October 2012 entries
This weekend was insanely busy, even by Connor standards. On Saturday, I sang at funeral while Mike took the kids to the store to get a present for a birthday party later that afternoon. Then I had play practice at the high school, followed by mass at Lourdes, while Mike took the kids to the aforementioned birthday party at the bowling alley. After the party, he picked me up at the church (since I can't drive his car . . . a standard transmission) and then he took all three kids to a Halloween party while I went to see "Little Shop of Horrors" at the Community Theatre League with the Theatre Arts Club and a fellow English teacher.
That was just Saturday.
Sunday was our usual hectic schedule of masses and musical group rehearsals at Lourdes. We had planned to go to the pumpkin patch with Liam's godmother, but we opted out because of the rain and carved pumpkins at home instead. Then, I had play practice (we open next week, November 8).
I didn't have my AP essays graded. I didn't have a lot of things done for Monday at school. We were both exhausted and feeling quite cheated out of a weekend.
We were given a gift from the Universe today: a day off from school. My essays are graded, several emails and practical items were check off my seemingly endless to-do list, and we even managed to make gingerbread pretzels and watch a few movies. As Father Manno reminded me today on the phone: "Be a human being, not a human doing."
So while we held others in prayer as the wind and rain swirls around our little house in Montoursville, we have been blessed so far: no loss of power, no felled trees, no water in the basement. We are off from school tomorrow as well, and I am looking forward to working on the spring musical plans with my husband, all the while keeping in mind how fortunate we are to not have to deal with any significant storm-related problems.
And of course, we stayed one night at Aunt Betsy's farm before heading to Hershey. The kids love it there: from the chickens to the horse to the goat, it's always a blast! And, Uncle Bruce is a truck driver, so Liam was in Heaven!
Part of our Hershey trip included meeting the new babies of my cousins! Emma and Ellie! So adorable! Emma is the daughter of my cousin Trisha and her husband Chad (she's the one on the right in the sleeping photo, and the one on the close-up). And Elizabeth (Ellie-- the nickname we also use for Gabrielle) is the daughter of Trisha's brother, Paul, and his fiancée Missi (pictured together here). So many blessings for great people!
So, I did it!! 13.1 miles, in 2 hours and 10 minutes in HersheyPark for an awesome cause: The Children's Miracle Network!
It's difficult for me to explain how cool it was to run with 5,000 other people on a chilly morning in October. I started fast, passing the walkers and slower runners pretty quickly. I have a natural pace and even when I know I should slow down, it's hard to. I think that pace is around 8:30 -- 9:00 a mile. (This is not bragging-- I have a student who runs 5:30s. I am 32 and a mother of 3. I will never, ever, ever, ever see 5:30 a mile!)
When we ran through the Park, there was a live band playing. When we ran through the streets, crowds of people cheered and little kids lined up and put their hands out for us to slap five. The adrenaline rush was awesome...
Until the calm stretch around mile 8, when I realized that wait: I have FIVE more miles to go! (I'd never done 13, only 11...so I was expecting 3 more, not 5!)
A couple of hills and some beat up toes later, I pushed past the wall and came into the Arena, with literally thousands of people screaming-- what an awesome feeling!
It was almost as good as the trip to Chocolate World and the dark chocolate peanut butter milkshakes when I was done!
We've been keeping a family prayer journal. It's a simple notebook where we write down what we are thankful for, what we are concerned about, who we care about. It's nice to track our prayers; the kids like to see that God considered their concerns and helped their sick friends, for example.
The petitions have been fairly typical: help one friend who had her tonsils removed, watch over Aidan as he starts swim team, help Liam to have listening ears all day at school. Gabrielle, likes to test Michael's and my ability to keep a straight face:
"We need to pray for all the baby pets of the world, that they stay healthy and do not die."
"For people who are in buildings, that the walls do not come down around them and crush them."
We can't fault her for her creativity and her compassion!
Tonight, Mike and the kids picked me up at play practice, and afterward, my students were talking to Aidan, Gabrielle, and Liam, as usual. When we got home, Aidan asked me, "Mom, why do girls make googly eyes at me and pinch my cheeks and say I'm so cute?"
I answered, "Oh, it's because of your cute freckles and your funny personality."
He asked for the name of one of my students, "the one in the green shirt and pink socks." I told him it was Courtney. He said she was the one who pinched his cheeks. He wrote her a note for me to deliver tomorrow . . .
Last Sunday, many Christian denominations celerated "Respect Life Sunday," which for some culminated in pro-life protests like the "Life Chain" held on Williamsport's Golden Strip. These are not violent protests, by the way; people gather, stand along the road with signs and pray for an hour to raise awareness.
As I reflected on the effectiveness of the pro-life movement in America, I came to the realization that when people protest abortion, they sometimes overlook the root of the problem: we lack responsibility and respect as a culture.
I know I've climbed on this soapbox before, so bear with me. But, do we -- generally speaking -- force our children to face consequences? Do we thank the teacher who assigns the detention to our child who has broken a school policy? Do we ask for ways that we can reinforce positive behavior at home? Or do we rush in with a truckload of excuses and demands to change the penalty? Do we follow through on even a simple ultimatum made to our toddlers: "Behave in the store, or you won't get a cookie."?
I think we know the answer: we do not follow through nearly often enough. And, Dear Reader, you know me well enough to know that I am not labeling all parents. I am talking about the zeitgeist of our culture, the general consensus that parents seem to have adopted: the child rules the home.
The result can become that we do not hold our children accountable for many minor infractions, all the while telling ourselves "not to sweat the small stuff." The result can become that our children grow up to believe that they are rarely responsible for their own actions. There becomes a disconnect between action and consequence.
Are we really surprised, then, when some young adults and even teens want to deny an unplanned pregnancy? After all, how can this be their responsibility when very little has been their reponsibility before now?
We all know that a pregnancy may result from intercourse. If we are not prepared to responsibly accept the potential consequence of intercourse (known as a "baby" at the Connor house), then perhaps, just perhaps, we should rethink our decisions.
Today in my AP class, we discussed a piece called "Let Teenagers Try Adulthood" by Leon Botstein. The premise is that the last two years of high school are a waste, so we should cut students free at age 16 to enter work or career training. As part of his rationale, Botstein asserts that since young women begin to menstruate at a younger age than ever before and since young people engage in sexual activity at a younger age than ever before, that teenagers are mature. I posed this question to my class: "Is the fact that young people are having sex sooner proof of maturity?" To my joy, I was met with a resounding, "NO!" As one student aptly put it: "If anything, having sex at a young age is a sign of immaturity, not maturity."
This leads me to the second part of our culture problem: lack of respect. While yes, we do lack respect for authority and our elders from time to time, the respect to which I refer is self-respect. We do not consider ourselves worthy of a substantial love. Ponder how we treat the human body: we use the body to advertise and sell products; we use the body to judge one another; we use the body to judge ourselves; we use the body to rank each other; we use the body to endure mistreatment. We willingly accept a barage of images in which the human body is assaulted, maimed, abused, victimized, violated. In short, we do not value life in our society.
Even in the absence of a Creator figure, the human body is the most superior form, the most sophisticated form. Even from an evolutionary perspective, we should view the human body as the closest we have ever come to perfection. Yet we do not. We "hate" our bodies, we "wage war" with our weight and shape, we "punish" ourselves for dietary indiscretions.
Again, it's not much of a leap from disrespecting the body to disrespecting the life of a human child.
Responsibility and Respect: if we could revolutionize these two cultural norms, what a different world we would all live in.