— 1 —
On Mother’s Day morning Leo and I went to Mass together. When we got home, he asked for paper and scissors and cut out a heart for me. Then his little brother had to do it, too, though he needed a bit more help. Those cut-out hearts, along with the sweet hugs they gave me unprompted during the day, mean more to me than any gift I can imagine.
— 2 —
We missed my sister Treasa’s birthday party last weekend because our household was under quarantine (not literally, but close enough), so we’re making her a birthday cake this weekend. I’m trying to decide what kind of cake to make. Do you have a really delicious, not too complicated, non-chocolate cake recipe you’d be willing to share? It can be any flavor that isn’t chocolate. It just needs to be something I can frost because my sons and I have a vision for how we are going to decorate it. And they also don’t believe in unfrosted cake since all they're planning to eat is the frosting.
— 3 —
I’m almost absurdly excited for Saturday evening.
Treasa, a friend, and I are going to a Bingo to raise funds for Teresa
, who is awaiting a heart transplant. I had no idea how many extra costs are not covered by insurance, and her family is bracing itself for the financial impact when her transplant occurs—and they are hoping that will be soon. If you live near Catonsville, Md., and are free Saturday evening, maybe you’ll join us for what is sure to be a fun evening! You can learn more here
— 4 —
I enjoyed this piece trying to spark a revival of the name Mary.
Don’t you love talking about names? My name was my grandmother’s name, and our—and St. Rita’s—feast day is next week, on May 22. I have always loved sharing a name with my grandmother. Here is a photo of her holding me at my baptism in Loyola University Maryland’s Alumni Memorial Chapel. (That’s Rev. William M.J. Driscoll, S.J., baptizing me.)
— 5 —
I had decided to watch The Little Couple every Tuesday night to watch their journey to adopt their son from China, and I haven’t managed to remember to watch it since the premiere.
So I’ve missed at least two episodes. I have decided that maybe I’m just not good at fitting TV into my life. One of my friends tells me this is why I need to figure out how to work our DVR.
— 6 —
Our sons have become obsessed with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I was afraid to introduce it to them because of the child catcher. I remember being petrified of this man with a long crooked nose who went around snatching children. But when we watched the movie with the boys, he was such a minor character, and the boys seemed unimpressed.
Our boys love all the music of the movie, everything Chitty Chitty Bang Bang does, and especially all the dancing. Watching two mini-Dick Van Dykes dance around the room has been a highlight of our week, whether the boys are using light sabers or flyswatters or butterfly nets as they perform “Me Ole Bamboo.”
— 7 —
On our way out of Mass on Sunday Leo and I noticed this sign for the first time.
We have been attending separate Masses on Sundays because of behavior concerns for the youngest member of our family. But maybe I should take it as a sign that we should try attending Mass as a family again.
Read more quick takes at Jen's blog. Have a great weekend!
May 17, 2013 07:20
By Rita Buettner
During our commute home last night, Daniel spotted an almost empty bottle in the car—leftover from days ago. He had to have it.
I don’t know what can happen if you drink something that’s been sitting in the car for days, but I'd rather skip it. And I told him so.
Daniel got very upset. He couldn’t move on, and he cried the rest of the way home.
Now, there are mothers who would sensibly have cleaned out the car after getting home, but I forgot. So the same bottle was still there when we began today’s commute.
“Mama, I want my drink,” came Daniel’s voice from the back seat.
I calmly explained that he couldn’t have it.
“Noooooo!” he said.
I took a deep breath and prepared for another argument. Then I heard his big brother’s voice.
“Little Angry Bird,” said Leo, and I realized he was talking to the stuffed bird in Daniel’s hands. “Are you thirsty?”
Daniel stopped whining.
And then I heard a very different voice coming from his mouth—the voice he uses when he’s pretending to be a baby bird.
“Yes,” he said in his sweet little voice.
“Well,” said Leo, using his own stuffed animal voice. “Here is a special drink for you—just for a baby bird.”
Leo’s bird handed Daniel’s bird an invisible drink. He drank it. The birds started playing together. And we had a pleasant drive to school.
