Thursday, November 6, 2014

Friday, October 10, 2014

These Small Moments...


We have been steeping ourselves in our daily routine.
A new baby. Last remnants of summer. A slower school schedule.
Simple meals. More tea. More Books. More together.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Getting Ready for the Next School Year: Year at a Glance

Over at Scholé Sisters, the talk of truth, beauty, and goodness is generating some mental fodder for this lady. Maybe its the third trimester awakenings at 3 am or the lack of overall space that is forcing me up to write this post. I prefer to think that it's inspiration from the ideas being talked about.

Last year, we hit the doldrums hard in February and March; I attribute that to the large piles of snow that just kept coming and coming and coming (well, you get the idea) and also to the lack of beauty as my children saw it. I find a distinct comfort in the recitation of facts, of time lines, and maps surrounding me. I draw mental refreshment from a large stack of research about a random topic of interest. However, my chickadees at 5, 4, and a year don't. They love variety, color, and freshness. And honestly, in the dead of winter with constant sub zero temperatures doesn't everyone!

In the blog post, Beauty as Home, Brandy Vencel talks about how important and how simple beauty can be in everyday life. The flower arrangement given by a friend, the smell of a tea snack baking away, the touch of dog-eared books under fingertips are some of the beautiful that I want my children to grow to love. I want their memories to be filled with those and many more sensory perceptions when they leave my house.

Our schedule this year will hopefully allow us to do that. I want to give the chickadees time to absorb their surroundings but have time to work academically as well. Last year, we loosely used trimesters and a summer term to keep us organized. What I like about trimesters is that 13 weeks allow me to have enough planned, prepped, and organized that a rhythm can play out. Once a trimester is done, I can re-evaluate where we are and where we are going. I plan on ten to twelve weeks of school work at time and the rest of the time is to be used as sick days, field trips, etc. (you know that margin time!).

Inside of my trimesters, I have two loops (A and B) which play out in six week increments. Since I failed miserably at getting in all of my extras, I figured I would use the looping system Sarah mentions over at Amongst Lovely Things. I mention at the bottom of my last homeschooling post the subjects I wanted to focus on this year.

Our Current Year

Friday, July 18, 2014

Books for the Wicker

Over the past three summers, I have found some really interesting reads. Some I have kept for the fall and others were devoured as soon as they hit the doorstep. My recent find was Euphoria by Lily King. Amazon sent me an email that featured this novel by King. I found a copy in a quaint book shop in Bar Harbor while we were on our proper holiday.

It is a short read of only 256 pages centered around three cultural anthropologists in the 1930's. The author was heavily inspired by my favorite, Margaret Mead, and her associates like Franz Boaz and Ruth Benedict. This book brought me back to why I chose anthropology and the rush of discovering a new way to live. The ending is sad and tragic but I feel like the author was really telling the reader about consequences, life, and the choices we make. Morality is something that did lack in the book with an affair and other ethical breeches; however consequences abounded. I could almost feel the humidity of Papua New Guinea. I could almost feel the pain of the man left alone at the end to face his own mortality and past decisions.
The Book of Life is a pure frivolous read about magic, adventure, and lots of swashbuckling. There is some fun genealogy thrown in as well as historical facts. I have not dived into the book as it is the last in the series, and I always hate the ending of a fun adventure. A Discovery of Witches is the first book in the series starting out slow but really developing the characters for a long detail rich story line. The characters are stock enough to be relatable  but quirky enough to feel original. Plus, the sex is inside a marriage (in the second book, Shadow of Night) thanks to some clever plotting, and integrity is something that tends to be upheld as well as family loyalty. Like I mentioned, it's a fun read with no addition to your moral compass but the writing is properly adult which is nice since juvenile/pre-adult style is not really my fancy.

Other authors I have enjoyed for summer fun reading are:

Arturo Perez-Reverte ( The Club Dumas, The Seville Communion)

Jon Steele (The Watchers and Angel City)

C. J. Sansom (Matthew Shardlake novels)

Danielle Trussoni (Angelology and Angelopolis)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Getting Ready for the Next School Year:: Curriculum Choices

My newly organized homeschool closet
with each student dedicated a shelf.
 This year has been full of great resources to inspire, assist, and reassure the homeschooling mother! Teaching from A State of Rest challenged me to re-evaluate my family’s priorities. Last year, I overloaded myself with too many subjects for one day. I was not allowing the good, the beautiful, or the true to shine through our work. We were just hitting the books with minimal joy. This year I am using several of the techniques Sarah talks about to add more beauty and more variety without losing my mind. Teaching also gave me the confidence to see where I was strongest. Once I have a plan, I tend to stick with that plan. However, I now can plan to be flexible or build in margin for the day, week, month, or even the trimester without too much guilt!

