Thursday, November 24, 2011

What I'm Thankful For

Well, our family planned to go to Mass today and take a bit of time to thank God for all of our blessings. BUT my daughter woke up with a hurting elbow, and it took us quite awhile to get her back to sleep, and then us back to sleep.

So, although this is a poor substitute for the thanksgiving of the Eucharist, I thought I'd just give a random list of things, small and great, for which I'm thankful.

  • That all of my aches and pains are just that--nothing more. I can lead my life, and do the things I'm called to do and want to do.
  • That my family is healthy.
  • That I have a husband and kids who love me and whom I love.
  • That we have a home and enough to eat.
  • That my husband and I have jobs we love and that let us make a difference in the lives of others.
  • That our kids are doing fine--in school and in life.
  • That I hit the "lottery" of life when it came to getting good parents. Although they are now in eternal life and I miss them every day, I am enriched by their love and what they taught me.
  • That we didn't spend money on landscaping before realized that the Texas drought was going to be going on for awhile.
  • That I can still fit into my pants even though I've gained a few pounds.
  • That my car can get me where I need to go.
  • That I have several books on my "must read" list to look forward to.
  • That I can watch the parade right now, and the Texas A&M vs. Texas football game tonight on the big screen.
For these and so many other blessings, I'm truly thankful.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wal-Mart Has it Right

One thing I've learned in my dealings with the poor and disadvantaged:  when facing a problem, they often lack resources and options. If I were ever short of cash, I have a lot of friends and family members who'd help me out. I'd do the same for them. But what if everybody else I knew was also financially challenged? Perhaps the only choice I'd have would be to use a payday lender or face eviction. What looks like a foolish decision becomes one of survival.

Those of us who use the banks have noticed that we are being "fee-d to death." When Citibank recently sent a letter informing us that we had to maintain a certain large balance or face a $15 monthly charge, we bolted to our friendly credit union. Just like us, the poor and disadvantaged, who want to responsibly use banking services, are bolting to keep more of their hard-earned money in their pockets, or rather, on their debit cards. Enter Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart is providing fixed-cost, modestly priced debit cards. Of course owners of the cards are more likely to shop at Wal-Mart, but they don't have to. They can use the cards in other places and online.

Yes, I know it's fashionable to decry Wal-Mart as the "big box" that is ruining Main Street, but Main Street banks were more than willing to exploit the poor and not-so-poor with fees. Wal-Mart saw a need, and met this need at a reasonable price. They are good at that. Kudos Wal-Mart.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

All Saints Day and Happy Birthday!

Today is just one of those days when my emotions are all over the place.
  1. It's the birthday of my fantastic daughter (and saint-in-progress), Anna. She's 18 today, a legal adult in the US, and I'm just not sure how to feel about that.
  2. It's the day when I, both personally and along with the universal Church, honor my relatives who are the uncanonized saints, most particularly my own mother.
Yes, you may think it's a bit presumptuous to believe, as much as I believe anything, that I have some saints in my family tree, but I do. I do pray for them and will pray for them tomorrow (All Souls Day) too. I'm sure God understands me hedging my bets.

A little about both:

At 10:10 a.m. on November 1, I gave birth to Anna. She's been a blessing to our family in two ways. First, she's given us great joy, (humble) pride, wonder in how such a great kid came from us, and a sense of hope for the future. She taught us to see the world with the eyes of a child, where everything is a toy, and everything has potential and wonder. I can't wait to see how life turns out for her.

She's also a blessing in another way--like most kids, she gave us a laboratory of "virtue development." She made us PhD and Masters Degree educated parents realize that there's a lot we don't know. She taught two "professionals," respected in their fields, who thought they could control a lot in how their day-to-day lives unfolded, that control is an illusion.

She also taught us that we were tougher than we ever thought possible, but we were still no match for her. For example, Anna NEVER slept. It was amazing. Okay, she did sleep, but it was in 20 minute increments scattered throughout the day. We read every book, tried every trick, etc. to get that kid to sleep longer. I went home and cried in envy when a friend said that her son woke up every three hours and it drove her crazy. I couldn't remember the last time I had that much sleep at one time.

When I showed our pediatrician Anna's sleep log, he too was amazed. Anna was just fine. We just had to surrender. Lesson learned--there are just some things you can't control. You have to accept the way things are, the way people are, and live with it. You CAN live with just about anything if you know it won't last forever. This too shall pass, and it did. We could choose to have the sound of a crying baby in our house 24/7, or we could carry her around, doze when she did and just make the best of it. That's what we did.

We learned to keep our mouths shut when well-meaning people gave us their advice on how to make our kid sleep, how to get the baby to relax (yeah--like we hadn't thought of that). We learned that the tenacity and persistence Anna exhibited as a baby are only annoying BECAUSE she was a baby. Those same qualities have served her well in school, sports and life-in-general. Looking back, I'm glad she was tougher than we were back then.

And today--well rousting a teenager out of bed can be a different kind of challenge too.

I can't let this blog about Anna pass without saying a few words about my mother, who began her own journey in eternal life almost three years ago. I miss her every day, but there are times that I hear her voice coming out of Anna's mouth. The genes run true there! It's a comfort to know that the qualities I loved about her (and some that I didn't) will be a part of my life as long as I have my daughter.

Happy All Saints Day, Mom; and Happy Birthday, Anna. I love you both so much.