Thursday, December 27, 2012

catching up

Do you ever really catch up?  This is more like the once a month reader's digest summary.

Life has been wild.  I started a post before Thanksgiving entitled "ch-ch-ch-changes."

It has been really roller-coastery.  The most glaring change has probably been school.  We heard the Saturday before Thanksgiving, that we would have a new principal beginning in early December.  Not really a new one...she retired from our school about 6 years ago.  But then things were said at a school board meeting, and the position had to be advertised, interviews, blah, blah, blah.  She's coming.  She's not coming.  They offered her the job.  She accepted.  The position is being reopened.  Never mind.  It has been four or five weeks of that kind of uncertainty.  Our current principal hanging in there,, not really sure of where he was going or when his last day would be.  But a week ago - the day before the Christmas break began - it became official.  We said good-bye to one and hello to the new old one.  Almost anything is better than the never-ending roller coaster.

I made a slight change of my own.  I ordered a pink box.

It came in the mail the week of Thanksgiving and promised "endless possibilities" and "boundless opportunity", and that sounded really good.

And so I began life as an independent Thirty-One consultant.  My first thought was "what were you thinking", but it's not been bad.  I have a few "whys".  The extra money is a draw.  The chance to buy the products at a reduced price.  The chance to get out of the house.  I think even the craziness at school contributed to my decision to embrace more craziness.  I have never had a school year this bad.

It is not the students.  It is not the people I work with.  It is the absolute craziness of the system, the absence of any meaningful discipline system, and the mind-blowing amount of paperwork and accountability they expect from us.  It is the fact that my pay will be based on the performance of hormonal adolescents (and to some degree hormonal observers.)  In 4 years, I will reach 30 years, which is my goal for retirement.  I must reach that.  Always I have figured that I would hit 30 years, perhaps do 3 years of Deferred Retirement (DROP), and then see how the spirit moved me.  Now my mantra is "4 more years, 4 more years."  I can't imagine going a day longer.

So, yeah, Thirty-One...where the motto is to Encourage, Reward, and Celebrate.  (Not necessarily in that order).  It sounded a lot better than Discourage, Antagonize, and Demoralize.  I have closed out two "parties".  Mostly random orders from friends that I combined, but enough to qualify for one of the December incentives, so that I got 4 items from the new Spring catalog free!  Of course there is an "Add-On Kit"  for spring that I would be crazy not to purchase....a great deal with new products.  So I guess what I made in commission will go right back to them?  Not sure when I will find time to host actual parties.  Perhaps in the summer.  Or when wrestling season is over.  Not sure where the hostesses will come from, either.  But one thing at a time.

Wrestling.  Practice most days after school.  We seldom arrive home in the daylight.  Meets every Wednesday night and nearly every Friday and/or Saturday.  It takes up a lot of time.  But both boys are participating, and doing alright. Our team, as a whole, loses more than it wins.   But my guys are enjoying, and it is fun to hear them talk about the moves and strategies.  It is such a boy sport.

Confirmation... that got overlooked in the scheme of things in November.  It took place the day after Cross Country ended and the day before Wrestling began.

My child, with his Godmother, and our good priest.  The Mass was simple and beautiful.  God takes a "yes", even a fearful or uncertain "yes" and does great things with it.

My sister-in-law grabbed the camera from me, and insisted that I get in the picture, too.  Sometimes Moms DO need to get in front of the camera.  Dear hubby was across the room...waiting patiently.

A picture of the bunch that has been together since first grade.  Most now go the the Catholic School, while a couple went the public school route, but it was always a tight-knit group. The boys were always outnumbered.  (Just for the record, my child DID have dress shoes on while he was in church.  Somehow he managed a quick change.)