In Plan Your Year by Pam Barnhill of Everyday Snapshots, I found that sound board on which to bounce my ideas thanks to the great many pages she designed. I also found myself getting specific on my long-term goals for our homeschool.  Finally, sitting down to create a mission statement that quantified our family’s priorities was a huge accomplishment. My husband, Jeff, and I were close in our wants, desires, and point of view which was a nice realization as well. Pam’s templates were wonderful tools to inspire some change to our schedule; the visualization assisted my brain into seeing how important a routine is balanced with a time based schedule.

Leo's daily reading practice basket.
Our goal is to get up to 30 minutes a day.
A change is coming this way for our little homeschool; Bella is wanting to start Kindergarten, so that leaves me with a first grader and a kindergartener. Not to mention a crazy toddler who loves to rip, shred, and pulverize paper of all varieties and a new baby debuting in September! We might be needing all that flexibility for a steep learning curve headed our way.
Back in March, I talked about focusing on solidifying skills and getting back to scholé, here is a list of our current picks for aiding in our learning:

Leo’s lovely list:

Core Subjects (math, reading, writing, etc.):

v  Saxon 1

v  Kumon Workbooks for added practice on Fridays if needed (we are using the first trimester to focus on addition drilling)

v  All About Spelling Level 1 (this is a re-start for us)

v  All About Reading Readers Lvl. 1 (books 1-3) and Set 2/sight words of the BOB books with worksheets for both here (he really enjoyed completing set 1 last year and specifically asked we do more); there are other readers like these from Neumann Press that I will be adding to the basket

v  story sequencing practice from PAL (IEW's program)
v  Classical Catholic Memory Alpha Year (Co-op classes as well twice a month)

Bella’s bountiful list:

Core Subjects:

v  Saxon K

v  IEW's PAL Writing and Reading

v  Kumon workbooks for extra practice if needed

v  Classical Catholic Memory Alpha Year (Co-op classes as well twice a month)

Loop Topics Include: art, science, literature units based off of Five in a Row, religion, music, history, and poetry. I am hoping to make our loop topics family based, so that everyone including my husband can join us.

'Tis the season for planning posts, so stay tuned!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Our Weeping Mother

"La Salette is an invitation to the joy of a world reconciled to God. Virgin Mary weeps for by the conversion of sinners and the mercy of God, the smile back on the faces and the mountains are covered with wheat. "
Bishop Guy de Kerimel, Bishop of Grenoble-Vienne

On our return trip from Maine, we decided to stop off at the La Salette Shrine in Enfield, NH.We make it a family priority of visiting as many shrines as we can which I write about here. The shrine is set to close in 2015 due to a lack of personnel and a restructuring of the order attached to the Shrine.

The drive was lush to say the least; Lake Mascoma sits right across from the Shrine giving the pilgrim every chance to revel in God's creative ability. La Salette is build on an old Shaker stead which was then sold to the order. On the grounds, there is a cafeteria, a gift shop that has variety with books, statues, crucifixes, rosaries, etc., and this little side building that has nativity sets from around the world. We didn't get to visit that particular building since the amount of tiny wandering fingers was a disaster waiting to happen.

We did get to walk the entire shrine with the chickadees. There is a Rosary garden with a pond encircled with a large rosary made from stone roses to mark the beads. The next segment is a peace garden that was created in the 1980's centering around the conflict in Japan.

My favorite part was the Apparition Garden; it showcased some beautiful hand carved marble statues telling the tale of the apparition of the Weeping Mother to Melanie and Maximin. The overall peace the shrine offers is surprising in way. I didn't intend to fall in love with the Weeping Mother of La Salette. Yet her message is so close to my heart as a mother and as a person who struggles with sin. Her message speaks of keeping the Sabbath, daily prayer, and other societal ills; She weeps because of the pain it causes our Lord her son. The children, Melanie and Maximin, described the crucifix upon the Weeping Mother's breast as radiant with a hammer and pincers; the hammer representing our sins that hammered the nails into Christ on the cross while the pincers represent penance and prayer reconciling us to Christ.

The chickadees loved walking the Stations of the Cross that were marked by life size marble statues and a tomb at the end. In the middle is a set of pilgrim stairs which my husband completed with the two girls leading up to the crucifixion of our Lord with Our Blessed Mother, Mary Magdalene, and St. John at the feet of a dying Christ.

For more information about La Salette, I suggest this prayer book from Amazon which is available for e-readers.
Other Resources include:
    • This website offers images and information about the original shrine in France where she appeared. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Faith Folders, Rings and Games... OH MY!

Over Memorial Day weekend, I received an email from Lindy Meyer, the owner of Holy Learning (which used to be Faith Folders for Catholics). She was offering a product to try free of charge for an honest review of the product chosen; now, I had purchased several faith folders from Holy Learning over the years, so I was excited to branch out. I decided to try the Baltimore Catechism Ring (#1) with Leo for some religious prep.

