Finding My Mission

Lent is almost over.

I mentioned before that one of my Lenten penances was to not spend money. I’ve experienced an unintended benefit of this in that, instead of going to Target on Wednesdays when I have a babysitter for a couple of hours, I go to Adoration. It’s been wonderful.

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This Lent I’ve also been listening to lots of lectures, in person and recorded, and reading and journaling a lot. One common theme I’ve been hearing/reading during Lent this year is, “Don’t miss out on what God is calling you to do!” and “What is God’s mission for you? Are you embracing it?” and “What is it that God wants you to do that you are resistant to?

This has all made me feel just a bit self-conscious, as though there’s some grander plan that God has for me and I’m somehow not grasping it. I’ve been wondering what it is.

I’ve always felt like I’m embracing my mission pretty well, actually. I have been pretty sure that my mission, my vocation, is to be a wife and mother and a teacher to my children. Sometimes I’m not very good at it. I yell at my kids, and I slack off on homeschooling stuff, and my house is a disaster. But I’ve still been pretty certain that this is my thing. That I’m doing just what God wants me to do.

BUT, during this Lent, I have repeatedly I felt like maybe I’m missing something. Every time I hear a priest or other speaker talk about making sure that we say “yes” to what God is calling us to do. . . I feel a bit of panic, like I’m not hearing or not heeding my call. I search my brain to try to figure out what I’m missing. “Am I following God’s plan? Am I obeying Him? Am I blocking out His call??? What if I’m missing the whole point of what He wants me to do?”

I’ve been praying a lot for God to help me know what He wants from me. Yesterday was the completion of my 33 Days to Morning Glory Marian consecration, and I’ve been asking Mary to pray for me to “get it” too. I’ve been praying to be a better wife and a better mother. I’ve resolved to not yell at my girls. I really want to do a better job of juggling homeschooling and housekeeping and preparing our house to sell (and I’m failing miserably at this, but that could probably be another whole blog post).

I’ve been praying and praying all this stuff, and though Lent has been nice, and centering, and productive in certain ways for me, it has seemed like I’ve still been waiting on. . . something.

Let’s circle back around to the first part of this post, where I mentioned that I have been going to Adoration every Wednesday. Yesterday was the Solemnity of the Annunciation and the day I completed my Marian consecration. I went to Mass in the morning. I went to Adoration in the afternoon. As I drove there I prayed the joyful mysteries of the Rosary. I thought about Mary’s “Yes” to God.

When I got there, I got down on the kneeler and began to pray as usual, and then I tried to just listen.

I got my answer – the answer to all of my prayers of “What and I missing? What do You want me to do?” In the stillness of my heart I felt/heard one word.

Joy.

That might seem very anticlimactic, but I swear in that moment, a smile lit up my face and I felt like I had been given the answer to everything.

I try really hard to be a good wife and mom. I focus on getting things done and the results of my labors.

“Do my kids have good manners?”

“Are they eating good food?”

“Do they know their letters and numbers?”

“Did I get my husband’s laundry done?”

Check. Check. Check. And so on.

This is what I do. But I have been missing a huge part of my job, and that is they joy in it. I get so caught up in all the things I need to get done, that I forget to have fun with my kids. When they complain about a school lesson, I put my head down and focus on getting it done instead of trying to find a way to make it fun. I often clean dishes and fold laundry instead of playing with my kids. When they whine or misbehave in small ways, I bring the hammer down instead of calmly correcting or redirecting. Not always, but these examples are more the rule than the exception.

Yesterday I got it. God doesn’t just want me to be a good mom. He doesn’t need me to be a perfect mom. He wants me to be a joyful mom.

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As I knelt there in Adoration, my mind was filled with so many ways I can make my mothering more joyful, in chores, and homeschooling, and even (especially?) discipline of my girls. Most of this was stuff I’ve thought of in passing before, but it suddenly seemed so clear and so obvious and so necessary.

For weeks, I have wondered about what God wants me to do. All of these big, crazy ideas have crossed my mind. “Does He want me to write a book? Look into adoption? Start something at our parish?” None of these seemed quite right, and in fact when I prayed specifically about some of them, I got a definitive answer of “No.”

Yesterday, I didn’t ask God specifically, “Do you want me to have more fun?” I just listened, and He told me.

Be joyful.

A Conference, Guilt About a Conference, Cleaning Out, and Second Thoughts (7QT)

It’s been a while since I did Friday quick takes, so I’m linking up with Kelly for seven of them today.

1.

Last weekend, I went to a wonderful Catholic bloggers conference in South Bend.

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I was so excited to finally meet in person the lovely Nell, and Bonnie, and Annie, and Jacqui, whom I’ve communicated with in cyberspace for some time now. I was also happy to meet many other ladies whose blogs I have read, and many new people whose blogs I now can read. You’ll notice that I updated my Blogroll in the sidebar, and I’m pretty sure I have all the new blogs I found there. Recommended reading  right there>>>>

2.

Unfortunately for me, I cannot go away from my family without feeling guilty. I drove to South Bend on Friday evening and was planning to stay on Saturday night too. Then I discovered that dinner was planned for early on Saturday, so my guilt led me to decide to cut the weekend short and drive home Saturday evening. It was wonderful to get home, but I do wish I didn’t always feel so guilty about going away for a short time by myself (last weekend was only the second time I’ve done it). Does anyone know a cure for this??

3.

