Catholic Family Vignettes

A collage of literary snapshots from the life of a large traditional Catholic family


May 2009

Scheduling conflict…

May is such a busy month…a month of feast days, birthdays, and school days…

Add doctor visits and a homeschool conference to the mix and it becomes chaotic!

My dear Galahad…such a sweet, darling boy.  Today is his birthday.mike

Today mom is really, really busy…

Doctor appointment this a.m., a messy house to tend with, and a homeschool conference this evening…

While I’ve promised to make it up to him tomorrow, I feel my good young man has been short changed.  Does he complain?  Not one bit.

Seeing my consternation, he seeks to comfort me.  “We can have a big dinner tomorrow, mom.  It’s okay with me!”

He’s such an amazing boy…beautiful red/gold hair thick as a bush, a sprinkling of freckles across his nose, a smile that never quits, ready to defend the underdog, an independent thinker/inventor, lover of nature, an excellent cook and God willing, one day…a priest.

Tomorrow we’ll fire up the grill and have that big celebration for my dear young man.  Eleven blessed years on this earth, and while his pseudonym belies the fact that he is named for two angels, the gallantry associated with that same pseudonym suits him as well.

Happy Birthday, son.  Mom and Dad love you!

The Simple Woman’s Daybook

Visit Peggy at The Simple Woman for more Daybook entries!

FOR TODAY – May 25, 2009

Outside my Window…cloudy, with a brisk wind…not too bad considering the forecast called for thunderstorms today!

I am thinking…about this morning’s Solemn High Requiem Mass.  This was the first TLM held at Mt. Calvary Cemetery on Memorial Day in more than forty years.  The Mass was exquisite…Arthur served as Master of Ceremonies and given the circumstances (high winds, no pews and a hastily constructed high altar) all went beautifully.  Many of the attendees hadn’t seen a Traditional Mass in many, many years.  A dear gentleman, member of the VFW and dressed in full military regalia, introduced himself, thanked us for bringing our children and offered us a free Christmas tree in December (he owns a tree farm!)  God bless our brave men in uniform…

I am thankful for…good weather.  We’ve accomplished much in the garden.  While many of my southern friends are contemplating the harvest, we’re just getting down to the business of planting!  We missed a lot of the spring veggies…it’s just as well.  Our last hard freeze took place last week.

From the kitchen…mmm, mmm, good!  I butterflied three whole chickens, marinated them in my very own homemade marinade, and hubby has been smoking them all afternoon.  The aroma is maddening…children and kitties have been pawing at the grill!  On the side:  my very best Smashed Potato Salad, baked beans, dressed eggs and a very ripe, sweet-n-juicy watermelon.  Dinner’s at 7:00…c’mon over!

In our school room…prayers please?  I’ve been invited to speak at the Educating For Heaven Conference for High School.  I’m a bit nervous.

I am creating…I’ve been embroidering a little.  The little girls are intrigued and I can’t wait to teach them!

I am going…to finish this post and set the table;-D

I am wearing…lime green capris and a pale blue 3/4 sleeve knit tee, sandals and an apron…

I am reading…this and that…

I am hoping…that tomorrow’s conference is well attended and that the Holy Spirit guides my speech…

I am hearing…the sounds of the children playing in the sandbox.  Their laughter carried upon the wind to my open bedroom window…

Around the house…green things outside.  Lots growing, lots blooming.  I love spring…

One of my favorite things…Spring.  Gardening.  Iris and peony greeting me in the morning…

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week…plug away at school, Galahad’s birthday tomorrow, another birthday party for Emily and Galahad together on Wednesday with our friends, order our assessment tests…it’s that magical, mystical time!

Here’s a picture thought I am sharing with you

Dragonflies always make me think of summer:

Have a blessed week!

Now we are six…

Now We Are Six

When I was one,confirmation 051
I had just begun.
When I was two,
I was nearly new.
When I was three,
I was hardly me.
When I was four,
I was not much more.
When I was five,
I was just alive.
But now I am six,
I’m as clever as clever.
So I think I’ll be six
now and forever.

~A.A. Milne

My little Emily…six years old today!

