Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Eat That

Mom: "Madeline, you need to eat some supper. Eat your chicken."
(Madeline shakes head.)
Mom: "Madeline, eat that chicken. It's good. You are not going to die from eating chicken."
Amanda: "Well, unless the chicken is raw and you contract salmonella."
Elisabeth: "Or unless there's a bone in the chicken and you swallow it and it gets stuck in your throat and you choke."
Benjamin: "Or you choke on the skin."
(Madeline gives Mom a knowing look and continues dipping strawberries in ketchup.)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

When Parenting Is Hard (All the Time)

Lately, things seem a bit rocky in Krinkeland. Well, maybe rocky is not the right word... maybe middle-school is more accurate... maybe EIGHTH-GRADE is the most accurate. I should not be complaining, because I just got a few days "off." However, if I showed you the pages and pages of texts that came in from the daughters each morning beginning at 7 a.m. you might have a little bit of sympathy/empathy. We all know a parent's work is never done!

Here is just a sampling of some of the issues over which our family has recently discussed, or had heated discussions (or really done battle):

movie ratings and appropriateness of content
respect for teachers 
pet care
using body part names as insults
respect for self
screen time
eye makeup
eye rolling
respect for other adults 
drama and gossip
drinking soda
social time with friends
t-shirt necklines
Homecoming dresses (No, no one went to the Homecoming dance-- it was a philosophical discussion.)
respect for me

Maybe that non-all-inclusive list gives you a bit of comfort to know you are not alone in your parenting struggles. I was comforted reading this:

Monday, September 28, 2015

Quite a Vocabulary

I was going through the stack of papers and assignments my kids completed last week in my absence when one of The Boy's caught my eye because of all the red ink. When I examined the work, I was appalled by my son's lack of motivation but amused by his teacher's response:

Naturally, I called him over and asked him to read aloud his teacher's remarks. (He got hung up on the word "variety," so it's a good thing I did.) "Huh," he remarked. "She never explained that part of the assignment." I patted his shoulder, "Well, Son, I think it's common sense."

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Total Eclipse of the Career Goals

I let the kids stay up a bit past bedtime to watch the supermoon eclipse, because I am a good mom and I am the daughter of a science teacher.

Little Girl told me she was going to go to the moon and study science and be an ass-tronaut when she grows up. I told her if she works hard she absolutely can do that. 

M: "Yeah, and when I get to the moon, I am going to shoot all those aliens that love there."
M: "Well, honey, the thing is-- there are no aliens."
M: "Yes there are... like on 'Halo.'"
M: "I don't know who let you see that game, but there are no aliens."
M: "Huh. Well, then, I don't want to go to the moon. I 'specially don't want to wear those diapers. That would be SO uncomfortable!"

