Tag Archive | pro-life

Little boy, don’t you think it’s time you were in bed

Here’s the song reference.

The saga of getting Mr. Man to stay in his bed at night continues.  Wednesday night, Manie and I resorted to putting a baby gate across the door to the boys’ room, which worked well.  It probably helped that he hadn’t taken a nap and was completely exhausted when Manie tucked him in an hour past his usual bedtime.

Yesterday, a beautiful friend, B, gave me the gift of her day, bringing her daughter over to spend time with the tribe so I could give Deedaw unlimited time to run errands.  She remains determined to spoil her grandchildren this Christmas; it’s the little piece of normal life that is her best distraction right now.  B did such a stellar job that Mr. Man actually took a nap for the first time in several days, although he did give her a moment of heart failure when she went to check on him and Baby Guy and did not see him in his bed.  He had curled up behind the rocking chair, on the bottom shelf of the bookcase, and fallen asleep clutching his blankies.

At bedtime last night, three out of four tiny people fell asleep as soon as their heads hit their pillows (or, in Baby Guy’s case, his bear).  It may have helped that I told the girls that Frisbee (our elf on the shelf, so named because he flies back and forth between our house and Santa’s) and I had some urgent matters to discuss, and any delay in their going to sleep would delay our conversation — which would probably displease us both.  That roughly translates to me having an urgent need to get their Christmas presents wrapped before they figure out where the loot is stashed, but telling them THAT would have guaranteed me a steady stream of little taps on our bedroom door.  Sometimes, metaphor and euphemism are potent tools.

Mr. Man was completely unimpressed by my need to have a private conversation with Frisbee.  I had no sooner turned off Bugaboo and Beanie’s light and closed their door, with a last blown kiss and “Love you, beautiful girls,” than I heard the door to the boys’ room snick open.  The gate was up, and I could hear Mr. Man experimentally tapping against the gate with different toys to see if any of them would result in the gate falling.  Since I had to go retrieve the box of presents from downstairs anyway, I stopped by to kiss him on the head and gently remind him that once the lights go out, it’s time to be in bed, and stay in bed until he can see daylight.  With a somber, “Okay, Mommy,” he trudged back to his bed.  I whispered, “I love you,” and quietly closed his door.

I think I had started taking the second footstep towards the utility room before I heard the door open again.

Sighing, I turned around and said, “Okay, big guy.  I love you too, but it’s bedtime.  Night-night, Mr. Man.  You need to sleep now.”

The door closed.

I fished out the box of toys.

The door opened.

“Close the door, Mr. Man.”

The door closed.

I started up the stairs and made it about halfway before I heard the door open again.

“Good NIGHT, Mr. Man.”

The door closed.

I made a quick round of phone calls to update Grandma, Grandpa, and a couple other family members on Nonno, and to kibitz with Manie, who stayed the night with Nonno and Deedaw last night, before starting in on the wrapping.  Throughout the hour or so I spent on the phone, Mr. Man kept opening and closing his door, playing with his toys (he and Alphie had a lovely long conversation about letters and numbers), and trying unsuccessfully to get Baby Guy to awaken and join in the fun.  Thinking that, perhaps, this might be one of those times where if I kept going down and giving him more attention for doing something he shouldn’t, I decided to let him wear himself out for a bit while I talked to everyone.

That tactic seemed to be working; the noise level decreased, and while I was talking with Grandma, I thought he had actually gone to sleep, perhaps just leaving his door open so the ambient noise of the house would soothe him.  When I heard the thud and the wail, I realized my theory was incorrect, so I bid a quick farewell to Grandma and hurried down the stairs.

Mr. Man had, apparently, been pushing different toys and objects over to the gate to see if he could find something he could climb that would get him high enough to scramble over the gate.  His final attempt involved pushing Baby Guy’s music table against the gate and attempting to scale it.  However, he has the balance one might expect of a sleepy two-year-old, and the table tipped over when he tried to stand on it, spilling him onto the floor.

After ascertaining that he had done himself no injury that would require immediate medical attention, I removed the guilty table from the boys’ room and stowed it safely in a bathroom for the night, then sternly explained to a throughly unrepentant Mr. Man that once the lights are turned out, he is to remain in his bed, with his blankies and all his stuffed friends, close his eyes, and remain quiet.  Should he do those things, I clarified, sleep would find him and he would be a happy and well-rested little dude the following morning, with a happy and well-rested mommy.

