Confused?

Oh, the reason all these old posts are now published on 7/2//2017 is that I just discovered them (all of them drafted by E) and thought they were worth sharing.  Sorry for any confusion… M really is taking over, but M is not terribly tech-savvy and also really doesn’t like draft posts hanging around the blog.   I’ll figure out how to make it right when I get the chance righting a lot of other things in life and home, but frankly, it’s not really a high priority of mine. So, just read, try not to be too confused, and forgive any “blogging foul” I just committed…

Note well, all of these posts are years old. EM has not had an accident on her bike recently that I know of and is actually getting around our part of the town quite well on it.  She also does not make costumes or play dress up with her little brother so much anymore, being a high schooler.

 

M

 

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“For the Blog”

 

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The children created this costume all by themselves, took pictures, and presented it to me for the blog.  It was totally their idea.  We had nothing to do with it.

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It is not our style to outfit children with Clorox container oxygen masks.  Nope.

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They also took pictures of Emma (our mini labradoodle) jumping for your amusement.  These pictures do not do her justice.  Emma is famous around these here parts for leaping over a 4 ft. door or wall without even touching it… or, you know, jumping onto a counter from a stand-still.  Yeah,… she’s pretty much part-feline.

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M is taking over

Hi, y’all, it’s M

I am just writing something extra so this post gets to the top of the blog again.  I would only add I wish I still looked like my pictures on this blog, but some of my hair seems to be missing….

I am the other half of “With Honor and Love”, the guy who wrote the rather silly open letter to the kitchen sink on this blog about five years ago but what seems like a lifetime ago.  E, the founder of this project and my other half,  gave everyone a hint at what was going on in July 2013 with “Now, Something Completely Different,” and then we just abandoned this blog, or seemingly so.

The only reason I am writing now is because this blog has been abandoned for five years, and I either need to post on it or cancel it since I am paying good money for this piece of cyberspace. So, there’s not going to be many pictures until I feel like posting them.   Nothing clever.  Hopefully, just some real talk that may or may not encourage someone out there.

So, since July 2013, here is a quick overview of what happened.  This part 1– what happened from July 2013 through December 2013