How swiftly the years have flown.  My baby.  The last five.  The last six.  I fear sometimes I spend so much time lamenting all of her “lasts” that I begin to forget to celebrate all of her “firsts…”

She’s so independent.  A whirlwind ballerina, with an adorable pout and an adventurous spirit.  Full of love, full of joy…a mix of mischief and inherent goodness.

And did I mention cute?  Oh yes…she most certainly is, and extremely clever.

I love you, little miss…you are a joy to your mommy and daddy.  Many, many more happy years, sweetie!

And now off to finish that birthday cake.  No birthday princess is complete without a pink castle cake…


Splashing our way through spring…

Hot and humid. 87 degrees.

Time to head to the creek!

Some of our best school days are spent in a non-traditional setting. These days, so many children are deprived of the beauty of nature, a sad state indeed! Several hours a day in artificial light, shuttled from air-conditioned car, to air-conditioned building and back again.  Such was our life, prior to our homeschooling adventure.  Once we brought education home, we’ve been able to fit in nature study, hiking and just good ol’ fashion fun into our days.  Even during our many years in the suburbs, though it was a bit more challenging, we did all we could to make the effort to regularly head to the woods, a creek or stream and just turn the children loose to explore.

I never cease to wonder at their wonder…the way their eyes light up when they spot a wildflower, a tadpole, a crayfish or minnow…these are the pure delights of childhood.

Muddy, wet and wonderful…

Yesterday we had the great blessing of meeting another classical homeschooling family delighting in one of our favorite creekside haunts.  It was really quite funny meeting, actually.

Seated upon a stone, feet dangling in the creek was a lovely lady reading a book, her two young sons playing close by.

It was 2:00 in the afternoon on a weekday.

She smiles.  I smile back.  My children, whooping and hollering, plunging into the cool, clear water made quite a stir.

She looked up from her book.  “Hi…ummm…are you…homeschoolers?”

“YES!”  I replied, emphatically…

We began to exchange humorous anecdotes on how we spot homeschoolers, both acknowledging that it becomes somewhat more difficult towards the end of the year…spring break, vacations, etc…you never really know for sure until you ask.

Within moments of our pleasantries, one of her sons cuts his knee and needs a bandage.  She prepares to excuse herself, closing her book.  And then I see the title:

The Well Trained Mind.

“You’re a classical homeschooler?!!”

A quick affirmative and a great big smile and we’re chatting excitedly.  I mention the Latin Centered Curriculum and she excitedly exclaims “that’s what we’re using!”

It was a sweet exchange…it ended quickly as she attended to her son’s injured knee, but was one which allowed me to obtain her email address and I hope write her later this evening…

Ah, nature.  We who love beauty are drawn to it and to those who seek the same respite from the toils and troubles of the world.

Of course, I have more pictures.  I don’t think I’ll ever tire of taking photos of my children in such a lovely setting!

The last of the spring wildflowers are in bloom!

This is pretty scary: an ant hill, at least four feet in diameter. Watch your step!

Ah, the creek…aren’t big brothers great? Emily certainly thinks so!

Little Emily…six years old tomorrow!

Queen of all she surveys…what a lovely kingdom!

Here we have the long extinct Tree-ceratops. Or Tree-a-saurus. Or perhaps the vicious Tree-rannosaurus Rex I’m not quite sure which!

More wildlife. This young “croc” looks pretty fierce!

Charlotte’s looking for crayfish…

Looks like she found a very small one!

Galahad prepares the specimen jar:

The creek-wader’s best friend: The Croc

I sincerely hope you and yours can make time this weekend to narrow the nature deficit…



Meet the kittens…

Our Lucy is a mother.  This tiny little cat, part of a litter discovered under one of the outbuildings last year, has lingered on our property every since.  Her parents and litter mates are long gone, and she alone, half wild, has remained, ridding the outbuildings of mice and other vermin in exchange for her meals.

It has been an equitable arrangement, and since our sweet Cookie Monster has been gone for more than 4 months now, she’s filled a void…though she doesn’t really allow us to pet or hold her.

Small as she is, she’s now given birth to four of the most adorable kittens I’ve ever seen…and what fun!