If you know me, you’ll understand what a huge step this is for me:

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My husband and an appliance salesman convinced me (finally) that it’s okay to not rinse my dishes to a gleaming shine before loading them into the dishwasher. I have requested that my husband still rinse dairy products before loading, because dairy+sitting in the open=Ew, but other than that, I’m doing pretty well with leaving the dishes sort of dirty before putting them in. This experiment has been pretty successful too. Other than having to rewash a few bowls and a couple of spoons (note to curious husbands: big globs of peanut butter don’t come off with just the efforts of the dishwasher), I have been pleasantly surprised that our dishes are coming out clean. I can honestly now call myself a recovering compulsive pre-dishwasher-rinser.

4.

Miss had her first rehearsal with the children’s choir at church last night. It was so darned cute. Look how small she looks!

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She loved it, and now wants to sing in church every week. She’ll sing at her first Mass next Sunday.

5.

I met with a realtor about selling our house. She casually mentioned our need to “edit out” some of the stuff we have in our closets and storage. I wonder if she meant this:

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I was really embarrassed to even let her look into that closet (which is why I’m showing it to all of you), but she was intrigued by how big it was and wanted to go on back in there. The part of the closet that is used (I mean not as a dumping ground for outgrown baby clothes) is also quite big, so this stuff is all out of the way and usually I just toss the stuff that is too small for anyone back there, knowing I’ll get around to going through it “someday.”

Someday is now.

6.

On Wednesday, I went in there with trash bags and started mercilessly throwing all of it into the bags to take to St. Vincent’s. It was actually kind of hard, because I have been holding on to all of this stuff thinking I will probably need it again at some point. But I went ahead and bagged it all up.

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I bagged and bagged until I ran out of time and bags (I ended up with about five grocery bags in addition to what is pictured). I kept almost nothing. A few special and personalized things, the pants I made for Miss, the Wonder Woman shirt that is my favorite, and almost nothing else. I loaded it all up in my car, where it still sits.

I don’t think I can do it!

I’m pretty sure this weekend I’ll be bringing the bags back inside and going through them a little more carefully. I’ll still be donating a ton of it, but it would make sense to keep a few things. I think.

7.

I’m feeling a mixture of excitement and terror at the idea of going through and cleaning out other areas in our house. We have so much stuff to purge. I’m so eager to do it, but I don’t want to do it. Know what I mean?

But I must.

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This is happening, whether I’m ready or not!

I hope you have a great weekend. I’m gearing up for fish fry, another in-town conference tomorrow, and lots of game time and outside play with my girls (hubby is out of town). Don’t forget to check back for Embrace the Ordinary tomorrow (and link up!)

And be sure to check out Kelly’s Quick Takes link up too.

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A Sacramental Blessing – Thoughts on What Was Missing from My Marriage

When my husband and I first got married, we did it in the most secular way possible. We were outside, we had a judge officiating, and I specifically requested no references to religion in the ceremony.

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It was really wonderful, and remains one of the best days of my life. At the time, I didn’t think for a moment that there was anything missing.

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When I decided to convert to Catholicism, I realized that I really wanted for my husband and I to have our marriage validated in the Church. It took us a while to make it happen, but a few weeks ago, we finally had our sacramental blessing. A Catholic wedding, complete with full Mass.

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While we were receiving communion, Lass asked the priest, “Why don’t the little people get to have any of the good stuff?”

It wasn’t a big, fancy affair. Just us, our girls, our priest, Super Friend and Super Husband, and The Godmother (plus our babysitter and photographer).

We did the whole thing. We selected readings, and the priest gave a homily. We said vows and had our rings blessed. The priest said a blessing over us and we received communion, all standing around the altar. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced.

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Our first wedding was also beautiful. It was wonderful and meaningful. It was a big celebration of our marriage with most of our friends and family. It wasn’t fussy, and it was fun. It was exactly what I wanted it to be at that time.

This time was so much the same and yet so, so different. Our first wedding was obviously important. But this time, this ceremony, felt sacred. I looked at my husband while saying our vows and there was so much more. We’ve been married over six years and have three children. We’ve experienced wonderful joys and terrible grief. “In good times and bad, in sickness and in health” took on a whole new meaning as I said those words again. It was different, because this time I felt the presence of God watching over us, blessing us, embracing us. I know now that He was there the first time too, but I didn’t bother to notice. This time, He took center stage, and it made everything so. much. more.

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There was even more joy. More love. More beauty. More grace.

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I used to think I knew a lot about marriage. I thought I was really good at being married. I thought my husband and I had a fabulous marriage. Here’s what I know now: I knew some. I was pretty good. We did have one.

BUT,

Since converting to Catholicism, since beginning to go to church with my husband every week, since instituting prayer in our home and faithful practices in our family, my marriage has improved in so many ways.

I’m a better wife and a better mom. I am less prideful and less selfish. I still have so much to learn. I am still striving and praying to get rid of all the yucky parts of myself: my pride and anger and selfish tendencies. But the love of God helps me to love my husband better. And just as He was the thing missing from our first wedding, God was what was missing from our marriage for the first five years. I didn’t even realize there was anything was missing back then. But now I do. Our marriage is so much better with Jesus.

Thoughts On and Plans for Lent – 7QT with Lots of Links

Last year was my first time observing Lent. I really loved the experience of simplifying, paring back, and making sacrifices for the purpose of preparing to be received into the Church at the Easter Vigil and to grow closer to Christ. Each time I felt a small amount of suffering as a result of one of the penances I took on, I just thought about Him. It was pretty awesome.

So this year, I’m truly looking forward to Lent again. Here are Seven Quick Takes on my thoughts about and plans for Lent 2015:

1.