  1.  My new job was too good to be true.  Turns out, the reason it was so easy to get hired was because the position churned through lawyers.  The company has a reputation for hiring and firing.  It was really sink or swim, dog eat dog, and, at least at that point in my life, I couldn’t take that.  Too stressful.  It was either leave work without a job or just be a shell of myself.   I also have to admit that maybe the reason I didn’t ultimately succeed at my first job, or at all in my second job  was because I had some bad habits– a whole plethora of them– I needed to work on. Now, I had kicked the biggest one when I moved, but only the sense I wasn’t doing it, not that my inner attitude or all the other habits that go with it had actually changed.   Such bad habits were tolerated in my old position; not so much in this one.  On the hole, I am grateful that, eventually, I had to leave that position in a hurry.  The underemployment (see below) was hard, but it taught me some valuable lessons and made me a better worker, a better person,  and a better lawyer.
  2. My beloved job writing part time, feeling righly jilted because I was neglecting it to try desperately to keep my main job, cut back my workload in a punitive action.  More on that later, but I am happy to say trust seems to be restored.
  3. As the job came cascading down, so did some other things.  My son, who has ADHD, was accused of engaging in some verbally aggressive and threatening behavior. He was alone with some other boys who happened to be brothers when he supposedly did these things.  After looking in to it, it seemed like a mutual scrap to us, but it concerned us terribly.  I didn’t respond well to him.  I blamed him and assumed the worst.   It’s hard for me to understand people like my son, especially since I was a very good boy and worked very hard to be the “perfect” boy when I was that age.  He’s a good kid– usually– but with ADHD and all, perfection just isn’t even on his radar (nor should it be– I now wish it hadn’t been on mine).  Still, the incident shook us enough to get some help through a well known organization in this town. We needed that help for our family at that critical time.
  4. We started attending a Latin Mass parish regularly.  I had some serious reservations about it (and, frankly, sometimes I still do).  Not that I don’t love the liturgy and appreciate the customs the Latin Mass community keeps alive, but it is commonly known that there is what I would call a “rigorist” streak in those circles, and rigorism is the last thing I needed to help with said bad habits mentioned above. Still, I’ve never felt so welcomed, nor gone to a Latin Mass parish so alive and joyful, as the one I have been privileged to attend for these past several years.  The beauty of the liturgy there really does flow over in to whole parish life, at least as much as one might expect this side of heaven.
  5. Right before my last day at work, someone lost control on the icy freeway and hit our car.  Although our beloved Santa Fe was fully driveable and apparently only dented, the car was totaled (by someone who, inconveniently for us, had forgotten to renew her insurance).  We hated to lose that car, but the few thousand dollars we got were a Godsend.  Between it and the “departure” package my old company graciously gave me, we could hang on financially for a few months before having to move in with family (which was and  absolutely remains my nightmare scenario– love my families (both sides) dearly, but it’s a machismo guy thing of mine to value my independence).
  6. We worked things out with my old partners (job 1).  What E wrote in July ’13 reflects my own feelings at the time, but after thinking about my time there more, I believe that although what we agreed on was less than the book value of my shares, I think was fair on the whole, and it allowed me to pay off a lot of debt I owed.  That’s all a really wish to say, other than the healing of that relationship can now continue, and I am grateful for that.
  7. It became apparent by the end of this year that E’s grandmother and mother would be leaving to go to God in weeks or months, and not years.
  8. So, Christmas that year was bittersweet.  The time of healing and rest had ended– the ordeal was coming back in full force.  The question was, this time, could I face the consequences of my own decisions and take life on its own terms, or would I try to hide and escape as I had in the past? Still, I think both E and I were determined to handle adversity a little better this time around, and, in writing this, it is apparent that God was already in a mysterious way working to give us the support we would need in the upcoming months….

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overdue Update

J.M.J.

I miss my mom.  She died on Ascension Thursday of this year (May 29, 2014) of leiomyosarcoma, a rare and deadly cancer.  The more time passes, the more I miss her.  Please pray for my family as we strive to live without her.

One thing my mom really wanted to do right before she died was send my girls to camp.  She really insisted.  So we signed them up for a Catholic camp, and they are there this week.  Thank you, Mom!

I am so grateful for the time alone with Charlie while they’re gone.  It

Pondering Mantilla

So the girls and I have started to wear mantillas or hats to church this year.  I was initially quite resistant to doing so because I saw it as a distraction (for both me and others), and I didn’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable.  It’s been my personal experience that mantillas are an outward sign of an interior “holier-than-thou” attitude.  I’ve known women who wear their mantillas militantly to “set a good example” to others, which has always struck me as terribly prideful and self-righteous… not to mention an unnecessary distraction, calling attention to themselves instead of Our Lord during Sacred Liturgy.  And then there were the reasons they gave for wearing mantillas, which never made sense to me.

1.) A woman’s hair is her beauty and it distracts from the Mass.

I never found this a convincing argument because there are a lot of things more distracting in the Mass than a woman’s hair (i.e., cute babies, some guy with a really long unusual beard, graphic T-shirts, excessive sneezing/coughing, playing children, fussing children, etc.).  Also, as I mentioned earlier, sometimes the lady wearing the mantilla is actually the distraction.  This argument led to an inside joke in our family anytime we encountered any distraction inside or outside of Mass: “Putza mantilla on it!”

2.)  The mantilla is a woman’s bridal veil

 

St. Paul tells us that women should cover their heads before the Lord and when praying.

1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. 2 I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, 5 but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head–it is the same as if her head were shaven. 6 For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her wear a veil. 7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 (For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.) 10 That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels. 11 (Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.) 13 Judge for yourselves; is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not nature itself teach you that for a man to wear long hair is degrading to him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her pride? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 If any one is disposed to be contentious, we recognize no other practice, nor do the churches of God.  (1 Corinthians 11:1-16)

One interpretation of this is that it equalized women.  The prostitutes were known by their shaved heads.  Even if they tried to leave town and go someplace else, they would be recognized.  But, in the Church, with heads covered, all women are equal before the Lord.

