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Catholic Family Vignettes

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

Month

May 2011

Calm in the storm…

We really shouldn’t complain…

Though it was one of the more frightening evenings we’ve shared, in a long time…crowding our five young ones in a stairwell closet, praying for the oldest, out of the home and coaching a soccer game…watching that hard, black line of clouds approaching with the fury of rising winds, rumbling thunder and flashing lightning, listening to the rising chorus of tornado sirens from three small communities in the path of what may or may not have been a tornado…we quickly cleared out that closet full of winter coats and boxes of Christmas decorations to put as many walls as possible between our five and that storm.

The youngest children, worried, crying…encouraged by older brothers to sing “Regina Caeli” and pray…we listened to their muffled voices and watched, anxiously as the storm peaked…

My husband stepped outside to assess the situation.  A split second later, we saw it.  I’m not sure what it was.  Call it a “wall of storm.”  Not rain…just a wall of wind.  In a flash, my dear husband was on the porch, and then in the door.

SLAM!!

The wind…this wall of wind, in a flash flattened our wooden swingset, snapped one of our cherry trees and blew the glass out of the storm door.  Just…that…fast.

The wind raged, the rain fell, we prayed…and the children, shaken and unharmed emerged hot and sweaty from the closet.

And that was it.  A few pieces of siding rippling in the wind, trees snapped and branches down, a playset destroyed and a window broken…but that’s all.

we are unharmed.

we are okay.

we suffered nothing.  nothing.  nothing…much and yet the children are still so fearful that this storm is still out there…circling…waiting to come back.  They’ve seen the scrolling weather alerts and have surveyed and cataloged their loss.  Daddy will replace the splintered wood and twisted metal, and sweet little Rylee, on her birthday yesterday, ticked off each item that would need to be repaired.  She trusts her Daddy…but not the weather.

Because they’ve seen what a storm, a tornado can do.  They’ve prayed with us for the families in Joplin and for those in Oklahoma…for all those who have suffered devastation and loss.

Yes.  We are unharmed and our gratitude soars as we realize that so many…so very many have lost so very much.  More than we can imagine…

Tonight, two of the youngers have struggled to find sleep amidst the warnings and flashing lightning, the occasional crash of thunder and the hard-hitting rain upon glass…it takes a good deal of faith to lie down and close your eyes in the midst of the storm…

But Jesus did.

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”  Mark 4:35-40

He has felt the fury of the storm and is ready to calm all our fears.  For He is calm.  Thank you, Lord…You are perfect peace…You are our calm.

Tonight we will be still and rest in You…

Blessings,

When there were only six…


Thumbing through stack after stack, we searched for his very first soccer team photos.  Teen son is now a coach and wanted to show the young ones he’s coaching the little boy he once was…bright blond hair, big blue eyes, soccer ball tucked rakishly under his arm…all of five years old.

We pick through the memories.  “Look at this one, mom…”  “Wow…that was a long time ago…”

Slightly rumpled photo, window to the past…they smile at me.

The first six.  My three big girls and three little boys…the “even split.”  Three of each.   Still the newbie homeschooler, I hadn’t even graduated my first student!  But there she is…a glorious profusion of red hair…her sweet smile beaming out at me…all youth and promise and beauty…my Ashley.

And then the little “mother…”  Lovely Caitlin.  Queen bee around the house…how often did I leave home and hearth for an appointment, to return to the scent of fresh baked cookies, beautifully dressed toddlers coloring peacefully at the dining room table.  She brought such grace, such joy…her sense of humor was only rivaled by her sense of style.  Oh…where did the time go?!

Look…beside her…my sweet Meredith.  The most beautiful tomboy, ever!  She could hit a ball out the park, run a mile without breaking a sweat…and hated to be told that she was beautiful.  But so often, people missed her true beauty:  her heart.  Her sweetness…her innocence.  Her love of her family and fear of losing them…my little girl is a woman now, with a life of her own…I miss my girl…

Did you notice that spiked blond hair and mischievous smile?  And the invisible eyebrows?   Zachary…fair haired, logical one.  My first born son…now a man.  When did that happen?  I blinked…and he moved passed me with that cool, confident stride…he’s on his way.