The Accidental Pilgrim

One of my closest friends and I just turned 40.  OK, we both turned 40 one year one month and one year two months ago, respectively, but we were kind of in denial about it... Plus, we've been busy.  We decided we should go on a trip to mark the occasion, because she was dealing with some personal stuff in her life that made her not excited about having a party and also because I hate parties.  We are quite compatible travel companions: she is brave and street-smart and up for anything, but she has a horrible sense of direction and she packs enough clothes for eight of us; I am anxious and wary of new situations, but I bring extra cash, I am really good at following directions and remembering where I've been, and I take only a few minutes to get ready to go out at night.  When my friend suggested months ago that she would have business in New York in September, it was a no-brainer that I would tag along.  She would be all executive and stuff during the day while I window shopped and picked up show tickets, and then we would have our time together each evening.
I managed to get through the trip planning and arrival in Manhattan with a minimum of hyperventilation.  My friend had flown out ahead of me, so I was playing catch-up... waiting in the airport shuttle while hordes of others piled in and the list of hotel stops grew.  As we slowly inched out into that famous traffic, I became aware most of the people in the van seemed to know each other.  I asked what they were doing in New York, and they told me they had come to do security for Pope Francis's visit.  They were TSA agents from all over the country and they seemed quite excited about the assignment.  (Now, far be it from me to criticize, but I am not sure it was the most secure decision to immediately volunteer to a stranger that they were government officers assigned to protect the Pope... thankfully, a terrorist I am not.)  I did ask the individuals whether they had volunteered to come or been told by their supervisors to go.  One woman twisted around in her seat and asked with all sincerity, "Why would I NOT want to go?" 
While they were telling me where they were from and chatting back and forth, my friend texted, "Good luck getting here-- getting around is going to be awful this week, with the pope, the president, and the UN coming to town!"  Now, I have always been a news junkie-- plus, I'm Catholic, DUH-- and I was well aware of Pope Francis's planned trip to PHILADELPHIA at the end of September... But somehow it slipped my attention that if the pontiff was coming all the way from Vatican City to the East Coast, he was going to make a couple other stops, too.  Holy Father!
I texted my daughters along the ride: "Just landed in NYC.  Headed to hotel.  Turns out the Pope is here this week, too!"  Elisabeth wrote back: "Cool.  Have you seen him yet?"  Me: "Well, no.  He hasn't arrived yet.  Plus, it's a pretty big city."  She: "Cool. Tell me when you see him."
I Googled the great leader's agenda and discovered he would be arriving in New York the day before we left... and had one invitation-only prayer service that Thursday evening, followed by two, larger public events late in the day on Friday.  Tickets, however, were required for both Friday events; also, they were both within hours of my flight home, so attending one of those was not in the cards.
When finally I reached the hotel and my friend, I confessed, "I really didn't know Pope Francis was going to be here when we were.  Now that I know that, I kind of need to try and see him."  My Christian-non-Catholic, incredibly supportive friend gave her signature, "I'm up for anything!"  And then we hopped a cab to the theater, followed by pastrami and cheesecake because-- New York. 
As our trip progressed, I became further resolved to see Pope Francis.  I don't even know if I can explain this drive.  I am not starstruck nor drawn to power.  I have had opportunity in my life to meet many strong leaders and celebrities, and I never think of them as anything more than human.  I am also a "cradle Catholic" with a deep love for my Church and for this particular man who leads it.  I am thrilled by the messages of love and forgiveness he is sending out to the world.  Even when people misquote him or misinterpret his message (which happens all the time) I generally let it go because the overall sentiment is one of unity and peace.
I realized my only opportunity to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis would be on Thursday evening, shortly after he landed in New York, when his motorcade would travel to St. Patrick's Cathedral for that prayer service.  During that day-- really, during the whole week-- there was a different feeling in New York.  I am far from an expert, having only visited occasionally as a tourist, with my mission mostly Broadway-driven...  But I will say many of the stereotypes are true: fast talking, fast walking, rudeness and lack of regard for one another, lack of patience for tourists, pushing, profanity.  This week, however, simply felt calmer, happier.
Thursday morning, September 24, when it was so warm and sunny, I was walking along Seventh Avenue behind a small group of nuns in white habits.  There was a truck along the curb doing drink sampling, and a woman was handing out cold bottles of flavored water.  As the religious women approached, the promoter raised her voice and said, "I'm getting low on drinks here, but let's save some for the sisters!  We have to be sure these nuns get something cold to drink!"  The women quietly but graciously accepted the bottles, and continued walking.  Further down the block, they wordlessly handed off their drinks to some homeless men.
