Catholic All Year | Homemaking, Homeschooling, & Catholic Living
Hi. I'm Kendra. I am a catholic wife and mother of seven. I also double in teaching, reading, writing, cooking, baking, homeschooling and leading a catholic life. This blog is a place for me to share how we live.
It's been a very busy week and is going to be an even busier weekend, but I wanted to pop in here to share what turned out to be some thoughts that really resonated with some of you already, and this week's very excellent Catholic Stuff giveaway.
From a social media post . . .
Mothers of difficult toddlers, rejoice. There is hope. This guy is my oldest, and he was SO HARD. He would make himself throw up if he didn’t like what I made for dinner and thought he could get a popsicle instead. He dropped a full glass of orange juice on the floor of an airport restaurant, splattering everyone around us, because he didn’t like that it felt cold in his hands. He didn’t like taking naps so he did things like eating board books and shoving all of his clothing out of the second story window instead. He was frustrated with his siblings and his responsibilities. He always had a reason and an answer for everything. He always had a better idea for how or if he should do something. He was distracted all the time, to the point of really not being able to follow instructions. It’s funny to look back on, but it was HARD.
We have spent almost sixteen years losing our tempers and wringing our hands, but also loving him and being consistent and spending time and explaining and following through. He’s had his dad and his grandfathers and a great scout master and a great spiritual director. And you guys, today this young man is such a joy. He’s confident and friendly and responsible. He is sweet to his little sisters and helps old men find things at Home Depot. I like him. I trust him. I enjoy his company. We spent today, just the two of us, at an amusement park. I don’t know what the future will bring, of course, and I’m not saying we are done parenting him. But I can say today that the challenge and the frustration and the effort feels 100% worth it, and gives me hope for my other stinkers.
That's what I wrote last Monday, after Jack and I got home from our outing, and it was amazing to see how it resonated with parents who are in the trenches of parenting a stinker. Wondering if it's your fault, wondering if your parenting methods and failures are destroying his little spirit, wondering if it ever ends, wondering how it could be worth it.
I have never claimed to be a parenting expert, but I really hope my perspective from almost sixteen years in CAN give you hope. It gives me hope, as I am very much still in the thick of things with babies and toddlers as well as teenagers!
To answer some questions some folks had . . .
Jack started spiritual direction in eighth grade. We use mentoring and leadership development programs sponsored by Opus Dei. We've found them to be a really excellent resource for spiritual direction and retreats for teenagers and adults. I highly recommend them.
We have found that obedience in small children in small things becomes the ability to make good decisions for oneself as an older child. Trust gained as a young kid who can do as he's told, means being allowed independence as an older child and teenager.
There was a assertion by a commenter, on a recent parenting post of mine, that to require obedience of children is dangerous and wrong and will result in damaged children and damaged relationships. All I can say is that in my experience, so far, it has resulted in manageable toddlers and small children, and in at least one confident, independent young adult. The jury's still out on the rest of them. 😉
But mostly, I'd say, DO NOT parent by fear. If the parenting method you're reading about tells you that studies and statistics say that your children will be horribly scarred by doing anything other than what this one guy says, just put it down and back away. Choose the parenting method that fits your family circumstances, and temperament, and the temperament of your children. Trust your gut, and don't listen to fearmongering. Know that even once you have a general method that's working for you, it will change in the details as your circumstances change. Believe in the resiliency your children. Know that you will make mistakes and that your family can survive them.
For me, it all boils down to three little things . . .
SACRIFICE for them.
I am confident that you can't go to far wrong with this parenting thing if you love your children with a human and an eternal love, and that they know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they are loved. My stinkers know that they are stinkers, because I TELL them. But I also tell them that I love them so much anyway, no matter what.
I also think it's important to parent them in such a way that I can enjoy being in their company. I'm pretty sure my kids could tell if I didn't like being around them.
And finally, we make sure our kids know and understand them sacrifices we make for them. So that they can be grateful, yes, but even more importantly, so they can know that they are worthy of being sacrificed for.
