Catholic Family Vignettes

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


July 2009

Prayers needed…

Please pray for Emily and little Matthew.

Matthew was delivered via emergency C-section on July 27th.  He is on a ventilator and the family desperately needs a miracle…


Into the arms of Almighty God…St. Matthew Karol Snow.

A busy mom’s daybook…

Visit Peggy at The Simple Woman for more Daybook entries!

FOR TODAY – July 27, 2009

Outside my Window…bright sunshine, green grass and acres of soy.  It’s a deliciously cool 61 degrees…

Thinking…about my tomato plants.  Not…one…ripe…tomato.  It’s been far too cold.  But when they do ripen…watch out!  I’ll be up to my ears…

Thankful for…the same cool weather that’s keeping my tomatoes from ripening!  Low humidity and beautifully cool mornings and days have made for a lovely summer.  I function so much better in cooler temps.  The first 24 years of my marriage were air-conditioned years.  During the summer months I went from air conditioned car, to air conditioned stores, to air conditioned Church and back to my air conditioned home.  I didn’t think I could live without it.  It’s amazing when you discover just what you can live without!  The first two years in Ohio were the worst…humidity and high temperatures unlike anything I’d ever experienced…and that includes my childhood in Florida!  Day after day of temperature indices in the 100s (you folks in Texas know what I’m talking about!)  Our first year in the country was a little better…the wind is constant here, and it’s amazing what air flow can accomplish.  The second year was even better, and this year is turning out to be amazing…and a little odd!  If this is global warming, then I say bring it on!

From the kitchen…the yummy smell of yet another two loaves of zucchini bread.  I’m baking two to four loaves a day and still haven’t made a dent in the mother lode of zucchini that we continue to harvest.  Lunch:  homemade pizzas.  The little girls are looking forward to making their own.  This evening:  balsamic grilled chicken, green beans from the garden, fried squash and salad.  Maybe some mac n’ cheese for the little girls as a special treat with dinner.

Faith and learning…I’ve assembled our family reading list for this year.  It’s amazing how many things I need to re-read!  The little girls were too small when we began The Chronicles of Narnia…now they’re just the right age to grasp the story.  And then there’s poetry!  This summer the boy’s and I read The Rime of the Ancient Mariner…too creepy…of course, they loved it.  I’m also re-reading Dante’s Divine Comedy.  It’s amazing how much more one appreciates these classic works as an adult.

Creating…the same ***********.  It’s coming along nicely.  Also, tweaking my traditional liturgical planner.  The working title:  Embracing Tradition:  A traditional Catholic planner for living the liturgical year.  I’m working on creating a preview…Scribd isn’t translating it properly.  I’ll keep you posted!

Planning…school year, household chores, long term/short term goals, menus…you name it.

Wearing…tshirt, sweat pants and an apron.

Reading…see last week’s post!

Praying…for perseverance…it’s so easy to get side tracked.  May God continue to support me in my earnest desire to simplify and prioritize…

Hearing…the quiet conversation of my little girls.  The boys are in Muncie, IN with our good friend, Hilaire.

Around the house…zucchini to shred and freeze.  Tomatoes…slowly ripening.  Gladioli, sunflowers and zinnias blooming.  Lots and lots of green…

One of my favorite things…my aprons.  I need a few more…snazzy and fun ones.  Time to sew…

Here’s a picture thought I am sharing with you

A sunflower…as seen by little Emily, age 6.  She took this all by herself!


Empty cocoon…

A couple weeks ago the children found a Monarch caterpillar.  We have an abundance of milkweed around here and plenty of caterpillars, but this was the first this season.  We’ve enjoyed many summers observing these fascinating creations in the midst of their amazing transformations and have even taken a few with us during an unexpected vacation…

Unfortunately, Gareth was unable to find a suitable habitat for this little guy.  He gingerly placed him in a

One of last year's beauties...
One of last year's beauties...

shoebox, and spent quite awhile trying to find a jar that would provide optimum viewing.  Jar in hand, he returned to find an empty shoebox.  We searched the dining room and concluded that our kitten, Gracie, had decided that the caterpillar would make an excellent playmate and/or snack.

