My book club is reading Jane Austen this month and the mommy card exchange reminded me vaguely of the calling cards that ladies used to leave. There are tons of free business card templates online....I think I know what I'll be doing this weekend!
Thursday, December 31, 2009
My book club is reading Jane Austen this month and the mommy card exchange reminded me vaguely of the calling cards that ladies used to leave. There are tons of free business card templates online....I think I know what I'll be doing this weekend!
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Let us love the Child of Bethlehem. Come souls and love a God who has become a Child, poor and so lovable, in need of our tender love, who has come down from heaven to give Himself entirely to you. If we but ask for pardon and salvation, He has come to pardon us and to save us.
-- St. Francis of Assisi
Merry Christmas from our families to yours.
May the peace and joy of the birth of Christ be with you!
Monday, December 21, 2009
All of the pre-Christmas madness came to a grinding halt this weekend as the northeast, and particularly the Philadelphia area, was paralyzed by a massive blizzard. We received 23 inches of snow--2 feet!!!--on Saturday, and the main roads in town are still a mess. (The above photos were taken after only 1 foot fell). The snow started falling at 3am on Saturday, and didn't stop until 4am on Sunday morning. That's 25 hours of snow. Mr. Red went out to shovel 4 times, and thanks to his efforts we were able to dig our car out and head to Mass last night (although I'm still doubting the wisdom of our decision to drive on the roads last night).
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
came rushing out of the woods.
The big brown bear smiled. "I have a secret!"
"It's wonderful! It's fantastic! It's shout-out-loud
and jump-for-joy great!"
"What is it?" asked Fox.
"What is this secret that's so great?
Can you eat it?"
"No! No!" said Brown Bear impatiently.
"You wouldn't want to eat it! You'd want to snuffle
and nuzzle it. You'd want to lick it all over from
the top to the bottom and then some more!"
..."My secret isn't cold. Although you might want to wrap
it up warm and hold onto it forever."
..."My secret cannot fly. But I will
throw it up in the air, and when it sails down I'll catch it
in my big strong arms and never let it go."
..."Oh, I'll tuck it under my fur all right." said Brown Bear.
"Don't you worry about that. I'll tuck it, but I'll take it out every
day and just look and look at it because
I won't be able to believe my luck!"
..."It's not just wonderful," said Brown Bear.
"It's FABULOUS. It's so marvelous and magical...
it's miraculous, even..."
The Gasperini-Ville Census came and went the other day and found a little something.
A quite wonderful little something. A 13-week-old secret little something.
And guess who can't wait to hold it in her arms come June? (~June 23rd to be exact!)
I've been holding out on you all a little while and it feels good to finally come clean!! :)
Thanks for rejoicing with us!
According to this month's Magnificat, the Irish tradition on Christmas Eve involved families preparing a meal for the Holy Family and setting the table with three place settings for them. Afterward, they left the doors unlocked or even wide open and put more wood on the hearth, so the Holy Family would have a place to rest and bless their home. This tradition was especially important to the Irish during the persecution when priests were not allowed to say Mass and Catholics were not able to receive the sacraments except in secret. They placed a candle in the windows of their home to signify to the priests that they were Catholic and that the priest could come in and say Holy Mass. It is said that on Christmas Eve special graces came to them and to all of us.
Today, families in Ireland have simplified the tradition by leaving a tray of cookies and fruit for the Holy Family with a set table of three plates for Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Since most of us grew up with setting a plate of cookies for Santa Claus, perhaps this is a great way to replace that tradition with one centered on Christ!
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
My parents are hosting my three young children and I at their home in San Diego while our Daddy is deployed this holiday season. They live in a cottagey home that is located several blocks away from the Assisted Living Facility in which my grandmother lives. The decision as to whether or not my grandmother needed to be moved into a near-nursing-home-type-thing was an emotional one in the family, but that is not of immediate relevance to this post. I feel that my job, in this less than ideal situation of a woman with failing mental and physical faculties, is to foster as much of a relationship as I can between her and the three great grandchildren that I have brought to town.