He didn’t seem terribly impressed by my logic, but he did stay in his bed after that.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for the many ways in which You protect Your little blessings, from the kindhearted friends You send to help care for them to the soft landings on well-padded body parts our less graceful blessings always seem to have.  Please help us teach them that what they are seeing from their friends and family this Christmas is love at its brightest and truest, the sacrificial gift of self that all six of us have given to bring Nonno and Deedaw what comfort and joy we have to offer, and the sacrificial gifts of time and talent offered to us by more friends and relatives than we realized we have.  Thank You for each of them, and for each moment they have been Your loving and compassionate face to us and to Your little blessings.  Please also grant me the grace and wisdom to keep returning Mr. Man to his bed gently, and remind me that while “I love you” sometimes sounds an awful lot like “no,” little boys whose worlds are being upended sometimes need some extra hugs and kisses.

Lord, Deedaw and Bugaboo are praying for one more Christmas with Nonno.  Thy will be done, Lord.  Please give us the meekness of heart to rejoice in whatever Your will may be.  Thank you for the nurses who have taken such good care of Nonno and comforted Deedaw, and for the medications that ease Nonno’s suffering. Please let these days be a reminder to us that suffering is sometimes the best lesson in how we are called to love, and teach us to show mercy to each other.

Ears to you, my little loves

Here’s the song reference.

One of the highlights of the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which includes the season of Advent, from the tribe’s perspective, is the collection of Christmas DVDs that magically appears in Fran the Van after the turkey has been eaten.  At our house, we are big fans of the old animated specials dating from the 1970s, and because we are a family who celebrates the birth of Christ, we tend to focus on those films and specials that tell stories relating to the Nativity.  We enjoy the tales of Frosty, and Rudolph, and Santa, too, but during Advent, we try to keep the tiny people’s focus on love and humility.

It’s a great blessing to me that one of my favorite Christmas stories is also beloved by the tribe, particularly Bugaboo and Beanie.  If you are unfamiliar with Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey, I highly recommend grabbing a cup of coffee and a sandwich, clicking the link, and relaxing with a classic bit of animation for the next 24 minutes or so.  To my delight, I was able to acquire a copy of it on DVD about a month ago, and I’d been eagerly anticipating surprising the kids with it.  When we first played it in the van during our travels last week, the girls made me promise that I would only put it in on trips where they could watch the entire program from beginning to end.  I’ve learned a number of circuitous routes to nearby destinations since then.

As it happened, Bugaboo sadly trudged into the kitchen yesterday morning, bearing in her wee hands a Polly Pocket doll with a missing leg.  She is, as a general rule, pretty generous about sharing her toys with her sister and brothers, but the boys don’t always play nicely with them, with the occasional severed toy limb being one of the consequences.

“Mommy, Polly lost her leg again.  I don’t think the glue worked.  I guess I have to throw her away.”

“I’m sorry, sweetheart.  You don’t have to throw her away, though.”

“But she’s broken.  Even you and Daddy couldn’t fix her.”

“Come sit with me.”  She climbed up into my lap.  “You actually have quite a gift there.”

“Really?  Why is a broken toy a gift?”

“Bugaboo, remember how we talked about how God makes every person just a little bit different?  How people come in different colors, sizes, and shapes?”


“Well, now one of your dolls has a little different shape than the others.  Even though she only has one leg, she’s still beautiful.  Remember the lady soldier we met at the fair who only had one leg?”

“Yeah, I remember her!  She was really nice.”

“And now you have a Polly Pocket who reminds you of her.”

She thought about that for a minute before breaking into a wide smile.  “I have a very brave Polly!  She can be the Polly who works with the Rescue Bots to save the other people when they’re in trouble!”  With that, she sprinted back to her room.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for creating each one of Your blessings to be just a little different from each other one.  Please help me teach Your little blessings to keep their hearts and minds open to Your face in every person they meet, to see that no matter what their physical appearance may be, all of them are created in Your image and likeness, to receive those differences with love instead of scornful mockery.  Grant us the wisdom to see that every human being has merit and a soul that yearns to reflect You, and has a heart to love and to hurt as Yours does.  Please guard our hearts closely against falling into the trap of judging people only on worldly standards of physical attraction and earning potential, and keep ever in our thoughts the sure knowledge that every life created by You is precious, and should never be discarded because of some perceived defect or imperfection.  Help us lead souls to You by our example of agape love towards all Your children.

The heart of the matter

Here’s the song reference.

