Writing class prompt: describe the most interesting person you have ever met

In my particular case, this is the most interesting person I have ever MADE. The selection is not one of favoritism. Rather, she possesses the qualities I do not, in purity and with eager fervor. 


Josephine: A few months before her 2nd birthday


Her eyes open in a swift thrust of kinetic enthusiasm. Heedless to the time of day or night, she is well rested. With her blanky perfectly tucked under her slender arm, she springs out of her crib, landing silently, with the exception of the morning’s first giggle. She completely undresses, and picks out the only necessary item of clothing; her shoes. She adorns the left foot with mom’s red high heel, and on the right is one of her big brother’s muddy rain boots, stashed stealthily along with most of his favorite toys, under the bedskirt of her crib; it’s location having been unknown to him and her elders since January. Unable to reach the knob of the closed door, she flips over her sock basket. With one full tippy-toe plus wicker basket reach, the door bursts open to her smiling delight.  Down the stairs she slides, quickly, but, backwards on her bare belly, for her limits she knows, and her left shoe is seven sizes too big. 

As her blond curls bounce, spunkily rebounding with every hopping step, she plays a few notes on the piano. What she lacks in skill, she makes up with verve.  Her interest quickly turns to the rumbles of her belly, having just been emptied on the marble floor from last night’s dinner of six plates of ravioli. She appreciates the cereal left within her reach, and pours six million cheerios on the table and the floor. She eats them with attention, enthusiasm, and vigor, thinking only of their taste. Surely, though, no meal is complete without a marshmallow. Noticing the shoes, she picked with deliberation, she slides them off her feet, so as to utilize the grip of her feet, a bit too agile. She tiptoes to the pantry, because, whole bags of white fluffy sugar for breakfast is usually frowned upon, so too is climbing up five shelves, to where the treats are hiding. 

The first shelf is just as easy as the fifth, and its nice to climb without her brother’s laughter ruining her cover. The bag, not yet open, doesn’t bother her a bit, for her teeth are just the right amount of sharp to chomp on through to sugar. A few grocery casualties are had upon her climbing. Her notice of those tiny strands of skinny angel hairs spread haphazardly on the floor and in all of its cracks do not cause a moments worry. Nor, do the approaching footsteps, growing in both pitch and tempo. 

“Josie!!!!” squeals her mom, in dumbfounded exasperation by both her freedom and location. 

“Morning mama!” she replies. “Marmemmo?” offering her hand and its sugar slobber mixture.

When Dad’s away, Mom makes bad parenting (and driving) choices.

1. On Saturday Evening, I fulfilled my 2011 Lenten promise. I’ve been a member of my parish since then, and it didn’t take long to notice the music volunteers are few and far from natural hair color. I’m not knocking the level of talent, I’m simply noting the need for a few more of us without white hair to step up sing before the silver grey peaks through. My singing ability is sort like my writing; it might not be the worst on the internet, but I’m still very unsure of the way I just used that semicolon. I thought for sure, I retired as a cantor at 19, until that pesky little conscience of mine creeped and nagged and nagged some more every week since I made the commitment to sign up to help just a few short years ago. I’d like to blame the delay on pregnancy, like I do for most things, but, one thing about pregnancy symptoms is that they tend not to affect my vocal chords. Two Lents later, I got around to sending a “do you need any more singers?” email, to which I received a “yes!!!!” response in approximately 32.1 seconds. That email was sent 5 months ago. After dodging two requests, and 17 emails, I finally committed to stepping up to that scary mic this past Saturday, July 6. The reason? Jim would be away fishing, thus, shielding me from his ever encouraging, “you sounded great!” when I would rather wallow in drama and  reject each and every form of comment or criticism regardless of his authenticity because I’m a brat. 

Believe me, you few internet readers, scheduling anything when husband is away and you are a mother of three is a very bad idea, unless there is a babysitter lined up weeks in advance, which I had not. 

As a result, there I sat at Mass, sweaty, clammy, and mousy voiced, and nervous, with a perfect view of my three angels banging on the glass of the cry room as they stood screaming and crying begging for me to stop singing immediately, and return to their beck and very loud calls. My mom was generous, and crazy enough to watch all of them in the cry room, a name they took quite seriously, but it would have taken an army of saints to quiet their cries. 

