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At our house, breakfast is one of those events that happens every day with no fail, right after the kids wake up and stagger downstairs. Still clad in their pajamas, bed head and all, the kids mostly fend for themselves, rummaging through the kitchen for their usual. Sometimes I intervene and push a fruit or egg, or help someone with something high up, but mostly, everyone is doing their own thing with my voice in the background (“Please get a plate. Don’t leave the knife in the butter. Do you have a hair tie for your hair – the peanut butter is getting all over the ends…”). From start to finish, maybe fifteen minutes. Twenty if someone’s particularly distracted or determined to whip up something fancy.

One day, after consulting the iPad for the day’s weather (“Ok guys, today is a sweater, fall coat, runners kind of day.”), the idea of clicking over to EWTN for the day’s readings floated in my mind. I was already trying to see when in the busy day something like that could be squeezed in, but had so far come up with a blank. I looked across the table at the kids and wondered if now would be a good time… and I chickened out.

I’m not sure how many times I chickened out after the idea presented itself.

“Winter coat, guys.” And nope. I am not going to read today’s Mass readings.

“You’ll be fine with just a hoodie today, everyone.” Nope. Not reading them.

One day, I didn’t chicken out. What’s the worse that could happen if I read some readings as they were eating breakfast? They all run screaming? Unlikely. The don’t listen? Probably. But maybe they’ll catch something. Maybe.

So I did it. I told everyone to feel free to keep eating but to try and stay put for a bit and listen (as opposed to get up and microwave their milk right at that moment). It took about… thirty seconds? No one ran screaming. Bonus.

I’ll take it. We did it again the next day. And the next.

We’ve been trying this for a few months now, with gaps due to forgetting and laziness here and there. I have hope that it might stick. It seems to start discussions that we would otherwise not have. They are hearing pieces of the Gospel that they would otherwise not hear. Their minds wander to Jesus’ life for a few precious seconds in their busy day. Seems like a small step in the right direction.

“Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” – Matthew 19:14

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Our second daughter is eight. Eight is old. (At least, at our house it is.) And, eight? Eight is great!

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It means someone that you can send to the craft cupboard to “upgrade” the Jesse Tree ornaments, mostly by themselves and unsupervised. Ok, maybe a bit supervised.

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It means being able to reach the Jesse Tree above the piano without help.

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It means being able to start muddling through the missal during Sunday Mass. To muddle through seems to be defined by the Mirriam-Webster dictionary as “to achieve a degree of success without much planning or effort.” Tell me about it. I’m finding that doing a quick run through the missal before Mass greatly increases the chances of Missal Success and decreases the Great Sadness Caused by Missal Failure and Confusion. But maybe this is just my daughter.

It means being able to follow along with the hymns using the hymnals. Even if it takes almost the entire song in order to find the number in the book.

It still means needing to be reminded to be reverent by kneeling up or standing up straight at Mass, to listen and not get distracted, but it seems to mean not needing to be shushed as much. And she doesn’t throw down the hymnal, run down the aisle or need to be taken to the foyer. Praise. The. Lord.

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It means a more advanced version of the Faith and Life book that her little siblings are using. This yellow book is for kids in grade three. Smaller type, more detail, wonderful artwork.

It means a small session with Mama or Daddy after bedtime prayers to work through a simple examination of conscience before going to sleep. I was kind of hoping this would work itself out without any supervision – along the lines of “Ok. Don’t forget to examine your conscience before going to sleep.” But it worked just as well as “Ok. Don’t forget to brush your teeth before going to sleep.” They seemed to need a bit more hand holding and instruction before they could a) do it themselves when prompted, and b) develop the habit and remember to do it without prompting.

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It also means that they’re not likely to rough-house beside the ridiculously breakable Advent Wreath Situation and break the candleholders. No, that would be the six-year old. In cahoots with the five-year old.

Sigh.

Everyone has always told me to cherish these moments when the kids are little because it goes fast. And boy am I ever finding that it does. It goes very fast.

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Saint John Bosco, image from saintbosco.org

Much more difficult that remembering to read Bible stories,
much more difficult than finding Advent candles in storage,
much more difficult than teaching littles how to genuflect,
much, much more difficult…
(but maybe way, way more important)
… is being patient with my kids when they mess up.

I’m not talking about firm vs lax parenting, or having vs not having boundaries, or following through with proper consequences vs not. I’m talking about treating that little person with all the love that God has poured into me, with the patience and mercy that God has shown me, all the love that I am capable of giving, but really really not wanting to right this very minute. Not right now. Not while I’m so angry and frustrated and tired…

Sigh.

