Ellie to Tess - "Are you dying, going someplace, or did you just want a hug?"
Who knew a hug could have so many and confusing reasons?
Wishing the girls would give up their dramatics for Lent . . .
Here we are on the final day of February. Tomorrow Armadillos will open and the high in town will be -6.
It must be March. Always the hardest month . . .
A friend so wisely pointed out the beauty of Lent falling this way for us in these northern climes. The agony of more snow, more cold, more gray while we suffer with our Lord.
The girls worked on a crown of thorns that I could share with some different groups in town. As I hurried about getting other things ready, I heard them chatting.
"Lent's not as fun as Advent, but we've still got to do it." Ellie observed.
So we are preparing. We've already cried over possible fasts. We've decided on some prayer commitments (we are filling our calendar in with 40 different names - one for each day) and are looking forward to all of the liturgies and feasts, too. We hope to do it up right.
We've purchased a box of 800 toothpicks for the crown of thorns. We won't use that many but if we average just 1 sacrificial act per walking person in the house for the 40+ days of Lent, that's over 300 hundred thorns that must be placed in a crown.
Whoa. How's that for perspective? Instructions on our crown here.
I haven't quite figured out how we will keep the Stations of the Cross up on the wall this year with Gemma about (she does take particular delight in tearing things down . . . ). We've used this set before and this set. This is a fun colorful set that you can purchase.
Sochi 2014 and all that it was is over and done.
You'd think we'd be moving on to other things. At least that's what I assumed would happen.
On Sunday afternoon we watched the very end of the bobsledding finals and then about 20 minutes of highlights from the games. I can't help but cry when there are emotional images put to music. It struck Philip, too. Keeping his eyes glued to the screen, he choked out, "It's - just - so hard - to know - it's over!" Then he saw the tears on my face and came close to completely losing it. Ellie's eyes turned large and round and she panicked. "Max is MISSING it!" she yelled frantically and ran up the stairs. She was sobbing before she had reached the top. There were ragged breaths when she returned and halting words.
We were a mess.
There were even more tears after we saw Mischa bear cry in the closing ceremonies. Four more years? How could we endure it?
It seems they devised a plan together without even discussing it. We woke to snow and it was decided at once that they must begin training for their Olympics. Skeleton, Luge, Spinner Sled - they ran and reran them until they couldn't feel their feet or hands. In they came, leaving coats and boots and snow in their wake. Almost immediately, they changed into "costumes" for their skating programs. Ellie requested "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Mis and Tess fretted over her music selection. Somehow Ellie and Philip quietly paired up and seriously worked out their routine. Max and Tess, contentious as always, argued loudly about their artistic differences and yet pressed on, devising complicated lifts and cantilevered poses. When they tired of that, they stripped their costumes off and found clean socks (because all FOUR pairs Philip had on were damp with snow) to "skate" in. Short track speed skating was next and over and over they raced around and through the kitchen.
Flags have been made for their opening ceremonies. Medals are in the works. Plans have been made for their opening ceremony and they are even discussing their summer games to take place at the lake.
For 3 weeks we have studied Russia and the Olympics and they've enjoyed it. But now that it's over and it seems that it's up to them to keep the spirit alive, they are the most passionate.
We'll enjoy it while it lasts!
This Christmas a friend of mine gifted me with a fancy Mary Kay scrubbing brush. Like an electric toothbrush, as it were, for your face. It is amazing. I have thoroughly enjoyed using it twice daily since I was surprised by its arrival.
Then . . .
Last week as I was feeding Lucy, Gemma began to scale the piano. My instructions to cease and desist were ignored (as usual) for she was intent on getting to the scrubber. I was unsure why it was on top of the piano but as I tried to figure that out, Gemma had grabbed it, climbed back down and happily placed it in her mouth and turned it on.
My hollering drew Max who wrestled it out of her paws while she howled and shrieked.
"I put it up there so it would be safe!" he said. "That's gross, Gemma! Don't put things for people's feet in your mouth."
"It's not for feet." I chuckled.
"No!" I was incredulous.
"Oh. Well that's what Ellie said it was for. That's what she was doing with it when I took it away."
We both turned to his sister who crouched Kilroy style in Jac's chair. She gave a half grin and shrugged.
"I like it on my feet."
It was pointless to do anything but laugh. If I didn't laugh, I would have wept. THIS is why I can't have nice things.
I'm still using it on my face. Who knows how else it is employed while I'm not watching. Best not to think about it.
It's not much these days, what I know. Or, more accurately, what I know isn't worth a whole heck of a lot. But on days that feel as slippery as ice and when clarity seems elusive, it's good to remember that I DO know some things with certantity. For example:
- You don't appreciate things until they're gone. Case in point, my dishwasher. It's dead. Dead, dead, dead. The sadness I feel is encompassing, not unlike a breakup but without the help of comforting songs. However, I can't help hearing Kenny Marks singing every time I stare at the sink full of dishes.
