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Lights out


Here’s the song reference.

Yesterday evening, we attended Mass as a family, including Deedaw.  This is an extraordinarily rare occurrence, as Mr. Man and Baby Guy have a history of outrageously unacceptable conduct at church; we generally split up, with Manie attending the Saturday vigil Mass with Deedaw at her parish, and Beanie attending the early Sunday Mass with me at our parish.  It usually works out well for all concerned.  However, we had an unexpectedly uneventful morning Mass, with the entire tribe, on Thursday, which was the Solemnity of the Assumption, so we figured we would chance it.

There was a reason for our burning desire to attend Saturday vigil Mass en famille; our wonderful priest was accorded the title of Pastor, as opposed to Parochial Administrator, which gives our parish actual parish status, as opposed to a mission (let’s see if this works, in other words) church.  After ten long years, we are finally starting to build the physical building for our church, which currently meets in a converted motorcycle dealership.  This is progress, since we started out meeting in one of the chapels in a local funeral home, and progressed from there to a converted gym, thence to our current digs.  We love our parish; it’s a huge extended family, and even if we don’t know everyone’s name, it is a loving and welcoming house of God, and we wanted to be there for this much-anticipated celebration.

By and large, Bugaboo and Beanie, with Deedaw between them as a buffer, did well following a Mass that had a little more speechifying than usual involved, although I did have to warn Beanie a couple of times that swinging from the back of the pews is not considered acceptable participation in the celebration of the Mass.  Mr. Man and Baby Guy managed an entire Mass in a pew, which is a first, helped along by many, many, MANY whispered readings of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See and The Wheels on the Bus.  You have not lived until you have tried to sing “The Wheels on the Bus” and the responsorial psalm simultaneously – and get the rights words at the right volume for each.

Following Mass, there was a parish taco party in the multi-purpose room, and we decided to chance attending that with the tribe and Deedaw.  Before the party started, there was a presentation to our newly-minted pastor by the Knights of Columbus (Father is now a fourth-degree Knight), the unveiling of the plans for what will be an absolutely beautiful new church building, and Grace before the meal.  We managed to pacify our increasingly restless passel of pipsqueaks with tortilla chips (it was a taco party, after all) and juice boxes, and then balanced enough food on paper plates to feed our entire entourage.  The small people each managed to demolish a plate of tacos and side dishes lovingly prepared by the parish ladies, and then Baby Guy noticed the enormous cake on the table against the wall.

“I see happy you you CAAAAAAKE!”

Luckily, I was able to snag a couple of slices before Baby Guy made his winsome way to the table, and, walking backwards, held his attention by continually calling his attention to the contents of the plates in my hands.  Making eye contact with a gentleman who was watching our progress with an enormous grin, I smilingly remarked, “Look, baby bait!”

After we’d all enjoyed food, fellowship, and a rather yummy cake, Deedaw decided it was time for her to depart, so she wouldn’t be driving after dark.  We started rounding up Baby Guy’s collection of toy cars that accompany him whithersoever he goes, and collecting the kids at one table so we could make good our escape, as well.  Since Manie seemed to have the tribe well in hand, I thought it safe to go over to the buffet table to retrieve our dishes (if you’d like an interesting and well-received church supper recipe, I’ll share my confetti peppers and tomato salad one with you), and indulge in a few moments of conversation with a friend I don’t see often these days.

When I returned to the table where we’d gathered, Manie and the tribe were nowhere to be seen.  Figuring he had taken the entire tribe to the bathroom, I started packing our dishes and gear into the big bag we’d brought.  Suddenly, the lights went out.  I heard a lady at a nearby table shushing her children, with the admonition that Father must have something to say.  Moments later, my crimson-faced husband returned, with the entire tribe in tow, and brusquely informed me that it was time for us to Leave.  Right.  Now.

Manie is not normally abrupt, so I assumed one or more members of the tribe had become so unruly that he had had to remove the lot of them to the vestibule, and was attempting to herd them all out to the van before any further follies could unfold.  He brushed aside my protestations that it appeared Father might have some additional wisdom or words to impart, and he assured me that this was not the case.  As soon as we had cleared the back door of the multi-purpose room, he turned to Beanie and furiously inquired, “What on earth made you think it was a good idea to turn the lights off on everyone?”

