Sort & Polish

Posted by jael on Jan 31, 2011 in Spiritual Journey, Technology

As many of you may recall, I am a wiper. I am lulled by the smell of Windex and the process of polishing the counter tops to a sparkly shine soothes me like hot tea with honey comforts a scratchy throat. I also like to sort and organize. There is more delicious pleasure for me to tidy one of the kids out-of-control sock drawers than eating a lollipop. Naturally I’d prefer to do both at once, but I’m just saying, if I had to choose, I’d pair those socks and line ’em up like soldiers in squads by color.

Tonight I found something more satisfying than wiping the kitchen counter after The Husband has made a pancake brunch for the babies. I finally yielded to The Husband’s prodding to categorize the blog. The process demanded that I review each post and sort it by category. It was the virtual equivalent of pairing socks, and prompted the same kind of relief that comes with ferreting a plank out of the corner of your own eye.

The experience was similar to dumping out the contents of a messy drawer onto the floor or watching 17 clowns jump out of a Volkswagon at a circus… Like how in the Big Top did I cram all that junk in there? It helped connect me to my own content as I organized it for easier reader use.

It makes me wish that I could as easily categorize myself.

How cool would it be if my emotions and behaviors came with a Mailbox…

If you wish to access The Mamma, Press 1.
If you wish to access The Wife, Press 2.
If you wish to access Hope & Growth, Press 3.
If you wish to access Blame, Worry or Offense, please stay on the line to find Forgiveness.
If you you hear someone shrieking mindlessly, disconnect immediately, that’s not me.

I categorize blog posts more cleanly than I behave.

My internal counter top is greasy.

If there’s a category for that epiphany, perhaps its Humbled.

There’s a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah


Free Range Cab Sav

Posted by jael on Jan 29, 2011 in Food

wine label with Rooster


OK, I confess: At first this bottle of wine caught my eye because it rocked a rooster on the label. I admit it, Freud be damned, I gots me a thing for roosters.  As such, imagine my delight when the label boasted Rex-Goliath, a “Free Range” Cabernet Sauvignon. Strut is now secondary to the good health of my family and savvy consumerism.

Plus, it earned “30 Gold Medals.”

HRM Rex-Goliath Winery spoofs a mascot that capitalizes on modern grocer lingo, but imagine how the U.S. Department of Agriculture might categorize a wine as free range:

The U.S.D.A. defines the term “free-range Cabernet Sauvignon,” as a red wine that is allowed to ferment outside a restrictive cask. USDA regulations do not specify the condition or size of the outside cask, nor the amount of time the spirits should have access to the outside. There are, however, general guidelines on free-range fermented wine that allow it to be considered as such. If they do not meet the guidelines they cannot be considered free range.

Pasture Raised

Free-range Cab Savs are fermented in pond-pastures, but are kept within a buoyant-fenced, infusion system. Pasture-raised wines are able to swim and float freely, so there is no need for debeakering. Debeakering is typically used to avoid excessive consumptions during the holidays when family that does not genuinely jell together drinks together.

Grass Fed

Free-range Cabernet Sauvignon is also grass fed, meaning that its grapes participate in a system wherein green plant food, as well as small bugs and other small living things, co-exist in the fermentation process adding to the level of oxygenation in the spirits. Grass feeding also makes the wine more robust and is thought to result in a better flavor.

Humanely Raised

Free-range wine grapes are raised humanely, and never tread upon by unkind or unwashed feet, causing less stress on the vintage, and an overall healthier bouquet.

Well baby I’ve been here before
I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew ya
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah


Top 10 Things I Do that I Don’t Want My Kids to Do:

Posted by jael on Jan 28, 2011 in Parenting, Spiritual Journey

1. Think girls are worth less than boys.

2. Believe Wheaties in an old Cool-Whip bowl is a great dinner.

3. Reject mistakes as part of the mastery cycle.

4. Judge fragile insides by the robust, outward appearance of others.

5. Lie awake at night wondering, “Why me?”

6. Consider the F-word clever because it can be every part of speech.

7. Opine school clubs and extra-curricular activities are a waste of time.

8. Say “Yes,” when the right answer is “No.”

9. Say “No,” when the right answer is “Yes.”

10. Employ anger as a versatile, default emotion.



I mistitled the list!

It should read: Top 10 Things My Mom Did That She Didn’t Want Me to Do.

And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!


TXT Spells Love

Posted by jael on Jan 27, 2011 in Parenting, Technology


The Boy left in the custody of his grandfather at high noon today, ready to do battle for his honor and house.  He carried with him 8 swords, body armor, billet-doux from his three sisters sweet, and a boyish grin that belied the certain, hairy shadow evident on his upper lip.

He will spend his next 3 days dueling bouts against other youth warriors of the blade.

