I was whining the other day–bemoaning all our feckless Church leaders actually–and it occurred to me that I should just spend 5 minutes in gratitude, for there are a lot of things to be thankful for.
So today, I’m highlighting some awesome stuff.
Awesome Stuff You Might Consider
My Heart Lies South: The Story of My Mexican Marriage by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino. I know I mentioned it before, but this autobiography was downright hilarious. I laughed out loud as De Trevino chronicled her real-life adventure of marrying a Mexican in the 1930s. Of course her husband came from a large, traditional Catholic family complete with strong opinions and stronger emotions. I must say, she never had a dull day in her life.
I am thankful for Chickens. The other day, during the Communist Lockdown, we went and visited some family in a different state. They have baby chicks, and not only are baby chicks cute, but they are practical too. We might have to look into owning some ourselves.
Apparently Tractors are pleasant and enjoyable too. Who doesn’t love driving around a 1978 John Deere 4040 through a mud hole while eating a cookie?
Or how about watching children play? They can be very creative and entertaining. Lately our children have been playing a game called, “Anti-Social Distancing.” This a game wherein everyone marches six feet apart with one person acting as Governor Evers. Governor Evers wears a face mask and carries a big stick. He puts people in jail who try to break his unconstitutional mandates.
This guy’s hat is awesome. He’s my brother-in-law.
Dr. Marshall’s short video on Post-Covid19 Predictions is spot on and awesome. My husband and I heartily agree with every point of his, especially Number 9.
Need another can’t-put-it-down-book? Read Pierced By a Sword by Bud Macfarlane Jr. It caught my attention because Michael O’Brien wrote the forward. I am almost finished and really enjoying it.
And finally, I am thankful that The Eldest still wants to match somebody.She picked out my outfit!
Look, I’ve got 7 children, and I get asked from time-to-time, “Oh, my, how do you survive that?” I am usually assaulted with this question while buying groceries or purchasing strong coffee or standing in line at the DMV or getting my haircut. You know, the usual places, and my answer varies according to the asker and the situation. For posterity, I’ll offer a few of my varied responses below.
Question: Are all those children yours?!
Question: Haven’t you figured out how that happens yet? (Wink, wink.)
Answer: Yes, and it’s enjoyable. (Wink!)
Exclamation: Wow! Your hands are full.
Response: Yes, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Question: Seriously, how do you survive that?
Answer: That’s why I’m here buying strong coffee.
But really, that last answer isn’t the full truth. We survive–and I flatter myself it’s more like “thrive”–because we pray a family rosary every. single. day. Most of the time we pray it in the evening, after supper chores, but sometimes it has to be in the van, if we’re busy.
Our family rosary, however, is the most non-contemplative rosary that I pray. I mean, I have 7 children and most of them can hardly sit still, let alone kneel. And we moved to kneeling awhile back.
Actually, kneeling is more helpful because then no one needs to be touching another person, whereas on the couch, someone is always poking or punching their neighbor. Lest you be deceived, however, kneeling doesn’t solve all problems. You’d be surprised at how one brother can sock another brother as quick as lightening and look as innocent as a dove.
And those are just the brothers. There’s also the little girls. While the 6-year-old does kneel, she has a giggling problem. Everything is just so funny and entertaining! Which is true, because the 3-year-old is always sneaking out of her spot and gathering things–tissues, dolls, random hair binders left on the floor… Then she distributes them, which provokes the 1-year-old to follow suit. Not kidding. It’s a regular circus at times. In fact, here’s a picture from last night:
You’ll notice in the above photo that all the girls are sporting lovely hair clips. That’s because “The Baby” wandered around during the rosary and adorned everyone’s hair. Was this distracting? Yes. But someone forgot to shut the bathroom door, wherein all hair clips are located, and she meandered over there and came back with a skirt full.
Now, my husband had a choice at this point. He could have stopped all rosary-praying and collected all hair pieces amidst loud protesting cries, or he could allow the rosary to continue with only occasional giggles from the girls.
And giggling won. Last night anyway. And the following were my meditations during this fiasco:
1st mystery: Spare us, O Lord
2nd mystery: Graciously hear us, O Lord
3rd mystery: Lord, have mercy on us
4th mystery: Lead me not into temptation
5th mystery: Deliver me from evil, O Lord
You might be wondering if it’s worth it?