First of all, I have to provide a link to a great article from Daniel Bearman – Acts of Idiot Praise. It’s about what to do on Sundays during Lent. It clarified for me the concepts of fasting and abstinence and penance and how these relate to what we’re doing during Lent and what we’re supposed to do on Sundays.

For my penances, I’m giving up a few things and taking on a few things.

2.

What I’m giving up:

Facebook. Though I love Facebook for keeping up with friends and family far away, it has become far too much of a time drain for me (if you usually follow my blog via Facebook, you can follow me with Instagram, Bloglovin’, or Twitter instead, or you can subscribe in the sidebar to get posts emailed to you, which is my preferred way of reading the blogs I follow).

Spending. I imposed a spending ban on myself in the fall, which was needed and it was great. I have a tendency to get far too much homeschooling stuff that we don’t need and Amazon Prime is my best friend/worst enemy. I lifted the ban for Christmas, but I will be taking it back up for Lent. I’ve been doing all of my birthday and Easter buying in advance (Miss’s birthday is on Ash Wednesday and Sis’s is in March). I’ll be limiting spending to necessities like groceries (see below) and gas and such.

3.

What I’m taking on:

Pantry and freezer cooking. In an effort to simplify and be less wasteful and more frugal, I’ll be limiting my grocery buying to primarily perishables like fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. I got this idea from Kendra, and since we have a pantry full of food and a freezer full of pork and other stuff, I’m going to use it up. Wish me luck.

Lenten journal. I already do the daily scripture readings and devotions from Blessed is She. I got their Lenten journal too, and I’m excited to do it.

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4.

What we’re giving up as a family:

Ice cream. We did this last year too, and it was a great, basic thing for the girls to experience giving up something specific for Lent. I let them choose what to give up this year, and they chose ice cream over chocolate (a nearly impossible choice, in my opinion). We’ll have a big ice cream party on Fat Tuesday again, and include brownies this year in celebration of Miss’s birthday on Wednesday.

5.

What my girls are giving up:

I asked each of the older girls to give up something in addition to ice cream, and I love what they came up with, with zero guidance from me, I might add.

Miss chose to give up coloring. This is actually a big deal for her, as it’s one of her very favorite activities.

Lass chose to give up asking for toys. She’s in this phase where she asks to have everything she likes. I repeatedly remind her that she can’t have everything she wants and that if she really wants something, she’ll have to wait until her birthday (which is in August), so I’m super happy she chose this.

6.

Other stuff:

Last year we did the Lenten calendar from Catholic Icing to count down the days of Lent, and these printable cards from Team Whitaker to pick acts of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving each day. This year we’re combining these activities and doing this calendar from Traci Smith. We’ll put stickers on it as each day passes and we complete the activity to make it a fun countdown. I printed out the blank one she offers on her site, so I can choose the things we’ll be doing, using a lot of the ideas on the already prepared one. We’ll have various penances, prayers, and almsgiving activities to focus on for each day of Lent.

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Yes, I know I need to get going on this!

We’re doing the bean jar for Lenten sacrifices. I’ll let the girls put a bean into the jar for each little sacrifice they do, and then on Easter morning they’ll be replaced with jellybeans.

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Awesome Lent-related links:

Lent Cometh: Perhaps Everything You’ll Ever Need to Know to Have the Best Lent Ever – By Kendra from Catholic All Year – Kendra has so many good posts with ideas for Lent, and this one has links to all of them.

Simple Lenten Traditions for Families (With Little to No Prep Work) by Lacy from Catholic Icing

9 Ideas for Observing Lent with Kids by Haley from Carrots for Michaelmas

Walking Through Lent with Small Children by Sarah from Two Os + More

The Lenten Season in Our Catholic Home by Jessica from Shower of Roses

Or you can check out my Lent Pinterest board for a few more ideas.

 

What are you doing for Lent?

 

I’m linking up with Kelly for 7 Quick Takes today (a day late).

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Baby Catholic Answers All the Things, Volume 8 – Orthodoxy

Wow. It has been a very long time since I wrote my last Baby Catholic Answers All the Things post. This was supposed to be a regular feature! I’m sorry.

Here’s what happened: I got a question from my friend Liz that threw me for a loop a bit (back in, *ahem*, August). I kind of knew the answer, but I wasn’t sure if my answer was the whole answer, and Google was not helping me find the whole answer very easily, and then once I did find the whole answer, I couldn’t manage to get the post written in a way that I liked. And I didn’t want to write it wrong, because referring to myself as the Baby Catholic who Answers All The Things is a lot of pressure!

So I didn’t write it at all.

And even though I sent a message to my friend Liz giving her the answer, I felt like I shouldn’t just skip it and keep doing other BCAATT posts without answering it here too (though I did do a few posts after getting THE QUESTION). So. Radio silence from Baby Catholic for (*gulp*) four months.

How’s that for a lengthy explanation?

Anyway. In spite of how long it took me to finally get around to it, I am not one to shy away from a challenge. This question and this post have been in the back of my mind for months. Today, I shall answer the question that derailed me for a while, but will not defeat me.

What was it you ask? This:

“What is the difference between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox? Or, when people refer to Orthodox Catholics are they simply implying more devout Catholics (like Orthodox Jews)?”

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Now, you may wonder why this stumped me. I think most Catholics, including me, know that the Orthodox Church is a different thing, separate from the Roman Catholic Church but similar. Often referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, though it is also called the Orthodox Catholic Church, it split away from Roman Catholicism in the East-West Schism of 1054. I learned about this in RCIA last year and also by reading Catholicism for Dummies.

