Category Archives: Family

Wonder Woman – Happy Birthday, My Amazing Wife


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2018-06-22 10.40.18I could not be more excited about the amount of talk there is about Wonder Woman these days. She has been embraced, once again, as a feminist icon. She is all over media. She is a film star. It is all very cool.

But I have a secret: I know Wonder Woman. I live with her. She is my wife.

The Cinnamon Girl’s birthday is today and, while I do hope I celebrate her every day and I do try to celebrate her every day, today is a special day to think about her.

I have written about her many times and will continue to do so. That is what one does for one’s muse. Today, though, on her birthday, I celebrate one of the most amazing things about this wonder woman:

She is fearless and bold.

Many of you who know her may not know that she began her professional life as a lawyer and practiced law for many years. While this was before I knew her, I am told (and am sure) that she was a successful lawyer. I have no doubt she was. Brilliant and accomplished, The Cinnamon Girl was surely a force with which to be reckoned.

She is such a force.

Following that chapter, The Cinnamon Girl changed career paths and became a high school social studies teacher. In her first years in the classroom, she was the entire Social Studies Department at a small, Catholic school in Texas. I met her when she was well into this work and I was blessed for a number of magic years to teach-team with her. I know something about teaching. The Cinnamon Girl is an immensely gifted teacher who inspires students to be critical thinkers. She makes the material relevant to them. And she cares about them.

And they know it. That is why they love her.

Now, she is looking to pursue her first desire for her life: nursing. While balancing a full time job, many other responsibilities and being an amazing mother and wife, The Cinnamon Girl has decided to open a new book and look into a new path. She is looking to become a nurse.

What does all this say about her? What is the through line of my Wonder Woman’s life?

 

Service to others. Deepening devotion. Selflessness.

The Cinnamon Girl is a wonder woman and an amazing gift.

Happiest of birthdays, baby. Many, many, many wonderful returns.

You deserve each of them.

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The Fourth Is Upon Us, 2018


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Happy Independence Day, America!

Cap 4th

Posted from the And There Came A Day Archives

The older I get, the more patriotic I become. I have noted that progression in myself for years. I think it’s a good thing. While there is a lot to be critical of, there is also a lot to love about living in the United States of America and being an American citizen, but politics are not the subject of this blog. Impressions of the Fourth of July are!

One: COOKIES!

Two: Patriotic Trek

Did you know there are all kinds of patriotic episodes of Star Trek? You should know (and watch them!). Declare Your Independence with These Classic Star Trek Episodes (from trekmovie.com.)

Three: Star Trek Screws up Patriotism

There are a number of egregious references to the United States of America (not involving time travel) in the original Star Trek television series but here are two that really, really stand out: In the episode “The Omega Glory,” Kirk and the crew encounter two warring factions on a planet called “the Yangs” and “the Khoms.” Allegory alert anyone? How subtle is the clip (called by some “Kirk’s Greatest Speech Ever”) you can see HERE?

Worse, though, is the episode entitled “The Savage Curtain” during which Kirk and company encounter a being that believes he IS Abraham Lincoln! Ouch.

star-trek-lincoln

Four: Neil Diamond Gets Patriotism Right

I could listen to Neil Diamond music all day long. In fact, sometimes, I do. Somehow, some way, a number of Neil Diamond songs have become anthems for patriotism. A less obvious example is “Sweet Caroline” which Diamond admitted he was inspired to write by a young Caroline Kennedy. In recent years it has developed into a 7th inning stretch favorite for the Boston Red Sox. At no time was this more poignant than after the Boston Marathon bombing when not only the Red Sox played it (Neil was there to sing it), but stadiums around the country followed suit. You can see Neil belt it out HERE.

More obvious is Neil’s Coming to America. The break out hit from Diamond’s more-watchable-than-you-remember The Jazz Singer, Diamond’s song is a passionate anthem for the immigrant history of this country. This song has a special place in my heart as I once sang it on the radio to try to win a contest for free Neil Diamond concert tickets but, as the radio hosts were about to award me the tickets, they accidentally dropped my call. I am still bitter.  You can hear Neil HERE.

Five: The movie Independence Day

You remember the speech. Watch it HERE again. Then stand up and salute! Better than the sequel from what I hear…

Six: President Obama Almost Cancels Independence Day 

The Cinnamon Girl has, in recent years, made am AMAZING Fourth of July cake.

Here it is:

Three years ago, wondering if the cake had lost its appeal at the traditional family gathering, she suggested she was going to bring a different dessert. I let The Mater know, as she was hosting the family as she had for years, so that she could plan accordingly. About an hour later, the phone rang and Dad was on the saying: “President Obama called. He’s canceled the Fourth of July unless you bring the cake. Bring the cake.” She brought the cake.

4th Cake

Happy Fourth of July, all!

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M Is For…Mater and My | Mother’s Day 2018


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My mother, The Mater, is a terrific mother and I know that I am lucky to be able to say that. I know that not everyone’s experience of their mom is a wonderful as my own has been. I am grateful for the blessing of my mom. I am grateful that she is mother-in-law to my wife. I am grateful that she is grandmother to my children. I am grateful for all that she has done for me. If our family has a force around which we all orbit, it is surely my mother.

And she is a force.

M is for The Mater.

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But, today, is is also for My as in my sisters.

My sisters are both amazing moms and have been amazing aunts to our children. We are a family that sees, well, a lot of each other and, as I write that I suspect one of my sisters reading it (we will call her Wookie Woman) is saying, “we need to spend more time together!

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Wookie Woman is the sweetest person I know. That is no exaggeration. She is so loving, so wonderful and so sweet to her kids (they may not know it yet) and our kids (who definitely do know it) that it is hard to explain. She is a caring and loving mom.

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My other sister, Hotel California, and I had our first children three weeks apart from one another and we raised those first two almost together. I watched her parent from the start and I watch her today and I judge my parenting and whether I am doing it right based very much on hers.

My sisters are the best sisters I could hope for. And they are wonderful mothers.

Happy Mother’s Day to the three most important women in my life (who I am not married to or the father of!)!

 

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Filed under Family, Hotel California, Mother, Mothers, Mothers Day, Wookie Woman

Motherhood: All Love Begins And Ends There


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The title of this blog is a quote from Robert Browning. It is simple and it is true.

How do I know this? I know this because I live with The Cinnamon Girl.

We have three children and I can write today – with no fear of being contradicted – that each of our children has become the strong, young adult they have become because of her love for them.

For them, love begins and ends in her motherhood.

EasterI wonder what they would say about The Cinnamon Girl if you got them talking, it they could identify what really makes her so special in their lives. What might they say? I am not certain, but I do have some guesses.

HJ jr might remark about how his mother has never let him down and always, ever and forever, has his back. He might say she has been his confidante and champion. He might say she is always there for him. He might say that she has made him a stronger and better person.

He might say all of that.

Stretch, who this weekend (this very day) graduates college, might say that The Cinnamon Girl taught him not too take life too seriously. He might say she taught him the so critical gift of irreverence. He might say she showed him through humor just how much she loves him.

He might say all of that.

Sous Chef might say that The Cinnamon Girl is one of the best role models for growing up into a strong and confident woman she could have ever had. She might say that she loves it when they cook together, or talk about make up together, or talk about life together. She might say that The Cinnamon Girl helped her become the amazing young woman she is.

As for me, I would say I have learned more about parenting (and about life) from my beautiful wife and partner than I ever would have thought possible. I learned it even more as I watched her mother her mother in the last stages of my mother-in-law’s life these last few years. What love and what grace my wife showed. What love and what grace she has.

Caroline and Dora Confirmation

My wife is a wonderful mother. Our children are, truly, lucky to have her.

As am I.

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Too Many Crossroads, Not Enough Tears | Stretch At 21 And A College Graduate


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So, it has come to this: Stretch turns 21 years old today.

21.

We have been through this before as HJ jr got there a few months back. We have crossed this particular Rubicon.

But, not only does Stretch cross the 21 threshold today, tomorrow, he graduates Gonzaga University and prepares, in a few short weeks, to begin his Master’s studies at the University of Notre Dame.

I am not sure which milestone is more affecting but I can tell you, I am emotionally compromised thinking about the little boy who used to spend hours playing Backyard Football, the middle school kid who laughed and laughed at something outrageous The Cinnamon Girl said to him, the high school student who made incredibly close friends, led retreats and loved his siblings, the college student who did so well he got himself into his dream school for post graduate studies and the young man who will dedicate his life to educating others.

We could not be more proud of Stretch, of the young man he has been and the man he is becoming.

We love you.

Happy Birthday!

Happy graduation!

Happy next phase of your life!

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Link’n’Blogs – 4.13.18: Les Mis Family!


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I loved Lincoln Logs when I was a kid. Though I never entertained the idea that I would be a designer, engineer or architect, something about putting together these wooden and plastic pieces was simply simple fun. Connecting to ideas through the blogosphere seems similar to this pursuit, hence the title of this weekly post. Each Friday, I intend to post something interesting I’ve read out there on the internets. Hopefully others will find these posts as thought provoking as I have.

Greatest Family Easter Ever?

Are you a Les Miserables fan? Are you a flashmob fan? Are you a family fan?

Click on the photo below and see the LaBaron family go crazy with their Easter Sunday rendition of One More Day. This is from the website scarymommy.com. Do yourself a favor: watch the video and read the accompanying article. Click the photo below.

I love my family… we don’t do this, though!

scarymommy

 

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Easter 2018: Looking Back/Beginning Anew


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First published in spring of 2014

The Cinnamon Girl asked me when we were on our evening walk yesterday – Good Friday – what my childhood memories of Easter are. This was in the context of us discussing whether or not the Easter Bunny would visit HJ, jr, Stretch and Sous Chef. They are all “too old” for the Easter Bunny to come, but The Cinnamon Girl and I realized that whether the kids are too old for the Easter Bunny is immaterial. We are not too old and we are not ready to give up that tradition before we have to do so. The Easter Bunny will track us down Sunday morning as he has done for years.

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As to my favorite memories – Though many of them revolve around my father’s life as a permanent deacon in the Roman Catholic Church, I am completely taken with the recollection of the fact that the Easter Bunny would always leave my sisters and I one, Christmas-like gift in our baskets – a toy or a book (I have, for some reason, great affinity for the illustrated Lord of the Rings story book which went along with the Ralph Bakshi’s arresting (to me) animated film – see my favorite song from it HERE) – along with amazing jelly beans, chocolate rabbits and cream filled candy eggs from Russell Stouffer’s candy.  Funny, the Easter Bunny now leaves my kids almost exactly the same thing – amazing how that works.

Holy Thursday often brought with it a Seder Supper. This was the early to mid 1980s and our parish, built in the mid 1970s, did not have pews. It had plastic chairs which made configurations of the worship space relatively easy. The Seder reconfiguration made the place look like a dining hall with plastic chairs pushed up to folding tables. During the Seder, the clerics of the parish – including my dad – sat at a “head table” on the raised dais where the altar of the church was situated normally. We would read the parts of the Seder Supper aloud, eating the food – the lamb and hard-boiled eggs and bitter herbs (parsley dipped in salt water) – as the tables all around the church followed suit.

The Seder Supper I most remember was the one wherein I decided I really, really liked the bitter herbs and took a massive portion of them onto my plate. I think I did it just to make my older sister laugh. For some reason, I felt pressure to eat all that I had taken, be it the star power of sitting at the head table or an admonition of my parents I don’t remember, and I knew that I would never be able to choke down all the parsley I’d piled, Roy Neary-like, into a mountain in front of me. Subtly and oh, so cooly, I shifted the Mount Bitter Herbs into the pockets of my brand new sports coat.

They weren’t discovered until the next time I wore the thing. Months later. I recall my mother being thrilled.

My mother, sisters and I spent many a Holy Saturday night at Easter Vigil’s, listening to the readings – the many, many readings – while waiting to hear my father read the Gospel. As he was an Associate Pastor at our parish, he seemed – at least to me, his hero-worshiping son – to out rank the other deacons at the parish and to get to be the “main” deacon (if there is such a thing) at major celebrations. But, after Dad was done with the Gospel, the long service seemed only to get longer and, by its conclusion, my sisters and I had usually drawn the ire of my mother for conducting miniature sword fights with the tapers we’d normally be given before the start of mass.

And that was when we were kids. When we were adults and attended an Easter Vigil or two, I clearly remember one of my brothers-in-law, Looks Like Dean Cain, craving his taper into a giant tooth and pretending to spit it out of his mouth repeatedly at the most inappropriate times of the liturgy.

Without a doubt, my favorite Easter Vigil was the one when The Cinnamon Girl came into the Roman Catholic Church and I got to serve as her sponsor. Beautiful, radiant and stunning, she looked like an angel to me and to the congregation as she was confirmed and had her First Communion. My parents, her mother and brother, our children, my sisters and their families, The Magister and his wife and kids were all on hand as The Cinnamon Girl made these sacraments.

Whether or not The Cinnamon Girl and I have always made it to church every Sunday since (spoiler alert – we haven’t) and whether I’ve always felt as close to Christ as I did in that moment, I can say that, this Easter, as I think about the resurrection and the mystery, I know I don’t have all the answers. I don’t even have all the questions.

I do have these memories – many of them involving my father – and I remember what The Mater has been telling me since my dad died. She’s said, time-and-again, Dad’s not worried about anything now. He has all the answers.

I shouldn’t be surprised. On this Easter, I remember that my Dad always had all the answers.

Even if many of those answers were not quite right… That was part of his charm.

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