I mean, “praying” the rosary every night? Yes. Yes, it is. It’s the most beautiful thing we do together as a family. And while we’re working on maintaining prayerful postures and and meaningful meditations, our heavenly Mother is interceding for our souls.
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!
P.S. I know I said I probably wouldn’t be writing a post for a few weeks, due to the move, but I guess this one just spilled out and wrote itself. Actually, I didn’t feel like packing… But now, for real, I probably won’t write another post for a few weeks.
Here are a few photos from Christmas morning. Enjoy!
For those of you who might like ideas for your own children. Here’s what we gave each child:
One wrapped present, which was a clothing item and a book
One Christmas stocking, which contained a “fun” toy, new socks, and candy
And yes, we still adhere to our “One In, One Out Rule.” In other words, if a doll comes in, a doll goes out. This year, prior to Christmas, the girls had already given away a doll to charity. If this seems confusing, see my post on Toys HERE.
Today, December 17th, begins the greater days of Advent, as we solemnly walk towards Christmas Day. In the Divine Office one can find and pray the beautiful “O Antiphons.” Most of us are familiar with these verses, as they make up the lyrics for the hymn O Come, O Come Emmanuel.
December 17th is:
O Wisdom, Which camest out of the mouth of the Most High reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: come and teach us the way of prudence.
And lastly, I want to encourage you to go to Confession. Below you’ll find an old post of mine from a year and a half ago. It still tears at my heart when I read it.
We All Need Confession
I had one of those terrible moments the other night. You know, the ones where you crush the spirit of your child and know it. It’s awful.
I had just sat down with my husband to pray Night Prayer after a long, harrowing day. I was exhausted from the previous night’s insomnia, stressed about our house not selling, and anxious about the up-coming school year. All I wanted to do was pray (i.e. whine about my problems to Jesus) without interruptions from my children.
Alas, this was not meant to be. We hadn’t even made it through the opening prayer and up bounces one boy yelling, “Mom, he wrecked my lego set!” And then 30 seconds later, the 5-year-old runs up crying, “Mom, she pushed me right here. It really hurts. I don’t understand why she has to do that. I was just trying to brush her hair…”
Now, I made it through these interruptions without losing it, but barely. Then up walks my eldest and asks with a merry twinkle in her eye, “Mom and Dad? Will you come downstairs? We have a surprise for you!” I turned toward her, looked her straight in the eye, and firmly said, “No.” She was immediately taken aback. She slowly turned around, her shoulders slumped, and I could hear a sigh of true disappointment. I had really hurt her. She was so excited to show us something, and I had resolutely pushed her aside.
I had a choice in that moment. I could persevere in my obstinate insistence on my will to avoid the children, or I could humble myself before Jesus, admit my wrong behavior, and agree to go see the “surprise.” I could feel my husband silently pleading with me with his eyes, and so I called after her, “Wait! We’ll come down after prayer to see your surprise.”
It was the right choice, even though I had to sacrifice my ideal of a quiet night. The children had made up a little play for us, and it was beautiful. They had made a special spot for us to sit and commenced singing and dancing in costume. And I could have missed it all! I wouldn’t trade those fifteen minutes for anything.
And now, there’s one thing left for me to do. Go to Confession. We all need to go regularly, and so this is my friendly reminder to all of you too:
Awhile ago I was asked if I might share what our children do around the house? You bet.
Children & Chores
It’s just downright hard raising kids, no?
The other day I was delegating extra chores to the children, and it was entertaining to observe their reactions. One rolled her eyes. One flung himself on a chair and cried, “Oh, why?!” Another slid towards the door and ducked out, hoping he wasn’t seen, while The Eldest sermonized on the injustice of it all.
I did have one child quietly and immediately go grab the broom. (What an angel.)
I had the thought that this would be a lot easier if I could just hire a nanny. Except that I’d probably need 5 nannies to get all this work done.
Yeah, like 5 nannies, a cleaning lady, a cook, and a mechanic. That’s what I’d need to run this circus parade.
Just What In the World Do Your Children Do Anyway?
Now, before I begin, I must remind everyone that just because my children do these particular tasks, doesn’t necessarily mean that yours will need to too. All families are different and have different needs after all.
So without further ado, here we go.