We’ve made the tragic mistake of naming them…which will make the inevitable parting with at least three of them very sad…though I’m sure they’d manage to fend for themselves, it seems rather cruel to allow them to remain wild and uncared for.  So, a couple weeks from now we’ll be finding homes for them.

Except for this little lady:


Yes…I’ve been suckered in.  Not by the children, but by the funny and charming antics of this little kitten, no bigger than a minute, with a sweet face and great personality.

Now…if only we can find homes for little Tink, Daisy and Buster-Kitten (named for the great Buster Keaton!) And, inevitably, arrange for the capture and spaying of sweet Lucy. One of the hazards of rural living is the assumption that every farm needs another cat. And another. And another, until city folk from far and wide turn the entire country side into a drop-off zone for unwanted pets.  Our Cookie was one such drop-off, and as delighted as we were to care for him, we simply can’t afford to provide for a multitude of pets!

Meanwhile, we’ll enjoy these sweet little kitties…they are delightful to watch and will make great pets…for another family.


Two years…

It’s hard to believe that it’s been two years since my first post!

Yes…today is Catholic Family Vignette’s 2nd “blogoversary…”

847 posts, 2550 comments and more than 120,000 visitors!

A great big “thank you” to all of you, dear friends, loyal readers and occasional visitors as well, for making this little hobby a community, of sorts.  And what a diverse group!  Nearly 48 percent of my readers are outside the United States of America…once again affirming the “una voce” appeal of Catholicism…especially from those of you attached to the Traditional Latin Mass.  Thank you for your kindness, your charity and most especially, for your prayers and encouragement.

The advent of this blog nearly perfectly coincides with our adventures in rural living.  You’ve shared so many experiences with us…from the joys of the clothesline:

to fun with gardening, practical and whimsical:

meeting wildlife of the ordinary and extraordinary variety:

You’ve joined us in our explorations by the creek:

and shared with us many, many more moments of joy, sorrow, delight and thanksgiving.

Thank you, kind readers…thank you for being part of this adventure.  For sharing your own joys, sorrows, delights and moments of thanksgiving.  It’s been a delightful journey and I’m glad to have had your company!


The Traditional Rite of Confirmation

On April 29th, 2009, Arthur and Gawain received the Traditional Sacrament of Confirmation according to the Gregorian Rite.  For the first time in more than forty years, young men and women in our parish and diocese were recipients of the ancient rite, with all its pomp, splendor and simplicity.

As has always been the tradition of the Church, this Sacrament was conferred outside of the Holy Mass, thus preserving the separateness of the sacraments.  Though our dear Bishop was unable to be present for reasons of poor health, Monsignor Stephen Moloney, Vicar/Chancellor of the Diocese of Columbus filled in admirably and was assisted by Holy Family’s pastor, Fr. Kevin Lutz.

As a beautiful illustration of the unifying nature of the Latin liturgy, thirty-five young people adhering to both the Ordinary and the Extraordinary Forms of the Mass were confirmed in the Traditional Rite, to the delight of the entire parish.

The most beautiful image of the evening:  the beatific smile on the face of our good pastor, Fr. Lutz.  He radiated such joy, such delight as he faced each young man and young woman…no “Father” was ever so proud!  The ceremony concluded with the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction.  A perfect ending for such a profound and moving experience.

Here’s a slideshow that captures a bit of the essence of the event.  Thanks to my sweet Clementine for all the lovely photos:

Lovely, isn’t it?  And, to quote Fr. Lutz…the Traditional Rite of Confirmation is here to stay.

Deo Gratias!

Still here…

Just a quick post for friends and family wondering where on earth I’ve been…


It’s not the swine flu, though, I must admit the oldest son and I (the hardest hit) had begun to wonder, as this illness has turned out to be far more vicious than a cold. I’ve had very little energy for the past week and am nursing a non-stop headache.