The son of someone I’ve known for a very long time underwent his twelfth brain surgery in his nine months of life yesterday.  I can’t imagine the anxiety level in their house about now; the little guy was born a couple of months early, and has been struggling for his life ever since.  Please, if you can, spare a prayer for Dylan.  I asked the tribe to do likewise yesterday, and the girls were only to happy to ask God to send another miracle for a baby they only know through photos on Facebook.  They also made little construction paper angels for him.

All Bugaboo and Beanie know about Dylan is that he is the child of an old friend of mine, but that doesn’t matter.  What matters to them is that he’s a baby who is sick and needs prayer.  They don’t know anything about the structure of the household in which he lives, and they don’t know that household is composed of two women, one of whom I lived with in a relationship for eleven years, and a baby.  What they do know is that God works miracles to heal bodies, hearts, and souls.  They understand that no matter what our points of disagreement or disapproval, love means we pray for one another.  As we learned yesterday, Christ can heal any sort of brokenness man can imagine.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for little blessings who are healthy enough to wear me to a happy exhaustion at the end of a day, and who understand that You have blessed some people differently.  You are the Almighty Healer of bodies and souls, Lord, and You heal and forgive indiscriminately all those who approach You with humble and contrite hearts.  Help me teach Your blessings that all of us sin, that no one person’s sin is so great that Your loving arms do not yearn for the return of Your lost sheep, and that we, in love, are to pray for all of Your children who have need of our prayers.  Every life is precious in Your sight, and we would teach Your blessings to always see Your face in every person.  And, Lord, please send a miracle for Baby Dylan, as You have sent so many to me.  There are many who need to see Your face in his.

Vomit comet

I fully intended to restart regular postings today; unfortunately, Beanie has come down with some sort of tummy bug, hopefully not of the same variety that put Deedaw in the hospital last week.  As the lovely author of Dear Friends put it yesterday, our family is my priority, and as many tales as I have to share, tending a sick preschooler (and keeping the bug from spreading to her three siblings) wins out over a long posting.

I do, however, have some photos to share.  Over the weekend, Daddy took Bugaboo and Beanie to visit family in Pittsburgh on the occasion of his uncle’s 70th birthday.  While there, they met their beautiful cousin Gabriel, whose mother was told to abort him, and their Great-Grandma, for whom Beanie is named.  Every life is precious, every life has beauty, and every life is of equal value in the eyes of Almighty God, no matter how great or small the units of time in which it can be measured.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You commanded us that the person who would be the greatest among us must be a servant of the least.  Help me teach Your blessings that there is a larger joy in striving to be the greatest in Your eyes than in the eyes of the world. Thank You for opening their eyes to the beauty of lives that are fragile and must be handled with extreme care; please grant me the wisdom to constantly teach them that such lives are not burdens, but blessings, as they teach us the joy we can find, and bring, by caring enough to cherish every moment of every life.  As I tend to a vomiting little blessing, please help me set an example of the genuinely happy heart with which You bless us when we humble ourselves to undertake the menial, and sometimes yucky, tasks of care.

Wonderfully made

While I have always loved honoring my mom, my stepmom, my Granny while she lived, and now my mother-in-law on Mother’s Day, there were years when I dreaded it.  Having had four children born too soon before Bugaboo arrived, and two more born too soon in between Beanie and Mr. Man, made Mother’s Day a day when I really (and selfishly) didn’t want to go out of the house.

Yesterday, I began my day with a prayer for all the other moms whose children await them in Heaven, for all those who have been called to mother children with whom they share no DNA, for those whose mothers are no longer reachable by telephone.  I prayed for those who have lost their children to choices and misguided “acts of mercy,” and for those who have gone through adoption proceedings stretching out for years, only to have their hopes dashed at the last minute.  Then I prayed Psalm 139 to thank God for His gift of life, no matter whether those lives are numbered in days or decades, and asked him to bring comfort and peace to those who still wait for their Mother’s Day.

My own day was filled with the laughter of my children, priceless and long-awaited treasures that they are, and the company of family and friends at Mass and afterwards.  I love that Mass on Mother’s Day ends with “Ave Maria,”  to remind us of a frightened young mother who said “yes” to God and “no” to fear.  Do enjoy the Andrea Bocelli version the song title link goes to.  The link on Mr. Bocelli’s name goes to a little story he likes to tell.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You knit each of us together in our mothers’ wombs.  Thank You for the gift of every life, and for the wisdom to discern that every life has merit, wholly unconnected to its income-earning potential.  Thank You for the four little blessings You have vouchsafed to our care, and for all those who comforted us and bore us up with their prayers while we waited for them.  Please help us lift up those who still wait, and those who grieve, and please bless us with the grace of knowing where and when to find them.  Lord, You came to us of woman born.  Help me look always to Your mother, Blessed Mary, for the example of motherhood and discipleship I need.