So far we have been here for three days, and have visited her twice. My goal was to go every day, but inclement weather sometimes makes it more difficult. We traipse into her small room every afternoon not knowing what to expect. I am filled with complicated adult emotions about whether GeeGee will call my children by the right names or have her blouse buttoned in order to avoid embarrassment. But let me tell you what I learned very quickly - my three children have none of this on their mind. They are thrilled to visit her. Eldest Daughter enjoys the opportunity to write GeeGee notes on her whiteboard, since she has been deaf for the last decade. Middle 2-year-old Boy loves to show off his light-up sneakers and even operate GeeGee's electric chair if no one is paying attention. New Little Guy is happy to be rescued from his plastic bucket and placed into warm, adoring arms, even if we aren't sure she knows who the baby is or from whence he came to be placed in her arms. My three kids explode onto the scene in those hallways full of wheelchairs and walkers, and the eyes glow.
I have spent a great deal of time philosophizing on the meaning of life at its end. We, as Catholics, are committed to defending life from conception until natural death - but things get muddled at either end. Babies are easier to defend and go "ga-ga" over than a woman who cannot control her bodily functions and spends her days going in and out of sleep in front of a television. Nonetheless, my children have, once again, taught me to see with the eyes of a child. This is a soul who prays for all of us. She spends several hours each morning in prayer - and if those prayers are muddled on their way up to Heaven, God sorts them out before they even arrive. Beyond her spiritual life, her remaining time on Earth is teaching my children the value of human connection. Her intrinsic value is obvious to all three of them and they relish the gleam they inspire in her eyes by their mere presence.
I pray that your Christmas Season will be blessed with the love of an old earthly soul and that your children will have the opportunity to bestow the same love on an elderly member of your family - even if it has to be by mail or telephone.
Head on over to paperdali and download these terrific OLG and Juan Diego coloring pages, complete with a seperate tilma to color, and your children can do a little play of Our Lady's appearance to this humble Mexican Indian. (hat tip O Night Divine)
Read the Tomie de Paola book, The Lady of Guadalupe, or watch the CCC movie about St. Juan Diego.
And, who needs an excuse for Mexican food for dinner? We will be having enchiladas, followed by cinnamon cookies and hot chocolate, while we trim our tree, which we (and by we I mean my husband) cut down today at a farm down the street from our home!
If you don't get to this today, do a Posada (christmas play) later in the week -- there are paper dolls available for that, too, and have your Mexican food then!
Friday, December 11, 2009
The comments from the last post overwhelmingly voiced a desire to continue the Santa discussion.
I have recently come to realize that this is a more sensitive topic than I thought. I brought it up at my book club last week, the day that I learned my son had told his class Santa was dead and in Heaven. I think I have been a bit naive about the subject, thinking it not so big of a deal. Because of our son's intolerance for large crowds and noise, we tend to stay closer to home at this young age and many of our friends in the area do not do Santa. But, by virtue of his participation in his class, Santa has made his way into our lives. Below my post, you will see Red's family tradition, which does incorporate Santa.
Because of my oldest son's fierce love for truth and justice, I was afraid that telling him Santa wasn't real, even thought other kids believed, would spur him on to a crusade of telling the truth about Santa. So I thought that by downplaying, noting that some people called St. Nicholas Santa Claus, we would gloss over the differences and everyone would be happy. I was wrong. Of course, the problem is that Santa Claus and St. Nicholas are not the same in today's world and I have since told him that some people like to pretend that Santa lives at the North Pole, has flying reindeer etc. I'm not so concerned with the precise historical metamorphosis of St. Nicholas into Santa. But the cartoon Santa with the flying reindeer and toy workshop is not exactly the same at the Bishop of Myra who shared from his own wealth and gave his life in service to the Church.
Let me be clear. I don't hate Santa. I don't think that doing Santa is wrong or bad or misguided. Santa is not an issue of moral absolutes. I do think Santa can be done in a way that does not lose the true meaning of Christmas. We don't forgo Santa as a pious, holier-than-thou act. We don't forgo Santa just because he is secular. Many things we do during the Advent and Christmas season are not overtly religious, but add to the specialness of the season. I am not a theologian or a historian. Just a mom trying to navigate culture, faith and family.
