Sunday, April 21, 2019

Easter Sunday 2019

He is risen! He is risen, indeed!

Opening Easter gifts

I didn't expect any gifts for us parents, so I was particularly touched to learn that three of our children had planned weeks in advance and put time and effort into three beautiful pieces of Easter art for our Easter baskets!

The three crosses with mean soldiers (see the eyebrows)

The Holy Family

A cap gun!

A new toddler backpack with a leash for our upcoming airplane travel!

Bubbles for the summer time

Fancy pens

While I do require my children to write thank you notes to all other gift-givers, I don't require them to write them to their own parents living in their own home, so it was touching and also quite cute that two of them wrote us thank you letters in their best cursive on fancy stationery before we even sat down to eat.

We enjoyed an Easter breakfast, although I had to eat my hard boiled Pysanky eggs while six-year-old Joseph wept. He did not think anyone should be eating such beautifully decorated eggs. I explained that, "We aren't just going to throw away God's good food," to which he retorted while crying and stomping his foot for emphasis, "So you'll just throw away God's good beauty instead!"

For Easter, I gave my husband a copy of "The Sermons of the Ven. Cure of Ars, Sermons for All Sundays and Feast Days of the Year," having read an idea on another blog: The husband can then read aloud to the assembled family St. John Vianney's homily for that exact feast day being celebrated. We started that very Easter breakfast!

We went to the 12:30 Mass as a family, and Mary sang in the girls' Latin choir: I heard tell that the choir director began crying while directing the girls because they sounded so beautiful. Afterward, we dashed for a potluck party to which we'd been invited.

Children's ages from left to right: 10, 8, 6, 3, 12, 1

I tried my best to assemble somewhat complementary, springy Easter outfits. I felt badly for Joseph because I thought I was ordering boys' shirts in sizes 4 and 6, but I ordered two in size 4, so Joseph didn't have his intended new shirt with coordinating tie to wear.

do think David's wee bow tie stole the show! Although it was downright rotten that I put him in his first hard-soled shoes (instead of Robeez) for the Easter egg hunt! He was walking around gingerly and awkwardly so that he could hardly pick up any eggs.

We drove to the potluck with about ten families and started off with a bountiful Easter egg hunt for about 40 children. The weather at 70 degrees could not have been more perfect. All was delightful . . .

. . . until seconds after this last photo below was taken when Joseph (seen walking down the slope toward the right) plunged headlong into the creek!

He was completely immersed, his hair full of mud, his basket overturned and eggs bobbing pathetically in the cloudy water, the candies inside ruined. For a six-year-old, this was Tragedy.

A bright spot for me as a parent, though, was that one particular sibling walked over with her brother still weeping hot tears and quietly, without words, poured half of her basket full of candy eggs into his basket. As parents, we work so agonizingly hard on trying to build relationships among the siblings (which is not easy: it is hard, every single day) and those little moments mean something!

Chris walked Joseph back to the hosts' house to give him a warm shower and borrow some clothes for him, after which all was well.

The rest of the event went swimmingly . . . but not swimmingly in any more creeks!

I won't close this memory of Easter 2019 without noting the bittersweet enjoyment of our familial and highest holy day knowing that the Muslims perpetrated a coordinated bombing at at least six locations against our Sri Lankan Catholic brethren (a 6% religious minority in that country) on their very Easter morning. More than 200 died and at least 450 were wounded (and "wounded" from massive terrorist bombing means something graphic and lifelong). We Americans are so blessed and complacent that we celebrate our Mass without fear and go to our public parks to celebrate boldly. I feel sorrowful, indeed, for what those Sri Lankan Catholic families are suffering tonight.

Holy Saturday 2019

On the morning of Holy Saturday, Chris and I "divided to conquer." I went to church with three children where I led the youth in making 1,800 personalized Easter cards to go with the meals our parish assembled for the homeless. My guidance is so small, I feel like they would all do fine without me!

John volunteered in the kitchen assembling the meals.

Back at home, Chris and three kids made deviled eggs for our Easter potluck.

I came home, assembled our symbolic Easter foods, and Chris went to church with four of the kids for the Blessing of Easter baskets, which is something the children always enjoy. They asked why almost everyone in attendance was elderly? Where were all the children?

With everyone reunited, we changed our crown of thorns into a crown of gemstones to represent Jesus in heaven.

Plus we stuffed plastic eggs with candy for Sunday's egg hunt!