And what did I think the entire Mass? “I really wish Jim was here to help me and listen to me cry because I’m so nervous and the kids are so loud, why oh why did I do such a thing when he is out of town, I’m so silly, Jesus help me, shoot that was the wrong note! Damn! No swearing, you are at church.”

As a side note, the readings were very much about nursing mothers, to which I laughed and identified, until the word “abundant” was used as a descriptor for breast. 

And I even though there is no linkup to Grace for Mass Grades….

Me: F


Josie: F+

Rita: F. It pains me because she is nice, but, that baby threw her neck back looking for nursing at least 400 times and cried a lot, maybe she was paying too much attention to the readings. 

My Mom: A for effort, F for giving each child a new toy and their own bag of M&M’s, including the 9 month old.

2. And what is a post traumatic new and rusty cantor to do after wrangling three shell-shocked children? Taylor Swift, not-obviously. 

In between moments of child wrangling and incessant church music humming, I spent the rest of my Saturday hoping and praying that sweet Taylor had finally moved on from that Drew character because that song was the worst, and if music writing is any indication of the man behind the song, so was he. 

Luckily for me, she no longer sings songs circa 2008. It wasn’t terrible, accept it also was. Eight year old girls screamed at pitches that made me desire parenting through a three person tantrum at 6am. Her singing was good, costumes- cool and only one was sort of slutty, dancing- interesting, eight year olds screaming- horrible. 

BUT! It was a wonderful evening with all of my sisters, in laws and blood! 

And as the second concert of the week, the first being the TREMENDOUS and hilarious!! Steve Martin with his banjo band, Taylor was most certainly the lesser. I’m sorry, sweet eternal teenager- please don’t write a song about me. 

3. After begging my sister to please drive to TS, she refused, and little sisters obey. As my head’s pulse reached borderline pound, I put on my sunglasses and popped a Tylenol. On day three of parenting solo, some sort of migraine was bound to creep into my big head. It generously came on the way to hang out with 67,000 screaming little girls. In anticipation of a difficult parking situation, I circled around as my sister gave me the direction go-ahead. 

I asked again, “are you sure this is the right way?”

“I don’t know, it looks right,” said ambivalent big sister. 

And onto the BUS LANE I drove. 

As we laughed hysterically, we also feared for our lives, unsure of which direction the buses were traveling at that particular moment of the evening. Additionally, bus lanes lack exits, turn arounds, or any other sort of ‘do-over.” Twenty minutes of driving later, we turned around near the adult book store and sped away shaken and still laughing. 

In my top 5 list of things I’m worst at, navigation and sense of direction is most certainly my #1.  

4. As my last bad decision of the weekend sans husband and parenting partner fo life, I took my kids to a movie, without researching, knowing subject matter, or feeding them dinner. 

I hear good things, but, I didn’t check, and neither did my fellow mom friend. But, on day 4 of fishing Jim, the rain came, and we needed out. The two younger sat enjoying the colors and growls and other funny monster things, as James, my number one sponge, sucked in all of the “bad, evil teacher” signs and signals the movie had to offer.  

Parenting, may or may not be my #2 on the list of worst skills.Image

Jim’s trip was wonderful and peaceful, just like a fishing trip should be, and only received one crazy/frantic “why haven’t you called me,” call from me. 

I was a mean sister. I did do a really good job on her homework, though.

Writing class prompt: write about a time you broke a rule or lied to a family member. I do believe I cover both. 