This happened everywhere.  I spotted nuns in their various habits, and my friend took photos because some of the outfits were really beautiful.  Groups wore brightly colored, matching t-shirts advertising their youth groups or home parishes or missions.  Bishops strolled in their cassocks and people on the street yelled, "Hey, Bishop!" and stopped them to take selfies.  You just don't see that every day.
Later in the afternoon, I changed clothes and put on comfy shoes.  My friend was busy working, so I told her I would go alone... just pop over to try to see the pope... and then we agreed to meet up for an evening musical.  Traffic had been more awful than awful, so I didn't even consider a cab.  St. Patrick's was a 15-minute walk from our hotel.  I approached from that direction and discovered Fifth Avenue was completely blocked off starting at 47th Street.  (The cathedral is near Fifth and 50th.)  Starting at 47th, metal barricades were set up, to keep the crowds on the sidewalks and also to keep them from crossing blocks to get closer to the cathedral.  I made my way a block or so closer and stood on the street corner where people were gathered six or more deep.  It was 5 p.m.
I overheard a couple standing behind me chatting and they mentioned to someone else they were from Minnesota.  We always find one another.  I butted in and offered to take their photo, and they took mine, as we introduced ourselves.  They were from the same side of the Twin Cities as I am, members of a large Catholic parish, and retired teachers.  He was, in fact, a Catholic high school teacher.  I asked whether they had planned this trip specifically to see Pope Francis and they said, "No, no.  We just arrived a couple of hours ago.  We are headed out on a cruise tomorrow.  But we just HAD to come down here and see if we could see him!  How could you not?!"
By this time, I had calculated that the papal motorcade would be arriving from the other direction, and, while we had great sight of St. Patrick's, we were just too far away for any real chance to see His Holiness.  I said goodbye and told my new friends I would text them any tips if I found a way to get a better view.
I zig-zagged and pressed on, but did not make it a whole lot further.  Streets and sidewalks were completely blocked by pilgrims or by police barricades preventing anyone from getting closer.  Whole office buildings were emptied along the route.  Those metal barricades were replaced by tall, chain-link fences that were hard to see through.  I tried to cut through Rockefeller Center and found the crowds lined up more and more deeply between the buildings.  I learned the streets had been closed all the way from 47th (where I began) to 57th.  I pressed forward, but became discouraged when I realized one cordoned area to my right was actually set aside for credentialed media representatives.  If the press couldn't get any closer, how could I?
Because I was alone, and otherwise unencumbered, I kind of slid my way into the crowd, until I was seven or eight people from the front of the line, and standing kitty-corner, about a block away, from St. Patrick's Cathedral.  I stood, and sweated, and waited.  I knew there would be crowds.  I could not have estimated the size of these crowds.  No one could.  People, New Yorkers, police officers all commented a singular phrase, "I've never seen anything like this."
It was so lovely.
The police officers would walk up and down the blocked Fifth Avenue, just watching, patrolling, keeping the peace.  Sure, there were a few groups of protestors against the pope and against the Catholic church... But, by and large, the chants, the banners, and the overall messages were positive, loving.  And every time a line of officers marched by, the people cheered.  They cheered.
I gathered from listening to the many conversations around me and from researching a bit on my phone that some people had been waiting quite a while here, hoping, like me, to catch a glimpse of the pontiff.  I got there about two hours before his scheduled arrival.  Some had been there since 5 a.m.  Some had been there since the previous Saturday. 
Those standing around me were largely Latino, talking to one another rapidly in Spanish, doing interviews with Spanish-language radio stations, following live, streaming coverage of the papal arrival on their phones, and singing hymns.  When they began to pray the rosary in Spanish, I joined in-- in English.  A tall, young man standing beside me bent down and said, "Thank you.  I didn't know what they were saying."  I asked the man where he was from and he said, "Jersey City, but this is my mother.  She came from New Orleans just to see the Pope."  The older woman nodded sincerely, and I thought, "Well, he is very tall.  He will probably see Pope Francis before the rest of us do."  And then I thought, "I wonder if I could get on his shoulders?"  but I didn't ask.
As the pope's arrival time approached, the crowd grew louder.  They were yelling out updates and directions to everyone.  They held up signs and photos of their families, and they sang some more.  A collared priest near me had the most beautiful voice, and he just kept singing.
With much pomp and many, many security vehicles, the motorcade arrived.  The crowd went wild.  My mom texted me, "Are you going to see the Pope?"  I responded, "I hope so!"  She said, "We are watching on TV.  Can you hear the bells?"  "Yes," I answered, "can you see me?"  (That was a joke.)
I held my phone in my hands high above my head for long periods of time-- thank you, CrossFit-- and I took video and photo bursts.  I haven't spent a lot of time going through the images, but this kind of thing seems to be the best I got:    