It was time to cook our fairly simple but fancier-than-normal meal, even though our eldest would miss it since he had to be at church 3.5 hours ahead of time for a pizza-and-wings party and an altar server training.

Meal plan
  • Ham
  • Sweet potato casserole
  • Pasta
  • Green beans with almonds
  • Dinner rolls

Chris and oldest three went to Easter Triduum vigil Mass followed by a sweet reception and arrived home at nearly one in the morning.

How did Lent go? Various family members made various, individual sacrifices, and some were more successful than others. Regretfully, I do not feel that my Lent was very fruitful, honestly, but in one area of a whole-family sacrifice I saw great fruits: We gave up all secular (non-religious) television and movies, including on Sundays. The children became very accustomed to watching only saint or holy shows, down to the three-year-old. He would ask me, "Can I watch a saint show?" We also watched less TV, although I fully reconized that I'm in a good stage to do that (not pregnant, no newborn, not chronically ill). We would regularly go days and days without anyone turning on the television, and the more I cheerfully said 'no,' the more they stopped badgering, then stopped asking altogether, and they really started doing more activities, such as board games, card games, artwork, and (even more) reading. I also engaged my children more because to say 'no' to the little crew watching TV while I prepared dinner usually meant my bringing them into the kitchen and letting them cook with me.

At the end of Lent, I queried the older set of children (not needing the opinions of the children six and under :) and they experssed that they have actually enjoyed the peace of only shows on holy subjects. It has been so good not to binge watch silly, secular cartoons, even if supposedly non-offensive to our faith.

May I offer a collection of 74-so-far movie and television reviews written by me and a couple of other ladies who are trying hard to embrace an orthodox and traditional Catholic viewer's perspective? See Movie Reviews from a Traditional Catholic Perspective on my page Worthwhile Watching.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Good Friday 2019

I read a meditation on another homeschool mother's blog about how to treat Good Friday, a way that children (and adults alike) can understand: it was helpful to me.

On Good Friday, I can imagine that I have a loved one who is dying. My loved one is in his final agony. How would I behave? I would do what was necessary in my life, but not relish it. I would eat, but simply and without delight. I would take care of my children, clean up the house, change diapers, but I would be distracted with thoughts of my loved one's suffering and I would be fairly quiet. If I were able, I would call my loved one to say my goodbyes and offer words of comfort. This is similar to praying throughout the day and meditating in one's own mind about Jesus on the cross.

I explained this to our children over breakfast and then we went about a fairly quiet morning of doing some necessary chores. We did our final meditation, and let me say that all of our children over a wide age range greatly enjoyed this all of Lent. The meditations are orthodox and traditional Ignatian teachings.

We also made snacks to take to Church to help sustain the people who might be there for about five hours from the start of Stations of the Cross to the end of the Passion of Our Lord.

Chris took oldest three to Stations, Confession, and Passion, braving a Severe Weather Alert for heavy rain, lightening, and possible tornados that were supposed to hit right in the two to three o'clock hours.

John serving Stations

Photo taken from Liturgy Guy website,
my son in the close background

I stayed home with youngest three and did Resurrection Eggs with them before their nap times. Note that Resurrection Eggs purchased online are made by Protestants, so the theology is problematic in two places of note (the Eucharist and Salvation) so the Catholic parent will want to rephrase the read-alouds.

Lastly, in a cute moment remniscent of our aim to join in Jesus' suffering on this Good Friday . . . Three-year-old Thomas had pushed one-year-old David down on the kitchen floor, landing his head. So, while I was nursing the wailing baby, I told Thomas to stand in time out. David then ceased crying, looked up, and said in his toddler way, "Time out!" Then he slid off my lap, walked to the wall, and stood next to his brother in time out! Soon enough, big brother was hugging little brother and told him he was sorry. Melt Mama's heart!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Thursday's Week in Review

A Week in Review before the Holy Triduum begins . . .

1. Super Busy Weekend: Part I

The weekend of Palm Sunday was overly busy and Chris and I were so grateful to have each other to juggle and balance all our duties and events.

On Friday, we attended Mass as a family at 7:00 a.m., then John attended CCE, while I took the other kids to the grocery store, bakery, and cemetery. Chris took the kids (at their request) to pray at the abortion clinic (in the pouring rain) and, after their completing afternoon chores and music practice, Chris took the oldest three to 7:00 p.m. Tenebrae services, left John at the Fraternus lock-in, brought the girls home, and went back to retrieve John to sleep in his own bed.

