Saturday, December 29, 2007

Awesome Days of Christmas

I have been a model of sloth and gluttony this past week. (See previous post). I did manage to get off the couch and get some work done, which, sadly, has diverted me from my post-Christmas ritual of either going to daily Mass through Epiphany, or at least ensuring that I sit down and take time to properly consider the readings for each day. So I went back today and reviewed the readings and even cracked out my Butler's for good measure.

A quick review...12/26: St. Stephen, the first Martyr. 12/27: St John the Evangelist (excellent post on this feast at The Digital Hairshirt, btw). 12/28: the Holy Innocents...this one is always tough for me as I pray for my 8 little as-yet unmet little innocents who were not able to complete the journey with me. Which is nothing compared to all of the innocent souls who, by someone else's "choice," never even had a chance. So I pretty much just sit there in the back of the church with the waterworks in full force despite my best efforts to be invisible. Always a tough day, and aside from my inner strife, I'm sure I must look like a wacko by the time my red puffy face makes it up to receive the Eucharist...but I digress.


12/29: Thomas a Becket (I do love my lawyer saints and their funky-campy 60's biopics...) 12/30: The Holy Family. How amazing is each member of the Holy Family, I ask you to consider?!? I have a great poster of the Holy Family's flight to Egypt that I bought at the Vatican museum...and have yet to frame. 12/31: Sts. Sylvester, Melania, Columba -- early saints, each of whom displays a unique vocation and reminds us of the virtues of the brave early Christians...pope/survivor of Diocletian and witness of the ascendancy of Constantine, foundress/abess, virgin and martyr, respectively. And that's just December!

Remiss though I have been in keeping up my annual tradition this year, I do love these days, which are a little slower, kids are home, leftovers about done, and there's some time to reflect on these days and their import. Just sitting here clacking all this out has been cathartic -- as I type I keep thinking how much I love our Church, our history, and the countless examples of love, bravery, virtue, purity, and faith we can look to in even a cursory review of hagiology. I love our Faith!!!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Jabba the Hutt (a.k.a....Mamma the Gutt)

Yeah. That's pretty much what the scene on my couch has been since 8:00 on the morning of the 25th. Carnage (a.k.a., unwrapping gifts). Cookies. Cocoa. Rum balls. Phone calls. Ham. More cookies. Tea. Oblivion.
12/26: Baked oatmeal. Coffee. Cookies. Ham sammiches. Real (not diet) Coke. Rum balls. Movies. Tea. Laptop.
I. Am. A. Big. Fat. Slug.
Lord have mercy on my gluttonous soul and the glutenous mess I've made of Your temple these past few days...but thanks for a blessed Christmas and the most important gift of all (scroll down for that one!), whose first three fangs arrived with little fuss or ceremony this week!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Joyeux Noel!

Have a wondrous, blessed Christmas!

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Whew! Made it home from my legal conference in sunny San Diego in one piece between waves of sleet, ice, and blizzard at DTW and here in NY -- threaded the eye of the weather needle, so to speak. My poor guardian angel's proverbial wings must still be thawing...I invoke him/her about every 5 minutes (or more with every tiny bit of turbulence) to use them to keep us aloft while in flight.

Never used to bother me to fly, but after I had kids...and especially leaving the little critter behind for almost a week, I am now a confirmed flight phobe. Thanks again to my angel and the litany of saints who I silently beseeched going and especially coming home on this "Rejoice" Sunday!

We're in the home stretch....much wrapping, baking, and maybe even cards to do this coming week. (Still gotta get to confession, too!) Hope everyone out there is doing well and enjoying!

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Gift

Thank you Sts. Catherine, Gerard, Gianna, Jude, and our Blessed Mother for answering our prayers this year with the greatest gift of all!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Fellow Travelers - prayers requested

I wanted to hold off on this until after the holidays, but darn it, between my personal pals and blog acquaintances these past few weeks, there are some tiny, pure souls up in Heaven and some grieving mothers here on Earth who need prayers on this Feast of the Immaculate Conception: my sister in law, who recently miscarried, my dear friends Jude (godfather of my "law school baby") & his wife Emily, whose 18 week old died in utero this past week, John Mary Thomas (Dymphna's baby), and the many, many Catholic moms struggling, as I did for so long, with multiple miscarriages and subsequent trouble conceiving.
May our Blessed Mother wrap you in her mantle and the Divine Infant welcome His newest little playmates.
I pray He will send you joy in the upcoming year! Crazy schedule aside, I will be doing a Holy Hour for you all this weekend, plus one of gratitude for my own little family having been blessed with a long-awaited baby this year.

