Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Ordinary Days-March Madness and More Books

Ugh there is something about snow in March that can't be anything but annoying. It's a test of will and patience and endurance is what it is.  But a no-school snow day was a nice little reward at the same time.

Jeff surprised the two boys who could go with a DC trip to the Big Ten tournament. And what a tournament it was!  I am so so happy for my uncle.  I really feel he deserves this just on the basis of what a good person he is, and what a leader he is to those college guys and how darn humble he is and how hard he works too.  I'm so happy also, for Andrew and Patrick who will never forget witnessing in person this win.  They all stayed with Joe my brother and Karen his wife who were perfect hosts.

I don't know how many time I print out these brackets every year, but it feels like a lot. (I don't know what that money on the table has to do with it but there must be some sort of illegal betting going down.)

Jeff took Abbey on a ski trip. This is his mocking selfie pose, just as attractive as it is on everyone.

Janey and I found this little purse at a resale shop, almost brand new and she know has another bag to add to her bag lady collection.  She is such a sweetheart, such a good easy little girl.  I love my days with her.

I've been doing some really really heavy reading lately.   They were difficult reads-not because of the style of writing-I read them within days, but because of the content.  Etched in Sand is about a women who survived a terrible childhood and escaped to leave a successful life-bearing scars of course.  

An invisible thread is about a woman with a successful career in NYC, who one day walked by a boy panhandling, but turned around to connect with him, an action that would change both their lives immensely.  Another story of child abuse and neglect and a light on the other side.

It was interesting to read the last three books together-Hillbilly Elegy and these two.  They are all similar in the sense that they describe difficult childhood situations and a way out.  Children's Services-always feared, even within circumstances of starvation and physical abuse (the one case of sexual abuse was actually a foster situation), drug abuse at the core of all three stories, either just one little action (varying widely in terms of personal investment in all three stories) of a person 'outside' who cared enough making a huge difference in these kid's lives.  It all works up to some sort of luck/fate/education intertwined with a strong spirit at the helm-who survives and who doesn't.  It is all heartbreaking and terribly frustrating and shouldn't ever happen.  Drug addiction does terrible terrible things to families for generations and generations.  It is truly the devil's magic elixir it seems-it destroys a person and then shreds their children apart. 

I really think it's important, as hard as it is, to read and listen to first-person accounts of human experience.  I have been thinking lately (and I'm sure I am guilty of it also) of how today so often one can easily spout off about solutions and causes to social problem but what do we really know if it until we really hear the human experiences.  That's listening more than talking.  That's real life experience more than statistics and theories. It has NOTHING to do with politics thank the Lord, we need no more of that today.

"I do not agree with the big way of doing things.  To us, what matters is an individual. To get to love a person, we must come in close contact with him. If we wait till we get numbers, then we will be lost in the numbers, and we will never be able to show that love and respect for the person. "  Mother Teresa

I welcome any book suggestions!  Have you read anything great lately? 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

A Great Talk

This talk by Meg Meeker is incredibly excellent.  I think I am going to listen to it once a month just for the encouragement and reminders.  (Press the little grey circle thing in front of title when you get to the page.)  If you are not Catholic, I really believe this talk is universal so don't let that sway you. It's about an hour I believe-I listened to it during one long long walk.

Dr. Meeker wrote five books, I've read three of them.  They are excellent also and I would highly recommend them.

(Sounds very interesting as she mentions this is in the speech.)

(I haven't read but it's on order.)

Friday, March 3, 2017

Spring Time Books-Our Favorites, and Some Boy Books

A few Spring books we are loving now:

A little baby bunny can't figure out what "spring" is and looks all over for it, until he discovers it is all around him.
This is a reprint of a vintage book.

This is my favorite childhood book.  Hamilton thinks it's spring only to fall asleep under an apple tree that is losing it's petals, only to awaken to what he believes is snow.  (What a nightmare!:)

The ever favorite-this is the board book, so it's good for little ones.  My kids ALL loved Peter Rabbit.

Janey adores this story of two little ducklings who don't listen to Mama duck and get themselves lost. I love the soft watercolor artwork.

And my favorite Spring Golden Books:

Another childhood favorite of mine. (I loved all Garth Williams illustrations and still do.)