Now I could have tried that. And I do need to remember to appeal to the boys’ imaginations more often. But even if I had, I’m not sure I could have sold Daniel on the idea. There’s something special about a big brother’s suggestion. Unless he’s deciding which of them gets the bigger treat, Leo’s ideas are always the best.
Do these boys argue? Of course.
They’re children. They’re brothers. They’re human.
But they truly enjoy each other’s company. When they get upset with each other, the empty threat is always “If you don’t do what I want, I’m never going to play with you again!” The most extreme punishment we have around here is making them sleep in separate bedrooms.
They have a special friendship—one that has far surpassed the hopes we had when they met a little less than two years ago. If you had told me then
that I would be worrying about how they’d transition to spending time apart when Leo begins kindergarten, I would have thought you were talking about a different family.
But here we are.
Tonight a happy, laughing—and not all that thirsty—Daniel had long forgotten that drink in the car. He was too busy dancing through the house with his brother as they waved flyswatters around and sang, “Me ole bamboo, me ole bamboo
,” from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
And even though I’ve made six trips to the car tonight to bring in groceries, stuffed animals, and discarded clothing, it’s only now that I realize that yet again I have forgotten that bottle.
I could go get it. Or I could wait and see what Leo has up his sleeve tomorrow.
What parenting lessons have your children taught you?
May 14, 2013 11:12
By Rita Buettner
— 1 —
When we enrolled the boys in preschool, I was surprised to discover just how much the teachers genuinely cared about our children. They share stories about our sons with me, celebrate their successes, offer advice, and don’t roll their eyes when I ask them not to tell my son to stop sucking his thumb.
So for Teacher Appreciation Week I was determined to celebrate them. On Wednesday I was ready to deliver baked goods when we discovered we were taking a sick day instead
. By Thursday morning the baked goods were no longer intact.
So I went to the dollar store, bought floral flyswatters for each of the teachers, wrote a poem to tie to the handles, and spent last night getting them ready.
Then Leo got sick, and we found ourselves missing yet another school day on Friday.
Fortunately the gifts won't get stale before next week. The boys are so excited to give them to their teachers, which was part of the appeal to me. I like it when our children are giving gifts they are excited to give
As you can probably tell, this gift idea didn’t come from Pinterest. This was the idea of a desperate mother who believes people can always use more flyswatters and poetry.
— 2 —
Ah, Mother’s Day, the one day of the year when John makes sure I don’t have to cook dinner. But it’s not all about me, or even my mother, grandmothers, and friends and family who are mothers.
You see, there are two mothers on the other side of the world who have been on my mind especially this week. There are also women who took care of our sons while they were in China, and they mothered our sons until we could hold them in our arms.
One of them was our older son’s foster mother, a truly amazing woman who loved him with a love as deep as any mother’s. She gave him the tremendous gift of knowing what it was to be loved, and to be part of a family. We send her photos of Leo from time to time, and the last time we received photos of her looking at his pictures. Look at this one of her waving to our son from thousands of miles away.
I'm honored to share Mother's Day with so many amazing women.
— 3 —
Leo's teacher asked him questions about me for Mother’s Day. He got everything just right except for my age, which he overshot by…well…not that much, actually:
— 4 —
Today is my sister Treasa’s birthday and also her half-anniversary.
It’s hard to believe the newlyweds have been married six months. While I work on baking and decorating the cake for her party tomorrow, with the help of two rather ambitious junior chefs, why don't you relax and watch their amazing first dance?
— 5 —
One of the many reasons we were excited about Treasa marrying George was that George’s brother is a Baltimore City firefighter. He generously invited the boys to come see his fire station last weekend, and they were almost as curious about everything as I was.
Did you know firefighters still slide down poles? And they use the same bell the station used in 1907 to wake them up for a fire? I had no idea. Daniel keeps asking to go back just to see “the man slide down the pole.”
We didn't let the boys use the pole. They had to take the stairs.
— 6 —
I had heard that the Walters Art Museum had placed reproductions of paintings around Baltimore, and we saw our first one when we stopped at a playground this week.
You can see it made quite an impression on Leo.
— 7 —
If you missed the touching guest post my friend Laura wrote for my blog earlier this week, 10 things a special-needs mom learned (the hard way), take a few minutes to read it.