This is the first travel competition The Boy has done without a parent or coach.  It was an even toss this morning to determine who was most anxious:  The Boy, The Grandpa, The Papa or The Mamma.

His travel kit included entertainment:  books, The Papa’s iPod Touch, and a cell phone.

The cell phone was a highly contested item when we gave it to him for his 12th birthday.  We felt like we had caved to a want our budget couldn’t afford and his need did not justify.

Little did we know that a blink later, he would not only need a cell phone, but we would need him to carry one to offer us communion like The Bread of Life.

Cell phones text:

Jan 14, 2011 3:23 PM (GroupMe w/ The Boy established.)

Papa:  Hey The Mamma, it’s The Papa.  I added you to the “The Mamma & The Boy” GroupMe w/ The Boy.  Reply #exit to leave or #help

The Boy:  Testing testing 1 2 1 2

Jan 14, 2011 11:14 AM

The Mamma:  Gottcha!  xoxoxoxo

Jan 27, 2011 11:51 AM (The Boy & The Grandfather just departed.)

The Papa:  Miss you!

The Mamma:  Love you, Son!  Have a blast.  xo

The Boy:  Miss you 2

The Mamma:  Xo.  We will now leave you alone for at least 5 minutes!  Ha!  Good work getting it all done so you could go well and free!

The Boy:  Thanks. Girls ok?

Jan 27, 2011 12:17 PM

The Mamma:  Every girl in house cried. Especially The Oldest Girl. And yes, I do mean me too.  Well begun?

The Boy:  Yep

The Mamma:  Very good. xo

Jan 27, 2011 3:oo PM

The Boy:  Just stopped for bathroom and gas.

The Papa:  Cool.  Deep into _journey_?

The Mamma:  Eat something too.  Love you!

The Boy:  Not sure. It’s getting chilly.  Huge hills with tress covered in snow, very pretty. What are you guys up to?

The Boy:  We are gonna stop later for a sitdown meal

The Mamma:  Very yummy.  Yay!  I just finish with the Mcs.  I am getting my hair done and Papa is working/with the girls.

The Boy:  Cool.

Jan 27, 2011 4:19 PM

The Boy:  In _landmark_.

The Papa:  Yee ha!  Making great time.

The Mamma:  Really?  Wow.  Doing well?

The Mamma:  Been thinking about what a big weekend this is for you, how much opportunity you will have to fence over the next couple of months. Makes Mamma happy, happy.  Xo

The Boy:  Only 2 hours and 26 minutes left.

The Mamma:  So good.  Bet you are hungry.  Did you start the Card book?

The Boy:  Yeah

The Mamma:  Like it?

The Boy:  Yeah.  Two hours in. Is great.

The Mamma:  Every time I read anything about time, I think of Anthony’s Chronos living backwards, outside of relational intimacy.

The Boy:  Yeah. That was a strange book.

The Mamma:  Love how you love to read.

The Boy:  =)

The Mamma:  Oh, wanna have The Oldest Girl take in your Js to Ms F, so you get all good props for being prepared?

The Boy:  Sure.  That’s fine

The Mamma:  Rock star. Those turned out well.  Xo

Jan 27, 2011 4:30 PM

The Boy:  =)

The Mamma:  🙂

Jan 27, 2011 4:50 PM

The Mamma:  Hey.  What’s your theme song?

The Boy:  My theme song?

The Mamma:  Yeah. Pumps you up. Sings your creed…

The Boy:  Oh uh. Actually the song If It Gives You Hell by All American Rejects

The Mamma:  Good one.

The Boy:  Why?

Jan 27, 2011 6:57 PM

The Boy:  At hotel.

The Papa:  Cool. Plenty of time to get a bite and some rest.

The Mamma:  Hotel nice?  relax and have great eats!  xo

The Boy:  Yeah sounds good.

The Boy:  Gonna leave phone to charge while we eat

The Mamma:  Ok. Enjoy.  Xo

Jan 27, 2011 8:14 PM

The Boy:  Back.  Had the biggest meatiest cheesiest lasagna ever

The Papa:  Oh, yum. Nice carb load for tomorrow.

The Mamma:  Delicious!  Way to carb load!  xo

The Boy:  Yah

The Mamma:  Love!  xo

The Boy:  Just opened my suitcase. Tell girls hello for me?

The Mamma: 😉 Xo (The girls secretly handmade scrum-dil-i-ic-ous cards and hid them in The Boys luggage.)

The Mamma:  Hugs from us all!  We love you.

The Boy:  MONKEY (The Boy had left me with his most recent first place trophy, THE MONKEY, to keep during his trip.  I snuck that into his suitcase too.)

The Mamma:  I know, right? 🙂 xoxoxoxo

The Boy:  Yay

The Mamma:  To remind you you’re a winner.

Jan 27, 2011 8:59 PM

The Mamma:  Going to bed soon?