In the center of the image are the white bars and clear windows of the Popemobile.  I think Pope Francis, in the center in white, is waving.  The entrance to the cathedral is kind of blocked by the fence, but it is right under the American flag in the photo.  Here's what the "official" onlookers saw:

And here are some news links to the event itself:

After it was obvious the pontiff was inside the cathedral, I decided to leave, walk back to meet my friend, and try to make the curtain of the show.  (I was actually only a couple minutes late, which is pretty amazing considering how far the hike was and how many people stood in my way.  A late theater arrival is a major pet peeve of mine.  The Pope is about the only acceptable excuse, in my book.)  Most of the people stayed.  They kept vigil outside and waited for Pope Francis to leave the cathedral.  They hoped for another peek.

I was content.  I was not thrilled, because I really wanted to be able to tell my grandchildren tales of my time with Pope Francis, and all I had instead was grainy phone shots and the hope that he was in there somewhere.  But I was content.  I had coincidentally been in the same city as the leader of my church, and I had done everything within my power to get as close to him as possible.  I had made new friends.  I had been bolstered by the love of strangers.

It is well with my soul.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Polish Proverbs

I was looking for some words of wisdom to include in a birthday gift for my Polish grandma and I came across these gems:

Jak cie widza, tak cie pisza
How they see you, that's how they perceive you

Gdyby kózka nie skakala, to by nózki nie zlamala
If the goat didn't jump, she wouldn't have broken her leg

Gdyby kózka nie skakala, to by smutne zycie miala
If the goat didn't jump, she'd have a miserable life

Swój ciagnie do swojego
Same kinds attract

Kazdy sadzi wedlug siebie
Everyone judges according to themselves

Z kim sie zadajesz, takim sie stajesz
You become whom you befreind

Kto sie czubi, ten sie lubi
Those who argue, like each other

Baba z wozu koniom lzej
When the woman gets off the wagon, horses have an easier time

Reka reke myje
One hand washes the other

Lepszy wróbel w garsci niz golab na dachu
It's better to have a sparrow in your hand, than a pigeon on the roof

Co nagle, to po diable
The devil dictates when you're in a hurry

W zdrowym ciele, zdrowy duch
Healthy soul in a healthy body

Madry Polak po szkodzie
Smart pole after the damage is done

Co kraj to obyczaj
Each country has it's own tradition

Co cialo lubi, to dusze zgubi
What likes the body will lose the soul

Komu pora, temu czas
When it's your time, you have to go

Kwiat bez zapachu, jak czlowiek bez duszy
A flower without a smell is like a man without a soul

Komu w droge, temu gwózdz w noge
who wants/needs to leave, stick a nail in 
his foot

Moja dupa i twoja twarz to blizniacy
My arse and your face are twins

Sukces ma wieju ojców, porazka jest sierota
A success has many fathers, a failure is an orphan

Musi to na Rusi, a w Polsce jak kto chce
A must is in Russia, in Poland you do however you want

Kto pije i pali ten nie ma robali
The one who both smokes and drinks doesn't get roundworms

Modli sie pod figura a diabla ma za skora
He(she) prays but has a devil under the skin.

Pan Bogu swieczke, a diablu ogarek
A candle for God, a stump for the devil (said about two faced people)

Szczescie jest pomiedzy ustami i brzegiem kielicha
Happiness is between the lips and the rim of a glass

Jeden lubi grac na skrzypcach, a drugi jak mu nogi smierdza
One man likes playing violin, and the other when his feet are smelly

Ladnemu we wszystkim ladnie.
A pretty person looks pretty in every clothing

Nie chwal dnia przed zachodem slonca
Don't praise the day before sunset

Wszedzie dobrze, ale w domu najlepiej
Everywhere's fine, but best at home

Zobaczysz, jak swinia niebo
You will see it as surely as a pig will see the sky (pigs cannot look up)

Potrzeba jest matka wynalazków
Necessity is the mother of invention

Ani kura za darmo nie gdacze
Nothing for nothing

Bez pracy nie ma kolaczy
Without work there won't be supper

Bez soli smutna biesiada
Without salt the feast is spoiled

Bogatemu to i diabel dziecko kolysze
Even the devil rocks a rich person's child

Czekaj tatka latka
You can wait till the cows come home

Duch chetny lecz cialo mdle
he spirit is willing but the flesh is weak

Dobrego i karczma nie zepsuje, a zlego i kosciól nie naprawi
The good won't be spoiled in an inn, so the bad won't be mended in a church

Dopóty dzban wode nosi, dopóki mu sie ucho nie urwie
A jug carries water until its handle breaks off