4th of July Accident

On the morning of the fourth of July, the children participated in a neighborhood bike parade.  Elizabeth has recently discovered that she can now ride my (adult-sized) mountain bike and proudly decorated it and rode it in the parade.  Later that evening, she and Charlie decided to kill time waiting for fireworks by riding around the neighborhood… this time, however, without her helmet.

We have a neighbor who decided to grow a vine from their mailbox to the tree in their yard, training the vine to grow over the sidewalk.  As it’s now summertime, the vine has grown in considerably, crowding out half the sidewalk.  As Elizabeth was flying downhill and passed this spot, the vine wrapped itself around her front wheel (several times) and threw her from the bike.  According to Charlie, the bike landed on top of her and she was either stunned or knocked out temporarily.  She got up and walked herself home, telling us that she had “fallen off” her bike.  She wasn’t crying and was trying to keep herself composed.  She had a good-size “egg” starting on and around her eye and was pretty cut up and bruised.  Charlie brought his bike home and then went back for her bike.  He said he unwrapped “three meters” of vines from her tire and walked it home, cutting his knee in the process.  We are so grateful Charlie was with her.

A week later, her eye was finally open again (although half her eyeball was filled with blood), but she was complaining of blurred vision, getting worse, and dizziness.  This morning, she even ran into the refrigerator.  We took her to the doctor, who sent us to the ER, where they did a CT scan and some other tests.  He was concerned she could have fractured her occipital bone and/or had internal bleeding on the brain.  He told us about a child he remembered from his days in residency, who had had a similar injury that had bled internally, killing the child a week later.  Thankfully, her CT scan showed no fractures or internal bleeding.  She has to see an eye specialist, but is otherwise on the mend.  When I think of how much worse this could have been, my heart surges with thanks.  She could have been blind, paralyzed, had broken bones, or even died.

She was not alone when it happened.  Clearly, she was not alone.  Not only was Charlie with her, God was with her.  She’s going to be fine.  Charlie’s fine.  The bike is fine.  She got to enjoy fireworks with the family.  She has good doctors looking out for her–and health insurance to help with the costs.  We had ice packs and were able to afford the extra bandages she needed.  We have a car to take her to her doctor’s office, the ER, and the eye doctor’s office.  We didn’t even have a wait when we went to the ER (which is pretty much a miracle, in my experience).  She got extra TLC, a ride in a wheelchair, and got out of chores for a while.  There’s been a lot of good in this.  And… we doubt she’ll neglect to wear her helmet in the near future, so win-win.

And Now for Something Completely Different….

We’ve had some major changes to our lives this year, which we’ve been reluctant to share with the interwebz.  In part, because they were embarrassing, in part because we didn’t want to air dirty laundry, and in part because, … well, we weren’t very grateful.

For quite some time our breadwinner was not receiving a living wage at his place of business.  He was a partner in a small town law firm and worked days, nights (sometimes through the night), and every weekend.  As a partner he was no longer on salary, but profit-shared at the end of the month.  Sadly, the economy tanked, profits dried up, and the firm was ill-prepared for the drought.  His partners outvoted him and continued to spend like happy days were here to stay, with no budget, no plan, and no interest in cutting spending.  This meant our family suffered.  Our breadwinner took on not one, but two additional jobs to make ends meet… so we could keep the lights on, buy the groceries, etc.  The children and I bartered for services we wanted that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford.  We kept thinking this was a temporary thing: a bad month or two, but it turned into a very bad 18 months, with little heat in the winter and meager rations.  Our marriage took a toll, we blamed each other, and failed to see our own roles in things.  And we failed to be grateful.

