The offspring


No, not dandruff.  Gray hairs maybe, but nothing gross or flaky.  I mean the stuff inside my head.  I have too much stuff boppin around in there, which serves only to needlessly paralyze me from getting anything productive accomplished.  I’ve always had problems focusing (the ADD diagnoses finally came at age 39.  A case of NOT better late than never.) So when there are overwhelming amounts of stimuli around me, requiring my attention in some form or another, I do what any rational person with an anxiety disorder would do.  I avoid.  

While I may not actually be actively addressing any of the aforementioned shitbox full of stuff in my head, at least I can write about it.  Or bitch about it as the case may be.  Yes, this is heading toward the bullet points.  Bear with me dear Kitty.

  • Stress inducer the first:  moving again soon.  Yeah, cuz we haven’t done enough of that.  And even though one might think I’d have it down to a science by now, which I do, it isn’t any less stressful.  Particularly when I’m pretty much on my own with the packing aspect.  Oh believe me, we have definitely used up all of the from-the-goodness-of-their-hearts assistance we might have asked for from friends during our last 231 moves. I am on my own with this one!   All I’ve managed to accomplish so far, for a move that is scheduled to happen in T-minus 16 days, is to bring the plastic bins down from the attic.  That, and have panic attacks every time I open a closet in the house.  I swear, in the 6 months that I’ve lived here, things have multiplied like horny bunnies.  How all this crap manages to accumulate is beyond me.  Interestingly, the epicenter of clutter breeding seems to be in my 13 year old’s room.  Coincidence?  I think not.  This child saves every damn thing that gets into her hands: gum wrappers, clothing tags (“but mom! I love the little moose on it. It’s cute!”), study guides, scraps of paper with cryptic messages on them, pictures torn out of teeny bopper magazines (oh how I loathe thee, Justin Bieber), and too many unidentifiable things of questionable origin.  Most of which lives on her bedroom floor.  I think I may just drop a dumpster under her bedroom window and shovel it all out of there.
  • Stress inducer the 2nd:  the above-mentioned 13 year old girl.  I don’t think I need to elaborate.  She’s 13.  I can’t believe I ever thought 4 was hard.
  • Stress inducer the 3rd:  the spouse.  Or lack thereof.  I’m essentially a single parent these days, who just happens to be married.  The diner is consuming every second of his life, which though my logical self understands this, my emotional self is the main bitch in charge here.  It’s much more difficult to cope with than I’d ever imagined, particularly because in the few precious moments I do get to see him on a daily basis, he’s completely exhausted.  And by exhausted, I mean “cranky bastard”.   I depleted my stores of patience with this several weeks ago.  It sucks. I wish I was more understanding. I get a strong sense that he wishes I were more patient too.  However, I feel as though not only am I attempting (poorly) to cope with my own stress and worry about everything, I am bearing the brunt of his as well.  Add two young children, who voice their own anxieties on a rotating whine schedule, and you got yourself one crazy momma.  I am tired of explaining to the girls why daddy is never home.  It breaks my heart over and over again to hear them cry because they miss daddy.   It gets even more unbearable because I feel I have to always “prepare” the girls for the times he is home:  “Now girls, I beg you, please be on your best behavior tonight.  Daddy works hard and is very tired, and has little patience for any bickering or nonsense” (you know, like the normal behavior for siblings?)  But the pressure to be the perfect Cleaver family for him so he won’t get upset or show his temper is too much.  He is with us maybe 1 or 2 hours, 2 or 3 nights a week (I only count waking hours.  He spends more time sleeping here than anything else) so in that small amount of time, nobody wants anything but love and butterflies and rainbows.  And we all know how likely that is when it comes to kids!  Inevitably, one of the kids pulls the usual crap–eye-rolling or nasty attitude is the behavior du jour for the teenager.  For the 8 year old it’s whining or pestering the sister.  Again, it’s usually typical stuff that I’m inclined to ignore if it means an hour or two of peace rather than WWIII in my house.  So I’m not sure if husband feels he must step up when he is actually home, or he feels I don’t handle it like I should (in spite of the fact that I handle it all gaddamned day long) but he has a habit of overcompensating either way.  Not to mention he has even less than normal patience for the nonsense because he is exhausted or stressed or both.  It all adds up to ugly.  Someone always ends up crying when he’s home, and it’s usually me.
  • Stress inducer the 4th:  wondering how to cope with items 1-3

That’s where I’m at these days.  I’m sure there’s a silver lining in there somewhere.  I guess I could say it’s the diner itself, which is a great little place.  We seem to being doing a good job of making plenty of customers happy.  It is indeed the fulfillment of a long-held dream and I love seeing the business flourish.  With the diner’s lovely, curvaceous, shiny stainless exterior looking every bit as gorgeous as she did in 1948, I suppose I could in fact say she is indeed our literal silver lining!