If we read about it, it will come! :)

Andrew (13) is reading The Fellowship of the Ring.  He was having a book crisis last week (meaning no book ideas) and I found a great list, and this was on it. (I can't say enough about this list-even the picture books are great!) Now he has a whole Lord of the Rings series to go, with a great list to reference when he finishes with all of them.

I am reading Patrick (and Janey) Little House in the Big Woods.  I plan to mix it up after that is over with Huck Finn.

Patrick and I went on a dog book adventure this winter and it was great.  It started last year when we read our all time favorite Where The Red Fern Grows.  Then we watched the movie. (The movie is old but great.)  

After that we read Old Yeller-so so good.  We LOVED it almost as much as Red Fern.  We watched the Old Yeller movie-old film but again good.

Next up-Shiloh. Another great one.  The move is newer, which means it's just ok, but we still enjoyed it.

For Christmas Patrick received The Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds.  Jeff and I picked it up as a last minute after thought.  It was a HUGE HIT.  All the kids spent a bunch of time with this book.  Patrick and his BF made a huge list of dogs they wanted in order.  It's a big coffee table book and tells a little about each dog with nice photos.  This is for sure a keeper and will be in our book basket in the living room forever.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Ordinary Days & Things I Have Learned (And Re-learn Sometimes Too) & A Great Book

February is almost over, and we are heading into spring!  We've had a few very warm days and they have been heavenly-a reminder that we won't be stuck in cold dark gray depressing days for long. The little bursts of warmth and sunshine really helped me escape from a February rut.  I have my Lenten resolutions all ready to go and a new cleaning routine (I am doing 30 mins of general house cleaning, and 30 minutes of deep cleaning one room every day for spring and it is working lovely-if I skip days-and I do-I know eventually it will be finished).

We bought a new computer-a Mac-and that has taken some getting used to but I do love it. I was so nervous about it-my oldest kids were laughing at me-but I was just really nervous.  I fear two things-making a mistake and losing all our family pics, and making a mistake and spending four hours talking to someone I can't understand halfway around the world.  The latter has really happened long ago, the first one never (as I type that my heart flutters, knock on wood.)

The change forced me to through my entire photo library which was ridiculously full of meaningless photos.  I more than halved the entire library and it is so nice and organized and I am thrilled.

The change also has me thinking of new ways to scrapbook-I think I might use chatbooks instead of printing photo collages and just stick a little book in the big scrapbook every year or so, along with a few old-fashioned paper pages.  I've been looking for a way to cut down the time AND to stay on top of each event as it happens-adding captions as I remember them in my old mind-not when I am rushing to catch up and forgetting everything, and I think this is my answer for the three youngest kids.  It had been feeling like a duty and now I feel happy about it.



 She found her old carrier that she spent days and days in and it sure brought back memories.
(We also have a new smile for photos as you can see.:)

Abbey visited and we both couldn't get Valentines chocolate hearts off our mind, and so we sat in the car outside of Rite Aid after our purchase and split each chocolate.

Janey was so so happy.  She misses Abbey so much.  
As a side note, I love rides back and forth to college.  It's the best time to talk and we sure do about everything under the sun.  I've said it before but the drop off never ever gets easier. 

On one of the nice warmer days, Patrick was able to go fishing with his BF and this is second only to basketball on things that make Patrick happy.

On one of my "escape from my rut" contemplations I decided that I needed to find some really good books.  My friend loaned me this one and OH BOY did I love it. It is very much like "The Glass Castle".  I highly highly recommend it. Know that there is some language but this is a true story and it is part of the story.  I will never forget it and have been telling everyone I know to run out and buy it.  There is so much to think about-so much to talk about-I really feel like this book just has to bring about some great conversations from politics (not nasty politics, but thoughtful politics), to poverty, to parenting and more.  If you have a Marine in your life, I think they would enjoy this especially.

I also started writing down little things I have learned on this parenting journey.  I am sure I have written about all these things before but as they come to mind I want to jot them down.  Some things come to mind as I hear or read terrible advice given to younger moms (pretty much everything in those parenting magazines), or I relearn a lesson that I've learned several times before, or I talk with friends that I admire so much as mothers.