Easy answer, right? So why in the world did this fluster me so much?

Well, I thought I remembered reading something in Jennifer Fulwiler’s memoir, Something Other Than God about how she and her family had found an orthodox Catholic church to attend that they felt was a good fit for their family. I looked through the book, but I couldn’t find the page to reference. However, she mentions in this post her comment to her husband during one Mass, “I think we’re orthodox,” and then she received help from a reader to find an “orthodox parish” to attend. Anyway, because of all this, I was pretty sure that the answer to Liz’s question was “The Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church are separate but similar, AND “orthodox” is also a way of referring to more strict Catholics.”

However, when I tried to learn more about orthodox Catholicism, I came across the Orthodox Catholic Church of America, which is a whole different thing, not affiliated with the Roman Catholic or the Eastern Orthodox Churches. I couldn’t find much about orthodox Roman Catholic practices. I was frustrated.

Finally, I managed to string together the right phrase in a Google search to find some of what I was looking for. From my results, I read about the Orthodox Roman Catholic Movement, led by some priests who didn’t agree with the changes made to the Mass and the Church after Vatican II. There were many changes that came after Vatican II, and I don’t know all of them, but a big one was the way the Mass was celebrated. Before Vatican II, the Mass was almost always celebrated in Latin, and the priest stood between the congregation and the altar, consecrating the bread and wine with his back to the people of the parish. This is called the Tridentine Mass or often just the Latin Mass.

Now, here’s where I get a little unsure. As I understand it, the powers that be in the Roman Catholic Church say that it’s fine to still perform this Latin version of the Mass, and I assume this is considered an orthodox practice. I’m not sure if there are other Roman Catholic parishes that would be considered “orthodox” but don’t conduct the Mass in Latin. My guess is yes, but I could not find any definitive information about just what makes a parish “orthodox,” or if there even are any rules. It seems as though this is not an official label placed on any segment of the Catholic Church. I suspect that orthodox parishes are more conservative and hold more strictly to the laws of the Church.

Just thinking about the parishes in my town, I can say that there are some that are likely considered more orthodox than others. Our parish for example sometimes includes more modern music in our liturgy, especially at the teen Mass. And up until a few weeks ago, we did not have a tabernacle in the main sanctuary of the church (it was in a small side chapel). Our church also looks more modern, and sometimes at the end of Mass the people involved in planning parish activities come up to the front and do silly skits or wear costumes while making announcements. Probably not terribly orthodox, but lots of fun for our family, and never going against any Church rules. I’ve never been to a Mass at a different parish in our town (other than Miss’s school Mass), so I can’t say for sure, but I’ve heard that some of the other parishes tend toward being more old school, though I don’t know if that’s orthodox or not.

So, what I’ve come up with for a final answer is this:

1. The Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox (or Eastern Orthodox) Churches are similar but separate.

AND

2. There are also some Roman Catholic churches that are more orthodox in their practices, though I am not sure exactly what would constitute calling a given parish “orthodox.” Perhaps they have the Mass in the Latin Rite. Probably their music mostly consists of traditional hymns, sung by a choir. Maybe parish members dress more conservatively and some might even wear chapel veils for Mass. Most likely they didn’t have a woman dressed in Mardi Gras garb dance up to the front of the church to announce the parish’s Mardi Gras dinner event next Tuesday in a weird accent (intended to sound Cajun?). Or maybe it isn’t really any of these things but simply a more firm adherence to all the teachings and rules of the Church and the pope (if anyone knows a better answer to this part, please share it!).

In my opinion, we are all part of the same church family, whether we attend an orthodox parish or not, whether we prefer the Mass in Latin or English. I love being Catholic, and I like seeing all the ways our Faith is practiced in accordance with the laws of the Church and under the guidance of our pope.

I’m sorry it took me so long to write this post. Send me more questions, and I promise I won’t take so long next time!

 

Holiday Happenings – Fabulous and Not (7 Quick Takes)

It’s Saturday, but I’m doing Friday. And there’s a new host of 7 Quick Takes – Kelly of This Ain’t the Lyceum!

Here we go:

1.

We had a really big day yesterday (which is why I’m posting today instead). We started by going to the mall to see Santa.

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We have the best Santa at our mall. I like that he has a real beard and wears clothes like what you think Santa might wear on a regular day in his workshop. When the girls see a Santa with a fake beard in full red-suit getup, they always notice and say, “Mom, that’s just someone dressed up as Santa, right?” They think this guy is the real deal.

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2.

Almost as big of a hit at the mall as the Santa visit was our ride on the escalator. We entered and exited the mall through Scheels, and they have big escalators in the middle of their store, with lots of hunting mounts upstairs. As we were walking by on our way out of the mall, Miss said, “I wish we could ride one of those again someday.” So I said, “Well, let’s go then!”

It was a bit of a fiasco, because I was holding Lass and Sis’s hands, and Miss balked behind me after I had gotten her younger sisters on. The younger girls and I were starting to go up and Miss just froze at the bottom. I had an image flash in my mind of Miss standing there by herself as we all rode up and away from her. I yelled, “Honey, get ON!!” After a brief hesitation to screw up her courage, she did it. Phew.

Then I worried about the ride down for the whole time we walked around upstair admiring the mounts. I’ll just say that all three girls insisted on holding my hands to get on the down escalator, and we had a slight stumble, that could have been much worse. But we made it. In spite of the fears and near disasters, they thought their ride was pretty nifty.