Joseph…were you really only four years old then?  You didn’t want to smile for that picture…no matter what the photographer did, you just wouldn’t smile.  But I remember those little boy smiles…I see them everyday, under the visage of manhood that is chiseling itself upon your face.  Don’t grow up too fast, my son…my heart skips a beat as my young man grows up, and yet it is thrilling to see this transformation…

Michael Gabriel…red-haired angel child.  His angelic appearance was and is no lie…for he’s changed so very little.   But my dear, dear boy is fast on the heels of manhood, too.  In four days he’ll be thirteen.  Dare I call him child?  For there must be a rite of passage for the growing ones…a mother marks each and every milestone in her heart.

Once upon a time, there were only six.  And I was in my early thirties.  And it all seemed so overwhelmingly exhausting at times, and still does at times.   But it’s passing.  Quickly.  Nine children…nine blessings.   Three grown, three now nearly men, and three that are still young enough to need me…almost as much as I need them…for I now understand that holiness is not something that happens to us…it happens through us, as we serve.

And I can’t think of any better way to serve than through the great gift of motherhood…

Blessings,

Bantams…

Bantams…

They are the most amusing creatures…diminutive and wily, these little gals have offered endless entertainment in the chicken yard.

We’ve truly enjoyed the past couple years raising chickens. Our Golden Comets and Barred Rocks have provided us with an inexhaustible supply of farm fresh eggs and the invaluable lessons that come with caring for livestock. But these bantams…we’re raising them for their charm…and they are enchanting little comediennes…

Check out our Silkie…have you ever seen a more hysterically funny looking bird? It’s an ostrich wannabe…and will be real fuzz ball when it’s finished growing.

And this saucy lady…this Golden Sebright does nothing but parade and complain! But she still has a bit of growing up to do…her friend, the Silver Sebright is a bit more retiring.

After spending the majority of our nearly thirty years of marriage and family life in the suburbs, I praise God for the last four years exploring the joys of country living…

Blessings,

Sandy pants…

Is there any end to the joy that a pile of sand in a wooden frame affords?

These four stayed in the sandbox for four hours straight…and brought a few sandy souvenirs into the house at the end of the day.  I’m still sweeping up little piles, here and there…

But I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Before long, they’ll be too grown-up for such childishness…a day that I’m not looking forward to.   Meanwhile, they play.  I sweep.

It’s an arrangement I’m happy to live with…

Blessings,

Cutest plant markers ever…

Martha thought of them, Zachary cut them for me, and my herb garden is just the perfect place for them!  And check out the garden stones, too!  A very simple and attractive way to embellish your garden…

Blessings,

Daybook: on a rainy Sunday afternoon…

Visit Peggy at The Simple Woman for more Daybook entries!

FOR TODAY –  May 15th, 2011

Outside my window:  soft and misty rain falling upon emerald green grass.  A host of newly planted impatiens bejeweled with glistening drops…chilly breeze and gray sky.  Perfect nap weather…

I am listening to:  the patter of raindrops upon the window panes.  The voices of my four youngers…the two teens are visiting with friends.

I am wearing :  black peasant skirt, bright pink paisley tunic…barefoot and thinking about putting on a pair of cozy socks.  Chilly in here…

Gratitude list:  

strawberries…all red and glistening

scent of barbecue wafting through the kitchen…

squeals of children, sand-covered and joy-filled…

running and dodging swiftly falling raindrops…

sunlight on golden haired girl…

warmth of mulch beneath my hands…

irises unfurling in glorious profusion…

voices mingling, Ave Maria…

veiled woman, rosary-praying and smiling

I am reading:  The Invisible World by Anthony DeStefano.  So simple, yet so eloquent.  It’s a quick read, but I’ve really been taking my time with it.  The tone is conversational, the subject matter infinitely intriguing, and Mr. DeStefano’s treatment of all things “invisible” is thoroughly orthodox.  My favorite chapter thus far:  Invisible Grace.  I’ll be reading this chapter to my children this evening…

From the kitchen:  deliciousness.  Oven baked BBQ ribs (too much wind and rain for grilling!), baked beans and rosemary/garlic potatoes.  Strawberries and Cream trifle for dessert. 