-If you constantly feel overwhelmed and stressed when you are a mom (unless you just had a baby and even then this can still apply) you need to eliminate things from your life until you feel calmer and life runs more smoothly.  There are things you can't and shouldn't eliminate-kids :), and church, and maybe kid's school (unless it's preschool, which isn't at all necessary.)  Children rebel against crabbiness, and stress and rushing in the home. They also rebel against lack of attention and lack of consistency.  There are things that maybe are hard to let go of, unless you think of it as a temporary letting go for a season of life.  With each child added to the family, things need to become more centered on home life and house running and child raising.  This is BIG work-enough that it deserves most of our attention. This is not mainstream thought by the way.  The underlying mainstream message today is "don't change your life for your family" at the same time mainstream talk is saying "family comes first". Those two trains of thought are completely incompatible.  We only have ONE husband to pay attention to,  we are ONE mother to each of our children, it is enough to be that ONE well, if we are anything at all.  These roles reap the most reward when they are our priority and some of that reward is our deep satisfaction and joy in family life.

-If you are wondering how someone seems to do it all-I'd say, "stop comparing" but also "no way" while still being present to their family.  There are no miracle workers out there and no one who has more hours in the day than anyone else.  I doubt very much anyone has such an arsenal of time management and skill that a life spread with many big things does not magically cause considerable stress on a family of young ones. I think sometimes the culture we live in today is a giant spreader of delusion.  I called it lies, but my daughter corrected me and said that sounds too purposeful and maybe delusion is a better word.  She is right.  I try to teach my kids that what they see online or on the TV or on social media, must be taken with a grain of salt and some real sensibility and discernment.  We moms need to do this also. Usually the behind the scenes perfection takes a big personal toll or the toll often times gets handed off to the kids.  We all know what reality looks like-it's what is right in front of us and has nothing to do with a screen at all.  We need to pay way way more attention to our reality.  Even when it comes to advice or information, if we take the time for thought and connection-real connection with our own families, we will get the answer-the answer is rarely "out there" from some "expert",  but what's in our hearts and our minds when we are calm and connected enough to our families to listen to our heart and mind. (See first paragraph.)

-If there is something running very true and similar among close happy families, it is a culture of family togetherness but at the heart of it all, it is a strong marriage.  A marriage where the husbands builds up the wife and the wife builds up the husband.  A marriage where the wife is pointing out to the children her husband's strengths, and not his weaknesses and vice versa.  The best book I've ever read on this subject is called "The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands". It is excellent.

-If there seems to be not enough time in the day step away from the tech-phones, laptops, etc.  It is a time sucker like no other and little distracting minutes add up so quickly to hours out of a day and the cost is way way too great, not only for us but for our families too.

That's all for February!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Let Your Light Shine

If I even say that phrase I start singing the hymn that we sang every week at Mass while attending my beautiful grade school.

The homily this last Sunday was on exactly this-letting our light shine, the talents and gifts that we ALL have, each one of us, to make the world a better place. I love that our priest mentioned "in the home" also.  I've heard some stay-at-home moms mention to me over the years that they have been questioned about letting their gifts and talents and education "go to waste" caring for their children.  I think there is NO better place to channel those gifts and talents, and that education! There is NO place that those gifts and talents and education will make more of an impact for eternity than in the home!  "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world"-it's absolutely true.  I've known doctors, lawyers, MBA's, very skilled women, make the choice to stay at home and shine their "light" upon their families full-time, while the needs of their children are so great.  That light is a gift!  The days our children our home are so short, such a small percentage of our lives.

Our priest also mentioned that it is a responsibility to not squander this God-given gift.  The purpose is to share.  It is false humility to think that we don't have anything special to offer our families.  I often think of a mom who once said to me, after she asked me what I "do"-"I could never stay at home, I don't know how you do it."  I always wish I would have engaged her further in that statement-it makes me sad to think of what sort of warped view she had of what it "takes" to be a mom. I know every and all sort of stay-at-home moms, there is no "right" sort of personality type, no "right" sort of skills needed.  There is also no training-the first day of the job is when that baby arrives in our arms. We go from there and learn hands-on. It's a journey-a journey that takes decades.  I can only think someone must have told her, in some way, shape, or form, that she wasn't "good enough" for this job-as if she had to be some Barney (does anyone even remember Barney?) type of character every day, know what she was doing right off the bat, and be totally happy and satisfied-never get impatient, or unsettled, or stressed and if she does, well she's not cut out for it and her children are better off with hired help every day as her fill-in.  That train of thought leaves no room for the journey-no room for personal growth.