The Eldest (12 yrs. old)
1. Makes breakfast for everyone Monday through Friday.
2. Takes out all trash, whenever needed, because she once complained about it.
3. Wipes table at lunch.
4. Dries dishes at supper.
5. On Saturdays, cleans main floor girl bathroom, hallway, homeschool room, and front door area.*
Twin #1 (10 yrs. old)
1. Washes dishes at lunch.
2. Washes dishes at supper.
3. On Saturdays, cleans basement living room, laundry room, and stairway.
Twin #3 (10 yrs. old)
1. Dries dishes at lunch.
2. Sweeps floor at supper.
3. On Saturdays, cleans basement boy bathroom (gross, just gross) and upstairs living room.
Child #4 (8 yrs. old)
1. Sets table at breakfast
2. Sweeps floor at lunch.
3. Vacuums garage rug after supper. (Ha!)
4. On Saturdays, cleans boy bedroom and garage.
Child #5 (6 yrs. old)
1. Sets table at breakfast.
2. Wipes table at lunch.
3. Carries cloth napkins to laundry after supper.
4. On Saturdays, cleans baby room and girl bedroom.
Child #6 (3 yrs. old)
1. She does nothing though.
2. Just nothing.
3. What a slacker.
The Toddler (1 yr. old)
1. Just wrecks stuff.
2. Like all the time.
3. At least she’s happy!
There are other things they help out with too. For example, this summer the twins had to water all 200 bushes and trees twice a week. This took them about 3 hours a shot.
And of course all the children help weed and care for the garden and all that.
Chores as a Consequence For Bad Behavior?
We are firm believers in administering chores as consequences. In fact, I’m really into using consequences to my advantage and to the benefit of the house.
For example, if Twin #1 punches his brother, I just pause a minute and look around. Hmmm…what needs to get done around here? “Twin #1, you will now need to wash all the living room windows.”
“Now you’ll need to wash the dining room windows too.”
I know allowances work for some families, and I’ve even heard of families incorporating math with the administration of them, which I think is admirable, but just the thought of that overwhelms me. In fact, I don’t carry a lot of cash around, and really, I don’t want the hassle of paying the children to do things. Call me lazy. Or just plain busy.
That said, I do bribe them from time-to-time with odd jobs. For example, the other day I wanted the junk drawer organized. I didn’t want to do it. I offered Child #5 a handful of gummy bears, if she’d do it? Gladly.
Then, I wanted the van washed. “Boys, want to earn $3?”
And then sometimes they get creative and accost me with a proposition.
“Hey, Mom, would you like the van vacuumed too?”
“We’ll do it for $2.”
Last Question on Money
From time-to-time the children do get money from us and from relatives on birthdays or whatever. So, then, what do the children do with their money?
We require them immediately to put half of whatever they’ve received into their piggy banks, which eventually gets deposited into their savings accounts.
The other half they may do with as they please. Usually they just stuff it all in their piggy banks anyway.
Any other questions? Be sure to ask!
*These Saturday cleanings are supposed to be very thorough. Each child has a check list of things that they must do to each room. Now, there are slackers among the ranks, and we do have to help those slackers to remember to actually DO their cleaning…
Our fourth child, Johnny, just celebrated his First Holy Communion this last Sunday. He was very happy and proud.
This was the first time we’ve had one of our children receive First Holy Communion at a Traditional Latin Mass, and it was simple and beautiful.
The two first communicants knelt at the altar rail while Father lifted the host and said, “Corpus Domini Nostri Iesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam. Amen.” This means, “May the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve your soul unto life everlasting. Amen.” Then they received Him on the tongue and were forever changed.
I’m often quite distracted at Mass attending to the children or foolishly forgetting what I’m doing. But that day, after I received Jesus and was kneeling in the pew, I was so thankful. I felt the love of Jesus surrounding our family. As the chant schola moved into the Communion Antiphon, my heart soared. He is so good to us!
Lately it’s been a little difficult to be thankful, as I seem to be falling into this trap again, and it only seems to rain around here. My yard is a muddy mess! Seriously, we can’t get even plant the grass, because it just rains and rains.
But my tulips are beautiful.
And my children are too.
If you’ve been experiencing some hard times, you might want to listen to Sterling Jaquith’s brief 20 minute podcast, “Hardship & Discomfort.” It’s part three of her “Less Stressful Summer Series.” Click HERE for it and scroll down a bit. It was just what I needed the other day.