Jack is being confirmed today. I'd be grateful for your prayers for him, and for our family. You and your intentions will be in our prayers as well.
And now . . .
I'm really excited to introduce you today to two amazing Catholic artisans and small business owners.
The first is Shannon Wendt of Chews Life. You've probably heard of them already. I've had her chewy baby rosaries for many years, but she just keeps making them better and better.
The latest models come in beautiful colors with fun chewy crosses and miraculous medals.
She's also got beautiful gemstone rosary bracelets for moms, soft bracelets for kids, and stylishly unbreakable necklaces for moms who are in that *my baby breaks all my necklaces* phase. (Me right now.)
Happy Saturday folks, the winner of last week's giveaway is at the bottom!
If you are a fashionable celebrity who reads this blog, you're probably aware of last Monday's Met Gala. In case you're not a fashionable celebrity, the Met Gala is a yearly red carpet/costume party thing where famous people get dressed up by famous fashion designers, in over the top outfits based on the theme of a special exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This year's gala was especially noteworthy for Catholics as the theme was Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and The Catholic Imagination.
The exhibit features art, design, and even architecture on loan from the Vatican, and paired by the Met curator with notable works of fashion design. It sounds really amazing. If I didn't live very far away from New York City, I'd go see it.
I enjoyed this article on how the exhibit came to be, and especially this quote from the Catholic exhibit curator: “Beauty has often been a bridge between believers and unbelievers.” The Costume Institute Takes On Catholicism
But the exhibit at the museum always seems to get less press than the red carpet in front of it, and this year was no exception. I started hearing buzz about the theme a few weeks back, and I was immediately SUPER excited. I own and wear and love Annunciation Stained Glass Leggings, so I was pretty confident that I was going to enjoy the spectacle. I was a little disappointed when my invitation never arrived.
Anyway, it lived up to my expectations. I thought some of the dresses were beautiful and creative and I would TOTALLY wear them.
The Marys! The beading! I swoon. If we could put some cap sleeves on there I'd wear it every day. Or maybe Joan of Arc for every day, and Marys for Sunday?
Some, I appreciated the effort, but they just didn't QUITE work for me.
The sorrowful heart on this dress is WAY cool and I would totally rock it at next year's All Saint's Day Pageant. I also am totally there for her St. Lucy's eyes on a stick.
I'm just not getting them together, and with a winged halo. Apparently the hat on the right features a miniature nativity scene. A for effort!
Some were predictably tacky, and tackily predictable. Sigh.
Despite rumors to the contrary, that is definitely not a mitre lent to the celebrity by Archbishop Dolan. He was joking. All the Catholic imagery and imagination for the last two thousand years and all you can come up with is a sexy cardinal costume? It looks like she got it off the rack at the Halloween Store.
I'm disappointed. But I'm not mad.
Art is always going to be hit or miss. That's what this gala is, and always has been. It's a chance for fashion designers to take inspiration from a theme and go wild with it, and create clothing that wouldn't usually get to exist. Some art is going to be to my taste and some isn't. I'll even be so bold as to say some art will be good and some will be bad. But I want art to exist in the world, and, for the good art, I'm willing to suffer the bad to exist as well.
I am happy that Catholic art and history was recognized as it should be. Our art is the BEST ART. I'm glad to see it honored and appreciated by a new generation.
And cultural appropriation is not a term that should be applied to Catholic culture.IOur culture is for everyone. It's for every country and people. If you like it, please have some. That's how we roll.
This was one of the most interesting takes I read after the event. It's an opinion piece on the fascination with Catholic culture on display at the Met Gala, and why Catholics might want to take note, and embrace our own culture more loudly . . .
