About Me

My photo
If you think this is about YOU, maybe you should go reconcile with your parent and work to get back your kids instead of continuing to be a jerk. If you think I am you, or similar to you, welcome! :-)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Grandma and UTIs: Cranberry fields forever?

It isn't hard to figure out why a larger percentage of women of a certain age contract urinary tract infections more than men or younger women, or why women contract them more as a whole than men. 

Men have their plumbing on the outside. Women have their plumbing on the inside. Like a good house, these differences have their advantages and disadvantages. Outdoor plumbing tends to make for frozen pipes that aren't well insulated in the winter; on the other hand, pipes located in walls mean the plumber might have to send some strong chemicals down the drain, if he or she doesn't have to open a wall...if you know what I mean.

Then there's the Change, also known as Meno the Pause that Refreshes. Our hormonal output changes, and more and more of us are not able or don't want to have hormone replacement therapy.

Whatever the reasons, you know the sudden feelings. The burning sensation "down there" when it's time to tinkle. The itchiness that begs you to run to the bathroom and scratch. The funky smell. Perhaps you even have an unexplained pain in the left side of your nether region. You're running an ever so tiny fever, 99, or is that 101.

If you have no compunctions about antibiotics, run, do not walk, to the doctor or urgent care of your choice. Once there, you will be asked to create a clean catch, that is, go to the restroom and fill a bottle with your urine without involving other parts of your body that could contaminate the urine. The health care provider will run a test stick through it, possibly look at it through a microscope, but the odds are in your favor that you indeed have a UTI. You'll then receive a prescription for Cipro, Monurol, maybe even Keflex. You'll get that filled, take it for 3 days to 2 weeks, again depending on your circumstances, with follow-up on a new clean catch. Good-bye UTI.

Perhaps you don't want to use antibiotics. I know some women hit 60 or so, and their body chemistries change in a big way, maybe even earlier than 60. They've been chowing on the hottest hot sauce and the stinkiest cheeses, and all of the sudden, their gut tells them NO in a big way! The bleu cheese they loved so much is now causing them to break out in hives. You never thought this would mean you are allergic to penicillin-style antibiotics. You know there are alternatives, but right now, you just don't feel like fooling with anything, but that burn and itch!

Maybe you got it treated, but now want to take on a little prevention. The UTI was certainly not a pleasant experience. You have kids to chase, and things to do, and just because there's snow on the roof doesn't mean the furnace is out with the Mister. The UTI is gone, and you want it to stay gone.

Well then! Here's my usual disclaimer that I am in no way, shape or form a healthcare professional, just another grandmother. The advice I'm giving you is just that, free advice.Take it or leave it, as you will.

