A Homeschool Day in the Life

A few bloggers I enjoy reading (like Ana and Micaela) have recently participated in the Homeschool Day in the Life link up at Jamie’s Simple Homeschool blog. I love reading these kinds of posts, and they’re kind of fun to write too, so here’s my contribution with how our day ran yesterday, a pretty typical Monday:

6:45 – I wake up and get (decaffeinated) coffee. Proceed to office. Pray the rosary and do my Lenten reading : Rediscover Jesus by Matthew Kelly and the little black book for Lent from our parish (usually I read the Mass readings and daily devotions from Blessed is She, but this morning I got distracted before making it to these).

8:00 – Go upstairs to wake up all three of my kids. Usually at least one of them is up already, but not today (this is why I like springing forward better than falling back).

8:10-ish – Breakfast is on the table.

8:40-ish – The girls have finished eating and they go upstairs to get ready for the day. This consists of getting dressed, making their beds, cleaning their rooms, and brushing their teeth and hair.

8:50 – I have put away the cereal and I go up to hustle the girls into finishing and getting down to the school room. At this point Sis still doesn’t have a shirt on, but the older girls are done with everything except brushing teeth. I grab a shirt for Sis, and put pony tails in hers and Lass’s hair (Miss brushes her own). Lass helps Sis to make her bed, and I think we just might get the day started “on time” as I change my clothes, brush my own hair, and brush my teeth.

9:04 – Everyone is in the school room and ready to go around our old dining room table. We try to start at 9:00 every day, so I’m calling this close enough. We do our morning prayers, say the Pledge of Allegiance, and talk about the date and the weather a bit.

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9:10-ish – We start our work together at the table. I don’t really have a name for this part of our day, though the girls usually call it our “reading,” and it might be like what some people call “circle time.” We do all of our read-alouds from our curriculum (Sonlight plus some Catholic add-ons, plus a late addition of Five in a Row). This usually contains some elements of religion, history/social studies, poetry, and science, with our FIAR book and activities added at the end. This week’s new FIAR book is They Were Strong and Good by Robert Lawson, and I love it!

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10:00 – At this point I’d usually send the girls downstairs for some running and “recess,” but we don’t do this on Mondays because we have to be done more quickly to get lunch in before piano lessons. So I go ahead and send the girls to their desks for their independent work.

Each girl has a desk and a rolling cart with drawers. I think some people call this a “workbox” setup. Each drawer for each girl has an assignment in it that needs to be completed that day. As each element is finished, the girls return their completed work to the drawer it came from and move down to the next.

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They have a mixture of things they can do on their own and things they need my help with. I try to stagger the items in their drawers so they don’t all need my help at the same time. This sometimes works, and sometimes fails miserably with me saying repeatedly, “I’ll be with you in a minute,” or “Please be patient,” or “Go on to the next thing in your drawer until I can help you.”

Mondays are a little light, and Miss, in first grade, has science questions, a math workbook, spelling words to copy, a handwriting/copywork exercise, a word list and some stories to do in her reader, a piano theory test, and piano practice in her drawers today (I always include their piano practice in our school day, or it will never get done). Lass in kindergarten has a Star Wars math workbook, handwriting, exercises from Learning Success, some addition and subtraction, some worksheets with word family/spelling practice on them, and piano practice. Lass has her pre reading curriculum, which includes some cutting and pasting, some prewriting tracing, and coloring.

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10:05 – Sis gets my attention first with her All About Reading Pre-Reading curriculum work. She is nearly finished with this entire program (only Y and Z in the last section are left). As I’m sitting down with her to do Letter X, Lass starts complaining that she doesn’t know how to do her math workbook. I tell her what to do (counting sets of Star Wars characters from 11-20 and drawing a line from each set to the correct number). She starts wailing that she doesn’t remember those numbers. I tell her that’s why she’s doing the exercise, for practice, and help her demonstrate that she does in fact know these numbers better than she thinks. She wails some more, and then I snap at her to quit complaining and get to work. After a few minutes, she begins complaining loudly again, so I keep my cool a little better this time and send her to sit on the bottom step outside the school room until she can get herself in a better frame of mind and do her work without disrupting everyone. I manage to do this without freaking out, and she complies in kind, which feels like a small victory. I proceed with Sis and Lass sits out for about 2-3 minutes before returning to do her work without further complaint.

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10:15 – After I finish with Sis, there is a period where no one needs my help, so I go to our book stack and my curriculum binder and get the books ready that we will need for tomorrow. I give direction as needed for the next 45 minutes or so.