When I look back on twenty-two years of parenting, I can't imagine any other work teaching me as many skills as I have learned (and I'm still learning). I can't imagine any other work that has pushed me physically or emotionally into tremendous growth, any work forcing me to learn new things, things I couldn't have imagined being part of the job description, than that of stay-at-home mother.  It has stretched me in ways I could never have fathomed as a new scared-to-death, twenty-four year old mother.  I think we should be encouraging mothers to be home with their children-that they are enough for their babies, THEY are what their babies need more than any one else-they are more than enough, no one is worthy of taking their place, they are the ONLY one who can be mother! They are worth that tiny blink of an eye of time that it takes to raise a baby up, and no other job will reward them more than letting their light shine through their daily motherly presence.

Thursday, February 2, 2017


Some things I have to remember about this precious girl at age four-

I am always writing funny things she says down.  I want to remember them forever.  Jeff took her to Five Guys one day for lunch and when we drove past weeks later I couldn't understand what she was saying-she said, "I love that place, that's where I want to go!"  She kept saying, "Everything Guy!"  I finally understood what she was talking about. She calls Hobby Lobby "hobby wobby". She has the cutest little voice ever. I know I will watch videos when she is older and cry at the sound of her little baby voice.

Her two favorites foods are french fries and ketchup.  A close second potato chips and dip.  So healthy!  She also loves granola with strawberries in it, thank the Lord, and will eat most everything.

She is starting to get feistier with her brothers.  "Don't touch my stuff Patrick!" that sort of thing. But the minute Patrick leaves to go to school she says she misses him.  She misses Abbey terribly.

She will play with her kitchen and her babies all day long. She is a pack rat. I call it the natural "gatherer" in girls that make these little ones pack all sorts of things in every bag they can find.  She once walked down with a backpack on front and one in the back, carrying two purses stuffed full of things.

She has the ability to go from crying to laughing in seconds.  Which is why we can recognize easily the "faker" in her.  The boys can make her crack up in the middle of sobbing.  It's the cutest thing.

She is and always has been my buddy. She goes with my everywhere and is always so good.  But she is very shy and won't say hi to anyone, or answer their questions. I am sure she will outgrow this with a little prodding.

Her favorite movies are Sound of Music, any Curious George shows, and Mary Poppins.

Her favorite thing to do ever is to play with our neighbor who is six years older than her. She talks about Mary Carol every day and her whole face lights up when she hears a knock on the door.

She is so flexible but how can one not be if they are #6? And I guess we do have long slow days together so there is that consistency but weekend games, or mom and dad having to go to a meeting, or geez, the older kids coming and going, I always wonder what might go through her head with all the activity around here. My mom told me once though that I was her "constant"-it is true I guess, I am almost always here, and we are together a ton. (Not that she doesn't love her daddy, she sure does.)

I try really hard to not go back and think about "the last time I'll have an infant or baby or 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 year old in the house".  It's too hard too live that way. It's like the "live every day like your last" quote-I always think  "if I did that everyone in my house wouldn't be clothed, educated and we would all be starving".  I do and always will miss my baby days. I will always wish I would have babies forever, honestly, but I guess I'd have to admit that I also don't picture me aging at the same time as having babies forever, so there you go.  I have pictures up of the three oldest ones when they were all at home together playing-I try not to idealize those days but they were so different than now and there was something so special about them-not that I knew that then, I didn't so much.  Motherhood is such a journey-the things I worried about when the oldest were young, or the things I hear younger mothers stressing about today-most of them aren't worth the space in our brains.

I was thinking about what advice I'd give to my own children when they become parents and wives/husbands.  I should start writing down little snippets.  There is so much margin in how you raise kids, but there is sometimes not too. Sometimes there is just "this is right" and "this is wrong."  I think when kids start to grow up too, you see that some super super good parents, have adult children that make decision that crush them or maybe even just merely disappoint.  And children from parents who were downright neglectful or irresponsible in their parenting, sometimes have a child or children escape from that and become stellar adults and parents themselves.  There is no ONE thing that has to happen to "make our kids turn out" ok.  If it was that easy.  It's so much care, and concern and prayers and love and attention and sacrifice.  And with all that, life happens and there are things that affect these children, individual circumstances, tragedies, hardships, just LIFE that affect them also-good and bad.

I know that I also, looking back, would tell myself first to stop worrying so much about this or that. Just love them, and be with them, and thoroughly enjoy them. But I can see myself in 15 years, telling myself the same thing about the teen/young adult years too-asking myself why I worried so much, and why I just didn't put those worries aside and not let those worries invade the joy of raising the kids.  I can make the excuse (and it's a valid one) of how hard this culture is for parents today, but there is good to be found everywhere too.