The Boy:  Soon

The Mamma:  K. Want to talk, or just ready to get still?  Xo

The Boy: Kinda tired and wanna get still.  Love you and good night.

The Mamma:  Good night, Boy.  Godspeed.  Love you.  xo

The Boy:  Night, poopsie.

The Papa:  Night, buddy.

The Mamma:  xo

The Boy:  Night dude

I no longer have any idea why I thought, “He doesn’t need a damn cell phone!”

That damn phone texts.

That Boy used that blessed phone of his to keep us connected with his travel in an easy, conversational, relevant, real-time way.

TXT spells LOVE!


Well baby I’ve been here before
I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew ya
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah


the Onion Makes Me Cry…

Posted by jael on Jan 26, 2011 in Education, Parenting, Politics, Spiritual Journey, Technology

the Onion makes me cry again today with their post New parenting Books Sparks Outrage:  (Their satirically brilliant post below.)

New Parenting Book Sparks Outrage

Last week, Penguin Press published Amy Chua’s book Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother, which criticizes “Western” parenting and advocates an “Asian” approach that includes forbidding playdates and being highly critical of children in order to make them more successful. Here are some other tips from the book:

  • Take your children to Chuck E. Cheese’s and let them play any game they choose, then make them watch as you burn their tickets
  • Ice cream is a great motivator for kids; promise them that if they do everything you ask, they can have some when they turn 18
  • Inform your child that televisions receive all of their power from flawless renditions of Brahms’ Violin Concerto in D
  • Only let your children have a pet dog if they can tame the most rabid dog at the pound
  • Should your child express interest in spending more time with his or her friends, simply pack up and move several hundred miles away
  • To ensure academic excellence, inform your children that there is a mark higher than an A-plus and then shame them for failing to attain it
  • Replace their frail little limbs with less fragile prosthetics
  • Remember, you may have to put up with one or two suicides before you finally craft that perfect child you’ve always wanted

I love the clipped tonal quality of these outrageous suggestions. I imagine a stiff-lipped, speaker with the impeccable posture only genuine, Zen control can erect from the human spine. Her words intone this clearly elucidated smack from the diaphragm, like a Cambridge neurologist enunciates a prognosis. The tension is delicious, and unsavory enough to make  readers worry if they can get to the potty on time.

Anyone with a finger on the pulse of the media cycle knows Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother did more than strike a vein of controversy, it severed an artery. The blood spray has stained even the coolest of shirts. People are well beyond offended by Chua’s book, commentators are rabid and hysterical.  High pitched and raving, these percussive utterances spit from the throat though loose, moist lips that splatter saliva as rapidly as they shoot words of outrage like machine gun fire.

What exactly has our American, parental panties in such a bundle over this one? Why is everyone so offended?

Why Battle Hymn of The Tiger Mother Sparks Such Outrage

Penguin Press opened Pandora’s box last week with their release of Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother, by Yale University law professor, Amy Chua.  Certainly, Chau unapologetically details how she and her husband chose to raise their two daughters in “the Chinese way,” that emphasizes academic excellence and individual superiority over social engagements and extra curricular activities. However, the backlash of controversy in response to her book exposes the very insecure fish bellies of modern parents.  Here are some possible reasons our American, parental panties are in a bundle:

  • We’re more like Ron White than Sartre.  Like yesterday we were snuggling on a beanbag chair naked, eating Cheetos, and we said, “Yeah.  We could make a baby.  How hard could it be?”
  • My daughter is the Props Manager of her high school’s Drama Club.
  • My daughter plays concert Kazoo.
  • My 187 pound, 12 year-old daughter goes to the bathroom whenever she wants, usually during Oprah commercials.
  • We wanted our 15 year-old daughter to play Carnegie Hall too, but she had to drop out of school to go to rehab before her baby is born.
  • We’re going to get around to teaching our daughter Mandarin Chinese once she brings up her F in English.
  • I don’t know which friend’s sleepover my daughter’s attending; she hasn’t been home since Friday morning.

I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!



Posted by jael on Jan 24, 2011 in Education, Parenting, Politics, Spiritual Journey

Part of the rhythm of my daily behaviors include email, texting, Google, cnn.com, interacting with blogs and phone conversations.  I admit being more plugged in than some users, and far less than others.  Compared to The Husband, who also tweets, Facebooks and develops iPhone apps, I am a lightweight.  Round about Thursday last week, I wondered if I have become desensitized by my exposure to news stories.

Note that in my list of things I typically engage in during the day, TV was not among them.  I don’t watch local or national news broadcasts.  I realized years ago I had neither the schedule nor stomach for the pundits of media.  I hadn’t realized how little I had insulated myself from the dismal tone of national coverage. Like radiation mutates cells, has my attitude slowly distorted into ugly shades over time?

I’ve captured headlines since Thursday for your consideration:

31 Dead in Moscow Suicide Airport Bombing

31 confirmed dead and over 200 injured in a terrorist suicide booming in Moscow.