Apparently, at least according to Bugaboo’s version of events, Mr. Man and Baby Guy had been gazing longingly at the master light switch for the room, located a tantalizing fraction of an inch out of their reach on the wall.  Beanie, of course, is that fraction of an inch taller than Mr. Man, and, wanting to make her very sad little brothers happy, flipped the switch that plunged the parishioners into darkness.  Beanie tearfully apologized, while Mr. Man and Baby Guy cheerfully chortled, “Beanie reach da lights!  Beanie turned them ALL OFF!  Spooky dark was fun!  Why the lights not come back on, Mommy?”

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for little blessings who are learning how to express their joy at being in Your house respectfully, and who love to sing Your praises.  Thank You especially for Mr. Man’s tremulous warbling of the refrain of “On Eagle’s Wings,” a song he’s heard far too many times on less joyful occasions.  Thank You for blessing our family with a happier memory of a song that had become painful for many of us to hear.

Lord, please help us teach Your blessings that sometimes, doing the right and loving thing for people doesn’t mean gratifying their immediate desires.  Thank You for the opportunity to teach them this with an event in which no lasting harm was done, except, perhaps, to what might just be excessive parental pride.  Help us remember to respond to Your blessings’ errors proportionally, and to always offer correction in love instead of anger.

And thank You, Lord, for the good shepherd You sent for our parish.

Postscript: Friends, please click on the words “good shepherd” in the last line of today’s prayer.  It will take you to our pastor’s website, where he posts his daily homilies.  If you are ever in need of a word of love and wisdom, click on any one of them at random, and you will be reminded of the love Christ bears for us.

Hello, I love you


Here’s the song reference.

Taking kids to vote

We voted as a bloc, as it were, yesterday.

Before we disembarked from Fran the Van, I reminded Bugaboo, Beanie, Mr. Man, and Baby Guy that we would greet each and every person we met with a warm, “Good morning, sir,” or, “Good morning, ma’am,” and an honest smile.  We spent the drive to our precinct singing selections from “Wee Sing America” and talking about how the Lord gives us free will.  We had talked about choices earlier in the day, and even took a vote on what we would have for breakfast (President Pancakes and Vice President Sausage were the victors).

As we walked the gauntlet of electioneers, Bugaboo, Beanie, Mr. Man and I greeted every poll worker for every candidate exactly as we had discussed.  Baby Guy chimed in with giggles and waves.  Each man and woman returned our greeting warmly and offered us sample ballots, which we politely declined.  Mr. Man hopefully extended his hand to each one, and was rewarded by at least a dozen smiling handshakes.

Inside the precinct, we continued greeting the people we met, from the election judges to the other voters.  People smiled, and told the tiny people what nice children they were, and commended me on their good manners.  With the exception of a minor Beanie meltdown, they weathered the 45 minute wait to cast our ballot beautifully, and made a couple of new little friends along the way.  After we voted, one of the electioneers was kind enough to take our picture.  Once we returned home, we taped a sign to the door of our little house in a swing neighborhood of a swing state so some very weary children could take their afternoon nap.

Deterring doorknockers

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for little blessings who rejoice in being salt and light to the world.  Help me teach them always, in my words, in my deeds, and in my silences, that we owe our first allegiance always to You, Who sacrificed Your life for ours.  Let my words and deeds also show them that we render unto our temporal leaders the respect they are due, and we love all of our neighbors, not just the ones who agree with us.  Lord, we serve You first, and we serve You best by being Your face to this world, in hopes of bringing others into the warm embrace of Your friendship.  We do this because we love You; grant us the strength, the courage, and the grace to share that authentic love, which does not fall into easy, feel-good gestures, but which daringly passes through the narrow gate.

All we need is just a little patience


Here’s the song reference.

No specific tales of the tribe today, but I wanted to share something I’ve learned from this particular political season, a lesson I’m incorporating into every formal subject we study and the rest of life, too.  I have been terribly discouraged by the willingness of so many people to rely on soundbites for information, and assume the information thus presented is accurate simply because it confirms their own opinion.  With only a minor amount of diligence, and an Internet connection, it’s pretty easy to separate fact from fiction.  This is basic research of a type my generation conducted in the library, looking up periodicals on microfilm or microfiche.  The technique and its utility transcend time and technology.

Unfortunately, the whole story usually doesn’t fit neatly into 140 characters.  Thought, logic, and reason are required to find out what is true, and a humble acknowledgement of one’s own biases is a prerequisite for recognizing truths that may be unpleasant or disagreeable, that contradict what we desperately want to believe.