3.

Last night we went out for dinner and then headed to the local art museum, where they have a gorgeous Nutcracker display every year. The museum is in an old mansion and the display is called, appropriately, Nutcracker in the Castle. Last year we visited during the day on a weekday, which is when I do most things with the girls to avoid crowds. But The Godmother works at the museum and told me that the best time to go is on Friday or Saturday evenings. The mansion is extra pretty with all the twinkling lights at night, and they have electric candles to hold during the tour.

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The best part was that they had cupcakes for sale and a visit with the Sugar Plum Fairy.

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Watching the girls dance with the Sugar Plum Fairy was priceless.

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Sis was so fascinated with her. “Are you da Sugar Pwum Faiwy? Why you wearing dat butterfwy? I yike you wings.”

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The sweet girl dressed as the fairy really earned her pay last night!

When I put them to bed, I asked each of them what their favorite part of the day was. All three of them said “Dancing with the Sugar Plum Fairy.” It was my favorite too.

4. 

Thank goodness we saw Santa and the Sugar Plum Fairy yesterday, because this morning I woke up to the sound of retching coming from the bathroom. Blah.

Here’s me looking on the bright side of things:

  • I have had to clean up almost no vomit so far (except out of the bucket).
  • The retching didn’t occur until 5:45 this morning, after my alarm had already gone off, so I got a full night’s sleep before being called to sick duty.
  • So far only Miss has gotten sick.
  • I am kind of a pro at managing puking after last winter.
  • Because of my experiences last winter, I keep a supply of clear bubbly pop and saltines on hand, so I didn’t even have to make a run to the store for stomach-virus supplies.

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My poor big girl.

5.

On the not-so-bright side of things, one of my first thoughts after getting my girl settled back into bed with an ice cream bucket this morning was, “Damn. Now I’m not going to be able to go visit Super Friend and my sweet godson.”

Super Friend had her baby boy last Sunday, and he is my godson. My very first godchild!! I was supposed to go visit them in the hospital on Monday, but I couldn’t get a babysitter. Then I didn’t want to crash her house during the week because she had family visiting. So, I have been looking forward to today to see my friend and her precious new baby. And I couldn’t go. I’m trying to do the Catholic thing and offer it up, but I think mostly I’m pouting.

6.

One of my favorite things this past week was that I sent Miss for some extra time at school so she could go to their Secret Santa shop. She was so proud and excited about the items she bought for each of us for Christmas. She has been carrying around her bag of gifts since Thursday, half hinting to everyone about what their gifts are. She has been telling Lass all kinds of things about hers and goading her to guess. She said to Sis, “Yours is not an owl!” She said to me, “Mom, I just love giving gifts!” I’m thrilled that she truly loves the experience of selecting gifts for others that she thinks they will really like (I’ll post in the near future about our annual tradition of giving dollar store gifts to my husband for his birthday, which is tomorrow).

7.

I have an appointment to get the window of my vehicle fixed on Monday. I’ve been driving it around like this since last weekend:

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The mechanism that moves it up and down broke a week ago, and the window would no longer stay up. I’d push it up and then hit a bump and it’d slip back down. I’d push it up again at the next stop light, and the same would happen, over and over. It’s freezing here, so I couldn’t let it keep on that way. I had to resort to duct tape. It works. Though I never noticed how much I roll my window up and down until now when I can’t. I’ll be happy to have a functional window again in a few days.

As I mentioned at the top, Kelly of This Ain’t the Lyceum is the new host of 7 Quick Takes. Check out the link up here.

Halloween Recap

Whew! Another Halloween is over. We had a fun week of parties, treats, and costumes.

Here’s a recap, mommy-blog style:

First of all, the issue of costumes almost became a big drama when we first started Halloween planning a few weeks ago. I told the girls that I was not going to buy them costumes for Halloween this year, because they each had gotten two new costumes for the Labor Day party in September. Why two costumes? I had already allowed them to pick a costume for the “Cartoon” theme of the party, and then my Mother-in-law requested that everyone in the family come as a Smurf, knowing that would make for an awesome family photo, so they got additional Smurf costumes.

DSC_0763I told them they could choose from the Smurf costumes, the other costumes they got for the party (Mulan, Ms. Frizzle, Sofia the First), or pick something out of our extensive dress up collection. Sis and Lass had no problem with this. Sis wanted to be Sofia again. Lass decided to wear her veterinarian dress up outfit. Miss, on the other hand, insisted that she wanted to be a witch. We don’t have witch dress up. We had a stand-off on the issue for a few days, until I found a witch hat in the Target dollar section. I conceded to buy her the hat, but told her we’d have to piece together the rest of the costume from things we already had. She agreed. And then Lass changed her mind and decided she had to be a witch too. Soooo, a different witch hat, also from Target, and plans for two witch outfits. Costumes decided, crisis averted.

The actual Halloween revelry started last Saturday when we were invited to a party by some lovely friends.

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You might be wondering what happened to the witches and Sofia the First, yes? Well, I suggested to Miss that she might want to save her witch costume for her school party, since lots of the kids from her school would be at this family party. She agreed and grabbed her Elsa dress (which needed some last minute repairs). Then Lass decided to be Cinderella, but melted down because her Cinderella dress, which she got as a gift for her second birthday, is now too small for her. She did not want to wear Miss’s Cinderella dress from last Halloween, but Sis decided she’d love to be Cinderella instead of Sofia. Lass recovered from her devastation quickly upon catching a glimpse of her unicorn costume in the closet where it has been stuffed onto a shelf for the past year. So, no witches, no Sofia. Elsa, Cinderella, and a unicorn instead.