Hanging in there…

I’m feeling rather scatterbrained and ADD this evening.  Sprinkle in some writer’s block and you got yourself one hopeless blogger.  However, I wanted to once again begin anew and attempt an entry a day for the month.  Gotta get those writing juices flowing somehow.  So here’s December 1st.  Wish I could say I was off to a good start!

Why is my brain scattered you ask?  Ok, so you didn’t, but I’ll tell you anyway.  Pull up a seat.  This will only hurt for a second.  (And it will hurt me more than it hurts you.)  Give me a minute while I attempt to reign in some of my flurry of brain farts…

  1. Christmas is a mere 24 days away and yet I am still recovering from my Thanksgiving induced food coma.  For shit’s sake, I’m still digesting my (delicious) fried turkey and yet I cannot avoid the constant, blaring reminders that I better:  trim the tree (gotta get one first), deck the halls, get a card-worthy photo of the kids, send the cards, visit Santa, and buybuybuybuy.  Oh and if you know where I can get my hands on those damn Zhu Zhu pets, drop me a line.
  2. Moving.  Yeah, the sob story continues.  We are desperately trying to find a decent house to rent within our kids’ current school district.  Apparently I’d have an easier time trying to find Bin Laden.  I guess that’s what I get for moving to Rural East Jabib.  We’ve got until January 31st.  tick…tick…tick
  3. Our Diner.  It’s still chillin’ down there in Charlotte, waiting for a cash infusion.  Making my husband nuts.  Giving us both major agida.  It’s set to open sometime this winter–God, Yahweh, Allah, whoever, willing, it still will open.  This Diner is an ongoing source of stress for us.  This topic alone could fill an infinite number of blogs.  It is certainly filling up an infinite number of my brain cells, as evidenced by the number of gray hairs sprouting from the area immediately above.
  4. My kids.  Status quo.  I have an eleven year old whose behavior is strikingly similar to that of a two-year-old.  My memories of myself at this age (ohmygod I am SO sorry Mom!) and her good grades are the only things keeping me from abandoning her at the Amish farm up the road.  I also have a six-year-old whose awesome hilarious personality is the only thing serving her as a means of personal self-defense.  Sort of like how a puppy’s cuteness is the only thing keeping her alive after she has peed all over your white carpet.
  5. Have I mentioned my job yet?  I am finally, gainfully employed!  I never would have imagined that teaching a roomful of snotty-nosed preschoolers would make me so happy, but hell yes it does!  Sense of purpose, feeling like I make a difference, getting out of my house for a good reason other than shopping, bringing home a paycheck…all that and more are making me feel pretty darn good these days!  Number 5 here is basically the one thing that’s keeping me from going nutty from Numbers 1-4!

So, there you have it.  Those are the biggest brain toots anyhow.  Of course there are vast numbers of other, silent-but-deadly ones jostling for space in there, but I won’t bore you with those.  Suffice it to say that the majority of them revolve around my ever-shrinking wallet (See item #5 above–I am a preschool teacher.  Read:  not paid shit.) 

However, I must also add that lately, no matter how much Items 1-5 are weighing upon me, I can end each day with a smile.  No matter how crazy the day was, no matter how stressed I may be about tomorrow, I can still go to bed feeling far more blessed than cursed.  No matter what, I know I can always count on the one and only thing that matters to me:  hearing “I love you” from every person in this house.  I don’t care if it makes me sound like a peddler of cliche…as long as I have that to look forward to every night, I know life is good.

Will you remember how we all snuggled on the couch and watched WipeOut, and made each other laugh until it almost got obnoxious?

Will you remember how you would ask me to hold you, even though you are all gangly limbs and wiggly bottoms and giant head that barely fits against my chest anymore?  And how I would do it anyway, and even though it was like rocking an octopus in my arms, it was still as sweet as when you actually fit in my lap.

