Saturday, October 28, 2006


New toy that harmoniously occupies all the children for hours: $20

Batteries to run the toy, per week: $3

Finally having a child old enough to assemble and operate the toy without any help whatsoever: priceless

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Tooth Fairy Trouble

* * *

The tooth fairy has been called to our house twice in one week. For the same child, as you can see.

The tooth fairy is normally very predictable in our house. She leaves a dollar, sometimes two for really important teeth, and shows up without fail when a tooth is to be collected. However, she was definitely not at the top of her game this week. Perhaps she is pregnant, too, and has a very bad case of baby brain. Who knows.

For her first visit of the week, imagine how great her surprise must have been when she arrived to find that she did not have any small bills. None. To further complicate the scenario, the tooth pillow that Lindsey uses does not accommodate coin of any kind. What is a fairy to do? After flying madly all over the house at an indecent hour, searching laundry, junk drawers and even the floor of the car in desperation (as I'm sure she must have done), she located a $5 bill.

So great must have been the fairy's relief that she found something smaller than a $20, that she did not fully consider the ramifications of "upping the ante" on the value of teeth in the Di Silvestri household. Foolishly, she replaced the tooth with the $5 and flew off into the night. Good thing she wasn't around to see the reaction of the children the next morning, especially the reaction of an older child who had lost plenty of teeth and never discovered such a booty under his own pillow. This same child, who has saved the last several of his teeth rather than leaving them for the fairy, is suddenly reconsidering the wisdom of this, and may leave 4 or 5 at once, hoping for a tidy profit. Hmmm, troublesome indeed.

The fairy's second call was far worse, nothing short of disastrous. For the first time, perhaps in the whole of tooth history, she did not show up. Can you believe it? How can the tooth fairy not show up at all?! I was awakened by a heartbroken, sobbing daughter whose tooth remained right where she had left it the night before. I can assure you, I felt worse than she did. What kind of world are we living in when the tooth fairy does not show up to a legitimate call?

I began to deal with this terrible situation by swiftly kicking my husband under the covers. I had been out late at choir practice the night before and was not properly informed upon my return home that a tooth had been placed under a pillow. Even as I gave him a death glare, I was aware that at least half of the responsibility was mine. I knew she had lost the tooth earlier in the day; I was just not present at bedtime to be reminded that it went under the pillow. At any rate, while I can't be certain of the nature of the connection, it does seem clear that if a mother is not aware of the status of a tooth under a pillow, the fairy does not come. So, regardless of whose fault it was that mom did not know, she simply did not. And this did not bode well for Lindsey.

I quickly explained to my devastated daughter that the tooth fairy must have been VERY BUSY and simply could not get to her tooth. Since other children had not already lost a tooth earlier in the week as Lindsey had, she had to get theirs first and she simply ran out of nighttime hours to complete her travels. I encouraged Lindsey to leave the tooth again. This pacified her greatly, and that night the fairy returned. With single bills this time. Disaster averted.

The responsibilities of parenthood weigh heavily, do they not? It is not just the big things (like development of character, education and faith formation) that we must concern ourselves with. It is also the little things, the things that make childhood the wonderful, imaginative journey that it should be.

Parenting. It's not for wimps.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

If This Doesn't Convince Someone, Nothing Will

Last night Jay and I went to a dinner benefit for the Antelope Valley Pregnancy Counseling Center. I expected a nice evening out. I expected to greet people we know from our parish. I expected to feel good about supporting an organization that helps women (girls, often) decide to keep their babies rather than abort them. What I didn't expect was to be so moved by the keynote speaker, Gianna Jessen.

Gianna's mother attempted to abort her at 7 months. Gianna miraculously survived 18 hours of essentially being burned alive in a concentrated saline solution and was born alive, to everyone's surprise, weighing only 2lbs. Had the abortionist been on duty the morning she was born, he would have strangled her. At the time, this would have been perfectly legal since she was considered to be nothing more than the product of a botched abortion.

Gianna has cerebral palsy as a result of oxygen deprivation in the womb, but she considers this a gift, as it allows her to rely more completely on Jesus. She walks with a severe limp but runs marathons, so determined is she. She sings beautifully and has dedicated her life to telling her story so that others may not be so poorly treated.

