Saturday, July 12, 2014

When Life Hands You Convertibles

"No more coffee for you today honey."

Okay, so maybe I was talking a little fast. You see, about every two years, I reluctantly take one of my fave devices-my digital camera--to be "pronounced" by the nice camera-fix it guys down the street. And I'm usually in a friendly yet agitated state. 

And this guy says the same thing to me, every two years. (No more coffee, indeed!:)  And every time, the camera is just dead. 

But this time...

"Sweetie, you see this knob? Yeah, just put it on Auto. See? It works fine on Auto... you had it basically on the 'action shots at night' setting."

Oh. Of course.  I should have known that. I take pictures as one of my many mini jobs, after all. 

But I'm not quite myself these days. Mommy-brained, but even more so. Not widow-brained but... Something single-sounding like that.

Confused? Catch up here. Yeah, things have been different recently. Quite sad in spots. But not all bad, not at all. Space is good for growth and stuff. I mean, I can't get into all the reasons, but Dan being in an apartment with some good Christian friends and me being here with the kids... it's what is needed. I'm absolutely certain of it.

But yes, my mind is elsewhere these days.

Kinda like when I took all the kids to the pool and remembered to put it all in locker 10 though who locks it, right? And then came out of the pool with four dripping wet kids and nothing in locker 10! Nothing! Most immediately alarming, no dry clothes. After a tense half hour with squealing naked preschoolers, I rightly reasoned--after checking 216 other lockers in my very finest frayed bath towel--that a thief would unlikely want our clothes along with my van keys. Figured this out after YMCA staff ascertained my van was still, very much, there.

That's when I found my stuff in the family changing room.  Neatly folded on top of the paper towel dispenser.  

So I'm not exactly myself these days... or I'm like myself but even more so?  Living in separation can be a good thing but it's also stressful in new and unique ways. Like which circuit breaker is for the living room? And when do I pay for the van lease? And what animal is near the trash can at 3 AM?

And how to drive a standard 2006 Mustang convertible.  Because all four kids need the mini van to go out with daddy, regularly.  And after round the clock kids, I'm left alone sporting a loudly roaring car at a time in my life when I feel kind of... lost.  

I first, I protested firmly.  Didn't at all want to drive this recent acquisition which I had no part in choosing. Despite that (it's quite complicated), Dan and I are currently on civil terms, and may even be spotted at the grocery store occasionally--so neither panic or party if you see us, just smile and wave. Or chat. Chatting can totally happen; it's okay. You may even at some point see us driving around in a mini van or an obnoxiously loud topless vehicle.

So I'm not very fond of the thing. Not like my camera-friend or anything.  Not something I'm familiar with and know what I can expect from. Usually takes me a few tries to open up the roof.

But I'm getting used to it.  And it is really nice to have so much air and sky.  

Keep the prayers up.  I'll figure this thing out...

"Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior.
My hope is in You."
Psalm 5:25

Friday, July 4, 2014


Hi.  I want to write again.

But there's one thing I need to do first, as briefly and simply as possible.  It's important that I mention it, because the entire landscape of my life has changed.

This past month was a quiet one blog-wise because I have new responsibilities and some new roles, beyond the three small plays I'm currently in. Theatre has seemed more normal than normal life most of the time this month. But we did the normal things too: my sister-in-law visited, and we've been swimming and sailing in boats shaped like waterfowl.

As for the rest... for awhile, I was caught up on a funny word: detraction. But then I realized, I can "just say it."

With a long story, of course. :) Here was one of my attempts:

Lawning the mow, solo

I was rather proud of my Lowe's purchase.

Right up until the moment my favorite neighbor said, "Hey! Doing it old school, huh?"

I suppose a push, rotating mower is--rather--"old school."  And yes, I just bought it new, and yes, they do still make them.

My Dad had one when I was growing up. I remember the large rotating blades.  I remember it quickly finding a permanent home in the damp garage, replaced by the power version.

My manual lawn-mower version has a nicely rubberized handle and is "rust proof."  But yes, it's essentially the same thing.

I've never mowed the lawn before. I don't ascribe to "man's work" and "woman's work" when it comes to household chores. But there are enough household chores that the lawn had simply never fallen to my care. Until now.

Whirr whirr whirr pop.  Whirr pop.  Whirr pop pop.  I started timidly, going after the tallest grasses first (and yes, we grow every type of (legal) grass here on Ingleside.