Happy and healthy

Life is happening at a slightly more frantic pace than usual today, so this post will be brief. Mr. Man and Baby Guy both had well-baby checkups today, which entailed wrangling four tiny people in the office of the best pediatrician I’ve ever known.

Both boys are robustly healthy, and all four kids showed off for Doc, as they usually do. Doc spent most of the half-hour of our visit laughing with us as Baby Guy demonstrated his iron grip, Mr. Man displayed his speed and dexterity, Bugaboo sang the theme from “Spider-Man,” and Beanie read “The Foot Book.”  Even though only two of our tribe were officially patients today, I was grateful for the attention he gave to each child, and grateful that our little blessings stayed quiet while their doctor and I talked over their development and a few minor questions I had for him.

There is a special request after today’s prayer.  An online acquaintance of mine’s foster daughter has gone missing.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for Your blessings, who are healthy, happy, good-humored, and kind-hearted.  Help me teach them to give thanks to You with every breath for your boundless and unmerited gifts.  Please keep us mindful that we are to be kind and helpful always to those whom You have blessed differently, and to remember that no life You have created is without value.

Lord, thank You also for the sure knowledge that Your blessings are snug in their beds.  Please bring Samantha Starr home safely, and comfort her foster parents in their sadness and fear.  Please move the hearts of those who read this to share her picture with their friends, churches, and social groups.  On the night when we remember Your lonely prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, help us to keep watch and pray with those who hold this child dear.

Being pro-life

Before anyone runs screaming from the room, this is not a political post.  To the extent possible, I try to keep politics out of this blog.  It is, however, a long post, and I ask you to read to the end.  There’s a point to it.

The past two weeks have had a slightly higher insanity quotient because of family milestones, family illnesses, and topics in the news that are critically important to my family.  Nonno and Deedaw’s anniversary, for all its joyousness and wonderful memories, was exhausting; the van needed some costly repairs, there have been health problems in our extended family, we have had a vomit virus running roughshod over our tiny people, and I have had a battle royale with our insurance company about my husband’s blood pressure medication.  On top of that, we are observant Catholics, which likely gives a good clue as to what issue has absorbed my interest.

Because of the unusual number of distractions I’ve allowed into my consciousness lately, I’ve been relying on my laptop more than usual for contact with “the outside world.”  Too many times this week in particular, I’ve called over my shoulder, “just a minute, let me finish reading this, ” or “just a minute, I’m writing an email, ” or “hey, I can’t hear myself think.”  While I’m fully aware that I NEED some grown-up time during the course of any given day, I have a weakness for losing myself in the Internet and politics for too many hours, which leads to the kids’ needs for my attention not being met.  I put myself on a Web timeout for most of today, once I realized that I had fallen into that trap again.

This morning brought a hearty helping of “I-want-itis” among the members of our tribe, particularly when I had to inform them that because we love our friends, we try not to share our barfing bugs with them, and thus we would not be attending playgroup this morning.  As a sop, and also because it was on my to-do list for this week, I told them that after we dropped off the storage bin keys to another of the mommies, we could wander over to the bookstore to pick up some new coloring and activity books to get ready for Lent.  That, and the promise of a Hello Kitty movie in the van during our travels, tamed the whininess for a little while.

Off we went, and procured several truly nifty faith formation resources for the tiny people.  We stopped to see my husband and work (and drop off beverages for him to keep there) on the way home, and even paid a visit to Big Yellow M for some unhealthy eats; since we’ve gone 24 hours without puke, it seemed a worthy risk to take for kids who have been stuck in the house for four days.  Once we arrived safely home, chicken nuggets and fries were devoured, then Mr. Man and Baby Guy sacked out for their afternoon naps.

Getting the boys to nap is a chancy proposition sometimes.  Baby Guy will more or less sleep where and when he drops, but Mr. Man, until he’s fully asleep, rouses to almost any noise that sounds like someone might be playing.  Consequently, it’s always a bit of an exercise for me to find ways to keep Bugaboo and Beanie quiet until I stop hearing the sound of a thumb being slurped over the baby monitor.  I’ve been a little over-reliant on the noontime programming on The Hub for the last couple of weeks; we’re normally very strict about TV time, as we would rather that the kids interact with actual human beings than with a screen.  Lately I’ve been an awful role model for them on that score.  In the interest of trying to salvage at least a weekly screen time limit, I told Bugaboo and Beanie that they were welcome to play quietly with their toys, but they would need to avoid turning on music features and keep their voices to a whisper until the boys fell asleep.

