A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Category: faith (Page 2 of 3)

Blessings Abound

Saturday afternoon was my daughter Mini-Me’s First Holy Communion.

It was an absolutely spectacular day filled with more blessings than I can count.

And today, two days later, I am still filled with such enormous gratitude and wonder, that words are failing me.

Why yes, I do still have PMS. How’djyaknow? Stay away from my chocolate, bitch.

But I know you’re dying for some details, so I think I’ll just give you a quick rundown in the form of a list. Here it is…

My Top Ten Reasons Why Saturday Rocked:

10. My husband, The Gatekeeper, cleaned the kitchen within an inch of its life Saturday morning. It was spotless and the counter tops were freakishly clutter-free. I don’t even care that I’ll be spending the next three weeks trying to find all the shit he stashed.

9. I never got around to ordering a cake for the party. But lo and behold, there was a chocolate quarter sheet cake with buttercream frosting at Publix Saturday afternoon just waiting for us to add “Congratulations Mini-Me.” Thank you, Publix, for planning ahead for mothers like me who don’t.

8. My friend Kathy who met me for a quick cuppa coffee on Friday and made me feel less guilty about not having any decorations or party favors: “Mini-Me is your decoration!”

7. Coming home from mass to a house that was not burned to the ground after I accidentally left my curling iron plugged in and resting on the edge of the bathtub. The worst part? It dawned on me as we were on our way TO the church, “Did I unplug the curling iron? Oh my God, I don’t think I did!”  So I had to sit through the entire mass with the most loquacious priest ever, sweating more than I usually do, wondering and praying and trying my damnedest to not let the undercurrent of panic prevent me from being fully present. It. Was. Torture.

6. Seeing my lovely daughter all clean and gorgeous and truly excited about receiving this special sacrament.

5. Eating my sister-in-law’s homemade Italian cooking and listening to the golden silence of all our guests as they reveled in the deliciousness.

4. Having Mini-Me’s best friend from her preschool (who we don’t get to see nearly enough) arrive for the party in her prettiest dress and bearing the heartfelt gift of an “Angel of Best Friends” figurine.

3. The weather was perfect and The Rapture didn’t occur after all, which would have been a real buzz kill. Nothing spoils a party faster than fire and brimstone. Well, that and my crazy drunk uncle who likes to ignite his farts with a cigarette lighter. He wasn’t invited though.

2. Miraculously completing the slideshow (with only minor technical difficulties) as my gift to Mini-Me, even though my laptop went haywire after several routine software upgrades last week and I haven’t been able to use iTunes or iPhoto since. Listening to our guests roar with laughter upon seeing dozens of pictures of Mini-Me covered in makeup, and pudding, and finger paint, all to the tune of Superfreak, was music to my exhausted ears.

1. Receiving the certified letter from the county Saturday afternoon right before we left for church stating the verdict of Ike’s dog-bite hearing last Thursday night: NOT GUILTY!

So, in summary, God is good, and I am grateful.

Thank you for being here and sharing the journey with me!

yours truly,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

Wait, let me explain!

So I arrive at the Vacation Bible School planning session the other day, pick up my handouts, and sit down with my two VBS buddies Terri and Kathy. We chit chat for a little while and then I start leafing through the three page legal sized spreadsheet that the VBS leader has put together with all the volunteers’ names and info.

And then I notice this across from my name:






{Sweaty pits.}

Wait, let me explain!

This was in the column labeled “Requests.”

And I did actually request that. Guilty as charged.

Sadly, I guess I didn’t understand the question.

Like when Bob Eubanks asked that couple on The Newlywed Game “Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever made whoopee?” and the man said, “That would be in the butt, Bob.”

Naturally, I’m the ONLY mom who made this mistake, because all the other “requests” were for specific BFF co-teacher assignments. “Please put me with Amy Rogers! 🙂 ”

Holy shame, Batman!

But I had NO IDEA it would end up on a public document and out of context like this!

When I entered those words in the request line of the VBS application, what I meant was simply that I thought my kids would have more fun if they had a teacher other than me. I’ve been Mini-Me’s catechist for the past 2 years, and before that I did the same thing for Nature Boy. And let me tell you something, it’s been no picnic, for any of us. I know how great my kids are, so I demand a lot from them and I think I have been harder on them than an unbiased, impartial teacher would have been. So, I did it for the kids! Really!!