It is difficult to explain how moved I was by her story, as I felt my new daughter kicking inside me. Once, long ago, I bought into the pro-choice culture. I believed in clumps of tissue, products of conception, and a woman's "right" to do whatever she wanted with her own body. It was only after I became pregnant myself for the first time, with Joey, that I understood that it wasn't my body at all--my baby's body was his own. We were just sharing the same space temporarily, and he relied on me completely to keep him safe. His rights were equal to mine, for, from the moment he was conceived, he was a person.

My change in opinion on abortion changed well prior to my conversion to Catholicism, so I certainly don't believe one has to be Catholic--or even religious at all--to be pro-life. One simply has to think clearly about what an abortion really is. Our culture has so clouded this issue that we tend to think that personal freedoms are more important than life itself. But at its base level, this attitude is nothing more than selfishness. It is saying that my life is more important than yours. This is a very dangerous mindset. Yes, babies are sometimes very inconvenient. But they are real people, real lives in the making. I truly believe that anyone who has an abortion or supports the idea of an abortion does so only because they really don't understand what it is they are doing. Because if they understood, they could never do it, any more than they could kill a person who was sitting too close to them on the subway.

Thanks, in part, to Gianna's testimony, there is now a law protecting babies born alive, even during attempted abortions. We have a long way to go still and many muddy issues to resolve, but it's a start. I am not naive. I know that abortions will still take place, even if they are illegal. But we are a people who believe legal and moral mean the same thing. Perhaps outlawing something is the first tiny step in slowly changing our society's view about something that has silently creeped and completely seeped into our collective justification system.

Ending life is wrong, objectively. I don't judge people who don't share this opinion, as many people I love dearly do not, as once I did not. But I am not ashamed to say that I hope and pray that this "tolerance" that has changed in meaning from "loving those who think differently from you" to "everything is equal and OK" ends and soon.

If everyone could hear Gianna speak, abortion would be a very rare thing.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Waiting for Perspective

I had a complaint from my husband today that my blog has been a little thin of late. Of course, he is right.

The truth is, I haven't felt much like writing lately. There has been only one topic on my mind, and I have not been ready to tackle it. I have been waiting for some perspective on a very sad situation, and it has taken its time in showing up. But I do believe it has finally arrived, so now I will write with the peace I have hitherto been lacking, and move on with life--and blogging.

Last month I lost a friend. Not an acquaintance, but a friend whose life is completely intertwined with mine. Someone who lives down the street from me, whose children are the same ages and in the same schools and classes as mine. A person I spoke with every day, multiple times a day. The person I sought out at every social event. The godmother of my oldest son.

This friendship was lost suddenly and completely, and there wasn't a thing I could do to stop it. You see, the reason this person no longer will speak to me, or even look at me, is because our husbands (who were longtime friends in their own right) had a business disagreement. Granted, a very serious one, but a business disagreement nonetheless.

I have been over this and over this in my head for weeks. At first, it didn't make any sense to me. How could I lose a friend because my husband argued with hers? One day we were having coffee in her kitchen while our children played and the next she wouldn't even look at me when she passed me in the school parking lot. She and I had no harsh words. Nothing changed between us. We went from friendship to silence in a matter of hours.

In the first two weeks, I made three attempts to make things right with her. I emailed her, tried unsuccessfully to speak with her, then wrote her a letter. I received no response at all. This was so very hurtful to me. I did nothing to her, did not change myself at all, and I was severed from her life. I simply could not fathom it. So our husbands argued about business. What could this possibly have to do with her and I? And then there are the children. My children are simply wrecked over the loss of their playmates, her children. How can I explain this to them? I can't.

One of the hardest things for me to accept has been that this behavior is not like her at all. She is not a cold, unfeeling person. She is not cruel. She is a compassionate, giving person, a good Christian, and I don't believe that ignoring me fits in with who she is. Something was not adding up.

After my befuddlement faded a bit, I became angry. I can see now that this was wounded pride more than anything. No matter what I did, I could not fix or change the situation I was in. I had no control over any of it. My mother gave me some good advice during this time. "Honestly pray for her" she said, "and it will soften your heart." She was right, of course. When I first attempted this, I found I could not genuinely do it because I wanted her to hurt as she had hurt me. Why should she have peace when I had none? As soon as I realized this, I understood that something was wrong with me and my attitude that needed fixing. After that realization, the peace began to come and my prayers for her happiness and peace became genuine.