While visiting family over Christmas break, a job offer came in from another state, we had to sell our beautiful home at a loss, leave our friends and parish, and my parents suffered some very serious health issues (my mother has leiomyosarcoma, a non-curable cancer, from which she became very ill, and my dad had a serious bicycle accident, which landed him in the hospital with a broken pelvis and separated AC in his shoulder).  Everything happened so fast.  His new job wanted him to start right after returning from our trip.  We didn’t have time to properly say goodbye or even return home together.  Our family was in crisis, financially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  And we had to do what we had to do to keep our family together and afloat.  And I cried.  A lot.  I felt so much loss all at once and I still couldn’t figure out how to stop.  Or how to be grateful.

The fall-out from that decision was huge.  Matthew’s partners are understandably very upset about him leaving.  It happened suddenly.  They weren’t prepared for it.  They took it personally.  They had planned to retire in 5-10 years and expected Matthew to buy them out.  Despite his warnings that he wasn’t able to pay our mortgage, they were apparently oblivious to what we were going through… and continued to spend… a lot.  Now, by their own estimations, they owe Matthew $70,000, but are punishing him by not paying him what they admit that they owe him.  By our estimations, they actually owe him more than that, but we’re not going to get into the details here.  We need to stay focused: gratitude.

This business ended up with our family being separated for three months, our hero had to drive our one and only car to the new state, rent a room from a stranger, and start his new job.  I had to drive myself and three children cross-country (through the mountains, in the winter time, in an older, relatively unreliable car), pack up our beloved house and sell it, sell off a lot of our furniture, take care of major car repairs, and arrange a cross-country move with simultaneously caring for our three, special-needs children and two dogs all by myself.  Clearly, this was a path we felt we had to take–we weren’t doing this for fun.

So, gratitude.  Eucharisteo.  My sister gave me a book for Christmas called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  It changed my life.  At first I couldn’t stop crying (or even get out of bed), but there was a moment when things started to change.  I was driving my mom home from radiation.  She was vomiting in the car next to me.  I was dying inside and fighting the tears.  I felt like I had hit rock bottom.  It was the kind of sadness that gives you a lump in your throat, empty-rock-filled belly, and heat in your cheeks and nose.  The tears welled.  I inhaled hard to keep them from flowing.  So I could see.  So I could drive.  It was a foggy day in the NW.  I’ve always loved the pine trees, especially on a foggy day.  I took a leap and thanked God for the pine trees.  A weight lifted.  I could breathe again.  Then I thanked God for the fog.  More air.  My burden lifted a little more.  I thanked God for my mom and that there was a treatment they could give her for her pain.  More relief.  And I realized that my gratitude was changing everything.  It was the antidote for my suffering.  It was the antidote for fear, anger, stress, sadness… everything.  Gratitude could keep the tears at bay and help me to breathe again.  Gratitude got me through that time of transition.  It helped me keep going when I felt I couldn’t go a step further.  God helped me through it… one mile at a time… one revolution of my tire at a time.  Eventually, I came to understand that in my sufferings, there is always something for which I can be grateful.  And eventually, I came to learn that my sufferings themselves were gifts.  God was pruning me for something better.  He was stripping away many things I loved because He saw how sad we were and wanted to give us something better.  I was like an out-of-sorts child throwing a tantrum when it was time to leave the playground.  God was my parent, offering me food, rest, and something even better to do afterward.  I was so utterly ungrateful.

This new town has been a place of rest and recovery for us.  We feel we have been called here to rest and recover from our ordeal… and that He has better things in store for us here.  Our children are receiving much-needed services from specialist doctors we didn’t have available to us before.  We have enough.  We are smiling again.  And we recognize that all our sufferings were all for our benefit.  It is as it was meant to be.  Nothing is a loss.