Here are some of the reasons that we do not do Santa, some paraphrased from the discussion our book club had on the subject:
1. We love fantasy. I believe it plays an important role in a child's development emotionally, morally and spiritually. However, I do believe there is a difference between entering into a fairy tale world and having an imaginary character come down your chimney and into your home. For our son with sensory issues there must be a very sharp line between reality and fantasy. I have heard several stories, and some mentioned in the comments, that kids are afraid of a strange man coming into their home at night. This is not an issue with our second son, so I think it depends on the temperament of each child. For our oldest son to feel safe, we must suspend reality and enter into an imaginative world. Knowing that it is pretend allows us the freedom to be imaginative without fear. I am asked 14 times a day if things from Curious George to our mailman are pretend and don't think that all young children are comfortable with a vague understanding or what is and is not real. I don't intend for this to turn into a discussion of the nature of fairy tales and fantasy, just trying to make a distinction.
2. In order to convince our son that Santa was real we would have to lie or come up with an insanely outlandish story to explain everything at the age of 3. A cursory "Santa has some helpers..." would not do the trick in our home. I would be peppered with questions incessantly and Dash would probably insist on trying to go down the chimney himself. When he asked me if Santa was pretend, I told him yes, but that we don't need to tell other kids that. Honestly, Dash is not yet of the age of reason and a stickler for truth and I am afraid that he may tell another child who believes in Santa that Santa is not real, but I can't lie about it. But, after explaining that he is a pretend character, Dash seemed happier to play along with everything, knowing it is all a story. It is not the fact that Santa is secular that makes me refrain...it is having to lie about it. Again, our second son would swallow the Santa tale with a smile on his face and ask no questions. I am okay with pretend characters as long as we call a spade a spade.
3. Santa adds to the consumerism of the Christmas season. The Christmas shopping season that begins in August and ends December 24 is outrageous and over the top. Buy, buy, buy, Get, get get. Questions about Christmas revolve around, "What did you ask Santa for Christmas?" Though, during our discussion, one mother brought up how she likes doing Santa because it allows them to be super generous to their kids without blowing their "frugal facade."
4. I do think that a sense of magic and the miraculous can spur a child on to a deeper understanding of things unseen. However, if a parent has been lying to a child about Santa, then would they not call into question other truths about God and the saints that are being taught? I remember being totally scandalized to learn that Santa was not real. I was riding home from school in the way back seat of a station wagon and Diana and Molly told me that Santa wasn't real. I guarantee you I would not remember those names were it not for that awful day. There are many real miracles in addition to, or course, the Incarnation, to elevate a child's sense of the divine. My children never tire of hearing the story of Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe all year round.
Why we celebrate St. Nicholas on December 6:
1. It is a feast in the liturgical year. Even though many legends surround what good works the Bishop of Myra did or did not perform, the Church in her wisdom has declared December 6 a day to honor and remember St. Nicholas.
2. Celebrating the lives of the saints is a great way to teach moral lessons. Ours focuses heavily on sharing and generosity, especially with respect to the poor, which ties in very well with the Advent theme of preparation. We can prepare to welcome to baby Jesus into our hearts and homes when we are generous and detached. We usually purchase and wrap our angel tree gifts and try to give some of our extraneous toys/possessions away during this week when we read about St. Nicholas and bake our Speculatius.
3. St. Nicholas is the patron saint of children, an intercessor and a friend in Heaven.
4. December 25 is Jesus' birthday. We exchange family presents on December 25th in honor of Jesus' birthday and with the other side of the family on January 6, Epiphany, but the focus of the day is celebrating Jesus' birthday. I don't really remember the boys' reactions to opening presents last year, but I do remember them running around to all our nativity scenes to add, finally, baby Jesus. We bake a birthday cake and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus.
5. Christmas morning is magical whether or not you do Santa. We enjoy a warm breakfast and hot chocolate, attend mass, sing Christmas carols and share gifts as a family. Joy exudes from each well-prepared heart as we give Jesus the gift our ourself, striving, however imperfectly, for holiness.
A different view from Red:
When I was a young girl, the magic and mystery surrounding Santa Claus was always a special part of Christmas morning. Thanks to my grandparents, both of my parents had strong memories of Santa from their youth, and it was with great joy that they passed that tradition on to me and my siblings.