A friend and I were talking about this the other day.  I was listing out loud to her some thoughts in my head about "what I wanted" for my children.  If I'm honest with myself, it was what would make ME feel like I did what I set out to do with all the hard work I have done. Any by the time I got to number ten I was laughing at myself.  We were both cracking up.  Because honestly, it's ok to have high expectations, but as my friend put it best is "what you want is heaven". Heaven, where everything is just smooth and perfect, and there is no struggle, no heartbreak, no hard lessons full of learning opportunities, and nothing to ever worry the parents or nothing to ever break my heart to see my child, no matter how old, walk through.  No weight on my shoulders, no pride lost, no humble learning experiences for me, no late night begging prayers of "please God".  Just happy happy kids and gloriously awesome grandkids with no struggles of their own? Ridiculous. That's not life!  That's heaven!  And as wonderful as heaven sounds, I would choose to be here and struggle through it all, to celebrate the joys of the journey and find grace when the journey gets more difficult.  Even looking back as a parent for 22 years, which is not that long, the "tough" parts-watching a child struggle with school work or with fear, helping a teen with heart break, or dealing with disappointment over a mistake they've made and pushing through that correction with them, seeing them grow-those days are looked on as just as precious as the "easy" days too.  What a gift to witness-those times have forced my growth as much as theirs, if not more so.

Sorry for the ramble, this was supposed to be a post about things I don't want to forget about Janey.

Happy Groundhog Day!  I'll take the sunshine, shadow or not.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

My Notes From A Homily That I Loved

I went to Mass today at 7:30 a.m. because Andrew had to serve. (I am usually an early riser but heck that was really difficult today.:)  And then I came home and said, "I am going back with everyone else at 10:30, because I want to hear that again."  (I so wish my two oldest were here, because I want them to hear this message, so applicable to their generation. Instead they will have to listen to me retell it.)  

I told the priest after Mass that if I had a checklist of things I have been really really struggling with, that I wanted to find peace with but could not just settle myself (things I could not, no matter how much searching, find peace with and found myself sort of dark this week about, and I'm not just referencing politics)-well,  I had just checked them all off after his homily in terms of having found the answers.  Don't you just love when that happens?  I honestly had a talk with Jeff about some of this at dinner last night, and then to wake up and hear this refreshing beautiful message felt like a miracle, really.

Here are my notes (these are just notes, as I remember them, these are NOT the words right out of his mouth, he was much more eloquent and thorough, I am typing this up in a very busy house so excuse any typos etc, but I just have to get this down for myself.)

Gospel Reading: Matthew   5:1-12
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, 
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.  
He began to teach them, saying: 
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, 
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
Blessed are they who mourn, 
for they will be comforted. 
Blessed are the meek, 
for they will inherit the land. 
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 
for they will be satisfied. 
     Blessed are the merciful, 
          for they will be shown mercy. 
     Blessed are the clean of heart, 
          for they will see God. 
     Blessed are the peacemakers, 
          for they will be called children of God. 
     Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of 
          for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
     Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you 
          and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. 
     Rejoice and be glad, 
          for your reward will be great in heaven.”

Waiting for things to get easier-We all have a tendency to think in the future things will get easier. (I relate this so much to motherhood!)  He said in the parish they can say...
After this Advent things will slow down
After Lent…
Then after Easter, it will get easier.
After the school year ends, and summer begins things will ease up.
And then after summer we can get back to a routine.

He related this to the same way he felt about the election.
Waiting for the election to be over and then everything will die down and we won’t have to be so invested and things will be "back to normal".…Waiting for the inauguration, everything will settle down... 
And then something else comes into play. 

We are always waiting for things to get easier.  Always yearning for the easy way out, to be satisfied. 
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 
          for they will be satisfied. 

Hunger and thirst are uncomfortable feelings, and we will be satisfied in HEAVEN, not here on earth.

righteous. 1 : acting in accord with divine or moral law
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, 
          for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN-they are promised the kingdom of heaven, for the sake of acting in accord with moral law.  
It is NOT an easy place-the place we are called to be as Christians. 

A mock Golden Book that he saw on the internet with a picture of Hitler and the caption:
Everyone I Don't Like Is Hitler-A Child's Guide To Online Political Discussion.