Steelers Versus Packer Super Bowl

NFL predicts record breaking sales for these two rival teams with zealously loyal fans.

You Know You’re An Extreme Parent If…

More information about Tiger moms, includes something of a check list to see if you are an extreme parent.  I failed. I think.  Help out on this one.  “You know you’re a great guide to your child if…”

Why do we care Julie Bowen, of the hit TV comedy Modern Family, shared a picture of herself breastfeeding her infant twins on Lopez Tonight?

Julie Bowen… Hot body on a hot show?  Certainly.  Her breastfeeding jugs (however lovely and life-giving to her suckling babies) worthy of a news story?  Not.

Why do Ugg boots cost $140-200 dollars?

These are boots that market ugly.  I don’t understand.

How can Don’t Ask, Don’t tell military expulsions cost $50,000 per expulsion.

Clearly, this begs the even more obvious puzzler, why are we still expelling soldiers, sailors, marines, and guards men on the grounds of homosexuality?

Woman versus Police Horse

Really?  Really?

What exactly makes Kat Von D a celebrity again?

Leather, body art and Reality TV, right?  Or is it the men on her arm?

Even if you like junk food, this year’s review of school lunches will trigger your gag reflex and convert you to wheat germ.

Tough Times for Men and Women in Blue

Please God, let it not be, we’ve become desensitized to cop killings.

I do not understand, but accept acts of unspeakable violence are part of our social fabric.

I do not like football, but concede millions of people are ardent fans.

I can not, however, understand why we’ve become a nation of celebrity-peeping Toms.

I do not believe our fiber has so dissolved that slapping police horses and killing cops is ubiquitous.

I reject this cynical bias.


I know the world is messy.


I know there are horrors enough in the dark to keep me up a lifetime of nights.


I know reports of such sells fear and ads.


I know nothing seems special compared to these suicidal-homicidal-psychotic-chicken-paste oozing-Packer-under-dogging-ugly-boot-lactating-horse-slapping-inked-out- nymphs-headlines.


I get that the neighborhood 7th grader who stuffed mail boxes and plans to collect old blankets and towels for SPCA animals this Saturday morning doesn’t play with the same panache .

I see why a surprise bridal shower for a soon-to-be-deployed-Army-doctor doesn’t compare to a hip check list that let’s you know if your helicopter parenting has escalated into extreme parenting that races your kids down a highway to nowhere.

I know, too, however that the only eternal commodity of this world is relationships.

Community service matters.
Surprise showers matter.
Calling your mom matters. Especially when you don’t want to and do anyway, because she really wants to connect with you.
Showing up matters.
More walking, less talking matters.

I don’t find recent headlines inaccurate as much as I suspect their motives.

They seek to incite, not to edify.

This is a bittersweet world, however, our potential to be of good use to each other bests our capacity to get it horribly wrong, and is less often the stuff of headlines.

As for me and my house, we look for reasons to believe that this is true.

Faith does not impair reason, it imbues Mercy.

I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!


Vocabulary’s Eloquence

Posted by jael on Jan 20, 2011 in Education, Parenting, Spiritual Journey
Terms Definitions
archy government
ard always
cide kill
ician specialist
itis infection
aqua water
audi hear
bell war
cap take
cise cut
bio life
auto self
port carry
scrib write
logy science
dict say
cred believe
cent one hundred
neo new
ad to
cede go
miss send
centri center
biblio book
anthropo man

The Boy brought home this delicious vocabulary chart this afternoon.

It has sat next to my work station in the kitchen all night, and I have picked it up several times to simply admire its subtle eloquence.

I have had more interactive, geek fun with this simple chart than I care to confess here.

You all know about my sink fetish now, (see Verdicality Grooming if you don’t know what I mean and track down the references) and I had wanted to go at least a week before further discrediting myself. However, isn’t this chart simply elegant?

Ask me.
Come on,
ask me;
I know you want to know.

What  kind of twisted, geek gaming is to be had with a diagram of such subtle grace?

Ah, me… so much fun:

1. First, and obviously, a Mamma’s gotta see if she doesn’t know more of the definitions than the kid, right? Game on! Who cares if he’s in the seventh grade, and I am supposedly better educated, it’s competition hour, Baby!

__No. It’s not important. I am not going to tell you who won or how many I knew the first time. And unlike my son, I didn’t have time to preview the list before we fenced terms__

2. Aren’t you just drawn like a magnet seeks North, to write down as many words you know that fit the terms’ patterns? Challenge level players must recite lists alphabetically for points to count.

3. Submissions!  Certainly there are some juicy, grand terms not included in the chart!  List as many as you can.

4.  Emendations!  Clearly there are terms that made the cut that are just too on the chin.  Which such obvious bricks would you toss from the load?  Justify each answer with a Haiku.