So many saints have, time and time again, reminded us that yelling in anger doesn’t really help a situation improve, doesn’t really motivate a little person (or any of us) to do better. In this post, Saint John Bosco reminds us that “there must be no hostility in our minds, no contempt in our eyes, no insult on our lips.” It doesn’t help: the hostility, the contempt, the insults. And really, if others treated us that way, we would feel horrible. And it doesn’t help.

Among the more powerful ways I can bring my children to Jesus is to show them in my face, His face: just how much He loves them. When they see me controlling my temper, or apologizing when I cross the line, they remember. On the other hand, when they see that time and time again, that this is how Mama gets things done when it’s “important,” then I will find a ten-year old speaking to her baby brother that way, when it’s “important.” Unless I work hard to curb it in myself, I might find myself in a horrible household where yelling is the main mode of discourse: a situation that will partly be of my own making.

God calls us to treat the littlest as we would treat Him. I try and I pray. Maybe you can pray for me, too. It’s such a humiliating and slow process for my pride to take, but he promises he will help and I have hope that, in time, it will get better. My path is littered with His reminders and I will keep on trying.

Must remember, St. John Bosco says:
no hostility in our minds,
no contempt in our eyes,
no insult on our lips

Difficult, but worthwhile.

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Right before bedtime, after the kids are in pajamas and all the teeth have been brushed, there’s some time for reading books. Sometimes they choose. Sometimes we choose. While the reading kids are now off in their own corner with “big kid” books, the non-readers (or the not quite reading) are still willing to snuggle and listen to a story or two.

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Sometimes I choose this book. I say that I’m only going to read just one chapter.

Our Heavenly Father is actually a grade one religion textbook, from a series called “Faith and Life” that is popular with many homeschoolers. The kids don’t seem to mind, and I find that I can simply read it without having to paraphrase it to make it more engaging and understandable. The level works well for my current SK and grade one little persons. Each chapter is pretty short and is accompanied by a beautiful image.

Sometimes it’s the first time they’re hearing it, but sometimes the kids know the story already. Where did they learn it? From us, from school, from the nice people who run the Time with God programme at the parish, from Mass itself. It’s neat to see them get excited when they put it all together, all these great stories that form our faith from different parts of their life, from different people in they know.

“Read the next one!”
“You mean, ‘Please read the next one.'”
“Please read the next one?”
“For sure.”
“And the one after that?”
“Maybe.”

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Things that one might do today for the greater glory of God:

1. Empty the dishwasher.

2. Take out the smelly garbage.

3. Cheerfully register for Fall extra-curriculars. Or cheerfully fail at registering for Fall extra-curriculars.

4. Not lose one’s temper at the child who tries to enter the refrigerator.

5. Not lose one’s temper at the child who is yelling at the other child trying to enter the refrigerator.

6. Smile at the neighbours walking their dogs, despite being shy.

7. Wash the school lunch thermos line-up before they get crusty.

8. Listen attentively to the after-school stories.

9. Make dinner.

10. De-crustify the high chair.

(As far as I can tell, in order to do something for the greater glory of God, one turns to God and says, “God? I think you would like me to do this and I’m doing this for your greater glory.” And I think there are bonus points if you really don’t want to do it.)

Good days, Bad days
Two days ago, I had one of those Terribly Bad Days. Or rather, my toddler had a Terribly Bad Day (reason: unknown) and there’s nothing like a tantrummy toddler to send your mood spiralling South. Nothing went right. By the end of the day, my nerves were a wreck and I was snarling at everyone. Blech. I went to bed with my eyes narrowed at God, praying, “God? Where are you? What are you thinking?” Yesterday, on the other hand: the sky was blue, the toddler was smiling (reason: unknown) and everything fell easily into place. Same me, same toddler, same God. Same God who loves me and my toddler more than I can ever imagine, as much two days ago as he did yesterday. Some days are good days, some days are bad days – and we keep on keeping on. Blest be the name of the Lord.

Sometimes parties run late and sometimes you might find yourself ushering droopy toddlers or crazy wired toddlers from their carseats to their beds a bit after their usual bedtime. You’ve placed their tired bodies into pajamas and wrestled a toothbrush through their birthday cake-filled teeth. (Or not. Tomorrow morning might just be as good.) If they’re absolutely done, you carry them to bed, you might ask them to whisper, “Good night, Jesus.” as you point at the crucifix. Or you might say it, since they’re already asleep. Maybe they have been since the car.