Imagine our surprise today, when we discovered a lovely Monarch butterfly stretching its wings on mom’s favorite Delft teapot.  Charlotte picked up our beautiful visitor and transported him to the zinnia patch.  Gawain raced inside to get the camera to preserve the moment, but quick as a flash the butterfly flitted off…though I’m quite sure he’ll return to visit our many blooming flowers…

Gareth found the empty cocoon.  On the handle of my teapot!  I never saw it…which reveals a nasty little secret…

I rarely…ever…dust!


Bigger is greener…

Picture this:

Driving through town, a family spies an interesting display in front of a local car dealership. A large construction dump bin contains two automobiles, nose down, seemingly disposed of (quite tidily) for any number of reasons. One of the cars is a bit rusted, paint perhaps a little faded, the other has no apparent defects whatsoever…except that it appears to be at least 10 years old.

This is an advertisement for the “cash for clunkers” program…yet another impractical and completely inane attempt by the Obama administration to “bandage up” our sinking economy.

Here’s the premise: global warming is destroying the planet (snicker) and fuel prices are at an all time high. Add to that mixture a stagnant new car sales market on the heels of one of the largest government sponsored financial bail-outs in history.

The answer? Trade in your ol’ gas guzzler for a spiffy new model and Uncle Sam will give you up to $4500 towards the purchase. This, of course, only applies to vehicles with a combined “New EPA MPG” of 18 or less…which, BTW, large Catholic families, totally knocks out your 12 to 15 passenger vans!

You gas guzzlers, you! Look at all those messy carbon footprints and fingerprints you’re leaving all over the place…shame! Perhaps Uncle Sam could interest you in three or four new Toyotas in exchange…yeah…that would work. Not!

All jesting aside…this is actually quite serious.

Serious because our government is suggesting that its citizens undertake more consumer credit debt. Debt up to $45,000 per vehicle…all in the guise of doing us a favor and helping out the planet.

Here’s a news flash…the economy is bottoming out! We are not “digging out.” We’re “digging in.” To suggest that anyone should take on new car debt at a time when unemployment is rampant and home foreclosures continue to rise, is quite simply, egregious.  This program will cost billions in the long run, billions that our own government must finance because there’s nothing in the coffers…

And as for “green…”

Just how green is this whole process?  Where will these “clunkers” end up?  In a landfill?  What about increased emissions during the whole revved up new car production process?  Is anyone thinking?

It doesn’t seem so…

Our grandparents and great-grandparents had it right, oh, so many years ago.  The Depression lasted for more than a decade and during that time “use and re-use” was the name of the game.  While frugality was a way of life, large families were the rule, not the exception.  No one saved up their money to have a baby, in the meantime enjoying new cars, new homes, new computers, new clothes, expensive vacations, etc., all the while declaring the world “no place to raise a child” or stating “we simply can’t afford to have children right now…”

No…children came and were welcomed.  Home ownership was a dream to be accomplished when the family had saved up enough money to actually afford one.  Cars were driven, repaired, driven some more, repaired, and driven…until they were no longer drivable and the family could afford to purchase another one.

With all the interest in being “green”, society forgets that large families and the poor have been exercising this practice out of necessity for many years.

We use and re-use.  We buy our furniture used, our cars used, our clothes from thrift stores, and save until we can afford those luxuries which some have come to see as necessities.

We aren’t traversing the skies in airplanes.  We plan our errands with fuel economy always in mind, and are more likely to recycle…hand me downs count, right?

We turn off the lights when we leave a room..most of the time.  In all, while we may have more people under one roof, we use fewer resources per capita.

Let’s look at a few startling facts…the average American home contains 2.5 people.

2.5 living, breathing human beings…

The average American home has 2.86 televisions.

2.86 plugged-into-an-outlet-energy-hogging-relationship-destroying-televisions…

So…here’s my suggestion.

On July 24th forget “cash for clunkers.”  Save yourself the debt, save the landfills yet another junk car, save the economy billions, save the planet, too (if you’re into that kind of thing!), turn off those 2.86 televisions and have a baby.

Yep…invest in the future, be bigger and greener.  The only way to truly boost an economy is to expand the population…history bears this out!

