Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hugging Babies, Not Trees....Part II

Random Acquaintance:"Oh my gosh, Susan, every time I see you, you are pregnant!!"

Me:"Yes! And, I can't wait for you to meet my beautiful family!" 

Me: (in my mind): "Yes, and thank goodness, we've only seen each other 5 times in the past 10 years!....."
Anticipating Andrew...

Waiting for Benedict. Whoa!
Getting ready for George....

(I couldn't find any pics of my pregnancy with Henry, they are all in my memory for now!)
I have been contemplating for some time the idea of writing a post on family size, particularly the idea of "big" families - "big" being any couple having 3+ children. This seems a fitting description for families of that size today, since the average number of children per family in the U.S. is 1.2.

What has encouraged or motivated this post is two things:
1.  Joy for my own family and,
2. The opportunity to respond to the numerous comments and remarks made by individuals (mostly strangers) to myself or to my husband regarding (either directly or indirectly) the size of our family.

I would love to share a few of these comments with you (there are so many)!
(Side note:  All quotes from my mind must be read with the best British accent you can muster - and do not hold back on the sarcasm for any reason!)

Comment #1: "My, you sure do have your hands full!"
Me:  "Yes, full of love! Thank you for noticing!"
My Mind: "Great Scott!! Why, I truly had no idea!!"

Comment #2: "You know how that happens, don't you?" (This question is asked mostly by men. No need to explain that one.)
Me: (Laughing) "Oh, you know, my husband and I are just perfectionists! (Wink, wink - the winks always make them a little uncomfortable.) Can you believe that after 10 years of marriage, we still have the hots for each other??!!"
My Mind: "You're a cheeky little fella aren't ya! Would you be so kind as to fax or e-mail me your favorite explanation/diagram asap?"

Comment #3: "Boy, you must be busy with all those kids..."
Me: "Everyone is busy - I'm just so blessed that God has chosen to "busy" me with such cuties!"
My Mind:  "Heaven's no! I have a nanny, a housekeeper and a masseuse.  Excuse me, I have to get home for Oprah."

Comment #4 (This one has only happened once, and most recently): "Where is your head, girl?"
Me:  "It is in the right place, that's where it's at!"
My Mind: ..."Unlike your own, which has apparently been in the hands of a Nazi feminist brain washer and an inexperienced hair dresser!"
Following Comment:  "Forgive me for being so honest, I just can't believe you're pregnant again."
Me:  (To my regret, charity has flown out the window at this point...)
"Don't worry, I'm used to people making ridiculously unreasonable comments about things which they simply know absolutely nothing about."
My Mind:  "If only we weren't at a country club Sunday brunch buffet line.  I would love to sit and visit with her about why I find the baby in my womb to be a blessing and not a burden...."
So, given the opportunity for me to visit with the lady who voiced comment #4, I would have happily shared a number of beautiful, logical and exceptional reasons as to why we have 5 children and as to why a couple might consider having more than 1 or 2 children.  Stay tuned for the 3rd chapter of this post.....I have to go smother my kiddos in hugs and smooches now!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Hugging Babies, Not Trees....Part I

It's that time of year again, when Pro-Lifers around the world rally together to give a voice for the unborn, and really to all persons in every stage of life. We celebrate, in a unified effort, the incredible beauty and glory of life itself - Life created by a great and merciful God - a Father who desires all of his children, born and unborn to have life, a life in abundance at that (John 10:10). 

How generous is our God who allows us to know and understand, through the gift of the human intellect, how life is created, how He has designed the human body to work physically, mentally and emotionally. Through scientific revelation, God has made visible to us even the tiniest cell of our flesh, the cells He has counted.....and yet how generous of Him to gift us with a sincere FREEDOM of the will. So that we, as his sons and daughters, might choose our own personal response to life, to persons, born and unborn, whom He has created to fulfill a deep and sincere purpose in this life and beyond.
While we are free to choose our position toward life, it does not mean that to be pro-choice or pro-life is a position built upon subjective criteria. Our nation has demonstrated it's disposition toward life in our vote for a president who considers an unplanned pregnancy - a BABY - to be a "punishment"(in his own words). Some would argue with that position of support, stating that there were other "issues" or "reasons" why they voted for him, to which I respond, "my point exactly." These "reasons," sadly, have an overwhelming priority over life. We will answer for these "reasons" and we will answer for our vote, whether we as a nation believe in God or not. For as Archbishop Fulton Sheen once wisely said:
"Truth is truth, even if no one believes it. And, error is error, even if everyone does."

