Friday, May 30, 2008

Serendipity

Serendipity: the faculty for making desirable discoveries by accident (Horace Walpole so named a faculty possessed by the heroes of a tale called The Three Princes of Serendip) – Webster’s

This is one of my favorite words, but how often does it happen?
Perhaps it happens to some people more often because they are looking for it. . .

Serendipity
By Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller

Fate ?
Fortune ?
Destiny ?
(She meets her true love one day.)

Good luck ?
Karma ?
Coincidence ?
(She finds the talents God has gifted her.)

Auspicious -
Providential -
Serendipitous -
(She grows a baby within.)

Knock at the door –
(Knock, knock. . .
Who is it?)
It shall be opened.

Seek –
(Eyes open wide,
unblinking)
And ye shall find.

Ask –
(I know I don’t deserve it,
but please)
And it shall be given.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Road We Were Forced Onto

It was one of the top ten interviewing questions you were supposed to be ready for when you got out of high school.

“Where do you see yourself in ten years?”

You were supposed to present a picture in which you were a valued employee of their company, or had used your degree from their college to change the world.

But many students were taught to believe that they had to know where they were going in ten years, or twenty, or thirty.

How many of us are living the dream we had whipped up when we were teenagers?

How many of us wish things had gone our way, or. . .

How many of us are glad that they had not?

A nice middle-aged couple in my neighborhood was pushed into early retirement this year. They felt the “signs” were saying it was time to go. They put up a “for sale” sign and drove off to the south to find a new dream home.

Something told me that, in spite of the terrible market, things would go well for them.

Today they arrived home, declaring they had found a beautiful house and their present one had sold. I said, “It could not have happened to better people.”

I believed things would go well for them because they had a great attitude. I do not know these people very well and so do not know their religious inclinations, but their actions showed they were putting themselves in God’s hands. They lost their jobs and did not panic. They stayed home for a few months, making their house and yard beautiful, and came to a decision.

Some people call this “going with the flow”. But it takes a special person to really do that, especially when they have been taught all their lives to plan, plan, plan for the future.

When you feel God is taking your life into a different direction, you have to believe He knows what he is doing. “Where God closes a door, he opens a window,” my parents used to say.

When I get sick or injured, I usually wind up reading a good book. “Boy, if I hadn’t gotten sick (or hurt my leg, etc.), I would never have taken the time to read that,” I say to myself.

When I was unable to find a job in the field of Psychology, I took one in teaching. That opened up a whole new vista to me, and within a year I had become a stay-at-home mother on her way to homeschooling. Who knows what would have happened if I had landed a hot job on the fast track. I probably would not be sitting here writing about The Divine Gift of Motherhood.

Whenever people ask me about my plans for the future, I reply that I do not know what God has in store for me. Will I ever go back to school? Will I ever get a salaried position? Will I ever publish my (at present) unfinished books? Will I ever have another child? Only God knows. He has a plan for me, and He has a plan for you.

When you try to force your will on His plan, only unhappiness can follow. Your road will be filled with potholes and traffic jams. If you learn to listen to His voice, you will know if you are on the path he has chosen for you.

“And this will we do, if God permit.”
Hebrews 6:3

Painting “The Angelus” by Jean-Francois Millet

Thursday, May 22, 2008

How Many Square Feet Did You Clean Today?

I was fortunate enough to be able to clock my 4.0 miles on my bicycle and get it safely in the garage before the predicted deluge of rain came down this afternoon. I just love my new little gadget, a “bicycle computer” (by Schwinn, $10 at Walmart) that lets me know how far I have traveled this trip, my average speed, and time traveled. Total time traveled is probably the more important one, as the American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of exercise per day. But knowing the actual distance gives me more mental satisfaction. I reset the odometer every Sunday so I know my total distance traveled for the week.

I have never worn a pedometer, but know it is a beloved device for those who like to keep track of how much they have walked per day. I started wondering if there was some way we could keep track of how much cleaning we did per day. I think every mother thinks she must spend an inordinate amount of time cleaning. Magazines regularly report the number of calories expended per ten minutes of dusting, vacuuming, or scouring. But how many women do you know that actually keep a log (unless they are actually on someone’s payroll for their cleaning duties)?