They were actually pretty good about it for half an hour (which, for a three year old and a four year old, is actually decent) before they got restless and the volume started to rise to a level that would actually wake the little guys.  Since storytime is usually a pretty big deal around here, and it’s been sadly neglected lately, I invited each of the girls to pick out some favorite stories so we could have some “big girl” time together.

I was rather unprepared for Bugaboo’s response.  She angrily replied, “I don’t want to read stories.  I want my TV time.  You need to let me watch TV.”  Beanie, meanwhile, scooted off to the girls’ room to retrieve some of the books she loves best.  Bugaboo and I had a bit of a discussion, which ended with me reminding her that I had said there would be no TV today, and that she could either choose to have stories she likes read, or she could choose to not have stories she likes.  She sulked through the first story, then sped off to the bookshelf to retrieve “The Pixie Hollow Games.”  We passed a pleasant 45 minutes with the girls taking turns bringing books for me to read before the two of them decided they would rather do a craft.

Since Valentine’s day is approaching, and since I always like to mix a little thinking in with our art, I set the girls to tracing hearts on red construction paper and cutting them out, while I cut out a bunch of larger hearts in different colors.    When I had finished, while they were still working, I started asking them about the different ways we show love for each other.  They started out with the obvious hugs and kisses, and smiles and baby babbles, then progressed to sharing toys.  Lots of toys.  If I had let them continue in that vein, I believe they would have named every toy in the house, which would have taken quite some time.  As I wasn’t having any luck eliciting responses other than the names of different toys, I decided to call it a day for the craft, since the girls had finished cutting out their hearts and were looking for other things to do.

Throughout our little project with the hearts, I had kept up a constant stream of reminders that we needed to keep our voices low so that Mr. Man and Baby Guy could get the length of nap they needed.  Naturally, as soon as they clambered down from their chairs, they started shrieking.  Loudly.  Shrilly.  Staccato.  Then they went into their room and, so help me, turned on at least fifteen “noise toys,” setting the volume to high.  Slowly, I walked to their room and told them they needed to turn the volume down on both the toys and their voices.  Bugaboo responded, “But we love our toys!”

I am not a saint.  Ninety minutes of futilely reminding them to keep the noise down, on top of everything else that’s been going on, and instead of taking the deep breath I needed to take, I snapped and started yelling (terribly effective method of showing kids how to be quiet, right?).  A great deal of my hollering was less-than-gentle instruction on good ways to show love for each other — like listening to what Mommy asks and being considerate of younger siblings.  Some of it was an equally ungentle litany of the things their parents do out of love for them that toys can never do.

Then I softly said to my daughters, my blessings from the Lord, “I love you both very much.  Please pick up the toys that are on the floor and put them away so I can find a path to the changing table if I need one,” and left, silently berating myself for loosing a diatribe on a pair of preschoolers.  They’re kids.  Kids make noise.  Kids also need to learn when NOT to make noise, but reading them the riot act for wanting to play with their stuff, for not understanding the very adult concept of the difference between people and things that I talked about in yesterday’s post — that’s not a loving way to teach those lessons.

A few minutes later, a tearful Bugaboo flung herself into my lap and sobbed, “Mommy, I’m sorry.  You’re much better than toys.”

Love means seeing the needs of others and responding to them.  There are so very many needs in the world, so many people who need help and to whom I want to give help, that I sometimes forget there are some very important people with some very critical needs right here in my home.  To a small child, Mommy’s attention is a critical need — hugs, stories, singing silly songs, dancing for the sheer joy of it, being allowed to help cook dinner, or just having me watch while they’re making up stories with their toys.

Every human life matters.  Every human life is precious, and worth protecting, cherishing, and loving from conception to natural death.  That includes the four very young ones who have been entrusted to our care.  I can write spirited, well-researched, and insightful defenses of the value of human lives of all sorts until my fingers fall off, but if I neglect my own children while doing so, all my effort is wasted, because I have failed in my first duty, which is to teach them how precious the gift of their lives is.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, I have failed to heed my own instruction and Yours again.  Please keep me mindful that You have placed great trust in me with these four little blessings, and that to protect other lives through Your love, I must first ensure that I am giving that love to Your blessings in full measure.  Defending the value of life to the outside world is a calling from You, but help me first ensure that Your blessings understand how much their lives are valued.  At the same time, Lord, please keep me from the trap of giving in just to make the whining and shouting stop.  I need the strength to love fiercely enough to stand my ground and bring them up in Your ways.

