Domestic Bliss Report

Motherhood is hard work. If we don't stick together, we'll all fall apart.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Holy Innocents

Prayers for all those, for whatever reason and through no fault of their own, go back to God too soon.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Why do they hate us?

We all have them, those relatives without children who give gifts they don't have to live with. We parents look at them and blanch, mentally calculating either a) how fast we'll have to move to get it away from the child before the packaging is open, b) how long the batteries will last, or c) how long before the child loses interest and it can go out to the trash. The answers: a) break the sound barrier, b) too long, and c) WAY too long.
Now, not all of child-free people are clueless about gifts. One "aunt" has given an adorable wall-hanging duck clock, some assembly required. The "assembly" was attaching the bill of the duck with two screws and a small Phillips screwdriver (all included). This was a wonderful gift, not just for the clock, but also the screwdriver fits every toy's battery compartment, saving Mom and Dad precious time looking for the right screwdriver.
She has also given a cute pair of purple Keds tennis shoes, which have been worn by both our girls. She knows who she is.

Then there are the gifts on the other extreme. We were once given what we called the Haunted Guitar. It played one song (loudly). It had neither off switch nor volume control and was motion-activated. It could be sitting on the couch and the dog walking by would send up enough vibration to activate it. Seriously, we heard it going off after it was in the closet. Through the wall.
It went to Goodwill.
We were once given about a pound and a half of bubble gum. This was when Madeleine was 3, Dale not yet 2, and Rachel newborn. It went missing before the kids saw it.
This year, we were given electronic music makers, one for each child. Squeeze the trigger and the sphere on top spins into quarters, revealing Santa Claus an inch tall and playing three rapid-fire electronic melodies: Jingle Bells, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and something else I've blotted out. When I say "rapid-fire," I mean the first seven notes of Jingle Bells are so fast they sound like one. And they come with a dozen gumballs.

There. Now I've vented. What was the worst thing YOUR kid got for Christmas?

The food, the shopping, the food, the gifts, the food...

We have what is technically called "too much."
Even though I roasted my smallest turkey yet (not quite 12 pounds), we're still loaded. Our fridge is so jammed the green bean casserole might just have to go as there's no room for it. He's going to cook down the turkey carcass into soup this evening and that will help, as it's currently taking up too much room in our overstuffed fridge.
He's very good at it. And this year, instead of freezing it all, we can just take some of the jars from our Great Applesauce Adventure and use those! Some are still being used for applesauce, though. And that way, we won't have to microwave the frozen vats for 15 minutes to get them thawed; they'll be ready to serve in just a few minutes!
I made mincemeat pie this year (from a jar). I'm still wary of it; the idea of meat in a pie gives me raised eyebrow. I probably wouldn't have liked it if I'd tried it when I was younger. Now, though, it's a nice change. And a nod to my dad, the only other person I know who ate it.
Another reason I won't be grocery shopping until the New Year has to do with the generosity of my mother-in-law. Since they travel to warmer climes during the winter months, she emptied her larder into mine. Most of it we'll use, eventually, like the mac'-&-cheese and egg noodles. A little will get donated at our parish's weekly can donation. Realistically, how many cakes can I bake?
We're taking this week off Official School. If she wants to do something, I'll pull out other books that we don't see very often (Princess workbooks). She just read me half of one of the books she got in her stocking--another tradition of my husband's family. MIL has historically put supermarket tabloids in stockings; I'm tweaking that tradition and making it something useful. Maddie got a couple (Princess for a Day and I Want to be a Ballerina), and Dale got three (Cars, Rescue Heroes, and one on spaceships). All are Level One readers. Rachel got The Monster At The End Of This Book, starring Grover. I wonder what she'll think of it.
My dear husband got me a Catholic Woman's Day Planner, with the menu and lesson planning options. Yes, I asked for it. I live by my planner; it helps me stay sane. I don't have to remember when everything is (swim class, library, ballet, Bible study, doctor's appointments, et cetera); I just need to remember where I write it all down. This one is almost too nice to write in.
I hope everyone's Christmas and Boxing Day were as merry and relaxed (respectively) as ours, or more so. Probably spotty blogging until the New Year, but who knows? With husband on half days, I may just have time.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Could it be true?