What if we could attach a meter to our arms that would measure how many square feet we cleaned per day? This would work well for both types of cleaners: the ones who cover lots of area with a light “once-over”, and the ones who like to concentrate on a small area, carefully scouring until each spot is immaculate. Say you went back and forth with a toothbrush 100 times to clean the soap dish in your bathtub, while your friend dusted her entire living with a feather duster; both might be the equivalent in terms of square footage, although you were covering the same square footage multiple times.

I think this might give us some small amount of satisfaction. Then competitive super-moms could call their friends and say, “I cleaned 10,000 square feet today. How many square feet did you clean today?”

“How good God is to the upright, the Lord, to those who are clean of heart!”
Psalm 73:1

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Things That Should Not Be Attempted With Toddlers Around

I am able to write this afternoon because the project I had assigned myself during the baby’s nap time was done in ten minutes. The project was hanging a border in the second half of the laundry room. The first half I had hung two weeks ago, and it was such an ordeal that I had put off the second half this long, thinking I would need to allot myself an hour without the baby.

Well it went like a breeze. I had that thing up, with no mishaps, within ten minutes. So much easier than the first half. And why was that? I had done that with my toddler at my feet.

Foolish, you may think, stating what is now, to me, the obvious. My toddler was happily watching a Winnie-the-Pooh video in the living room and I had these rolls sitting there waiting to be hung. The instructions looked easy enough. I opened them, got out my two-foot ladder, wet them, and started rolling.

Two minutes later, I had six feet of it up, was rounding a corner, and my toddler started climbing up to join me. The water was dripping down the wall, I had a bubble to work out, and the first six-foot section was falling down. Having thumbtacks within reach, I hastily tacked up the portion I had done, and stepped onto the washing machine so I could get up the remainder of the roll.

So there goes another chore onto my list of Things That Should Not Be Attempted With Toddlers Around. (I have a friend, a homeschooling mother of four, who started to hang a border in her kitchen years ago, and never finished!) Another big one – which I discovered years ago – is Baking Things From Scratch.

When my first-born was little, I used to bake cake and cookies from scratch a few times a week. I was famous for them! Then my second daughter came along, and something happened. A hard, flat Hershey’s Cocoa cake came to my in-laws in place of the scrumptious temptation I was used to bringing.

What could have happened? I went through my mind, imagining myself putting the ingredients into the bowl. Cracking the eggs – no, that hadn’t happened. No eggs! No wonder!

Another time, I left out the sugar. Even worse, one time I forgot the flour. That was hardly fit for the birds. Yet another time, I doubled the sugar. Why don’t we just eat out of the sugar bowl, my husband joked.

I finally declared that I was unable to concentrate on a recipe from start to finish with two little ones running around, and gave it up for several years. Baking from scratch is one of those things I now only attempt when the kids are in school and the baby is napping.

“What is too sublime for you, seek not,
into things beyond your strength search not.
What is committed to you, attend to;
For what is hidden is not your concern.
With what is too much for you meddle not,
When shown things beyond human understanding.”
Sirach 3:20-22

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Longsuffering Love of Motherhood

“Charity suffereth long, and is kind. . .
Beareth all things,
believeth all things,
hopeth all things,
endureth all things.”
1 Corinthians 13:4, 7

This scripture speaks to this wife of almost fifteen years and mother of four children. . .

Beareth all things.
I think of my fourth baby, who would not stop crying through the “witching hours”. She would finally fell asleep while nursing in my arms. My arms would fall asleep with her, but I bore it because I knew if I put her down she would wake up and start crying again. At times I was so tired that I felt all used up. Her daytime joyfulness was my reward for these nightly pains.

Believeth all things.
When my seven-year-old daughter started school, she had trouble reading, and was so quiet the teacher thought she had a speech disorder. I believed in her, worked with her, and within a few months both her reading and speaking had turned around so that she was above average for her grade level.

Hopeth all things.
When my six-year-old son was diagnosed with a visual disorder, we did vision therapy together every day after school for a year. I research and prayed and took him for a second opinion. The second doctor found his depth vision to be above normal! He continues his eye exercises nightly but is no longer under the threat of the need for surgery.

Endureth all things.
A recent episode comes to mind in which my almost-eleven-year daughter got angry with me, stomped up the stairs, and put a hole in her wall. She was so upset when she saw what she had done that she was not punished for it. The slightly discolored section of the now-repaired wall will serve as a constant reminder to not act rashly. This is what caused my heightened interest in the season of “Volcano Dwellers”, as described in “The Eight Seasons of Parenthood”.

