become part of us...we become (or should become) the Gift that we receive - Jesus.  We are a Eucharistic people...blessed and broken for others.

One thing that I have been working on for a while is the Ad Altare Dei religious award with a small group of Boy Scouts.  We have 4 in the group - 2 of them mine.  We are working through the sacraments one at a time, and today we finished up with Reconciliation.  I don't think that I am wasting my time, but with 4 teenage boys, there is a good bit of goofing off, and  I sometimes wonder if we are accomplishing very much...if anything is sinking in.  It has a lot of book requirements and discussion questions, and sometimes the discussing is very limited.

Each sacrament (chapter) ends with some type of prayer service.  For Baptism, I think we washed each other's hands and re-lit our Baptismal candles.  For confirmation, we did something about recognizing each other's gifts.  For the others, I used the suggestions in the leader's guide, but this one I did myself.  I think it turned out nicely.  The two other moms had good things to say about it, and sometimes I do think they think we are wasting their time. 

We started off with a song courtesy of my iPad...Matt Maher's "Every Little Prison", because, you know, sin is like a prison.  This particular song was based on the Litany of Humility.

Then we lit candles off of the one representing Jesus in the middle and recalled how at Baptism, our candles were "lit".  After a prayer and a reading of the Prodigal Son with a little explanation thrown in about how it relates to confession, we blew out the candles and went through an examination of conscience for teens.  I modified it from this.  We took turns reading and commenting as we saw fit.  Then it was time to say an Act of Contrition and relight out candles (which is what happens in confession) to share our light with the world.  To finish up, I played "Only Grace" by Matthew West. 

Maybe some of them will be encouraged to go to confession during the Lenten season.  Maybe someone reading this will be...  GO!

Life is good and the weather is awesome!

Friday, March 2, 2012

another catch-all

I am still here...yes, I am.  I have not given up blogging for Lent.  Things have just been *that* busy.

Evening is my blogging time, and there has been something every evening this week.  Monday evening, I skipped out on the Rosary group I belong to because I had a birthday cake to bake.  I also received a message on Facebook from one of my former students.  I'm friends with a few of the "kids" I taught way back when.  K and C were two girls in my class about 15 years ago, and both have "friended" me on Facebook.  C was in a wheelchair and K had a mild case of cerebral palsy.  C has visited me a couple of times over the years, and in recent months, she has been one of my most faithful Words With Friends opponents.  K is married, has 2 kids with a third due to enter the world in the next few weeks.

The message was from K with a short message and her phone number.  C had been hospitalized for an infection that resulted from a pressure sore.  It had gone all the way to the bone, and even though they had done surgery to remove some of it, it was still an issue.  After the surgery she had gone into cardiac arrest.  Organ damage ensued and things took a turn for the worse from there.  She passed away the next evening.  She was 29.  It is hard to feel sad, because she is almost certainly in a better place.  But once again, I find myself stunned by the suddenness of death.  A week ago, she was posting on FB.  We have 2 unfinished Words With Friends games.  

While one family was dealing with death, we were celebrating life.  On Tuesday, my baby turned 15.  I had in mind to do one of those wonderful birthday posts with pictures to show how much things change and how much they remain the same.  But that has yet to happen.  We celebrated with pizza - a rare meal out - and cake.

Wednesday night was a Bible Study night, and Thursday night was a track meet.  I need some downtime.   A trip to the chapel is on the agenda for the near future.  A trip where I can spend an hour or more.  The weekend has a lot of things packed into it, too.  Things for Boy Scouts.  Paperwork for school. 

Lent is going relatively well, I think. I need some time to really assess and re-orient, but things are going well with my fifth graders.  One was sent to an alternative placement last week for the remainder of the year, and that has made a huge difference as we are able to focus on the others now.  And I am doing my best to smile and provide for their needs. 

Hopefully our weekend will provide a chance to literally and figuratively catch my breath!