Are you still with me? Good.

The party was wonderful, with lots of games and pizza and treats. The girls had a blast.

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^^ A last stretching leap to win her heat of the sack race. She’s not competitive or anything. . .

My Halloween torment began on Wednesday, when I had to roll up my sleeves and actually bake the treats I had envisioned after my Pinterest search last week. I think I mentioned that baking is not one of my talents. Cooking I can do. Baking? Not so much. And yet, I volunteered to bring the sweet treat for Miss’s school party. I’m sometimes not too smart, either.

So, what do you think? Did I nail it?

Cupcake collage

At least they tasted good. I helped out at Miss’s party, and most of the kids devoured them, and had no idea they had pumpkin in them.

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Yeah, she decided to stick with the Elsa costume for the school party too.

Yesterday afternoon/evening was a whirlwind of carving pumpkins, getting costumes on, giving candy to early trick-or-treaters, and trying to find their pumpkin-shaped candy buckets.

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^^ Last minute jack-o-lantern success.

We had to really bundle up, because it was extremely cold and windy here last night. Miss and Lass each wore one of my sweaters as a witch “dress.” We managed to fit costumes on over bulky coats, so no one’s outfit was hidden for the sake of being warm. I crimped the older girls’ hair to make it look “witchy.” That was my favorite part.

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We never did find the pumpkin buckets.

Miss insisted on pulling her sisters in the wagon, and off we went.

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“Trick or Treat!”

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It was really, really cold and the witch hats wouldn’t stay on because of the wind. The houses in our neighborhood are kind of far apart, and there were many with no lights on. We only made it to four houses before calling it quits.

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The girls didn’t care that we didn’t go to more houses, and we would have ended up with the perfect (small) amount of candy for the night. Except that it was so cold, very few trick-or-treaters came to our house to take our candy.

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Right now our huge bowl of leftovers is “hidden” in our laundry room. Unfortunately I can’t hide them from myself. I’ll be donating all of it somewhere ASAP.

It was a fun Halloween. I hope you had a fun one too!

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Cupcake Anxiety, a Singing Nun, and a Deer Head Dance (7QT)

Doing what I usually do on Fridays:

1.

I’m in charge of making the sweet treat for Miss’s Halloween party at school next week. Right now I am both loving and hating Pinterest. I think I’m using a recipe for pumpkin cupcakes and adding chocolate chips. The frosting will be pumpkin cream cheese and I’ll put orange sprinkles on top. I’m hoping they’ll look something like this:

Of course, they’re not really going to end up looking anything like that. And I have spent waaaayyy too much time thinking about this. But the kids will have cupcakes.

2.

The last time I tried to make something from scratch for a school party was when Miss was still in preschool outside the home, and I tried to make paleo brownies for her to take for her birthday. I baked them after putting the girls to bed, and thank goodness I tasted one before taking them to her school. They were disgusting. Truly. I threw them away and made an emergency late-night trip to the grocery store to get some pre-made cupcakes from the bakery.

This time I’ll bake the cupcakes early enough in the day that I can test one and have some time to consider decent replacement options if these are awful.

Baking isn’t one of my talents, so I must always prepare for the worst.

3.

On Wednesday I got pulled over. I was going 69 MPH in a 55 MPH zone. the officer took my license, went back to his car, and came back a few minutes later saying, “You have a great record, so I’m giving you a warning.”

IMG_3804I barely managed to keep my jaw from dropping.

I don’t know whose driving record he was looking at, but if it was “great,” it wasn’t mine. Or maybe he could only see the past year or two. It has been over two years since my last ticket. . .

I’m kind of a lead foot.

4.

Our house has walls. And rooms.

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See that big window right in the front? That’s where my school room is going to be.

IMG_3785 IMG_3790Can you picture it? Little desks and tons of books and art projects everywhere and storage, storage, storage. I can’t wait.

5.

When I was a tween (though no one used that word then), I loved Madonna. My Mom wouldn’t buy me the tape of her music (I think she called M a “tart”), but I recorded the songs off the radio and sang and danced to them with abandon. Borderline, Material Girl, Crazy for You, Like a Virgin. . .

Okay, I still dance and sing to them with abandon.

Yesterday I came across a video. Some people might find it weird, but I just think it’s awesome. It’s a nun. Singing “Like a Virgin.” (I think it’s the nun who won some singing show in Italy).

Her performance is incredible, and it gives the song a whole new meaning. Don’t just listen. Watch her sing it.


It gave me chills. As someone who spent nearly a decade as an atheist, this video really struck a chord with me. I’ll never hear that song the same way again. And that’s not a bad thing.

6.

Today was lovely. Days like this are why fall is my favorite season.

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They were trying to catch leaves in their hats as they fell from the trees. They weren’t too successful, but it sure was fun to watch them try.

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Each time she fell she’d look up and me and say, deadpan, “A little help here.”

7.

Hunting season is upon us. After watching my husband practice shooting his bow, Miss asked to get hers out too (my Dad gave it to her).

She practiced for at least 30 minutes, and went from needing lots of assistance and correction to being able to nock, draw, aim, and shoot the arrow herself, often placing it in the target.

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Lass took a short turn with the bow when Miss was done. Both the girls said they wanted to go out and hunt with my husband, to which he replied that they could (hunt = watch deer). This quickly resulted a dance and song that went something like this, “We’re gonna put a deer head on the waaaall,” over and over and over.