So, I have just one question: if our President considers babies to be a punishment, how can we expect that he will actually take care of a nation of "punishments" who voted for him?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Feast of St. Sebastian

Today is the feast day of St. Sebastian (D. 288).  He is the patron saint of athletes, soldiers and archers, and he is the patron of our school.  When we began homeschooling, I wanted to give our school a name, and I left that name up to the boys. They chose St. Sebastian for his heroic example, strength, courage and probably because they thought he was invincible!  Even after being shot with "thousands" (in their words) of arrows he still survived! Here's an abbreviated note on his life (events taken from Suzanne Fowler's "Building the Family" cookbook):
File:Sodoma 003.jpg

Saint Sebastian was a Roman officer in the Imperial Guard and served under the Emperor Diocletian.  Sebastian secretly became a Christian while remaining an officer, hoping to convert others to Christianity (sneaky and brave!).  Once his true identity was discovered, he was sentenced to death.  Tied to a tree and shot by archers, he was left for dead.
File:Georges de La Tour 003.jpg

A Christian woman named Irene took pity on Sebastian and compassionately began preparations for his burial. It was then that she discovered that he was alive.  She cared for him until he regained his health and strength.  Refusing to hide his true identity, Sebastian curagiously approached the Emperor asking him to denounce his persecution of Christians.  His persuasion was unsuccessful, and the cowardly Diocletian once again ordered Sebastian's death.

Prior to Sebastian's death, he was known to have visited those imprisoned for their faith, converted many to Christianity, healed a mute woman, and baptized numerous individuals as well.
Today we celebrated his feast day with a special breakfast.
The arrow is the traditional symbol used to represent Saint Sebastian.  We translated that into our baking, and made cinnamon sugar bread arrows.
We were all so happy that Steve could join us for breakfast this morning before heading out to work.  He read to the boys the story of St. Sebastian, and then engaged in what we like to call "man talk" (this usually occurs when mom is not around and the boys are engaged in some type of masculine activity.  (I sat in for this one!).
Dad:  "So boys, what do you think it means to be a man?"
Silence.  More silence.
(Food has a mysterious way of impairing contemplative abilities....)

Dad:  "Ok, what do you think makes a man?"
Benedict: "Prayer?" (Love those 1st born, parent-pleasing answers!)

Dad:  "Why?"

Ben:  "Because, it helps you to be more like Jesus."
Dad:  "Ok, Andrew, what do you think?"

Andrew:  "Beer. Beer makes a man, Dad." 

(From this point on, "man-talk" consisted of conversation that included words like muscles, burps, get the has exited the table and is now doing a pile of dishes to the chorus of side splitting laughter.)
(By the way - it's apple juice, not beer, but we're not above pretending!)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Tarzan, Troughs and Sportcoats

“Don’t climb on that, don’t break anything, don’t be so aggressive, don’t be so noisy, don’t be so messy, don’t make such crazy risks. But God’s design–which he placed in boys as the picture of himself–is a resounding yes. Be fierce, be wild, be passionate.”
~ John Eldredge, Wild at Heart
This is a snapshot that I took on Christmas Eve of "my boys:"

Mother's of sons, let's just admit that this is how we would like to remember our boys - even if just for a moment - they are sitting, they are sitting still, they are clean, smell good, civilized and handsome.

Sigh.  Sigh again.

What followed this "snapshot" was a parade of undressing...a furious dash to the sweats (not including our 3rd blessing, who prefers to hang out in undies), a trail of trappings left in their dust that screamed, "let me out!"  