I am thinking:  that I’m so very blessed.   Thank you, dear Lord, for this beautiful life and for the many graces that You continue to shower upon Your child. 

I am creating:  a simple white shrug for a little girl…

Towards a real education:   just signed up for a one week trial of Homeschool Connection.  Is anyone out there using this resource?  For $1.00, I thought it might be worth a week’s perusal.  Please…I’d love to hear how other families are using this resource.  Comments most appreciated! ( If you’re not familiar with the program, check out the link on my sidebar.)

I am praying:  for two precious little girls preparing for their First Holy Communion.  My little Rylee and her dearest friend, Maria, will make receive the Sacrament together, according to the Extraordinary Form.  The date is not yet fixed, but we’re looking towards the end of June, first of July.  Also, praying for my soon-to-be-born goddaughter, Sophia.  This Friday her mommy is scheduled for a c-section.  Please pray for Tara if you would…

In the garden:  spent a rainy Saturday picking up herbs and a few bedding plants.  The rest of the afternoon was spent mulching, weeding and planting…and dodging the raindrops!   Also, I’m now writing a gardening column for a dear friend’s periodical, Columbus Cuisine.  All things food, with a little organic gardening thrown in for fun! 

Around the house:  red and white impatiens, a few volunteer Brandywine tomatoes popping up, here and there….chickens, kits, cats and kids…and the promise of a lovely summer ahead (and a whole lot of mosquitos, thanks to all this rain!)

On keeping home:  the laundry is behind.  Again.  It seems we no sooner completed the repairs on the washer and then the dryer element burnt out.  With very little sunshine, lots of rain and high humidity, it’s been difficult to keep on top washing and drying for eight people.  Praying hubby picks up the element this week…

One of my favorite things:  sunny days, clean laundry whipping dry in the cool breeze…children laughing in the sandbox…Corona and lime while rocking on the front porch…early sunrises and late sunsets…swiftly moving clouds revealing expanses of bright blue…

A few plans for the rest of the week:  playing catch-up…and hoping to begin winding things up for the year.  I really need to have a true summer break.  Last year was so hard…and this year has started out with a new set of challenges, but with God all things are possible!  I’ve been fighting the demon of doubt and self-recrimination…much prayer, the encouragement of friends and family do much to put things in proper perspective.  I hope you forgive me, dear friends, for my long absences…I’ve been trying to follow the advice of a holy priest to try to limit distraction as much as possible.  This space, this place where I pour out my thoughts and share the ups and downs of this crazy, beautiful, blessed life…it is NOT a distraction.  I’m blessed by it.  But…sometimes…the words are just hard to come by.  Even now, I’m struggling, trying to order my thoughts, sharing what is most important and trying to sift through all the rest.  Thank you for your friendship.  For your patience.  For visiting with me and sharing our journeys.  You bless me by your presence…

A few picture thoughts I’m sharing:

May Crowning...



Blessings,

Scenes from Easter Week…

Hello!

Have you been as busy as I? Are you enjoying the beauty of this Holy Season? And this past Sunday? What a day! Divine Mercy, the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, Low Sunday and the Beatification of Blessed John Paul II…so many blessings, all rolled into one Sunday!

I have a few photos I’ve been meaning to post, so I’ll spare the words for now. I have so much to share and will do so soon. Meanwhile, here’s what we’ve been up to:

Cascarones! 4 dozen, filled and colored!
Egg dyeing...another 4 dozen brightly colored eggs
Ready to dip...
On their way to Mass...
Pretty as a picture...
Look up, Max!!
Dad and Zachary exercised a lot of creativity while hiding the eggs...
One of the hens hid this one!! Don't try to open it, Max!
ALLELUIA!!
GLORIA!!
Rylee found them!
Cascarone attack!!
Tissue paper hats for the occasion of a royal wedding...
Our dear priest set up this small shrine to honor the now Blessed John Paul II...
Divine Mercy Celebration at Holy Family...so lovely!

Blessings,

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