Will you remember daddy’s patient cooking lessons?  How he let you sit on the counter to stir the batter before eventually graduating you knife handling skills?  Will you be able to recall the smell of the corn bread baking that you made together, from scratch?

When you are grown, and have your own children, will you continue the tradition of Sunday morning pancakes shaped like snowmen, cats or penguins?  Will you tell your kids how your daddy made them for you?

Will you feel comforted by memories of mommy singing lullaby every single night?  Will you smile when you think of how even when mommy was tired and cranky, all you had to do is say “please?” and I would lie down next to you and croak out the same song you’d heard a thousand nights before?

Will these memories manage to outshine others?  Will you think back to your childhood and feel happy?  Or will you struggle to pull these memories up from beneath the ones of these recent years?  These crazy days full of doubt, stress and near-constant anger and yelling.  I ask because today was a good day.  A very good day.  You swam and played and sang and danced.  You got a lot of love and attention from daddy.  You got a surprising amount of patience and tolerance from mommy.  And these are the days from which I want the fabric of your memories to be woven.  I only wish there were more like them.

Will you forgive me for worrying more about the dirty clothes on the floor than in how excited you are to have a new friend over?  Will you someday get your wish that mommy would stop worrying about how nice the yard looked and how clean the floors are and just stop and truly listen to your endless stories or watch your latest dance routine?  Will you be able to forget about how I got easily frustrated and angry about things that weren’t even your fault and took it out on you?  Will you forgive daddy for having to work so much, missing out on things that were important to you?  Will you understand that he truly hated having to do that?  That this crazy schedule and frantic phone calls and trips to Charlotte and whispered “discussions” with mommy were all so we could someday achieve our dream for ourselves, for you girls?  That even though we seem so tense and angry lately, it has nothing to do with you?  Will you be strong enough to realize that, and forgive us for not making it abundantly clear?  Will you trust the memory of us hugging you more than we yelled at you?

At the end of the day, when the darkness fills the space that had just been host to another screaming match over your messy room, will you forgive me once I gather you up in my arms?  Will that somehow melt the ugly memories and cement the good ones in your mind?  Can you then accept my lullaby and believe only those last words you hear before you drift off to sleep:

I love you.  I love you to the moon and back.

When my voice itself becomes nothing but a memory to you, will those be the words you remember?

While my landlord was busy being a major loser, and forcing me and my family to make some stressful decisions, everyday life has not taken a vacation unfortunately.  My kids are still on their vacation, and therefore, my whirly swirl of brain hornets have to be fogged out so I can focus on the little brats darlings and their needs.  Apparently, to my 11 year old, one of those needs is, as she puts it, to have “a facebook”.  Aside from my irritation at her syntactical choices, I am agog over this desire of hers.  For the past several months, she has bugged, nagged, begged, pleaded, and invoked the dreaded “but so-and-so’s mom lets her!” in a futile attempt to break me of my NO FACEBOOK FOR YOU rule.  Thus far, I have managed to comfortably hold my ground, without even resorting to “WELL, if so-and-so’s mom told her she could skateboard down the PA Turnpike would you ask to do that too?!” 

I am adamantly against my pre-teen using these social networking sites.  Nevermind the fact that Facebook’s User Agreement specifically states that members must be over age 14.  I would just prefer to see my child socializing in age-appropriate ways that involve real social settings, not virtual ones.  I believe that kids of this generation already have enough screentime distractions that are discouraging proper social development (not to mention creating attention deficit disorders of epidemic proportions).  The hours of tv watching, video game playing, texting and instant messaging are bad enough, in my opinion.  I try to limit screentime for my kids, but my 11 year old tends to co-opt the computer for her instant messaging habits on a frequent basis.  She chooses to communicate with her friends this way, as opposed to that dinosaur-aged convenience known as the “telephone”.  “But maaahhm,” she says, rolling her eyes, “I can’t talk to 5 people at the same time on the telephone.”  I’m not sure how you can do it online either, but hey, my addled, old lady brain can’t even figure out how to program the DVR.  Holding multiple conversations at once would surely cause grey matter to seep from my ears.  But somehow these kids manage it.  Unfortunately, this led to  the day my daughter began speaking to me using “Text” speech (“JK mom!  LOL”).  I knew then, it was time to curb the computer usage. 