10:30 – In between periods of helping the girls, I go to start lunch. We eat early on Mondays, so I’m getting some crescent-roll-wrapped hot dogs ready to put in the oven.

10:45 – Lunch is in the oven.

10:55 – Sis and Miss are done with their drawers. Lass is complaining that she is the last one done. I remind her that her negative attitude at the beginning of the morning and her messing around with her little sister at other times is the reason that she is not done. I let her know that we will be having lunch when the baking timer goes off and that whatever she hasn’t finished will need to be done when we get home from our afternoon classes.

11:00-ish – The timer goes off. The girls start lunch while I read our book study book to them. This month our homeschool group is doing Redwall.

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11:20 – I start telling the girls to hustle up so we can leave for piano. I hate this about Mondays, that I have to rush their lunch a bit.

11:30 – I’m rushing everyone into socks, shoes, and jackets, filling up water bottles, and gathering piano binders so we can go.

11:39 – We’re pulling out of the driveway on our way to piano, with just barely enough time to get there on time.

12:00 – Piano lessons start. Lass goes in with the teacher first, while I let Sis and Miss play on iPads and I read my book The Second Greatest Story Ever Told, by Fr. Michael Gaitley. I also take the time to read my BIS email with the day’s Mass readings and commentary.

12:30-ish – Lass comes out and Miss goes in for her lesson. I get lots of instructions from the piano teacher about Miss’s “audition” this weekend for the Wisconsin Music Teacher’s Association. She’s not actually auditioning for anything, but will be playing some pieces in front of a judge and taking a written music test to accumulate points. Her teacher makes sure I know where to go and what to do because this is Miss’s first time participating.

1:15 – Miss comes out of her lesson and her teacher gives more instructions about what she needs to practice for the week to be ready for her audition. We leave piano and head to the YMCA for the girls’ homeschool gym class.

1:25 – I drop off the two older girls for gym and take Sis to Target for a few things.

2:00 – Still happily wandering around Target.

2:25 – I’m back at the Y to pick up the older girls, and we head home.

2:45 – I set Miss and Sis free to go play, while Lass goes to the school room to finish the work she didn’t complete for the morning. It only takes her a few minutes, and then she’s off to play with her sisters. I avoid doing anything productive, and instead spend about an hour and a half messing around on the computer and starting to type this post.

4:30-ish – My husband comes home and goes downstairs to play with the girls. He likes to do more gym class with them in the afternoons before dinner.

5:30 – We sit down to dinner. The girls animatedly tell my husband about the book we’re reading, Redwall.

6:00 – Our babysitter comes so my husband and I can go to our RCIA meeting (we are both sponsors this year).

8:15 – I come home (my husband got called to work). My babysitter tells me that the girls requested early/extra reading time before bed, and they read three more chapters of Redwall. I pay her, clean the kitchen from dinner, and go into the school room to get the girls’ drawers set up for the next day.

9:00 – My husband comes home and we talk and talk about some new things that happened at RCIA.

11:00 – I go to bed.

So there you go. That’s a pretty typical Monday around here. Our other days are pretty similar except we do a little more work. I usually will have All About Reading for the older girls (Miss is in Level 3 and Lass is in Level 2), and they have more recess time to break up the morning. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I sometimes add in an art lesson or a craft. Fridays we usually do less work in the school room and more other stuff, like chores or field trips. That’s it!

Head over to the link up if you want to read others’ “Day in the Life” posts.

2015’s Top 10

It’s mid-January, and I’m just now getting around to looking back at the most popular posts from 2015. I always think it’s fun to see what posts were read the most. As usual, my most popular post ever –  9 Reasons I’m Not a Feminist (And Maybe You Aren’t Either), which I wrote in January 2013, got the most clicks this year (with around three times as many as the most popular post that I actually wrote this year). This is one I keep thinking I’m going to revisit with a new post (because the first one wasn’t very well-written), and I never do. I think perhaps 2016 needs to be the year…

Anyway, of the posts I wrote in 2015, here are the top 10:

10. A Sacramental Blessing – Thoughts on What Was Missing From My Marriage  – This is one of my favorites from the last year. A favorite memory and a favorite post.

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9. Home At Last – The Move and a Few Kitchen Photos – The post I wrote after we finally moved into our new house. I love my kitchen.

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8. Seven of My Favorite Things About Edel – A quick takes post with a few of the highlights of my trip to the Edel Gathering with Super Friend this summer.

7. The Kindergarten Birthday Party Dilemma – It was kind of fun for me to go back and reread this one, since I didn’t really remember deliberating about this issue as much as I did. Of course it all came rushing back when I read the post. The birthday party turned out to be just fine. This year Miss has asked to have her birthday party in Iowa with her cousins again, like we used to do for her, so that’s an easy choice this time.