When I was in first grade, my neighbor and best friend was the daughter of the local baptist pastor. Their family didn't do Santa, and, in fact, they vehemently opposed having Santa as a part of the Christmas tradition. One day, my friend proudly told me that Santa was a lie. I was quite disappointed (and my mother was very irritated!), and I wished my friend hadn't taken it upon herself to end the childhood magic my parents had worked so hard to create. I do remember, however, that I wasn't shocked at the news. I was at the age where I was questioning certain things about Santa (the wrapping paper was a big tip-off for me), but I desperately wanted to believe. I was going to find out sooner or later, but the manner in which my friend broke the news was a sad memory. Fortunately, I have used this memory to form my own approach to Santa with my children.
First, I think it goes without saying that every family is going to have their own Christmas traditions. Extended family situations can get complicated, so even the best intentions for certain family celebrations may be altered to appease disapproving grandparents. In our case, we have found Santa almost impossible to avoid, particularly when it comes to my own extended family and even our local parish! Family Christmas traditions are such great fun, so I think it is important to consider (but not cater to) the feelings of grandparents and extended family members. If we had ditched Santa completely, making a strong break from the way my parents celebrated Christmas with me, and the way their parents celebrated Christmas with them, it would be rather harsh. In addition, if all my siblings and their young ones are celebrating and including Santa, it gets complicated to have our family not participate.
I found great joy believing in Santa as a child, and I do want my children to experience some of that joy. I do think that the magic of Santa helped me to embrace the magic and mystery of my Catholic faith. At the same time, however, I want to avoid my children having a moment like the one I had with my baptist friend. So I have instituted the following guidelines for Santa:
1. We make it very clear that Christmas is about Jesus, and the character of Santa exists because Jesus is so special that he wants all of us to have gifts on his birthday. Our children get three gifts because that is what Jesus received from the 3 wise kings.
2. I do not lie to my children. We read books about Santa, and we talk about the story of Santa. We explain that St. Nicholas was a real person, a Saint, who lived and served the poor. Santa Claus is a modern character in the spirit of St. Nicholas. Santa is like Elmo. I read books about Elmo and we talk about Elmo--and we even go to Sesame Place where Elmo "lives." I don't feel the need to explain that Elmo is really just a weird man wearing a big suit. At some point, this will become obvious, or my kids may ask, and then I will explain fully that Elmo is just pretend and what they see is really just a man in a suit. I do not tell my children that Santa is coming to our house and bringing them presents. I do say, "there will be presents under the tree on Christmas morning" and my kids let me know that Santa will put them there! Last year Gianna asked me if Santa was dead (similar to the conversation Texas Mommy had with Dash). I went so far as to tell her that Santa was a character like Elmo, whereas St. Nicholas was a real person. I thought she understood, but immediately afterward she asked how Santa would get into our house because we don't have a chimney! The line between real and make-believe is very faint for a young child, and I think as long as that line is faint, it is great to pretend in regards to Santa. Once the line starts to make more sense, I think the truth is important. I do think that belief in things like Santa, and fantasy in general, helps lay the foundation for a lifelong belief in God. As G.K. Chesterton pointed out--belief in God is belief in the ultimate mystery.
3. Santa is not a big part of our Christmas celebration. We do not go out of our way to "visit" Santa. We do not write him letters asking for things (I have a general aversion to children getting greedy at Christmas). We do not leave cookies for Santa. We do not sign the gifts from Santa, rather, certain gifts are from mom and dad while others have no tag. Not doing some of these things tones it down a bit, and helps to keep us focused on Christ. I have found it to be a nice balance and it helps us to avoid the materialistic nature of Santa. The kids know about and believe in the tradition of Santa, but it isn't overwhelming.
4. When a child is asking questions and the line between pretend and make believe is gaining clarity, I plan to tell them the truth about Santa, and then solicit their help in pretending for the younger children. I will also share with them the importance of respect, and that they should never go about and tell other children that Santa is pretend or a lie--this is both mean and disrespectful of the parenting choices of other people. The age at which we plan to have this conversation with our children depends upon their individual personalities. Some kids may want to outgrow their fantasy world at the age of 6, while other children may be 8 or 9 before they start to figure it all out. I have head of quite a few kids who never even need to talk to mom and dad about Santa, but instead just play right along for the benefit of the younger ones--and maybe even mom and dad!