Call me a curmudgeon, but I fear this generation is losing its ability to interact on a personal level.  I see it everyday.  My daughter has friends over and they inevitably end up either watching tv or playing on the computer.  I fear that their small talk or friendly conversation (actual speaking that is) is not stunted simply because they are surly preteens, but because they don’t know how to do it!  Give them a keyboard and they can chat for hours with someone across town.  Put those same kids in a room TOGETHER and they are at a loss for words.  Sure they might take 12 seconds to discuss where they got that cute pair of shoes, but within minutes, Emma is asking me if she can use the computer so her and her friend can “look stuff up”.  It’s like they are incapable of human interaction unless they have some sort of electronic apparatus in their hands.  Maybe I should count my blessings.  This could be a safe rehearsal for their adult years, when instead of a computer screen, they will require a beer before they can feel comfortable making conversation (it used to just be a personality trait, not a consequence of too much texting.  still is for some of us. ahem).  But hell’s bells man, those future frat parties are going to have a lot of “shit, where’s my beer?  I had to put it down so I could text Jessica” moments.

Seriously though, I truly feel that our children are slowly losing the ability to socially interact without some sort of plug-in crutch.  Kids today (oh my god did I just use that phrase?!) no longer know how to address adults or answer a phone properly.  They also have trouble waiting for anything.  It’s not an issue of manners—my children were indoctrinated with “please” and “thank you” from the time they could speak.  It’s a lack of experience!   They barely recognize a phone that doesn’t have a keyboard on it.  They are growing up in a world where shortcuts and instant gratification are the normal ways of communicating and living day to day.  Actually, I think it is affecting all of us these days, as far as the “quicker, better, now now now” expectation we have from living in a technologically advanced world.  Our kids though, are growing up without knowing any other way.  This worries me.

This is why, when my daughter asked me if she could “get a facebook”, I told her to get outside and play with her friends.  She whined and stomped, but she went.  Ten minutes later she returned.

“What’s wrong Emma?” 

“No one else is outside.”

“Really?  On such a beautiful day?  Maybe they are busy or out somewhere.”

And Emma’s response?

“They’re probably all inside, ON FACEBOOK!”

I can see that I will have to keep sticking to my guns. 

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I admit to being a Facebook junkie myself.  I do however recognize what an incredible time-suck it is, and that is one reason I forbid Emma from joining.  My brain is already down legions of  brain cells.  Hers is still growing though, and I want it to continually expand, not get stunted.

For me, Facebook  has been a wonderful tool for networking.  Oh and there’s that little matter of helping me find some long-lost friends that I never would have spoken to otherwise.  Facebook is fun.  I love peeking into my friend’s lives and their psyches (status updates can be an interesting window into some heretofore secretly deranged minds!)  It seems almost miraculous when I can click on an old friend’s profile and see photos of their children, who are currently the same age as I was when I knew their mom.  Getting in touch with people I haven’t seen or spoken to since college, but who have never left my thoughts, is an amazing gift.  Of course, there’s also all of those silly little apps, like Scramble or Useless Quiz DuJour that do nothing more than contribute to my neglectful parenting/homemaking.   Those are other reasons however, that I think Facebook is inappropriate for nonadults.  I don’t really relish the thought of my young daughter stumbling across “Which Sexual Position most reflects who you are?”

That is really my bottom line argument against kids using Facebook.  It is designed for adults.  Its purpose, content, ads, apps and so forth are aimed toward the presumed demographic—ADULTS.   It is clearly an adult forum, and as such, I feel strongly that my child has no place in that world. 

“Oh, but I made sure my child friended me so I can see what they are doing” they tell me.  I’m sorry, but I disagree with that approach for a few reasons.  Aside from the reasons I just stated, I also think it’s a bit creepy to be “friends” with your child.  Yes, I understand the reasoning to a point—seeing what the child is doing is somehow keeping them “safe” and reassuring you that they are as well.  For me however, the creep factor comes in when I think about the child seeing what I’m doing!  Now all of sudden I have to censor myself.  I would have to carefully consider everything I post, for fear my kid will find out that I pole dance on weekends.  (JK! JK!!)  Not that I regularly post dirty status updates (just occasionally), but I know that if my child could see what I wrote,  it would completely change how I use Facebook.  No thanks.

