The Hard-Headed Life

Snippets since I fell off the internet – no, nothing bad going on, not really.  Just my life.  You know the scene.

1. The weekend before Thanksgiving, three kids are outside playing tag after dark.  Seven-year-old daughter comes inside, weeping and telling us she hit her head.  Mandatory concerned-parents questions, but we determine that it wasn’t that bad, she’s just tired, because what she hit her head on was her brother’s shoulder.  She settles down, though she keeps reminding us her head hurts.

A few minutes later, Mr. Boy comes inside.  His shoulder hurts.  You know — where his sister’s head hit it.  Can’t be that bad, right?

Next morning, as someone who shall not be named is trying to persuade the boy to quit favoring the shoulder and move it around a little so the muscles don’t get tight, the Mom-alarm goes off.  Something is not right with this scene.  Further Mom investigation, followed by confirmation at doc-n-box: Broken collarbone.

PSA: Do not play rugby with my 7-year-old.

2.  I wrote this article at New Evangelizers.  I knew it was slated to run on Thanksgiving, but I wrote it anyway.  Hint: I rant about the usual things I rant about, instead of telling you to be grateful for stuff.

How did writing this column change my life? I resolved to wear hats more often.  Not at church, necessarily.  Just around.  Because I like them.

3. At, I answered this post from Rebecca Frech. In my column, which you can find here, I assert that my children are not too sheltered, though I give no particular evidence on that point.  Those who worried that by “being selective about the movies they watch” you feared I was depriving them of sappy puppy-themed formula films, or hyper-violent Korean parodies of Clint Eastwood films, fear not.  We’re covering those bases tonight, that’s why I have time to blog.

4. Awkward blogger moments: I’m at the Family Honor in-town class session that finishes out the course Jon & I took last summer.  Great class.  Highly recommended.  We’re sitting at dinner, and the program director turns to me, and says, “Jen, I just found out you blog.  I just started blogging.  Tell me — how often to you post?”

I had to explain to him that I had recently fallen off the internet.  I went home resolving to post here ASAP, so I’d look more respectable when he clicked on my blog.  But the DSL was out.

#5 – #17: About the Internet

5. SuperHusband had to take a child to a violin concert Sunday afternoon, so he put Mr. Boy in charge of contacting AT&T to get the DSL fixed. All part of the child’s education.  (So. About all our sincere efforts to not make other people work on Sundays. Isn’t DSL like an ox in the ditch?  Isn’t it?)

So the boy gives it his best.  Of course, he does not himself work in telecom, so he’s fresh meat.  Customer service convinces him we need a new modem.

SuperHusband comes home and rejects this diagnosis.  A new modem is the two-aspirin of the Telcom customer service world.  He starts to make the boy call back customer service and argue more, but I step in and plead mercy, mostly on me but a little bit for the boy and his father, too.  SuperHusband gets on the phone, talks customer service off their ledge, and after a cordial but intense discussion with Nathan in India (is it Sunday in India?), they get the idea that maybe a change of service is in order.  AT&T will send a guy around in the morning.  No, they won’t charge for installation.

I’d been planning to go to Chik-Fil-A in the morning to check my e-mail, but I agree to stay home so the problem can be solved.

6. 8:10 AM the friendly customer service guy rouses me from a sleep even St. Josemaria couldn’t touch.  He’ll be there at 8:40, will that be okay.  Yes.  I lie and tell him yes.  It is not exactly lying if you are also praying that by 8:40 it will be okay.

7. My excuses for being tired include the fact that we are gradually shifting #2’s sleep schedule later and later, so that she can sing at midnight Mass.  Thus, all children are asleep.  Or faking it because they know it’s Monday, always a risk they might have to do work on a Monday.

8. I have no excuses for the way my house looks.

9. So what I need is a WWMDC bracelet. I go to the kitchen and start asking myself, “What would Mrs. Darwin clean next?” I clean that thing, then repeat repeat repeat.  By 8:40, as long as the blinds remain closed, and all the lights except in select cleaned-places remain turned off, the house looks like a place that would not cause a telecom tech guy to call social services.

10. I failed to think about the phone guy when we put chicken prison in exactly the place where the phone lines enter the house.  I apologized.  He pretended it was no big deal.  Tech guys lie just as much as housewives.

11.  He was incredulous when I explained that we had no crawlspace, and yes, the phone lines go through the attic.  A tech had just fallen through someone’s attic only last week.  AT&T does not want to send people into your attic.

12.  There were complications.  Complicated complications.  We eventually get hold of the SuperHusband, who has an intelligent conversation about telecom things with the tech guy.

13.  Tech guy gets permission from AT&T to install the new service on our ancient phone lines. Since running a new cable would involve the attic. And other things.

[Note: During all this time, I am continuing to clean my house. The children wake-up eventually, and I convince them to clean the house, too.  I am acting as if there is some good reason why I woke up to a trashed house on a Monday morning, and that naturally if no DSL problems had arisen, I would not have spent the morning answering e-mail and blogging, I would have done those dishes! Right away!  By the time the tech guy has his marching orders, the house is looking sort of civilized.  My children transition to acting like they are doing school work. They are pro’s at this, and even I am briefly fooled.]

14.  There’s a problem.  The newly-installed service works, but not to the company’s quality standard.  More investigations.  A manager is called.  They visit all the phone jacks in my house.  They are gathering evidence that we have the weirdest wiring in the Southeast.  (There’s a place that’s weirder, I’ve seen the photos, but it’s in Baltimore.)  They need to install new cable.

15.  The manager moves on, the tech guy installs the new cable.  Through the attic, of course.  He sustains no injuries, thanks to my helpful tips.  (Stay on the plywood. Not on the pink stuff.)

16.  It’s not the cable in the attic after all. Maybe it’s the box at the curb . . . the one with the oak roots entangling it, such that the box cannot be opened.

17. More investigations.  Actually, the problem is a few blocks up the road.  Tech guy apologizes for mistakenly upgrading my wiring.

Utterly unrelated. Not really.  #18.  I agreed to be one of’s Gospel-reflection writers for 2014.  Lisa H. immediately signed me up for the 16th of each month, before I had time to change my mind.  This means I have to read a snippet from the Gospel twelve times a year, and think about what the snippet says.

Yes.  I know.  It seemed like a good idea to me, too.

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