"Thus the only plausible approach for Catholicism is to offer itself, not as a chaplaincy within modern liberalism, but as a full alternative culture in its own right — one that reclaims the inheritance on display at the Met, glories in its own weirdness and supernaturalism, and spurns both accommodations and entangling alliances . . . "
I think it would be a mistake to assume that the attendees of the gala, even the sexy clergy types, were out to degrade and offend. I don't doubt they are looking for attention, as starlets are want to do. But the red carpet interviews, again and again, showcased a thoughtful interest in Catholic art and culture that went into the planning and wearing of this clothing.
I loved how many reminisced about their Catholic upbringing. I hope it brings some of them back to a practicing faith. But mostly, I just thought it was fun and cool and there were a lot of pretty dresses.
Comment #6: Amanda! Amanda, congratulations! Your profile is hooked up to an email address, so I've emailed you!
Stay tuned for next week when I'll have another great giveaway. If you are a Catholic artist, author, or small business owner who would like to be featured on Catholic Stuff Saturday, and offer a giveaway, email me at email@example.com.
I wish you a very happy feast of the Ascension on Sunday (or on Thursday, if it was on Thursday for you), and a very happy Mother's Day to all the mothers and daughters out there, especially mine.
When I did my reader survey, the one thing you guys asked for above all other things was that I give you some advance warning for feast days. The problem with that is that my personal liturgical living style is mostly getting a reminder on my phone at 9am, realizing that it's a feast day I like, and deciding I'll swing by Aldi to pick something up. #itshowiroll So I'm not making any promises that this is going to happen regularly or anything, but there are some great feasts this month, and I want to give you some notice. (All of this will, of course, be in my forthcoming book: the Catholic All Year Compendium! Coming out this fall, yay! You'll be able to plan ahead with impunity. If you can make it to the end, there's an exciting reveal down there. 😀)
MAY 9: First up, Wednesday May 9 is the feast of St. Louise de Marillac. This is noteworthy because it was on March 15th until two years ago. In our house, it's Lulu's nameday, so she gets to pick what we have for dinner, as part of our Three Special Days.
EVERY KID IS SPECIAL (THREE DAYS PER YEAR)I'm not aware of any traditional celebrations for her feast day, but I was reading through her last will and testament recently (like you do), and loved the fact that from her sickbed, Louise added a new bequest: that her only grandchild, Louise Renee (her five year old namesake), might invite the poor of her parish to an annual dinner and serve them herself as guests, using funds left to her in the will. Lulu is four, so maybe that for next year.
MAY 10 or 13: Next comes the Ascension, which is observed on its traditional Thursday date in some places in the world including the Vatican, and (newly back this year!) in England and Wales, and in the U.S. ecclesiastical provinces of Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Omaha, and Philadelphia. For the rest of us the observation is moved to Sunday May 13th (also Mother's Day).
MAY 20: The next Sunday is Pentecost Sunday, the end of the Easter season and the birthday of the Church! The Vigil of Pentecost is a recommended day of fasting and abstinence, as are the Spring Ember Days, which fall on the following Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Oh, and the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before Ascension Thursday are the Minor Rogations Days, and are traditionally observed as days of abstinence from meat. For more on all that see this post:
MAY 21: On my liturgical year wall calendar (which, by the way, I just marked down on Lulu with free shipping with SHIPIT2018 and on Etsy) the day after Pentecost is the feast of the Mexican Martyrs. And it IS. Usually we have some tacos and margaritas and Mexi-cokes, which are the very best cokes around, and celebrate Mexican culture on a day that's completely free of problematic anti-Catholic freemason ties.
Not on the calendar, because it wasn't a thing until March of 2018, is the NEWEST feast on the universal liturgical calendar: the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church.
I love this image, from the little Baltimore First Communion Catechism I'm using with first communicant number six this year. The ladder is the sacraments, it leans on the Church, and Mary helps us to climb each rung up to the Holy Trinity waiting for us in heaven!
It will be observed each year on the Monday following Pentecost, which, this year, is May 21st. Both feasts rank as memorials, and neither bumps the other. So we can celebrate either or both as we choose.
Pope Francis, through Card. Sarah and the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, expressed the wish that the celebration of this new feast day would help all of us grow in devotion to Jesus and Mary.