"The party's over!
It was fun while it lasted,
but it ain't no fun no more."
- I have a two-year-old that looooves to help with the dishes. I do not, however, have the patience to let said two-year-old help with the dishes. But I let her anyway.
- Speaking of death and dying . . . The lap top is in it's death throes and this makes blogging hard. I also regret every stinking time I've clicked the "Skip This Time" button when the photo program wants to back everything up. Dang.
- I'm good at starting books but not so good at finishing them. I currently have 3 books on my nightstand and 3 books going on Audible. I should work on follow through . . .
- The kids all need to be called to the convent or the priesthood because I am crappy at handling other people's relationship progrssion (or lack thereof). Just be detached, Susan says.
-I am weirdly ATTACHED so that makes detachment difficult.
- 9 things out of 10 that come into my mind, I shouldn't say. But I do. #nofilter #thinkbeforeyouspeak #iembarrassmyhusband
- All U.S. Olympic athletes should know the Star Spangled Banner.
- If you are a gold medal winner and sing the national anthem, I am a fan for life. I'm easily impressed. I heart you, Meryl and Charlie!
- Comparrison is the theif of joy. So why do I invite the robber in EVERY SINGLE DAY?
- Gemma either has an undistiguishing palate OR she's very thirsty. Yesterday it was watercolor water sucked off the brush and dish water through a straw right out of the sink. This makes me queasy just thinking about it.
- Our kids are terrible liars. If you come over to play Fibber with them (thanks again, Jackie!), assume they are telling the truth unless they are laughing hysterically. I pray this lack of skill remains throughout life.
- Having a Boy Scout in the house makes me feel both old and proud.
- Baby laughs are good for the soul.
Gemma . . .
Gemma, Gemma, Gemma!
What are you supposed to do with a 2-year-old who is too smart for their own good? I alternate between laughing uproariously at her antics and wanting to curl up in a fetal position and cry my eyes out.
She's a spit fire but she's also brilliant. A dangerous combo, to be sure.
Thanksgiving week, shsure fell off the bench, hit her chin on the table and bit into her tongue. She might have even bit all the way through it, we're still not sure. The screaming! The yelling (from Papa Chris. He was right there when it happened. I was observing while nursing across the room. So glad the Wyeth's were here to help out and be a buffer. It got tense FAST.)! The blood! Oh, the blood . . .
Anyway, we were all terribly sorry for her and very accommodating and sympathetic. And rightly so. It was awful. But that was two months ago. Sure, she has a lovely crescent shaped scar on her tongue, but 60+ days should erase much of the memory of a toddler, right? Apparently not. It started 2 weeks ago, any time she wanted something she knew she couldn't have or wasn't likely to receive. "Tongue hurts!" she'd say in a piteously sad voice, making big eyes at us. This was preempted by nothing but the memory that when she was hurt the same pronouncement moved the world.
Then there is the blaming. She's notorious for messes - no, DISASTERS - and all sorts of mischief making. She's been working on her "leave no trace" skills (i.e. pushing chairs back, turning the cookie plate back to it's original position and the like) but there are times when she still leaves her mark. When questioned about what happened, she has taken to saying, "Lucy did it."
And today she started calling me Annie. I don't know where or how she picked it up because Jac and I don't use each other's names and we're not usually in situations where she hears our names called out. But here she is, yelling, "Annie! Let in! Potty bad!" and "Annie! More cheese!" and "Annie! Need tissue!"
It's a good thing she's cute.
The family finds in the plan of God the Creator and Redeemer not only its identity, what it is, but also its mission, what it can and should do. The role that God calls the family to perform in history derives from what the family is; its role represents the dynamic and existential development of what it is. Each family finds within itself a summons that cannot be ignored, and that specifies both its dignity and its responsibility: family, become what you are.
-Familiaris Consortio #17
Who can deny that our age is one marked by a great crisis, which appears above all as a profound "crisis of truth"? A crisis of truth means, in the first place, a crisis of concepts. Do the words "love", "freedom", "sincere gift", and even "person" and "rights of the person", really convey their essential meaning? This is why the Encyclical on the "splendour of truth" (Veritatis Splendor) has proved so meaningful and important for the Church and for the world—especially in the West. Only if the truth about freedom and the communion of persons in marriage and in the family can regain its splendour, will the building of the civilization of love truly begin and will it then be possible to speak concretely—as the Council did—about "promoting the dignity of marriage and the family".
-Letter to Families #13
When building a domestic church one needs all the help they can get. Listed below are some of our favorite (and our wise friend's) tools for getting the job done.
For examples of how we live out the faith in this crazy chaotic home you can search under the category Domestic Church or within the other archives. We will also be posting regularly and updating as life moves on.
For my Catholic Culture Pinterest board (if you're in to that sort of thing and by "thing" I mean a complete time sucking portal) click here!