As I go through the seasons that are ahead of me, I know I will be challenged to apply this scripture through many different situations. I pray for the grace to do so.

Painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoire, 1892, Mother and Child.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Man Who Was Used Up

While my sister was visiting, we stumbled upon my library’s monthly used book sale. For $1.00, I was able to pick up a 753-page hardcover, library edition of “Sixty-Seven Tales” by Edgar Allan Poe. Then I put it on my bookshelf and forgot all about it.

My legs were tired and I needed something to read while I took a short break yesterday. Remembering the volume of short stories, I removed it from its resting place. Reading the description of one as a “brilliant story of humor and satire” and finding that it was only 7 pages in length, I put my feet up for a short interlude and enjoyed this story. (You can read it here.)

“The Man That Was Used Up: A Tale of the Late Bugaboo and Kickapoo Campaign” opens up with a detailed description of the fascinating and handsome Brevet Brigadier General John A.B.C. Smith. The narrator is intrigued by some mysterious quality of his new acquaintance and seeks to find out more about him. His social spies repeat generalities about the courageous and remarkable man, his fight with the Bugaboo and Kickapoo Indians, and what a wonderful age of invention we are living in! Not to be put off any further, he ends up at Smith’s house while he is still dressing. He finds that the General has to be put together, from his legs to his palate, and every single physical attribute about him is artificial. Mystery solved: he was “the man that was used up”.

A good story will resonate within a good reader’s mind for some time and bring out all kinds of new thoughts. Most of these are unintended by the writer. He just wanted to tell a good story.

I have always wondered about the increasing artificiality of many people as they get older. When I attend a social function, sometimes the most sing-songy hello-how-are-you’s ring as the most non-genuine and leave me with a sour taste. I wonder:

How many us have left a good portion of ourselves behind as we lose ourselves in the messy details of life?

How many of us hide behind a veneer as a protective mechanism so long that we forget who was there?

How many of us can’t remember who we were before we got married and had children?

How many of us, by middle age, are women who are all used up?

God turns Pharaoh’s heart to stone to enable him to repeatedly refuse the Hebrews their independence. But through the prophet Ezekiel he offers something different for his people…

“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26

In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C.S. Lewis (from The Chronicles of Narnia series; the movie is in pre-production for May 2010 ), Eustace turns into a dragon and can only be saved by Aslan. The Great Lion gives him a bath that one-by-one removes each layer of scales. Painfully they come off, and Eustace is relieved and born again when he finds himself naked, in his boy skin.

At our conception we were given a soul, and noone can kill that soul – not even ourselves. We can try to bury it under layers of protective mechanisms, but God can strip away these veneers.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Catholic Christianity

This Saturday I was able to leave the baby home with my husband while I went to my daughters’ softball game. I was actually able to sit in my chair, rather than chase my toddler around the ball field.

Neither of my girls were up at bat, so I was half-watching the game, half-reading an article in Catholic Digest about Walden Media’s upcoming “Prince Caspian”, when I was startled by a question.

“Are you a Christian?”

I had just finished the last sentence of the article, so I was not annoyed at the interruption.

I looked up at a tall, gentle-looking man.

Unthinking, I instantly answered, “Yes, I’m a Catholic.”

Then I wondered to myself, “Why did I just qualify my answer like that? Am I saying Catholic is a special brand of Christianity?”

So many things went on in my brain in the moment between registering the question and verbalizing an answer.

Why was he asking me this? I bet 90% of the people on this ball field consider themselves to be some kind of Christian. Must have seen the name of my magazine. But then he must have noticed it said “Catholic” Digest. Was he going to attempt to proselytize me into his Protestant sect?

“I noticed there was an article about prayer. That’s nice.”

“Yeah.”

Prayer is nice? What do you say to that? Why was he reading over my shoulder? I wasn’t even reading that article. I was reading about the movie producer.

Turns out he had two daughters on the team, just like me. They were the youngest of his brood of six children. He pointed to his older children, some in high school and one in college.

There was no more religious talk, and I was relieved. After all, I was here to enjoy the game, not get into a theological argument.