Having attentively considered how greatly the promotion of this devotion might encourage the growth of the maternal sense of the Church in the pastors, religious and faithful, as well as a growth of genuine Marian piety, Pope Francis has decreed that the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, should well inscribed in the Roman Calendar on the Monday after Pentecost and be now celebrated every year.This celebration will help us to remember that growth in the Christian life must be anchored to the Mystery of the Cross, to the oblation of Christ in the Eucharistic Banquet and to the Mother of the Redeemer,the Virgin who makes her offering to God.
The idea was to place the feast on the day after Pentecost, to highlight the Mary's role among the apostles present at the Descent of the Holy Spirit, and at the birth of the Church. Pretty cool.
Since it's all new, it's up to us to figure out a way to celebrate it. I'm thinking Mass, a Rosary, and a homey meal of traditional mom-type foods like meatloaf, and apple pie. And margaritas, because Mexican martyrs.
Oh, and Katie from Look to Him and be Radiant created a very cute printable craft for the day. Check that out here.
MAY 22: Next up is St. Rita, patroness of impossible causes, difficult marriages, and baseball. Hot Dogs, more margaRITAs, and game of baseball and/or a screening of the Rookie are our go tos for the day.
MAY 27: Then comes Trinity Sunday. I like to spend the day avoiding heresies about the Holy Trinity . . .
St. Patrick's Bad Analogies - YouTube
And for dinner, until I manage a turducken, I like to make three meat chili and cloverleaf rolls. These can be made from scratch, or with premade pizza dough.
MAY 30: The feast day of my adopted patroness, St. Joan of Arc! First order of business is to see if Zendaya will let me borrow her gown from the Met Gala. It is STUNNING! See more here.
Anyway, for the day, I MUST have a croque madame: a delicious grilled ham and cheese sandwich with a fried egg on top. Don't ask questions, just make one! It's completely delicious, and the name translates to "crispy lady." If you know me, you know I'm totally there for that.
MAY 31: Finally, on the last day of the Month of Mary, we celebrate the Visitation. As it's the day we remember Mary (who was herself expecting) traveling to meet her cousin Elizabeth and help her until baby St. John the Baptist was born. We like to recite the Magnificat, as it's the exclamation of Mary to Elizabeth at the Visitation. It's right there in the Bible! I use the day to make a few casserole-type dishes to bring to friends who are expecting or have new babies.
And let us all know if you've got any celebration ideas for the new feast of Mary, Mother of the Church. I did get to add it in the last round of edits, but I'll have one last crack at making changes after it gets formatted and before it goes to the printer in August!
The list also includes bees. So when my friend Micaela found a swarm of bees in her hedge, it was like a dream come true:
I just happened to have purchased a basic beekeeping starter kit, when we bought a house with two poolside cabanas that turned out to be full of bees. But, as it happens, bees don't necessary want to move into a hive when they already have a perfectly good cabana. So, I still had all the gear, ready to go.
I loaded up the kids the next morning, drove to her house and we cut the branches, and scooped the bees off the branch and into the box! It was AMAZING. They were all buzzing around us, but without honey or babies to protect, they are quite docile. And we even saw the queen bee go into the hive box.
See for yourself!
That Time We Caught a Swarm of Bees - YouTube
We got the box all closed up with the queen in there, and then gave them the rest of the day for the scouts to come back. After bee bedtime, I came back, loaded the box into my minivan and drove it home.
It's now situated in our new little orchard and we'll just wait and see if the bees feel like sticking around. Anyway, it was a really cool experience. I recommend it.
They seem to be settling in well.
Buzzing Bees - YouTube
Bees in slow motion: the thing you didn't know was missing from your life.
I'm working on a little project that is not a cookbook but is cookbook-related, and I have therefore been looking at my cookbooks, and researching other cookbooks. Cookbook, cookbook, cookbook.