In the end, this is a thoroughly Christian concept; Christ Himself admonished us, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many.  How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.”

I desperately want to teach my children to enter through the narrow gate in all things.  Everywhere from Scripture to Alcoholics Anonymous, the folly of choosing the easier, softer way is decried.  No matter where their hearts or political leanings may lead them, I want them to hold and defend their convictions with rigorous honesty and humility, and with the deepest respect for the humanity and dignity of all their interlocutors.  Sometimes, even following Christ’s commandment to love one another as He loved us is a part of that narrow gate.

Peace be with you.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, create humble hearts in us, and grant us the grace of understanding the difference between intelligence and wisdom.  Please help us teach Your blessings that it pleases You when we are diligent in every endeavor, but never more so than when we are in pursuit of truth.  Lord, You are all-good and all-knowing, and You never lie.  Help us to walk in Your paths in all things, and when we have choices to make, let us look first to Your guidance.

Celebrating our new life


Before anyone has a health emergency resulting from the title of this post, no, we are NOT expecting a fifth blessing at this time.  However, since today is April Fools’ Day, I thought a little double entendre-style humor might not go amiss.

Today, Palm Sunday, we begin our celebration of the Paschal Mystery in earnest.  Nonno and Deedaw were kind enough to meet us for Mass this morning; while the Passion Gospels are beautiful and instructive, they are also very long, and have been known to try the patience of very small children, so we thought it might be helpful to have a little backup.  Thankfully, Nonno and Deedaw were enough of a steadying influence that all four of our tiny people made it through the entire Mass, except for the announcements.  Having long, flexible palm branches for each child to hold probably didn’t hurt, either.

This week, for us, is a celebration of the new life we have found in Christ, a life that requires neither wrath nor fear, neither covetousness nor envy, a life that gives us the hope of a joyous eternity with our Lord and Savior.  Because those concepts are somewhat less than concrete, we’ve had our challenges trying to explain the importance of Lent and Easter to the tribe down through the years.  The best we’ve been able to do is to analogize with events that are within their frames of reference, like how good it feels when a parent or a sibling forgives you for something rotten you’ve done, or when you find that someone’s given you something for no reason.

Another analogy we’ve used for the Resurrection is springtime, when everything that seemed dead comes back to life.  We’re not the only ones to use if, of course, nor is it entirely accurate, because Christ truly did die and truly did rise from the dead.   However, we spend a lot of time decorating eggs and making anything possible from flowers.  This evening, Bugaboo and Beanie managed to combine the two in a little craft project.

The project is pretty simple.  Take a dozen or so plastic eggs, several stems of artificial flowers, and a roll of big glue dots.  Strip the blossoms from the stems and use the glue dots to adhere them to the eggs.  The end result is quite decorative, and the ladies are planning to give them to their grandmothers as an Easter gift (so if you know them, please don’t spill the beans — neither of them are among the readership of this blog).  Here’s a little photo series showing how it works.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, today we remembered Your triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when ordinary people like us threw down palm branches and their cloaks to honor You.  Days later, You suffered an ignominious death because people refused to listen to Your truth, some from hatred, some from fear.  Your Resurrection freed us from the need to hate and from the need to fear even death itself.  Thank You for your ultimate gift, and help us teach Your blessings that all life, all goodness flows from You, and that walking in Your way, we celebrate, love, and honor the beauty of every life in every corner of Your Creation.

Sausage and corn chowder


On Tuesdays during Lent, our parish has a soup supper, followed by a talk from either our parish priest or a guest speaker.  Since I absolutely love to cook for a crowd (and a good presentation followed by a rousing discussion), this means my Tuesdays generally feature baking a huge loaf of bread and making a gallon or so of soup.  Of our tribe, only Bugaboo is not a soup aficionado, so I usually set aside a saucepan of the day’s concoction for their supper.  Bugaboo does, however, love fresh, homemade bread, so I’m usually able to cut off the complaint department by reminding her that with the soup comes at least one good slab of still-warm-from-the-oven bread, slathered in the topping of her choice.

I didn’t get a chance to run to the grocery store yesterday, so I was a little light on soup ingredients.  Since I feed a family of six, plus anyone who happens to drop by, on a daily basis, my definition of “a little light” is probably somewhat uncommon; in this particular case, it means the first thing I came to in the freezer was three pounds of smoked sausage and a half-dozen ears of frozen corn from last year’s CSA.  That sounded like soup to me, so I brought the lot upstairs to thaw, started a roux with a trio of onions that peeked their little bulbs out from the corner of the produce drawer, and threw bread ingredients together to rise.  If you want the recipes for either the soup or the bread, leave me a note in the comments.  Neither is particularly complicated.