But if you didn’t know that, and you saw “Do Not Put with her kids” across from my name, what would you think?

Yeah. Me too.

And now there are about 62 very nice church going moms who think the same thing about me. Just my luck. Good thing most of them don’t know about this blog, eh? Or they’d really have something to talk about!

My friends Terri and Kathy and I had a good laugh about it during the planning session. But on the inside, I was sitting there thinking, “Geez, Iris. You sure know how to make a good impression. Way to go, shit-heel.”

And then Terri talked me into volunteering with her for the very important VBS role of Bible Study Teacher, so now I will get to work with EVERYONE’S children, EVERY DAY, for a WHOLE WEEK.

Now who gets the last laugh?

yours in Christ,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

The Legend of the Easter Monster

Well, just a few more days until Easter.

In addition to the spiritual significance, this holiday means three more things for me:

1.) need to buy stuff for the kids’ Easter baskets.

2.) need to think about what the kids are going to wear on Easter Sunday.

3.) need to stock up on wine.

The third item: done and DONE. (Priorities!) I’m armed and dangerous. In exactly four days I will be wearing an Easter Basket on my head and singing Lady Gaga songs until I pass out. Praise Jesus!

The other two items, not so easy. I’m not much of a plan-ahead kind of gal. Hence this picture of my children digging into their Easter baskets at Grandma’s house in 2004 wearing their Halloween pa-jay-jays.

One of these years I’m going to remember to dress them in pastel colors the night before Easter.

When the kids were smaller, Grandma was my Easter clothes dealer. She’s a planner. She starts thinking about shit like that right after Christmas. The woman is a machine, and not just because she scrapbooks with a stapler.

Here’s a sample of the kind of outfits Grandma used to put together and mail to us weeks ahead of time for Easter. So cute!

Now that 2/3rds of the kids are so big, they are harder to shop for. Plus, nobody wants to mail us anything now that my dog Ike has been assaulted by a courier.

So now I’m on my own for dressing the kids. And I just found out the hard way that if you wait until 4 days before Easter, you are pretty much screwed. I’m just gonna take a wild guess that this is what they’ll be looking like on the day of our Risen Lord:

Which is actually a step up from how they’ll most certainly look the day before:

So if you see us at church on Sunday in our not-so-finest (or covered with mud), please understand that I just couldn’t get it together this year to outfit my children properly.

Now as for the Easter baskets, it’s not my lack of planning that’s going to put the damper on them this year. It’s something else.

But first, you should know about the Legend of The Easter Monster.

When I was a little girl, I was orphaned and raised by a pack of wolves. Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration. But my parents had a less than amicable divorce and my mother worked outside of the home, a lot (or so it seemed to me), to provide for me and my little brother.

We had a colorful array of nannies over the years. “Nannies” makes it sound so much fancier than it actually was, particularly since some of them were manual laborers who owed my mom’s boyfriend a favor and said they’d keep an eye on us while they repaired our roof or painted the house. Needless to say, especially compared to today’s helicopter-parenting standards, we were grossly undersupervised much of the time.

This is important to know because, coincidentally, I didn’t have the best morals as a child. When you are raised by wolves, your main priorities are food and shelter, and character development is much lower down on the survival totem pole.

Anyhooo… every Easter morning, I would wake up early, tiptoe downstairs, and find our hidden Easter baskets. Then I would carefully and quietly transfer all the good stuff out of my brother’s basket into mine and move all the black jelly beans from my basket into his. Then I would put them both back in their hiding places and tiptoe back to bed.

A little while later, my sweet and gentle little brother would tap me on the shoulder and say “Iris, wake up! It’s Eastuhl! The Eastuhl Bunny was here! Yet’s go find our baskets!” And I would fake yawn and stretch and go with him to “find” our baskets. Then I would sit back and revel in the majesty of watching that sweet little boy delight in his basket full of black jelly beans. He was just so happy to have some candy and didn’t seem to notice or care about the lack of variety. Then I’d casually find mine and try not to rub it in too much that the Easter Bunny brought me two of everything wonderful: ginormous chocolate bunnies, Cadbury cream filled eggs, a rainbow assortment of Jelly-Bellies. My brother would always cock his head to the side and say something like “Huh. Why did you get all that stuff and I only got black jelly beans?” To which I would always nonchalantly reply, “I guess the Easter Bunny just likes me best.”