4. We do not celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas. It is impossible to celebrate every feast of the church in our home, and to be honest, with the already hectic nature of Advent, St. Nicholas just doesn't make our list. Each family has to choose some feast days to recognize and others to let go. At present, we haven't felt a strong desire to foster this devotion, but I think it is great that Texas Mommy and some of the other builders celebrate this feast in such a special way.
I hesitate to state the obvious, but please keep all comments civil and refrain from personal attacks!! I now realize that this is a sensitive topic. Of course, we can be very emotional about wanting our children to experience joy and excitement during this time of year. I pray that this post has not put anyone on the defensive. If it has, please email me separately.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Our son recently began participating in a preschool class for a few special little guys. At our initial meeting with the teacher, she asked me if we "did Santa" since Christmas was coming up since they were planning some Santa crafts. I told her that, while we didn't really do Santa, we did celebrate St. Nicholas, who leaves little presents at our home on December 6th.
To prepare our son for "Santa" I simply told him that some people in America call Saint Nicholas Santa Claus (we noted how similar they sounded) and that sometimes they didn't get gifts on St. Nicholas day.
When I dropped him off last week, his teacher leaned into my car and told me the kids were talking about how Santa lives at the North Pole. Dash corrected them immediately announcing,
"Santa doesn't live at the North Pole. Santa's dead. He's in Heaven now."
She told me in all her years of teaching she had never heard that! Seeing my horrified look that my son had just unintentionally scandalized 4 of the sweetest little kids, she assured me that she changed the subject immediately and no one really understood what he was talking about!
Monday, December 7, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
"No, when it comes to salvation, we are all nothing but beggars. We are the needy. It is we for whom the tiny bell rings at the gate of heaven. It is our name that hangs limp on the Tree of Life. It is we who wait and hope that someone will turn in our direction this Christmas, not leave us bereft and empty-handed while the rest of the world rejoices. It is we who beg for the gift-the gift of salvation, the gift of eternal value.
Let us wait with the anticipation of a child unsure of whether there will a gift for him. Let us beg with the zeal of one who is truly hungry. Let us lift feeble hands up to heavens, without assurance that they will be filled, in the blind faith driven by desperation."
The only explanation people had was that a being called Santa Claus was somehow kindly disposed toward him. “We believed,” he wrote, that a certain benevolent person “did give us those toys for nothing. And ... I believe it still. I have merely extended the idea.
“Then I only wondered who put the toys in the stocking; now I wonder who put the stocking by the bed, and the bed in the room, and the room in the house, and the house on the planet, and the great planet in the void.
“Once I only thanked Santa Claus for a few dolls and crackers, now I thank him for stars and street faces and wine and the great sea. Once I thought it delightful and astonishing to find a present so big that it only went halfway into the stocking.
“Now I am delighted and astonished every morning to find a present so big that it takes two stockings to hold it, and then leaves a great deal outside; it is the large and preposterous present of myself, as to the origin of which I can offer no suggestion except that Santa Claus gave it to me in a fit of peculiarly fantastic good will.”
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
My feet were numb for the first mile, but I thought of my 4 year old who said with confidence that Daddy would run faster because he has longer legs. I rallied and came in just over 23 minutes for the 3 mile course (ahead of my long-legged husband). Hardly a PR, but not as embarrassing as I was worried it may be.
More importantly, I have found a way to add exercise into my weekly routine for my sanity and health's sake. I have fallen in love with running all over again. While I am confined to the treadmill at this stage of my life, I can still get the endorphins flowing and a stress relieving break.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in , in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our , and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.