But the blasted thing did not respond to timidity. It needed full control.

Standing squarely behind it, I rammed the thing, up and down the uneven ground, in fiercely determined rows.  It worked... better. But not well.  Far from well.  I pushed faster.

I realized I was angry. Angry at the stubborn straggling grasses that refused to yield, or break, or even bend. That popped right back up, mocking me.  Despite the fact that I had gone over them over and over and over again.

It didn't seem fair. To try so, so hard to make something work, and have it refuse to cooperate. To have the stupid grass stay the same problem it was before, no matter how many passes I made at it, how hard or how many times I tried.  All that work... seemingly for nothing.

Maybe I was using the wrong tool.  I'll find the weed whacker and have another go at it, after I take a bit of a break. I need a break.  In the process of charging through the grass, glorying in the carnage of the more cooperative vegetation, I plowed my face into a low hanging dogwood branch. I now have an impressive scrape on my eyelid.

Yes, I'm very glad it wasn't my eye. I'm not above being grateful. Even now, when I'm the one to mow the lawn.

There are many reasons a woman finds herself in charge of the yardwork, and the housework, and indeed any work that comes to keeping a house with kids in it. Some are good reasons, and some aren't so great.

And while I can't share them all, I know I have the best of reasons for being alone right now. And I know everything will be okay.

But I'm still mad at the grass I couldn't cut. I mean, I saw the problems, saw them for a long, long time. Worked so hard to fix them. I don't understand why they didn't go away. I really don't. It doesn't seem right not to succeed in the end, when you try and cry and pray and hurt so hard for so long with such determination. You know?

And like I said, I'm willing to try again, later. I think. But for now, I have to take time to tend to my eye first, and rest my back, and hug my kids.

Formally separated, I currently live in a household of five females. Thanks for your prayers.

Friday, June 6, 2014

A Dozen Years of Motherhood: 7 Quick Takes

1.  Some would say it's my oldest daughter's birthday.  I say, I did all the work. :D  But yes, she's helping out now, for sure, enough to pass for a mom herself sometimes. And she's the same height as me!

2. 12 years ago, I was ridiculously naive.

I didn't know enough to be terrified that the 4.5 pounder was 32 weeks.  I really didn't.  I was 24, 12 years ago.  

Since no one wants to know my age and no one likes math, I'm not worried about y'all bothering me about my advanced years.  :P

3. 12 years ago, I thought I could handle a natural birth with nothing more than deep breathing and measured sighs.

12 years ago, I had no idea how loud I could be.

4. 12 years ago, I realized my own mom was right.

"Katie, you aren't gonna care who's in the room when you give birth.  You'll just be really... focused." And I would blush and demurely shake my head.

Having given birth four times in these twelve years to a collective audience of about 32 people, I can say she's absolutely correct.

5. 12 years ago, I found out that breastfeeding is natural, but it ain't necessarily simple. Like at all. I found this out--12 years ago--after a hospital that didn't yet believe in nipple confusion (they sure do now!) had every confidence that a premie baby could "figure it all out" after a month of exclusive bottles.

12 years ago, I had no idea that all my attempts to nurse this baby would be unsuccessful. 12 years ago, I had no idea I would pump, every 4-6 hours, for 12 months.  A sound I can still hear in my head today...

12 years ago, I would have cried with joy if you'd told me, "Listen, you'll get this someday, for real.  You'll have actually have a blog called 'The Lactating Catholic!'"

I would then have cried to know I would have someday be so unnaturally bold as to choose such an inappropriate-sounding title... and would then have asked you what on earth a "blog" was.

6. 12 years ago, I began to learn what mother-love is. And it has been made every sacrifice of the past 12 years make a lot more sense.

And I'm sure, as a 12 year old, I would read all this and be like, "Uh, okay mom.  Thanks...?"  So I'll have her read this when she's 21.

7. Here's to the next 12 years of being a mom. It's exhausting. It's painful. It's hard.

It's worth it.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Sleeping peacefully

No time tonight, again.  So just this:

"In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety." Psalm 4:8

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Birth of the Woman Who Gave Me Birth

Was today.  June 1st.  No, I don't know how old she is, and dare not ask today. But she's getting up there. Looks good though: very young in spirit and in smile.  I'd do well to take after her there.