It’s a powerful piece—and I’m not the only one who thinks so. I'm so excited to see all the visitors who have stopped by to read Laura's post!
Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers reading. If you're waiting to become a mother or you're not able to be with your mother this weekend, please know that I'll be keeping you in my prayers.
May 10, 2013 04:03
By Rita Buettner
— 1 —
Ever seen a Johnny Jump Up? I don’t think I even knew it was a flower. I thought it was something you bought and attached to a doorway for babies to jump in. Anyway, I saw my first one—or the first one identified as such—on our trip to Williamsburg.
Isn’t it lovely? And don't you like it even more because of its name?
— 2 —
Yesterday I spontaneously decided to take today off from work.
When my sister was planning her wedding
, I promised that I would take off a day and we would spend time together. It was supposed to be sort of a bachelorette celebration, but I’m pretty sure we missed the window of opportunity on that since she and my brother-in-law have been married six months next week. So it will just be a day of fun. We’ll window shop, maybe get a cup of tea somewhere, perhaps speak in British accents, and quote randomly from The Princess Bride
and whatever Jane Austen film we wish we had time to watch.
My new year’s resolution was to take one day off each month, and I’ve failed. This will be my second day off this year and, as I just realized this week, it’s May. And I can’t be the only person who has had this song running through my head for the past three days.
— 3 —
If a person keeps a candy bowl in his or her office, is it appropriate for a visiting child to ask for a piece? My sons joined me for a work-related errand yesterday, and they were excited to see candy bowls in the offices we visited. Normally our rule—which is rarely followed—is not to ask for something that is not offered. However, is an open bowl of candy a sign that an offer has already been extended?
Not asking for an M&M was apparently too much for my 3-year-old candy enthusiast to grasp, and I was just happy he asked politely when he asked. So I didn’t make a big deal over it. But now I’m wondering, am I being too strict or not strict enough?
The bigger question is why am I worrying about candy bowls when the harder thing for a child to grasp is general office etiquette, such as don’t walk behind the person’s desk, don’t throw yourself toward the couch, etc. And, of course, their favorite part of running errands was the running part.
— 4 —
A friend in Baltimore County called 911 when his cat was stuck in a tree last week, and the fire department apparently threatened to call the police on him.
So now I’m wondering: Do fire departments not rescue cats anymore? If not, why not? And, if they don’t, who does? Just in the past few days I have seen this story about a Florida kitten rescued from a wall
and this one about the Harford County Fire Department rescuing a fox from a drain
. Maybe it varies by county? We don’t have a cat, but in the children’s books you can always call the fire department if a cat is stuck in a tree. I just assumed that was how it worked.
— 5 —
I borrowed my father’s beloved GPS from him for our trip to Williamsburg last weekend. As we were driving through tree-lined Nowhere, Va., with no idea where to go and no help from the GPS, John and I were grumbling about how worthless it was.
“If I were driving,” Leo said from the backseat, “I would turn around and go home.”
We didn’t, but I won’t say we didn’t think about it. Even our printed directions weren’t helping much, and it all seemed rather hopeless. We did eventually find our way, but it took longer than it should have.
Later I realized the battery in the GPS had died and I had plugged it into the wrong socket in the car. I think that’s called human error. Once I figured it out, it did start talking to us again. But I’m still not sure I am a GPS fan.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, Williamsburg is a very, very, very, very long drive for a day trip from Baltimore. John and I were glad we made it a day trip rather than an overnight because it worked better for us to sleep in our own beds and it was much less expensive. But I can’t honestly recommend it as a day trip without mentioning that the trip took 12 hours and 7 ½ of those hours we were in the car.
Here’s the thing. I was raised by parents who woke up one Easter morning and, after Mass and baskets, put us in the family van and drove 5 ½ hours to have a picnic lunch with my two sisters who were in college. Then we drove home—another 5 1/2 hours. And we thought it was fun. (Note, if you ask my father, he'll tell you he made it in under 5 hours each way.)
Other than the excessive driving, our trip to Williamsburg was quite memorable
, and we got to spend time with our friends from South Dakota who happened to be on the East Coast. We hadn’t seen them since August 2011 when we met them on our adoption trip to Daniel in China. John and I thoroughly enjoy them and loved connecting with them. There’s something special about the friends you make on that journey to parenthood.