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Maybe they’re still in their party clothes

But if they’re awake and have a bit left in them, you might sing just the refrain from this song, complete with actions. You might do this a few times, or more than a few times. When everyone learns it really well, you might try going faster and faster until you’re all giggling, or then slower and slower until it’s like a lullaby. Kind of like Taize, but for toddlers.

The Super Easy Lyrics
Jesus Christ,
You are my life!
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Jesus Christ,
You are my life!
You are my life!
Alleluia!

The Super Easy Actions
Jesus: Point to the middle of your palm (at Jesus’ wound)
Christ: Point to the middle of your other palm (at Jesus’ other wound)
You are: Point out with both hands
my: Point to yourself with both hands
life: Cross both hands over your heart
Alleluia: Trace enthusiastic circles, pointing upwards with both index fingers (i.e. Woohoo! Party!)

(Kind of like this, but the non-Lent version.)

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“What is this maternal love? It’s a love that sees beyond my failures and mistakes to the good in me. It’s a love that is able to see who I really am, and what I could be. It’s a love that is willing to sacrifice for me, so that, I, too, can come to believe that possibility. The experience of maternal, spiritual love cuts right through the subconscious fear that can lurk in hearts, that deep down, there is something un-loveable about me. Maternal love brings the other to life and sets him or her free to join the living chain of heroic love.”

“We’ve come to learn that this spiritual love is not about doing more but about allowing oneself to first be moved in delight by the good of the other, and then outwardly manifesting that delight. This idea can sound simple enough, but do we truly life in this way? Do we love like this? Are we open to receive another person, allowing our hearts to be moved by some goodness we see and notice in them – such as beauty, strength, vulnerability, generosity? And then do we mirror that back to them, before acting, giving advice or stepping in to help, so that they experience being confirmed in their own goodness?

The emphasis is so important, otherwise the other person may feel as if I love them only because I am good (or because I “have to” since I am his or her parent), and not because of any goodness I see within them that is moving me. It is the goodness of the other which is the cause of my delight.

This true affirmation of another is not always easy. It takes faith, courage and fortitude. Sometimes I have to work to let go of myself in order to be open to receive the other and allow my heart to be moved in delight. Sometimes I see the beauty, but it takes the other person a very long time to see what I’ve seen in them. It takes commitment to consistently look beyond repeated mistakes and to love another with constancy, perseverance, courage and delight. But it’s worth it.”

– Mother Agnes Mary, SV, Superior General of the Sisters of Life

(I randomly picked up a brochure from the Sisters of Life in Toronto from the lobby of the Newman Centre, at the heart of the University of Toronto, to pass the time. I read the letter at the front from Mother Agnes Mary, SV, their Superior General, and it was just too wonderful not to share. As a mom, it made me feel like a superhero, able to blast “right through the subconscious fear that can lurk in hearts, that deep down, there is something un-loveable” about them. Ka-POW! Pretty cool.)

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What a mess.

I’m a terrible baker. Actually, that might be overstating it, since I’m not a baker at all. At. All. The amount of times it occurs to me to take the trouble to bake is shamefully close to zero. I’m not sure why this is – maybe I never did it before I got married? I didn’t do well in Chemistry? I prefer a chicken leg to a piece of cake any day? My mother is an awesome baker? So many excuses, so little time.

The thing about kids – or, maybe my kids in particular – they seem to really enjoy the fruits of baking. To them, being given something freshly baked is one of the greatest acts of love they can ever imagine. I can’t wrap my mind around it. Let’s be honest: they wouldn’t sneeze at a lovely piece of Costco-bought pastry. But freshly baked? By a person that they know? Who will even let them help? And lick the bowl? And the spatula and the floor? That’s heaven on earth.

My husband bakes. And let’s the kids help. And lick things. And together they wait in front of the oven and watch the magic of baking soda and baking powder in action. I take pictures of them as they make memories together and then go away and hide.

I don’t know about you, but it’s been a tough Lent. Tough for all sorts of reasons but look:

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There he is and he went through all sorts of tough and awful and heartbreaking things because he loves me so… I’m doing my best to hang in there. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail. The stats are not so great.

So it occurs to me to Offer It All Up and make a Super Big Sacrifice and conjure up an Act of Love for my little people. It is Lent after all. I decide to make Banana Muffins. While the one-year old was napping of course (I’m not a saint yet – baby steps).