We praise right to life issues, for protecting the most vulnerable and innocent among us, and that is good and righteous.  It is not that easy though. 

There is no political party for Christians. We are supposed to be in the party of Christ, to look for Him and strive to be like Him.  We are called to be compassionate to refugees, to those left behind, to immigrants etc.  We are to stand up and speak up. We must praise the righteous acts and we decry (with love and compassion), the unrighteous acts.  We must live and speak the message of Christ, but not without understanding and compassion, whether in our own families or on social media (he mentioned Facebook.) Just because we disagree with someone does not make them Hitler, and just because we agree with someone, does not make them Jesus himself.

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. 
Rejoice and be glad, 
for your reward will be great in heaven.

This will happen to you as a Christian-even when you approach with compassionate love. It happened in Christ's time too.  You will have half the population hating you for the way you stand up for the unborn, and then when you say, BUT when you say all people must be treated with compassion and mercy no matter what the circumstances or race, or religion, you will have the other half hating you.  As Christians we have no easy simple “box” to be in and that is uncomfortable.  We are CALLED to that discomfort, to speak up and not be afraid, and not be swayed by popularity-the discomfort won't ever go away, we can't just keep waiting for it to go away and get easier, if we are living the message.   

Saturday, January 28, 2017

A Must-Read

I found this old book while looking up some Depression era books on Amazon. I ordered if from the library after reading a few reviews, even though it looked quite old and out of date.

I LOVE this book. I am ordering a copy of my own. I am sending one to my parents.

It is chock full of wisdom and common sense, things I sometimes feel haven't seen the light of day now.  (Funny though, this book was published in the 1950's, and he writes about how then, wisdom and common sense seem long gone, compared to when he was being raised.) 

A little background-Sam Levenson grew up in a cramped NY tenement, a poor boy, the youngest of ten (two boys died very young so he grew up with seven siblings).  He spent many years teaching, and became a radio show personality. He has a great wit about him, and a wonderful way of mixing that wit with profound truths, and tales from his childhood.

I couldn't help but thinking, "This is the BEST parenting book I've ever read" throughout the whole book.  And it is NOT a parenting book at all, but it should be today.  It is that full of wisdom.  It should be number one on the best seller list, and forget all the rest of the advice.

"I was a most fortunate child. Ours was a home rich enough in family harmony and love to immunize eight kids against the potentially toxic effects of the environment beyond our door. Since the social scientists do not, as far as I know, have a clinical name for the fortunate possessors of this kind of emotional security, I might suggest they label them "the privileged poor". Poverty never succeeded in degrading our family. We were independently poor." 

(I listened to this late one night after I finished reading the book-it is a little background about him.)

Here are my favorite quotes (it is difficult to pick my favorites, I'd be writing all day if I didn't-this book is so worth reading all the way through.)

"Our parents set the moral tone of the family. Each of us was responsible not only to himself but to his brother, and all were responsible to our parents, who were prepared to answer to the world for all of us."

"Honor brought to parents by their children was the acceppted standard for measuring success.  It also became the incentive for us.  Our personal success was to a great extent predicated up on the happiness we could bring to our parents.  It would not be long before this idea would completely reverse. TO make our children happy was to become the 'summum bonum' of family life."

"They (his immigrant parents) defined freedom as the opportunity to change the circumstances of your life through your own effort, to force the hand of history rather than to remain forever enslaved by it."

On his mother's quest to teach him the importance of cleanliness and her ability to doctor them herself:
"Mama practiced medicine without a license but not without a philosophy. The preservation of life was a religious commandment based up on the doctrine of the sanctity of the human body as the dwelling place of the spirit. If the body housed the spirit, that house (the the apartment we lived in) had to be kept in decent repair or the spirit might become ill."

On the father as the leader of the household and someone to be honored and revered:
"Friday night's dinner was a testimonial banquet to Papa. For that hour, at least, he was no longer the oppressed victim of the sweatshops, the harassed, frightened and unsuccessful breadwinner, but the master to whom all heads bowed and upon whom all honor was bestowed. He was our father, our teacher, our wise man, our elder statement, our tribal leader."

The neighborhood of like-minded families with the same values:
"The woman minded everything and anything, without charge "Please mind my fish, my soup, my husband, my purse.": For me there was an emotional affinity between being minded and being loved. While I did not like to be watched, I felt that I was being protected one hundred times over by one hundred watchful mothers." 