Once Ms. Meyer sent me the file, I downloaded it, hit print, and started cutting/hole punching/laminating. It took me about an two hours to start to finish. I unfortunately did not print on card stock as I had run out. Silly me started this project at 11 o'clock at night. I also cut too close (probably out of sleep deprivation!) to the edges so I had to re-laminate some cards. Once completed, I ordered the cards and collected them onto the largest binder ring I had in my drawer (3 inches).

What I really liked about the cards was how Leo responded to the use of the cards. He was more inclined to see learning the questions as a game which in turn made it fun and easy to practice the information. It also kept the time learning shorter, so we could practice more times a day without burn out. Leo is still working on reading fluency, so he is not able to completely work alone yet; however, he still was intrigued enough to be found on the floor perusing through the cards for the pictures. I am confident that as he progresses in his reading, he will be able to independently use the cards for his own benefit and to aide his siblings in learning these valuable questions and answers.

Overall, there really is not a negative aspect to this product to me. The price is listed as 18.00 dollars, and honestly, I do not think that is unfair. When I think of the time it took to make the template, type, and format the information not to mention that once purchased you then can make multiple copies for home use (like one for each child), it is a completely fair price to pay.

Holy Learning is now offering faith games  in addition to their faith folders (which I love to make with my chickadees), faith rings, faith cards, and they also have an Adoration Guidebook (a great idea!). And Ms. Meyer is providing my readers (get excited you two!) with a coupon code for 15% off any order:
I also receive some store credit when you purchase from Holy Learning using the above coupon code. I would be grateful if you did, I am eyeing those faith games! Please leave a comment with your favorite product from Holy Learning! I would love to hear about it. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Expectations or a lack there of...

Listening to the audio companion to Teaching from a State of Rest, I was left with an after thought that I really do not harbor expectations of who, what, where, or even the why of my children's futures. Cindy Rollins mentions in her talk, "The Long Haul: On Morning Time" available on Circe's site that she was upset by her oldest son's career choice. She was in "deep despair" it causing her to re-evaluate her homeschooling/parenting style. It struck me as an unfamiliar feeling.

The only expectations that I really have for my children are that they explore their interests whatever they may be and that they are living inside of the will of God leading them to becoming Saints. We want our children to be who and what God calls them to not to "be whoever they want". I have no preference of college vs. no college. I want all of my children to have the ability to be who they are created to be by God without my over or under influencing their choices.

I don't believe that it is wrong or right to have certain expectations but I do think that it will burden the child and the parent with possible unrealistic worries and attitudes if not given over to our Lord. Its all about priorities. I want our family culture to cultivate a freedom in finding their gifts, talents, and so much more given to them. I want to give them a broad range of experiences; I want them to have the knowledge base to converse with all people no matter what topic or level of ability.

Maybe its not a lack of expectations, but a natural area of faith in who my children are. That they really are "...born persons - they are not blank slates or embryonic oysters who have the potential of becoming persons. They already are persons." As a naturally anxious person, I guess I might be too consumed with the immediate needs of my children. My mother was always praying for my brother and me; I don't think I have ever realized that was the best gift she gave us. I hope that I can cultivate that life long litany for my own children. One prayer that we as a family say is the "Guardian Angel Prayer" which always helps to start the day with an attitude of peace. Another option for handing over children's futures is to pick a patron saint for the family or for the individual family members. We pick a new patron saint for each of us after Thanksgiving dinner for the new liturgical calendar entrusting that Saint with everything.

Monday, May 26, 2014

A Quick Pop In...

This space has been quiet lending me some much needed time to re-evaluate where my path is headed; I have needed to focus on reviving our routine and re-doing our chore charts. Our school year officially ends on June 25 this year leaving in a month to road trip to Maine visiting with some great family friends and hopefully, a visit from the Nanas.

In regards to this blog, I will be making some changes in the fall. I have so many ideas of inspiring, reaching, and encouraging other Catholic mothers; however, my thoughts seem to jumble together currently. I realize that more consistency is needed in order for me to improve on my ideas and skills. I have been praying for some clarity and giving over my ideas to God, and I know that in the right time my ideas will be better represented to me once He reveals the true direction.

Around the house, we have been purging, organizing, and crossing off small projects. The warmth of Spring has arrived leaving afternoons spent under blue skies with grass between our toes. The bird feeder has provided many amusing learning moments. Leo has really enjoyed feeding and observing the different birds. We mainly have swallows, pigeons, cardinals, and the occasional blue jay. Last year, we had a wood pecker but have yet to hear him this spring.