Then I would magnanimously offer to share some of my spoils with him, usually before my mom was even awake to know what horrors I was bestowing on her baby.

Yes. It is true.

I was a monster.

And it is a miracle that my little brother is not a serial killer today.

He eventually caught on and my little game came to an end, but I still delight in the retelling of it. And my children are absolutely fascinated by what a hideous creature I was to that sweet little brother of mine. It’s such a foreign concept to them since they are loving gentle angels who actually support and protect each other. Weird. I do not get those kids at all.

At some point in my moral development I finally realized that it is actually better to give than to receive (or pilfer and lie), and so now I usually relish putting beautiful Easter baskets together for my children.


The other day I overheard Mini-Me say “Ooooh, it’s almost Easter! I need to make my list.”

“Your list?” Nature Boy asked, incredulously.

“Yeah, for the Easter Bunny! So he knows what toys and candy to bring me!”


That’s not right.

Since when did the Easter Bunny become the Santa Claus of Spring? I do not like this, Sam-I-Am.

So I’m going to change up the Easter basket goodies this year. Yeah, I could do the black jelly bean thing, but that’s so 1979. I think I’ll put a new spin on it…

Look what I found at Ball*Fart yesterday:

Bright colored cleaning tools! I especially like the Microfiber cleaning slippers, and so will Mini-Me.

What do you think? Am I an evil genius, or what? They’ll think it’s a toy, but it’s really an instrument of torture. Plus they’ll have no choice but to help me with the housework.

Of course, I’ll throw in a few jelly beans (multi-colored) and some chocolate peanut butter eggs. And I’m sure their favorite Aunties will lavish them with chocolate bunnies like they do every year. I also bought a beautiful Children’s Book of Saints that I’ve carefully prescreened to ensure there are no horrifying Satan “reach around” pictures. So I’ve got the spiritual angle covered too.

Oh yes, The Easter Monster rides again. Protect your children, my friends. You never know when or where she’ll strike.

with Easter tidings of hope, joy, and evil,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

Day One of Lent… FAIL.

A haiku about my first day of Lent:

Geri brought trail mix
Bible Study, Ash Wednesday.
YUM! Forgot to fast.

I recognize that many people blow their Lenten promises at some point or another. Otherwise there wouldn’t be iPhone Apps like Lent Tracker and iConfess. But really, for me to fail by 10 in the morning, on day one, in front of my bible study group and our Director of Adult Faith Formation? Really? That’s impressive, even for me.

It’s not Geri’s fault. Poor thing is diabetic and over the age of 59… she doesn’t have to fast. She has an exemption. Geri was just trying to share her nutritious snack… she didn’t mean to play the role of evil temptress. But for me, having that trail mix on the table during bible study class was like seating Charlie Sheen in between two hookers at a titty bar: expect some grabbing, okay?

It wasn’t like I intentionally broke my fast out of weakness… I just plumb forgot. Damn fetal alcohol syndrome.

You’d have thought I would have noticed that Geri and I were the only ones eating the trail mix. But no. I didn’t.

You’d have thought that seeing all those black ashy crosses smeared on the foreheads of my teacher and peers would have been a constant reminder that “now is the appropriate time” for fasting and weeping and mourning. But nope. Nada.

That sure was some tasty trail mix! I nibbled on it throughout the entire class.

Not until later that day when The Gatekeeper was telling me what a great job he had done with his fasting did I make the connection and do the “I shoulda had a V8!” head thump. “OMG. I forgot to fast.”

And just like any diet, once I realized I had blown it, all bets were off. The rest of my Lenten promises went right out the window. I was eating Betty Crocker frosting out of the can with a spoon by the time the kids were in bed. Dammit.

Of course, making disparaging comments about the homoerotic and violent artwork in my children’s Catholic Picture Bible probably ain’t earning me any bonus points with God either. Sure hope He’s as merciful of a God as the Good Book says.

Luckily, I talked to one of my best bible buddies today and confessed my sins and she told me she didn’t even notice me going to town on the trail mix. Then she reminded me that the whole point of fasting is to be in solidarity with those who are hungry. “So what if you blew it on day one, just do it on day two, or three, or whenever!” No wonder I like that girl.