I enjoy my adult “me time”.  When I socialize, whether it be hanging out with my girlfriends poolside, barside or virtually, on Facebook, I prefer to be sans children.  Just as I wouldn’t want my daughter hanging out with me at a cocktail party, I don’t need her joining my social circle online either.  I’m fairly certain she feels the same way.  I also don’t have any desire to know everything she talks about with her friends.  She is entitled to a bit of privacy as well.  I am not naïve.  I know what I need to know, and pry where I need to pry.  I ask questions and encourage her to confide in me.  But I also feel there are natural boundaries in adult/child relationships, and frankly, Facebook falls under the “adults only” side.

“But your child will figure out how to do it anyway, so you may as well let her do it with your supervision” is the other argument.  I am sorry, but I don’t buy that one either.  I know this will piss some people off, but whenever I hear that line with regards to giving in to kids, I can’t help but think of the mom in my old hometown who used it to justify giving her teenagers alcohol for a party in her home.  She was supervising alright.  Through her sleeping eyelids.  While she was dreaming, a boy was downstairs drinking himself into a coma.    The mom woke up, but the boy never did.

Before you get your panties in a wad, I have to say I know alcohol is not on par with online social networking.  I am simply pointing out that we cannot parent by good intentions.  If something is inappropriate for kids, whether by law (as in liquor) or common sense (watching Faces of Death) or just your own parenting values (Facebook, for me), then you must stand strong and protect your children by simply not allowing it!  Sure, they may go behind your back and try it anyway—that’s their job—but if you are doing yours, you will probably find them out.  And then you can kick their asses. 

But like alcohol, I do believe there are personal safety issues inherent in Facebook, that require me, as a parent, to protect my child from being exposed.  Even if I were to allow her on there, with me as a “friend/spy”, how am I to then prevent her other “friends” from posting harmful things about her?  Is she savvy enough to know how to use the privacy settings so pedophiles and perverts can’t see the photos she posts of herself and her buddies?  And even if I taught her about that, have her friends’ parents done the same?  In my mind, it’s just one more potential minefield that my daughter is not mature enough to handle yet.

Parenting is tricky.  It’s hard and oftentimes downright terrifying.  (I’m still waiting for it to be featured on Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs”.  I mean, come on already!)  But I think one of, if not the, most important skills (art?) we can hone as newbie mommies and daddies, is being consistent.  Not just in our discipline tactics, but in teaching values and modeling these values ourselves.

It wouldn’t hurt to teach our kids the art of telephone manners though either.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go update my status….

Sticking with our “do it all at the last possible minute” agenda, we took Sophia to visit Santa this past weekend.  (Emma has officially reached the age of “too cool to sit on Santa’s lap, even though I think I still believe in him.”)  We fought the maddening crowds because it just wouldn’t be Christmas without standing in line for an hour to spend 3.7 seconds with Santa Claus.  What amazes me however, is that the same child who must sit on her chair with one butt-cheek hanging off the edge because remaining at the dinner table for 5 consecutive minutes is a chore, somehow manages to stand in line for an hour quietly and patiently.  Behold the power of the red suit.  I wish Santa would come to my house every night and just hang out on the couch while I serve the meals.

While we stood in line, I got to enjoy watching a lovely cross-section of the NJ parenting population.  Sophia was too terrified to speak or move, so she didn’t require much intervention other than the occasional nudge forward.  The mom behind me was obsessed with her kids’ hair.  I think she brushed it no less than 4 times before we got to Santa.  The child in question was a boy with a close-cropped do.  My favorite though, was the dad in front of me.  He obviously forgot that he stood among a large number of small children with virgin ears (or perhaps not, in the case of his own kids) for he dropped the f-bomb, s-word and goddamns like they were necessary.  Thankfully my child was too caught up in her fear of Santa’s wrath to pay much attention.  Oy vey.

We finally reached the end of the line.  It was there that I was assaulted by two unwelcome and simultaneous sights:  The Sign that read “Please refrain from taking photos of your child unless a photo package has been purchased.”  and the pushy elf chick who shoved the sample photos and price sheets in my face.  Beg pardon?  First of all, if I am purchasing a photo package, why would I need to take my own photos?  Second of all, no one tells me I can’t take photos of my own child.  I understand you want to make money, but this is my baby and she wants to sit on Santa’s lap and give him her wish list.  I do not want to give you 25 bucks for 5 photos that may or may not suck.  I want to take advantage of my free will and my free country and take a photo of MY kid. 