Al-Anon...(how's that for a quick detour onto a totally different path)?  Went to my first meeting ever a few weeks ago.  No active drinking going on here, but surely some self-centered behavior that is difficult to deal with.  A lack of boundaries, for sure.  It has been on my radar for several many of our Retrouvaille conversations seemed to end focused on alcoholism, and I realized how big of an influence some of those things were on our lives.  I wasn't sure if I'd fit, but I was assured that I would, and I did.  I couldn't relate to everything, but some of it, I certainly could.  I'll be going back.

Church of my small pleasures during the Christmas season.  My oldest accompanied me this year.  It was he and I, one of my Scout-mom friends, and our priest.  We were a finely oiled machine this year.

The good Monsignor takes care of the sanctuary.

My teenager hauled things in and out of the attic, put up the wreathes that go under each Station of the Cross, and provided a critical (in a good way) eye of some of our experiments.  My friend and I hung wreathes on each side, put already-assembled arrangements in each window and fixed the banner and wreath across the choir loft in the back of the church.  Simple, but nice, is the theme.

Christmas...kind of dreaded it.  I've come to realize that for some reason, holidays are most often marked with drama in this family.  But, we survived.  No one - of any age - had any meltdowns this year!!  It was, however, the first time I can remember having tornado warnings during Christmas dinner.  All was well, though.

We celebrated Christmas Eve with dear hubby's family, but no photographic evidence exists.  ;-). Christmas Day found us at my sister's new house.

A casualty from the high winds -- the decorations on the front porch.

A group shot of our clan...four generations from ages 4 - 96. Missing are my sister-in-law who was taking the picture, and my brother and sister-in-law who live out of state.

Today, I celebrated my own birthday.  Both of my boys came with me to 6:30 Mass.  (It was because they had wrestling practice at 7:30 and didn't want to be late, but I'll take it for the gift that it was.)  Later, I had lunch with friends from school, as we bid our outgoing principal farewell.  And then I spent a quiet evening at home.  Not bad in the scheme of things!

And that, my friends, is that.  The high points, and maybe some of the low from the last month or so!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

dispensation notwithstanding

I attended a conference in New Orleans this weekend.  About a month ago, when I knew that I would be there for today's Feast of the Immaculate Conception, I mentioned it to my priest.  I was riding with someone else, and I couldn't tell from Google Maps if there was a church within walking distance of our hotel.  Besides, I didn't know how the Mass schedule would mesh with the schedule for the conference.  He listened to me and then granted me a dispensation of the obligation, if it was not possible for me to attend.  So I really had no intention of going to Mass.

Yesterday evening, looking out of the window near the 14th floor elevator, I saw the stained glass windows of a church next to the hotel.  I wasn't sure it was operational or Catholic, though, and I wasn't really thinking along the lines of going to Mass.

This morning was a lazy one, but at 7 a.m., still sitting in bed, I heard church bells.  Perhaps I should investigate further, I thought.  So I opened the Maps App on my iPad and found out that the name of the church was....get this....Immaculate Conception.  Think someone is trying to get my attention?  So...I did a quick Google Search and found the website for the church, looked at the bulletin, and observed that there was an 8 a.m. Mass on Saturday.

So, even with a "Free Pass", the Good Lord was calling my name.  Drawing me to Him.  I told my co-worker roommate that I was going to 8 a.m. Mass.  The morning conference session started at 8:30, so I'd be a little late.

I inquired at the front desk, where exactly the church was...I'd seen it, but wasn't sure which direction to go from the front door.  "Go down to the corner and take a right."  I did, and as I walked, I could hear the bells,  but still was unsure exactly where the church was.  Then I looked up, and right there in front of me was an older African American lady holding the door open.  I smiled at her and entered.  I wasn't 50 steps from the front door of our hotel!


Absolutely gorgeous!!  I was SO distracted!

The abundant stained glass windows were beautiful!

This is the view of the rear of the church - the choir loft, perhaps.

The looks like a shell arching out over it.

A side altar.

A sample of the beautiful artwork and mosaics.

The pews.

Baptismal font.

A couple of the many statues.

All in all, I was glad that I didn't ignore that quiet but persistent voice.  What a treat to worship in such a beautiful space!