6. Thoughts on Pre-ultrasound Worry and a Gender Reveal – Everyone always wants to read the gender reveal posts :)

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5. Teaching Girls to Respect Themselves is Not Shaming Them – This one is actually another of my favorite posts from the year, on a topic I feel very strongly about.

4. An Adventure in Chicago – I’m kind of surprised that this one was so popular. We had a fantastic trip, but this post was mostly just for myself to commemorate it and for my family to see some fun photos of our adventures. It’s not one I would expect many others to be interested in. But, cool.

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3. Ditching the Cover Up at the Pool – Another post near to my heart, and pretty difficult to post because it includes a photo of me in my bathing suit.

2. A Little Secret… – The post announcing this pregnancy, including my thoughts about how this one feels different, after struggling to get pregnant, after loss, after conversion.

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1. On Abortion – I Used to Look Away Too – It’s hard for me to think about, and to write about, the pro-choice attitudes I used to have. The shame and embarrassment resulting from my previous way of thinking about the issue leads me to cringe a little bit that this post was read so much. But I am also very grateful for all the clicks it got, for the same reason.

So, those are the top ten of the year according to what others liked, or at least clicked, the most. Some of my favorites are in there too, especially #10, #6, #5, #2, and #1, but a few of the others that I liked the best didn’t make the cut, like On Becoming a Runner. Again. Thoughts on Community From an Introvert, “Evangelize” is Not a Four-Letter WordMy Kids Went to Vacation Bible School and It Made Me Cry, and On Humility (or Lack Thereof).

I guess those are my top 10.

What was your favorite?

Thoughts on Pre-ultrasound Worry, and a Gender Reveal

When I first found out I was pregnant with this baby, I was, of course ecstatic, but I was also nervous. Having lost two babies between my girls and this baby, I was somewhat worried from the very start.

But I also decided very early on, that I did not want to experience the miracle of this pregnancy in a constant state of fear. I knew that I wanted to feel joy and wonder at the life of this little one, even if my pregnancy was again short lived and I didn’t get to see my baby on this earth.

With a few exceptions, my husband and I did not tell people that I was pregnant until I got through the first trimester, but I also did not try to hide it at all. Since I had lost so much weight right before getting pregnant, and I started showing very early, I knew that most people had figured it out. Some people asked me, and I enjoyed admitting it. We told our girls shortly after the very first ultrasound showed that baby was looking good.

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I wanted to celebrate however much time we would get with this baby.

But I’m almost 40. I’ve lost two babies.  There has still been worry. The four-week wait time between OB appointments when I’d get to hear that little heart beat have seemed interminable.

I have tried to give it all to God. Having faith has helped a great deal to keep my anxiety at bay, and whenever I would start to feel afraid, I would return to my go to: “Jesus, I trust in You.” Never fails.

And getting to the point of being able to feel the baby moving has helped a ton too.

Yesterday, we had the Big Ultrasound. Everyone, of course, asked if we were going to find out the baby’s gender and expressed excitement over finding out whether we are having a boy or a girl. And every time the subject would come up, I would think to myself, “But we have to see other important stuff first. Gender is great, but I need to know our baby is healthy.”

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Finding out the gender was the side show for me this time.

But not for the baby! Literally, the very first clear image that came up when the tech placed the ultrasound thingy on my belly was a very obvious shot in which the baby was announcing that he is all BOY.

My husband called out right away, “It’s a boy!” And I nearly burst into tears. I kind of knew it was a boy, because this pregnancy has been different in many ways from my pregnancies with my girls. But to have it confirmed, in such a fun way, was an amazing moment. I will never forget it.

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(On the way home, we stopped and got a few onesies as our way to reveal the gender to the girls)

And happily, the rest of the ultrasound (during which I felt like I was often holding my breath) looked wonderful too. Our little guy looks healthy and strong, and I breathed a big sigh of relief and sent up many prayers of thanksgiving when it was all done.

A boy. I’m absolutely thrilled… and slightly terrified. It’s a whole new world.

The girls are very excited to be having a baby brother. Miss has been praying for a baby brother for many months, and she is certain this is a direct answer to her prayers.

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The two older girls began working on “baby books” for their brother right away, including drawings of our family with him in utero, drawings of him being born, and even drawings of him and his wife and three kids when he grows up (pictures of Lass’s drawings in that order):

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They’ve got things all planned out for him it seems.

I’m getting used to saying things like “My son” and “Your brother.” It’s kind of surreal, and absolutely wonderful.

