Fever

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Fever!

It’s summer. It’s hot. I’m tired… You’re getting leftovers tonight!

Seriously, this is the post that more or less started it all. Although I had been blogging for a while; this post attracted quite a bit of attention and for that I am grateful.

There are two reasons why I post this tonight. The first is that a friend recently read a more current post. I wanted to give him a taste of some earlier work. The second is because in reading through this I noticed a milestone…

This is the very first post that received a comment by Annie! FYI, she is my most prolific commenter and such a inspiration to me to just keep writing. So Annie, read and enjoy. This one’s for you!

Harvey Millican: Raising Your Kids Without Lowering Your IQ

So much has transpired in the past twelve hours I haven’t really had a moment to catch my breath. It is now after midnight, my children and wife are asleep, and I am trying to slowly exhale all of the excitement onto this page so as to let it all out. Stick with me, though, this is going to be good.

Today was my first full day of summer vacation. Our plan was (for me) to sleep in a little then watch the kids while Karla did some work, go to lunch with our friend Crista, and head out for the beginning of our month long road trip. We were supposed to finish the day in Harrisburg at my sister Mary Ann’s house where might even get in some time at the pool before the sun set over the western horizon. Our son had other plans. Upon returning from our…

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How You Say in English?

For some time now I have prayed and held fast to that elusive virtue of hope that God would bless our home with new life.  Our two saints in training have certainly given me a run for the money in supplying plentiful material for my practice of the other virtues.  But hope… Hope is a hard one to practice.  It’s so esoteric.  And certainly not for lack of trying; but we keep coming up empty.

Trust me, this is not going anywhere near where you think it’s going.

A few months ago my adoring wife asked me how I felt about taking in a foreign exchange student for a few weeks.  Her exact words were “We’re taking a foreign exchange student for a few weeks.”  Adorable.  The kid would be coming from Spain.  I like the Spanish people.  Perhaps he knows Brazilian pop star Xuxa!  Or perhaps she’s from a completely different continent and speaks Portugese.  Whatever.  I put nothing past Our Lord and Savior and recognize that He can answer prayers however He sees fit.  This, dear readers, might just be our little baby (at least for a few weeks).  Sure he shares none of our genetic code but we’re all European!  And he’s 15 so there’s that.

We got our home ready for our new arrival.  I think they call it nesting.  I made his room up for him.  I wonder if he’ll be a Mets fan like his old man host father family.  Of course we’ll have to call the church and schedule the baptism.  Imagine my shock when I found out that my wife had consigned the crib and that our new exchange son was 15 and would in all likelihood return to Spain after three weeks leaving us again childless except for the two we already have.  Since this would be baby’s first visit to his new home country we wanted to instill a bit of pride in our great land.  We hung the red, white, and blue bunting from our windows and raised Old Glory above the garage eaves.  Little Champ is going to love America.  I’m so freaking excited!

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Found this picture online of a generic orphanage in Spain.  How lonely must have been his days…

We waited at the delivery airport with American flag balloons and a copy of People for our new bundle of joy student.  He would need to be brought up to speed on culture quickly.  Also I do not speak Spanish except for a few dozen words I picked up in Newark as a kid.  I know just what to say in traffic.  Ordering at a restaurant, not so much.  They tell me his name was Javier but we have renamed him Sylvester after the second century pope.  I may have started legal adoption paperwork.  Who can say.

Sylvester arrived with a group of similar adoptees after a ten hour flight from Madrid.  I think that’s where the orphanage is.  His birth parents had left him there… to board his plane to the United States.  We wanted his experience of America and of Texas in particular to be spectacular.  We even arranged for 100 degree heat and spongy humidity.  He’ll never forget this.  In fact, none of his group are likely to forget any of these few weeks.

Adopting an exchange student whom you’re not really adopting is a challenge.  We had been told that his English was OK but that we weren’t to speak Spanish to him.  Again, that’s not really a problem for us.  But just to try some immersion techniques I turned the on the radio on our drive home.  Unfortunately it was a Justin Bieber song called Despacito.  He laughed.  Then he said “I think he’s just rhyming words.”  “Yes, son,” I told him, remembering so well all the little lessons I’m supposed to teach my young ones.  It comes back so naturally.  “That’s what most songs do.  They rhyme.  That means the words sound alike.”  My wife chimed in at this point.  “No, he means the words the song is rhyming are nonsensical.  Burrito, bandito, Frito.  It’s just a silly song.”  I’ll say.  Must remember where I put all the Baby Einstein DVD’s.

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His namesake.  Noble.  Pious.

When we got home I heated a bottle of milk.  Then we took Sylvesteriér to dinner.  Just something light.  We figured Cheesecake Factory would suffice.  My little boy’s eyes popped out of his head when he saw the portion sizes.  That’s right, little man, Mommy and Daddy will always take care of you in America.  We had also been told not to let him go to sleep until it got late on our time.  Listen here, orphanage, we’ve done this before.  I’ll put my kids to bed when I see fit.  Still there was some logic to their thinking.  He had been up for close to 24 hours.  Clearly we should force him to stay awake a few more and everything would be beautiful.

On a side note, another parent had taken a child from this group and texted us a picture of her girl petting a zebra.  I’m not even joking.  This was within two hours of landing.  I wondered if they had simply gone to the zoo.  Turns out the woman has a zebra on her property.  Apparently she bought the Neverland Ranch.