5. Make word-chains sentences.  The only words in sentences must be terms in the same order as the graph and the sentences must make contextual sense.

What’s sad about my idea of fun this week, is that I have done each of these activities.

At least once,
if not more,
and others not listed,
and People,  I enjoyed it.

Words simply fascinate me.  I love their consistent flexibility.

I love their liquid and transformative natures.

I see words in a chart, and I don’t see bars, I greet freedom.

Words invite us to wander around Purple, regal fields of intentional Creation and render possibilities.

Language liberates captive ideas to bridge discovery and miraculous healings.

Well I heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do ya?
Well it goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah


Veridicality Grooming

Posted by jael on Jan 19, 2011 in Parenting, Spiritual Journey

So, yeah, my name’s The Mamma, and I’m a veridicalholic, and I’ve had accurate fact, based perceptions for 15 days.

<Hi, The Mamma.>

The reason I am at this Veridical Anonymous meeting is because I don’t want my issues to cause my kids problems.

At its core, veridicality means truthful or veracious.  Veridical testimony can be directly supported by concrete evidence.  Psychology operationally defines veridicality as the correct perception of an object, that is, the perception of an object that dovetails the object’s real (objective) properties as opposed to its (subjective) or interpretive connotations.  Furthermore, in the field of Psychology, veridicality also veers more toward the esoteric; that is to say, truthful,yes, but of or relating to revelation in dreams or hallucinations, etc. that appear to be confirmed in subsequent experience.

As a Mamma, my primary parental function boils down to grooming.

Who knew grooming had such veridicality context!?

I prepare and fix.
I cut and trim.
I mend and wash.
I wipe and polish.
I tend scrapes and breaks.

That’s the truth.  Veridicality extraordinare.

Every maternal duty I perform could be categorized as a grooming behavior.

I prepare meals and help children prepare their homework.  I cut their bangs and trim their nails.  I am also responsible for cutting the budget, trimming expenses, and getting the yard cut by someone. Anyone?  I mend socks and wash laundry.  I wash loads of laundry more endless than the seas.  I wipe noses and counters.  I polish nails and furniture.  I tend scraped knees and am something of a savant with a glue gun.  Can anything really break if there’s a glue gun and enough glue sticks in the house?  I mean, come on, I’ve got two.  Large, for industrial jobs, and petite, for jewelry and knick-knacks.  I know how to mend.

That’s truthful.


However, honestly, it’s tough to keep objective the subjective work of relational grooming as a Mamma.

Yes, I prepare meals and help children prepare their homework.  I expect that, and whatever self-indulgent complaining I might do about it on the side, waxing poetic about the mind-numbing aspects of how much time it takes to plan the meals, write the shopping list, buy the food, pack the food in the car, unpack the food at home, prepare the meal, and clean up after the meals… and don’t even get me stared about Long-Term Research Projects the kids bring home every two weeks, it’s like I ALWAYS have my period on this type of cramp-inducing schedule!  Nonetheless, panty-liner in place, I am efficient in the realm of the physical demands of parental grooming.  Relationally, however, grooming becomes more of a maternal stretch.  How do I prepare my children for rejection?  How do I prepare myself to accept they will lie to me as I strive to prepare space for each of them to grow their own characters grated from the expectations set by our God, house, circle and world?  Why is it that when I must prepare to tell them that they alone are not able to attend the co-ed party at a friend’s house whose parents I don’t know that I all but have to wear Depends so I don’t have a situation panty-liners simply aren’t designed to cover?  Why is it when I prepare my heart to begin a new day with my babies, instead of it being flooded with rainbow colors of hope, like Love’s own Covenant, it prepares legalistic lists like the pharisees, like a spiritual fracture or OCD?

That’s truthful.


What’s true?

Indeed, I am responsible for cutting the budget, trimming expenses, and getting the yard cut.  I expect that as a natural outcome of having a body, living with 4 children who also have bodies, and owning a home instead of a condo.  I expect nails and grass to grow back.  However, I am MUCH less gracious about mistakes or bad habits growing back.  Yep, I am a hypocrite too, but, dammit already, once I’ve done the soulful lecture, given the encouraging talk, metered the appropriate consequence and hugged the it’s-all-going-to-be-okay-hug, why does the errant behavior grow back?  Like I ever, ever, got frustrated at one of my kids that their nails grew too quickly, or their hair was too long?  Really?  Why doesn’t it feel the same?  It’s all just cutting and trimming, right?

That’s truthful.


What’s true?

