Thursday, January 21, 2016

{pretty, happy, funny, real} Through the Eyes of a Kennedy Kid

The World Through the Eyes of Kennedy Kid #3


A! Where are you? "I've been over here inside the Nativity Scene"

At first I wondered why the Baby Jesus was not in his crib.
Well, a King is holding The King. 

"Look Mama! There is a deer in the back of that truck!"

Only in Texas? Maybe. There was another deer head in the passenger seat and an antelope in the back seat.
For some reason I can't get the little Like Mother, Like Daughter button to work. I used to get it to work, but no longer. There are lots of little bloggy things that don't work anymore. Not sure why.
Head on over to Like Mother, Like Daughter and see the other {phfr} posts and all the other great stuff!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

{pfhr} Catching Up With Christmas Edition

 On one hand it seems like it was just yesterday. On the other hand.....well you know. For my {p,h,f,r} post today, here are some pictures from Christmas Eve in no particular order since I am not up for the frustration of loading them into my blog one at a time, or for moving them about the post. 


A hawk came to hang by the pool that day. He waltzed up and down one side, ever watchful, then he flew low to the other side. He looked like he was going to do another fly over, but he was scared away.


Christmas Eve warm pajamas for everyone. Too bad it was too warm to wear them!

Bikes for Christmas!! I remember my own "bike Christmas"...a purple, one-speed bike with flowered banana seat and tassels on the very high handle bars. Incidentally, one of my favorites Christmas moments as a parent is this last moment Christmas Eve in front of the tree with the gifts all around, and all the little Baby Jesus statues in place.
Silent night, holy night.


And I bravely include a picture of myself. We are decorating the "upstairs tree".  We do all Christmas decorating on Christmas Eve, though the trees themselves have been up (with lights) since the first Sunday of Advent.


One of the last things to do before bed is move the Holy Family statue (which has been wandering around our backyard all Advent) to the "stable" under the trees.


M. on her cool new bike with a big basket in the back. Now, if we only lived close to a grocery store I could send her for last minute stuff.


A. thinks she is going to climb the tree. Silly girl!


This picture goes up above the one with the kids placing the Holy Family in the "stable". You can't see them but they are moving it into place.


Happiness is our Advent reading tradition...the Jotham's Journey series with our Cradle to the Cross Wreath.

The same picture as above without the flash. You can see our Fontanini nativity scene in the background. 

{funny, real, happy and pretty}
They love to hold the Baby Jesus statue, but it isn't really a good thing if they fight over it right?
Good thing they don't have to fight over the Real Jesus!!

Friday, January 1, 2016

2015 was the year...

  • We let total strangers walk through our house multiple times. (no we are not crazy or unusually social…our house is on the market in the hopes of selling it and moving closer to Jim’s work) 
  • We read aloud as a family…a lot!
  • We dipped our toes in the Liturgy of the Hours, using online resources
  • We sailed in Newport Harbor with Captain Uncle M. (March trip to So. Cal)
  • We met the newest nephew/cousin, W. (March trip to So. Cal) 
  • We played in the waves of Manhattan and Redondo Beaches in March—at least the kids did (March trip to So. Cal)
  • We spent a warm day hanging out with Grandma at a swanky outdoor mall near the famous Farmer’s Market in Los Angeles. (March trip to So. Cal)
  • We spent lots of great time at Grandma’s house, including visits from Aunts, Uncles, and cousins. (March trip to So. Cal)
  • Carol and Annabelle had a chance to visit with a relative from Switzerland whose one day at Uncle L. and Aunt D.'s happened to be the day we arrived in California! (March trip to So. Cal)
  • We swam laps and kept track of how many
  • We watched hours and hours of Premier League Soccer
  • We walked the golf course at night
  • We studied the Theory of Constraints
  • We studied Economics at Hillsdale College (via Youtube)
  • We became virtual parishioners at our Lady of Good Counsel in Michigan and fans of Father Riccardo
  • We discovered an Anglican-Use Catholic Parish nearby and started enjoying their liturgy
  • M. had a Jane Austen themed 13th birthday.
  • A. had a Swallows And Amazon’s themed 9th birthday
  • D. had a Geography/Maps themed 11th birthday
  • Carol had a Starbucks themed ## Birthday
  • Jim had a birthday
  • We enjoyed two…count em TWO!… visits from Carol’s God-daughter, our niece/cousin M.! 
  • We visited the No.Cal. contingent of Carol's family (November trip to No.Cal)
  • The kids helped Uncle R. play his electric guitar (November trip to No.Cal)
  • The kids panned for gold in Coloma (November trip to No.Cal)
  • We did a drive-by of our old house in CA. (November trip to No.Cal)
  • We re-visited the spot where we got engaged -see picture (November trip to No.Cal)
  • We walked along Fisherman’s Wharf, saw the sea-lions, bought a Sourdough baguette and ate it while we walked to Ghirardelli square where we tasted the chocolate. (November trip to No.Cal)
  • We wandered all around Union Square looking for the place we “always” go to lunch, the place that we went to multiple times with Grandma and Grandpa…but it was gone. (November trip to No.Cal)
  • We entered the world of orthodontics when M. got braces
  • We began a weekly Bible study using the Sunday readings...just us and the kids
  • We began listening to lots of Scottish and Irish folk music
Finally, this year, as in years past, we have missed all of our friends and family that are so far away.  You are always in our thoughts and prayers. 
The Kennedy Family