I stared at her perfectly organized closet barely able to contain my excitement expelling from my mouth and body in the form of a high pitched teenage girl scream complete with flailing hands and kicking feet. Sure, I would miss my big sister with whom I shared a wall, and, unfortunately, a bathroom. But, after waiting 14 long years to borrow a shirt or sweater without having to do her homework first, as my parents drove her to the airport, my time to cut the bottoms of her too- long- for- me jeans had finally arrived. I haphazardly threw my own less fashionable clothes on her floor just the way she would hate it. Then, I turned on MTV, the only channel I was not allowed to watch. With Britney bouncing in the background, I put on her underwear. I didn’t even care that she had only left the itchy ones, or that my bum was a size or two, maybe three, too big. Most of 1998’s Abercrombie& Fitch, Old Navy, and Gap Fall/Winter line hung before me. Its separation from her slender frame and care was confusing for them. Perhaps, it was just my greed talking, but, I’m almost positive I heard them begging to be carelessly altered, and partially ruined, throughout the next several months while she studied abroad at the beach, just so they knew they weren’t forgotten. I obliged the non-request of each item, particularly the sexiest of which I was most certainly not permitted to think about even wanting to wear. They could always be hidden underneath her sweaters to be later discarded at the bottom of my locker before arriving at Freshman homeroom. Thus, I began squeezing into each and every one of her tank tops, purposefully discarding them in rumpled up balls underneath her bed, which, coincidentally, requires more effort than using a hanger. It was a wild, subpar- fashion rumpus interrupted only by the rumbling of my belly. I satisfied it through a borderline binge her favorite snacks, air pop popcorn with a side of pretzels and cream cheese. I ate them on her bed, not being careful about crumbs, while I called my best friend on her room phone that I was most definitely never to touch, to talk about all of my new outfits and recently acquired knowledge of the mascara habits Miss Spears. To my credit, I only hemmed three pairs of her pants, mostly because the other ones didn’t button.

Moms at the Playground with Three or More Children

Prompt: Describe a subculture of which you belong.

Regina Donahue
Subculture, Assignment 2

Moms at the park with three children or more

I park close to grass, and far away from cars both moving and still. I examine new wrinkles and pimples, wondering how they can exist at the same time. I’m thankful rearview mirrors are small enough to conceal the mix of yogurt and avocado spread generously on my shirt. I’m in need of confidence, and last night’s mascara doesn’t look all that bad. I turn to offer a vigorous time-table warning, reminding also of what to do in a parking lot, and Toddler Codes of Ethics. I call on Pavlov, promising suckers in exchange for good behavior, knowing full well rules will be broken, with giggles and smiles, from both them and me. Each of them, still, in their three carseats across, will enjoy a sucker as we travel back home, because my sleeping children don’t transfer, and today’s nap time is booked, and maybe its me that needs to be conditioned.

I step out of the car, cell-phone in back pocket, keys in left hand, right hand ready to unbuckle and balance with the help of my left hip and thigh. We make a train and he holds on to my purse, and the sound of “Choo choooooo” doesn’t at all embarrass. I wish their outfits were matching, because its cute and maybe impressive, but, I’m thankful they have clothes on at all, even if they wore it yesterday and probably will again tomorrow.

I peak into my purse, wondering why I chose to check my face rather than its contents in that silly little mirror. Twenty-Seven snacks should be fine, 6 diapers should suffice, but I am low on baby-wipes, so “Nobody poop!”

It takes roughly twelve minutes to walk those twenty steps, with 6 tiny legs, and shoes on the wrong feet. I see ladies running, childless and free, in Lululemon and spandex. I envy their use of babysitters remembering to make time for squats.

I greet the ones I know, counting heads between the periods and exclamations, thankful for the ellipsis, and sometimes forgetting punctuation altogether. I hope they understand the scatter in my brain, the stains, and the grease. Its just that catching kids on slides, pushing swings, creating barricades near ponds, serving juice boxes and goldfish while breaking up fist fights, and conversing with attention, or any comprehension, is sort of a lofty ambition on three hours of sleep and a baby on my breast.

“Im, sorry. What?”

We chat and share strategies of discipline and sanity, and I think I offer very little, as I watch him push and smack.

“I think its time for naps,” I scurry, but not too quickly because she’s cutting teeth and not quite finished eating, and the third baby is really asked a lot.

I warn, and punish, and pinch a little too. It takes about an hour, to make it to the car.

“Who wants a sucker?” I say, before I put it in reverse.


and my writing class begins.

I, by the suggestion of a great and talented friend, signed up for a class full of writers, real and better, with degrees, and jobs. I’m intimidated, and nervous, but excited to face a challenge of writing everyday in a company of impressive talent and opinion. So here’s my prompt for the day, describing a place… comments and criticisms welcome!