“There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens. . .A time to be silent, and a time to speak”
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7b

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Eight Seasons of Parenthood

I just received my overdue notice for “The 8 Seasons of Parenthood: How the Stages of Parenting Constantly Reshape Our Adult Identities”, by Barbara A. Unell and Jerry L. Wyckoff, PhD (Times Books, New York, 2000). It was a struggle for me to get through the first few chapters (hence my lateness in returning the book), and I wondered how their eight seasons improved upon Erik Erikson’s classic stages of development. However, I found many great nuggets of truth that I thought would make it worth while reviewing. I found the second half of the book quite intriguing, and the reasoning for their division of stages had become quite sensible.

The authors have defined three circles of parenthood. Within those circles are the eight seasons of parenthood, which are dependent on the child’s primary developmental milestones and approximate age. They have allowed for parents of children with special needs, who might be stuck in one stage for a lifetime or in between several different stages with one child due to ability to develop at a typical rate in some areas but not others. They also concur that those with multiple children must continually shift between stages, depending on which child is requiring the most focus at the time, causing increasing confusion and stress for the parents.

The First Circle is composed of those who are parenting young children. It was difficult for me to relate to many of the case studies of these earlier stages, as many of the young parents storied in the book had conflicts relating to working or staying at home, something that was never an issue for me. The authors also are very hard on parents they perceive as “controlling”, in situations which I saw as the parents reining in their children for their own good.

The Celebrity stage starts at conception and continues until birth. At this time the mother’s identity is being defined by the child growing with her, with the positives and negatives of all the attention being showered upon her, and her husband is like her Roadie, not able to do much fathering yet but doing what he can to support his wife.

The Sponge stage starts at birth and continues until the child is walking, or about one year of age. During this time the parents lose their former selfish natures. The baby is completely dependent upon them, and they are there to soak up all of their needs.

The Family Manager stage starts with the child’s walking, about one year, and continues through preschool, about five years. I thought the description of the family manager still applied to me, and would apply to homeschoolers as long as they kept their children at home.

The Travel Agent stage continues through elementary school through puberty, with a child age 6 through 12 years. According to the authors, the parents are now transporting their child from one place to another and leaving their children in the care of others. I did not feel this was a good description for a parent who insists on keeping the family a cohesive unit and who remains involved in each of the child’s activities.

The description of the Volcano Dweller stage scared me, and here is where I became intrigued. This stage starts at puberty and continues until the child leaves home. For those with children who fly the nest at a later age, they will be stuck in this stage for a very long time. I do think this stage could be much more positive than was described. I also think some of the problems described could be avoided if the parents steered their children toward the right “crowd”, something the authors seem to think is too “controlling”. They seemed to put more emphasis on how the parents FEEL about the crises raised in adolescence, as if hell-raising is an inevitability for all teens.

The Second Circle is composed of those who are parenting adult children.

The Family Remodeler has children who are leaving home and becoming independent, ages 18 to 24+ years. This was described as a very emotional time for the parents, who are having identity crises because they did their job well and the children have become self-sufficient. Apparently colleges now routinely give classes for parents that address “Empty Nest Syndrome”.

Plateau Parents are in a seemingly pleasant stage. Their children, ages 25 to 49+ years, are independent, the parents have redefined their lifestyle, and grandchildren may now bring up memories of the earlier stages. These parents may embrace grandparenthood, or resent their being needed again after having gained freedom of responsibility for their children. They may also now be responsible for caring for a parent.

The Third Circle is composed of those being parented by children, who are ages 50+. The Rebounder stage starts when the parents start to need to be cared for by their children. It ends with death, and how this is dealt with is very important for how the children will come through their own stages. Rebounders can be Proud Independents, Humble Submissives, or Aged Sages. The last is the most desirable, taking the best of the other two. They are able to gracefully be cared for without losing their independence of thought. Coming through each of the previous seven stages successfully are required for an old person to become an Aged Sage.

As they got to the stages I am just about to enter, as well as those I will inevitably enter, I became more and more intrigued. I found I could better relate to how my own parents felt, and presently must feel, in each of those stages. I thought of my grandparents in the end chapters. And it ended with one of my all-time-favorite themes, the Circle of Life.

I would heartily recommend this book, to better prepare yourself for your future stages, to relate to your friends who are in other stages, and to better understand your parents and grandparents.

Why Big Families Tend To Be Late!


I never used to understand why large families seemed to always be late. Why didn’t they just aim for an earlier time as a cushion for little set-backs? How could they be so inconsiderate of other people’s time? Why were we just supposed to be patient and “understanding”?