New Christmas thing

I am really digging XM Radio's Traditional Holiday and World Holiday stations -- lots of chant, old-world and medieval arrangements. If you have it in your car or on AOL for free, it is worth it -- I have been listening to it at work and at home via my laptop while i putter around doing other stuff. Tonight is a big decorating and cookie making night after 4:30 weekend (pink candle!) is tree time after I get back from my legal conference in San Diego. (Please pray for my safe trip...some I know are so jealous that I'm traveling without the kids, but not me...ever since I had my first, I dread flying and the possibility of leaving them motherless if something goes wrong!)

Christmas FAQ's (my first meme!)

Slowly getting into the ins and outs of the blogging thing, and lo and's all about MEme:
1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both - mother's cloth gift bags (she gets Christmas fabric on sale after the big day and makes bags to use/recycle every year. Handy for odd shapes and sizes, and there's kitsch factor involved when you get one of 'em

2. Real tree or artificial? Real -- love the smell, hate the mess, enjoy the drive and slog up into the hills to pick it out and cut it down, too.

3. When do you put up the tree? Usually the second Sunday unless the weather prevents the cutting.

4. When do you take the tree down? After Epiphany.

5. Do you like eggnog? Oh yeah...the real stuff with bourbon or brandy! (Not the "egg-nausea" thick crap from the store)

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Two stand out -- my grandma (she died at 90 in March, God rest her soul) used to buy me a Christmas ornament every year. I have them going back to 1980. Second, a little camel hair coat with a rabbit fur collar when I was about 9 (I learned much later that this was my struggling single mom's revenge for my dad buying his wife and stepdaughter full length mink and rabbit fur coats...but not paying his child support)

7. Do you have a Nativity scene? I have 5! Waterford, large ceramic (from Sam's Club - very pretty!), Spanish terra-cotta, wooden blocks for the kids, and a little Mexican painted terra-cotta set, muy folklorico.

8. Hardest person to buy for? Mom. Her birthday is Christmas Eve, she is picky, we must differentiate between the birthday and Christmas, so the pressure is intense.

9. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Identical things (sweaters, Barbies, etc.) to the evil stepsister. Especially when we got the same Barbie, but she got all the accessories, house, car, airplane, etc. I just got the Barbie and was not allowed to touch the other stuff during subsequent custodial visits.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Both...but let's face it, I haven't even sent out birth announcements yet!

11. Favorite Christmas Movie? "A Christmas Story" (I actually saw it in the theater!), and "It's a Wonderful Life"

12. When do you start shopping for Christmas? A bit here and there after Halloween

13. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Does returning a winter coat I received from the evil stepmother to help pay my electric bill count?

14. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Everything. OK, if I have to pick one seasonal thing, it's those Bahlsen dark-chocolate covered gingerbread cookies. Wow!

15. Clear lights or colored on the tree? I like clear, the family likes colored, so I lose.

16. Favorite Christmas song? O Holy Night ("Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!" = good stuff)

17. Stay at home or travel on Christmas? Home. Back in our military days, we used to haul ourselves across the country with cheap flights on Christmas Day to visit inlaws and show off the grandkids, but no more. I love my house, it was built for entertaining (by wealthier people than we will ever be back in the 1920's...servant's rooms and all), and contrary to public policy and child labor laws in many states, I have conscripts (ages 13 and 10, upon whom I have graciously bestowed my DNA) who become servants and sleep up on the third floor when the house is full. Living the dream....

18. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? Yes, if pressed

19. Angel on the tree top or a star? Star was a casualty in our new dog vs. cat tree-toppling atrocity 4 years ago, so currently we have a fiber-optic winged angel who has stopped lighting up. Annoying.

20. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Back to the Mom thing. We had to watch her open her birthday presents on the 24th, but wait until the 25th to open ours. So now that I am free of maternal tyranny, I have instituted a more benevolent dictatorial custom of my own -- we give gifts to each other the night before, and wait until morning for "Santa" presents and stockings.

21. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Malls. And about 90% of the secular-maniac people I know talking about all horribly expensive crap they are getting for their kids -- PDA's, cell phones, Wii's, iPods to replace the "outdated" one they got last year...ridiculous. (When I was 13 I was happy to get crazy stuff like a few sweaters, some perfume and maybe a new U2 album...)

Sunday, December 2, 2007


Yes, it is official -- we have about 4 inches here in Upstate (probably more further north), and more on the way.

I woke up and looked out across the street at the big Antebellum mansion across the street, white bricks and green shutters, its hedges and ancient oak and maple trees laced with snow, and thought "how beautiful!" And then I thought "Thank God I don't have that sidewalk and driveway!" (I live in a stately, but much smaller abode...from which the view is fabulous.) Also congratulating self on procrastinating on raking up the last of the hidden under a pristine mantle of white. Excellent mulch by spring. :)

Let the scraping, shoveling, slipping and sliding into stuff begin. Great for the law business with all the personal injuries of the season (much as the rainy season in San Diego used to be - curse the traffic, love the bad drivers!), but by March, I will be fed up and wondering what the h[eck] we were thinking moving back here. Oh well. For now I am sticking with "beautiful."

As I sit here, I see Man and Cub frolicking about in the yard with the hounds, and from this vantage point it is hard to tell who is having more fun. My poor baby is nothing but a ball of fleece with two very pink cheeks, so I think he's just enjoying the ride but wondering why the Big Guy keeps making him touch the cold stuff. My 10 year old is attempting to be a musher...can't figure out why the "sled dogs" -- imagine, the intellectual one-two punch of Golden Retard and Labradork -- are having a harder time pulling this year.

I will have to explain this over hot chocolate, which I have yet to make. So off I go.

Happy Winter everyone!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Wake me up when November's Advent!

Well, another month and another year (liturgical and otherwise) comes to an end. I am just about recovered from the 13 houseguests we had for Thanksgiving, all the fall decorations are off the walls and windows, and we are anxiously awaiting the weekend and cracking out the Advent decorations. Yes, Advent. We hold off on the Feast of the Nativity (a.k.a., Christmas) stuff to really enjoy and soak in the totality of the Christmas season. These are (imho) some of the most beautiful readings of the year -- so again, why not take it slow and enjoy them?

We get the wall calendars, Advent wreath, candles and creche scenes out, sans baby Jesus, and slowly add the rest, a little bit each weekend. I try to do as much shopping online to avoid the material madness at the mall (not that I don't go nuts and do my fair share of overspending on gifts, I just don't like engaging in or witnessing the frenzy and the secular dilution that dominates the season anymore) and we really do our level best to concentrate on family time, decorating, baking, watching old movies with the kids, and snuggling ourselves in for a cold Finger Lakes winter. Work, kids' play, sports, and concert schedules, and of course a very cute baby keep me on my toes, but I am going to wrap my arms around all of it and immerse myself in all the reflection, light, and joy that I can manage!

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Happy Thanksgiving!

It has been a year of trials, but more importantly, one of miracles. After 7 years and as many miscarriages (after two routine "no brainer" pregnancies) we were blessed with our beautiful little baby this past April. I smile more. I am annoyed less easily. I see my older ones learning to nurture and love a much younger little piece of themselves. My oldest now understands my particularly fierce, protective style of maternal love, and we have grown closer as a result. They are kinder to each other, and they work together to care for "their" baby. My husband continues to amaze and humble me as I watch him being the consummate father, handling everything from rocking and snuggling to middle of the night cries to gnarly diapers -- as he put it, "It's what God put me on this earth to do." And there's nothing effete or "metro" about it -- he is a completely involved, commited, family man.

Thank you, God, for all these gifts.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Deer Season


I understand the rationale, I know there are actually people here in rural Upstate whose families still rely on this source of meat to get through the winter, it is tradition, a prelude to the holidays, it's a tribute to and links us to this area's 250+ year past....but I must admit it makes me queasy seeing carcasses strapped to everything from battered old pickups (Clampett style) to BMW's driving past my house (and those are the drunken idiots that worry me colleagues of the Bar, investment bankers, and doctors playing "Predator" in the woods).

