"When we had our children, our ideas changed somewhat. Thenceforward we lived only for them; they made all our happiness and we would never have found it save in them. In fact, nothing any longer cost us anything; the world was no longer a burden to us. As for me, my children were my great compensation, so that I wished to have many in order to bring them up for Heaven" -- Saint Zelie Martin, mother of St. Therese of Lisieux, canonized October 18, 2015 along with her husband St. Louis Martin.

Monday, March 25, 2013


I'm tired! Five of my children competed in a chess tournament at the local Catholic school.   We all earned medals, but no one placed first or second, which would have earned a trophy.

It was a huge meet! I think there were 80 kids (well, I thought there might be 20 kids or so, so 80 was a surprise to me) competing.  It lasted 3 hours. Apparently these things can last much longer, but the schedule said it would be over in 2 hours, so again, I was taken by surprise.

Now, I really don't relish being negative, and I know that chess in general is a great game and that many of the children present were good kids.  Still, I hadn't been in a school setting in a while.  I realize that during school hours these children are quietly settled into classes of 20 or so children, and cafeteria scenes are notoriously...busy.  Honestly, I was overwhelmed (and for what it's worth, I am an alumni of the school we were at).  The noise was just something a homeschooler doesn't hear outside of sporting events.  It is always of interest for me to observe the behavior of children at large.  Everyone has seen, and probably been approached by, the extroverted child who will come up to any strange adult and start  chatting as if you are his favorite aunt or babysitter.  One child came up to a mom-not his own-who was helping to run the chess meet today and asked her for "fifty monies" (he wanted $0.50 to buy candy for sale).   I take this as one of "those kids" who haven't been taught proper social protocol by their parents in general and I don't blame it on any school in particular.  But then there's this other dynamic.

School kids typically won't run and shout the way home schooled kids might when they get together and, say, break into a game of football in a random living room until they are kicked out of doors.  They do tend to cluster together and talk in a "crowded" manner at each other....incessantly. To wit, I sent my kids to a side table where some other kids were practicing chess before the meet began.   I told them to scout out the competition. We had about 15 minutes before the sessions started.  After just a minute my 8 year old came back and said he heard one kid say, "your gonna loose, you're dumb" and another child said, "shut up, you're stupid."  Right. Now, I know very well that not all children who go to school speak this way, and my own children have used words like "dumb" or "stupid" in their lives, yes they have.  But...typically, if a mother were present during such speech, she would correct it.  As there are no parents around to hear these things in the crowded groups in these types of settings, this type of speech becomes typical, perhaps "the norm".

We got our medals at the end of the meet. I spoke with some friends and truly enjoyed my conversations.  My children enjoyed the tough competition.  When I came home, however, and saw our lonely wooden chess board on our dining room table, the board my kids had been playing each other on for days in preparation for the tournament, I just couldn't help but have a surge of relief and joy.  I was just so happy to have that as our typical environment within which to play.  Oh I was glad to be out of that cafeteria! I am so happy to be at home with my family.  I'm grateful.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


I am late on posting in general, and sadly late on posting about this momentous event in the life of all Christians: the 265th successor to Peter has been chosen.

As a Catholic family, this was a big deal to us. A big deal to see the resignation of a dearly beloved Pope, Benedict, for whom one of my sons was named (as well as for the saint).  I deeply respect the humility and prudence of Benedict XVI in stepping down from the papacy as he recognized his declining faculties, physical and mental.  I honored John Paul the Great for his remark "Christ did not get off of the Cross", in response to those who questioned his remaining the Pope as he was dying.  It was a beautiful witness and one that Benedict alluded to when he stated his intention to leave.
However, Benedict, too, gave a witness, and it is a wonderful thing to see how different circumstances elicit different responses from holy men and women.

So we prayed, and we waited for our new father.  The one who would be "over the household" of faith.  The one who would wear the robe, hold the keys, and be a father to the people of the King, ruling in His stead, until He comes again.  Isaiah 22:22 describes this handing over of authority from king to the one put "over the household".  It is almost word for word what Jesus says to Peter.  Jesus is the King, and the Popes are given His authority until He comes again.   ....just in case anyone was wondering about those keys and whatnot...  

I mention this not to beat over the head with Biblical exegesis, but because it explains how dearly we as Catholics cherish the men entrusted with this sacred position.  We're only 265 men in direct line away from that powerful moment between Christ and Peter.  And we are the ones who are given this father, not to be left orphans.

So, a bit orphaned, we waited to meet this papa.  And he was Francis.  I didn't know anything about this Cardinal.  I'm learning with everyone else.  I love St. Francis. If Pope Francis chose him as his patron saint, that is already a point in his favor for me. I think most everyone felt the same way.  St. Francis who rejected his father's riches, who associated with the poor, who led by personal holiness and not by powerful administration....the man who loved the animals and nature.  Habemus Papam!

We celebrated and we continue to pray, to watch, to listen.  God is leading His church.  His perfect Church is made up of sinful humanity.  We come to His Church to be purified, over and again, to grow in holiness and to be made more and more like Him.

A moment for rejoicing and sober reflection, certainly much prayer.  Perhaps a bit like the birth of a child, or a wedding.  That's how I'd record what it is like for me, as a Catholic, to live through a papal election.    Viva el Papa!


My oldest was doing a religion lesson covering "...and He descended into hell and on the third day..." which went on to describe this "hell" as the Limbo of the Just, who Christ brought into heaven after His

"It's called Limbo?"
Me: yes.
"Anything to do with the game?!"

I laughed imagining Noah and Abraham and the like awaiting their Savior in party mode, as it were.
But then again, I'm low on sleep.:)

Friday, March 1, 2013


(somewhere in the ballpark of 7am:)

child: "baby gorillas are terrified of caterpillars"

husband: "are they really? wow"

I'm in the other room loving the man I married.