And thus I end this post. To seek relief away from the brightly lit computer screen and will return, I promise, to post on the lovely Traditional Rite of Confirmation.  Eventually…


Mother’s Day Miracle…

Looking back nine years, remembering a very sweet day:

The following event occurred on Mother’s Day 2000 and seems appropriate to post for the month of May…

It was a beautiful Sunday morning. The sky was crystal clear, a celestial blue of such depth…the bowers of the flowering crab apple tree in our backyard were laden with snow-white blossoms. Each gentle breeze sent a shower of petals upon the wind. To drink in this beauty, to exult in the glory of God’s creation on the Sabbath – what could be a more perfect way to spend Mother’s Day?

Alas, these are the questions you ask yourself when your entire family is sick with the stomach flu, you have just missed attending Holy Mass as well as the May crowning of our Blessed Mother and looming before you are prospects for a day of hard labor (nurturing the sick, cleaning up the bed clothes and the sure knowledge that NO ONE wants dinner!) Our family numbered seven children at this time, and all of them were sick. As the day wore on, I began to lapse into a serious state of self-pity. “Why the Sabbath, Lord? And Mother’s Day?!” Though I continued my duties faithfully, interiorly I was not a faithful servant at all. It was now mid-afternoon and I walked into my kitchen (which was a wreck by this time) to assess the possibilities for some kind of meal, knowing that very little would be palatable to my poor, suffering children. My husband, of course, has the patience of a saint, and provided so much assistance, but I could only pray that his optimism would sustain us all, for I was feeling wretched inside. As I passed the large glass doors to my backyard, the brilliant blue of the sky and the gentle breezes beckoned. I stepped outside, sat down at the table on the back patio and cried.

(We should never underestimate how much we need the graces given at every Mass. These very graces make possible the diligent performance of the duties suited to our vocation. I felt devoid of grace! Weak and pathetic, that I could feel bad for myself while my children were suffering sickness).

Through my tears, I looked over at my much neglected Mary garden and beheld the statue of our Lady. No cards or flowers for the Holy Mother of God on Mother’s Day. The Mother of God was given a “sword” that would pierce her heart. I decided at that moment to give Mother’s Day to our Lady. I dried my tears, walked over to my garden and began to clear the many weeds that were crowding about Mary. I began to think of these weeds as the little distractions of my daily life – my pride, my self-pity and a tendency towards a too “Martha” approach to my vocation. As the weeds were cleared, the flowers became increasingly visible…rather like the virtues that our Lady so humbly espouses and that I had allowed to become hidden in my own life. I began to hum as the work continued…it was so peaceful, so quiet, and soon I was singing “Salve Regina”. A few moments passed and my precious husband stepped outside to see what had become of his wife. Though his first words were “honey, I am so sorry”, he was truly greeted by a much happier wife and together we both continued the work of beautifying our Lady’s garden.

One by one, our sick children began to come outside to see where their parents had gone. Five of the children were now outside (the eldest was inside with the baby and a terrible headache), each one wishing their Mother a Happy Mother’s Day…and it could not have been sweeter. In the midst of their suffering they remembered their mother (just as in the midst of my suffering I had remembered my Mother).

Gathered in our backyard, surrounding a small patch of earth upon which rested a statue of our Blessed Mother, we placed the small, silk floral crown which had been reserved for all of our previous May Crownings. Five sick children and two exhausted parents honored the Mother of God in the only way we could.

Above our heads, a very large red-tailed hawk was lazily circling. This hawk was soon noticed by a pair of robins that were nesting locally and were extremely concerned about the danger this predator posed to their young. The two small birds attacked furiously, raising a tremendous commotion that soon drew the attention of the family. We observed the antics of these birds briefly (and all of us are certain that this activity served only to draw our attention skyward) because a much more fantastic phenomena was occurring at this time. The sun was directly above us in a cloudless sky, and surrounding the sun was a large circular rainbow, which was also circled by yet another rainbow only ¾ formed. I cannot adequately convey our surprise and awe at this spectacle. It truly seemed an event given as a gift from our Lord through the intercession of the Blessed Mother. As we all exclaimed in wonder, one of the children remembered our eldest who was still inside. She went to retrieve her sister and baby brother and as the three children came outside to view this beautiful event…it simply vanished! The entire event lasted no more that 2-3 minutes, though time truly seemed to stand still! A day of suffering, sacrifice and surprise! How little our Lord asks from us and how great are His gifts…

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