Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Murphy's Law Morning

I have been awake for less than 5 hours today. And already, the following "glitches" have taken place:

  • Little Brother was most ungracious (not to mention greedy) upon finding out that the Tooth Fairy had left her usual $1 instead of the $5 that some of his classmates get.
  • TheDad informed me that his car HAD to go to the mechanic TODAY because some "your car will explode if you don't go to the mechanic" indicator light had lit up on his dashboard.
  • That meant that I had to commandeer Middle Sister's car and take her to school and force her to (indignity of indignities) ride the bus home today.
  • Little Brother came thisclose to missing HIS bus because he hadn't packed his schoolbag last night, like I'd asked him to.
  • Middle Sister had a pretty empty gas tank.
  • I had to follow TheDad to the car dealership and then he had to take me back home. ALL of this was before I even got a cup of coffee, not to mention breakfast.
  • I thought maybe there would be a diner run on the way back from Hyundai City, but no...(and poor Hubs is first of all not a mind-reader and second of all WAY too busy at work right now so I know there was no time for a diner run. But a girl can dream. Especially when she needs coffee.)
  • Middle Sister started sending me angry texts because the discombobulation of HER morning meant that she'd forgotten some important papers on the coffee table.
  • A piece of the splashguard of my stand mixer detached itself when I was making cookies for Big Brother, who's coming home for dinner tonight.
  • Little Brother's coach emailed the date and time of the CYO basketball playoff game:  smack in the middle of a Tech Week rehearsal for Annie Jr. (I'm dealing with that by praying for snow.)
  • I found a broken zipper pull in the dryer's lint filter. Inspecting the laundry, I discovered that it had come off the Notre Dame hoodie that I JUST got for Christmas.

None of this is "big stuff" but it's the little stuff that really gets to me.

I could really use a reboot here, especially since in just a couple of hours, I have a Secular Franciscans meeting and there will be guests, so I am WAY outside my comfort zone on this one (introvert problems). It's not that the guests aren't welcome--I'm glad they'll be there. But I find it tough enough to conduct a meeting when it's "just us," never mind up to 10 extra people, some of whom are strangers.

And I have to make sure I'm out of that meeting on time to pick up Little Brother and his friend at Chess Club after school.

At the moment, I'm kind of afraid to touch anything or go anywhere! I could really use a double dose of Grace and Dignity right about now.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Short-Order Cook

Little Brother has been sick all week. After two trips to the pediatrician, we've got a diagnosis of an ear infection and a Z-pack. He's feeling quite a bit better this morning, and his appetite is returning.

"Can you please cook me an egg?" he asked me.

"Sure. How would you like it?"

"Sunny side down."

"Um...you mean 'over hard' or do you want it still a little runny?"

"I don't know! The way I usually have them. I don't know all the flavors of eggs."

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Heartbreaking, Heartwarming

In case you missed it, Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation yesterday, stating that he no longer has the strength of mind and body to carry out the duties of his office.

This had to be an extremely difficult decision for the Pope. My feeling is that he did not want to leave the Church "unshepherded" in any way due to his own physical decline. It was heartbreaking to watch Pope John Paul II as his illness swallowed him up. This will give Pope Benedict the opportunity (if asked) to serve as a mentor to his successor, and it gives a wonderful example to the world of how to bear with great dignity, and even generosity, the indignities that come with the aging process.

It is telling, I think, that he has announced his decision to spend the rest of his life dedicated to prayer. In a fast-paced world, that is an excellent reminder to the Church of the importance of prayer, something which it is all too easy to neglect when things get busy--or we just get lazy.

I am saddened that it had to happen, but I believe that Pope Benedict made his decision with the good of the Church foremost in his heart.

As to the insinuations I have heard that he is running away from the sexual-abuse scandals, it's hard to believe that this would be the case. He's not the type of person to run away from a challenge or to walk away when the going gets tough. There is a difference between that kind of escapism and the simple acceptance of the fact that his physical condition will no longer permit him to carry out the duties of the office.

And to those who think that this is an opportunity to in some way "modernize" the Church, I will just say that my prayer is that the next Pope will be faithful.

I pray for Benedict XVI and for his successor, and for the Church.

image credit:  Kelly Wahlquist

Saturday, February 09, 2013


This morning, while waiting for Little Brother's basketball game to start, I was talking with his Cub Scout den leader (whose son was on the opposing team). He mentioned that after next weekend's Blue and Gold Dinner, which will feature the boys' crossover into Boy Scouting, his son probably will not continue in Scouting.

That's a shame.

At first I thought that the boy just didn't feel like Scouting was for him. I told the den leader that my older son had felt that way for a while, and we asked him to just give it a certain amount of time. If he still didn't like it after that time, he could walk away.

Apparently, though, that wasn't the case. This young man is having academic difficulties in school. His parents are considering after-school tutoring to help him improve his reading skills. That's a good course of action to take, and I hope that it helps. But then, the den leader went on, they had decided that if he does go to a tutoring center, he won't be allowed to go to Scouts until his grades improve.