It is piously believed that whoever recites the above prayer fifteen times a day from the feast of St. Andrew ( ) until Christmas will obtain what is asked.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Also, I found this general societal comment interesting:
Some of the hovering is driven by memory and demography. This generation of parents, born after 1964, waited longer to marry and had fewer children. Families are among the smallest in history, which means our genetic eggs are in fewer baskets and we guard them all the more zealously.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
We are taking the week off to enjoy Thanksgiving. While we have done our traditional Handprint Turkeys, we are also reinforcing several weeks of reading from our Thanksgiving book basket by doing Narration work. This is a Charlotte Mason technique where the children tell back what they have read or learned. Try it with your children, the results can be cute or surprising, they remember such interesting details. I used a few prompts and had the children dictate to me while I typed their words. I asked them to tell me about the first Thanksgiving, Our Thanksgiving Traditions and what they were thankful for this year.
We are headed to New York to celebrate Thanksgiving with my brother. I look forward to cooking and having a relaxed family meal. He is a vegetarian so we are getting to experiment with some new side dishes, but I have also ordered a turkey from our local farm. I am looking forward to stuffing and sweet potatoes, but we are adding brussel sprouts and cauliflower this year in an attempt to use local, seasonal foods.
We are hoping to fit in some runs and perhaps watch the parade. I am especially thankful for my brother this year, who is a writer, a cancer survivor, a great uncle and friend. We don't agree on everything, but we choose to get along and respond to each other with love. He is incredibly supportive of me, and I try to be so of him, too.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
We have been chatting about how to help our children build routines, including getting ready to go in the morning and handwashing. B-Mama told us that her boys are reminded to wash hands well because she posted the instructions that they made in school near the sink.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Montessori School of Dentistry Lets Students Discover Their Own Root Canal Procedures
Thursday, November 19, 2009
The Bad: The Stranger who cloned my credit card and charged $487 at a Walmart in California this afternoon. My bank is USAA, the military bank. My M.O. is fiercely watching every penny as we budget through graduate school. Stranger, you've messed with the wrong people.
The Ugly: My First 2009 Christmas-shopping trip this morning at TJMaxx. The heat is on, as I have one week to buy (on a budget) for many dear family members who we will see next week at Thanksgiving. Gift giving is oh-so-not my love language. It is 1 hour past naptime for my 3-year-old Bean and 18-month-old Angelina. Bean in the stroller handles porcelain trinkets as he uses his feet to push off the shelves and roll himself to the top of the staircase. I catch him just as he begins to head down. Angelina is back in the Ergo pulling my hair and tantruming, having just finished eating chocolate out of a display which I must now purchase. I am drenched in sweat, frying alive in a turtleneck sweater which I cannot remove because of said Ergo. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Maybe, just maybe, we can get this all taken care of before Advent.
For better or worse, there's rarely a dull day as a homemaker, wife, and mother of three preschoolers!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
1. They make a size newborn diaper, which my sweet baby just outgrew. Yes, Claire is my 4th newborn. And yes, I just learned that they made a size newborn diaper. I have never before had a child small enough to fit into a newborn diaper. That cut-out thing for the umbilical cord is really cool--and beats the heck out of folding the top of the diaper down!
2. Just because my first three children are blond, doesn't mean I will always have blond babies. Claire appears to be our first brunette...time will tell if she is going to keep her brown hair.
3. A newborn baby is just about the greatest thing that can happen in the life of an almost six year old girl. It is also very exciting for my two boys, who make every effort to pay attention to baby Claire all day. I am loving it!
4. Hibernating for a couple of months after the baby is born is actually fun. I'm loving all the time with my kids, and for the first time in my life as a mother, I've actually enjoyed staying at our house for days at a time (and I'm a big time extrovert!).
5. If your six week old baby is only waking up once a night to nurse, you should thank God for this special blessing. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
6. Transitions are tough, and it is ok to go easy on yourself, relax your standards, and know that in time life will go back to normal. Take-out rocks.
7. There are an amazing number of wonderful people in my life who have truly celebrated the birth of our sweet baby. Your generosity has been amazing! The meals and gifts are all truly appreciated, and have been given with such love.
8. You will get more baby gifts when you have a baby girl. There is something about a baby girl that makes Aunts and distant relatives, who have otherwise ignored the birth of baby boys, fly to the store and buy baby clothes.