Before I had my fourth child, I tended to be fifteen minutes early for everything. Now, we average two minutes late for Sunday Mass and mandatory school meetings, and a half-hour late for parties and family get-togethers. Why might this be?

Let us take the typical after-school activity. I have done all I could to make the evening flow smoothly. I have dinner on the table at 4:00; I have worked out with my husband when and where he is going to meet up with us so my children can be at different places at once; I have all the uniforms freshly laundered and laid out; the checks and order forms for team pictures have been prepared ahead of time. Yet we cannot seem to make it out the door and down the street on time.

This is a 62-minute play-by-play of my children getting ready to go to their ball games.

5:00 I warn the children we are leaving in 20 minutes. I get the baby ready and make sure everything we need is in the car.

5:20 I announce: Time to go! All three older kids still need to use the bathroom and put on their shoes.

5:22 My son runs out to the shed to get his baseball bag, which is already in the car.

5:24 The phone rings. It is the classmate of my almost-eleven-year-old. I tell her we are on our way out. Is it a homework-related emergency? Yes, she says. My daughter picks up. It turns out she just wanted to know what my daughter had written in her journal entry for tomorrow. I am quite annoyed.

5:26 Everyone is in the car. I back out and drive halfway down the street. In the rearview mirror, I notice my eldest does not have her softball hat. I turn around.

5:27 We dash through the house, looking for the hat. I remember she was not wearing it during the last inning last night, and probably left it on the field.

5:28 We are driving again.

5:32 We arrive at the field for Minors softball pictures. The coach has the hat. My eleven-year-old has been asked to fill in during a Majors game at 6:00. My nine-year-old wants to watch. I have already asked another trusted parent to keep them until my husband can get there.

5:37 I drive my son and toddler away from the field and realize I have left my pocketbook at home. I need my cell phone to keep in touch with my daughters and husband. We drive back home.

5:41 I pull into the driveway, run in, lock up, and run back out.

5:42 We are back on the road. I take back roads to avoid rush hour traffic but we still are late. I had already let the coach know we would be a few minutes late.

6:02 We arrive at my son’s baseball game. They are just getting started and he runs to join them.

Phew! Everybody has been gotten safely to their locations and I am just a little hot and bothered by my children’s inability to be ready on time. The evening goes smoothly from here.

Did you follow all that? THIS is why families with several children tend to always be a few minutes late!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

"Clean House" is Not So Clean!

Not that I am on a letter-writing campaign, my next letter will be to The Style Network regarding their show Clean House.

I used to watch Home and Garden Television’s Mission: Organization” when my baby was a newborn and I was nursing approximately one-third of the day and night. Now I am no longer able to afford a half hour on the couch at 2:00 in the afternoon. One night while channel surfing, I discovered Clean House and found it extremely entertaining. Many of these homeowners have living rooms that look worse than my garage!

After watching several shows, however, I soon became disenchanted as I noticed off-color humor that was degrading to the people they were apparently trying to help. Frequently, a messy bedroom is shown, followed by the embarrassing question to the couple, “Is anything going on in this bedroom with all this clutter?” In one show, a filthy fraternity house was shown, attention being brought to an unsightly, unplumbed commode and stains of questionable origin. Was that really necessary? Another show highlighted the sale of a “vintage Playboy” magazine collection at a yard sale.

They apparently thought these were funny vignettes, and I dismissed them as one-time occurrences. But when a pregnant woman revealed that her Jacuzzi had been used for home birthing, the hosts feigned disgust. On another show, the final straw for me, the hosts said that the almost-two-year-old was still sleeping in the parental bed – and “more than must sleeping was going on” – she was still breastfeeding! Apparently this woman had a problem with “letting go” of more than just things, was the message they were trying to convey.

The practices of homebirthing and extended breastfeeding (which I am hoping to continue past the second year) are becoming increasing mainstream, and Style is going to lose a good portion of their audience if they keep up such antics.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Mother’s Changing Fashions: Form Follows Function

I often wonder whether other stay-at-home moms change their outfits as many times a day as I do. Form following function, and allowing for many fluctuations in weather, I typically change at least half a dozen times per day. This does not count the number of times I put on and remove my cardigan inside the house. Today is an example of a typical day for me:

1. Early morning: I don jeans, a blouse, a denim jacket, and sneakers to take daughter to school with education fair project.