Madeleine has become a fan of Holly Hobbie. We started with the classic rag dolls, just in time for the plastic posable ones (it's currently in my closet). Anyway, she's seen the character on the advertisements on our most frequently watched channel, Noggin. You know, the one without outside commercials 12 hours a day?
Well, today after Dale and I got home from Apocalypto, she was aglow. "Guess what came on at five o'clock, Mom! Guess!" Bounce hard in the lap. Wonder Pets?
"Nope! Holly Hobbie!" She was close to shrill. "And they did a show about Jesus being born! And they sang the O Come Let Us Adore Him song!"
Wait. You mean a new children's show emphasized Jesus in their Christmas special instead of Santa? I've got more than just Charlie Brown?

I knew there was a reason I liked Holly Hobbie.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Pork rinds... for MOM!!

I'm done shopping. Even if I run out of toilet paper, I'm done with stores for the season.

During this season of generosity and goodwill, I think if I hear Johnny Mathis singing "Sleigh Ride" again I'll take hostages. If any materialistic, consumerist advice-giver tries to pry me away from home, hearth, and family in the next five days, they may need surgery to remove something large and oddly shaped from their abdominal cavity. I cannot predict exactly how it will find its way in. If during this time of love and family togetherness I have to wander around another retail outlet I haven't entered since last Christmas looking for some holiday "necessity," I'll be carrying a large knife and wearing a smile that doesn't quite reach my eyes.

Now, I'll be over in the corner reading to my kids and sipping my codeine-laced cough syrup.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

"Leap" dishes

Danielle Bean wrote about a phenomenon she called "fake laundry." It would drive me nuts, too. My kids are trained to put their stuff in the hamper in their bedroom--and they do it (I've told you before, they're weird).
No, I have "leap" dishes. With no dishwasher, I get to hand wash all of them. It's my husband's task to put them away--the equivalent of emptying the dishwasher, no? He is conditioned to do this once a day, regardless of how many times I wash dishes or point out that we do own dish towels.
The problem is, if I prepare three meals a day, and wash all of the dishes involved, I run out of room in the dishrack. I've tried to make modern sculpture balancing things precariously and I always end up with something glass at the end, awaiting its place in my still-wet hands. Great.
To avoid this, I don't wash everything in the sink, which results in the phenomenon I have dubbed "leap" dishes. I virtually always have some accumulating in the sink awaiting washing. Once or twice a week, depending on whether I bake, I get motivated to dry and put away those dishes I've just washed so I can turn around and wash another dishrack full. A few times any given week, I have a clean and empty sink. Which means I actually do two loads of dishes in a day.
Maybe instead of "leap" dishes, I should call them "blue moon" dishes.

We're keeping the "Mass" in Christmas.

The computer published that title before I could actually post anything. Go figure.

We had a playdate today with one of Madeleine's classmates from preschool. Jack is about a week younger than she is; his mom has long contemplated homeschooling, even. It's just coming to Decision Time and she's feeling the pressure. Dad fully--by my understanding, anyway--supports the idea. She's just worried about being alone or isolated.
I enter...

A while back, we had a tough moment regarding taking the little ones to daily Mass. I was asked why I do it by a longtime parish member and daily Mass regular. Many came out in my support; thanks to all of you.
Since then, he has helped my son zip his coat after and been charitable about sitting near him (the same pew we sit in on Sundays). But we haven't made it since Thanksgiving due to travel for the holiday and illness. The zinger? This past Sunday he told my husband that he missed them during the week. Heh.

Okay. Now I'm ready to publish.

PS--I love Santa. I take my kids to see him for lunch; we get letters from him; we help him out with our parish Giving Tree. So don't be suprised when things like this bring me to tears of innocent memories (check out the Things to Do download!). And things like this make me weep with impotent rage (another reason to homeschool?).

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

It's NOT just a recreational activity.

It means something. It's not just fun and games.

What am I talking about?

This. Ask her.

Ask me.


Monday, December 18, 2006

I try not to be trendy...

but I realized something last week. We both have our Kate Schori mugs, but ten years from now, will anyone know or care who she is?
Sure, people will still recognize, read, and study those depicted (except for me, a graduate of 1980's Glitterchesis, where I learned Jesus loves me and glitter is sticky. Chesterton, Flannery O'Connor, Aquinas... who else are these people?). But will anyone still get the joke?

My guess is probably not.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

I'm getting old.