  1. Rethink seriously that stop at urgent care or the doctor. You are worth it, particularly since you are the driving force behind a family once again. If you have Medicare, it's covered. If you have health insurance, it's covered. It's a co-pay and whatever plan you have for prescriptions. If you don't have either, it's about $150 tops with the exam, urine test and medication. There are alternatives to antibiotics. Some doctors with common sense will be aware of your situation, and offer alternatives. The doc might have samples of some drugs he or she can give you, instead of a prescription. Some doctors charge less for cash patients. Walgreens TakeCare and doctors who do business in Walmarts and Targets are very affordable.
  2. OK, OK! I don't blame you. Anaphylatic shock is certainly not something I wish to experience. The trick here is to treat the symptoms as well as any future bacterial growth. You're going to be sort of out of commission for a couple days, as much as you can be. Get the heating pad or hot water bottle warmed up, as it will become your companion for the groin pain. Feet up, butt down! That's right. Hit the La-Z-Boy and become queen of the remote for a couple days. It's a good time for Grandma Appreciation Days. Let the older kids cook. Let the Mister supervise. You will feel better in a couple of days, enough to clean up whatever mess they made helping you.
  3. You'll probably need pain medication of some sort. Do your allergies and other health issues permit you to take aspirin, ibuprofen? It can be a good idea to use the same pain and fever relief rotation used for kids. Take the prescribed dosage of acetaminophen, followed an hour later by aspirin or ibuprofen, followed in 3 hours from the first dose by acetaminophen, then an hour after that aspirin or ibuprofen.
  4. It's been long-proven that the drink of choice during UTIs is cranberry juice, lots of it- for the first 48 hours, think about consuming 128 ounces or so. Yes, you will be sick of cranberry juice. Yes, your other meals may be replaced by cranberry juice. Taper down to 3 glasses per day the next 48 hours, then one glass a day, every day.
  5. There is a commercial product called Cystex. It cost about $10-15 a bottle retail. Walgreens, Walmart and Target carry it. If I was going to treat my own UTI, I would, in addition to the fountain of cranberry juice I suggested, take 1 tablespoon of Cystex three times a day; morning, afternoon and before bed, for a week. I would then cut it down to one in the morning and one in the afternoon for a week. I would finally cut it to either first thing in the morning or right before bed for at least two more weeks. WARNING: I've heard Cystex can make your urine smell unpleasantly sweet, especially as you're flushing the toxins out of your system. 
  6. Don't like cranberry juice? Tired of cranberry juice? Try pineapple juice, unsweetened. Eat blueberries. Eat pineapple. Eat or drink anything containing capsaicin if your system can handle it: jalapenos, Serranos, cubanels, picante, Rotel, cayenne tea (1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper in 6 ounces of hot water). The capsaicin has the added bonus of being a pain reliever.
  7. I've heard that some doctors recommend anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 units of vitamin C daily for women in our age group with recurring UTIs. I'd go slowly on that one, and get the chewable or gummy candy variety. Vitamin C does a lot of good things for the body, but only you know your tolerance, and moderation is the key. We're talking ascorbic acid here. I'd start out with 1,000 units, spread out over the day, and work up another 500 units every couple of days, noting stomach irritation, rashes, hives, etc., not going over 5,000 units. I personally take 2,000 units a day. There is also a granular form of ascorbic acid, used in pickling and candy making, purchasable in shops that carry bulk spices and the like. A lot of people use it for their cats who have urinary problems, sprinkling it into the cats' food. I'd go lightly, but if it works for the cats, it might work in your oatmeal or beef stew.
  8. Water. You need lots of it, at least 24 ounces a day, every day, from now on. Other juices are not a good idea at this time, other than cranberry and pineapple. Soda pop is not a good idea for a lot of reasons, including the chemicals in it can play havoc with heart medication, if you take any; the carbonation can cause stomach upset instead of relief in our age group. Sugar pop or juice, the sugar is just not a good idea. Avoid caffeine if you can; if especially sensitive, watch out for chocolate, even chocolate covered cranberries or pineapple. It can cause spasms in the urethra, the place where the urine comes out. Measure the water and keep tabs on it. Two plastic, prefilled, 16.9 ounce bottles of water should keep things flowing in a good direction for you, 3 bottles even better. If you don't like buying bottled water, get a dieter's cup with straw and lid at any good drug store, fill it with ice and water, and make sure you drain it into yourself before bed. Be sure to wash it daily in warm, soapy water, rinsing well, or run it through the dish washer on the top rack.
  9. Avoid sugar. If you've already been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, this is a given. If you have not, avoid sugar right now. Don't forget, starch converts to sugar. So, for the duration of the UTI, avoid cookies, crackers, cake, potatoes, snack foods, gravies made with flour, etc. Read labels, and see how much starch is really in the foods you're eating right now.
  10. A UTI does not go away in a couple of days. If you went to the doctor and received a prescription for meds, continue to take them even after you start to feel better. Don't think taking the pills for a day, then saving the rest of the pills for later, whenever later comes, is going to make things better in the long run. If you're going the other route, expect to continue treatment for a month or so, and to enact habits to keep another UTI from occurring any time soon.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Thoughts About Earth Week and The Past that Was

I've heard too often from various factions, in this country and others, how we are ruining the earth. The thought prevails that Humankind should go back to a kinder era, an agrarian state, where people didn't get fat because there was no junk food, where horse-drawn vehicles ruled the roads,where the air was clean and children could go out as they pleased, without inhalers. If only we would go back to washboards, home-grown foods without GMO and all be vegans on organic vegetables, live in homes without electricity, oh! How the Earth would thank us, and let us live in harmony for a millennium, at the very least! 

I believe in conservationism, in taking care of what we've been given by God. I don't believe in abuse of the earth.

But those who propose we give up all vestiges of modern and post-modern life, and all will be well with the world, have some other things coming. Consider 112 years ago or so.