2. Mid-morning: The temperature has risen dramatically, and I change into skorts, a short-sleeved top, and sandals to run some errands with my toddler.

3. Late morning: Time for a bike ride! I change into shorts and sneakers, keeping the same top, to fix a flat tire and take my toddler around the block a few times.

4. Early afternoon: Nap time for baby, work time for me! Now I wear my painting clothes and painting shoes to go outside and stain the shed.

5. Late afternoon: The kids will soon be home and I hate to greet them looking all grimy. I wash the paint off my arms and legs and revert back to outfit #2.

6. Early evening: Things are cooling off and the breeze from outside is making the dinner cold - as well as me. I run upstairs to put on a sweatshirt, jeans, and sneakers.

7. Later-early evening: We are getting ready for either softball or baseball, and the temperature will steadily drop through the next two hours of activity. I put on a second sweatshirt and carry yet another.

8. Late evening: Pajamas. Final outfit change. This one is my favorite.

[The drawing shown is of a Norwegian Bride in 1883. I cannot see a practical use for this outfit but found it interesting.]

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Will They Print It?

An Open Letter to American Baby Magazine
Re: Going Green with Natural Birth Control

Dear American Baby Magazine,

With four children, I have been a regular reader of your magazine for eleven years now. I was a little disappointed when I read the current issue’s article on birth control. It neglected to mention Natural Family Planning. Not your mother’s “rhythm method”, NFP is a scientific method of using a combination of calendar, temperature, and mucous observations to plan the timing and number of babies a couple will have. It comes with no risks or side effects and requires no medication. There is no better way for a woman to learn about her body, and no “greener” way to plan one’s family. My husband and I have been married for fifteen years and have perfectly planned our family using NFP.
Sincerely,
Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller

NFP and the Media

The current issue of American Baby has a big spread on birth control. I am sending them a letter pointing out that they neglected to mention Natural Family Planning as an option. As in homeschooling, the more people hear from us, the more mainstreamed NFP will be become. You can't get any "greener" than that!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Through the Veil: A Glimpse of My Wedding

Having my sister and her fiancĂ© Chris to visit has me thinking nostalgically about my own wedding. We pulled out my wedding veil and tiara, wedding topper, pictures, and box of leftover invitations and thank you’s. It will be fifteen years on July 23. In some ways it feels like yesterday and in others like a hundred years ago.

It was love at first sight for both of us, and an eventual wedding was the unspoken presumption. I was only twenty when we had a sudden, whirlwind engagement.

My father was recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and my family’s continued living on Long Island was not practical. They came to me with the news that they would be selling the house that summer of ’93. Would I like to come with them?

I had just earned my Bachelors’ degree at St. John’s University and had begun the Masters’ degree program. Kevin and I were in love. No, thank you, I was staying here, but where?

We went out that night with our mutual close friend, Ted (who would be our best man). He broached the question of our living together. No way, said Kevin. If we are going to live together, it will be as husband and wife. We know we are going to get married, so why not now?

We went to the priest and explained the situation. He granted us a four-week engagement. We went to the diamond store and, not having time for sizing, were able to pick out rings that fit.

When Kevin told his mother we were getting married, she was happy. So when would the wedding be? July. Of next year, she presumed. No, this July. Oh my!… But then they took it all in stride.

My father took care of all the arrangements. Tents, chairs, catering, were all ordered in his customary businesslike manner. My mother made sure her house and gardens were in their most lovely state, bringing in more flowers for the perimeter of the tent.

Our good friend Sean agreed to DJ for us and also took verses we had written and put it to music with his acoustic guitar.

Simple, black-and-white invitations were printed up right away with a one-week RSVP.

Ted threw Kevin a gentlemanly bachelor party while I went out with my two closest friends.

The rehearsal went smoothly, with a dinner at my in-law’s. Our families got along splendidly.

I got my hair and nails done, the nails for the very first time. Was I nervous? the ladies asked. No, why would I be?

Mom and I shopped for dresses. We went to around five places and finally came back to the first dress I had tried on in the local boutique. It was a perfect fit and required no adjustments, saving us time and money.

The most important item of my attire was the veil. I purchased a tiara and sewed on pieces to attach the veil. Mom purchased tulle and showed me how to sew it onto the piece that would attach to the tiara. It only took one evening.

Most family and friends were able to come, with a little over 100 people present.