Catholic Culture (Liturgical Section)
They provide recipies for traditional foods, traditional cultural celebrations and practical ways to plug these traditions into modern life.
Catholic Icing has fun, family centered activities and crafts for teaching the faith and celebrating the Liturgical year in your home.
The Pius Sodality of Church Ladies
Beautiful artwork and traditional Catholic practices. Lots of meatless recipes!
Ask Sister Mary Martha
If you are just in need of a good Catholic laugh this is your place.
Catholic articles and news.
A beautiful spanish blog with amazing ideas... written in spanish. That you Google translate.
Pinterest board on Catholic Culture
My Pinterest board with pins on living the Catholic faith in the home
Baltimore Catechism Series
Faith and Life Series
St. Joseph Picture Books
Catholic Encyclopedia for Children - Our Sunday Visitor
A Year with God: Celebrating the Liturgical Year (Little Way Press)
Holy Heroes - website that teaches through video/audio about the Liturgical Seasons. Also offers Sunday readings preparation, coloring pages, and activities.
Magnificat books for children
Magnifikid weekly magazine
Handbook of Prayers, Student Edition (Midwest Theological Forum)
Stations of the Cross coloring pages
Holy Trader Cards
Encounter the Saints Series: books for young readers / Pauline Books and Media
Vision Books Series: Saint Biographies
Mary Fabyan Windeatt: Saint Biographies
Loyola Kids Book of Heroes and Book of Saints by Amy Welborn
St. Joseph's Picture Books
CCC animated saint stories- DVD
Glory Stories - audio CD saint stories
Holy Heroes website
How to know if you're winning at this domestic church business...
If you are visiting from VSI welcome! Feel free to peruse the madness.
The generous ones, the giving ones, the laughing ones, the hugging ones.
The ones who tickle, or listen, or read another book, or toss them in the air.
The ones who greet them with wide smiles, yelled names, arms flung wide or just a high five.
The ones who say, "I've missed you!" and mean it.
The ones who act as jungle gyms, confidants, hair combers, Lego fans, comfy laps, and question askers.
The ones who serve as examples, role models, inspiration, heroes . . .
Thank you for loving on our kids. For pouring yourself into all the cracks and crevices of their growing hearts. It is a deposit into their banks that makes them and US, their parents, abundantly rich.
As we see it, here in this house we paint with just a few brushes and just a handful of colors. But then you stop by, seek us out after Mass, or grab a kid at a game and you're up to your'e elbows making the painting come alive with hues only you can give. It's a beautiful thing.
So, grandparent, priest, confessor, godparent, catechist, teacher, leader, mentor, family, friend - we need you all. THEY need you all. We are blessed to know your love. Don't ever stop.
Wednesday we awoke to snow. At times it was driving side ways and clouded our view and other times the flakes hung suspended in the air, holding their breaths as they fell to the earth. And it was cold.
But we were signed up for an hour of prayer at Cathedral to pray for the protection of the unborn so we bundled and hustled and stamped and shushed our way out of the house, through the parking lot, and into the chapel. It wasn't until we were all squeezed into the pew and had peeled off our coats that I had the fleeting thought that this hour over lunchtime might not have been the best idea. Lulu woke up hungry, the rosaries were clanking and clattering, Gemma decided she didn't WANT to be quiet, and I heard Ellie praying the meal blessing prayer.
"Ugh. Lord! I am so sorry." I rolled my eyes and gritted my teeth internally. I resolved to white knuckle it through the next 60 minutes the best that I could and just offer it up. What had I been thinking, anyway?
Then I heard Ellie say the meal blessing again.
"Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts that we are about to receive from Thy bounty through Christ Our Lord."
Everything went still.
Here we were, praying for the protection of the unborn and for mother's to choose life and I was at wits end with my children. Oh, the irony. These gifts, MY gifts were those little fingers on noisy beads, eager, enthusiastic voices and misplaced prayers from rosy lips. I was less than receptive to that bounty and I was embarrassed when I recognized it. I looked with new eyes on the orderly chaos all around me and murmured thankful praises for the gentle reminder.
God is good like that.
41 years. 55 million lives aborted. Pray for the protection of the unborn.
I'm a frowner from a line of frowners. Nana Joyce, Mama Syd? Great frowners. And our kids? Well, they come out frowning, too.
It's always Jac's first observation when they arrive. How they have my frown.
Late this summer, I'd find Gemma scowling at me. She'd draw her brows down low over her eyes and crease her forehead. Making eye contact with me, she'd raise her eye brows and break into a grin. After a few weeks, she'd say, "Mama! Mama! Mama-mama-mama-mama-mama!" until I'd look at her and she'd frown and then burst into her happy face and giggle at me. Soon I realized that she was my emotional mirror and her, "Mamaaa!"s would make me change my expression without having to look at her.
But I always would look at her because that smile - her smile - was always great and deserved an answer in kind. And I want to pass that smile along with the frown.