Wish I could claim a more personal touch to it all, but I got her a cake at Stop and Shop, and yellow flowers, and dressed up. I expect I'll like to see my daughters dressed up for my birthday when they're too old to be forcibly dressed in frilly clothes.

When she left my front porch party to be feted by my other siblings, I drove that mini van off to a Mom's Night Out, where I was overdressed.  I expect when the destination is a discount cinema, you come in jeans, right?  I got a little teased.

So that's how, an hour before my self-imposed "deadline," I owe y'all a (short) post. Because for better or worse, I'm blogathoning again.  I look forward to writing with you more.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorable Week

I have an email in my inbox thanking me for both having written a letter to the governor and for having signed a petition to "Save the Greater-Sage Grouse." Not kidding.

As admirable as such causes are, I have no recollection of doing those things.  Such are the risks of leaving email open in a one computer house of five other people who love to tap/beat on keys.

Though given the week I had, I would not be absolutely surprised if I had done these things and simply forgotten.  Stress can do that to a person, right?

What stresses... well, my grandfather, a WWII Navy sub vet, is not doing well and is currently refusing medical attention, preferring to "tough things out" at home. Finances have been... fun. Our 1997 car is finally dying, though I'm thankful the van holds up. And this post written by a college friend felt right on the mark in some areas of my life.  

Also we had to say goodbye to "Annie"!  It's an adjustment, going back to "normal" after so many weekends of "life on stage." I'm adjusting well, only have four auditions planned. :) Warbucks and Grace are gonna miss this Annie; Rhiannon is going to be trying out for the national "Annie" on tour... we wish her the best!

And yes, Dan's hair is growing back.  Thanks for asking. :D

Some good things have happened though.  We, tearlessly, replaced this beauty that's been with us for almost a decade, and has been baking cakes for longer than I've been alive, I fear:

My eldest showed me that hundreds of dollars and tens of hours driving to her music homeschool co-op was totally worth it.  She played violin. 

She rang hand-bells. She sang a solo. All in a black dress with heels, calm, cool, collected, and confident.  Can't help but be proud as a mom in such a moment. Proud of that and of the four year old who can now pump on the swing herself, no pushes necessary.  Bittersweet.  Oh, and this one "learned" to put on makeup while behind the couch with my purse. Scary. 

Other positives is that we've been putting the grill to work, seeing some friends, and overall enjoying the "weather nirvana of the northeast." Don't be too envious; we were seriously overdue for a break up here.

Hope we all have a better week, and a peaceful remembering day, particularly of those who served our country.  Thank you Grandpa.  

And thank you to all I've never met who fought for our freedoms.  We honor you.

Psalms 33:20-22
"Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you."

Friday, May 16, 2014

"Let it Go" and Desires of the Heart

You know those dreams where you go to the mall and realize you're wearing pj's?  Kinda like when you do a 2 AM rant and you wake up to find it on Patheos.  On the blog of one of my favorite writers, no less.  (blush)

Inspired by Simcha, plush animals, the urge to just laugh at the whole thing, and a rainy day... I felt the need to sing and act for you, putting my own interpretation on this "art":


Yes, that's a blue marker.  A "washable" one...

And then to get just slightly serious: why yes, this is all fuss about a drawing.  But it alarmed me personally because I was once "the girl with the smaller bear."

I was raised--with the best of intentions--to believe that sacrifice was good simply because it was hard.  I'll get into all that more later I'm sure, but generally I was taught that "God's will" was often discovered by seeking what was most difficult, something that would hurt to do but that "God would reward" me for.

This impression can send a person down a lot of wrong paths. Instead of listening to what God has put in one's heart to love--the interior inclinations He uses to direct us to His will--a person raised with, well, this drawing's "philosophy" does the exact opposite. "If I love x, it would be 'the better/holier/right thing' to give x up." One is definitely left with the overall impression that if something is difficult, it is "good/holy/meritorious"; if something's easy, welllll you're doing something wrong. And having grown through these notions... I don't think God intended us to quite have such perspectives.

Children need to be taught, first, that God loves them.  That tremendous truth alone takes a lifetime to learn.  Not only that: He wants us to be happy. Sometimes it is by trusting Him blindly and surrendering to a Divine Will we don't understand.  But more often than not, it's probably by loving Him from where we are and keeping the darn teddy bear He knows we love, because--after all--He created us.

And yes, from now on, I should totally--somehow--work a teddy bear into any theology I touch on. This is a must. You're welcome.