As the weeks have gone by, and after much prayer, my view is changing. The disagreement our husbands had was, at its base level, about integrity and morality. They disagreed about what the right thing to do was in a business situation, and each felt completely sure that the other was not only wrong, but had, for this situation at least, lost his moral compass. As I realized that in supporting my husband I was essentially making a character statement about hers, I understood--although still do not agree--why she cannot bear to look at me. If she believes that I think her husband has less than 100% integrity, how could she continue a friendship with me? I can truly understand this. But why we couldn't or can't talk about this I still don't understand. Because she has not asked, she can only guess how I might be feeling.

Conversely, I suppose I should not wish to be friends with someone who might be thinking that my husband is anything less than 100% honorable, as she may be thinking. But this is not the case. I am so sure that my husband's decisions are prayerful and moral to the best of his ability, that I am not threatened by the opinions of others where he is concerned. Plus, the husbands' business is their business. Not being in the situation myself, I can only assume that they both did their best in a difficult circumstance.

With my new perspective I now see that our friendship probably cannot continue. There has been too much damage, and trust lost by all. If it were to continue, it would never be the same.

I am truly and honestly glad that she is so supportive of her husband that she has gone to extremes to prove it. He absolutely should have a wife that is totally on his side--every husband should. Her marriage is so much more important than our friendship and if cutting herself off from me helps keep it strong, I am more than willing to sacrifice our friendship for this greater good. I wish she could simultaneously support her husband and be my friend, but I understand, at least, why she might not be able to.

As time goes on, I will continue to attempt to greet her pleasantly when I see her and hope for, at least, a peaceful coexistence. I know too much about her to be indifferent, and will always wish the best for her and her family. I no longer feel anger...only sadness. But this, too, will fade.

Perspective. It's a good thing.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

From the Back of the Van

A conversation between Julia (our preschooler) and Lindsey (our 1st grader) referencing Sam (our Kindergartener):

Julia: Did you know that Sydney in my class is a Kindergartener and she comes to my school every day?

Lindsey: Does she do what Sam does?

Julia (after a processing pause): No. She's nice.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Answered Prayers

Today it is official. Jay has happily accepted a new job back in the industry he loves: software. He is excited about the opportunity, the people he will be working with, and the future in general. I am delighted that he will be mostly working from home (which means that he will be home for dinner instead of commuting!). I am also much relieved that we can stay put in our desert community, which I have come to appreciate and enjoy on so many levels.

This has been a strange year of discovery, learning what is truly important, and, most of all, remembering to trust completely in God when nothing else makes sense at all. As always, He was there all along and has provided for us in His way and in His time. It has been a roller coaster of a year, but we are feeling as if we have finally landed where we are supposed to be, and that all is right with our world once again.

Thank you to all of you who were praying for this successful outcome. Please continue to pray for Jay as he adjusts to his new job. I, the proud wife, am confident he will be a wonderful addition to his new company and can't wait to see what he accomplishes there.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Pattern Continues

I don't know how this is happening, because I certainly couldn't plan it even if I tried. Nevertheless, I am delighted to announce that our alternating gender pattern of children continues, and we are expecting a daughter in February. Happily, all seems normal with her development and she is exactly the size she should be.

I, for one, like knowing the gender of the baby as soon as possible, especially since it is now mostly a matter of real estate for us...who is going to bunk with who and how many dressers we are going to need in each room. No matter what the news, boy or girl, I have been delighted every time with whatever has been God's choice for us. But now that we know about this one, I can plan accordingly. Names, clothes, car seat cover, etc. What can I say, I am a practical person!

The kids like knowing the gender, too. The girls are happy to know their "teams" will be even now (although the boys are a little disappointed that they won't achieve total domination), and they like referring to their "sister" instead of "the baby".

I have done it both ways in the past. Twice I did not know the gender until the baby was born, so I know the delight of the surprise as well. But I am over this now, and simply want to know. And now we do. Hooray!

So many blessings, so much joy. Thank you, God.