  • There was no Internet, or personal computers. The closet thing was a card-read machine used to count heads during the census. There were no cell  phones. Telephones in the private home were still a luxury. People communicated by letter, or in time of emergency, by telegram.Say what you will about the politicians whom you feel do not represent you. You can keep better tabs on them, and on your spouse and children as well, today. 
  • If you think politicians today are corrupt, consider Tammany Hall.
  • Electricity in the home was still a novelty. Natural gas and oil were used to light lamps, along with candles. That meant there was always a chance of fire, as fire was always the light. Ever seen the soot on a gas or oil lamp chimney? Why yes, that's pollution. 
  • No TV. No radio.  Yes, there were books, and plays in the cities. Out in the country, your chances of actually seeing a play were zip unless there was a little theater group, or a traveling troupe.
  • The horse-drawn carriage deposited horse feces on streets and roads alike. Yes, people scooped it up for organic fertilizer. Flies loved it as well, and mosquitoes, and other insects who spread disease. 
  • Want to get rid of your waste? Dump it in the river. Everybody, from the housewife to the big factory, dumped in the river. So much for the clean, flowing waters. Welcome, dysentery and typhoid.
  • Fresh air funds to get children out of the cities were started because these city kids spent their days breathing in what amounted to factory smog, getting underfoot when horse-drawn vehicles delivered their wares. It was worse in the summer, but no picnic in the winter. Inhalers didn't exist. Just how many children died of asthma we will never know, but a great many died of what was then called consumption. Consumption covered a large number of lung problems and diseases, including but not limited to tuberculosis, asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia. And a large wagon drawn by huge horses will kill a child. It wasn't neglect. There was no cure at the time, except to get the person to another, milder climate. Work was where the jobs were, and losing a child to illness was not unusual.
  •  Speaking of life expectancy- Don't bother saving for retirement. You wouldn't be retiring. You'd be lucky to see 40 if you were male, and even less if you were female. 
  • The reason less people were fat: The majority did physical labor, all day long. Children walked to school, if they went, even if it was miles away, and came home the same way. Mother worked her fingers to the bone. Vacuum cleaners couldn't work if you didn't have electricity in your house. Even washing machines required physical assistance. Don't blame junk food. It's only one source of a possible problem. Check out the lack of exercise. In 1900, girth and expanse were considered a sign of wealth and well-being. If you were overweight, you obviously had money, because you couldn't be performing manual labor. 

As for me, I am celebrating Technology Progress and Common Sense Conservation Week. I started my revels by washing all the family's clothes in hot water, heated in a 60-gallon electric heater, using modern-day detergents.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

It Pays to Have a Lot of Towels!!!

Remember the expensive towels our eldest said she won at work, but she charged, when her kids didn't have nutritious food and a lot of other things supplied by her? They were once again put to good use. The basement took on water, not a flood, but a steady trickle. Although they are not quite the cream-tinted beauties they once were, they are still very, very absorbent.

Combined with our old beach towels, an emergency pump, and some fans, the basement is now pretty dry.

As the folks at Chasing4Life say, weather is bigger nowadays. Think smarter. Stay safe this weekend. And start saving old towels!

Thursday, April 12, 2012


If SuperMom is super-charged by the role she thinks Society has foist upon her, SuperGram is driven by guilt. Whether she was once a SuperMom herself, or not, she sees SuperMom's lifestyle and blames herself. Older people can see the big picture. SuperGram knows her daughter or daughter-in-law is headed for a nervous breakdown, a drinking problem, a divorce or any combinations of those. SuperGram can see that her son-in-law or son is leading his own life, as well, perhaps even being SuperDad. And SuperGram knows that the kid isn't getting any regular attention from the two people who should be giving it, his or her parents. Instead, the kid is a member of every tribe and team in the area, but a boarder in his or her own family. 

SuperGram knows she is regulated to being a second-string player in the child's life, at best. The one time she tried to broach the subject with SuperMom, calmly, over lunch of course, SuperMom blew into a rage and fury. How dare SuperGram question SuperMom's child-rearing techniques? SuperMom was not neglectful of this child! Didn't the child have an adult present, 24/7? Didn't the child have a cell phone with GPS tracking? had SuperMom and her husband created any other children to compete with this child? Didn't the child have a standing hair appointment every two weeks? SuperGram, like her mother before her, was hopelessly out-of-date on how to successfully raise children! Really! And SuperGram had to pick up the lunch tab after that tirade, as an added insult. 