I toil. I lose a few years of my life stressing that the baby will wake up at the critical Spooning of the Batter into the Muffin Cups stage. I even Clean Up Afterwards. The smell of freshly baked muffins fill my house. My shoulders relax. Thank you, Jesus. I really needed that.

The school bus arrives and crew marches into my house. They smile when they notice the smell.

“MAMA! Did DADDY make muffins?!”
“No… I did.”
“Did Daddy HELP you?!”
“…”

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Our Lady of Sorrows. I can talk to her. She understands.

At the parish
Kudos to the St. Clement School kids and their teachers and the folks at the parish office for putting together yet another powerful tableaux-style Stations of the Cross! You guys did such a good job! My husband only had to take the one-year old to the foyer (where he continued to compete with the presentation). The bigger little kids were enough engaged and were able to stay still and watch wide-eyed as Jesus carried his cross (“Is that really heavy, Mama?”). And afterwards?

One child: That was REALLY short, Mama. That was shorter than Mass!
Another child: That was WAY longer than Mass!
Another child: Was that a Mass? (Um, no.)

At home
At home, we’ve been trying the same format that we’ve been using for the past couple of years. We can only do about seven stations (max, sometimes much less) at one go before certain individuals get the giggles and then it’s over. Then we just start from where we left of when we get a chance again. One day, everyone will be so mature that we’ll get to the stations in the double digits… in one evening!

In other news
The one-year old is learning the Sign of the Cross! Right now it resembles Tarzan thumping his chest, but it’s PROGRESS.

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Christ in the Garden of Olives, Paul Gauguin

From the bulletin: On Friday, March 28th (tomorrow!), students from St. Clement Catholic School will present each of the 14 stations in tableau form. With the help of scripture and song they will lead us through the Lord’s passion, death and resurrection. A priest will be available to hear confessions immediately after Stations.

This annual parish event has become a bit of a family tradition for us. It’s nice for our little kids to have a special night out to see the St. Clement big kids present each of the stations, complete with costumes.

Since it’s Lent, we added this song to our bedtime prayers rotation, now complete with actions.

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Je-

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-sus,

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remember

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me

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when you come into your

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kingdom.

Repeat and repeat and repeat.

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We’ve all seen something like this, right? First put on your own oxygen mask, then place one on your children.

I suppose this would work well with Lent, too. Or even more generally, with living out the faith.

First, tend to my relationship with God,
then, worry about my children’s relationship with God.

Hmm… not that one should ever be worrying. A wise person once said to me, Try replacing the word ‘worry’ with the word ‘pray’.

Where does that bring us?

First, tend to my relationship with God,
then, pray about my children’s relationship with God.

Sounds good to me. It’s a good beginning, anyway.

It was after bedtime. My dramatic five-year old was surrounded by the clothes of the day and the pajamas she was supposed to get into. She threw her arms wide apart and exclaimed, “Mama! I am going to clean the whole house for you. That will be so hard. The WHOLE house!”

Just to give you an idea of what inspired her big plans, this was similar to what we might have looked like at the time:

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The ceramic frog is shocked, SHOCKED at the amount of dirty dishes left in the sink and on the counter…

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When it gets warmer, we’ll be able to wear these off-season shoes. Meanwhile, we’ll just use them to decorate the dining room…

So, yes. She may have been onto to something. But…

“For sure, when it’s time to clean the whole house, you can do it for me. Right now, I need you to get into your pajamas.”

She was tired. It was late. She wanted to clean the whole house and it wasn’t going to happen right at that moment. She was probably cold, too, since her pajamas were still there on the floor. She was disappointed. I was not very gentle. There were a few tears.

Sometimes, I’m on top of my temper and manage to stay patient and gentle. Other times, not so much. It’s tough. It’s always something at bedtime. They’re tired. I’m tired. It’s easy to slip into a habit of putting them to bed on a sour note, having witnessed dreary reruns of nobody’s favourite, Mama Loses Her Temper.

Sigh.

Jesus, I didn’t do so great tonight. Please bless my little family. Please give me the grace to love my children more, to know what to do. If I get to have the gift of tomorrow, please shine your light on these foggy bits and help me remember you right when trouble brews.

God loves our children more than we can ever imagine, and our journey (complete with slip-ups) is part of their journey. We pray and resolve to do better, resolve to be readier for the craziness that bedtime brings. And try again tomorrow.

And maybe walk into that little girl’s room after lights out for one last kiss and whisper, “I love you. I’m sorry I lost my temper.”