It’s 11:00am, which matters not when neither time or exhaustion are indicators of progress. The floor is parquet, small pieces of dull wood making a puzzle frustrated with no beginning or end. Its just like the one in the living room at home, but, hopefully, cleaner. The walls, covered in a maroon colored, fruit patterned, wallpaper, circa 1986, or some other year of unfortunate fashion. I wonder what this room designer is like, the one who decided the color of dry blood for walls looked upon for courage and strength. The runners outside the 5th floor window drip with sweat and rain, cold yet muggy, too, on this early Fall morning. They climb mile five, one foot in front of the other, in a continuous stride of determination and ‘almost there, you can do it’. I imagine flying by with speed and long legs, toned and tight, without veins or cramps or extra pounds. “Stop looking at them,” he says hoping the race ends soon because the envy is distracting and he is tired, too. The sheets are itchy, and confining, and hot. The gown is draping, revealing, too big, too ugly, too hot,  and not made for a woman so small and with so many opinions. The bathroom a few feet away, might as well be eight miles from this squishy ball, made for stretching and sit-ups, on which I sit, leaking, and swaying, as if rocking will make it end sooner and squish could absorb the pain. There is just not enough time before the next one begins to stand and make it there to empty this bladder full of mixed messages. The sun struggles to break through the haze, just like the one for whom we wait, while praying with beads of peace and rhythm, so long as I don’t find it annoying. The sound of hearts beating, muffled, and quiet, determine the moment and the future, too. There is a drip of contraction inducing medicine, steady and constant, up too high, for my liking. I wish she would turn it down, but fear all this stopping, and going home, just the same; fat and swollen, with no one small to hold, so I let it continue and bear its consequence with parched breath, dry and stale. Their offer of ice chips from one of the stacked styrofoam cups offends me. Their faces are in mine, as I demand they push my back, but no matter their amount muscle or sweat, nothing could absorb my body, that feels much too small to bring forth the life of my own, let alone someone else’s. The sound down the hall, of screaming, then crying, could be heard as motivation. Yet, it thwarts, and baffles, because I am not close, and if I hear the number 6, again, I think I’ll rip out the needle and throw it at the bearer of “not enough centimeters”. My thoughts turn to rulers, such stupid little sticks, whose measurements now dictate what I can do and when. The door continues to open and close with people intending comfort and help.  “You are on mile 20, maybe further” he says. But its worse, and he could never understand, even though the warm concern of his eyes indicates otherwise. I’m confused, and weak, and tired, and cannot possibly lift my legs, let alone climb back into the bed, right next to me. Its an enemy, high, and too hard and firm. The lights are bright, and reveal too much, of a lady. The stirrups offer cold support, but their presence seems more appropriate on a horse for someone strong enough to use them. The mirror should be thrown and cracked and broken. The silver table, ready to greet her, with a test, and to find her weight, seems too cold, far away, and rather judgmental. Now, its 5:00, and time is important, because it inspires a final push to end the pain. In an instant, she is here, with life; pure and true, and so am I, and the room is warm and happy. The floor supports, the runners finished, and the red walls listen, to joy and tears of miracles incarnate.

7 quick takes

Its a Conversion Diary party again…

1 & 2. I tried to explain the history of America:

The memory of the terror in his face last year motivated me to talk about it early and often.
“Just because it sounds like bullets from a big angry gun, doesn’t mean it actually is,” I tried explaining. “But, for the record July 4th is the ONLY day when things that sound like bullets shouldn’t be feared.”
“But, what are the big booms for?” he asked.
“There used to be a bad king who stole all of our money,” I spoke on my feet fast. “And we fought him, in a revolution.”
“A remmolation? because he’s a bad guy? And we got the money back?”
“Yes, he was a bad guy….let’s talk about the money later.”
“Is Jesus a part of this?”