Yeah, okay, I only mend clothes in an emergency.  Like, if one of my kids is in serious love with something, or a Halloween costume goes kinky, or I have to wear something, then and only then, I mend clothes.  I have actually only mended 5 socks, and well, yes, they were just that special.  However, I wash more laundry than a lifetime, centurion insomniac has ever counted sheep.  I live with five other people.  Jeans with blown-out knees and dirty laundry are more common than colds in our house.  I do more loads of laundry in a week than toilets flush in this house.  Do the math.  The number is just that big.  Yet, I get frustrated if I have to have the same discussion over and over with one or more of the kids.  Like really, and those of you who are regular readers, this won’t surprise you. Really?  We have to talk about the litter box again?  And go over the chart or board or plan de jour?  Again?  Like, do you expect me to kill the cats or scoop the waste myself?  I don’t think so.  And then we all have to get over it again and mend relationship?  Running a marathon uphill is less cardiovascular.  Can’t I just tell my children what to do once, and the problem will be mended?  I have never complained that it’s time to give a baby a bath, or wash Baby Girl’s hair, or even wash out the sink.  I love to see and smell my kids squeaky clean.  Frankly, I am a bit of a freak about my sink.  I love to wash it, and don’t leave it wet.  I always dry it out with a cloth so it’s shiny.  Yep, I am just that sick.  Too bad it doesn’t translate when I am tasked to wash away angry words said by a confused adolescent or overtaxed husband.  Where’s my compulsion to wash when it’s time to clean grievance and forgive?  My track record simply isn’t as consistent there.

I am a recreational wiper.  Really, I wipe my kitchen counters as a go-to anxiety reducing strategy.  Yep, really.  I buy Windex in bulk.  I like how it smells more than a rich waft of a freshly baked brownie.  I am just that kind of sick.  I wipe noses and counters with complete alacrity.  It doesn’t gross me out.  It doesn’t bother me.  I am only uncomfortable if you tell me I can’t wipe a dirty nose or counter top.  That said, I am not oh-so smile-on-my-face-song-in-my-heart when it comes to wiping out a debt or a grievance.  I can rehearse a grudge like one big, drag-queen diva on a stage belting out a tune from Yentl. I have to wipe out my right to be right?  My left hand is all but a CPA with record keeping, folks…  I gotta wipe my righteous indignation?  I need to forget? Like wipe away my being offended like the tide?  Really?  Over and over again… cause my kids aren’t listening and they still don’t clean the litter box, and oh, by the way, one of them lied to me again.

That’s truthful.


What’s true?

Yeah, I polish nails and furniture and mend scraped knees like Florence flapping Nightingale, but polishing and mending relationships is so much harder.  The central reality that makes it feel so much more challenging is completely subjective.  I expect to drown in laundry and I expect my children to listen to me the first time every time and learn from their every mistake too.  Only one of the two premises has any basis in reality, yet I operate in a constant state of denial that I have to say it again, like, “How many times have I told you…” That cliche has been around so long it has surprised cave men. I just ain’t gonna be the Mamma who only has to say it once.  Dammit, dammit, dammit!  And I’m not going to cure sibling rivalry either, so I have Oreo pie accidents and eat two slices in the middle of the night in my underwear.  Yes, for the record, I am eating a lollipop.   And I’m tired.  I’m mean, I’m here, I won’t quit, but I am weary in my marrow.  And what do you mean, children?  I am supposed to cultivate meaningful relationships with each of you individually and still keep up with your laundry, homework and extra-curriculars?  You outnumber me and your father travels!  I can’t do it!

That’s truthful.


What’s true?

The most veridical thing that I can assert at this point is that in my own strength I can only keep up with their laundry.

OK, sorry, some of you know me, usually, I can’t even manage that.

If I objectively list everything I am supposed to groom, or facilitate the grooming of, as a mother and wife, I will archive a job description for which none would apply.

Like ever.  Even in a recession as deep, dark and long as this one, Beloveds. And that’s true enough.

However, if you want to talk to me about truth relating to revelation that appears to be confirmed in subsequent experience, I got me one heck of a Big Brother.  He wipes debt like I go after a counter top.  Verily, I say to you, He was born for it.  I got a written promise that His plans are to prosper and not to harm me.  And up to and including the kids putting toxic waste in my rice pudding, that’s true enough too.  I got this wholly, holy fruit lives inside of me like some supernatural, turbo-pack to equip me to groom like a salon before a red carpet event grooms A-list celebs.  Only this equipment could care less what I wear or look like.  In fact, outward appearance isn’t even on its compass, this centers exclusively on the Heart, Truth and Home.

So, yeah,one way or another, in terms of veridicality, being a Mamma most often comes down to grooming.

The onus is to accept the relational aspects of grooming as reflexively, and with as much unflappable expectation, as we address physically grooming our children or homes.  True, relational grooming is more difficult because it calls upon us Mammas to get our egos out of the way and  to access Godly cleansers like Grace, Forgiveness and Love.  The task is to remove blame instead of coffee stains and mend fences before bra straps.

No matter how clean I keep my house, my house is not in order unless the people who I love that dwell here sleep well, and safely, and trust like breath that they are adored and beloved.