I don’t say it often enough, so thank you, thank you, thank you for reading my blog.
When I wrote about our experience with infertility
last week, I received such an amazing response, with so many thoughtful comments. I was so touched by the personal experiences so many of you shared. So I just want to say how thankful I am that you stopped by, whether for your first visit or second or 17th.
May 03, 2013 08:48
By Rita Buettner
When I was growing up, all I ever wanted to be was a mother.
Not a veterinarian.
Not an astronaut.
Not a writer.
I wanted to be a mother.
That never changed. I grew up and met the most wonderful, giving man. We fell in love, got married, and waited to become parents.
It didn't happen.
As we realized we were dealing with infertility, I felt so helpless. I couldn’t understand why two people who were so ready and eager to welcome a child couldn’t become parents. Yet there we were, perfectly happy in our marriage, but experiencing the sadness and disappointment that comes with not being able to bear children.
Being open to God’s plan seems easy until you realize it doesn’t match yours.
From the beginning, we trusted in Him completely. We never considered IVF. After all, I thought, if He could place a child in the womb of a virgin in Nazareth, He could certainly send us a child, no matter what miracle was needed.
Then our miracle came. It wasn’t a flash of light or a vision. It was more of a gentle, nudging whisper. It was one small sign after another. Tiny points of light popped up through the darkness, growing brighter as they lit the road to our becoming parents.
Even before marriage John and I had spoken about adoption casually as a “maybe someday” sort of thing. But in our fourth year of marriage we noticed that adoption just kept coming up. As we started paying more attention, it seemed to be everywhere.
One day I came across the question, “Do you want to be pregnant or do you want to be a mother?”
The answer was obvious.
I kept thinking of that line in Sound of Music
when Julie Andrews says, “When the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window
We climbed through that open window, and a new journey began. We found ourselves exploring questions about birth histories, medical needs, orphanage behavior, grieving and attachment, international travel, and piles and piles of paperwork. A little more than a year later we flew to China to meet our first son.
As I share this during National Infertility Awareness Week
, I know our story is nothing unusual. But as I look back on those days of disappointment today, I see them in a much different light.
our infertility seemed like such a heavy burden.
Today, I see infertility as a blessing. Having children by birth was just another door that God gently closed. He asked us to trust, hope, and pray. As we waited, I never imagined that His plan would be so magnificent—so perfect for John and me. Our Creator knew us far better than we knew ourselves.
Last night after dinner our 3-year-old was sitting at the table, his bare feet draped over the arm of the chair. He grinned as he pointed to each of us and said our names, his big brother first “…and Mama and Baba and me! My family!”
Yes, little one. We are your family. Your father and I have been blessed beyond our wildest dreams. And we are so tremendously grateful for the journey that brought us to your brother and to you.
April 24, 2013 09:39
By Rita Buettner
As I was making my grocery list for the week, I was wondering whether we had any baking powder.
I went to look in the pantry.
I started hunting, and the next thing I knew I had emptied the pantry onto the kitchen floor.
As I was working, I discovered that we had large quantities of straws, oatmeal, water chestnuts, unopened boxes of crackers, tea, and more than 10 varieties of pasta.
Now, we do eat a lot of noodles here, but I had no idea we owned noodles in a greater variety than your average Italian restaurant. I can't begin to explain why we have so many straws.
And we don’t eat much oatmeal, but apparently I think we should.
As I started organizing the food, I realized how much of it had expired.
That, in and of itself, is not particularly surprising. But in my mind we just went through the whole pantry before we adopted Leo. Before you can adopt—at least in the state of Maryland—you have to have a health inspector come to your house. And on the vast checklist of items is making sure you have no unexpired food. (If you ever find yourself in this position, by the way, please do not stress about the health inspection. It was a breeze. We even got a free flashlight.)
At the time, however, John and I didn't know it would be a 15-minute inspection. We meticulously cleaned the entire house. I remember being thrilled that the frozen broccoli was all good, but the container of chocolate ice cream had to go in the trash.
Of course, we adopted Leo in 2009, so a few years have passed.
What surprised me this time, however, was finding items that had apparently expired well before the health inspector’s visit. That means that either we overlooked them, or I bought them at the store without checking the expiration dates.
