Thursday, November 01, 2012

... pray for us

It was a holy day of obligation today - All Saints' Day. So I took the kids to Liturgy at noon. It was one of those cases where you walk in precisely five minutes late and they are finishing the Gospel reading already. The light-footed Mass worked out well for me and the eight kids, since the TWO year old doesn't usually sit quiet for long.

You know, I wish I could go to Mass every day. But here's the wickedness in my heart: I wish I could go by myself. Mass is hard with little children. It is often merely showing up, blessing yourself with holy water, and then shushing the children for an hour. But the participation remains, doesn't it? Presence is something. It's essential, as a matter of fact. I have heard it said, and it seems proven in my life in so many ways, that salvation is mostly just showing up.

Whether you got to Mass today or did not, may the saints whose names we bear pray for us. And may we be converted to Christ as they were, so that our children might have icons of Christ in their own homes instead of icons of anger and impatience. Pray for me.

I must decrease. St John the Baptist, pray that Christ might increase in me. St. Irenaeus, pray that I might behold God in the ordinariness of life, that I might be fully present and fully alive.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

warm blankets

Warm blankets on cold mornings are lovely, but such cozy solitude can't last. Soon cries draw me up the stairs to the littles' room, who want community and closeness and noise. Others will wake up and join us. This old body will have to warm today with work and hugs.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

reading aloud

I need some suggestions for books to read aloud to the kids. It seems my list, my memory, is heavily fantasy-science fiction, so I need some help. What are some books that you loved hearing read to you (or reading when you were a little older)? We are about to finish To Kill a Mockingbird and need something in the next week and a half. Thanks!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

debate season

Somedays it seems as if Cate (3) and Noah (2) carry on an argument from the time they wake up until the time they go to bed, punctuated by pushing, screaming, crying, and the like. They're tiny, inseparable curmudgeons. "Nuh-uh," is their favorite response to the other. Noah likes to tack on a belittling, "Baby!" (Which we are working on.) An old, little married couple, each too afraid and too in love to be without the other.

you cannot give what you do not have

Sunday, October 07, 2012

full speed ahead

Asa is 3 1/2 months old now. He was such a scrawny thing when he was born - a little bag of bones. But he's fattened up beautifully. Occasionally I'll look up from what I am doing and see a big smile on his chubby face, looking at me. I am hilarious. He sits in his swing and tells his story to whomever will listen. He was born on the nativity feast of John the Baptist (June 24) and so we gave him a second middle name, Jean-Baptiste. The older children are smitten with him. They pause in their play to come kiss his warm, fuzzy head.

What a blessing children are. They overwhelm me, cover me like autumn leaves.

Fall is when "every leaf becomes a flower" (as, I believe, Nietzsche once said). Family, holidays, the final weeks of ordinary time. Christ the King. Cider and donuts, Campfires and hayrides. Pumpkins. Spice. The sweep and crunch that calls one into the yard. The smell of burning leaves and the sound of rakes scraping cold earth. Runny noses and cold, happy cheeks. Warm blankets and thick socks.

We spent the summer in Michigan. On the way out the door, I sprained or fractured my ankle. But ice and ibuprofen work wonders. The 18 hour trip that followed wasn't terrible. And when we arrived in Michigan, work helped the healing. I helped my mom and dad with their ice cream-pizza shop over the summer - a seasonal, summer operation on a lake. And, of course, they helped us. I fell in love with Michigan all over again while I was there. And while I had very few free days, we spent them fully visiting the Mackinac Bridge and the U.P. We hunted for petoskey stones while breathing lapis skies. Lake Michigan and Michigan lakes - it is hard to top them. Trip in northern Michigan and you stumble into another state park or national forest. It is home. It is family.

Family is difficult and lovely. Often we try too hard. We try to force family - something that can't be forced. You fall into family. Yes we bicker and get on each other's nerves. That's OK. We are broken and warted, all of us. But we are family. We participate in life together. We generously make room for one another. We accept all that is given, and give everything in return. It can be frightening. It is dangerous being real. But damn the torpedoes.

Monday, June 04, 2012


June is a time for dreaming, setting out, and rest. So many things are happening and have happened and will be happening, and these activities repeat themselves every year like a poem. June is hope-filled.

. . . . .

We have two birthdays at the beginning of June, Sophie and Will. We will be having a third this year and forever after with the birth of our new son, Asa. When will that be? Only God knows. Asa's due date is June 19, but the baby don't have no calendar in utero. This child will be our eighth (still with us), and our fourth boy. We are excited. Laura is physically ready, or has every appearance of being so. So ready and yet, as always, so un-ready. A baby jars the teacup. We have so much planned for this summer and hope that it will all play out at least somewhat as we suppose. The best thing happening is this baby boy, of course. And part of me wishes we could just rest with him as we are, where we are. We have other responsibilities, however, and they will be nearly as demanding as a hungry baby.

. . . . .

We are finishing up the school year - a year at home this year. Sophie started the year in public middle school, but we decided together that it would be best to pull her out mid-year and let her finish at home with her sisters and brother. We're happy we did. It has been a good year. We have all learned how important learning is and how difficult it is at times with the interruptions of family. But it has been a good start. I can't imagine sending them back to school at this point, which is saying quite a bit given the time of year it is. Teaching them at home is difficult. It is not perfect. It is far from perfect. But it is certainly good. I have learned quite a bit. They have learned as well. Not all of that learning has been academic, but all of it has been necessary. And we have a long way to go. I have told the kids that we would be finishing up this week, which we will, but that we will also be working throughout the summer - reading, readings, prayers, some math, and the learning that comes through life's tectonics.

