Thursday, November 29, 2012

If You Bake It, They Will Eat It

This year, Little Brother is a member of his school's chapter of the National Junior Beta Club. They have frequent service projects and fund-raisers, the proceeds of which are donated to charity.

This morning he let me know that next week, the Beta Club will be having a lunchtime bake sale. "There's a paper in my classroom, Mom. It's on the 6th and the 7th and we're supposed to bring in baked goods....Will you bake a good?"

Monday, November 19, 2012

Talking Football

This afternoon I went to parent-teacher conferences at Little Brother's school.

He's earned all A's, so I wasn't worried too much about his grades. But I figured it was my parental duty to put in an appearance, and it would be a good time to touch base with his teacher about his emotional health, given the disruptions of the past few weeks. She's aware of most of them, and assured me that he's been fine at school.

She also let me know that "he's been talking A LOT about Notre Dame." No surprise there. I've been talking a lot about Notre Dame myself. Frankly, I think I've done my job right if I've passed along the proper fan allegiance to the next generation. And I worked hard for the right to be an Irish fan.

My parents are staunch members of the "Fighting Irish Subway Alumni." Both devout fans of Notre Dame (but alums of Seton Hall), they were pleased when I applied to graduate school there.

I was accepted at ND, Purdue and SUNY Binghamton. Clearly I was not basing my choice of university on "balmy winter climate." (What WAS I thinking back in 1986?)

Once the acceptance letters came in, my dad informed me that I would be going to Notre Dame. That was that. I'd gotten in at his dream school, apparently.

I showed up on the campus of Notre Dame in August of 1987, never having seen a football game--ANY football game--in my life. One of my roommates was a band assistant. All three of my roommates were horrified that here I was at Notre Dame and I knew nothing of football and didn't even care. I do like bands, though, so they insisted that I watch the games on our tiny TV so I could see the band.

I attended one game (ND vs Navy on Halloween of 1987.) The Irish won, 56-13. No, I didn't remember the score--I just looked it up. I remember that they won; that one of my non-band roommates was at the game too, very patiently explaining what a "first down" was; that in the student section, no one sat during the game. We all stood on the bleachers the whole time.

It was great.

25 years later, I still prefer basketball and there are still football rules I don't get, though I do understand "first down" now. But I taught my kids early (and often) that in my football world, it's Notre Dame vs. "The Bad Guys." I never actually said that, but that's what Big Brother took away from it when he was four or five. Let's just say I never bothered to correct that assumption.

Until Little Brother started moonlighting as Mr. SportsCenter, I never even paid attention to other schools' teams. But this kid is a walking, talking sports encyclopedia who inhales football (and soccer) trivia like it's oxygen. He knows who's ranked where, what teams have injured QBs and who's favored to win next week's matchups. I, on the other hand, know that Notre Dame home games are on NBC.

I've enjoyed this football season immensely so far and look forward to this weekend's game. I might even stay up late to watch the whole thing.

After all, I have earned the right to be a fan. I've stuck with my team during the bad years, and I'm going to relish this one.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Keeping Score

I keep tallying up, in my head, the ways in which I believe I am "doing my best" in my current situation.

It is comforting, I admit, to note that little by little, my "best" includes yet another thing I wouldn't have thought I'd be able to do. (Willing is a whole other matter, still.)

But to be perfectly honest, I won't be "doing my best" until I stop keeping score.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Pondering in my Heart

The phrase "pondered it in her heart" struck me twice today. The first time was at Mass this morning. I'm not sure whether it was something Father said during the reflection on the Gospel or if it just popped into my head; the second time was just now when I was listening to episode 2 of The Catholics Next Door's "rebooted" podcast and Jennifer spoke those words.

I stopped listening midsentence (the great thing about podcasts is that you can hit that PAUSE button and then come back to it later) because I needed to think about this.

In Luke's Gospel, Mary is described as "pondering these things in her heart" (Luke 2:19). When that phrase first caught my attention this morning, I started thinking about the things I ponder in my heart.

For the most part, they're not the good things. They're not the happy things. Is it because I am a glass-half-empty kind of girl? The things I ponder, the things I dwell upon in my heart, are the troubles big and small that I allow to consume my attention, steal my focus and determine my mood.

Right now, there's a whole lot on my plate. Some are things I can't fix, like my husband's health. Some are things I find myself blaming others for, and we won't get into those in this space. I'm carrying a lot of resentment around right now, and that's sucking the life out of my ability to be a good wife, mom, family member and friend. My plate is full, and my heart is full--and for the most part, my heart is not filled with good things.

I was sweeping and washing the floor this afternoon; it was so easy to clean up the dirt that had gathered in the corners and under the chairs. If only it were that easy to clean the corners of my heart, where I have allowed resentment and anger to fill up the space that should be full of good thoughts.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012


It's all politics, all the time around here tonight. TheDad lives for this stuff and is even ignoring an upcoming nor'easter in favor of election returns. Little Brother's school had a mock election today among grades 4 and up, so he's interested in watching the elections as well (though I suspect he wants to stay up late so he can play Minecraft with the news in the background.

And Middle Sister asked what channel would have the elections (pretty much everything but ESPN, kid) because she's taking US History 2 this year and her teacher expects the class to pay attention to this. Along with a real-life civics lesson, she's also getting a geography challenge; her teacher gave the kids unmarked outline maps and wants them to label the states according to the results.

He'll get no argument from me, but my older two kids missed the geography boat in their early educations. I insisted that Big Brother sign up for a geography class in high school and he later conceded that he'd learned a lot of important information.

When Middle Sister complained that she didn't know which states were which, I informed her that she'd be selecting Geography as her first-choice elective next year, and if she didn't, I wouldn't sign her course-selection card. There was loud protesting, but I'm not giving in, even though Grandma stuck up for Middle Sister and said that it's not important to know where the states are. (Thanks for that.)

Big Brother said he'd pass on watching election returns at college, because he figured that watching these in a public place could get tense. Besides, he's got stage crew.

And I've got a couple of interesting books and a bowl of Halloween candy to occupy my attention. I voted, and there's nothing I can do about this now.