Thursday, June 4, 2009

We're Movin' On UP!

God's Smallest Graces has moved up to the big time - it's own website!

It is now Halala Mama and you can find it at along with an explanation of how I chose such a crazy name on the "about" page.

I'm THE mom

It's official. I am the mom in the household.

Last night I stood in front of my 47 eighth graders in our new church and read each name as they came up to recieve their "diplomas" from Fr. Dan. This ceremony is largely symbolic as an eighth grade diploma makes no one marketable for a job, but it is a good transition from the things of childhood to the slightly more grown up world of high school.

When I finally made my way home, my husband greeted me with the information that Adam had a large, angry looking red patch on his back. He detailed what he had done in an effort to make the baby more comfortable and then left it in my hands to solve.

What I realized is that this is a bit of a change in my relationship with my husband. He has faith in me as a mother to do whatever is appropriate to heal our son. He doesn't know what to do, but believes in me to handle it.

I am not only a mom, now I am the mom in our house.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping...into the future

Adam laid happily on his blanket last night, grabbing my toes. I didn't really pay attention until he pinched my toe - really hard!

I looked down to see that he had inserted my big toe in his mouth and his two lower pirahna teeth were shredding it. And this from the boy who will have nothing to do with holding his own bottle.

Things like that gross Ismael out to the fullest. Our conversation was riveting:

Isma: "Did you wash your toes?"

Me: "Yes, in that driving hailstorm I just went out in to move the car to the carport. You could have done that for me you know."

Isma: "Wash the boy's mouth out."

And so goes another exciting evening in our home.

But lately, I've looked at my ever-changing, almost eight month old son, and I have the growing sense that infancy as we have known it is over. He can roll over now, but he won't cuddle into sleep on my chest any more. He can sit up, but he can't wear those darling little baby clothes. He can eat some more substantial food, but he can't fit into his infant carrier seat.

He's my baby, but he's not an infant.

Of course, I want him to grow up, but I think I want a few more months of infancy first.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Help Wanted: A Personal Censor

I have been through a lot as a teacher. I have managed to do most of it without cussing. Until today.

Now by a lot, I mean I have led 40 or more 14 year olds through the nation's capital in all kinds of weather, through countless security screens, and across the lawn of Mount Vernon in the course of 100 straight hours of field trip bliss. If your child's teacher so much as takes your kid's class to an apple orchard, go buy her a gift. Right now. A trip is a lot of work.

So yes, the list would go on and on and on of what I have encountered during thirteen years of teaching.

It should be no surprise that I was in
"work" Wal-Mart this morning at 6:30 AM buying file folders and document frames for tomorrow's graduation service.

As I rounded the corner at Men's clothing to head for the check out, I heard an unfortunately familiar sound:

KKKSssssshhhh...ting, ting, ting...

It sounded like a thousand fairies laughing. at. me.

I would like to have a moment of silence for the two document frames who gave their lives due to the reckless abandon with which I steer a cart. Did I mention it was not even seven AM yet?

I cleaned up the chunky parts of my mess, careful not to add "stitches" to my story of how my morning could have been better. There was no way I was coming back later, so I went back and picked up two more frames, nestling them deeper in the cart to prevent further leaps to death.

Let me tell you.... Trish at the check out was real glad to see me this morning as I explained why I was holding two empty frames and a bunch of broken glass. I'll bet she was thinking, "all this before 7 AM? Aren't I one lucky woman?"

Later, on the way to graduation practice in the front row of an un-airconditioned school bus with 47 eighth graders, my partner teacher, and my principal, I related the early morning's events.

My partner teacher asked, "So do you need to go back and get more frames?"

I practically shouted an emphatic, "Ooooh HELL NO."

Oh now that's nice.

My partner teacher pretended I didn't say anything inappropriate while internally praising God that it wasn't WORSE than that because heaven knows, I like a good curse word.

My principal smiled faintly, likely due to the horrified look on my face.

I wondered where the filter between my brain and mouth went? Perhaps on summer vacation a few days early? I apparently need my own personal censor to follow me around with an air horn to bleep out my inappropriate remarks.

God only knows what I might say at graduation tomorrow night, in the church, on the microphone, and in front of the parents and priest....

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Chrism Filled Baptism

I have a tendency to play an event out in my mind before it happens, in preparation, I suppose.

These little "pre"- creations tend to consider the worst possible sequence of events and how I might handle them.

I am an incurable optimist.

My biggest fear about Adam's baptism was that he would vomit neon orange carrots all over his priceless baptismal outfit. Seriously, JC Penny? Fifty bucks for something he will wear once??

My second fear was that he would continue his new habit of groaning through the entire thing, which would make the priest consider an exorcism rather than a baptism.

I could not have foreseen the two, rather minor, problems that did arise: sandals and chrism.

After having tan and white food all Sunday morning (I'm learning to match his foods to his clothing), I dressed Adam in a shorts outfit and sandals. During mass, I knelt down to pray as holy a prayer as I could muster while Adam kicked me repeatedly in the butt.

He managed to flip one of his sandals into the air and hit himself in the head with it.

His startled cry was soon replaced with an honest wailing. The thunk on the head must have reminded him that he needed a V8....totally out of the question because it didn't match his clothing.

After a quick trip to the gathering space where he downed an entire 8 ounces of formula, I wrestled him into his little suit. I would like to personally thank the genius who thought placing buttons on the BACK of the long sleeved shirt was a good idea. It was like wrestling a spider monkey on speed into a straight jacket.

He sure was cute though.

The service went fine with Father Kevin motoring through the required readings so fast that most of our guests couldn't understand him. The stole was placed, the candle lit, the water poured, and the chrism applied in record time.

The chrism. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia chrism is olive oil mixed with balsam which gives it a "sweet fragrance."

It flat out stinks. It's a sharp, sinus piercing, sit up and take notice kind of stink. And Father Kevin smeared Adam's head with a huge handful of the stuff. It was practically dripping off of his teeny tiny little bangs.

My previously placid son, in trying to located the source of the stink, began nodding his head vigorously. Against my face. Now I had chrism all over my nose, upper lip, and chin.

It's like taking the worst smelling substance possible and cramming it in your own nostrils.

Trying to be cool about it, since Father Kevin was racing through the last few prayers, I wiped my nose and lip carefully. Apparently chrism has the magical powers of melting lipstick, because I had a nice rose colored streak on the back of my hand.

I would like to say I prayed for my son and a grace filled life.

Instead I panicked that lipstick might be either smeared across my cheek or dripping down my chin.

It's my optimist streak at work again.

According to the "after" pictures, it seems that my panicking was for naught.

Ismael was fairly silent through this whole process. These are not his traditions, not his ways, yet he knew it was important to me. He was present, attentive, and supportive, if not a little uncomfortable. Ahh..the things we do for those we love.

Except tolerate chrism.
As we left the church, he held Adam high in the air and declared, "Boy! You need a bath! You STINK!" To which the boy nodded vigorously in assent.