And there’s really nothing more hopeful, more encouraging, than new life, is there?

A new car just isn’t going to cut it, folks.  No matter how good the fuel economy.


Big girls…

Thursday morning, Mass had ended…and the boys left to help a dear friend.

The little girls chattered away in the backseat, as little girls do, excitedly describing all the things they wanted to do without the boys…

Turning into the gravel driveway, Charlotte sees the chicken enclosure.

“Mommy!! We have to put out the chickens! The boys aren’t here to do it…”

Oh, great. The chickens. I’d completely forgotten. Our “ladies” don’t as yet have a permanent outdoor structure. In the evenings they reside in their pen inside the workshop. During the day, they “free range” within the confines of a very large enclosure. It’s the big boys’ job to make sure they are taken out in the morning, fed, watered and secured for the day.

Now it fell to me. I wasn’t quite sure what the protocol was…and felt a little apprehensive.

“Well, girls. I guess I’ll have to do it. I’m not quite sure what to do…”

Charlotte and Emily pipe together: “Don’t worry, mommy! We know what to do we, watch the boys all the time…”

“That’s okay, girls. I’ll take care of it. You’re too small to lift that cage anyway. We’ll do it together. Let’s change our clothes and then we’ll take care of the ladies…”

We headed upstairs, the girls undressing and dressing much more rapidly than I. I heard their excited squeals outside, and figured they were assessing the situation and would tell me what needed to be done.

Entering the kitchen I glanced out the windown and saw the two of them struggling through the narrow entry way of the workshop. Oh, my goodness! They had the pen! They were moving the chickens themselves!

**check out that snazzy outfit Charlotte’s sporting!**

Seven and six years old.

I grabbed the camera, snapped a few shots of my big girls, and marveled at their diligence. They moved the entire pen…removed the six chickens, one by one, and deposited them in the enclosure. They filled the feeder and waterer and only asked my assistance in securing the feeder’s bungee cord. They were amazing…

How proudly they shared their accomplishments with their big brothers that evening. The boys were duly impressed and I’m quite sure will be utilizing the talents of these two big girls…perhaps more than they’ll want!

They grow up quickly, don’t they?

What a lovely bonus…I have two big girls, anxious to help, quick to step up when the big boys are busy…


A busy mom’s daybook…

Visit Peggy at The Simple Woman for more Daybook entries!

FOR TODAY – July 20, 2009

Outside my Window…Clouds and a slight breeze…a bit chilly…61 degrees.

Thinking…about order and simplicity.  How our God has called us out of chaos to order.  Order in our homes, order in our worship, order in our relationships with one another…

Thankful for…good priests, fearlessly proclaiming God’s word, faithfully teaching and admonishing their flocks…may God increase their numbers!

From the kitchen…yummy-delicious zucchini bread baking.  Spiral ham slices on toast for hubby and steaming hot cups of coffee laced with Chocolate Caramel Creamer for both of us.  For dinner:  Ribollita (the boys have eaten most of the leftover ham!!), backed chicken with herbs, rosemary and garlic potatoes, orzo and mixed veggies, salad and Italian bread.

Faith and learning…a few interesting changes.  I’ve moved the classroom downstairs, for so many practical reasons.   Upstairs:  hot in the summer, cold in the winter…and away from the action of daily life.  Now the classroom is an extension of our family living space and flows quite naturally.  I love it!  And the most amazing bonus:  we now have a chapel!!!  My sweet boy, Galahad, has long desired to have a chapel in the house.  Complete with church pew and kneeler, the chapel is the former classroom…and is the first room one walks into before bed and after rising, reminding us to start and end every day with prayer.  Galahad has been adding all the little touches to make his chapel “special” and has already adorned the family altar with candles, the bible and a variety of spiritual reading material.  He and the boys now have the perfect practice spot for rehearsing with Gareth the many different actions of MC, acolyte, thurifer, crucifer, torch bearer, etc.  What a blessing!

Creating…a ***********.  It’s a secret…shhh…and yes, dad…I’m still working on your socks!