Alrighty then. Let’s try this again, shall we? Day two of Lent…

Is it 5:00 yet?


Bartender, another round please.


Sincerely and with apologies to my forbearing bible study sisters,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

Five Great Books for Toddlers and Tired Parents

So today, the first day of Lent, I asked my two older kids if they understood the significance of the 40 days leading up to Easter.

My oldest said: “Yeah – that’s how long Jesus was in the desert. You know, when that naked Satan was pressed up against him from behind.”

Me: “WHAT?!!!”

Him: “The picture… in that white bible. The one where Jesus is in a robe and it looks like Satan is naked.”

Me: (OMG. WTF?)

Him: “He might not be naked though. You can’t see his wiener. He might be wearing a thong.”

Me: (Oh.  My.  God.  WTF? WTF???)

I raced for the Catholic Picture Bible Mini-Me received as a baptism present from her God Mother and sure enough:

Page 114: The Temptation of Jesus in the Desert

Just great.

Let’s create an image for our children of Satan as a nudist sodomite, shall we? Scared straight! Turn away from sin, kids, or naked Satan will bugger you! He looks like he’s totally reaching for a handful there, doesn’t he? Of course the disco era feathered headband isn’t helping. Is that Satan or one of the Village People?

And how does my 11 year old even know what a thong is?

That Catholic Picture Bible is just chalk full of goodies. My kids’ favorite (other than naked Satan) is the story about the beheading of John the Baptist. It’s a gruesome enough tale, unillustrated. But in a picture bible… oooh weee:

Page 150: The Beheading of John the Baptist

Why yes, that IS a decapitated head on a silver platter. Pass the salt and pepper, please.

I don’t know about you, but when my kids are reading books, I don’t like to see facial expressions like these:

Which brings me to this weeks Listography, brought to us by the lovely and talented Kate at Kate Takes 5.

This week’s topic: Books and Babies.  Specifically, five favorite books for toddlers, as opposed to books that frighten and disgust them like my Catholic Picture Bible.

Hmmm. I do loves me some books. How will I narrow it down to five?

Kate makes a great suggestion:

The one piece of advice I wish I had been given when I started buying my kids books was this: Not only does your child need to love the book – you do too – because you will probably be reading it to them six times a night for the next six months. ‘Again mummy, again’!

Kate, my darling, you are so right. But, I’ll take that one further and say that not only do you both have to love the book, but even better if the child can read it by themselves while you are “resting your eyes,” and trying to catch up on the sleep you missed while you were blogging into the wee hours.

So here it is, amigos… my five favorite books that toddlers can read all by themselves:

1. ) Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra Boynton.

Delightfully funny. Will help your child learn colors, clothing, and comedic timing. Your little ones will be reciting this by heart in no time, thus freeing you up to nap, check email on your iPhone, or paint your nails while they “read” to you.

2.) Cookie’s Week by Cindy Ward and Tomie dePaola

Learning the days of the week has never been more fun or easy… and all while Mommy is sleeping off her hangover. Great watercolor illustrations, adorable main character, one sentence per page. Spoiler alert: Cookie falls into a toilet… a gen-u-ine knee slapper for all.

3.) Good Dog, Carl by Alexandra Day

My favorite kind of board book for toddlers… there are only words on the first page and the last page… the rest of the pages are illustrations with no words. Therefore, it is a different story every time you (or your children) tell it! It sounds like more work, but it’s not. Trust me. After you read it twice, the kids knock themselves out trying to make it even funnier than you did. Refill your glass and sit back while the kids do all the work.  By the way, Carl is the best dog ever. He babysits! And he even cleans up before the mom gets home. Take some notes, my bad dog Ike… you suck.


4.) Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

This might be my favorite of the lot. Again, an almost completely wordless book that is absolutely captivating. The illustrations alone are worth it, but the silliness of this book really captures kids’ (and their parents’) hearts. There is one scene, I swear to God, that is even worth staying awake for. If you or your kids can do a variety of animal impressions, even better. I frickin’ love this book.


5.) No, David! by David Shannon.