Here's what I've got now:
I'd love to know what your go-to cookbooks are. I know I should have something by Pioneer Woman, I love her online recipes, but she has so many cookbooks, I don't know which to choose. Smitten Kitchen, and Brown-Eyed Baker are my other favorite cooking blogs, but I don't have any of them in book form. So . . . lay 'em on me.
The awesomest thing I have encountered so far in my cookbook research is the fact that the cover 1931 first edition of The Joy of Cooking features St. Martha of Bethany, patron saint of cooking, "slaying the dragon of kitchen drudgery." What could be more awesome than that?
There will be three winners, one here on the blog, one of Facebook, and one on Instagram. Stay tuned for those. To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment on this blog post telling me the last time you said a Rosary. You're allowed to say never, especially if you're planning on these books giving you the inspiration to start a new habit!
The winner of last week's giveaway for the LEGO Catechism is . . . Jonathan of The Catholic Woodworker! Congratulations, Jonathan. You're going to love this book. Please email me by the end of the day on Monday to claim your prize.
It's been an AGE since we dug something out of the old mailbag. Let's take a peek, shall we?
Hello Kendra, I know you are very busy but I have a few questions from something on your blog. You said the kids can’t get out of bed during nap, how do you enforce this? What age do your children stop taking naps? Is there a recommended consequence post for 3-4 year old boys? My son will not stay in bed not even at night. Thanks, Heather
My standard rule is that you have to take a nap until you start kindergarten. Frankie, who is my stinkerest kiddo, was required to lay down at naptime for an extra year, because I couldn't trust him to be up and about when I was napping. Lulu, who is very chill, has been allowed to stay up during naptime for the past couple weeks, even though she's only four. I determine when to let kids give up naps based pretty much completely on a child's trustworthiness, rather than sleepiness.
You can't die on every hill. Not every issue can be worth making a huge stink over. But you get to pick a few, and this one is probably the one toddler issue most important to me. Don't want to eat food? No skin off my nose. Want to eat dirt? That's your call. Want to wear a Tigger costume to the grocery store? No problemo. Get out of bed after I've put you down? Your world ends.
A three or four year old can understand rules and explanations and consequences and following through. So, that's what we do.
I set the rules: No getting out of bed at naptime until three-zero-zero. No getting out of bed at night time until it is morning and light out.
I explain: You are a growing boy. It's important for growing boys to get enough rest so their bodies can grow. It's also important for you to have a rest in your bed, even if you can't sleep. When you have a rest in the afternoon, it makes you a better behaved little boy in the evening. You are happier. When you are happier, our family is happier. It's important for you to stay in bed when you are supposed to stay in bed, because your sleeping time is when mom takes a nap, works on jobs around the house, etc. When you get out of bed, it means I can't do those things. I can't relax, if I don't know you are where you are supposed to be, if I'm worried you might be causing mischief. When mom can't rest, or can't finish the things I need to do around the house, it makes me a frustrated mom. And frustrated moms are not as fun for little boys.
I set the consequences: I am putting you to bed now. You've gone potty. You've had a drink of water. You have your buddy/doll/blanket/whatever. You may not get out of bed until time/morning. If you stay in bed until you are allowed to get up, you'll get a reward (a snack, a show, to play play dough, to go to the playground, I'd usually just have one reward). If you get up before you are allowed you will get a consequence (no treats, no screens, a spanking, I'd usually do multiple consequences).
Then I follow through: If I was trying to establish this behavior, I'd expect to give it my full attention for 3-10 days depending on where this particular kid falls on the chill to stinker continuum. I'd have the talk, reiterate the rules, then I'd put him down, close the door, and make sure to be where I'd see and hear immediately if he gets up. Then I'd give him the immediate consequence, a spanking, and I'd inform him that he's lost treats and screens for the day (or the next day). As many times as he gets up, he gets the immediate consequence, a spanking, and gets put back in bed, with as little talk as possible. Then after he's allowed to get up, I'd make a big deal of reminding him of the privileges he's lost. "No, no shows today. Remember, you got out of bed before wake up time? I'm sure you'll do better tomorrow." "No, we can't stop for ice cream today. Because you got out of your bed after mommy put you to bed last night. I'm sure you'll do better tonight." The more reminders of lost privileges, the better.