I peeked at next Sunday’s reading and it will be the Baptism of our Lord, which means it will be the end of the Christmas season, which means I can STILL wish you a merry, merry Christmas! I hope this rare post finds you and your family warm and peaceful, and ready to hit the ground running in this New Year. Here are a few photos of our home this Christmas, taken close-up so that you don’t see the mess (that can be a different post).

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The candles are not purple and pink anymore!

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There’s a pretty tree in the living room,

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With a warmly dressed angel on top.

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The Wise Men obscure the unfinished Jesse tree and arrived last weekend to welcome…

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… the baby Jesus, our Lord and Saviour!

You are in our prayers, dear St. Clement families (and other readers, far and near)! God bless you!

Last Sunday, the first reading was from Isaiah 11: 1-10. Inspired by this beautiful passage, we present our humble photographic series entitled Isaiah 11, brought to you by the plastic animal suitcase.

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The plastic animal suitcase.

ISAIAH 11: 1 – 10
1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
2 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear;
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the girdle of his waist, and faithfulness the girdle of his loins.
6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,

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We couldn’t find a wolf, but here is a sabre-toothed lion with a lamb. Equally impressive.

and the leopard shall lie down with the kid,

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Leopard: check. Kid: nope. But apparently, both goats and llamas are even-toed ungulates.

and the calf and the lion and the fatling together,

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At the time of publication, we weren’t sure what a fatling was. The octopus was the fattest animal we had.

and a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall feed; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

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Lions and cows and bears, oh my!

8 The sucking child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.

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Hard to believe, but there are no snakes or any snake-like animals in the plastic animal suitcase. This is as close as we could get going further afoot to the puzzles drawer.

9 They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
10 In that day the root of Jesse shall stand as an ensign to the peoples; him shall the nations seek, and his dwellings shall be glorious.

Sometimes, it feels as if the world is saying Hurry up! Advent says, slow down. Although it seems as if the world is in full Deck the Halls mode, Advent says, let’s keep it simple. Although it takes some doing to guide the mood away from frazzled and stressed to calm and quiet, it really is worth it. Advent involves low-key and simple traditions that serve to gently turn our heads towards an empty manger, our hearts towards Someone who is coming again.

I am often tempted to turn Advent (and Christmas, for that matter) into a big Pinterest-worthy extravaganza. It usually doesn’t work. I suspect that the Holy Spirit is reminding me that, at its heart, Advent is about making room in my heart for Jesus who is coming. Making room implies less, not more. Less stuff, less things on the schedule. Less means that I might hear voice calling out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way for the Lord! Make his paths straight!’

The Advent Wreath

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[left] November 30; [right] December 1; Sigh. Candles don’t usually fit into candle-holders, right? For now, the only one that needs to be standing is the first week.

The candles of an Advent Wreath are a beautiful and quiet way to mark the days leading up to Christmas. Last year, we made a super cool Advent wreath made out of everyone’s hands traced and cut out of green paper. I had great hopes for making a similar one this year, every since the lady at the local religious goods store upsold me some Advent candles a full TWO WEEKS before the season started. I had so much time! Well, here we are, a week into Advent, and I believe we’ve cut out a grand total of five hands. Not quite enough to make a wreath. We may give up and try to purchase one. Or not. The kids are so awe-inspired by lit candles that they may not remember/notice that there was actually no wreath beneath them in 2013.

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Given the baby crawling around enthusiastically foiling our craft attempts, this was a big accomplishment.

Sometimes, the prayer that we use when we light the Advent candle before saying Grace is not handy (read: lost) and we’ve adopted a new tradition of singing the refrain of O Come Divine Messiah. Short and sweet.

The Jesse Tree

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They’re not lost!

Because our nine-year old is a gift, she’s taken it upon herself to keep this tradition going, despite her parents’ lack of involvement. (God gave her to us first because he thought we would need someone that came pre-parented as our first born.) On the first Sunday of Advent, we all read the Creation Story and ceremoniously placed the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil on the lowest branch of the Jesse Tree. Our evenings since then have been more than a little hectic and I noticed today that she’s put up the the next few symbols (Noah = the ark, Abraham = a tent, Isaac = a ram, Jacob = a ladder). The ladder symbol is on the tree but do the little kids remember who Jacob is? Probably not. Hopefully we will get a moment to address that at some point, before they leave home.

The Nativity Sets

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The pretty one out of reach

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The Toddler-friendly one on the living room floor

Both the ceramic Baby Jesus and the plastic one are hidden away. I hope I remember where I placed them in time for Christmas.