Deer dance

I hope you had a lovely Friday too.

Catch the rest of the Quick Takes at Conversion Diary.

Five Favorites – Etsy Shops for Kids

Have I ever mentioned that I love Etsy? Once or twice, yes?

(just for fun, type “Etsy” into the search bar on the side of my blog and see how many posts come up. . .)

Well, since Christmas is coming up, and I always love to get a few sweet handmade/non-mass-produced things for my girls, and because there is a new hostess of the Five Favorites link up so I want to give Jenna some love, here are my five favorite Etsy shops for kids’ stuff.

I adore Etsy so much, that I don’t think I could narrow down my favorite shops to just five overall, so these are just for kids. And maybe later I’ll share another post with my tops shops for grown up gifts and/or home decor. Then maybe another time I could share my five favorite party supply shops. Or five favorite shops for vintage stuff. Five favorite jewelry shops?

Yes, I love me some Etsy. So, without further ado, five favorite shops for kids’ stuff, in no particular order:

1. Huggie Saints – These soft saint dolls are so snuggly and very well-made. Sis has a Saint Brigid that she sleeps with every night.

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Super Friend got a Saint Philomena for her youngest daughter, which is just as cute as can be too.

2. Nana’s Sewing Closet – These dresses. I just can’t even explain the cuteness. We have a Minnie Mouse dress, a Snow White dress, and a Cinderella dress (though ours is made of cotton and is quite different from the one linked to here). And I can’t even get over how sweet the work dresses, or “raggy” dresses as my girls would call them, of Cinderella and Belle are. We have cute, comfy dresses like these from another shop too, but I like Nana’s better because hers are less expensive and she has the biggest selection of different character dresses to choose from (plus the other shop closed!).

This is my favorite type of princess dress, because the girls can wear them any day, not just for dress up. They are comfortable and easy to wash.

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I couldn’t find any good photos of our dresses. The girls wore them to Disney World, but it was so cold they were covered up with coats the whole time. Just trust me. They’re adorable.

3. and 4. Pray With the Saints and St. Luke’s Brush- These little saint peg dolls are so fun. We have dolls from both of these shops, and both are wonderful. Pray with the Saints dolls are less detailed, but also less expensive. St. Luke’s Brush dolls are amazing in their detail (check out his Blessed Mother Theresa!), and he has a larger selection. We have Saint Cecilia, Saint Therese, and Saint Brigid from St. Luke’s.

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Maggie from Pray with the Saints was delightful when I requested a custom order doll for Miss’s birthday last year. Miss had been begging for a Saint Anne-pregnant-with-Mary doll, and I couldn’t find one anywhere (not surprisingly). She also wanted Saint Anne to be holding a rosary (not historically accurate, but she was only four when she was imagining this doll!). Maggie was so accommodating and asked lots of questions to get the doll just right. She even asked what color Miss’s eyes are to make the doll’s eyes match.

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Perfect for St. Nicholas feast day presents!

5. Three Yellow Starfish – The reversible pinafores from this shop are darling. The fabric selections are gorgeous and the sewing is flawless.

Three Yellow Starfish pinafore

They’re reversible!

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Though this isn’t really the time of year for little dresses like these, they look adorable over a long sleeve shirt with pants underneath too.

Any guesses which of my girls that is ^^?

Bonus:

Two more shops that I am very intrigued by, but have not personally purchased anything from (yet):

Whole Parenting Goods – I’ve been stalking this shop for a while. If I had a baby, I’d be all over this stuff. I almost want to snuggle my computer screen when I look at Nell’s blankets and scarves. She just added leggings to her list of items, so I might need to get some of those for Sis (they don’t come big enough for Lass or Miss). The bandit bibs are so sweet, and would have been much cuter than the ugly, stained bibs I had during Miss’s crazy drooling phase.

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I also have to add that Nell is a blogging friend, and you can check her out here.

Catholic Inspired – I’m especially intrigued by these rosary mats. What a great idea. Finally a rosary that Sis can’t break (at least, I don’t think she could break it).

Now, you must tell me – what are your favorite Etsy shops?

And, check out others’ favorite things at the link up, now going on over at Call Her Happy.

Baby Catholic Answers All the Things, Volume 7 – The Rosary

Today is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, and October is the month dedicated to the Holy Rosary. When I was chatting with a friend of mine the other day, who is in the process of reversion to the Catholic Faith, she mentioned that she is eager to learn about the rosary so that she can begin praying it herself. So I’m bringing back Baby Catholic Answers All the Things (sorry, it’s been a while!) with a post all about this beautiful devotion.

Rosary

The rosary has a long tradition in the Catholic Church. You can read a history of the devotion here. It is made up of five decades of repeated prayers, Hail Marys separated by Our Fathers, used to meditate on sets of mysteries.

So, what does that actually mean? Using sets of prayers, called decades, to meditate on sets of mysteries? Wha?? Why the repetitive, memorized prayers? Why the devotion to Mary?

Let me break it down. First of all, you can read my Baby Catholic Answers post on Marian devotion here. In a nutshell: Catholics don’t’ worship Mary. The rosary is not a way to worship Mary. One of the people in my RCIA class from last year had been staunchly anti-Catholic before converting from Protestantism. She began praying the rosary during Lent and asked during class one week, “What is the deal with all these prayers to Mary? Why am I praying to Mary??” My answer to her was something like this, “The rosary is not so much about praying to Mary as it is about growing in our understanding of and faith in Jesus. The mysteries are almost all about Jesus, not Mary. Mary always leads us closer to her Son.”