I’m not sure what makes me feel worse, throwing food away that I paid for, or knowing that when I paid for it, it had already expired.
So today I threw out food, recycled boxes, and put the remaining food carefully away.
I was patting myself on the back all afternoon for taking on such an arduous project. I could tell John was pleased with this rare occurrence.
Then at dinner, while we were digging our way through our spaghetti, we finished the Parmesan cheese.
No problem, I thought. I went to the pantry to get the jar I had discovered during our pantry cleaning. John was clearly impressed.
As he opened the jar, though, I realized I couldn't remember checking the date on it. And I wasn't sure when I had last shopped at the store that sells that brand.
“Um, what is the date on that one?” I asked.
“October 2012,” he said.
Oh well. Now I have another item to add to the shopping list.
And it's not baking powder.
April 21, 2013 10:19
By Rita Buettner
It was December 2009. John and I were sitting in the Beijing airport with our newly adopted son, waiting for our flight home.
We fell into conversation with a few people waiting with us. They were American college students, all studying abroad in China and flying home for Christmas.
I also noticed an older Chinese couple. The woman was rocking slowly as she read aloud from what I think was a Buddhist prayer book. Now and then she and her husband smiled at Leo, even when our 2-year-old spilled a bottle of juice onto the floor.
At one point, the Chinese woman came over to Leo and offered him an orange. She carefully took a white napkin and tucked it gently under Leo’s chin to catch the drips.
We thanked her in our feeble Mandarin and she nodded, but we couldn’t say much else. So we asked one of the college students if he would help us translate. We talked about our trip and our new son, and then John had a question.
“Ask her why they are traveling to the United States,” he said.
The student asked. And suddenly the woman started to cry.
Her husband explained the tears, as the student translated. Their daughter, who lived in Virginia, had been murdered by her American husband. They were traveling to Chicago on our plane and then flying to Dulles, Va., to handle funeral arrangements.
We were stunned. We spoke with them for a while, as John answered their questions about the justice system in the United States and we offered our sympathy—all through the translating student.
Last night when I saw that the third person killed in the Boston Marathon bombings had been identified as a Boston University student visiting from China, I thought of that couple. I remembered the sadness in their eyes as they spoke of their daughter. And I thought of the Chinese family that will fly to the United States after learning the worst possible news about their daughter this week.
What a terribly long, unimaginably emotional journey.
After we finished that conversation three years ago in Beijing, we boarded the plane. And we flew to Chicago, where we learned that everyone headed to the East Coast was stranded due to the snowstorms in the Mid-Atlantic.
It was only after John and I had checked into our hotel that night, and we were scrambling to figure out how we were going to get home
that I thought of that grieving couple. They also must have been stranded in Chicago.
By the time I thought of them, of course, we had no idea where they were. John and I could only hope that they had been met by representatives of the Chinese Consulate or another agency who could help them make their way to their daughter’s town.
I think of that couple from time to time and still remember the sorrow and kindness I saw in their eyes. I wonder how they endured that journey and that new chapter in their lives without their daughter. I hope somehow they were able to find peace. And I pray for that same peace for all of the families grieving the loss of loved ones this week.
April 17, 2013 12:30
By Rita Buettner
Eighteen months ago when it was time for Leo’s first dentist appointment, I did my research and found a special pediatric dentist.
They had fantastic toys in the waiting room. The chairs were all different colors. It should have been fun, but I was miserable.
The staff kept trying to talk me into having my son’s teeth x-rayed—even when I said I didn’t think it was necessary. They asked repeatedly why I hadn’t made an appointment for the toddler in my arms, even after I explained that he had been home from China for just a few weeks. I didn’t dare tell them we still couldn’t get a toothbrush into his mouth.
Then the hygienist looked at our boys and said, “Are they biologically related?”
When that question comes from a professional who has no reason to ask, I get annoyed. I could have asked her why she needed to know, but Leo was listening. So I gave her my iciest smile and said, “No.”
At that point I had decided we would take our children’s teeth elsewhere. But where?
Leo needed a dentist to complete a form for kindergarten. And even though people keep telling me about pediatric dentist offices full of TVs with cartoons and electric trains, I decided to make an appointment for Leo with the dentist John and I see. Forget the tooth-shaped toy box. I wanted to take the boys to people we know, trust, and like.
We got there this morning, and there were no toys and a handful of children’s books. It didn't matter. Everyone was kind and friendly, and they made our sons feel like celebrities.
Leo loved everything. He laughed as the chair moved up and down. He asked a hundred questions. And I realized how much more comfortable he was there—partly because everything wasn’t designed for children. Leo wants to be treated as an adult.
And after adamantly telling me on the drive over that he would not sit in the chair, Daniel astonished me by jumping right up and letting the hygienist brush his teeth.
As it turned out, the office was extremely child-friendly. The hygienist used cotton-candy-flavored toothpaste. When Daniel got tired of sitting and lounging in the chair, she finished brushing his teeth as he stood on the floor. They didn't even seem to care when he accidentally spilled water all over the floor.
At the end of the visit, the boys each got to pick a toothbrush, a pencil, a superhero thumb puppet, and stickers. They were all smiles.
On the way home I wondered whether Leo would compare the office to the fun, flashy one we visited last time, but he was too enthralled with his bag of goodies.
“Mama,” he said, “I love this outer space toothbrush so much that I am going to use it forever—even when I get to heaven.”
“That’s great,” I said. “You really do love that toothbrush.”
But I have to tell you, as much fun as it was to go to the dentist, I hope I don’t have to worry about my teeth in heaven. I hate flossing. And I’m certainly not planning to pack a toothbrush.
April 03, 2013 11:30
By Rita Buettner
When John and I met, we had jobs that were more than 100 miles—and a two-hour drive—apart. So after we became engaged
, we both started job hunting.
A friend or family member must have mentioned that St. Joseph was the patron of workers, so I began saying a daily novena
“It has never been known to fail,” it said on the holy card I used each day. I wasn’t sure about that, but it was worth a try.
Soon enough—sooner than I had hoped, in fact—I landed a new job closer to John’s. Once we were married, we moved into an apartment on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. And, lovely as that area is to visit, it was not a place where we saw ourselves putting down roots. Our town had a courthouse, a pizza place, a Catholic church, and a full-service gas station.
I often told people it was a great place to begin our married life because there was nothing to do except focus on our marriage—and my cooking skills.
So, as I learned how to burn grilled cheese, my novena continued.
Then one day John was offered a new job. It seemed like a great opportunity, but it would require moving farther than we had thought we would go. He accepted the job, and we made our plans. We even put an offer on a house.
Something didn’t feel quite right, but we were so eager to leave town, we didn’t say so out loud.
Then, one morning when my car wouldn’t start, we stood next to the car arguing.
Suddenly it hit me.
“This isn’t about the car,” I said. “This is about the job.”
We put on the brakes, changed our plans, and stayed where we were. The dead battery turned out to be a blessing.
Months later St. Joseph came through yet again with a job that was a better fit for John. At long last, we were able to move across the Bay Bridge. I found a wonderful job that offered me a more creative outlet for writing. And, when I wasn’t even looking for a job, that job led to my current job, which is a dream job for any writer—and certainly for me.
If you’ve lost track of who had which job when, so have I. During our eight years of marriage, John and I have each had three jobs—not counting the job I had when we met. That seems like more than our fair share.
I haven’t said that novena to St. Joseph in a while, but for many years it was part of my daily routine. And because he heard from me each morning, he must have realized fairly quickly that I wasn’t just going to talk with him about job opportunities. I told him how much we wanted to be parents and a whole list of other concerns.
There’s something about St. Joseph that makes him a really good listener. After all, he always seems to be strong and supportive and silent as he stands alongside the Blessed Mother.
Today, in honor of St. Joseph’s Feast Day, we ate spaghetti and talked with the boys about Jesus’ foster father. St. Joseph doesn’t seem to have a special patronage toward adoptive families—not that I can find, anyway—but I’m pretty sure he’s interceded for us more than a few times along the way.
Thank you, St. Joseph.
St. Joseph statue in a Catholic chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes in Guangzhou, China
March 19, 2013 10:29
By Rita Buettner
— 1 —
I was nervous when our new pope walked out onto that balcony to greet the world. I wasn’t worried for our Catholic Church. I was worried for him. He looked shy, a bit unsure, and maybe even a bit vulnerable. But then he started speaking. I saw him smile. And it struck me how he emanated calm and holiness.