Jim, Carol, M., D., and A.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

On the Seventh Day of Christmas: A New(ish) Scottish Tradition

A {phfr} POST

On the Fifth Day of Christmas I was in a doctor's office waiting to check out. As I dug a candy cane out of the bottom of the candy dish, the man standing in line ahead of me said "Aren't you sick of those yet?"

Nope! We just got started!

Right now, the Christmas tree is bright and cheery, there is a fire in the hearth, and I just finished a molasses cookie and a cup of coffee with "spiced latte" creamer (the bottle was disturbingly decorated with the face of a wookie). 

The family is gathered around the hearth reading Scottish comic books. 

{funny} in funny holiday

Today is the third annual Oor Wullie Day. If you follow the link you will see that it entails reading piles of comic books featuring a Scottish Bart Simpson-like character named Wullie. In our house it is a much anticipated part of our Christmas celebration. This is the only day the kids can read the comics, and that brilliant idea (Jim's, of course) has meant that the same eight or ten comic books remain new and delightfully funny to all the kids. 
(If you were here just now you would have heard a loud giggle from a certain 11 year old boy). 

Though we have celebrated this invented-by-us holiday three times, Christmas 2015 has seen some new additions to the celebration. We have tried in the past to celebrate all twelve days of Christmas, but have been over-whelmed by my limited view of that word "celebrate". 

I mean how many days in a row can you have a fancy dessert?

This year I was inspired to re-think this view by Auntie Leila over at Like Mother, Like Daughter and I shared my new, down to earth, realistic outlook with Jim. 

He came up with an idea that has transformed Christmas this year. 

We have tried in the past to spread some of the gift giving out a bit, to avoid Christmas morning overload. But that usually meant there was Christmas day with an exchange of gifts among the five family members, and then another day mid-week for Grandma's gifts and any friend/cousin gifts that might show up. Then on Epiphany a family gift. Sounds good, right? 

Yet it still left Christmas morning feeling overwhelming and wrongly focused. 
This year we chose to schedule the gift giving by the giver and spread it throughout the twelve days.
So the First Day of Christmas was Mama's and Papa's gift giving day. We gave to each other and to the kids. A pretty typical Christmas morning but with a lot less wrapping paper and much more time to sit and hold the Baby Jesus statue and linger over breakfast...and be ready for Mass on time. 

{pretty} in pretty girl

The Second Day of Christmas was the Feast of St. Stephen, the day mentioned in a family favorite Christmas Carol, Good King Wenceslaus, and it was chosen as M.'s giving day. She handed out her gifts to each family member one at a time. And an amazing thing happened. She LOVED her day, while the other two squirmed excitedly, barely able to wait for their day to give gifts.

On the Third Day of Christmas A. gave her gifts which included well thought out, purchased gifts, as well as homemade ones. She wrote and illustrated a story for her Papa and had it bound at OfficeMax. This project took weeks to complete and she was so excited to give it. 
And, of course, it was a hit. 
{happy} in happy kids

On the Fourth Day of Christmas we started another new tradition. The Babies, or, as the kids call them, The Kennedy Kids in heaven, had a gift giving day. Under the tree that day was Bishop Barron's Catholicism series on Blueray which we had bought on sale during Advent. Now, when we watch these DVD's we feel as if the whole family is together to learn more about our Faith. 

On the Fifth Day of Christmas D. had his day. He is the quintessential gift-giver, always seeing something that would be the "perfect gift" for someone. All through November and December he was constantly in danger of spending his last cent on gifts. So waiting until the Fifth Day was almost like torture for him. But he picked the day in honor of one of his favorite saints, Thomas Becket, whose feast falls on that day. D. also found time to write a book, get it bound and do some artwork. 