Planning…everything.  And I have such peace about it.  I’m even creating my own planner based on the Traditional Latin Mass feast days.  As much as I love the many wonderful planners out there, it’s difficult to find anything that follows the Old Calendar.  Mine is coming along nicely…almost…finished…

Wearing…Well…I’d like to say that I’m beautifully coiffed and attired, but quite frankly, I’m still wearing my favorite snow-white victorian styled nightgown.  It is lovely…something right out of Godey’s Lady’s Book.

ReadingIt’s All Too Much.  What a great motivator for those seeking greater order and detachment from material goods.  And to keep the spiritual perspective on decluttering, I also downloaded Simplifying Your Domestic Church.  I’m armed and ready…

Praying…for God to sustain and strengthen me as I continue to work towards greater self-discipline, order and simplicity…all wrapped in the humble realization that I can’t do this without Him!

Hearing…the whir of the ceiling fan and birdsong outside my window…

Around the house…greater order than weeks past.  And that which is not ordered no longer causes me to despair.  True balance begins inside, not outside!

One of my favorite things…zucchini bread.  It’s a good thing…with the enormous amount of zucchini that the garden is producing, we’ll be eating a lot of it.  Any other fabulous zucchini recipes out there?

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week…finish assembling my school book list, “detach” from a few more wordly goods and work on my school day schedule…we start school on September 7th.

Here’s a picture thought I am sharing with you

Gracie…lounging in a patch of sunlight. What a sweet picture.



Take one size 10 knitting needle, a size H crochet hook and a piece of Gorilla tape.  Firmly tape hook to knitting needle and you have an extremely handy implement, just perfect for fishing one of these out of the bathroom drain…

And so I did, much to Charlotte’s delight.

Now we await two big boys who are on a mission to find yet another scapular.  Little Emily took hers off during a mud fight behind the barn.  Somehow, in her desire to keep her scapular clean, she missed the point of her “protection” as she calls it.

“Battles are the best times to wear your scapular, Emily.  All kinds of battles…better a dirty scapular than no scapular at all!” said one of her brothers.

So very, very true…


Summer nights…

The bonfire pit has received quite the work out, lately.

These beautiful, yet unseasonably cool days preface delightfully chilly evenings…evenings perfect for the soft, smoky glow of a bonfire.

Friends gather, grill smokes, marshmallows are roasted, memories are made…

Wednesday evening was just such a night.  Entertaining our favorite FSSP seminarian (much beloved by the children…he  responded with such good nature to the constant chorus of “Michael, watch me…Michael, look at this!”), a few friends (young and old) and, eventually, our very favorite priest…Fr. Lutz.

While the ladies were considerably outnumbered by the gentleman, it was great listening to spirited discussions on matters of faith…for a time…

Lured by the siren song of the crackling flames, Krislynne and I pulled our chairs close and closer…and had spirited discussion of a slightly more feminine sort.  And roasted quite a few marshmallows, as well.

Ah, summer nights…

As the fireflies flitted by, and the stars winked and smiled upon us, I once again had to thank our good God for placing us in the midst of such a lovely community of faith.  My parish friends are my best friends…how many years I longed to be able to say that!

Here’s to many, many more lovely evenings…


The Song at the Scaffold

Today is the feast of the Carmelite Nuns of Compiegne. Martyred during the French Revolution, their story is beautifully retold by Gertrude Von Le Fort. The Song at the Scaffold was written in 1931, five years after Le Fort converted to Catholicism. How poignantly the author describes these brave young women, sentenced to death, marching courageously towards the guillotine, singing the Salve Regina…a chorus of heavenly voices, silenced one by one.  Though written as a work of fiction on the spiritual journey of a young, frightened Carmelite novice named Blanche, the author faithfully preserves the historicity of the story of the Nuns of Compiegne, and thus leads the reader up the steps of the scaffold…and to eternity.

Here’s a beautiful rendition of the Salve Regina…lyrics, below:

Sing with all your heart…Hail, Holy Queen!

Salve, Regina, Mater misericordiae,
vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve.
ad te clamamus
exsules filii Hevae,
ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes
in hac lacrimarum valle.

Eia, ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuos
misericordes oculos ad nos converte;
et Jesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,
nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.
O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria.

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