SuperGram also once tried to broach the subject of sound finances, how that much debt to keep the SuperMom lifestyle going could come back to bite SuperMom in the butt, but that, too, met with strong resistance and even a little retaliation. SuperGram and Gramps were not invited to the kid's birthday party that year. They talked about just showing up, large present in hand, but if SuperMom didn't invite them, perhaps they shouldn't. So, they didn't, mailing the child several gift cards instead.

So, SuperGram gets to see her only grandchild on Christmas (or the first evening of Hanukkah), on Easter (or at the Seder), and on the child's birthday, unless otherwise called into action. SuperGram lives to be called off the bench and back into the scrimmage!

This doesn't always mean it's convenient to SuperGram. She, too, has a life of her own. She's been told that being over 50 doesn't mean she should be unproductive! The other SuperGrams retired at 50, and now lead meaningful lives of volunteer work for Society (with a capital S). SuperGram felt compelled to do the same. She also knows that now that she's raised her family, making contact with Gramps on more than a monosyllabic level is necessary. Some of the other SuperGrams divorced their husbands back when their SuperMoms started college, and took up with men younger than themselves, much younger. Cougars, those SuperGrams are called. But SuperGram has always loved Gramps, and wants to spend time with him. They like to take an evening stroll, and are planning some trips together.

But SuperMom is on the phone, calling SuperGram to action! That weekend to see the ocean will have to wait. SuperGram is needed to chauffeur the kid! 

It seems there's been a little altercation with the mom who usually is so willing to take other children to the gymnastic meet/ traveling football game/ art tour meet-up. This woman has decided she can no longer take other children in her car. Seems the kid pitched a wing-ding and called the other mom names, then popped her eldest in the mouth after removing his/ her seat-belt in a moving vehicle. But he's/ she's only a child after all! Kids have a way of working these things out, and who knows what the other mom's kids did to provoke her darling. SuperMom offered to pay her, but she said no amount of money could get her to take that kid again, after the last three incidents. 

So SuperGram tells Gramps the trip will have to wait, and does he want to come with her. Of course he does! And off they go at SuperMom's bidding, to become the grandchild's keeper for the weekend. If they're really lucky, maybe SuperMom will let the kid stay overnight- as long as they agree not to take him or her to church, or feed him anything of which SuperMom disapproves, or correct the child in any fashion when he or she is wrong.The reservation they made for a cute little bed 'n breakfast and the quaint lobster bistro on the shore will be canceled with the attending fees.

SuperMom has requested this type of assistance before today. It once cost the grandparents quite a pretty penny to cancel lessons on how to use a snowmobile. SuperMom never bothered to reimburse them, but after all, she is their daughter, and this is their grandchild who needs them!


I thought younger women had more sense. I was wrong. In addition to the bumper crop of Lulabelles out there- a minority to be sure but still enough of them for grandparents who raise the resulting children to have blogs and boards- SuperMoms are rising out of cabbage patches everywhere, and with them, SuperGrams.
You remember SuperMom from the 1980s, if you were alive in the 1980s. SuperMom was based on the dream of NOW, men who didn't want to be the sole breadwinners; and parents taken with the novelty of girls being exactly the same as boys, but couldn't quite reconcile themselves to dressing their daughters as junior construction men. The concept thrust young women into a mold they couldn't possibly accomplish without having something give way.

SuperMom kept an immaculate house. SuperMom had one-to-two super children, who went to every extracurricular activity imaginable, and excelled in them all. Naturally, they were perfectly groomed and got all As in school. SuperMom had a full time job, and that job was fulfilling, and wonderful, and made a LOT of money for the family. This meant SuperMom could be dressed in the latest fashion, take the family on frequent vacations to exotic places, and still have time to be a sex kitten to the Mister. Nobody was turned down by SuperMom. Charities, extra work at the office, PTA, kids' sports: They all received SuperMom's attention. This did not stop SuperMom from shopping, saving the family money, cooking gourmet meals that the kids and the Mister alike devoured with ecstasy.