So, yeah, my name’s The Mamma, and I’m a veridicalholic, and I’ve had accurate fact-based perceptions for a term, and because I am one fleshy mass of human id, there’s no transformation of my identity without God.

And I am gonna keep showing up and doing this program, because it’s not just my job, it’s my call.


Lovingly dedicated to Mona, whose soul-time with me today on the phone inspired this post.  Love you so.  xoxoxo

I did my best,
it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel,
so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth,
I didn’t come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!


see “One Chinese Mother’s Voice” on BlogHer

Posted by jael on Jan 17, 2011 in Education, Parenting, Politics, Spiritual Journey, Technology

BlogHer is an awesome space.  It’s like one big, cozy den in a real girlfriend’s house.  It makes me think of my friend, TJ’s, house.  Her place slings hash and parties more than any NYC bistro. Everybody feels happy and heard in her bright, citrus kitchen… children, couples, adults, girlfriends, and in-laws alike.  TJ knows her crowd, speaks the truth, and lives in a land where polka dots meet sass.  So when I’m stuck at home with a sick kid, or actively avoiding laundry, or coming down off work, or checking the pulse of recent headline buzz, I show up on BlogHer like I often wander over to TJ’s house.  I love places where I don’t have to worry what I wear, Starbucks is always welcome, and make-up is entirely optional.

I plugged into some BlogHer voices like passive-agressive earbuds more than usual last week, in bold procrastination of my urgent need to plan and host a weekend event.  I had one big case of Mamma- Performance-Anxiety, and believed I couldn’t consummate.  While there, I read “One Chinese Mother’s Voice,” The post is not only provocative and profound, but it challenged me to Surrender on a new level.

The post speaks for itself, and I encourage you to read it.  Though its entirety compels, an Hallelujah rose like a phoenix from the ashes when she sang:

Sure, the little voice produces an adult who knows how to work hard, achieve, and get into an Ivy League school. She believes she can accomplish anything if she puts her mind to it.

But that little voice also produces a person who worries about not accomplishing enough and frets about the next accolade.

The little voice produces a person who cannot accept the fact that there are actually things hard work alone cannot accomplish.

The little voice produces a person who can’t accept the fact that her competence comes in Christ alone.

The little voice produces a person who can’t accept the fact that she needs a Rescuer.

The truth is, all the hard work, grittiness, and achievement in the world cannot make you right with God.

That comes from admitting to Jesus that you can’t work hard enough, that you don’t know all the answers, and that you really can’t be confident of anything in life except Him.

When you let God’s grace invade every part of your life, it’s not so easy to suddenly turn that little voice off.  Thankfully, God’s grace, embodied in Jesus’ love, speaks a whole lot louder than the little voice.

Ester Feng, http://www.blogher.com/frame.php?url=http://www.estherfeng.com,  unglued me like bad 80’s hair on a too humid day.  The Holy Dove moves through her to minister to my heart.  Her premises about “the little voice,” are not to be denied.  In a cathartic spasm of PTSD, I realize how my own little voice still sometimes deafens me from the Still, Calm Voice of Peace.  I wish to plant no such little voices in my children’s intellectual maps.  Have I constructed a family culture wherein anxious children measure accomplishments with fretting fingers, strumming ever-shifting emotional abacuses in search of the next accolade?  Have I embedded the message that they need a rescuer like an in-grown toe nail to falter their steps in Faith?  As I intone the mantra, “Quality matters,” have I diminished their reality that true competence comes in Christ alone, and that there are things their hard work cannot independently orchestrate?  Is my own heart a place that Grace invades so that I may lead them toward Godly relationships and Love?

I walked away from the screen the first time I read Feng’s post, and knew she’s struck a secret chord, and like David pleased the Lord.

This Mamma needs be still, and know that God will be God to my children.   Only His voice may speak clearly enough to consistently mute the noise of this percussive world, so that my children may turn to him as their Him as their Portion Deliverer.

I need to be inside-out on Message with this Truth… My children belong to Him, and all the interactive book reports, music lessons, soccer tournaments, and healthy lunches in the universe don’t compare to the Glory of the Provision He brings to the lives of my children through Love.


Love wins.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah


Adolescent Marketing

Posted by jael on Jan 16, 2011 in Education, Parenting, Spiritual Journey

I have been annoyed and amazed in turns by email, sales ads, I have gotten since Christmas from Macy’s.  Their images offer icons that look like option buttons, that you can not click.  The only way to enter the sale is one “Shop Now,” tab, and once you get to the main page, the items offered there differ from those on the tease-ad page.  This all got me thinking about marketing in general.  Grocery and discount department stores are renown for sales ploys that get people in the doors with the promise of bargains, and then do their prankster pricing like the man behind the curtain to keep their books in the black.  My marketing musings made me consider my adolescent son, who has begun to learn how to craft a message to prompt permission or favor.