It's a concession to our youth-enamored culture to admit that I've noticed and I don't like it. And I know others have it worse; I'm only 35. But I'm coming to grips with my own aging and mortality.
My mind goes to dark places when left alone at inopportune times.
I know that someday, I will leave my children. They, in turn, will leave theirs. I don't like this thought, but I've had it. I try to squelch it.
I've said I would "grow old gracefully," whatever that means. To me, it meant no surgery to raise what gravity had lowered and no covering my gray hair (none of which I have yet). Perhaps it's the natural redhead part of me; I know I'd never get the shade to look right. I've long had a vague contempt for fake reds. They look so obvious to me.
But this week, I noticed a horizontal crease on my forehead. It was old news but this time it stayed even when my expression relaxed. Birthdays have not fazed me, but this crease is gnawing at my mind.
My mind flickered to the cosmetics aisle where I've seen the various lotions, serums, treatments, and creams. Where to even begin? They're all so expensive; tests for effectiveness would break the budget.
Besides, there's the time factor. I barely have the time to brush my teeth twice a day. To spend upward of $30 for a face cream I don't use is beyond lunacy.
So it's an opportunity to prioritize. Do I want to fight an endless and futile battle against the dermatological signs of aging, taking time and money away from my children, chores, hobbies and husband? Or do I let it go, surrendering my vanity to the sands of time?


Maybe just one face cream. And hiding my husband's new reading glasses so he can't see the line as clearly.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

"Once more into the breach, dear friends..."

We're done with our Christmas shopping, except for each other.

But today after our parish's Lunch with Santa, I'm going grocery shopping.

Prayers appreciated.

UPDATE 12/17/06--I'm relieved nobody felt compelled to start a prayer chain, or at least tell me about it. I went to a regular Cultivator John, not an all-inclusive. They had everything on my list and cheerfully directed me to the things I couldn't find (mushrooms and oyster crackers). I strayed from the list to get a jar of mincemeat (next year, if I like it, I'll try my own) for pie and I still spent less than I have in quite a while. Once I got in line, I waited for about a minute when the next register opened and I got to be second in line. With the exception of milk and the turkey itself, I'm done with shopping for anything except my husband until after Christmas.
I was so happy leaving the store that I had to tell the manager.

Friday, December 15, 2006

How much time do you have?

This is a very bad thing.

So is this. And this.

Don't ask questions about how I learn about these. I... know people.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Mark Shea beat me to it.

I've had a post percolating about the real reason Christmas is December 25, based on the original Christians being Jewish (that forgotten Jewish idea of dying on the date of your conception or birth) and thus pretty indifferent to the dating of any pagan festivals. Now Mark comes up with the history showing that the pagan festival was scheduled after December 25 was already recognized as significant, as in centuries after.

Yeah, the footnotes would be nice, but he's a pretty reliable source so I'm willing believe him until it comes out on dead tree. Speaking of which... I really really want this book. Could you put me on the waiting list?

I have a confession.

One of the reasons we're homeschooling is because I'm lazy.
That sounds odd to some of you, I'm sure. "What do you mean? You're taking on extra work! What with the planning, the teaching, the recordkeeping, the discipline... It's so much easier to just drop them off and let someone else worry about it!"
Problem is, I wouldn't be just dropping off; I'd be checking homework, reading over texts, quizzing, reviewing, calling the teacher. I'd be spending as much time doing all that as I'm spending now.
Which brings me back to being lazy. I don't know how I'd do it if I had to have our oldest somewhere by a certain time five days a week, every week. It was tough enough two days a week with preschool, where being late didn't really count against you. If school started at 8:30, I'd have to have three children five and under (and myself) out the door by 8:15. Every day. Even though our kids are usually up by 7:30, that doesn't mean we're moving with any alacrity.
I know there are folks who do it, throw coats over pajamas and boots on bare feet, shower and breakfast after. It's still stressful, not to mention cold. And when does the child that was dropped off eat breakfast? I know too that my beloved spouse could drop her off on his way to work, but if he has to be there early or is out of town, that puts me back in the same predicament. Murphy's Law dictates that would be the day the youngest has the flu. Not to mention having car seats in both vehicles. "Where's the booster? Oh, Daddy took it to work. How do I get her home? Or to the doctor?"
I'd like to say it's all academic excellence and character development, but I have to be honest. The whole package is what sold me.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Madeleine, my little helper