Despite being up till nearly 11:00, the fellas wanted to be woken at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday to make breakfast sausage for 40 boys and get back to the lock-in bright and early.

John played sports with the guys for five hours before Chris took him to a birthday party. Meanwhile, I braved a deluge and flash flooding to take five kids to their last ice skating class and evaluations to see if they ranked up.

Flash flooding
It is so cute to watch the littler guys skate, especially three-year-old Thomas in his fireman helmet!

Without Chris' typical help to juggle the transition, I had the little boys take a car nap instead of going home, took everybody through drive-through for lunch, and delivered Mary to orchestra practice.

2. Super Busy Weekend: Part II

Come Sunday, Mary had choir practice before the Palm Sunday Mass which lasted three hours. It was beautiful but certainly took rigorous work for all the parents. I was so impressed that even more people than normal came to our Latin Mass, knowing how long it would be, when they could have attended the Novus Ordo: about 350 souls! I watched and all those many children--in the pews, in their parents' arms, in strollers--were not eating a bite of food in the church, or playing games, or reading books, and certainly nobody had electronics out. Good job, parents!

David sleeping through a Very Long Mass

The photos of the Mass are all courtesy of Marcus Kuncuro:

After Mass, John and Joseph joined in the first occurrence of a sports-team that is going to meet once monthly after Mass. The boys always play games, but this is going to have teams, jerseys, rules, and points. The fun was multiplied when one of the priests showed up to do his own exercise and decided to join the boys for basketball. All the parents and siblings were cheering and a lot of us brought brown bag lunches. It was super!

3. Notre Dame

On Monday of Holy Week, the 850-year-old Notre Dame cathedral in Paris burned. This is grievously sad for practicing Catholics and those of us who have been there in person are touched on a personal level. We thank God that the Eucharist (body, blood, soul, and divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ), holy relics (such as Jesus' crown of thorns) and saints' relics, as well as much artwork, was saved by a human chain of heroic firefighters.

We told our children the next morning and there were tearful eyes among us.

4. Introducing Peter

Apparently I have no bird afficianados reading my blog, or you would have been laughing and emailing me to tell me that Heidi is a male zebra finch. Zebra finches are sexually dimorphic, with strongly different color patterns.

Male on the left, female on the right (source)

Heidi's bright red cheeks were a "tell" to anyone who knew anything, which was obviously neither me nor any of the PetSmart staff. Further, Heidi sings and sings, while Clara never found her voice: it has been too long since I took a zoology class to remember that most birds who sing are males--decidedly true of zebra finches.

So, our mystery is solved: Heidi is a male, Clara is a female, and these are real baby bird eggs. Mary has renamed the male bird "Peter," who is the goatherd in the novel Heidi.

And now we wait to see if the birds will successfully hatch!

Clara and Peter nesting

5. School Break

I took off teaching school for Holy Week (to prepare for Easter) and Easter Triduum (to actually celebrate Easter).

This is now the calendar entry I actually enter into Google Calendar a year ahead of time for every Holy Week: "GOAL: Take off Holy Week: It is way too stressful to keep schooling and achieve anything holy or domestic."

Only the middle schooler had a full load of independent work for his hybrid program (because he won't be able to do it next week) and all kids had music practice (the oldest two in the final two weeks of preparing 10 and 15 songs, respectively, for the big Guild event). He also got a new lawnmowing client!

6. Annual Standardized Testing

We scheduled our Annual Standardized Testing for Spy Wednesday. I was able to leave the 1- and 3-year-olds with Chris at home, so I sat for almost four hours in a quiet room while my children were being tested and I got to read nearly 100 pages of my book! Compared to the pitiful three to five pages per day I now get to read, this was a 'feast'!

I always say that the standardized testing is to make sure Mommy is teaching them right, so it's really me being tested, not them.

Results: Mommy is doing fine. Carry on!

7. Maundy Thursday

Thursday was busy-busy-busy with preparations, including dying the Easter eggs. It was fascinating to watch that I really was not needed there, the older children are growing in leadership so well. 

John served the Thursday night liturgy while Chris and the girls attended. I kept the wee ones home, read the Bible story about the Last Supper to them, and tucked them in. The three-year-old was so interested that he sat up in bed, looking at the Bible for twenty minutes.