Here’s wishing you a calm and quiet Advent. Or even small bits of calm and quiet in Advent, whatever you can scrounge together during what can be an intensely busy time. We do what we can. God really does give us what we need when we need it and he has our families, yours and mine, in his loving heart.

The lovely folks over at SaintlySages have been doing a series of posts on kindness from Frederick William Faber’s Kindness. This often-tired sometimes-tending-to-grumpy mama appreciates the heads up as we head into the craziness of the school year, when there is a temptation to steam-roll over our kids as we Try To Get Things Done Just Put Your Shoes On Fer Cryin’ Out Loud. Got to remember to do things kindly. Even if we’re late. Even when we’ve made a big mess. Even if the baby is crying. Jesus, please, please help me be kind.

“Here is a grand material for sanctification. Nevertheless, such materials are hard to work up in practice. It is weary work cleaning old bricks to build a new house with. These are difficulties, but we have got to reach heaven, and must push on.”

Yes. Sigh. We must push on.

A quick search revealed that Father Faber’s book is available online (see right margin for links to various formats). I will add reading it to my list.

This is the Summer during which we’ve gone from a Not Yet Reading family to a Most of Us Can Read sort of family. Our eldest has been reading for a few years now, but there’s something about having two of the kids reading. Suddenly, there’s someone to share the stories, the wonder, the jokes, the scary bits. It’s brought dinner discussions to a whole new level. (Not that the previous level has disappeared. Some of us are still learning that when the food enters our mouths no one needs to see it again.)

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We’ve been so excited about this new phenomenon that we’ve been collecting all the “big kid” books (i.e. books with not that many pictures and very many words) on a special shelf. In particular, I wanted to share a few of the faith-themed books that we’ve been enjoying.

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Now You Can Read Bible Stories
We received this set of books many years ago, before any of the kids could read. I suppose these aren’t really “big kid” books but I find both readers and the “read-to” crowd really enjoy these. I think the readers like the independence of getting to sit and very, very slo-o-o-wly absorb the story at their own pace, complete with daydreams and distractions – facilitated by fantastic retro-vintage illustrations. I personally like them since I find that I don’t have to paraphrase the stories on the fly so much to make them make sense.

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Saint Catherine Laboure: Mary’s Messenger
This book begins with the story of the young Catherine who loses her mother early in life and turns to Our Lady. One of our kids’ Godmothers gave us this book and it continues to fascinate our children. I believe that it might be a combination of the carefully rendered watercolour illustrations that they just pore over and the wonderful storytelling (and story). For whatever reason, this is a well-loved little book at our house.

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Once Upon a Time Saints
I researched and read a number of reviews online and chose this book as an introduction to the lives of the saints. The stories are lively and really do bring the saints to life. I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun it was to read through the various stories – the author really has a gift. From the number of times that I’ve had to remind someone to put it away, it seems as if others do as well.

I’m learning that, especially in the long, hazy days of Summer, if you have it around, they might read it. Purchasing used books online and from the neighbourhood thrift stores can makes the process a bit more affordable. Watching the kids curl up and read is a delight.

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Image from St. Clement Parish 2012 Summer Camp “Operation Overboard”

From the lovely folks at the parish office:

Once again this year St. Clement Parish is hosting a Summer Camp for Kids. Children ages 5 – 12 years old are invited to join us for fun, games, music, prayer and faith-based fun. The camp runs Monday to Friday, August 19 – 23, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. Registration Fee: $40 per child. Pick up an early registration form in the church lobby after Mass. Volunteers please call Susan Ciufo at the parish office.

Our kids always have a great time so make sure you remember to grab a registration form when you find yourself in the parish foyer.

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Pretty plate

How to celebrate the Church’s birthday when a) you’ve forgotten to buy fruit for a Pentecost Chocolate Fondue Extravaganza and b) everyone is worn out and under the weather? You could take out the pretty plates and the colourful tablecloth and prepare someone’s favourite lunch. For us it happened to be tuna salad and potato chips. It was either that or Kraft Dinner, which just didn’t seem festive enough. The kids had brought home a colouring page from St. Clement that had the Fruit of the Holy Spirit inscribed on some fruit and we had a discussion about how God the Holy Spirit did not bring fruit, among other things. Come, Holy Spirit!

What is this?

Here a volunteer parishoner at St. Clement shares her personal experiences as her young family tries to keep the Catholic faith alive in their homes, living out the promises of their Baptism. Thank you for stopping in and be sure to share some of your stories as well!

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