Monday, August 27, 2012

Now what do I do?

A look back at last year's first day of school when Helena headed off to kindergarten and my entire world changed in an instant.  I think I've recovered and I coped fairly well today.  There were lots of new kindergartners today, so I'm sure many, many Moms out there who exhaled today for the first time in what seems like forever. 

I can’t believe it!  (And by can’t, I mean don’t want to.)  It started with, “I can’t believe Helena will be starting Kindergarten soon.”  It morphed into, “I can’t believe Helena will be starting Kindergarten next year.”  Then, “I can’t believe Helena will be starting Kindergarten in the fall!”  And now… Helena will be starting Kindergarten in…days!

What the heck happened?  I remember sitting at a school Mass last spring with Helena beside me and thinking, wow, next year I will be back here all alone.  Right on cue, Helena “whispered” to me, “Mommy, next year you get to drink coffee and watch TV and I’ll be in Kindergarten!” This has been her response for the last year or so every time I ask her what am I going to do next year.  I can’t believe she’s so ready and I’m so not.

With the eldest, the first day of school has become bittersweet.  I still cry after walking her to class, but they are genuinely happy tears over her love of learning that has continually blossomed since she stepped foot in HGA as a tiny, 3‑year‑old preschooler.  I love that the idea of school makes her bounce out of bed each morning.  Part of me is sad over not having her home every day where I can witness how ridiculously fast she is growing up.  The other part of me is like the guy in the back to school commercial – you know the one – dancing through the aisles to “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

I’m sure most of us play the back and forth game all summer, entertaining the mental melee of wanting the lazy summer days to last forever and get these kids back to that school before BCCYS shows up!  The best thing about back to school at HGA though is HGA itself.  Since Farren started school here, the Parish and the school have become a second home for us and a crucial part of our faith.

When I see what a sad state this world is often in, it brings me great comfort to know that each day my girls will be wrapped in love in the little cocoon that is HGA.  Some criticize a Catholic education as being too safe, not diverse enough, and not a true reflection of the “real world.”  That’s okay with me.  I’ll keep my girls in the HGA cocoon as long as possible.   There will be plenty of time for the real world later on.  In the meantime, they are gaining the wisdom, knowledge, faith and fortitude they will need to  take on the real world soon enough.

So, in light of this milestone back to school year for Helena and for me, in answer to the question about what am I going to do now, I offer the following to-do list to begin on August 29th.  In an attempt to keep myself honest, I offer two lists:  

What I’m telling people I’m going to do after August 29th…

What I’ll really be doing after August 29th…
Shed a few tears over my baby starting Kindergarten.....................
Cry the ugly cry all the way home, pulling over multiple times because I can’t see well enough to drive
Catch up on my reading of Chaucer, James, Whitman, Tolstoy, etc. ....................................
Re‑read Breaking Dawn before the movie comes out on 11/18
Head to the gym each morning after the bus leaves.......................
Go back to bed
Volunteer at all the places I haven’t had time for since 2002..
More volunteer time at HGA!
Organize 9 years’ worth of photos and keepsakes in beautiful scrapbooks......................................
Go back to bed
Attend daily Mass ..........................
There’s a Mass every day?
Mow the lawn so Chad doesn’t have to when he gets home from work..................................................
Pay the kid next door to mow the lawn before Chad gets home from work
Couch to 5K training......................
Couch to … 5 hours of TV and I get the remote! 
Couch to … 5 cookies that I don’t have to share!
Couch to … 5 hour nap!
Volunteer for lunch duty 3 x week
Savor lunch, alone, 5 x week while watching Young & the Restless in its entirety
Start knocking out those minor home repairs...................................
Go back to bed
Learn to groom Bella myself to save some cash ..............................
Drop Bella off at groomer and head to the salon
Get on my knees in thanksgiving for having been mostly successful in these first 9 years of motherhood ...................................
Get on my knees in thanksgiving for having been mostly successful in these first 9 years of motherhood.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Happy Feast Day of St. Helena

Our youngest little angel with the crooked halo has a very special name, Helena Caroline Christ.  Both of our girls actually have a lot of meaning behind both their first and middle names.  I hope to have as much input for confirmation names in the future, but we'll see.

When we were expecting said little angel, we had a long list of names to haggle over and haggle we did.  We agreed we wanted another family name and we agreed that my much-loved sister's name had to be included in some form.  We got a list together of grandmothers, great-grandmothers, their mothers, aunts, etc., and started to sort it all out.