That's an even bigger shame. Before the opening buzzer to the game sounded, I tried to convince this dad that Scouting was definitely worth the investment of time, and that his son would learn about managing his time as part of his Scout training.

I probably failed, unfortunately.

In this town (and many towns surrounding mine) the emphasis is ALL on sports. Little Brother is one of the few boys his age who is held to a strict "one sport per season" limit. I've known several kids who play on two or more teams for the same sport during the same season, and always wondered what happens when the inevitable schedule conflict comes up. The boy in question here plays multiple sports in a season, sometimes on travel teams whose games are an hour or more away. I'm not against sports--my kids are athletes too--but a steady diet of nothing but sports is awfully limiting for an eleven-year-old.

A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.--the Boy Scout Law

Yes, you'll get some of that in sports. Ultimately, though, the goal in sports is to win. The goal in Scouting is to fulfill that Law. By doing so, it's not only the Scout who wins.

And when a child's punishment for poor grades (or poor conduct) is removal from his Scout troop, he definitely loses.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Day: Made

This afternoon I was handed a packet of thank-you notes written by the 5th grade at Little Brother's school. Every child in his class wrote me a thank-you note last week, during Catholic Schools Week, because I am a weekly volunteer in the school library. The notes were hand-written on stationery that the kids decorated themselves. I know this class well, because I've worked with them for 4 of the 6 years I've helped in the library. This is a great bunch of kids--they've been together since kindergarten and as a group they're pretty tight.

As to the sentiments expressed in the letter, they were often at the corner of Funny and Sweet, because that's where ten-year-olds live. Here are a few of my favorite gems:

"We are all very grateful for you donating your time for the school. You're a very thoughtful person. As they say in Spanish, gracias!"

"It is a massive responsibility for you to go to the library every single Friday."

"Every time you come on a Friday it makes me feel happy inside."

"When you are supporting us we are supporting you."

"I hope you are proud of yourself!"

"I am thankful because you could be doing something other than helping."

"You are the greatest book stamper ever!"

Two kids wrote "Go Notre Dame" on their letters as well. (After all these years together, they know me well. And I know them well enough to know that for one boy, that was a big thing--he's absolutely not a Notre Dame fan. But he wrote it on my letter because he knows that I am.)

And one child made a special point of thanking me for finding a copy of a book she'd been looking for, and setting it aside for her until her class came to the library. That's what it's all about.

That packet of letters made my day. I love helping the school by lending a hand in my favorite place!
Plus, it's good to know that my book-stamping talent has not gone unnoticed.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Not User-Friendly

And now it's time for my annual Re-Registration Rant.

It's time to sign up Middle Sister for her senior year of high school. (All together now:  "She's a senior ALREADY?")

When registration time comes around, the school emails me a link to her account. (Full disclosure:  This account is not maintained by the school, but by the tuition-management service contracted by the diocese. None of the issues I encountered were things the school could have remedied or prevented.) In the email, it said that that if I signed in using this link, it would display my student's information. So I signed in at the link, fortunately remembering my username and password.

I should have known I was in for it when I was asked to enter my returning student's name, despite what the email from the school told me. After filling in that form, I came to a screen that instructed me to click the button labeled "Add Student"--this despite the fact that I'd already filled in the student's name, and that a little link labeled "Start" was next to my daughter's name. I followed the directions, though. Doing so took me back to the ADD screen, which I did not want.

Trying again, I clicked that "Start" link and continued registration.

The form remembers none of the information from previous registrations. Everything must be entered again.

Although I checked the box for "Married" after "Parents' Marital Status" and then the box for "Child lives with both parents" I still could not go on until I filled in Custodial Parent Information. The form is set up so that I would have to designate one of us as Custodial and one as Non-custodial.

I called the customer-service number of the management company that handles the registration website, but I'd have had to wait 12 minutes to (maybe) speak to a person. That's way too long to listen to cheesy "on-hold" music punctuated by smarmy messages reminding me how important my call is to them, so I bailed. I considered calling the school, as I've had to do at least once before when filling out this form and reaching this step. The whole process comes to a screeching halt because the system cannot deal with a child in a traditional two-parent household.

Then I noticed that underneath the boxed for "Name of Custodial Parent" and "Name of Non-custodial Parent" there was a check-box labeled "Not applicable." The same was true for the addresses (and phone numbers) of the custodial and non-custodial parent. Several checked boxes later, I was able to proceed with the next step.

I'm quite sure that it's not very hard to have those "Not applicable" boxes automatically fill in when the box "Child lives with both parents" is checked.

I was asked to fill in my student's religion in two separate places. Similarly, I had to fill in the names of both parents, and our address, several times throughout the process.

If all this is tied to an account that I created years ago, why doesn't it remember any of that information?

I did notice at the end, however, that it had my bank account number on file so it could easily and automatically deduct the registration deposit of $490. That was the only convenient part of the whole process.

That's right:  it doesn't remember my kid, my address, my phone number, my religion, or what to do when both parents live in the same house, but it's got access to my checking account. That's more than a little unsettling.