Not being from this area to begin with, it's discomfiting. The inlaws roll their eyes...their son's wife, the pseudo intellectual city-bred princess, just doesn't get it...but be that as it may, I go into a funk at this time each year until the shooting stops and wish I still lived in the largely game-free Chicago suburbs.

When the deer get guns, it will be a fair fight.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Wrinkles, gray hair, and...

In addition to a teenager and a tweenager, I have an adorable six-month old baby. Nursing is about over, so the lovely hormones have gone into overdrive. I sat in front of my magnifying mirror attacking the hedges (a.k.a., my eyebrows) and thought "uh oh, better get the Lancome out, I see a new toe in the crow's feet." Then I looked at what I thought was a trick of light reflecting off of my brown hair....egad! A little sprout of WHITE, not gray, hair sticking straight up. Y'know....the nasty, wiry kind. Tweezed that into submission too. And then...what the?!? A pimple?!? Here I am staring down the barrel of 40 and suddenly my inner teenager has erupted on my chin.

Then I heard giggling from downstairs -- my Alpha and Omega children were having a blast together while I was staring in horror at this trifecta of imperfection in my mirror. Life is beautiful, and motherhood is an amazing gift. So much for the tweezers, the eye cream, and most of all, the ego.

I went downstairs and got more than my fair share of slobbery baby kisses -- that's the sweet stuff!

The emphasis is on PRACTICING (Part I)

Just as with the law, the term practicing applies when you're a Catholic. Sure, I took the Bar Exam (while very pregnant, no less) and passed it. That gave me a license, but it did not make me a lawyer. That took a few years of going to work every day, beating my head against my desk and my computer screen, reading, learning, triumphing, and failing abysmally. Ten years out of school, and now relocated to a new state, I am starting all over again and am amazed by how much I still have to learn. I am a practicing lawyer with years of experience, but once again feel like a novice learning local law and custom. It is humbling.

My experience as a Catholic has been similar. It takes patience, trust, and sometimes it takes hard work to be a practicing Catholic. You have to accept that it is a lifelong learning process --from the simplest day laborer to the most sophisticated scholar, all of us have to be open to learning and challenging ourselves and our preconceived notions of what it means to be a practicing Catholic.

I was born a Catholic, but like many children of the post V-II era, received virtually ZERO foundation. My parents divorced when I was entering grade school, so I was not allowed to go to Catholic school (although my 3 older siblings were not asked to leave). At 6, you don't know what the adult issues are, so you blame yourself for your parents separating ("If I had just cleaned my room, if I cleared the table, if I had not drank that milk from the carton, my mom and dad would not be doing this...") so imagine the horror of "Even God is angry at me and Jesus does not want me at His school!" During the "we will not suffer another one of your little children" showdown, our parish priest (the one who would not let me into the school) called my mother a "whore and adulteress" when she began dating after the divorce, with me sitting in the hallway. (Never mind that my father was the adulterer who left the family). So my earliest memories of the Church was that it did not want me, and I was somehow at fault. (35+ year old me is over that, but it took awhile!) Oh yeah -- that priest was indicted for embezzlement shortly after we moved away, and just a few years ago convicted as a sex offender courtesy of some former altar boys.

Fast forward a few years to another parish. My father decided to remarry and sought an annulment -- he got it in an era when they were actually hard to obtain. During one of my rare teenage trips to confession, I asked the priest what it meant -- since the marriage should never have taken place, was I not meant to be here? Answer: "Well, in a sense, no. You are not the product of a legitimate marriage, and so in that way, you should never have been born." (What?!? ) Got home and told my happily single Mom, who looked at me over the top of her book, laughed and said "I've always said you were a bunch of little bastards!" (I cannot say it now with certainty, but I think the book was The Joy of Sex...) That was the last straw for me. God did not want me, and I sure as Hell wanted nothing to do with Him.

So how did I get to a place where I love my Church and my God? More on that later...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

And so it begins....


This blog has no real intent, agenda, or purpose other than to chronicle the everyday amusements, atriocities and awe that comes with being a Catholic mother, wife, lawyer, teacher, boss, mentor, daughter, sister, in-law (ok, make that an out-law)...pretty much in that order.

I welcome comment and discussion that contains big words, but not bad ones, please.