Parent leadership:
"Although there were eight of us children, we were out numbered by two parents. Ours was a decidedly parent-centered home. Since respect for age was a cornerstone of our tradition, it followed that Mama and Papa had a right to lead, and we the right to be led by them. We had very few other rights. We had lots of wrongs which were going to be corrected by any methods our parents saw fit. The last thought that would have entered my parents' minds was to ask their children what was good or bad for the children. We were not their contemporaries, not their equals, and they were not concerned without ideas on how to raise a family. "When I need your opinion I'll give it to you."

"One thing was sure. In our home we knew the House Rules.  They were:
1. Respect was to be shown all elders.
2. There was not such things as petty crime. Little offenses can lead to big ones Practice makes perfect.
3. The management reserved the right to screen your friends.
4. When the sun set you came home.
5.  You had to earn good marks in school or money, or both. Loafing was out and unearned money was suspect.
6. You could be a hero in your own home. Try it. (Papa was, Mama was, and so was any one who brought honor to the family.)"

As a middle-class parent reflecting on his childhood and the changes he saw in the culture:
 (Remember this was published in 1949!)

"There are about four hundred books on child care published each year. Unfortunately the latest book very often contradicts the next to the latest by the same author who is in the interim has also read a book. The bewildered mother loses faith in her maternal instincts. She becomes "out-directed." The fear of doctrinal error paralyzes her. She has gone from economic insecurity in her mother's home to emotional insecurity in her own. "Am I adequate?" "Am I giving too much, expecting too much, to little?" Am I mothering or smothering, overprotecting or underprotecting, over-concerned or under concerned, obsessive, repressive?" The natural joy of caring her babies is destroyed by the dread of making the wrong decision.  Love must be sterilized and defined before it can be used."

"Many young mothers, driven by fear of not doing enough for their children, are imposing upon them the kind of frenetic care that converts the home into a hospital and childhood into a critical condition."

On the quest to give children the material goods we didn't have, or to abide by expert philosophy:
"One of the side effects of "Operation More" is often "Separation More".

On quality and quantity time:
"I was raised in an atmosphere of unscheduled love. Like punishment, it appeared wherever and whenever the situation called for it-during, between, after, or before. It was woven into the favorite of our daily life. It was never announced; it was felt. It was certainly not the amount of time our fathers spent with us that made us feel loved. Most of them worked so hard and long we did not get to see very much of them. We regarded their hard work in the sweatshops, however as ample proof of their devotion." 

"Now we are the era of love by appointment."

On too much:
"The fear of "depriving" our children has produced the most "gifted" generation of children in our history.  We shower them with gifts to prove our love, with the inevitable results that the gift to love has degenerated into the love of gifts."

"Are we giving things because we are reluctant to give time, or self, or heart? Are we offering presents in place of presence?"

"The more toys he has the less he plays. He spends more time choosing than playing. He is suffering from the boredom of opulence. For the mother this abundance ultimately creates a housing problem."

"We wondered, along with many other middle-class parents, whether we were doing the right thing in removing tall the discomforts we had experienced, whether making it unnecessary for the middle-class child to walk, wait, worry, work, perspire, or cry was good for him.

A disadvantage may turn out to have been an advantage, a denial an incentive, a deprivation an inspiration. Running interference for the child so that he will never get hurt may main him for life. Unearned satisfaction of one's needs may leave a young person with a feeling of great emptiness. Discontenment is a springboard for achievement."

"Minding one's own business has become a virtue. If you see a kid behaving like a hoodlum you say to yourself, "It's not my kid, so it's not my problme." Personally, I'm for snitching. Delinquency is OUR problem. When it is for the common good snitching is good. My mother was a snitcher, as were all the other mothers in our neighborhood. If I ever did anything wrong, by the time I got home my mother knew it via the maternal grapevine." 

"Snitching should be reinstated as a form of collective discipline. We might also revive Mama's type of Mother's Club, who platform was :Parents of America, unite. Join, the UPA-Unafraid Parents of America."

"My parents weren't always right, but they were clear. They figured that if they didn't teach us someone else would. In a moment of choice between right and wrong, I could hear the echoes of their oft-repeated admonitions in my inner ear-nagging is what they would call it today."

These are only little tidbits throughout the book!!! It is an absolute gem.