Nose-picking, playing with food, and toddler streaking… what’s not to like? But in addition, your kid will be able to read this back to you on day one. Funny illustrations and a great message of unconditional love. I always enjoy this one as a peace offering when I lose my cool and strain my vocal chords. Hey, it happens. Why not have a book on hand that helps you all survive it?

How about you? What are your favorite children’s books?

Sincerely yours,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

Are you a Mary or a Martha?

When I was pregnant for the first time, somebody gave me a beautifully hand printed copy of the following poem:

The Value of Values

Oh Mother! Oh Mother! Come shake out your cloths.
Empty the dustpan and chase off the moths.
Hang out the washing and make up the bed.
Sew on a button and butter the bread.
Where is that mother, whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due.
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing to stew.
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo.
But I’m playing “Kanga” and this is my “Roo.”
The cleaning and scrubbing can wait until tomorrow.
But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs and dust go to sleep.
I’m nursing my baby and babies don’t keep.

I thought it was a really sweet gift at the time.

Only, that little lyric really f#*ked my sh!t up.

Because three children and two incredibly hairy pets later, I feel guilty all the time that my house is “so shocking” AND that I never spend enough quality time with any of my babies.

And this has really been on my mind this week, as I’ve struggled with all the to-dos leading up to Valentine’s Day… the making, the baking, and the faking.  Kidding on that last one… just wanted to see if you were paying attention.

To make matters worse, a few days ago in my weekly Bible Study class we learned about the parable of Mary and Martha in the Gospel According to Luke (10:38). Do you know that one? Oh, it’s a humdinger. In a nutshell, Jesus goes to visit two sisters in Bethany named Mary and Martha. And while Martha is running herself ragged with all the housework, Mary is just kicking back with JC, listening to his tales and soaking up all his glory. Martha gets all pissy and basically says, “Hey Jesus. WTH? Would you please tell Ms. Lazy Bones there to get off her culo and help a sister out, yo?” And Jesus is all, “Chillax, Martha, dang. You are stressing out about all the wrong things, baby. Mary gets it. You should take a tip from your sister and check yourself before you wreck yourself.”

Well, more or less. Just go with it. Or better yet, go dust off your Bible and read the real version. It is only one paragraph. Go ahead… I’ll wait.

Isn’t that a great Bible story? I just love that one. Mainly because I am such a Martha, but I wish I were a Mary. And by Martha, I mean a frazzled nag with messed up priorities who wastes way too much precious time sweatin’ the small stuff. And by Mary, I mean a calm, cool, collected Earth Mama who is just oozing peace and harmony. How about you? Are you a Martha, or a Mary? Discuss amongst yourselves.

You know what else is so great about that one little paragraph of the New Testament? It clearly demonstrates Jesus’ “openness to and acceptance of women among his followers.” (NOAB, 4th edition, p. 1851) If Jesus didn’t think women were worthy of his discipleship, he wouldn’t have been sitting there teaching Martha how to be a better person. He would have been like, “Shut yer yap and bring me a camel pot pie, woman.” Something to ponder, your Holiness, the next time you are wondering WWJD with regards to female Deacons and Priests. Just sayin’.

Anyhooo, my point is, now the author of the poem above AND Jesus are telling me to prioritize my life differently. But you know what my Priest says? He says we can’t all be Marys or nothing would ever get done. And I say, AMEN to that.

So in summary, we all probably need to be a little of both. A little Martha so you and your family don’t starve to death or resort to hamper-diving for undies come Monday morning; and a little Mary so you can remember to slow down and enjoy the time you have with your loved ones. Because really, that’s why we’re here… to build the Kingdom on Earth, and the only way to do that is by loving each other. Of course it’s much easier to love each other with full bellies and clean undies, but whatever.

Also, if I may be so bold; easy for Mary. If Jesus were in my family room, I think I’d rather hang with him than fold the loin-cloths too. But since what I have in my house right now is a bunch of wild-eyed hooligans shouting “It’s MINE!” “NO, it’s MINE!” “GIVE IT TO ME, YOU LITTLE TURD.” “You’re a dum-dum. I’m telling!” … I think I’ll just duck into the other room and try to look busy. Yep… Martha wins by a nose. Sorry Mary. Better luck next time.

'Christ in the House of Mary and Martha' painted by Vincenzo Campi (circa 1536 - 1591)

Image credit: http://www.bible-art.info/Martha_Mary.htm

© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

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