So I did what any badass wussy sensitive-to-the-small-businessperson mom would do–I handed my camera to my husband and told him to sneak around to the other side of the crowd of Elvin Gestapo and snap some pictures.

I guess the fates favored the enemy that day because they and that evil known as the “digital camera delay” resulted in the following photo of my baby with Santa:

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Well-timed evil elf dude. 

I guess the important thing was that Sophia got to sit with the big guy, and she didn’t cry or pee on him.  In fact, she was all-smiles at the end, and while I might not have a photo, I’ll always remember that hour with her and the dregs of humanity.  And she’ll hopefully remember feeling the magic.

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Busy weekend.  Late.  Tired.  Can we just get this over with?

A picture is worth a thousand blogs anyway.

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The snow didn’t last very long into the day, but it lasted long enough to give the girls a proper wintertime adventure.  It almost makes me look forward to the next snowfall.

 What a nice Thanksgiving we had this year!  For the first time in at least 6 years (it’s been so long, I’ve lost count), we spent Turkey Day with my parents in Pennsylvania.  It almost seemed odd not to be sharing the day with our surrogate family in Waxhaw, NC, as we have for the past several years.  However, being able to simply take a short drive to PA to be with my actual family is really very lovely.  It felt all warm and fuzzy (nuzzy) to be at my parent’s house.  While it wasn’t exactly Rockwellian in comparison (my parents ordered the food from The Giant after all), it was the place and the company that mattered.  It was great to be “home.”

While mom and dad slaved over the microwave (call humbug if you want, but I promise, you wouldn’t want my mom to be cooking anyway) the kids, hubby and I did something we’ve always wanted to do but haven’t until this year:  we volunteered at a soup kitchen.  Hubby’s restaurant cooked and donated all the food and we helped serve it at a church in a needy section of the Philly ‘burbs.  Overall it was a fantastic experience.  I was especially proud of my 5 year old.  While I figured she’d be the one to participate only under threat of coal and switches, she surprised us all by jumping in wholeheartedly.  I think she mainly just wanted to hang out with Daddy and  help cook, but regardless of her motivation, I know it was a great experience for her.  I hope we can continue to do things like this with her and eventually she will come to understand the purpose and will want to do it for reasons more altruistic than self-serving.  Either way, she had a great time helping.  I love a 5 year old’s contagious enthusiasm for doing anything that helps make mom or dad smile.  “Here Sophia…bring these sodas to the ladies sitting over there”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         “OK Daddy!  I’d love to!”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And you know the patrons got a kick out of seeing a cute little girl running around  the place.

Matt and Sophia with Buca coworker Caroline, carving up the turkeys.

Matt, Sophia and coworker Caroline, carving up some turkeys.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       My ten year old on the other hand…different attitude altogether.  It was sort of embarrassing actually.  She’s the one who needs to see how priviledged she is compared to others.  She’s the one I thought would learn the most from doing this.  Being the good Catholic school girl she is, I also believed she would have a well-developed sense of responsibility and stewardship toward others less fortunate.  HAH!  Little Miss Abercrombie and Fitch couldn’t have been less inspired to help than if Jesus Himself had asked her not to do it.   She spent the whole time looking like someone who was being forced to scrub toilets with a toothbrush.  I blame myself though.  I set my expectations too high for a girl who has spent the past 10 years living in a bubble of priviledge that sees no suffering beyond a hangnail.  How could I not expect her to feel uncomfortable in this setting?  I myself admit to feeling a bit weird there too, but at as an adult, I know how to hide that and just get to work and do what’s necessary.  Emma simply didn’t want to be there.  Not because she thought she was too good to be there.  Not because she was disgusted by it (although you wouldn’t have believed it by the look on her face).  She just didn’t know how to act and was overwhelmed by the strangeness of it all and by the hustle and bustle of what was a very crowded rectory hall.  I guess I can’t really hold it against her.  You can’t force a person to suddenly have feelings of “good samaritanism”.  But we sure as heck are going to be working on it!  I think Matt may have even threatened to send her back to Catholic school once or twice.  Hopefully it won’t come to that, but in the meantime, expect to see us showing up at the local soup kitchen a lot more often!

Matt's buddy, Joaquin, joins our family photo.

Matt's buddy, Joaquin, joins the family for a photo. Emma was still smiling at this point. Sophia is wiped out.

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