Over the next week or so we’ve gotten to know Sylvester quite well.  It’s amazing how much personality they have even at this age.  Since he appears to be a bit older than we were expecting in a baby I may have to have that certain talk with him sooner than I was thinking.  It’s a good thing I can just draw pictures since he still hasn’t learned to talk… English.

And I can’t believe it’s almost time to take the boy out to Sears for his portraits!  The time goes by so quickly.  There’s still so much to do with him.  I haven’t even taught him how to shoot a gun.  On that front, when I asked if he would want to go to a range with me he seemed afraid to even hear the word gun.  Oh the things they’ve done to you, Sylvester.  The tales from your orphanage are frightening, no doubt, and one day you will have to share them with American Daddy.

My wife tells me we’re apparently going to have to let go of him in a week or so.  I told her I have a passport and disguises.  No one’s taking my son from me!

We took him to an amusement park today.  He delighted in riding the coasters.  I think we shall also take him to an open pit barbecue.  He’d like that.  During the past week I started my new job.  I took Sylvester with me to the mall to get a few things.  He went to the Nike store.  And he pronounced it just like it looks.  I bought a sports coat from a respectable men’s clothier.  The next day I wore my jacket to work.  After work Sylvester came up to me and told me that I had looked very “elegant” in my jacket.  I don’t know what English vocab program they’re using but I like it.

Last week we took him to mass on Sunday.  Trying to immerse him constantly into our family life and Americana we figured we’d subject him to the stylings of Dan Schutte and Marty Haugen.  Fortunately for him the Kenyan choir was singing.  This must seem like such a strange place for him.

Oh, watching my boy grow up has been so exciting.  Before I know it the paperwork will be official and we can rest assured that no one will ever take our Sylvester away from us.

Perhaps tomorrow he wants to try Taco Bell.

I’m so proud.

Thanks be to God for hearing my prayer!

Back at the Bar

Those who know me might immediately assume I mean the kind that serve gin. 

However I’m talking about my trusty pull up bar. 

I haven’t actually been away from it. Far from it. I’m continuing to build myself up to greater things with it. 

Having gotten to where I can do three sets of ten in a row I’m looking for something loftier. 

Starting today I’m going to increase the number in each set until I can hit 30 straight pull ups

Now THAT’S a goal. 

A Kateri Correction

A friend pointed out just how lazy I was in writing that last post. 

St. Kateri’s feast is July 14th, not the 3rd. 

July 3 is the feast of the apostle Thomas. 

Watch me spin this better than a DJ…

Thomas means “twin”. Many theologians believe that the name refers to the fact that spiritually (at least in his doubt) Thomas has a twin in us all. All of us would include Kateri. By extension it is the feast of everyone. 

Anyway those Jell-O shots are coming along nicely. 

Kateri the American

Greetings readers!

Today is the feast day of St. Kateria Tekakwitha.  Kateria was canonized by the Catholic Church just five years ago.  When I was a child I knew her as “Blessed” Kateri.  I also remember that her name was spelled “Tekawitha” without the additional “k”.  I suppose along the road to sainthood people sometimes pick up an extra letter or two.

Kateri is an amazing woman.  A Mohawk maiden who lived in and around present-day Auriesville, NY (a suburb of Albany), Kateri was converted to the Catholic faith by Jesuit missionaries in the 17th century.  As I recall (and I’m too lazy to Google this in another tab) Kateri received the the grace of being hideously disfigured.  Stick with me.  You see, she was quite the looker with that sexy feathered headdress and was a style maven even Mr. Blackwell would approve of.  The moccasins completed the outfit with perfection. However, a smallpox outbreak when she was a child left terrible scars on her face.  I know the feeling.  I was on Accutane in my early 20’s.

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Not my favorite statue of Kateri but my own picture nonetheless.  Santa Fe, NM

To refer to this as a “grace” is simply to say that the scarring actually may have helped young Kateri who, following her conversion, took a vow of perpetual virginity for the sake of the Kingdom.  Well, as if the unsightly nature of her mug weren’t enough to advance that cause, Kateri was shunned by many in her own tribe for her conversion.  She ultimately fled to Montreal to escape persecution and died at the age of 24.

The scars?  Miraculously they disappeared moments after her death.

Not only have I visited the shrine in Auriesville but I have visited the gravesite of Kateri on land claimed by First Nations’ Peoples* outside Montreal.

I happen to know at least ten people who have named their daughter’s Kateri so the phenomena that is Kateri’s popularity isn’t simply a flash in the pan.

Her heroic virtue is duly noted and we as both Catholics and Americans are proud to count her among our own.  And how fortuitous for us that her feast day falls on the eve of the day we celebrate New Jersey’s independence from Great Britain!

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My last attempt at 7/4 cocktails.  Clearly my guests were not enthralled.

Kateri is but one of a growing number of Catholic saints and blesseds who hail from these shores.  Many of that list are typical of the American experience, having been born elsewhere (like Mother Cabrini and Mother Marianne Cope).  Many were natives of the land like Kateri and the three other natives whom we venerate.  And at least one, Mother Seton, was born on these shores prior to the colony of New York’s Brexit.

Why should you care about any of this?

I’m making cocktails for the Fourth of July!  Red, white, and blue Jell-o shots to be exact.  As I layer the components I will think of great Americans like Kateri and pray that I do not disfigure myself boiling water for the Jell-o.

Huzzah!

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Econ 102

A tip? OK. Don’t swim in shark infested waters. Dad humor 1 – Confused daughter 0

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Econ 101

Today’s lesson: the fungibility of money.