The decision making then turned relatively easy as one name kept coming up over and over.

I never had the blessing of knowing most of my grandparents, just my mom's mom. The rest had either passed away before I was born or weren't on speaking terms with my parents or my parents with them - you know how it gets with families.  My husband however, fortunately, knew and spent time with all of his grandparents on both sides and even great-grandparents!  His grandfather, "Pop" is still with us at the sprightly age of 92.  Paul Winifred Christ lives on his own in the same house he's lived in most of his life.  Pop has been a widower for over 20 years.  This bachelor lifestyle has probably contributed to the orneriness often seen in people who are blessed to live so long.  The orneriness though is quite refreshing at times and is oftentimes perfectly delightful to have his unfiltered honesty at holiday dinners and birthday parties.  Pop (a.k.a. "Pater"), is one of seven children.  The rest of the Christ Clan was made up of Uncle Bill ("Peach"), Uncle Woodward ("Woody"), Uncle Norman ("Nook"), Uncle Clarence ("Tiny"), and Aunt Ferne.  Ferne never got a nickname - I suppose being the only female was moniker enough.  Their other sibling, Howard, died at the tender age of 2 so he hadn't lived long enough to get a nickname.  Pop is currently the last man standing having lost Aunt Ferne earlier this year.

All of these children were raised by one tough cookie of a woman named Helen Reber.  She dropped the Christ surname after kicking her no-good husband to the curb.  This was unheard of in her day and I can't imagine the backlash and whispers behind her back she must have endured.  However, Great-Great-Grandmother Helen raised her brood in a tiny little house in Laureldale that I think still stands today.  To heat the house, she would send Pop and his siblings to collect coal that fell from the trains that went by.  The stories of  "Grammy" are many and a wistful look always comes over the person or persons recalling them.  At the time that Ms. Reber was raising her family, prohibition was making it very difficult for a lot of people to self-medicate their way through the depression.  But, Ms. Reber had a solution for all parties involved.  She ran a distillery in her little home and used the money to raise her family.  I have a feeling this woman was tough as nails and tender hearted at the same time.  She knew what had to be done, so she did it.  As the legend goes, the fuzz got wind of her operation and Pop and his siblings had to dismantle the distillery and throw it in the river one night.

Having heard her story a lot of times since moving to this side of the Keystone State, I was on board with naming our precious little baby girl after this woman, Helen, who was years ahead of her time.  I have a feeling she didn't take crap from anyone, but obviously she loved her children in all the right ways and did her best with what God had given her.  Helen was a name I could get behind.  And, any woman who knows how to build a contraption that makes liquor - in your living room - is a woman I can love for sure.

Today, August 18th, I've discovered, is the Feast Day of St. Helena of Constantinople, mother of Constantine the Great and finder of the True Cross of Jesus Christ.  I'm sure I looked some of this up when we decided upon this derivative of the name Helen, but today I'm finding it all the more meaningful. 

"At the age of 80, Helena led a group to the Holy Land to search for the True Cross. On a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, she discovered the True Cross. She built a church on the spot where the True Cross was found. The Feast of the Holy Cross on September 14 celebrates the event. Thus in art, she is usually depicted holding a wooden cross."

I'm even happier today with our choice of names for our little pixie.  She has a nickname too, around here she is known as "Gummi-Bear."  She has proven herself already worthy of such a strong and well-storied name.  I can't wait to see what she becomes in life.  In a few weeks, we'll be attending a much-anticipated, long overdue Christ family reunion.  I'm excited for the girls to meet their extended family members.  I'm excited for our little Helena to meet all of the relatives who are here today because of St. Helen of Laureldale, Patron Saint of Making The Best With What You've Got.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Exquisite Value of All Women

What Guys Need to Know about Women
(So, make them read this article.)

 "Women have beautiful, essential qualities that add to – not detract from – progress, development, and success. We’re intuitive, creative, and sympathetic to the needs of others, which enables us to foster cooperation and caring. We have an innate need to nurture, which can show itself in countless ways that can be productive, uplifting, and motivating. We’re motherly (whether or not we’ve given birth), which gives us an aura of dependability, understanding, and trustworthiness. All women have these qualities at the core of their being. If any of us seem not to, it’s because it’s been neglected or inhibited."
Read the rest here from  Awesome post.