This is why I thought SuperMom was long gone. Even those who filled the mold of SuperMom perfectly got tired of being the only to clean the house, when not even the once-a-week maid was doing it enough to make a difference. Meals became so iffy that kids thought they should be given a kiddy menu at the family table and started coloring on the tablecloth. SuperMom was tired, too tired for marital relations, too tired to get together coupons to shop, and fell asleep at the table for ten for the charity fund raiser she personally planned- before the first course. 

And those who had more than two kids, who had no husbands, who had no glamor jobs, who barely had time for a cup of coffee and ate dry cereal out of a plastic bag for breakfast? They figured it out first. Some of them saw a stream of income in the SuperMom. They created cleaning companies, online administrative assistant concerns, even errand services. The rest got part time jobs, telecommuted or quit all together, figured out how make choices, and became much happier. 

But SuperMom is making a resurgence, and following on her heels is SuperGram. 

SuperMom has ONE child this time. Any more is an alleged detriment to the first child, SuperMom, her husband and Society (with a capital S). As before, SuperMom's employment must be glamorous, must pay lots of money, and must make her dress in the height of business casual fashion. Even if her job is not glamorous, she must pretend it is and make everybody think it is. 

SuperMom no longer has to clean her own home, thanks to the smart cookies who created maid services. SuperMom no longer cooks, unless it is her hobby or a weekend barbeque (then she makes the salad and the Mister grills). Her child thinks food comes out of a drive-through window, or she has a personal chef who makes up a batch of meals for the week. The lawn and the outer environs are tended by a variety of immigrants, who aren't too expensive and use heavy equipment.

Everybody in the family has his or her own schedule, and with it their own agenda. Why not? After all, SuperMom works hard, often harder than her husband, and frequently makes more. 

The single kid has a life filled with school, school activities after school, afterschool care, homework, scouts, baseball, basketball, football, traveling teams, cheer, dance. The kid has a standing hair appointment at Kiddee Klippers, and if the kid is a girl, add a mani/ pedi session. This is not older kids, this is all kids, from preschool up. The kid gets up, gets dressed, and is often whisked to school for breakfast, and doesn't make it home until bedtime or later. SuperMom can't make it, Dad can't make it? No problem. The daycare center offers bus service, and somebody invented ToddlerTaxi and the like. Car pools are arranged before the first planning meeting of any activity.  The drivers have been screened for prior child predator activity. The children all have cell phones, and with the cell phones, GPS tracking. SuperMom feels her child is safe out there in the world.

What about the stress that drove SuperMom to eschew this lifestyle in the first place? Why there's the weekend! SuperMom works hard all week. She is entitled to her weekend. After all, there are NotSuperMoms who can be coerced into toting the child to various activities and plans. Dad has his golf, his pick-up basketball game with his buddies, his poker game, race track seat, baseball box. SuperMom is spending the weekend with the other SuperMoms. They need facials, and mani/ pedis. They need to lunch. They need to go to the gym, and might even exercise. They need to attend the Friday happy hour, the Saturday buffet with booze, the Sunday morning brunch with mimosas and bloody Marys, with their girls, and those aren't female children. These are not kid-friendly situations, sometimes not even husband-friendly situations. Of course, the child is successfully occupied with traveling teams, arts and crafts classes, and other myriad of activities.

What if the system fails? What if the mom with more than one kid gets tried of schlepping SuperMom's Precious all over the place? What if ToddlerTaxi doesn't make it, or doesn't work on the weekends? Will SuperMom miss her cocktail-driven relaxation? Will Dad miss his poker game?

Oh fear not! They don't like to call on her, because she's getting on (50+!). They don't like her politics, and she has that nasty religion habit that they can't seem to squeeze into a weekend. But she can be pressed into service with guilt and manipulation.

I give you- SuperGram!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Granny Doctorin'

Just as I am not a lawyer and don't play one on TV, I am not a doctor, not a nurse, not a medical technician or even a medical transcriber. I suppose, because I am a military veteran who's kept up her First Aid/ CPR card, I could be considered a trained first responder. I've been to emergency training via the Girl Scouts through Chasing4Life. But if you're looking for a diploma, internship and residency, look elsewhere. I'm here to give you the start on your granny (and gramps) doctor training.

Now when the English-Speaking world reads "granny doctor training" they think of a fictional resident of Beverly Hills named Daisy Moses, known for her roots and yarbs potions, the cure for the common cold, and spring tonic.

