Monday, December 31, 2012

A Busy Mom's New Year's Resolutions

1. I resolve to focus on the Mass, and not on the "perfect mom" sitting in front of me.  I promise not to be envious, because she looks like a model from behind, after giving birth to as many children as me; or because she whispers to her perfectly dressed children, rather than scolding them loudly, as I do. I will not be jealous that she doesn't have to bring her youngest into the crying room, because her four year old does not wear loud, pink cowboy boots, on the wrong feet, to church.

2. I resolve to arrive at Mass before Father proceeds to the altar; and to be early the Sunday morning he mentions late parishioners in his homily.

3.  I resolve to honor my parents and in-laws.  I will appreciate their help and unconditional love.  I will not roll my eyes when my mother-in-law tells my children, "It's all right. Grandma still loves you," when they are using the living room couches as pummel horses.  I will graciously thank Grandpa for the wooden swords he has made his grandsons; and allow them to play with them, even when he's not watching.  This year, I will continue to thank the grandmas for being our Prayer Warriors.  

4.  I resolve to respect my children:  I promise to use gentle, quiet words and discipline with love.  I will say, "Please help me clean the kitchen, children."  Rather than, "Get off your lazy bums and start clearing the table!"  I will resist temptations to throw the soccer ball back at my eight year old's head after he has beaned me twice in an afternoon.  I will not ask my eldest son to forget the twins in their hiding place, for five more minutes, during Hide and Seek.  This year, I will NOT ask my sister-in-law if she wants to adopt my adolescent daughter until she goes to college. 

5.  I resolve to honor my husband.  No more sticking my tongue out at him, when he advises me on ways to be more "proficient" in homemaking.  No stamping my feet and whispering a few choice words, behind closed doors, when he's crabby after a long day's work.  I won't say, "Get with the program!" when he asks me what time he has to pick Emily up from her eleventh week of ballet practice.  I promise to remember, I am far from perfect, and he has resisted medicating me on really bad days.  I promise to see Christ in his eyes.

Image from Kelly's Kindergarten Calendar Materials
6.  I resolve to not worship false idols, like Diet Coke, Cinnamon Hot Tamales, the Calvin Klein winter boots that finally went on sale at Herbergers, and the too skinny jeans that would look, oh so perfect, with the boots, but would not make it past my hips.

7.  I resolve to attend confession often.  With my temperament, I may have to pitch a tent in the Church parking lot, so that I participate in this sacrament when necessary, but I will be honest about my sins . . . all year . . . in the confessional . . . not here.

8.  Finally, I resolve to share the joys of parenting and teaching with readers like you.  I pray that you and yours will be blessed in this new year; and that you will share your joys, gifts and resolutions, on Catholic Teacher Daydreams, through the year!

Your New Year's Resolutions

Now that you have read my New Year's Resolutions, I'd love to hear yours.  Please leave a comment and I will collect your resolutions to post them in a January list.  Happy New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Favorites

The past days, Christmas Eve Mass was my favorite hour.  My little Mary, resting on my lap while the children's choir sung, Silent Night, made Jesus' birthday sweet and beautiful.  I breathed in Christmas Eve Mass, making the frantic chaos of the days wisp away into the cold air. What a blessing it was.
God Bless our  little ones

The noise, excitement, and busyness of nine cousins opening presents, in simultaneous exaltation was a mighty blessing, too.  Six boys searching for "one more present;" and two little girls opening the same doll, and forgetting their other gifts, to pretend, was delightful. The eldest grandchild graduated to music and books, and informed the family she didn't miss toys.  Yet, she found peaceful joy in her two year old cousin and peppermint play dough.

This morning my four year old made me smile, as she pranced around in her new Christmas attire.  What will I do when she gets too old for flowered, bow covered outfits?  Who will snuggle with me during Mass?  Who will I watch opening dolls to share with cousins?  Who will I make peppermint play dough for?  What boys will I giggle at, as they race around the living room with walky-talkies, and lego sets that already have missing pieces?

Our grand sized family continues to grow. I can't remember a Christmas without children.  There is another cousin on the way in February.   I thank God for that precious baby, and for my Christmas favorites: our children who have Baby Jesus in their eyes, hearts and souls, reminding us of the true reason for celebrating Christmas.

December Music and Literature

The First Christmas boasts bold, beautiful illustrations.  Heyer retells the Nativity for young hearts and minds, but does not stray from the authenticity of the Gospel.  My children stopped me half-way through Heyer's lovely book, so that they could hold their nativity set figures while I read.

When Santa can't find animals to drive his sleigh, he advertises; and you won't believe who applies for the job!  Find out when you read this creative, fun story called The Reindeer Christmas by Moe Price.  The illustration of Santa walking through the woods alone, by Morozumi,  is worth the entire price of the book.

The Fussy Angel is a must read for children and busy moms.  Jesus' angel attempts perfection for his little king, but his manger friends aren't cooperating.  When our little hero becomes exhausted, he is struck by a surprising thought: as long as Jesus is a part of our messes, everything is divine.  Wouldn't it be lovely if Christians remembered this revelation from author, Mary Arnold, at our own Christmas homes?

Our family takes this book off the shelf every advent.  We try different activities each year, and students never tire of the stories and prayers.  Written by Joan Marie Arborgast, published by Pauline Books and Media, 2004.                                                                        

According to my children this 1993 cd from Harry Connick Jr. called Where my Heart Finds Christmas is "really, really old."
Despite it's antiquity it is a family favorite.  The favorite song playing through out the day, is "(It Must've Been Ol') Santa Claus."