Have you read Sarah's newest labor of love? I read it over this long weekend. Arriving just in time for my planning season, Teaching from a State of Rest has challenged me to make choices based on cultivating the entire person not just filling a blank slate. I have had a minor epiphany about my parenting style as well as my homeschooling style which I hope to expand more on once I flesh out the details. I highly recommend getting the companion journal and audio files. The interview with Cindy Rollins was a nice confirmation of what I already knew but was to afraid to admit to myself.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Answer Me This!

Click over to Catholic All Year for some more Answer Me This!

1. Do you hate happy clappy church music?

Yes. In fact, my entire family does. When we lived in Virginia, we attended a FSSP parish where the chant was truly beautiful. It was quite a shock moving to North Country, NY and having no Latin mass availabilities at all. There is one Latin mass about four hours away. Leo really dislikes the clappy church music to the point he has cried. I feel like chant is more appropriate because it does not force an emotional reaction through the tempo, melody, or words. Holy Mass is a place where we should be able to come and worship as we are not how the musical director wants us to feel. I will say that I prefer the St. Michael's Hymnal over the Breaking Bread missalette/hymnal.  

2. What is your priority: eating or sleeping?
I'm going to let Grumpy Cat answer this one for me:

3. What type of milk do you drink in your house?
When we lived in TN, we bought raw milk from my friends' farms. Now we buy Horizon Organic Whole milk because the taste is way cleaner than the local variety, and Horizon makes half gallons. My husband is the only person who really loves just drinking milk. Everyone else uses it for cereal or for baking (even then I prefer coconut or almond due to texture).

4. What is a book that changed your perspective on something?
 This is a tough question; I think that I linger on thoughts from a book while I'm picking up another book, so I forget to credit which single book has impacted a perspective. In the realm of Catholic faith development, The Angels: The Catholic Teaching on the Angels was very influential in my understanding of personal responsibility for sin. Yes, the devil can tempt but he can not create; I allow myself to either sin or not sin. I can not blame Lucifer or even Adam and Eve. My actions, my consequences.

5. Who is your favorite saint?

Magdalene with the Smoking Flame,
by Georges de La Tour (c.1640)
My patroness is Mary Magdalene because I admire her ability to completely give herself to Christ and his mission. I also enjoy the evolution of how Scholars see her. In the Orthodox Church, she was never a penitent but a woman so pious and faithful that the devil mistook her for the Theotokos casting into her the seven demons. In the Roman Church, she has been a composite of several women in the Bible. Either way, she has guided me into a life of repentance and to the empty tomb!

Other saints that I greatly admire and that have influenced my faith development are: Jose Maria Escriva, Edith Stein, Fulton Sheen, and our Blessed Mother.

6. Introvert or extrovert?
Introvert. In the last year, I have really come to terms with just how much I am an introvert. As I get older, my introvert tendencies are more and more pervasive. After some debacles last year, I am working on really making the most out each social interaction. I now prioritize who I spend time with. If the encounter is not going to be meaningful or is not going to be a positive experience, I will not force myself to go which can be hard since I hate feeling left out. Recently, I have found a wonderful group of ladies that are very uplifting and faith filled.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Easter Reflections :: Weekends with Chesterton

Easter is always a wonderful time to reflect on where we are in our spiritual journeys, how we got here, and where we are going. I made the decision to come into full communion with the Catholic Church when I was 19; I spent many years being angry at God for the family, emotional, and economic situation that I lived. Even though I openly shunned Christ and denied the validity of any Christian faith, I was always receptive to Mary. I found myself coming again and again to the rosary amidst my struggles.

I was like the persecutors that Chesterton mentions; I exerted so much effort in attempting to silence those who believed and to keep the Truth from heart that I forgot to check the tomb. I failed to see if Christ was waiting limp and pale on the slab or if He was truly risen walking next to me.

Today, I might not doubt the Resurrection of my Lord and Savior, He is not always the first priority. Because I recognize his magnanimity and unconditional love for me, I allow the everyday struggles, failures, and excitements to overshadow the responsibility I have to cultivate my relationship with Christ through living out his words, in prayer, or in showing absolute joy amongst the small crosses I have been given.  

Check out Sarah's new layout at Amongst Lovely Things, and don't forget to click on other Chesterton quips.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Answer Me This! :: Getting back into the Swing of it all

Over the last two weeks, we have battled a stomach flu (horrible, y'all), caught up on housework and school work, and finally welcomed spring with some 60 degree temperatures. I have also been planning our next school year; Arabella really wants to start kindergarten next year which through me for a loop since I planned on one more year of just play. But more on that later! I am linking up with the lovely Kendra at Catholic All Year for Answer Me This!