That said, the present White House administration has ram-rodded through a health care bill that shows all indicators of being a lack of health care bill. You're going to have to know what to do in case of not-too-emergency emergencies, if Congress doesn't rescind it and the Supreme Court doesn't declare it unconstitutional. 

It won't hurt you to know what to do, anyway. I know every good parent in the USA is rated on how quickly he or she drags the kiddos to urgent care. And those parents usually have insurance on the kid, so there's only a co-pay. Grandparents with grandchildren might have the need to get creative. 

It's simply not true that every urgent situation requires a kid to go to urgent care, at least in my opinion. There's a lot that a grandparent can do to prepare for what will eventually happen; not that most grandparents aren't already prepared in case of a not-exactly-emergency.

  • Take a first aid course. If there's no Red Cross in your area, the National Safety Council also gives first aid training. The YMCA, which is more family than young men these days, also gives first aid training. You'll be more confident.
  • Read Web MD PROVIDED you don't have hypochondriac tendencies. It's a great place to find the latest on  kids, cures, drugs.
  • Prevention is still worth a pound of cure. Limit the junk food, for you and the grandkids, and the Mister or Missus if you have one. Lean meat, fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains- good choices. Grow them, buy them on sale, buy them off the close-out rack, but eating well and correctly is a big step in the prevention game. Water, plenty of it. Exercise for the whole family, including the ever-popular 20 minute walk.
  • Be prepared! The old Scout adage still proves true. With weather getting bigger (go see Chasing4Life.org), we have to get smarter. Put aside some old clothes, a little cash, some food and water, for the emergency. And change out that stuff every 4-6 months. You may never have that emergency. But if you do, you're ready. Get a first aid kit, a real one that can be helpful, not a small plastic box with flesh-toned bandage strips from the big-box store. Make copies of important papers and store them with the emergency packs. Keep things clean. 
  • Just as fruits and certain foods are seasonal and therefore on sale, so over-the-counter medicine and first aid equipment goes on sale at various times of the year. You'll find hand sanitizer and tissues on sale July through September, when school starts. That leads immediately into the season where cold remedies, pain relievers/ fever reducers and flu treatments are greatly reduced (If you get a flu or pneumonia shot, now is the time as well, as most drug stores have them). Spring brings outdoors, and with it, sales on OTC topical antibiotics, antiseptics and pain relievers; wrap bandages and heating pads, also breathing treatments. Summer leads into anti-bug sting products, bug body spray, bandage strips.
  • Know when to go to the emergency room, urgent care or just to treat it at home. So many cuts, bruises and bug bites do NOT require an ambulance and EMTs! Fevers over 102 degrees that last more than a couple hours even after fever reducer, listlessness, trouble breathing, unconsciousness, deep wounds, obvious broken bones- get to the ER, now! Fevers between 99-101, cuts that are not that deep but in odd places that bleed, sprains- Use tried-and-true common sense. Every cold is not a signal to rush to urgent care!
  • Don't discount what you already know. Ice is still the way to treat a sprain, and meat tenderizer still does wonders on bug bites. The best defense against summer bugs is to get them out of your yard by any means necessary, including zapping them with the big bug light. A winter cold still responds well to chicken soup and the day off school, interspersed with pain reliever/ fever reducer and storybooks. Sometimes a good enema gets things moving. Superglue does indeed hold together a small cut that won't bandage after the cut is cleaned. And soap and water with organization keeps many a germ out of many a house.           

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Note of Grace (Family Acceptable Television)

Everything last year stopped in our house on Fridays at 9 or 10 PM, for the entire first season of "Blue Bloods." The DVR might have recorded it, but that was only to play back the highlights. We had it etched in our minds.

Tom Selleck as Frank Reagan has been a treat for the Mister and me. We remember "Magnum, PI" with great fondness, and wonder only why John Hillerman hasn't been worked into an episode. It's nice to remember Lulabelle's gigantic crush on all the Wahlbergs back in the 1980s and 90s, because there stands Donny Wahlberg, all grown up and playing a cop. Belle gets her hair cut "exactly" as Sami Gayle does. And for a show on during the prime time (whoopie) hour, it's pretty clean and sticks to the subject matter at hand, the extended family of the New York City Police Commissioner and how they solve crimes and family issues.