She consciously wants to help me. I don't know how much of what she does and says is normal and how much is more than average. When I call her our "reassurance baby," I'm not exaggerating. I really think we're doing something right with that one and I hope the others follow her example.
Now that you are apprised of that, here's the story. She has taken it upon herself to lay out my pajamas on our bed. It's supposed to be a surprise, but when she does it before lunch I find it sooner than she likes. Ah well; we're trying to coax her out of that disappointment.
There's a little pair of problems with this arrangement, though. Can anyone see the potential here? Bueller?
One of the problems is that Sleeping Beauty, the two DVD set, is hiding in the bottom of my underwear drawer until Christmas. How would I explain that? Though I do think it would involve less therapy than the following.
The other is a more... adult problem. How to explain? She has noticed that I wear underwear under my pajamas, and she knows where those are, so when she does her thing she gets out panties for me as well. Um... not all of my undergarments are Hanes Her Way. (We aren't talking really weird; more Victoria's Secret. And no, I'm not providing a link.) Invariably she pulls out ones she thinks are pretty because they have lace or are nice colors. She says we should wait until we're in a bigger house for another one, but she has no idea how tough she's making it for her father.
No, I'm not looking for tips on how to keep Madeleine out of my underwear drawer. I'm just sharing a story to make others laugh.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

More on privacy vs. public

In mulling that recent post, I realized my presumption was, "Why do people have only X number of children?" My brain completely misfired on the fact that there are those who have no children, for whatever reason.
I know a number of couples who have no children. Two divorced for problems related to infertility. One, it's medical. Others we have... lost touch with, to say it tactfully (not all--you know who you are). A summary, and I'll try to keep it to facts.
New Year's Eve, 2000-01. Dale and I got together with some other childless friends. I/we suspected I was pregnant and nursed my single white Zinfandel for several hours. We were all adults with nary a mortgage among us.
NYE 2003-04. We had two kids, whom we took to the get-together. Do you have any idea how tough it is to find a sitter on New Year's Eve? The little guy was still nursing, besides. Our kids are part of our family and we enjoy their company. It's one of the reasons we had them.
NYE 04-05. One of our hosts was ill and they thought it a bad idea to bring the kids, as Rachel was still not quite four months old. So we stayed home and the friends we see annually came to us the next day. And stayed for about an hour. Maybe two.
NYE 05-06. We didn't even hear from them. I mentioned it, vaguely disappointed. I'll admit not being too surprised.

Another couple I know without children was in the area, relatively speaking, last Christmas. They drove on Christmas night for probably an hour and change to visit us. At home. Without being quite sure where we were, and trying valiantly to call us (Rachel had turned on the phone and hidden it in the couch, making it impossible to get through).
They did not feel obligated to bring gifts (thank God!), but they did eat something (and then complimented me on my cooking). He had no problem conversing with Madeleine for a while. They stayed around while we bathed the kids and put them to bed. After the young'uns were asleep, we watched a video.
THOSE are friends.

But about the kids part... One never knows the reasons for a couple not having kids, or not having more, or continuing to have. It's just none of our business and asking is awfully nosy. I mean, (graphic alert) if she was raped by an uncle and then had a botched abortion that resulted in a hysterectomy at the age of 14, it's probably not something she wants to discuss with a grocery store clerk. Or like my cousin, who had no problem with her first pregnancy but hasn't gotten a second despite all avenues. But neither are things you discuss with near-strangers.
I recognize there are some who trumpet with pride their nth pregnancy (for shock value) or their or their spouse's sterilization. I think perhaps it's the loss of propriety in our society. We don't remember there are subjects not discussed in public, inappropriate clothing in certain situations, even places not to be on one's cell phone. We've lost our manners.
And that, my friends, is a whole other post.


Friday, December 08, 2006

Cotton, I feel shocked...

Your Language Arts Grade: 100%

Way to go! You know not to trust the MS Grammar Check and you know "no" from "know." Now, go forth and spread the good word (or at least, the proper use of apostrophes).