1. What time do you prefer to go to Mass?

Currently, we have two Mass options here in our town, 4 pm on Saturday and 11:15 am on Sunday. We favor the Sunday at 11:15 even though it conflicts with Eva's naptime because the Saturday Mass is just too late in the day for the chickadees to control themselves. 4-7 (bedtime) is a hard chunk of time since only Eva naps. 

2. Would you rather be too hot or too cold?

Hot. After living in sub-zero temps (this year we reached some great negative temps), I can attest that I would prefer to glisten in the heat than freeze.

3. How many brothers and/or sisters do you have?

I have 3 brothers and 3 sisters making me the oldest out of 7. I have a maternal half brother named Zac who is only two and half years my junior, and my father and his wife had quintuplets (that's right 5 at once) whom are 16 years my junior. My sibling relationships are different between Zac and the quintuplets. Zac and I grew up together and faced several hardships together. Whereas, the quintuplets and I never lived together nor did we spend years together. The age gap does make it hard as well since it seems to be more of a mentor situation vs. a sibling relationship. 

4. If you were faced with a boggart, what would it turn into?

My worst fear enacted would most likely be a dentist or an Ob/Gyn. I have other abstract fears but honestly, I really despise mainstream doctors. I have very low blood pressure but take it at a medical office I am sky high. Last year, we had to take legal action in order to avoid being forced to birth how the hospital wanted us to.

5. Barbie: thumbs up or thumbs down?
Way down. I dislike the Barbie franchise; the movies are about spoiled girls who refuse to take responsibility for their actions, life, or accept consequences. Arabella has a couple of the Disney "Barbie" dolls which are usually left alone. My husband hates Barbie, so that's a huge factor as well.

6. If someone asked you to give them a random piece of advice, what would you say?

From Grandma Lovey, "There aren't going to be any naps in hell, so you better get them in now." Yes, ma'am!

From Eleanor, "Never enough perfume, my dear."

If I had to tell someone a random piece of advice, it would be to put quality over quantity. I have found in my life that the moments, books, or people that were most influential were not those people I spent the most time with but the moments, books, or people that were filled with solid character, morals, examples, and virtues.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Some Hits, Some Misses :: Seven Quick Takes

1. (Hit) 

About two weeks ago, I entered a contest at Domestically Speaking for a set of dishes from  Pfaltzgraff, and I won. They arrived Wednesday amidst some toilet leaking, so I only got as far as washing them and eating some strudel cake off of the one salad plate. However, I am impressed with their quality. The stoneware and solid edges make them less likely to chip than my porcelain plates.

2. (Miss)

TV time went sky high this week thanks to my poor planning and exhaustion. Back of track next week though because...

3. (Hit)
We are going away for the weekend, people! YAY! Every now and then the military will have spouse or family retreats. We were finally after 7 years able to go on one. Hallelujah! Best part its at an indoor water park. The chickadees will be able to have some serious fun running and splashing after this loooonnng winter.
4.  (Miss)
 Car repairs this month have totaled to be around $1300 buckaroos which was not planned but thankfully our new budget has given at least that wiggle room. We only have one car right now; we have looked into getting another one but prices are a little steep even in the used section. I would love to ride out our time here in NY with one car since the weather and road conditions are really hard on a vehicle and not to mention the state taxes are cray-cray. Mental. Tennessee spoiled us so!

5. (Hit)  

Sarah's series, First Steps Toward Teaching from a State of Rest been giving me so much to consider about my motivations, my goals, and where they are fall in light of Christ's asking of me. I have come to the conclusion that as a legalist I am more likely to fall into checking the box mode faster than I am going to fall into the slovenly mode. I am thinking about cycling between a very book led curriculum that would be more rigorous and between a year that would be more immersion led. For example, this year Leo started  learning to read, write/copy/transcribe, story sequencing, and a mix of Math (I should have used Saxon 1 this year but I went with K. He's a math guy, so we are working on some addition, subtraction, multiplication alongside of K.). We have also been slowly starting All About Spelling. PAL has definitely helped him process reading and letters, but the focus has been on just getting these skills down. Next year, our plan is to simplify and practice all these wonderful skills we have been starting to master this year. I promise to expand on that later!

6. (Miss)

 Stations of the Cross, Adoration, and Holy Mass have been missing from my Friday nights. For some reason, I just can not make it. The plan was for Jeff and me to trade off each Friday of Lent; however, he only has gotten one week, and I have yet to get in one due to his work schedule or car repairs or me being ill.