If he did NOT get out of bed, there is great rejoicing and awarding of rewards, and reminders of what a very good and grown up boy he has been.
A note on spankings, because I know people have very strong opinions on this:
If you don't feel comfortable using spankings, that's fine by me. We have been comfortable using them with our many kids, the oldest of whom is now nearly sixteen. We have seen only positive effects on the behavior of little kids, and no long term negative effects of any kind. In our house, we use spankings on the hand for lesser offenses and spankings on the bottom for larger offenses. I use my hand, and not other objects. If I'm especially upset about something, I try to wait until I've calmed down to spank.
We use spankings only on kids under the age of reason (usually about 7), except in very extraordinary situations. What I like about a spanking is that it's an immediate consequence, that doesn't require time or equipment. Timeouts, chores, loss of privileges, are all excellent consequences, except none of that can be used in the moment when we are at the dinner table, or it's 11pm and he's out of bed again. What I want is for my child to to understand that he needs to match his behavior to my words. Chill kids care about your feelings. They don't want you to be upset, and they don't want you to be upset with them. That's sometimes all the motivation they need. I have a couple chill kids who were maybe spanked once or twice, ever. It was for very grave offenses only, and it was very mortifying to them. I'm really careful with my words and my punishments with chill kids, who also tend to be more sensitive.
Stinker kids DO NOT care about what you say or what you feel. They don't care if you are upset or upset with them. I want my sinker kids to learn that it is in their own best interest to do what I say, because that's what motivates them. Physical punishment, undertaken in a calm, controlled manner, is a simple and effect way to get that point across. To my mind, it fits with God's plan for us and our bodies. It's not good for me to touch touch a hot stove, or eat a whole pie, so God made it physically uncomfortable for me to do those things. I try it, it hurts, so (hopefully) I learn my lesson and don't do it again. Narrowly, getting out of bed, and broadly, listening to what mom says, can be accomplished in the same way. Stinker kids, in my experience, are not particularly mortified by words or punishments. Their spirits are not going to be wounded. Often, they'll act like they don't care one bit about not only your feelings, but also the spanking and other punishments. But I've found that with my kids, that's just a stinker kid scam. Not getting a spanking is better than getting a spanking. They know that. And all of my kids have eventually gotten with the program, believed that I meant what I said about staying in bed, and adjusted their behavior accordingly.
(For parents with a personal history of abuse or mental health issues, or anyone who isn't capable of spanking in a calm, controlled way, physical punishment is probably not the best option. I know there are other parenting philosophies out there with alternate strategies. One of those would probably be a better fit in those circumstances.)
Having little kids who stay in bed makes ALL the difference for the physical and emotional well being of our family. It means my kids are well-rested and I'm well-rested. It means I'm able to accomplish things I need to get done while kids are sleeping and so can be present for them when they are awake. It's a goal worth effort and sacrifice to achieve, IMHO.
Good luck, mama! Let me know if this didn't cover all your questions.
Disclaimer: I am not a theologian, nor am I an official spokesperson for the Catholic Church. (You're thinking of this guy.) If you read anything on this blog that is contrary to Church teaching, please consider it my error (and let me know!). I'm not a doctor or an expert on anything in particular. I'm just one person with a lot of experience parenting little kids and a desire to share my joy in marriage, mothering, and my faith.
If you've got a question, please send it along to catholicallyear @ gmail . com . Please let me know if you prefer that I change your name if I use your question on the blog.
p.s. Happy May! If you're playing along with our Traditional Monthly Devotion Phone Wallpapers, today's the day to switch to May: the Month of Mary.
And, by request, they are now formatted to fit the new 19.5:9 iPhone X screen. You can get those here. If you purchased the earlier version, and now have an iPhone X, email me some sort of proof of purchase and I'll send you the reformatted images.