All this input prompts me to also consider the undeniable social reality of relational marketing.  Then a notion struck me like a mosh pit!  What would happen if adolescents organized?  How crazy would it be if there were a clandestine, fraternal, marketing order for adolescents?  Only those who knew the secret handshake or wore the signet ring with the infrared crest could enter the meetings dedicated to playing the parents one day at a time.  What if such an organization had sponsors, hip aficionados of context, that would coach our kids in the right way to massage a message or carry a load?  What if they tweeted daily persuasion tactics on Twitter and had a Facebook presence?  What would be the name of such an organization?  What would be the title of their on-line manual?  And would we, the uninitiated and technologically-outdated parents, even know such an order existed?

If The Boy, 12, told me that his Physics teacher was adding an extra 50% free to his test grade, I, The Mamma, of course would look for the catch.

If The Boy, 12, advertised that his English teacher was doing a half-off assignment load, I, The Mamma, of course would check the fine print (on the school’s homework site).

If The Boy, 12, offered me a FREE homework pass from his Geometry teacher, I, The Mamma, of course would scoff!  Like not gonna happen, Son, like Polar Bears are more likely on a deserted, tropical island, and I don’t mean an inane Lost plot twist.

However, in daily conversations, during carpools, at the dinner table, or during Family Meetings, like most Mammas, I am more easily persuaded to take Adolescent Marketing at face value.  After all, my first-born, only and sweet son, The Boy, loves me and wouldn’t contrive to trick his mamma.  Would he?

Maybe I shouldn’t be so sure.  Recent imaginings make me certain that The Boy could, in fact, engage in covert adolescent marketing campaigns of his own, and that I can be quite a mark.

True, the majority of his ads seem designed to persuade permission, not distort truth, but what if other tactics are being employed?

How many other ploys designed to fool Mammas are out there? What sly, dazzling marketing designs lie beneath the surface of adolescent permission-seeking promotions and rationale-deductions/social networks. . .

Here, confiscated at great personal risk by an undercover operative, are some of the most common Adolescent Marketing Antics of the Anonymous Association quoted from their own handbook:


Make big, bold confessions and independently offer unsolicited confessions of wrong doing. Adolescent Marketing Antics of the Anonymous Association (AMAAA) recommends this tactic called ‘consequence establishing’ when members have other, more major transgressions they seek to conceal.  Upfront admissions of minor offenses conceal the ‘original’ violation from view, and, if only for a very short period, help members avoid major parental penalties. In some cases, special rewards are even given by parents who see the member’s confession like a bargain, and seek to reward his honesty, but it’s actually the age-old bait and switch.

The month before Prom (or desired event like a concert or party), boast that  you have slashed your social engagements to polish your grades before report cards. But don’t say that you’re actually only reducing your face time with friends, and are gaming together on line as much as doing homework when you studiously sit at your computer. Nor should you mention that you send around 1,000 more texts those weeks.  In most cases, the halo effect of your proactive approach to school work will prompt the all-night-out permission you seek for prom night (or coveted event), and, in rare but documented cases, might even help raise your grades.

Teenage siblings can look Jumbo-sized and cool to smaller brothers and sisters.  As annoying as they are, younger siblings can be bribed to do chores, lend money and cover your absences quite easily and relatively cheaply.  Do not underestimate the power of Big Sibling Pacts.  You can make your younger siblings feel like you’re doing them a favor when you swear them to secrecy about who broke Grandmother Margaret’s antique candlesticks.

Certain everyday behaviors (such as consistent use of manners, keeping a tidy room, regular bathing, tooth brushing and making eye contact) are used to gauge just how trustworthy or otherwise reliable a teenager is.  If they’re consistently employed, they can ‘put a halo of good value’ around an adolescent… Even if the reality is very different.


This sci-fi nickname, coined by an infamous AMAAA alum, refers to the hundreds of ways we teens can shrink effort invested in chores while still appearing to have completed the tasks.  Parents might be responsible for making the Family Chore Wheel, but it’s the kids that control the how the jobs get done.

So, for example, when cleaning the litter box, put the majority of the effort into the first impression… the sweep around the box and the big chunks.  If you skip the basics or leave the lid of the box askew, you’re just begging for a parent to come behind and inspect your work.  The goal is to avoid inspections entirely.


How much is a kiss, hug or smile worth to a mother of a teenager? No idea? Well, that’s because mothers’ hormone levels juggle almost as often as our own as they begin their marches toward menopause.  Use the affection your moms seek to encourage their goodwill and favor…

I am unable to transcribe anymore of the purloined AMAAA handbook.  The document emitted a strong, sudden gust of Clearasil and self-destructed shrieking, “Ahhh, Maaa!”

AMAAA… “Ahhh, Maaa!

Parents of adolescents beware…

They have organized and are marketing their message…

And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!

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