7. (Hit)

My wonderful best friend who made the wreath for me also did this for Eva, her God-daughter:

Inside the card it read:
 We gratefully acknowledge a contribution in honor of :
Eva W.
given by
Awesome God Parents
You are remembered daily in the prayers of the Sisters.
Aren't they the best? I was in tears of appreciation that they would give such a wonderful gift to Eva.
For more Quick Takes head over to Conversion Diary and click away!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Celebrating the Bella Boo turning Four

Birthdays around here are pretty quiet, and they are often accompanied by a "boughten cake" as Leo says. At first, it made me sad that Leo would ask for a store made cake, since I do love to bake. However, I now get into the spirit of taking each child to Walmart or Kroger and having them pick a theme cake. This is the first year that Bella wanted a "boughten cake" instead of cupcakes.

Leo loves to plan birthdays months and occasionally a year ahead, so he had naturally been discussing this very important topic with her back in January. Finally, she settled on a Hello Kitty cake and party theme. I have to say the easiest so far to find decorations and cake themes.

On Sunday, she picked her restaurant, "the peanut place" (Texas Roadhouse) because as she says, "peanuts are good, and I want them to clap for me WHILE I eat my cake." Needless to say the last part didn't happen, but she still enjoyed her outing after Holy Mass.
Bella is completely herself in every circumstance; I immensely enjoy watching her be Bella. She is feisty, direct, and keeps very much to her inner world. She juxtaposes her love of violence with the sweet princess loving side. She has no issue in standing up for herself when she deems it necessary; she takes the world by the reigns and drags it down to her level. I appreciate that. I relish it quite frankly. She acts in a controlled decisive manner that only a Choleric could.

Some famous recent quotes:

When we were watching Mr. Peabody and Sherman at the movie theater, she says in response to the bullying part, "I'd stab her." She didn't look at me just sat there eating her popcorn.
"Bella, that's a jail-able offence. Wanna go prison for stabbing some brat?'
"I could handle prison."
(Does anyone else see the scene from Watchmen when Rorschach yells, "None of you seem to understand, I'm not locked in here with you. You're locked in here with me!")

"If you don't give me the map, I will tell ALL of your secrets." Told to her imaginary employees over the plastic Diego cell phone.

"Jesus, whose that guy?"
"Bella, you know the guy that died for sins that is on the huge cross at Church? That's Jesus."
"OH yeah, the bleeding guy. We should get him a Band-Aid."

"Kill all the heretics." Her shining moment when during the game of Risk, she conquered Australia by cheating.

Let's not forget the time she screamed, "I will eat your face off," as she proceeded to play Candy Land.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Sometimes its just a Backpack

I recently was emailed some news about a boy being teased over wearing a Little Ponies (here on out we will be using LP for Little Ponies) backpack. The sender obviously thought that I would agree with the idea that boys should not be allowed to wear a LP backpack. Really? Of all the things in the world to worry about or discuss, a LP backpack on a child is the number one priority. Not Ukraine. Not Syria. Not abortion. A backpack. I have several objections to this idea that a boy can not wear any backpack he wants:

Look upon this horror of immorality.
Shudder in its utter hatred for maleness.  
1. I was not aware that inanimate objects were capable of holding a sex or gender. Sex is a biological form which either male or female is ascribed. Gender is the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex according to Merriam Webster. Who decides these traits? Why, that would be society at large. So, the backpack is not actually male or female; it is neutral. Could society decide what gender should prefer that backpack? Of course, and that is what is occurring.

 2. Double standards are abounding for male children currently. Girls are routinely being encouraged to break into typical male dominated areas. Boys, however, are not being invited into more female dominated areas; in fact, this controversy proves that. Should a girl not be allowed to have a batman backpack? She is not operating inside of the gender stereotype. If this statement was ever to be uttered, you better believe a lawsuit would be happening. But that boy wearing a LP backpack, that is pure ridiculousness. I mean who does he think he is a girl. GAH! I hope we all see the absurdity in those statements.

Finally, some good ole fashion violence!
 I love "objectifying" as a man's hobby! Ye-haw ladies!
3. LP is way more morally acceptable than most other characters I see on these "male" backpacks. Batman is a sociopath that barely has a grip on morality. SpongeBob is a rude critter that refuses to use basic manners or common sense; he is also extremely destructive to property. Oh, my personal faves are the WWE backpacks because scantily clad women who are regularly objectified by these men (who probably don't wear LP backpacks like these guys) are really meeting my understanding of Theology of the Body.

4. Why are we as parents not embracing our children's likes or dislikes? Are we afraid of them getting teased? Are we afraid of being ridiculed ourselves? Are we seriously thinking that a LP backpack will turn our sons into homosexuals?