Are You Gooder at Grammar?
Make a Quiz

I had a seventh grade teacher who made us diagram sentences. Does it show?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

ABC, personal vs. public

I happened on this discussion over at Summa Mamas about personal versus public, and why it's commonplace to hear the "We're done!" announcement.
I have to guess that others think we're done with three. We don't want to be, but even Madeleine knows we should be in a bigger house first. (Our son has put in a specific order for a brother.) But we're leaving it up to God and self-control, thankyouverymuch. I do recall a coworker of Dale's asking in almost-dismay, "You really don't have a set number?"
How could you in advance? Once upon a time I said "At least two, no more than four." If I were to stick with that, what if we got twins the fourth time around? Should I "reduce"? Has anyone ever eaten enough chocolate? Read enough good books? Seen enough sunsets? Heard enough "I love yous"?
I understand if pregnancy is difficult (but are they ever easy?) or there are health-related complications. I'll admit, though, I had enough trouble getting the dog spayed. I can't imagine those circumstances for myself.

On a lighter note, about the whole discussion in general, I think perhaps it's related to women or motherhood in general. We know each other a matter of minutes and we share birth stories. (Admit it.) Perhaps it's because everyone up to and including the kitchen staff comes in and looks up our skirt in the delivery room, so there's no "privacy" left. Even once you're home, using the bathroom is a community endeavor (especially during potty training).
I think some are perhaps looking for validation, but there's more to it than confessing. Sometimes it's just womantalk. At least some have reasons beyond "We can't fit more carseats in our SUV" for not having more.

Okay, I'm still formulating my opinion, but that's what comboxes are for. Any thoughts?


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Christmas gift exchange woes

Our parish moms' club has an annual gift exchange. Since there are only about six of us, it's not a big deal time-wise. I'll admit, though, that I know some of them better than others. This year, I had one I don't know terribly well, though when we've sat next to each other at candle parties we got along just fine.
Her list was not especially helpful. "Anything religious." We have a varied degree of educational background and religious adherence in our club; I'll admit I'm kind of on the high end of both, but not all are. I wasn't too sure where she stood on either. I settled on something that, despite Priority Mail, DID NOT ARRIVE IN TIME.
"Anything religious." Um, to quote Dale, you just gave the gun to the baby. And now we know it's loaded.
A statue? Of a patron saint. Who is that? No saint Sandra. Then who? Um, doesn't everyone love St. Francis? What if she already has one? What if she doesn't know who he is? The Holy Family! That's it! But statues without sentimental meaning are really just dust collectors and I don't want to do that. And what if she thinks it's just for Christmas? So now what?

A book! I'll get her a book! There's a whole new can of worms. Something less than Aquinas but more challenging than Amy Welborn's Prove It! series, we're talking a grown woman here. Something from TAN might scare her off; let's aim for Ignatius. Thomas Howard is a little on the high end; do they have any Mark Shea? He's eminently readable and orthodox. No Shea. Nuts. Oh, I wish Dale were here; he'd keep me from getting some hidden Crossan or Chittister. What do I do?
I took a breath and played the odds. I know Gen-Xers are in general poorly catechized, to put it charitably. So let's start simple. The Catechism reads more like a textbook, so that's out. Familiar author, then... I found something--tragically, I can't remember the title. Something like, 52 Questions and Answers About the Catholic Church, and I recognized the author. Kreeft? Hahn? Madrid? Can you tell I was in something of a rush? I'll ask her. Because I want it too.
Turns out she's a convert, not a cradle Catholic. So this was an excellent place to start.

UPDATE: It was Karl Keating's What Catholics Really Believe--Setting the Record Straight: 52 Answers to Common Misconceptions About the Catholic Faith.
And from the reviews on Amazon, this was the perfect place to start.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Am I happy?

Dale and I still write Christmas lists. Despite being happily married for seven years and a couple four more than that, we still need guidance to give each other what they want. That's a whole other post, trying to please one's spouse. Let's just stick with Christmas lists and happiness for this time around.
In compiling mine, I wonder. What do I need? Not much. What do I want? Lots, but most of it would be on his list too, besides which it would take a winning lottery ticket to provide it instantly. So what else is there?
Which gets me to ruminating, What makes me happy? Would I be happy if I received no gifts this Christmas? What do I want most?
I want my children to have what they need most. They have food, clothing, shelter. Two parents who love and live with them, one of whom sees to their daily needs, like nose wipes and lunches.
I want a happy, healthy husband who knows I love him more than anyone or anything. Sometimes I forget that when my temper flares (you do know I'm Irish, right?), but according to him, that keeps me from being absolutely perfect. No dummy, he.