Soup was assembled and bread was baked while Bugaboo and Beanie were finishing their schoolwork, and Baby Guy and Mr. Man were trading toys in the living room.  Several times, Mr. Man wandered into the kitchen, seized a spoon from the silverware drawer, then tiptoed over to the stove, waving his spoon and asking, “Soooooop?  Sooooop?”  No, sweetie, no soup until dinner.  These things take time.

Lunch, naps, an episode of “My Little Pony” for the girls, finishing the craft from today’s devotional, and a good romp in the great outdoors whetted the tribe’s appetite; a little after 3:00, Beanie bounced into the kitchen, parked herself at the table, and began inquiring cheerfully as to the status of the soup.

By 4:00, Mr. Man had struck the harp and joined the chorus, so it followed that I merrily measured soup into four small bowls, garnished each with a warm slab of bread, and called Bugaboo to the table.  I parked Baby Guy in his high chair to feed him his wee spoonfuls, and started the stream of reminders to Bugaboo that regardless of her dislike for the meal presented, we expect her to eat what she is served without complaining.

An hour and a half later, Bugaboo finally finished her soup, and I could then put the three ambulatory musketeers in the tub for a much-needed scrubbing.  Baby Guy was just as happy to have all the living room toys to himself for a few minutes, before he was rejoined by his newly cleaned siblings.  Once I was certain that all four kids were playing gently with each other, I headed for the kitchen to wash some dishes and prepare soup for transport.

No sooner had I found the big ladle than Bugaboo blew into the kitchen, stridently admonishing me, “Mommy, Baby Guy threw up.  It’s everywhere. And Smudgie’s outside, so he can’t help clean it up.”

My little Bugaboo is an absolute fountain of relevant details sometimes.

To make a very long story short, it was probably unwise to let Baby Guy and Mr. Man sate themselves on any dish involving smoked sausage.  As I type this, Mr. Man is snuggled in between my husband and I, as we thought it advisable to keep him up for half an hour or so after we dosed him with kiddie Pepto in an effort to avoid our fifth bedding change of the night.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, please keep me mindful that not everything Your blessings want it good for them.  It’s easy to remember when they ask for cookies for dinner, somewhat less so when it’s something that’s tasty and nourishing but unsuitable for little tummies. Thank You for granting us such abundance that when Your blessings are ill, it might be related to overindulgence in rich foods, but never from malnutrition or incurable ailments.  Thank You for the opportunity to share Your bounty with our friends and neighbors, and please help keep our eyes open to those neighbors who may need what, to us, is extra.

Visual aids


All of our little blessings have great enthusiasm for art and craft projects, and we make it a point to do something creative with them each day. Granted, the girls always have some sort of coloring pages included in their schoolwork, and Mr. Man and Baby Guy, if they are around, clamor for crayons and paper of their own while their sisters are doing their lessons.  However, they like to get into something that’s not an actual assignment as well, so we keep plenty of Play-Doh, magic paint posters, tempera, watercolors, craft kits, pompons — oh, you get the idea.  If Martha Stewart could get over the dry heaves the general condition of our house would give her, she’d be impressed with the selection of craft supplies.

Every liturgical season at our house comes with its own long-term project, though.  We are currently in the season of Lent, when those of our faith are called to reflect and repent.  This is kind of a tough concept for small children, who, while they are perfectly well aware of the need to say, “I’m sorry” when they’ve transgressed a rule.  We wanted them to have some way to see the impact of their works of kindness and their sins against others, particularly against each other, that would make sense to them.  As a result, our hall closet is currently covered with a huge sheet of paper, on which has been taped a large construction-paper cross.  Each time one of the kids does something really ugly, we put a nail on the cross (the two oldest are sufficiently familiar with the life of Christ that they knew he was nailed to a cross, and Mr. Man has poked his finger on a nail, so  he knows they’re not nice things); each time one of them does something kind, or makes a good decision, we put a flower around the cross.