Our initial sufferings taught us to persevere, to do without, and to advocate for ourselves.  The losses gave us the gift of detachment and childlike trust in God (we had no other choice–things were so out of our control and we couldn’t see beyond the bends in the road).  This gift is the one I’m most grateful for.  It’s become a welcome friend.  Our months-long separation solidified our marriage and reaffirmed that we’re better off together than apart.  We’re a good team and we love each other very much.  But the best gift of all has been the gift of gratitude.  We are so, so grateful!  We’re grateful for the speedy sale of our house, the good new buyers who love it like we do, that our family is all together again, that we have such great friends we’ll forever cherish, and for our new friends we’re just meeting, for friends we’ve been reunited with here, for good parishes all over the place, for good landlords who share our Faith (and not having to do home improvement projects), for our families and their support and unconditional love for us, for the former partners who gave him his first start and showed him the ropes, for trees with dappled sunlight outside our windows, for walking trails and close-by playgrounds, for good doctors, for health insurance, for a regular paycheck, and so many other gifts too countless to mention.  For second cars and second chances.  For a blog to chronicle our new-found gratitude.  For our struggles that chip off our rough edges and help us grow in holiness.  And most of all, for God and His overpowering, overwhelming love for us.  Now I find myself tearing up when I think about how much He loves us and just how very, very good He’s been to us.  Gratitude preceded the miracle.  We are so, so blessed indeed.

An Open Letter to My Kitchen Sink

Dear Sir:

I am not sure if our ongoing business relationship is going to work out, despite having several productive years together.  You see, I am simply not sure how I can satisfy you professionally anymore.  You run slowly, and I plunge you— several times.   Yet, you back up again.

I pour down all kinds of Liquid Plumber and other chemicals that their peddlers swear would help you in minutes.  They did no such thing.  So, I went to go and get some lye, which the man at the hardware store says comes highly recommended by the Mafia for the disposal of bodies.  Apparently, and thankfully I suppose, there is not a human body part in your pipes anywhere, because you still back up. So, then on yet another recommendation,  I bought some sulfuric acid, even though buying sulfuric acid and lye within several weeks of each other is frowned upon these days.  (I absolutely refuse to buy you cold medicine— don’t ask.)

I haven’t used the Liquid Fire sulfuric acid yet, because it came in a plastic bag and with a warning label that basically reads that I really shouldn’t be using sulfuric acid at all but, if I do, I should make my will out first.

So, here’s what I have done instead:  I have spent several hours “snaking” you, clearing out whatever crud I can find in your grease-laden pipes.  When I hit a dead end, where one pipe fed in to another, I went down my basement, found an opening to the new pipe, and snaked it too.  Alas, for all my efforts and after about six feet in to the pipe, I located another 90 degree turn. All the while, you insist on backing up.

In, summary, I feel as if I am giving in this relationship and receiving nothing in return.  I must insist that you being helping me help you, or I may have to consider washing my dishes out in the bathtub for the time being, because I absolutely positively refuse to spend hundreds of dollars on you by ripping out a wall, sending a camera down your pipes, or filling you up with some sort of witch’s brew that supposedly works when the official chemical of Mafia assassins does not…

Yours sincerely with honor and love,

Matt

Homesick

 

I had extra tomatoes and basil to use and decided to make Mrs. Young’s famous pasta dish.  It’s one of our favorite meals in the summer.  It has tomatoes, basil, garlic, pasta, olive oil, and mozzarella (which I still need to add).  Served, as she suggests, with Merlot, it’s possibly the most perfect pasta dish of all time.

And, for some reason, this morning, it’s made me feel very homesick.  I wanted to write to Mrs. Young and tell her how much I love her and her wonderful cooking.  I remembered her aprons with sayings about always cooking with wine (and sometimes putting it in the food too).  I remembered family movie nights and Rosary groups with their family.  And I suddenly felt very nostalgic.  She threw the most beautiful bridal shower for me nearly twelve years ago.  It was so elegant with china, crystal, bright blue hydrangeas from her garden, and Oregon sunshine.  Oh, how I miss her!

So, thank you, Mrs. Young (and the Young family) for your friendship and sweetness to us.  Somehow, this morning, I’m feeling very homesick for long-time friends and family.  And I’m very grateful for your presence in our lives.

Love,

Emily =)