Let me back up just a bit more here to explain how the rosary works and what a “mystery” is in this context. First, how the rosary works:

If you pick up a rosary, you will see a loop of beads with a tail coming out from it. At the end of the tail is a crucifix.

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Above the crucifix, on the tail, there are five beads. First is an “Our Father bead.” Our Father beads are sometimes different from most of the beads on the rosary, and sometimes they’re just separated by more chain. The next three beads are  “Hail Mary beads.” Then there’s a space and another Our Father bead, followed by the joiner (I think that’s what it’s called). The joiner can differ from rosary to rosary. One of mine has a Holy Family medal, another has an Ave Maria thingy (see below).

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^ This one is an example of a rosary where the beads are all the same but the Our Father beads are separated from the Hail Mary beads by more chain.

Looking more closely at the beads on the loop of the rosary, you can see that there are groups of ten Hail Mary beads, called “decades,” that are separated from each other by Our Father beads.

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So to pray the rosary, you start on the crucifix and say the Apostles Creed. Then you move to the first Our Father bead and say. . . an Our Father. Then three Hail Marys on the Hail Mary beads. On the the chain between the last Hail Mary and the next Our Father bead, you say a Glory Be. Then on the final Our Father bead, announce the first mystery, then say the Our Father.

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Then you move to the first set of ten Hail Mary beads and say ten Hail Marys. When you get to chain before the second Our Father bead, say the Glory Be and the Fatima Prayer (I’m not sure if some people maybe don’t do this last one?), then move to the next Our Father bead, announce the second mystery and say the Our Father, then pray the next decade of Hail Marys. And it goes the same way through all five mysteries and five decades until you get to the last Fatima Prayer. After the last Fatima Prayer, on the joiner, pray the Hail Holy Queen. Then to conclude there is another prayer, but I’m not sure what it’s called. Most sites I looked at included it at the end of the rosary, but I haven’t seen a name for it. It goes like this:

Oh God, whose only begotten Son, by his life, death, and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant we beseech Thee that, meditating upon these mysteries of the most Holy rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain, and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ our Lord, Amen.

So that’s the sequence of praying the rosary. But you may be wondering what in the world are these mysteries I keep referring to, and why so many prayers repeated over and over?

The answer is meditation.

The rosary isn’t so much about the prayers, as it is about meditation. The prayers are repeated over and over because most Catholics can say Our Fathers and Hail Marys and Glory Bes without needing to think about them, freeing their minds to meditate on the mysteries. The rhythmic nature of the prayers actually facilitates the meditation. And what we meditate on are the 20 mysteries of faith.

For centuries, there were 15 mysteries included in the rosary, grouped into three sets of five.

The Joyful Mysteries (prayed on Mondays and Saturdays):

  • The Annunciation
  • The Visitation
  • The Nativity of Jesus
  • The presentation of Jesus
  • The finding of Jesus in the Temple

The Glorious Mysteries (prayed on Sundays and Wednesdays)

  • The Resurrection
  • The Ascension
  • The descent of the Holy Spirit
  • The Assumption of Mary
  • The crowning of Mary as Queen of Heaven

The Sorrowful Mysteries (prayed on Tuesdays and Fridays)

  • The agony in the garden
  • The scourging at the pillar
  • The crowning with thorns
  • Jesus carries the cross
  • Jesus is crucified

In October 2002 Saint John Paul II (is he referred to as Saint John Paul the Great now?) added the Luminous Mysteries (prayed on Thursdays):

  • The baptism of Jesus
  • The wedding at Cana
  • The proclamation of the Kingdom
  • The transfiguration
  • The institution of the Eucharist

When you pray the rosary, you meditate on the days’ mysteries, each for the duration of a decade.

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^ Someone else around here really likes my rosaries and chaplets.

To sum it all up, when I pray the rosary today, it will go like this:

  1. I will make the Sign of the Cross
  2. I’ll say a short prayer stating my intentions for the rosary (i.e. I offer the rosary for the intention of my children, my husband, my godson, a sick friend, etc.)
  3. The Apostles’ Creed
  4. The Our Father
  5. Three Hail Marys
  6. The Glory Be
  7. Since today is Tuesday, I will then say, “The first Sorrowful Mystery – The agony in the garden.”
  8. Then I will pray the Our Father
  9. Ten Hail Marys
  10. The Glory Be
  11. The Fatima Prayer
  12. I will do 8-11 all while focusing my thoughts on Jesus’s agony in the garden. This is the meditation part. I’ll try to think about how He felt, remember what He went through, imagine myself in that situation, etc. I’ll try really hard to stay focused, but sometimes (often!) my mind will wander. I will repeatedly bring my thoughts back to Jesus in the Garden.
  13. I’ll repeat these steps for each of the other four Sorrowful Mysteries.
  14. I’ll pray the Hail Holy Queen
  15. Closing prayer (above)
  16. Sign of the Cross

If you pray the rosary frequently, you are repeatedly meditating on all of Salvation history, all of the mysteries of our faith. It covers Jesus’s conception and birth, high points of His childhood and His adulthood as He spread the gospel and performed miracles, His Passion, death, resurrection, ascension into Heaven, and His sending down of the Holy Spirit.

I really love praying the rosary. It is so beautiful and such a fulfilling way to pray. I highly recommend it.

DSC_0132^ Only two of those are rosaries, the others are chaplets (Seven Sorrows, Stations of the Cross, and Hannah’s Tears)

Happy Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary!