House Rules

No headbands in bed.
You can’t just eat the croutons, you have to eat the salad too.
You can’t just show up.
If you’re a girl,don’t take your shirt off in real life, except if you’re Evelyn.
Don’t throw the mulch up the sliding board.
You can’t eat the dog food unless you’re the dog.
Never put matchbox cars in the toilet.
Do not stick your fingers into the turtle pen.
Do not write on yourself with markers. No writing on others with markers.
Always put the ladder up when you are finished swimming in the pool.
Do not eat the mulch.
Do not feed M+Ms to the dog.
No crying in baseball.
No licking your plate.
No licking your sister or brother’s plate.
No licking the water ice from the steps at Citizens’ Bank Park or from any steps for that matter.
No saying damn it unless you are Pepere.
Be kind.
No peeing in the pool.
No BabyRuths in the pool.
Don’t answer the door when mom’s in the shower.
Disregard previous rule, mom never has time to get in the shower.
Talk about your feelings.
No diving into pool.
Be honest.
Snitches get stitches.
Love one another!

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Calling All Angels

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For some reason, I seem to attract people who are a bit offbeat and eccentric. It happens everywhere I go. For example, in line at the pharmacy, the lady behind me told me how she is the smallest in her family and has five year old twins to whom she gave birth when she was 41 years old. Her parents are dead and she has sixteen nieces and nephews. Then there was the time the girl asked me if Nathan’s hot dogs were meat or beef because she was just thinking about it. And then there was the car wash attendant who raved about the colored bubbles sauna effect and told me I would be amazed when I saw my wheels.
So, it wasn’t surprising to me, today, when I was getting out of the car, that I heard a voice call to me. “Hey sweetie, have you seen any angels flying around here?”  It was the man I see at our church every Sunday. Throughout the mass he keeps his eyes fixed on the stained glass windows. His Mona Lisa smile betrays a hint of mysticism. In other words, he’s crazy. This gentleman walks all about town and I see him talking to invisible companions, gesturing as he speaks as if he is trying to solve all the problems of the world. He walks in every kind of weather, in Winter and in Summer,  for miles…always with a smile on his face. He wears a baseball hat backwards over his long blond disheveled hair. His face is boyish and I would imagine, as a child , he was cherubic, angelic. “Yes”, I answered. “There are angels flying around all over the place. They are everywhere.” He pointed up the street and I told him he was headed in the right direction. With obvious delight, he gave me a hearty thumbs up . And off he went to find the angels.
I find angels in all the oddballs I meet. I am grateful to be blessed with an angel magnet in my soul.

Lady and the Ramp

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There was a knock at the door. Before I could answer, I found a woman of bohemian appearance, standing in the foyer.  She had dreadlocks and carried a lot of bags. She greeted me and then asked if this were a place that cared for animals.  “I saw a cat outside and the wheel chair ramp” she said, “so, I figured this is a place that takes care of animals.” I found myself  thinking, certainly, that makes perfect sense. A cat and a handicap ramp, why wouldn’t someone come to the conclusion it’s a place for disabled felines and other furry creatures (cats in wheel chairs at the very least).

I explained to her that this is our home.  I told her, that,  despite what it looks like, it is not a facility for crippled cats or any other kind of challenged animals. She apologized profusely as she tip toed backwards, out the door, repeating in a whisper, “Sorry, sorry sorry”. Our 23 year old son, Sonty,  just looked at me and said,  “Do you think maybe we should keep our doors locked?”  “Perhaps we should,” I replied, “but if we do that, we might miss out on entertaining angels unawares.” (Hebrews 13:2).

In Real Life

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On an unusually warm day this past May, I had to pick up our seven year old grandson, Lucas, from school. This takes a bit of orchestrating because, on any given day, there are three or more other kids that have to accompany me on this excursion.  This day it was 22 month old, Xavier, aka ‘Zabor’, two point five year old Amelia and Lucas’ four year old sister, Evelyn.  It was hot in the car. Evelyn decided to take  off her shirt. Lucas, exasperated with his little sister’s disrobing, shouted in alarm, “Evelyn, you can’t do that in real life!”

What constitutes real life anyway? Certainly not fake news, boobs, noses, nails, lashes nor the way we often use social media to embellish our otherwise ordinary lives and mask our imperfections. Maybe real life is our beat up, worn out, naked selves with all our vulnerability loved, like the Velveteen Rabbit, in a way that makes us real. After all, the great spiritual traditions say God loves us just the way we are (and so does Billy Joel). In any case, Evelyn  retorted to her brother with gusto, “Lucas, you’re not the boss of me! I can do whatever I want.” And she can. She’s a red head. No one in his right mind should mess with a red head… in real life.

 

This Ordinary Miracle

 

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When we think of a miracle, we usually think of something improbable or impossible.  We think of those extraordinary events like water into wine (one of our favorites); the inexplicable cure from a terminal disease, a blind person recovering sight, the Phillies winning, your kid listening the first time he or she is told to do something, beating the odds to win the lottery, St. Anthony finding a long lost something or other or,  for me, drinking my coffee while it’s still hot, a minute alone in the bathroom, two minutes passing without the word “Mom”.

An ordinary miracle is when the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. One plus one equals a thousand. This is a perfect description of our eight year old daughter, Rosey.   If her individual parts were for sale, they’d all be on the “as is” rack. Crossed eyes, short leg, missing septum pellucidum (Trust me you need a septum pellucidum…Google it!) leaks like sieve and talking with her is like playing a round of Mad Gab. Put them altogether and you have a miracle! Magical, holy, inspirational. But, just for the record, our ordinary miracle, Rosey, was also not expected to see or walk or talk. So she’s an extraordinary miracle as well. With her we did win the lottery. Blessing!

 

Auto-Correct, Where Are You?

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Our eight year old daughter, Rosey, loves to sneak my phone and send texts. Usually, they go to a family member. Most often they are gibberish mixed with emojis. Tonight, however, one of her texts went to a number I didn’t recognize. The content of her text was “A..s on your face.”  The return text inquired, “Who is this!?”  I quickly realized it was the lady from whom I’d purchased an antique typewriter on Craigslist. I immediately sent her an apology about Rosey and explained about her special needs. She answered that she herself is a Special Ed teacher and perhaps Rosey was connecting with an energy  they both shared. You bet your a..s! To me it was just a silly covfefe.  Sometimes, I think our world could use one universal auto-correct. Enjoy!

No Ifs Ands or Butts

According to our daughter, Ebony, I have a flat butt. She asked me if this was because I sat on it too much.  Seriously, Ebony?  This butt hasn’t met up with a couch since Washington crossed the Delaware. That is an exaggeration, but sometimes it seems like that long ago, back when there were no children, no pets, and no home for which to care. It is almost impossible to imagine such a time, and frankly it must have been quite boring.

In reality, days in this house begin at 5AM and end around midnight give or take an hour. By 8 AM, we’ve already put in a full day. Four kids have been sent off to school. And these aren’t “normal” kids. There is Salinna with her cerebral palsy, a total care child in a wheelchair. Salinna is sixteen now and she is a typical teenager.  She hates to get up in the morning and she won’t do a thing for herself!  We ask her if she stayed up late talking with her friends on fb. (This is a joke.  Salinna doesn’t walk or talk, but if she did…!)  And then there’s dear Alex who wakes up asking for donuts or cupcakes. We think donuts and cupcakes are a perfectly fine choice for breakfast, but , of course, meds must be taken first.  “No like medicine!” “None of us like medicine, Alex, but if you want to stay on this side of the grass for awhile, you have to take your medicine. No medicine, no cupcake.” Finally after this back and forth a few times he takes his medicine and states “I don’t wanna play outside”. Whatever. Then it’s time to feed the cats, walk the dogs, toss in a load of wash from the bed wetters’ club, followed by a regular load of wash and then feed and water Hazel, the horse and clean her corral. And if it is not every other day, there is no shower.  Mothers and fathers do not need daily showers.  They just need to wash the body parts that show.  And that  does not include a flat butt.  Next, it is time for little Rosey to be on her way.  Rosey likes the whole family to see her off to school, so whoever is available is beckoned to watch for bus #46  no matter how long the wait . Just after this, it is time to wake up Ebony who frequently can be heard running on her treadmill or practicing her vocals at 4AM. And so it usually takes a stick of dynamite to get her out of bed and sometimes that isn’t even enough.  The bus driver will often offer to ride around the block to give Ebony a few more minutes to get ready.  It would be an understatement to say that Ebony is not a morning person!

On most days, before this off to school routine is complete, our grandchildren Lucas and Evelyn (aka Devilyn) are arriving for Memere’s (my grandmother name) day care. Evelyn is the stereotypical redheaded two and a half year old, who is a whirling dervish, from the time she touches down at Memere’s until she is beamed back up to her parents at 6PM. And did I mention our baby granddaughter, Amelia lives with us along with her mom and dad? We watch her only on days ending in Y. At nine months old, with a speedy crawl, she’s become our resident “dustbuster”.

The day is filled with diapers, drop in visitors, occasional disasters and dinner. A drop in might be Freddy Love who first met us at a yard sale we held a few years ago. No telling when Freddy will come by but when he does he updates us about his wife who ran off with their pastor, or how he can cut down our trees for $800 or his plans to buy a million dollar house in Florida. Until his recent death, another drop by visitor was our friend Mr. Ray, self described as “the smartest man in the universe”.  Ever since he did some electrical work for us a decade ago, he’d stop by on a whim or by a directive from God for cake and tea. He was a man familiar with little miracles.  Not infrequently, Ms Georgia, the eccentric boarder who lives in the loft above the garage stops by at midnight to ask us to move the car or to drop off her rent money. In our universe, these unplanned visitors never fail to correspond with the disaster of the day. (lost pacifier, overflowing toilet, dog or kid or both barfing, pot boiling over, Evelyn disappearing, Evelyn in the snack cabinet, Evelyn wrapped in toilet paper and usually several of these concurrently).

So, dear Ebby, no buts about it, this butt is not a couch potato butt; but a butt worked to the bone.