This summer is set to be a particularly disruptive one, though that is not to say that it will be bad. The disruption here will be good, as far as I know. The baby, primarily. And then Laura and I will be celebrating our 20th anniversary with a quick jaunt to Italy (we wish) and then we will be heading up to Michigan for a couple of months (!) to help my parents with their ice cream/pizza shop that they recently acquired. I am looking for work in Michigan as well. If that work doesn't pan out, at the end of the summer we will be back here for another year in North Carolina. If it does, we will be back and forth some to ready the house for sale and say our goodbyes. I am not sure how much free time there will be this summer as I will be working a lot, but it will be a nice change of scenery if nothing else. We are hoping and praying that Laura does not have to go back to teaching and can stay home with the baby. She's ready for that change, though her being ready for eight children 24/7, I'm not so sure. But who is ever ready for that? Child rearing is part of our theosis and, therefore - though, definitionally a struggle - a beautiful journey.

. . . . .

I need to write more. I feel less without it consistently, in some way, as part of my life. A friend sent a link via Facebook of Neil Gaiman's recent commencement address and it was refreshing and insightful. I am a writer. Writing is what I do. And while I do not always do it well, there is something in me that demands I do it. Now there are more important callings in my life, certainly. But these callings are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they lean upon one another. Writing is a strange profession in that I am not sure it will ever provide for our family. I am not sure it needs to. I am quite certain, however, that money is not the point of it. And I am certain I need to write. I know it.

. . . . .

This past weekend William received Holy Communion for the first time. How beautiful! I always get wet-eyed during one of my children's first participation in a sacrament. It is a wonderful thing to see them entering more fully into the life of the Church, into Christ's very life. It doesn't get any better than that. It was a good weekend.

. . . . .

Thanks be to God.

Friday, June 01, 2012

happy birthday and holy crap

My oldest, Sophia, is thirteen today. Thirteen. Do you understand what that means? Only seven more years until she is allowed to have a Facebook account. Wow.

Happy birthday, Sophie!

Sunday, April 01, 2012

april 1 anniversary

On this fool's day, six years ago, I was received back into into the open arms of Mother Church. Thanks be to God!

Friday, March 30, 2012


It is nearly 9:30 and my almost 13 year old is not yet awake. At what time does this teenager sleeping till noon thing start? We've got school to do after all.

I'm needing to write again. I don't know why this urge comes and goes with me. Maybe it's a constant thing that I simply succeed at distracting myself from until it builds into something too great to ignore. Maybe it's gas. I really don't know, but have, through a couple different avenues, been drawn back to Flannery O'Connor's writing and the inspiration it has been to me and continues to be to me. Specifically, the short story, "Parker's Back." I was flipping through Google Reader when I saw someone had written on this story, Flannery's final bit of writing. What a wonderful story addressing, ultimately perhaps, the Incarnation. It's a good one, if you haven't read it. Nearly as haunting, I suspect, as Parker's own back. Anyway, time to wake up Sleeping Beauty and get on with the day.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Knock the little bastards' brains out.

I stumbled onto this quote by C.S. Lewis in his Reflections on the Psalms concerning the cursing psalms in the Scriptures:

I know things in the inner world which are like babies; the infantile beginnings of small indulgences, small resentments, which may one day become dipsomania or settled hatred, but which woo us and wheedle us with special pleadings and seem so tiny, so helpless that in resisting them we feel we are being cruel to animals. They begin whispering to us, "I don't ask much, but", or "I had at least hoped", or "you owe yourself some consideration". Against all such pretty infants (the dears have such winning ways) the advice of the Psalm is the best: knock the little bastards' brains out. And "blessed" he who can, for it's easier said than done.

The same interpretation is given in the early Fathers of the Church as can be seen here in St John Cassian's Institutes: "It behooves us as well to destroy the sinners in our bed - namely, our fleshly feelings - on the morning of their birth, as they emerge, and, while they are still young, to dash the children of Babylon against the rock. Unless they are killed at a very tender age they will, with our acquiescence, rise up to our harm as stronger adults, and they will certainly not be overcome without great pain and effort" (6.13.2).

Thursday, February 23, 2012

six months later

I tend to neglect this little blog. I always intend not to. And then I check it and half a year has passed without my writing here. It's been a busy half year.

I started eating vegan in September 2011, for health reasons. And while I may be the fattest vegan in the world, I feel so much healthier. Unfortunately, this February, I've been more vegetarian than vegan and occasionally just a plain old meat eater (once or twice). I'm gearing up for vegan again though since it seems to be the diet that makes me feel best - far fewer headaches, and only very rare migraines. Generally more energy. And I need to begin walking again, though I am entirely too lazy.

Lent has begun again and the seven kids and I went to Noon Mass to receive our Lord and our ashes. I love Lent. Above is a picture of the kids.

Finally, as I have mentioned on Facebook, though not here, we are expecting our eighth child sometime around the summer solstice. It's a boy! Four girls, four boys. Lord 'a' mercy.

(The kids from Left to Right: Sophie [holding Noey], Anna, Avery, and Will. And on the short row are Jack and Cate. They are standing in front of the B.A.V. - our big white van.)