Lord, thank You for the exuberance of Your blessings.  Help me teach them to express their joy in ways appropriate to their surroundings without squashing that same joy.

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.


I don’t think I will ever tire of these glorious winter days, with temperatures in the 60s and skies strewn with random tufts of cloud.  It is equally unlikely that the tribe will weary of them, since it means nearly unlimited outdoor playtime.  After a hurried Facebook invite posted late last night, we met up with a group of friends at a local park for a morning of fun, frolic, and joyous praise to the Lord for sending us such a first of February.

We started the day, as we always do, with the girls’ schoolwork.  Part of Jackie’s lesson for today involved showing kindness to others, as her coloring page above would indicate.  It’s always interesting to talk with the girls about how to be kind to people who are being unpleasant, and even more enjoyable to give them examples of times when they have been unkind or had someone treat them rudely, then role-play our way through how they would like to be treated, particularly in the event of a dispute.  Of course, their usual initial response is that they would just want the person to give them what they want, but they smile when they say it, because they know the next question will be, “Okay, you don’t get what you want.  What now?”  It’s a lesson that will be years in the teaching, but it’s never too early to start.

As it happened, they got quite the object lesson in what happens when you treat someone badly and the person responds in kind (as opposed to in kindness) this afternoon.  While the ambulatory contingent of our tribe was playing outdoors, Beanie rather roughly grabbed a shovel away from Mr. Man.  Bugaboo promptly informed Mr. Man, in less-than-dulcet tones, that the shovel belonged to Beanie and that the girls did not want to play with him.

Earlier this week, Beanie and Bugaboo thought it would be a hoot to show Mr. Man how to turn the little thumb notches in the doorknobs to lock and unlock the exterior doors (thank God for sticky deadbolts).  After a brief but vocal protest, which I observed from the kitchen window, Mr. Man stormed back into the house, slamming the back door behind him.

I had totally forgotten about his newly acquired skill with locks until I heard Beanie and Bugaboo pounding on the back door and wailing tearfully.  I believe I only hit one step on each flight getting to that door, where I was greeted by a smugly smiling Mr. Man — who had locked his big sisters out of the house.  In all honesty, I had to duck my face into my shirt to smother the grin before I unlocked the door, let them in, and proceeded to explain at some length how each of them had behaved in a rude and disrespectful manner.

Interestingly, later that afternoon, I was following (and participating in) several discussions about a hot news item of the day.  I was very saddened to see how many people ten (or more) times my children’s age, instead of finding a way to discuss a point of disagreement constructively, simply slammed a rhetorical door and turned an ideological lock at the first hint of a dissenting view, then proceeded to call insults at those they wished to exclude from the discussion.  Perhaps I’m not nuts for insisting that our children learn to settle differences in a respectful manner at such a young age.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, it is really difficult sometimes to remember the example Your Son set for us of how to speak hard truth gently.  Please help me teach Your blessings to be peacemakers, but to not allow the gentleness of their speech be mistaken for weakness in their faith in the rightness of Your ways.  No one of us agrees with everyone else all of the time, Lord, but please help me show Your blessings how to express disagreement without rancor, without hatred, without lashing out with angry words or intent to give insult.

A person’s a person, no matter how small

We have four little children who are sleeping in their beds, and have every confidence that we will wake to a like number in the morning.

We have six children who were born sleeping, and we have every confidence that we will see them at the end of our time on earth.

We believe that a unique human person is created at the moment of conception.  We also believe — and know, from intensely painful personal experience — that there are sad but wholly natural deaths in utero.

We believe that there is a fundamental difference between a person dying a natural death and a person having his or her life taken by force.

We believe that no person has the right to take the life of an innocent person.

We believe that while self-control is inconvenient and, at times, difficult, it is entirely possible.

We believe that no child should be blamed for the circumstances of his or her conception.

We believe that every human life, especially the most innocent lives, are precious and sacred.

We will teach our children that if any human life has no value,  then no human life has value.

We believe in hope, miracles, and healing.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You have granted us four wee blessings to hold in our arms, and six more whose memory we carry in our hearts.  We celebrate a day that Your Church has declared “National Sanctity of Life Day.”  Lord, please help us raise Your blessings to understand that all life is a gift from you, and is to be cherished, loved, and nurtured from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death.  Please free us from choosing what is convenient and falsely referring to it as mercy.