A while back, my college alumni paper had a bit about another alum who was doing missionary work somewhere, helping native peoples build houses and get potable water. He might have been in the Peace Corps; I don't remember.
Reading that, I started to feel down on myself. What was *I* doing to change the world? I was busy deciding whether to serve macaroni and cheese or Spaghetti-O's, washing dishes and pairing socks, while this other person who went to the same college I did was getting write-ups for improving the life of an entire village. My insignificance bothered me.
A friend (and fellow alum) had some consoling words, though I have to paraphrase as my memory fails. She said something like, Our day-to-day lives are important because they support him. If everyone were out digging wells in developing countries, who would be at home reading about it? One high school teacher worded it a little more baldly: "Someone has to flip the burgers."
Which all leads me to this. Am I happy with the life I have? I'm not globe-trotting, giving lectures in French on what Victor Hugo would think about the October riots. I'm not writing weighty tomes on Shakespeare's significance in Elizabethan England. I'm not winning Teacher of the Year awards from any national organization--or any organization, as a matter of fact.
Nope. I'm just trying to get my five-year-old to read, my three-year-old to learn his letters, and my two-year-old to use the toilet, while staying one step ahead them in the laundry, dining, and housekeeping departments. And figuring out what Santa can bring them (and me) that won't take up too much space in our already-overcrowded house.
Jewelry doesn't take up much space, does it?

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Monday, December 04, 2006

The Birthday Meme

Thanks, Sarah.
1) Go to Wikipedia.
2) In the search box, type your birth month and day but not the year.
3) List three events that happened on your birthday.
4) List two important birthdays and one death.
5) One holiday or observance (if any).

My birthday is July 29.

1565 - Mary Stuart, widowed, marries Lord Darnley, Duke of Albany.
1836 - Inauguration of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
1981 - Lady Diana Spencer marries Charles, Prince of Wales.

1905 - Clara Bow, American actress (d. 1965)
1953 - Geddy Lee, Canadian musician(Rush)

1890 - Vincent van Gogh, Dutch painter (b. 1853)

Holiday or Observance:
National Anthem Day in Romania.

I knew about Van Gogh and Di and Charles. Dale is a fan of Rush, so... The rest are all news to me.
Tag: Dale, Diane, and Shelly. Have fun with it!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Hey, have you seen these?

For those who haven't visited my husband's blog recently, here are a few of the kids' latest pics.

Yeah, he agreed to raise the kids Catholic and I agreed to raise them Wolverines. Ours is a marriage of compromise.

Friday, December 01, 2006

We put the grave blankets on this week.

My brother, my sister, and my father. It's weird to say.
We've been doing it my whole life, and it's always been a somber, melancholy kind of day. Even when we'd go out on a sunny day in the spring, it would throw a sort of quiet over everything else.
My parents had a boy baby before I was born. His name was Mark and he lived about a month. I asked my mom once if I'd have been born if he'd lived, and she immediately responded with "Of course." In my dark moments, I'm not so sure.
Then when I was four, my mom had her last baby. Heidi didn't live very long despite weighing almost ten pounds. My mother never saw her alive and didn't even make the funeral, as she was still in the hospital. My father made all the arrangements.
It seems weird to have the realization--and I have it almost every time we go out there--that I have a brother and sister in the cemetery. I never met either one.
We would go out a few times a year. In the spring to clean off the headstones for the summer, then perhaps in the fall to clean them off for the winter. One last time later for the grave blankets.
It was something of a challenge to find the headstones. We would park near the sign (2B) and get out. We'd walk among those stones, all of them flat to the ground. We would study the names, the dates, looking for something familiar. Looking for our own last name. Carefully avoiding the stuffed animals, balloons, and pinwheels left at the more recently dug, feeling my throat swell up funny at the flowers left at the older ones. Then someone would find the stones and we'd kneel. Dad would lead us in an Our Father and we'd move on to the next one.
A big deal was not made; it was just something we did. Now, when I take my own children there and I watch them walk among the stones, I understand how some that are thirty years old still get pinwheels and stuffed animals. And I wonder about those unadorned headstones. Are the child's parents still alive now, almost forty years later? Did they move away? Does anyone remember and mourn this child?
Then I remember: Matthew 18:2-4. If those little ones aren't in the presence of God, I don't know who would be.