Mom's favorite, and as old as Harry Connick's cd.  The first song on this lovely cd, "Do you Hear What I Hear/The Little Drummer Boy" can be heard in our house on any given day during Advent.  We have used it for little homemade pageants, while the children play the star, shepherd, drummer boy, and Holy Family.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Special Bond brings Double Trouble and Joy

"Are they twins?"
Double Trouble

"Are they identical?"                            

"Do they feel one another's pain?"

"Which one was born first?"

"Do they have a special bond?"

These are a handful of questions my husband and I answer when we are in public with our twins, Joshua and Michael.  While a stranger's confusion as to whether they are identical or fraternal, loses it's novelty, we understand people's fascination with twins, because we, ourselves, are enchanted with their unique relationship.

Yes, they share a special bond.  On the evening of the twin's birth, they were inconsolable.  When the brothers were finally placed together in one bassinet, their crying came to a halt.  A sudden calmness washed over their little bodies, and they slept.

As infants, our twins slept holding hands, in the same crib.  They nursed, bottle fed, gurgled and smiled their first smiles simultaneously.  Michael and Joshua fussed, caught their first colds, and cut their baby teeth together.

As much as I discouraged it, the boys took their first steps on the same day.  It was wise to pray that they would delay their walking skills.  Two fourteen month old boys, toddling around our home, created laughter and silly mishaps.  Yet, folly and danger lurked around the corner every moment they were awake.

One winter afternoon Joshua and Michael discovered a can of cocoa, left on our kitchen table bench.  Together, they climbed to their destination, and pried off the can's lid.  To the twins, the kitchen floor seemed inappropriate for cocoa dumping.  But, my cream colored living room carpet was a perfect choice for chocolate redecorating.

Being the vigilant mother who allowed them access to the cocoa in the first place, I vacuumed up the twin's mess immediately.  I did not put the vacuum away as quickly.  How fun the vacuum looked to my decorating team.  The cocoa, this time in the vacuum canister, was once again released back to it's carpet destination.

My husband always accepted my unorthodox potty training approach, with our children.  It is efficient, and he does not have to participate in the instruction.  For the duration of the training time, the children wear their birthday suits, which is great fun for them. Little ones are unable to wet their diapers, or training pants, if they aren't wearing them.  The potty then seems inviting.  

The week our twins became potty pros, two events occurred which bothered their dad more than a Minnesota Viking's loss.  The first evening, the twin's attire was entirely absent and they sat down for supper.  They were back at the dinner table fully clothed in diapers, training underwear, and sweatpants sooner than I could remind my husband about my failproof Naked Potty Training Approach.  Secondly, I left a gaping hole in my teaching methods, by neglecting  to provide my toilet etiquette speech: "The only thing you put in the potty is what comes out of you."  By the end of the week the twins had flushed three large legos, a Fisher Price puppy, and toy car down the toilet.  It took my husband longer to fix the broken toilet, than it took me to potty train his sons.

Last year, my husband and I made an exception to our home school protocol.  We sent Michael and Joshua to kindergarten at the neighborhood primary school.  I absorbed every word the "experts" wrote, regarding twins' social skills.  Sending the twins "to learn with their peers, and gain independence from one another" was my motive; and not entirely unsuccessful.  They made friends. More accurately, one friend.  And . . . they shared that friend.  Also, diligent about following the experts' advice, their young teacher seated Michael and Joshua at different group tables.  She reported, however, that the boys were like magnets, sitting next to one another at circle time, and playing together, on the playground. 

Today, Michael decided to play catch with our dog, Tilly.  I might have accepted a little rough housing in the family room, if the tossed item had it not been his little sister's doll.   For once, Joshua was not near the crime scene.  Without an accomplice, Michael sat alone for a time out and sorry prayer.  Not a minute ticked by, before Michael's twin came looking for him.  Joshua sat down next to Michael on the step.

"Joshie," I reminded him, "You aren't in trouble. Go play."

With the world's weight on his shoulders, and eyes brimming with tears, Joshua looked up at me and explained, "I bored.  I really, really bored.  I don't have anything to do until Michael gets outa' here."  

So, Joshua sat with Michael until they were released.

This deep bond, between two children, is a beautiful gift from God.  It is a bond so special that strangers notice, and ask us about it.  May God bless them with confidence to someday go out into His world independently and bravely.  When that time comes, may they always remember the adventures and joy they had getting there.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Immaculate Conception

How I love Mary; and long to be like her.  Today my daughter and I went to Immaculate Conception mass together. Praising Mary and singing hymns for her, is a lovely tradition.  My daughter is fourteen and admires Mary too, but she is young. Although her desire to emulate Mary may not be as intense as mine, I continue to pray.  I pray for our temperaments and words to be gentle and quiet, because that is not our nature.  We pray that we will find Mary in our hearts during this Advent season.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Catholics celebrating Advent

Every Advent I daydream about how blessed our family is during the Advent season.  Through the liturgical year we celebrate the bible, martyrs, Mary, days of obligation, adoration, sacraments, traditions, and our Church's season.  When Advent comes I am as excited as a child.  
We "deck our halls," listen to Christmas music, celebrate masses that speak of Mary and angels.  We give to those in need and our loved ones; to those who have touched our lives.  We bake cookies, send greetings, and prepare for Jesus' very special day. We feel cheerful, and wish strangers "Merry Christmas."  To celebrate and anticipate the Lord Jesus' birth is a gift to all Christians, from all Christians.