This is what it looks like — I apologize for the poor photo quality, but the hallway is narrow and getting the shot is a huge challenge:

I love that there are far more flowers than nails, and the flower population is growing day by day.  Even better is that, while it started out as both of the girls pointing out their own actions that were flower-worthy and their siblings’ (and, yes, sometimes their parents’ — we’re not exempt) nail-worthy transgressions, both Beanie and Bugaboo are developing the habit of admitting their own faults and celebrating their siblings’ kindnesses.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for the reassurance that Your blessings are developing good consciences, and a desire to treat others with kindness.  You ordained this season of reflection for us to assess our own actions and to redouble our efforts to extend a merciful hand to those whom You have blessed differently.  Thank You for the means to share Your bounty, and thank You for the love Your blessings have for us, each other, and You.

Pro-choice


Today is Ash Wednesday, which begins the season of Lent.  Our day began with Mass this morning, with the assistance of friends who have six children of their own.  Maybe it was the solemnity of the day, maybe it was being able to go up to the altar twice (and one of those times get to do what the big people did), but the tribe was reasonably good throughout.  We had a quick moment of angst when Mr. Man decided it would be enormous fun to crawl under the pew and greet the parishioners seated behind us in an up-close-and-personal way, and a brief outcry when Baby Guy’s bottle did not arrive in his mouth with the speed he would have preferred, but we’ve had far worse Masses.  I actually heard the homily today, and I think the people around us did, too.

The puppy is not the only one who is Smudgie today.

I spent a decent part of the morning explaining to the girlies why we wouldn’t have sweets today, and why Mommy and Daddy would be eating as little as possible.  See the links in the first sentence if you’re also a little fuzzy on that.  We had a few errands to run after Mass, since our friend over at Christ the King has a coloring book about Lent in her stock that seemed like a good idea; once those were done, home we came to have a little lunch and do schoolwork.  Part of the beauty of homeschooling is that the school day starts whenever we need it to, so if a priority like Ash Wednesday Mass comes along, we don’t miss any instructional time.  Just saying.

Most of Father Hudgins’s homily today dealt with choices that we make.  We can choose to use loving or hateful words when we speak, we can choose to help or to pass by a person in need, we can choose to build up or tear down.  It was rather helpful that Beanie’s daily devotional involved a story about a little girl who saw a box of candy and a book and wanted both, but had only enough money for one.  She opted for the book, because it would give her a more lasting benefit.

The wisdom of three-and-a-half-year-olds never ceases to amaze me.  Beanie actually got it.  She said, “That’s like when we go to Wegmans.  I like candy.  I like books, too, and if I get a book, you read it to me again and again.  I’d rather eat candy and read the book, though.  But we don’t have enough money.”

Okay, we’re not REALLY that broke, but it’s at least put the idea into her head that she’s not going to get everything she wants.

We both enjoyed the little prayer at the end of the story, too, which read, “Jesus, please help me to make choices that are not only good, but good for me as well.  Amen.”  Throughout the day, whenever Beanie balked at something she was asked to do (like using the potty), I explained the choice before her, and asked her what the right choice would be — not the choice that would give her the immediate result she wanted, but the right choice.  She chose rightly every time.  I doubt that will last until bedtime, because there is a bath in her future tonight, but she actually understands the concept.  It will serve her well later in life when she has to choose between going to the movies and paying the water bill, between a fancy dinner for herself and making sure her neighbor’s children have any food at all, between indulging a sexual impulse and living the life she’s imagined without regrets, between love and wrath, between life and death.

I’m glad the Lord gave us free will, and ten simple rules.  Every word, every action or inaction, is a choice.  We are free to choose to gratify an immediate desire, or we can choose to look at long-term consequences.  Long-term includes which way we’ll go when, eventually, to dust we return.  If we choose to destroy, to break, to kill, we’re not walking in friendship with Christ or with each other.  We’re still free to do it, though.  There’s a reason that wrath and covetousness are numbered among the deadly sins.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, Your blessings and I are faced with choices every day.  It is so tempting, at times, to go for the easy indulgence, to gratify the whim of a moment, without looking at the consequences.  It can be as simple as spending the dollar on a candy bar that we could use to provide a bag of rice for someone who hungers, or giving a child a cookie just so he or she will stop screaming.  Please, Lord, help me set a good example of right choices for them, to teach them to pause and reflect on whether a choice is good or just easy.  I want to teach them compassion, love, and generosity in all things.  You sacrificed Your life for us, and before you did, You withstood every temptation, to show us that walking in the Lord’s way is possible.  Let us see temptations for what they are, and to choose to follow You.