We’re having a boy!!

Baby Catholic Answers All the Things, Volume 10 – The Real Presence

Very early in my process of conversion to Catholicism, I wrote a post about a sort of, epiphany, if you will, that I had in coming to understand the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. In the post, I described what happened when I was in my first meeting of my first ever Bible study, and we were watching a video with Edward Sri in it, and suddenly something about the Eucharist really being the body of Jesus just made sense. I had already believed in the Real Presence, but in that moment I gained a new understanding of it. I felt compelled to share my revelation in the group, much to my chagrin, since I made a complete idiot of myself in doing so.

Anyway, you can read all about my first attempt trying to explain the Catholic belief about transubstantiation and the Real Presence in the Eucharist here if you want to.

Today, I’m going to try to do a little bit of a better job than I did then, because I know that the Catholic doctrine that, during the consecration at Mass, the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus and are not just symbolic of it, is a hard one to believe for lots of people who aren’t Catholic. So, today’s Baby Catholic question is this:

Why do Catholics believe that the bread and wine contain the Real Presence of Jesus, rather than just symbolizing Him?

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Surprisingly, coming to believe that the bread and wine offered at communion actually become the body and blood of Jesus during the consecration by the priest at Mass was one of the easier things for me to accept in my conversion. Perhaps this is because I read the book “Rome Sweet Home,” in which Scott Hahn, once a very anti-Catholic Presbyterian minister, describes his discovery of the Real Presence and quotes several sources to support it. Or perhaps it’s because, after a few months of attending Mass regularly, I began to have the experience of intense longing to receive Communion, which suggested to me that it was much more than just a wafer and a sip of wine.

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Probably both of those things contributed to my fairly easy acceptance that Jesus was truly present in the Eucharist. Honestly, once I got past my initial doubting of all things religious and was able to accept that there is a God and that Jesus is His Son, transubstantiation wan’t too hard for me. It’s all a matter of having faith.

The Catechism of the Cathoic Church says this about the Eucharist:

In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist “the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ, and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.” (CCC 1374, the quote within the quote comes from the Council of Trent)

And:

It is by the conversion of the bread and wine into Christ’s body and blood that Christ becomes present in this sacrament. The Church fathers strongly affirmed the faith of the Church in the efficacy of the Word of Christ and the action of the Holy Spirit to bring about this conversion (CCC 1375)

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We can also see that the early Church fathers believed in the Real Presence. St. Ignatius was the third bishop of Antioch, succeeding St. Evodius, who was the direct successor of St. Peter. He wrote in his letter to the Romans (c. 80-110 A.D.):

I have no taste for the food that perishes, nor for the pleasures of this life. I want the Bread of God, which is the Flesh of Christ, who was the seed of David; and for drink I desire His Blood, which is love that cannot be destroyed.

But where does this idea come from in the first place, that Jesus is really present in the Eucharist?

The Bible, of course.

While they were eating, he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.” (Mark 14: 22-24)

The gospel of Luke says almost the exact same thing (Luke 22:19-20), and these are also the words that the priest says to consecrate the bread and wine during the Mass. It comes straight from the Bible. Jesus does not say, “Take this bread as a symbol of my body.” He does not say, “This is like my body.”

This is my body.

Further, in the gospel according to John:

Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:53-58)

Jesus was not telling us to symbolically take Him in, as in welcoming His Spirit into our hearts or something, because the verb used here for “eat” is more like the word “gnaw” rather than “consume.”

“My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.”

He gave it to us on Calvary, and continues to give it to us every time the Mass is celebrated.

In addition to the Biblical basis of the Real Presence, I can attest to my own experience of receiving Jesus during communion and being with Him in Adoration. It’s difficult to explain, but I can feel that He is there. When I receive Communion, I can feel myself being filled by the most incredible sensation and presence. It’s not just eating a cracker.

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As I’m typing this, I can’t help but think that this is sounding hokey. Corny. Crazy, maybe. To someone who hasn’t experienced it, it probably does sound that way.

Someone who does not believe might attribute my experience to some sort of placebo affect. As in – I believe Jesus is present in the Eucharist, therefore I feel something when I receive Him. I probably would have explained it that way before I experienced it myself. But that’s not a sufficient explanation. I felt a strong pull to receive communion before I believed in the Real Presence. Before I even really knew what that meant. That’s the first and most basic reason that I became Catholic.

Because when you realize that you are in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and that you can receive Him during Communion, why in the world wouldn’t you want that?

The Eucharist, the Real Presence, is Jesus’ incredible gift to us.

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.

Indeed!

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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.

7.

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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