{real} in real bad red eye that can't be removed. 

I suppose one of the reasons for the kids' increased interest in giving this year could be that they have had, for the first time, a real allowance. They all had their own money to spend in whatever way they wanted. This also meant they had a lot more say in what was chosen--in years past I had a big influence on what they got for each other, to the point of buying it and telling them what they were giving the day it was wrapped. 

But not this year. And surprisingly, that produced the biggest effort put into homemade gifts to date. I like to think that it wasn't because they wanted to save their money to spend on themselves, but that they knew the value of things, and that a gift from the heart mattered much more than a gift bought just to meet a price  point on their own list. 

For the remaining days of Christmas, we have some activities planned and a few more gifts to open. 

We hope you are all enjoying your Christmas celebration as much as we are!

Check out the other {phfr} posts at Like Mother, Like Daughter. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Cap In Hand

In this article about high school sports we are told that kids will learn some crucial skills from participating in sports. They list advantages such as positive mentors, leadership skills, a success mindset, and the importance of the "3 P's"--persistence, patience and practice.

Remember these things as you read the following story...

This morning, on the way home from Church, we saw a string of bouncing teens holding up poorly written signs advertising a car wash to raise funds for a sports team. We assumed it was for football since that is the sports-god around here.

Aside from the signs (with their guilt inducing appeal to community loyalties),  and the fact that a combination of our exorbitant property taxes and the parent's pocketbooks can't seem to finance the sports scene around here, our initial reaction was "at least they are working hard" (and at least the girl's were not wearing bathing suits, as far as we could see).

Then we got to the next major intersection.

Standing on the medians were two men (probably fathers) and on the corner one very sober and uncomfortable looking adolescent. They were all holding signs and cups. The signs said "Please Donate to Our Team" or something like that.

There was no name of the team (I presume I was supposed to know it) and the "our" was most likely meant to include you and I. These sports teams belong to the whole community, right?

The irony of the whole situation hit me.

We are told that our kids should play team sports because they will learn how to work hard, push themselves, work in a team situation, they will gain self respect and responsibility, yada, yada, yada.

Irony. Ten miles closer into Houston you will see people standing on the medians with other sorts of signs, cups in hand. Or brandishing spray bottles on towels while they offer to wash your windows for a buck. Or even the grown ups waving large colorful signs, and dancing to unheard music while they advertise for a nearby business. All of these people struggling to make ends meet.

Yet, here on the corners of our relatively affluent neighborhood they stand, signs and cups in hand, imploring help from passing cars. Apparently, the publicly funded school sports teams need extra money* to buy whatever (uniforms, equipment) and rather than have the kids come up with a plan to WORK for that money, we teach them to stand on a corner and BEG for it.

It is all too easy to imagine the sight of that adolescent, cup in hand, as some sort of foreshadowing.

And what about all the benefits of school sports?

Persistence? Well I suppose. Patience? Yes, definitely. Practice? Practicing what?

Success mindset? Don't think so.

Let's try a few other words. How about ENTITLEMENT, HANDOUTS, MISPLACED PRIORITIES.

I have a sinking feeling that my property taxes are being wasted at the local schools.

Can I ask for a refund?

But seriously. I could (or someone could) write a book on all the implications of this scene, and all the causes that lead to it:

  • Why do after school sports trump after school jobs? 
  • Why can't kid be found to mow lawns, spread mulch, power wash the walls, chop the wood, move the rocks? When and how did these become jobs for adults? 
  • *What do kid's learn from having a $58 million football stadium built for them? 
  • Where do they go from there? To university life, where things are handed to them again. And then to REAL life where it all has to be paid for, whether in the form of student loans or in taxes. 
  • And student loans! Another form of handout, especially since so many can't ever pay them back. 
  • Actually, if we are questioning the value of high school sports, we need to question the value of college sports. Often the high school sports are touted as the way to get the kid into college, but what is end point of college sports? To feed into professional sports? Life time fitness? Money? But if college sports bring so much money into the universities, why do tuitions keep increasing at such astronomical rates? 
  • What about the FAITH we put in institutions to form youth into mature individuals who are self reliant enough to support themselves and generous enough to share with others? 

What about an antidote? I have two ideas as a start. One serious. One MOSTLY serious.

1. Read this book as a family. His story is inspiring. His mother is remarkable.

2. Learn to sing this song and teach it to your children (said with tongue in cheek...sorta):

Cap In Hand by the Proclaimers
Another irony: this song comes out of the birthplace of Adam Smith, author of The Wealth Of Nations, and lyrics describe Scotland's descent into socialism.  