 My chickadees are individuals; they do not fit into any mold that society has. They fit into the mold that God created for them. One of my biggest responsibilities from God is to allow the children given to me to have the courage to be who GOD created them to be. Personal expression as long as morally and spiritually in line with the guidelines provided to us from God is important. In fact, it is necessary for the growth of our children into the saints they were created to be.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Charity :: Weekends with Chesterton

Today, I failed in my vocation as a mother. I uttered words that wounded a little boy's heart and that were not even comprehensible to his wonderfully sweet mind. I was angry; I was unsure of how to proceed, so I just blurted out words that caused him to doubt my unconditional love and all of my reminders about kindness. I allowed the devil to get the best of my human nature.
Thankfully, God gives me these moments in order to show me my fragility, my lack of faith, my lack of virtue cultivated, my pride. Humility was gained when I had to kneel beside a crying little soul and apologize for being utterly cruel.


Finding this little quip in Orthodoxy, my failure was brought to my mind once again. How many times do I make myself unlovable to those given to me from God? To the world around me? Am I so unaware of my actions? How does God keep loving me when all I do is stumble?

 The domestic church is a wonderful place to build our children up, but often there is that reminder of our fallen nature. Everyday toil, routine, worries, anxieties, and exhaustion compound to bring out the intrinsic selfish nature. Priorities begin to get rearranged; sin exerts itself over the household. We fail to see the members of our domestic church as needing the charity of which Chesterton speaks.

What I am sure of is that tomorrow I get to begin again; I get to pick up my cross once again. We all do. We don't even have to wait till the next day. We get to make a continual conversion to Christ. Tomorrow, I will remind myself that I can love the unlovable. I can find joy in these souls entrusted to me.

Find other insights from Chesterton at Amongst Lovely Things!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Why I Need to Pray for This Guy

Marriage. Are you in one? I am with a pretty awesome guy. However, I do not always remember that he was given to me from God. Not only does he carry the responsibility of assisting me on my journey to heaven but that he is to lay his life down for me as Christ did for the Church.

"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the church, and delivered himself up for it: That he might sanctify it, cleansing it by the laver of water in the word of life: That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy, and without blemish. So also ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife, loveth himself. For no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, as also Christ doth the church: Because we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones."
Ephesians 5: 25-30 ( Douay-Rheims)

I would love to say that I always know when he is struggling or when I need to step up my affections in order for him to feel loved. I would love to tell you that I always pray for him when he crosses my mind. The truth: I don't. I allow the demands of everyday, the diaper changing, the laundry, the eating, etc. to get in between true priorities for my marriage. Not to mention all of the times I have allowed myself to give into the temptations of self-pity or anger of past hurts.  
So, when Mary at Better Than Eden announced her intentions to complete a novena to St. Joseph for her husband, I was on board! Her words were the sharp reminder that I easily become complacent . Why not allow the Graces gained strengthen and lift up this man that God made for me! I even created a little pamphlet to print out and leave by my Rosary and Bible. Feel free to click over here to print it out and enjoy it!
When we were struggling as a couple two years ago and during our recent deployment, I prayed the Novena for the Family to St. Josemaria Escriva. I found his words challenge me to be openly receptive to my vocation as a wife. I was forced to redefine my expectations to that of God's truth for my marriage. My anger, my resentment did not leave automatically but melted away leaving a clear memory in which to refill with our best moments and room to create more.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

A Response :: Weekends with Chesterton

Before Lent began, I wrote a post explaining how my family would be spending Lent. I received one wonderful comment from a reader; however, I received about fifteen emails that spanned the gap of curious to down right rude. What was everyone so up in a ruffle about you ask. Well, it was our choice to go lacto-ovo vegetarian. I figured I would address some questions that were emailed and remark on some points that were brought up in the emails ( I did email them back personally, but I do feel that some points are worth mentioning).

Q. Why would we choose to go meatless for all of Lent?

A: Lent is about penance as well personal sacrifice. Food is highly regarded in this house. We love to eat; we love to host gatherings centered on food; we love to seek out new cuisines as well as restaurants; we love to find odd and exotic ingredients. Lent is not the appropriate time for any of that. In eating simply and without meat, we are reminded of those who eat simply every day out of necessity as well as those who are starving. After Lent, we use the money we have saved to donate a large purchase to our St. Vincent de Paul Society. This sacrifice allows time for our family to find other ways to bond outside of eating.


Q. What about social obligations? Do you really not let your kids eat cake at birthday parties?

A: My husband and I agree that Lent is not a time of frivolity. It is a time for introspection; therefore our social calendar is not filled nor do we plan large get-togethers. The Great Lent is only 46 days. Seriously, not that big of deal. If my chickadees can not handle missing out on some minor social forays, then I have to re-evaluate my parenting.
My children are NOT allowed to eat sweets during Lent, period. Learning self-discipline is more important to learn than appeasing people at the cost of your promise to God. If/when we do attend something during Lent where there will be sweets, we like to:
1. Remind our chickadees that they are not to eat willy-nilly but mindfully.
2. They are not to announce that they are abstaining but to just go through the line.
3. If cake is offered, we ask if we could possibly take it home for Sunday's consumption.
In my opinion, no hostess will feel embarrassed if you still take the cake to consume at a later time. Would you be offended if a child was allergic to the eggs in the cake? No, you would make a mental note for next time and move on. We have Muslim and Hindi friends that do not consume pork; should they have to eat pork to spare my feelings? No, and neither should anyone be expected to appease someone at the cost of their integrity.