3 & 4. Despite my valiant effort in explaining their purpose, preparedness in warning their sound, and side by side proximity in the moments leading up to nightfall, in the exact moment of the first “boom” a glow stick exploded in Josie’s mouth. There had been approximately 6,879,986 warnings to “get that out of your mouth!” in between adult conversations and somewhere around 5 million children running about, so, its really more my fault than hers. Thankfully, whomever invented such fun glow in the dark material, made it taste disgusting, even to a two year old, so I’m leaning towards positive on the 100 swooshes and spits in the sink did the prevent the poison trick. Additionally, the “oh don’t worry, mine did that last week, its not poisonous” fellow mom #56 mom reinforcement eased my crazy. Just as we swooshed and spit at the kitchen sink, fellow mom #58 came running in balancing two- no longer arm holding size- children, one of them hers, one of them mine. His monkey crying face indicated that no matter how many times we discussed the bad king and booms in the sky, fireworks terrify him. Little sister #1 danced and leaped for joy at every sparkling burst in between attempts to sneak attack steal more glow sticks, as Little sister #2 never once woke up from her peaceful baby slumber. Maybe next year, James.


5 & 6. I went back and forth struggling throughout the day in my sometimes over- reflective mind about the meaning of Patriotism in a convoluted political environment, with scary policies, scary leaders, and where in the world does all this money go?! I dawned a red, white, and blue outfit, because America is my home, and its truly one of the most flattering color schemes of all nationalities. But, deep down in the pit of my conscience, the hope for the future of what was fought for long ago, seems far out of reach. And then, there I was, attempting to eat homemade cheesecake with one hand, while keeping Rita from eating it for me with the other, discussing the second year anniversary of the international adoption of a family member from a country that no longer allows Americans to protect and love their children as a result of one of the most dismally depressing overseas legislation of all. As I heard her dad dream and plan to adopt her brother in the midst of the difficulty and red tape, as she giggled and climbed on the swing set alongside my redwhiteandblue toddler duo, the meaning of the day resonated with every hopeful word he spoke.

7. God Bless America, especially its babies.

The Mom Workout

The Mom Work Out

“Faster, mommy! Faster!” They chant, and plead, and encouragingly discourage all at once as they jump and clap and bounce with energy and smiles. I try to comply but its too fast, already, and I wonder if Marion Jones’ kids do the same thing to her. Its not that I don’t appreciate the cheering, its just that my legs are too short, and I’m simply not a Cheetah, or a race car.

“Awe, man, mom! you are done?!”
“Yes, done,” as I pant and gasp and drip sweat.
“Why are you wet?” he asks.
“Swimmin!” she replies.
“No swimming,” I shake my head.
“Ok, so you are going to bike now?” he asks again.
“No, I just went running, didn’t you see?”
“Well, that wasn’t very long. You should bike too,” he says as I wonder when I birthed such a tough personal trainer.

I climb on the bike, deciding, he’s right, I could use a few more minutes, and they are occupied and enjoying, the baby is asleep, and this much time to work out hardly ever happens. So I pedal and climb and just as I get into my mountain stride, Josie flips the switch with a giggle, and the bike loses power and so do I.

“I like this song, Mom. Is it Sublime?” he comments on Pandora, as I question whether or not I’m impressed or frightened by his song recognition. I lean towards frightened and switch to “Old McDonald.”

“Time for burpies!” he says with conviction. Again, I wonder when and how he became such a demanding meathead. “Ok, let’s do ten!” I muster up the energy. I do one, as they complete three, clapping and jumping better and higher and I notice I’m biting my cheek and grinding my teeth and they are giggling and flailing around continuing to chant their “faster!” mantra.

Their combined age is 5 and they are whooping my bum.

They hang from the pull up bar and she kicks me in the head. I catch her on the floor and decide to lay down, and when I think we are done, I find him sitting on my feet. “Time for sit ups, mom. Ready? Go!”

I’m confused, aren’t I the boss? My quivering core suggests otherwise. He counts as high as he can and I hope that’s all he has on his list. “What’s next, King James?”

“Cookies and Marshmallows!” he exclaims as she cheers in approval.

“Sounds good.”


Happy Hump Day.

What do Mom’s dream about, when they take a little mama snooze?