I have called you each by name . . . again, and again, and again . . . it’s not working!


Mass this morning was an adventure.  Theoretically, since I was up at 5 and the girls were up at 7, we should have had no problem making it to 9:30 Mass en famille.  However, when there are four tiny people under the age of 5 involved, nothing is simple by the time we get through with it.  Mr. Man and Baby Guy awoke at about 8:45, and after a mad preparatory dash, which included trying to find some breakfast food that would interest Mr. Man more than his sisters’ Lite Sprites, we hustled the tribe out the door at 9:20 a.m.   After wrestling the highly uncooperative Beanie, Mr. Man, and Baby Guy into their car seats (thankfully, Bugaboo jumped right into Fran the Van and buckled herself into her seat), we headed off for worship and, we hoped, fellowship.  Our parish has a coffee-and-donuts social after the 9:30 Mass, and more than once, we have extorted good behavior from our elder three with the promise of a Boston creme.

We arrived just before the Liturgy of the Word began, and one of the ushers helpfully directed us to the only pew that would accommodate our family of six . . . directly behind where the altarboys sit, in the very front of the church, very close to the altar.  Baby Guy was pretty happy, since there was another very small person in her car carrier at the end of the pew directly behind us; her parents faced her car seat toward his, and they had a grand time making faces and smiling at each other.  Mr. Man was happy to sit in the pew next to Bugaboo and watch the flickering candles, while Bugaboo was busy being a big girl, sitting quietly and listening to the readings.

And then, there was Beanie.  Resplendent in the fuzzy, pale pink coat she proudly picked out all by herself, she quickly discovered the smoothness of her fuzzy coat made it ideal for sliding on the polished wood of the pew and the polished linoleum of the floor.  My poor husband tried every sotto voce tactic in his considerable repertoire to get her to sit quietly in the pew, several of which were met with wails (she has a remarkable ability to time a loud whine at the exact moments where pauses occur in readings or hymns).  I have never been so relieved to hear her ask to go to the potty in the middle of Mass.

Unsurprisingly, around the time my husband shuffled Beanie out the side door, Mr. Man wearied of watching candles and motionless ceiling fans, and decided he should, perhaps, explore his surroundings.  I was able to divert him for a few minutes by letting him give Baby Guy a bottle; he loves to have a “big guy” job like helping feed his little brother.  Unfortunately, Baby Guy wasn’t nearly as hungry as I had hoped.  As our priest was finishing his homily by reading the bishops’ letter about an assault on our faith by the federal government (please, if you don’t know what this is, click the link and pray for us), Mr. Man decided that the ramp heading up to the altar was simply irresistible, and took off up it.

I lacked the intestinal fortitude to meet the eyes of any of my fellow parishioners as I retrieved Mr. Man from multiple attempts to investigate the altar and its environs, and when he started throwing his shoes, but I was thoroughly grateful to see my husband returning with a not-even-remotely-calmer Beanie.  Since Baby Guy was still cheerfully rocking himself in his car seat, and Bugaboo was intently following the consecration, I scooped up a wriggly Mr. Man and headed for the back of the church.  By the time Communion was beginning, he was sufficiently calm to risk returning to the pew — where we discovered Beanie merrily making dust angels on the floor.

Under the circumstances, the biggest advantage to where we were sitting for Mass was that we were the first ones to go up to receive Communion.  When we returned to the pew, we made a brief effort to sing the Communion hymn,  then realized that we were in danger of being drowned out by Beanie, Mr. Man, and the increasingly distressed Baby Guy.  It seemed to be wisest to pack up our tribe and depart as quickly as possible, which is precisely what we did.  Once we cleared the sanctuary, Mr. Man and Beanie were informed that there would be no donuts today.

I have omitted plenty of behavioral details, such as attempts to skin-the-cat over the back of a pew, but it was definitely not a Mass that led itself to peaceful contemplation of Christian mysteries.  My husband and I had a brief discussion, as we usually after do after mornings such as these, about the wisdom of trying to take all four children to Mass at the same time, which was resolved, as it always is, by our agreeing that we just need to leave early enough that we can sit near the rear of the church.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You gave us the instruction, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. (Mt 19:14)”  Thank you for a church that welcomes Your little blessings, even when they make a less-than-joyful noise in Your house.  We will keep trying, Lord, but please grant us enough wisdom to find a way to explain to Mr. Man that he may not dash onto the altar to request what, to his very young eyes, looks for all the world like a cookie.