He had me from “Buona sera.” How about you?
— 2 —
(CNS photo/Paul Haring)
As I reflect on how Pope Francis greeted us, I can’t help thinking of so many political leaders who show less care and concern for the people they serve, who take less time to make people feel valued. When they speak, they speak for themselves. They might want our attention, our votes, our money.
Pope Francis didn’t need our votes. He doesn’t even need us to like him. He has the Holy Spirit and the College of Cardinals behind him. Yet he stood there and asked for one and only one thing: our prayers.
Count me in.
In all the times I have prayed for the pope, I don’t think I’ve ever felt my prayers were particularly needed. I am just one voice among many. But didn’t we all sense, in that moment, the weight of the Church on this man’s shoulders? What an honor to be able to ask Jesus to help him with this enormous responsibility.
— 3 —
When I picked our sons up from school on Wednesday, I delivered the news to them with a picture of Pope Francis so they could see his gentle smile.
“The white smoke came up!” I said. “What does that mean?”
“We have a pope!” said our 3-year-old.
Then I described how our new pope led the crowd in St. Peter’s Square and on screens around the world in three prayers.
“And they are all prayers that you know,” I told our boys. “The Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be.” How wonderful that our Holy Father chose prayers we have all said for so many years and likely learned from our parents.
As the boys and I drove home, I asked them my usual question, which rarely gets much of a response. “So what did you do at school?”
“We talk about a new pope,” said Daniel, 3.
“You did?” I said, startled, especially since they do not attend a Catholic preschool. “Really?”
“No,” Daniel said, laughing. “I just teasing you.”
In 70 years or so when he calls to tell me he’s been elected pope, I may not believe him.
— 4 —
Is it surprising to anyone else that no other pope has chosen Francis as a name?
Everyone loves St. Francis of Assisi.
When I told our sons that the new pope had taken the name of St. Francis, our 5-year-old said, “St. Francis Assisi!”
I had just told them the story of St. Francis and the wolf
the other day. Although they still prefer the lesser-known story “The Dragon and the Cheese Curl,” they did enjoy hearing about the wolf.
One lesson I’ve learned: If you are going to invent a story for your children, make it a good one. If you try to embellish the story later, you’ll hear, “No, it’s just an orange cheese curl! It didn’t taste like chocolate!”
— 5 —
When I saw that Pope Francis was one of five children, I had to know which one. As a third child of six, I am fascinated by birth order. My mother’s theory was that he was the oldest child. I told her that first children have the unfair advantage because there are more first children than fourth or fifth children.
As it turned out, my mother was right that Pope Francis is the oldest. Only the pope’s youngest sibling, a sister, is still living. I found an interview
Her reaction to the news? “Poor man.”
If he were my brother, I would probably feel the same way. His brother Jesuits, on the other hand, certainly seem pretty happy.
— 6 —
I am glad I didn’t give Facebook up for Lent.
I would have been sorry to miss seeing all the Pope Francis excitement. And I would have missed this
— 7 —
I suppose I could post about something other than Pope Francis.
This is a story on IVF
for which The Catholic Review's
Maria Wiering interviewed John and me. One of my dear friends commented on how brave we were to give the interview. I don’t feel brave. I just feel that God is asking us to speak up at times when it might be easier and more comfortable to be silent. But He never said the easy path was the best one.
— Bonus St. Patrick's Day Take —
"Shamrock and Hearts" by Leo
Last Sunday when I told the boys we were going to miss the St. Patrick’s Day Parade because we were still sick, I said, “So we can have our own parade here.”
Leo’s eyes lit up. I waited to hear which instrument he wanted to play as we marched around the house.
“I know what I will do,” he said. “I will be in charge of handing out the fruit snacks.”
So there goes my secret parenting tip for how to keep two preschoolers interested in a parade. Bring fruit snacks and lots of them.
Whether you make Irish soda bread
, eat corned beef and cabbage, or wear your finest green, have a happy St. Patrick’s Day!
March 15, 2013 11:35
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By Rita Buettner