Our only beef: The Reagans' Sunday dinner. Not that we don't approve of Sunday dinner. We do! We also approve of Hollywood food, sitting on the lovely table. It warms our hearts to see reinforced on the small screen, an extended family sitting down to Sunday dinner, politely and correctly (most of the time), and grace being said in gratitude for all God has bestowed.

It's the grace that's the problem.

Catholics are said to be hung up on rote prayers, often by those who call it vain repetition. But our memorized prayers help us, in times of stress as well as times of grief and excitement. Catholics are taught to pray always, and sometimes the words just don't come. Ask anybody who has been in the heat of battle or robbed at gunpoint just how quickly one's mind goes to, "O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins..."

The Reagans got it all wrong the first season, at least in our opinion. "Bless us, O Lord, for these gifts which we are about to receive from your bountiful hands through Christ our Lord," whereupon the Reagans all chime in the "Amen" and commence chowing down.

Both Belle and Baby were horrified. 

In our old diocese, every child learns the Prayer Before Meals early, in Catholic preschool if the children attend it. The former bishop might have been a lawyer who is recognized for his hard ability to get things done, but he is also the priest who insisted the children in his diocese learn rote prayer, and start learning it early. None of this light-hearted "in choosing to do wrong, and failing to do good" stuff! It was the same Act of Contrition the Mister and I learned so many years ago, with "heartily sorry" and "detest all my sins" and no namby-pamby patty-cake, but "firmly resolve with the help of Thy grace to sin no more, to do penance and avoid the near occasion of sin" brass tax and that was by second grade!

The Latin version of the prayer they learned at my knee and in preschool is, "Benedic, Domine, nos et haec tua dona, quae de tua largitate sumus sumpturi. Per Christum Dominum nostrum." And the present-day translation, used at almost every English-speaking Catholic table in the world, even today and at my table, is, "Bless us O Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive, from Thy bounty, through Christ our Lord, Amen." No "bountiful hands." No playing with the words.  No "your" for "Thy." Thy is a familiar term in colloquial English, that denotes at least familial familiarity. God is our Father, and He gets thanked as Family.

We explained that, after all, the real commissioner of police in New York City was not Frank Reagan, and in fact the Reagans were fictional people, actors who played various roles and then went home to be whoever they are when they aren't being Reagans. They weren't quite convinced, and corrected the Reagans at every Sunday dinner in every episode where grace was said.

The second season hasn't been as well received here as the first. Nobody likes the new mayor of New York, although I personally think he would be an improvement over Bloomberg. If they're trying for for a copy of the present POTUS, well, none of us think so. This mayor has slightly more backbone, grounds his politics in King and not Alinsky, but he does have that One-Hand-Washes-The-Other mentality. I don't like him because I'm not suite sure he likes Frank, for all his little sidebar on the young cop in the 'hood who was nice to the neighborhood kids.

And our kids have activities on Friday nights, activities that take up time, including the "Blue Bloods" time slot. I find myself calling the title when I do the weekly cleanup of the DVR, "Has everybody seen this?" along with "Chopped" and "Pawn Stars."

So as I sifted through the episode that aired March 30, I was pleasantly surprised to hear Donny Wahlberg's character, Detective Danny Reagan, not only volunteer the grace at the end of the episode, but to recite it correctly, complete with requisite Thy and bounty.

The Wahlbergs were raised Catholic, but it was post Vatican II, and who knows if he was as uncatechized as the rest of the kids from that time period. It was a time when memorizing prayer was seen as some sort of pressure, and even memorizing the Our Father was somehow suspected by catechists. 

But Mr. Wahlberg rattled off that prayer as if he's been saying it all his life- which is a good possibility. So thanks from the old and young folks alike, Donny Wahlberg and "Blue Bloods," for getting it right this time.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The right thing to do...?

OK, grandparents, want a new one: Foster care is preferable to grandparent or extended family care.

I thought you'd think it was whacked. Yet, this is what I was told by someone of my acquaintance, that my now children would have been better off in foster care.


1.) I am old. I am not elderly, not even qualifying for social security yet, and won't for a good ten years or more.
2.) If my adult daughter really wanted them back, she would have cooperated better with foster care and Department of Children and Family Services than the Mister and me. So, in order to placate my Lulabelle, or even to stir her to action, I should have let the grandkids go off to a system that is at best marginal care for them? 

No, we did the right thing. Mind your own business.