The Mom Nightmare

I was scared. She walked in disappointed and angry. My selfishness was surprising, both to her, and me. The lack of memory made it worse. Having no recollection of when I did it or why made my defense strategy difficult to manage. It had to have been a move of desperation. She wore the intensity on her face, as I scrambled to explain. Her wrath, unforgiving and cruel, chased me with a spatula as I ran faster than the Gingerbread Man. With no time to grab a kitchen utensil weapon of my own, I concentrated on my rotation and stride. Each step seemed to grow in heaviness, and she was catching up, spatula angrily wailing, ready to strike my head with full force. I struggled to step, fearing all the things the rubber spaghetti stirrer would inflict. Just when I thought there was no escape, the run transformed. I was flying, swimming in the air, tormented with guilt, but, confident in my escape! “GIVE ME BACK MY BABYSITTER!!!!” she screamed from the land below. Then, with each air filled stroke, the sound of the beat grew stronger, louder, more familiar, but, just as confusing.

My eyes opened.

It was all a mom nightmare! My “too late to take the test” dreams of yore have turned into vicious babysitter stealing mama dramas. The temptation to roll over and wallow in my pathetic subconscious fear was halted by the blaring sound at the bottom of my bed. Still delirious, I called out, “JIm?!” only to find him asleep and drooling, like always.

I mustered up the energy to sit up as the guilt of fake babysitter stealing subsided and turned into real confusion. There she was, at the bottom of the bed. Her curls bounced with every head bang, her fists beating and pounding in the air to each and every beat. She greeted me, without skipping a head bang. “Mornin, Mama! I’m dancin!” as Red Hot Chili Peppers continued to blast from the child-locked iPad. With entirely too many questions for the early hour, I smiled as best as my face allows at 6am. “Good morning, Josie.”

And as I laid back down with the music still blaring, “At least she has good taste it music,” I thought.

anyone else have hearing problems?

He began the weekend early Saturday morning with an unintentional catalyst to a freak out with a single comment meant to inspire communal cleaning for a few short hours in which toddlers organize and mess things up at the same time as the adults attempt to get a handle on garbage vs GoodWill. He meant, “let me help clean,” but I heard, “you suck at housework.” We’ve always known that he would be a much better housekeeper, especially since his seminary training included folding lessons from the tidiest of all. I tend to be a better mom, though, so at home I am, to work he goes, and crumbs on the floor remain.  After an angry run, I calmed and allowed sentences to be finished during which he pointed out his genuine effort to aid in an impossible endeavor of keeping things semi- clean in a pretty big house full of babies and without consistent childcare/cleaning help. He knows I try and try and try, and that, all things considered, its not really that bad so long as no one shows up directly after we eat pasta or the neighbors come over to “play.” And even when it is “that bad,” there are many things more important, and I like doing those things way more. He patiently pointed me in the “sane thought process” direction, and through the baskets and cabinets we went freely and without judgement. 


We ended the weekend seeing a movie, of my choice, and judgement crept again. In all honesty, I thought the screen version of “Much Ado About Nothing,” would be in modern vernacular, but, it wasn’t and I loved it. While exiting the theater, he said, “well, that might as well have been in Spanish….” As my initial laughter subsided, my crazy, began a summer snowball roll starting with “Jim’s not really a Shakespeare guy,” to “I suck at planning dates and he probably hates me.” Same story, same crazy, nicest husband, meanest interior thoughts. I was able to silence the mean girl inside of me before her thoughts became audible and confused my husband and ruined our date. We were both having fun, so why the crazy?


I don’t know. 


Subtext, in my own, unprofessional, jobless, and I think too much and talk even more, experience, tends to speak directly to each and every insecurity, while silencing the rational, and simplicity of mind. I tend to hear the worst, even when it there is only good, and sometimes, good can still log roll to”I suck” faster than James down a hill. 


It’s interesting, and sad. There are so many blessings, and so many funny moments had and to have on top of all these crumbs. Yet, guilt and judgement can be the most convincing voices that shouldn’t ever be heard, ruining all the fun, and preventing laughter, or a chance to craft a clever comeback at my husband for not understanding the play that is the basis for romantic comedy, his least favorite genre of movies. No answers here, only a brief and fleeting effort to blog during 2/3 children napping time about a tendency that keeps the faith and fun away, from me, and maybe others too. 


Thankfully, when he was still making fun of me for making him see Much Ado About Nothing hours later, with “I doeth solemnly apologizeth, for I passeth gasseth in thy sweet prescence of thou-eth in this chamber of our marital covenant-eth” I chose not to go down the “you fart in bed because you don’t love me” road.