Sunday, August 9, 2015

On Debate Questions Asked By News Personalities

Scott Walker informs Megyn Kelly: Abortion is not necessary to save a mother's life

I don't mind hard questions being asked, I don't even mind BAD questions being asked. I just keep hoping that candidates will learn to recognize the difference between a BAD question and a hard question, and respond accordingly. 

Asking candidates to explain their demonstrably controversial statements, or their political/business decisions or failures is par for the course....they better be able to explain or they have no business on stage. I don't expect even FOX News personalities to baby the GOP candidates. 

But when they are asked BAD questions...the ones with a faulty premise, or those with the implied answer in the question (When did you stop beating your wife?")... I expect the wizards of smart to recognize it and be able to parry gracefully. In this day and age (with youtube and 24 hour news cycles, twitter and Facebook), a politician worth his or her salt should be able to do this. 

To me, the glaring example of a BAD question in Thursday's debate was asked by Megyn Kelly to Scott Walker. While I think his answer was good, he did not address the false choice that she put up there. 

Megyn Kelly asked: Would you really let a mother die rather than have an abortion? 

I know we can make the argument that abortion is almost never medically necessary to save the life of the mother, but that would be accepting the premise of the question...then you are stuck with "Well if it WERE medically necessary, then what?"

But lets instead rephrase the question.  

In other words: When the life of the mother is in danger are you really going to make her husband watch her die rather than end the pregnancy and go home? 

Or in still OTHER words: Shouldn't the doctor be forced to choose the life of the mother over the baby? 

Or in STILL OTHER words: Shouldn't the doctor be forced to choose the life of the human who is wanted, who has an advocate in the room, who can be seen and heard, over the one who isn't wanted, advocated for, or seen? 

Should we pass laws that tell a doctor which patient to save in an emergency situation in which he must choose to save the life of one patient over another? 

Is there such a law? What if one is male and one is female? What if one is old and one is young? What if one is black and the other hispanic? One a legal resident and the other an illegal alien? Would any of these people support a law that told the doctor which of his patients he should save in these cases? 

Oh that would never happen you say? But WHAT IF IT DID? What is the doctor to do? 

I believe it was Mike Huckabee who set the discussion on the right track. What does science say now about the beginning of life? Is the organism at conception a unique human organism with separate DNA from the mother? Is there any scientifically identifiable point at which that organism becomes MORE there a point before which the organism might turn out to be something other than a unique human person with unique DNA? If not, then we must accept conception as that moment and treat that human being as such. All other moments (from leaving the hospital back to the point of viability) are not decisive in the identification of the organism as human. 

So, the dilema: 

Life of the mother VS Life of the baby

is no different from 

Life of the (name the minority) VS Life of the (name the non-minority)

Once we begin seriously asking the above questions we have truly lost our own humanity. One life is not greater than the other life. All are precious and deserving of the protections of any decent society (Constitution or not).

Sunday, June 21, 2015

We The People He Has Fathered

Thirty six years ago....honestly, I can't believe I did anything that long ago!, 

36 long years ago, my siblings and I made this certificate for my Dad on Father's Day. 

Well, Dad, we were blessed to be fathered by you for 31 more years after that Father's Day. 
We can't believe you have been gone from this earth for five years now. 
Maybe that is because you are not really gone. 

In our hearts, in our memories, in our imaginations you live on. 
We still share Steve Puccio stories, 
we still learn from the memory of your life spent in love and self sacrifice for your family and friends.

I can still see you coming home from work after a long day, 

I can still see you Saturday mornings, under the car fixing it yet again, behind the washing machine or out in the yard. 

I can still remember the sound of Vin Scully on the radio as you listened to the Dodgers while doing all that work. 

I can still see you taking such good care of your cousin Marian. 

I can still see you sitting on the end of my bed apologizing for losing your temper, and I still learn the great gift of forgiveness from that act. 

I can still see you vacuuming out my car quickly before I went back to my little apartment in Redondo. 

These days we picture you sweeping the front porch of heaven and reassuring St. Peter that the yard will be in tip top shape before the next saint comes through the gate. 


And now, my own kids honor their father on Father's Day. And I thank God, and the example of my own Dad, that I had the wisdom to choose such a great father for my kids. 
Jim, the decision to say "yes" to you was the best one I made in my life. 
Thank you for almost fifteen years of marriage and almost fourteen years of parenthood. 

UPDATE: I failed to tell the story of how I came across the 1979 Certificate. I found it about 6 months ago in a frame that I was getting rid of. It was behind several layers of photos. For all I know it has been there since 1979!