Q: Well little-miss-stick-in-the-mud, are there any breaks? Any fun?

A: The feasts of St. Patrick (March 17), St. Joseph (March 19), and the Annunciation (March 25) are all feast days where there will be sweets but in a limited capacity. Sundays are a day of rest and is a feast day. We do allow them to watch a movie or two but we keep our Lenten abstinences. We have found that it interrupts the flow of Lent making each habit harder to overcome.  We do have a Lenten birthday, my oldest daughter Bella, and our anniversary is on March 21 (3-2-1! And that is why we got married on a Wednesday, people). The birthday is celebrated on Sunday because Bella is not a recognized saint yet. Sorry, she can have her cake and gift on Sunday previous. Same with our anniversary; the Sunday closest is the observed date.  
Did you make through it all? If yes, I think it could count as a Lenten mortification. If not, check out more fun at Sarah's lovely blog!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Some Catch-up

Last week, I managed a blog post a day! Whoo-hoo. I seem to have fallen off the wagon this week. That's what's so great about Lent though: the cementing of new habits or the trial of new habits.

Monday, we started our school lesson back up with some great success. The break was a nice refresher before Lenten challenges were upon our family. Tuesday, we had a get together with a close family friend and her three lovely energetic boys. There were pancakes, king cakes, masks, and well mayhem to boot. Next year, I would like to make a gigantic effort to get the house ready starting on Clean Monday (since we in the Latin Rite do not start our fast until Wednesday, it will make a nice segue into Lenten disciplines).
Ash Wednesday started off our penitential season nicely. The chickadees accepted the schedule with grace this year. Questions about the television and snacks were far and few between; I was super impressed. It is amazing how the energy of the season can pick you up out of the mid-winter blahs. Deciding to get our ashes last night in lieu of the morning was a comforting reminder that we never walk alone on this path of sacrifice and penance.

These last two days, I have found it quite easy to fit in my Chaplet of the Seven Dolors of Mary and my Rosary. I was perusing through my book shelves and found quite a bit of literature on the Seven Sorrows as well as variations of the Chaplet. It might be interesting to pray the variations throughout Lent. The one thing I enjoy the most about our Lenten schedule is that more time seems to open up even as we add to our days. This Saturday will be cleaning the toy room and re-organizing some bedrooms, so that Destructo can have his own bedroom now. I guess five is a great time to get a man cave. He already has some grand plans!

*In the first picture is my Chaplet of the Seven Dolors of Mary made by The Sisters of Carmel. They do such lovely work!*

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Some Clicks of Interest

I hope y'all are faring well this Sunday; we have unfortunately been caught up by exhaustion.(*the cultures came back clean! so no new bug. thank you, Jesus*) We missed Holy Mass today due to the baby throwing up and the chickadees sleeping in till 11 am which never happens around here. So, today I was able to click around while nursing (non-stop) a rather pathetic Eva.

Here are some great giveaways:

1. Jessica at Shower of Roses is giving away a rather sweet hand-painted Bl. Zelie Martin doll from St. Luke's Brush.

2. Sarah at Amongst Lovely Things is giving a spot in the Restore Retreat. I am so excited for this on-line retreat!

Here are some small businesses at which to pick up some Easter Basket items:

1. Huggie Saint Dolls: I just ordered three to fill the chickadees baskets. She was kind enough to do two customs orders for us (St. Felix of Nola and St. Julia of Corsica) as well as a St. Rose of Lima.

2. Juniper Plum: On their Etsy site, they have the most beautiful icon prints as well as religious based lacing cards.

3. Jesse Tree Treasures: I love the Parable Pouch to put into an Easter basket!

Here are some wonderful resources for Lent:

1. Audio Sancto and Romans10seventeen have great sermons to listen to on your computer or tablet. I love to fold laundry or sew while listening.

2. Laudamus Te is a small company that publishes a devotional for the Latin Mass. They now have the Triduum Missal available.

3. Feeling overwhelmed? Jen at Conversion Diary just had this great post, "The secret to not being overwhelmed" which is wonderful to read. I find it comforting that Jen can bring in the stress of being a wife and mother but does not allow it to get so gloomy that no recovery can ever happen. I also really enjoyed her post, "The courage to rest". Isn't that what Lent really pushes us to embody, complete rest in Christ's arms. We are called to lay down our earthly habits in order to bask in his light and then carry that light to others, so they too can rest.