Gdy kota nie ma, myszy harcuja
When the cat's away the mice will play

Historia sie powtarza
Something that has happened once can happen again

Gadal dziad do obrazu, a obraz do niego ani razu
A beggar talked to a picture, but picture answered nothing

Gdzie diabel nie moze, tam babe posle
Where devil cannot go, he will send a woman

Gdzie dwóch sie bije, tam trzeci korzysta
Where two are fighting, a third one wins

Gdzie zgoda tam i sila
With unity there is strength

Kuj zelazo, póki gorace
Strike while the iron is hot

Kto szybko daje, dwa razy daje
He who gives quickly gives twice

Kto rano wstaje, temu Pan Bóg daje
The early bird gets the worm

Jak sobie poscielesz, tak sie wyspisz
How you make your bed, thus will you rest

Kropla do kropli i bedzie morze
Drop after drop, there will be an ocean

Kruk krukowi oka nie wykole
The crow won't peck an eye of another crow

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Rough Reentry

Reentry is just rough. We're all having kind of a tough time with back-to-school. Amanda has a going-on-three-days headache. Madeline is constipated. Dad and Mom have both had back troubles. There's a lot of whining about reading and exercise and homework and piano practice. Everybody is waking up to early or too late... Going to bed too early or too late... That's about all I got for today.

Monday, September 14, 2015

What They Said

Here are some actual conversations in Krinkeland today. And, please, keep in mind: All the kids are in school all day, so this is some condensed humor for the few hours we share...

B: "Mom, have you ever been to Pearl Harbor?"
M: "Yes, yes, I have, actually."
B: "Was this before or after it was bombed?"

M: "What's THIS?!"
M: "It's a potato. We are having baked potatoes for supper."
M: "A potato?! Nice try, Mom. This is RED."
M: "Yes, it is a red potato."
B: "Ooh, are those those good GOLD potatoes?"

E: "Yeah, (boy's name) was touching your hair in music class today."
A: "What?!" (blushes)
E: "Yeah, he was sitting behind you and I saw him brush a chunk of your hair."
B: "Ooh, Amanda! He was sending you a signal of love!"

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

For You, For Me

Please offer up prayers of thanksgiving for new babies Julia and Faith.

Also, bless all teachers as this school year gets in gear.

And, I ask for prayers of healing for my sore back.

Thank you. Now, enjoy these gems.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Another First Day

Well, everyone survived the first day of school-- even Mom. It was different this year because Dad is out of town for work... We know he would be here if he could, but we are missing him just the same.

Amanda is an eighth grader and Elisabeth joins her in the middle school for sixth grade.

Madeline, in her new glasses, is a first grader, and Benjamin is in third.

Once everyone made it off the bus, had their snacks, told me all about their days and forked over forms to be signed, we had supper and cleaned up to pack it in for an early night. Benjamin said, "Oh, Mom, I need you to sign my planner. Don't forget-- we can do it in the morning." I replied, "No, Son! You get that planner and you bring it to me now! Bring me a pen and I will sign it this instant! Let us not put things off! Let us start the year on the right note! We are not procrastinators-- we are Krinkes!"

And then we all laughed because we know the truth.

I just tucked in all the kids, on time, in their exhaustion... except for the oldest one... Because, when I got to her bedroom, she was hunched over a notebook. "It's time for bed," I said. "What are you doing?" She said, "Oh, just some geometry I forgot I had to do." That seems more like it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Dress for Success

This girl. Lord, have mercy. I love her so much. And she keeps me hopping!

While shopping, Elisabeth begged me to buy her this fabulous dress. She knew well my opinion of such a dress... As I knew hers... But, still, she begged. I understood how fabulous she thought it was, and, at $2, it was cheaper than her earlier request of a ream of colored paper at the office supply store (don't ask.) Finally, I consented, as long as she agreed the dress would be for play only, and would never leave our house. She immediately agreed and thanked me all the way home.

When we got home, she ducked into the bathroom, put on the dress, and began prancing and posing around the house. Yes, just like that. Libby was talking, "Oh, I just love this dress so much! It's so PROFESSIONAL! I can't wait till I am a grown-up and then I can wear PROFESSIONAL dresses like this every day!"

I know what you're all thinking, because I am thinking it, too. Let's just continue to pray she chooses a different PROFESSION.