My Nanna did my hair. I wanted it both up and down. Up for the classic look, but down enough to show off my curls. She accomplished both, bringing it up and allowing curls to cascade down from the ponytail-bun.

Mom did my makeup, simple and natural-looking, as I like it.

We drove in my Dad’s white Oldsmobile. We stopped for a few minutes by a lake so we would not be too early.

It was rumored that St. Rose of Lima in Massapequa had the longest aisle on Long Island. We were all nervous that Dad would be unable to walk down the long aisle but, with the help of his cane, he did it.

Mom fixed my dress and veil as I got out of the car. There was a light breeze. Now I was seeing the world through the dreamy light of my veil. There happened to be a church carnival going on in the carnival. It offered a surreal quality to the entrance.

My parents were emotional but it was my mother-in-law who cried openly, happily, when she saw me walk in. Tears of uncontained joy threatened to brim past my lower lashes and I hoped my veil would hide them. I walked past all the people like a dream. I can still see them as in a movie.

Kevin was far ahead, beaming with happiness.

We were there, and my Dad stumbled a little bit, not sure what to do with my veil. Mom helped him through the motion of lifting it. He kissed me and shook Kevin’s hand, with a look of full knowing that he was giving his daughter to a good man. Then I took Kevin’s hand, now seeing him and the world in full color, as we proceeded to the altar.

I Corinthians 13 – read by my college friend Andrea. A romantic selection from Song of Solomon – read by Kevin’s sister Bonnie. She really hammed up the part about the doe coming to her lover!

We had hand-written our vows and said them clearly, unhesitantly. When it got to part where the groom kisses the bride, he gave me a short sweet kiss and then came back for more!

Rice was still thrown back then, and we were pelted hard. It was in all our underthings and Kevin still had it in his ears days later!

Pictures were at Bethpage State Park and in front of our home. Then we had the best wedding any of us can ever remember.

If I had two years to plan a wedding, I would not do it any differently!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Not-So-Perfect Moments in Bicycling and Softball

We had quite an ordeal this week but the crisis is now averted. My nine-year-old daughter had a bicycle accident on Saturday at around 3 pm. She was riding her bicycle in the backyard and fell after going over a tree root. She fell onto the bicycle handlebar, in the left lower abdominal area, and came in crying. We had her lay down and put ice on it for about an hour. After dinner, she vomited around 9 pm.

We decided to take her to the emergency room at our local Catholic hospital. They took a chest x-ray and put her on an i.v. for a cat-scan with contrast. The i.v. needle was uncomfortable but she was very brave. We watched some Peanuts and Winnie-the-Pooh videos. We had some good much-needed laughs, enjoying the videos together. She finally got into the cat-scan at around midnight. The doctor looked at the results right away and said it was just a contusion, to take ibuprofen, rest, and eat a mild diet until she is feeling better.

She has stayed home from school and has been lying down most of the past week, subsisting on ginger ale, bagels, and Cinnamon Life cereal. She is in good spirits and says it is feeling better but still hurts. There is no school Thurs. and Fri. in the Catholic schools here.

Tonight she was on the “injured list” and sat out for the softball game while her almost-eleven-year-old sister played. She had a really bad first inning pitching. The umpire had measured out 45 feet to the pitcher’s mound. Minors ball is supposed to have a 30-foot distance. She threw a slew of ground balls, and soon the bases were loaded with walkers. She was so embarrassed!

She came running to me after the inning and burst into tears. The other children and parents were quite sympathetic. After she went back to the dugout, I said, “It never hurts a kid to have a small dose of humility on occasion.”

The coach was very supportive and let her pitch the next two innings. She did better, but she was still disappointed.

Meanwhile, my toddler was all over the field. She explored several acres of property there, getting herself hurt several times. It was past her bedtime and I was ready to hit the hay myself.

I have had one minor miracle this ball season. Last year, about a third of the games for my son’s baseball league and my daughters’ softball league were at the same time. This put me in the position of having to be literally two places at the same time on weeknights. My husband is able to help out on Saturdays. This year I carefully compared schedules and was amazed to find I had not a single conflict during the week! I was so thankful!

My husband got home shortly after we did and I complained about his work schedule, threatening to never go to a game again. But I was just letting off steam, and I will be happily back in my camp chair (or running after the little one) in a few days.

Painting by Greg Fetler