Being the only individual of feminine nature in the home, I must undertake the ongoing "opportunity" to teach my boys a few valuable lessons.  Starting with the basics:
1.  The dinner table is not a trough.
2.  The toilet is meant to be white.
3.  My appliances are not weapons (unless I am using them).
4.  There are other ways to bond as brothers besides headlocks and wedgies. 
5.  You are not an ape, and my living room is not a jungle.
So far, I can only be certain that they are grasping lesson #5.  
Today, they have found their own jungle. 
(Que Hallelujah Chorus) The furniture has been spared 
(what's left of it, that is...)
Tarzan ain't got nuthin' on me!
The top is so close!
Disclaimer:  I do not believe that the male species evolved from apes.  Ahem.
This is how I will most likely remember them - for who they are - wild at heart. But, I'm keeping that sport coat picture handy....just in case.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I love living in a geographical location that allows me to experience the fruits of four wonderful seasons.
By now, each season should be so familiar to me, redundant, without expectation, and yet each time another one comes around it still feels new, fresh and full of surprises. 
These annual marks of change bestow upon us their own unique bounty of gifts, from cascades of leaves turned glorious hues of red and gold... 
to soft rains sent to wake up trees and seeds stuck in hibernation.
The glory of winter is indeed snow - for most of us, the first flurry alone is glorious, and then, we are soon disenchanted, pining for the Spring thaw.  Within each tiny flake is held properties that span the range of mystery, beauty, wonder, and scientific order hidden in a sparkle making its way to earth.  
 Snow's ability to stir up a child's energy and enthusiasm is a shot of happy pulsing into the day.
It has the power to put life on pause, to make time stand still, even if just for a moment to catch a snowflake on the tongue.

The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?  ~ J. B. Priestley 
And, that is our challenge, as see the snow the way they appreciate it, to enjoy it, to revel in it....even if the end result is only to make us appreciate the Spring.

To learn and share a little bit more about the science and art behind snow/snowflakes, go to:
There, you can also find some fantastic teaching tools which include:
- magnificent photography
- explanation of snowflake physics
-  snowflake activities (paper snowflakes etc.)
-  a list of books to read on snowflakes

Monday, January 3, 2011

Wrestling Adventures Chapter I

Just say the word wrestling and instantly a reel of images begins playing in my mind (I would imagine we are sharing some of the same images right now.).

Everything from my four boys wearing out the living room carpet to memories of my brothers jogging in 17 layers of sweats at 5 a.m. just to make weight before a meet.

I remember being dragged to their meets by my parents and sitting in the stands bored to death and a little grossed out by the stinky smell of sweat and old mats, the unbearably uncomfortable looking maneuvers the wrestlers placed on each other and of course, I could not fail to mention the athletic attire.  Oh, you know - that odd looking piece of spandex that looks like a bathing suit from the 1920 gone wrong - way wrong. It's called a singlet.  For that reason alone, I vowed I would encourage my boys in any athletic direction, be it shuffleboard or bowling, but they would never - ever - ever - never - ever wrestle.

Fast forward 20 years.  Wrong.  They're wrestling.
Last weekend we went to their very first tournament.  None of the boys had taken part in any wrestling event before, and had just started practicing a couple of months ago, so it was new for them, and really new for me as a parent.
What I couldn't "get" as an adolescent sister I clearly understood as a parent that day - wrestling has nothing to do with stinky mats, pretzel-positions and singlets and everything to do with determination, strength of mind, body and heart, focus, courage, sportsmanship and even self-control.  And, what avenue of life will a man, young or old, take where these virtues, these gifts, these acts of the will will not be of vital importance for success to be achieved? For leadership to be sound? For fatherhood to image the Father? For friendships to be honorable? For courtship to be pure?  For heaven to be desired and attained????
Of course these thoughts were not swirling around in my noggin during the meet - I was in company with all of the other maniacal life-bearers cheering at the top of my lungs while trying to juggle the camera with sweaty palms.

But, be it wrestling or football - or yes, even bowling or shuffleboard - it's an objective truth that God has made boys to move, to play, to compete, to seek out the battle, to move-in, to conquer.  So, while they need to sit studiously and read great books and even learn to set the table properly, they also need to know how fight - not with fists and words - but from that interior place that speaks to them now as boys and forever as men.  The place that reacts to injustice, danger, essence to sin. The place that resonates deeply, unquestionably...the place that is the soul of authentic masculinity.  And, as parents, when we give them time to wrestle in the living room and knock our thrift store lamps over, we help them find that place.
To know it.
 To live it.
To believe in it.
And, to come out victorious, whether it be on the mat, the court, or the field is just a small taste of the most important victory we can ever hope to experience - the final victory.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 
- Philippians 3:12-14