9. When you are overtired and desperate and you ask your 5 year old to get your 3 year old and 22 month old something to eat for breakfast, do not be surprised when you walk into the kitchen and see them all working hard with a pair of child-friendly scissors to cut open one cereal bar after another. Wrappers lie everywhere and the box itself was actually cut to shreads. The cheerios, your intended breakfast food, lie untouched in the pantry. Also, do not be surprised when all three children choose not to eat lunch because they have consumed about $10 worth of cereal bars.
10. Whoever said that once you have three children, and are officially outnumbered as parents, adding an additional child isn't that much more work was lying! My greatest challenge as the mother of 4 children is to make sure I am giving each child individual attention and love. An additional kid makes a big difference in this goal. It is going to be quite a transition.
12. When you do leave the house with all four children in tow, grown adults will often lose their ability to count to four, and ask you, "How many children do you have, lady?"
13. God is good. Claire is beautiful and perfect. Every time I look at her, I am reminded that miracles happen. She arrived naturally almost two weeks earlier than any of my other babies, born on the feast of St. Francis, as predicted by her big sister, Gianna. Since St. Claire was the "sister" saint to Francis, our little Claire will always know that God himself named her. I am reminded of this small miracle almost every time I say her name. Consolations like this are not normally part of my spiritual life, and so I am still thanking God for such a wonderful gift.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Living Books Curriculum, a great Charlotte Mason resource, has free "Holiday Helper" packets for several holidays throughout the year. I like them because they include beautiful poems, stories and art for a picture study. Beautiful and enticing first-person accounts for a young child. By all means, go ahead and make a hand print turkey, but try reading a beautiful Thanksgiving poem, too! You can download the Thanksgiving Helper at CurrClick for free.
Friday, November 13, 2009
One last godsend I've instituted is our kitchen recycling bin. It is stored in the closet and is the immediate spot for sending all mail rejects. If I can take the time to attack the mail pile, I can sort and immediately dispose of what is not needed. But what about where to put the important items??
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Good Morning! I am hoping that some of you will be able to help me out. For the past several weeks, with the advice and consent of my husband, I have been getting up early to go for a walk/jog/run. Most days, I am home in time to shower and dress for the day, and this is a great luxury. Some days, however, it makes more sense for me to stay in my workout clothes for part, or even all, of the day. For example, on Fridays we have an outside gym class with the kids in the afternoon, so changing into real clothes is just a waste of time.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Mom and three young children are out enjoying a public place, like a plaza, duck pond, park or campus green. Behavior is good, even if highly energetic. Morale is high. All is right with the world.
Romeo and Juliet (two heated-up teenagers or young adults) lie together in the grass, or lap-sit and make out, or sway in place front-to-front as they look in each others eyes. The children's noises draw them out of their passionate trance, distract them from their public displays of affection. They eye the children with disdain, disgust even, and snicker as the family walks by. The presence of children has spoiled the heat of the moment.
What a paradox. I thought the design was Man + Woman + Passion = Children.
I'd never say anything out loud (well probably not), but I wonder if there's a perfect one-liner to sum it all up. Nothing ugly or snarky. If you can think of one, I'll store it in the memory bank for some solace, and a little internal chuckle and wink, when these situations arise.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
I finally went last spring. Quite simply, it rekindled the flame of my love for Christ, like a honeymoon. It wasn't a "mountaintop" emotional experience; it wasn't even particularly emotional. It was short few days to focus soberly and gratefully and joyfully on our Love and His plan for my life. Lavish (even for an extrovert), to devote three days to complete silence, solitude with myself and God, punctuated by guided meditations, spiritual reading, reception of the Sacraments, prayer, walking and thinking and listening in God's creation. My retreat was conducted by Opus Dei at Murray Hill Conference Center in Manhattan. Non-city retreats are at least as great.
And AH YES, it was so physically refreshing to have three days off from taking care of children and the household, to eat great meals that I didn't cook, and to sleep through the night.
So, this is a quick plug and encouragement to begin looking at the December-May calendar and focusing in on some retreat dates. Brainstorm ways that family members and friends could be called upon to help your loving family survive the weekend without you. Lent can be a great time to go. Or is there a time to go after weaning the current baby before the next one arrives? Or bring baby along? Set aside some money, tithe or otherwise. Pray through the details. Again, I say this humbly, after missing retreats for several years and then finally returning to rediscover what a gift they are.