Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Contraceptive Mentality

Very good post here by Elizabeth about the "contraceptive mentality." She dissects what is meant by the phrase and how it has become almost second nature in our culture, and the irony of how it is actually seen as "responsible." She brings up two important concepts: that babies are viewed as both commodities (as in, something to be obtained whenever you choose and at whatever number you desire) and rights (meaning you can go to any means to obtain one).

She also links to this article, which makes this point:
"Contraception is the prevention by mechanical or chemical means of the possible natural and procreative consequence of sexual intercourse, namely, conception. The purpose of contraception is to separate intercourse from procreation so that the contracepting partners can enjoy the pleasures of sex without the discomforting fear that their sexual activity could lead to the procreation of another human being. The "contraceptive mentality" results when this separation of intercourse from procreation is taken for granted and the contracepting partners feel that, in employing contraception, they have severed themselves from all responsibility for a conception that might take place as a result of contraceptive failure. Somewhat ironically, this practice of using contraception to relinquish responsibility for one's own offspring is, in the minds of many, consistent with "being responsible" and even with "responsible parenting."2 At any rate, the "contraceptive mentality" implies that a couple have not only the means to separate intercourse from procreation, but the right or responsibility as well."
Many people don't realize there is a link between contraception and abortion. In fact, many think that greater access to contraception decreases the number of abortions. But the exact opposite is true. A mentality that conception can be "controlled" has led to people absolving themselves of responsibility, which leads to a less-receptive mentality regarding babies who were "unplanned." I hate that term - "unplanned." What gets to me even more is when perfect strangers will ask a woman if her pregnancy was "planned." As if it should make a difference! As if we are really in control rather than God! Pregnant women with a "large" number of children (meaning as few as 3 sometimes) seem to get this question more: "Oh, I see you have three children already. Was this one planned?" The question makes me feel a bit sick to the stomach. It is as if they may as well be asking, "Oh, do you want this baby? Are you welcoming of its existence?"

Contraception makes an attempt at removing responsibility. And when you remove responsibility, you can choose to behave irresponsibly - in fact, you are more likely to do so. When we put "quick fixes" in place of responsibility, then we suffer, as there are no true quick fixes to anything in life. Life is too complex for a quick fix. Stemming from the removal of sexual responsibility are viewpoints such as what President Obama said - that he didn't want his daughters "to be punished with a baby" if they made poor decisions. Most people would say that's why contraception is a good thing - that the teens who might have abortions could use it to just prevent pregnancy in the first place. But that is not what happens here - contraceptives give teens even more of an "invincible" mentality. They are more likely to engage in risky behaviors if they think they are "safe," yet they are also more likely to slip up and not use the contraceptives as they were designed to be used, resulting in more contraceptive "failure." Or they may choose to skip using contraceptives sometimes too, because they now have a more promiscuous attitude as part of their mentality, and a more "it won't happen to me" attitude as well.

And how about the question of, "Are you done?" Meaning, are you done having children? I always answer this with, "I can never answer that question." At least not until post-menopause, that is! ;) Even for a couple with the most dire reasons for avoiding pregnancy (life-threatening medical conditions for the mother, terminal illnesses of other family members, mental instability of one of the parents...), there is always the chance that one day, their circumstances will change and they may discern that they are able to welcome more children into their family. It's a "never say never" attitude, which is why the "are you done?" question is offensive. Along the same lines is when people say, "Oh, we're done. No more children for us." How about, "We're done for now, but we never know what God might have in store for us," or something along those lines? We are not in control!

As a subset, use of the pill has the potential to cause early abortions. When the pill "fails" at preventing conception, it can prevent the newly-conceived life from continuing. This is the first clue to us that contraception and abortion are intrinsically linked.

Contraceptive use is a band-aid. It tries to fix something instead of finding the root cause and treating it at that point. Teaching chastity and abstinence - and yes, that includes within marriage; marriage does not mean you are free to be as sexually promiscuous with your spouse as you please - would address this at its root. Teaching people to have respect for their bodies and for other people - what is wrong with that? It would be shaping society for the good instead of just addressing the evils. Prevention is key - preventing the mentality in the first place, which prevents other issues. Another quote from the DeMarco article on this:
"It is far more logical and realistic to revolutionize society by teaching men to be virtuous, since virtue is a perfection of something natural, than it is to effect the same revolution by being indifferent to virtue and trying to suppress the evil consequences of men's vices through technological interventions. This is not to say that virtue or civilized society come easily; in fact, their achievement demands the development and pooling of every gift men have (and then some). But it is to say that it is the only way that is logical and realistic. It was the essential insight of Huxley, Orwell, and others that the amoral technological approach produces a dehumanized social nightmare."
Planned Parenthood promotes contraception for a reason - and maybe they don't all realize it; maybe they solely promote it because of the "population control" idea, but it is also good for their business. It is good for their business to keep people in the contraceptive mentality, because it generates more money for PP. When contraceptives fail, then PP is there to offer the next step - abortion.

I would venture to say that most married couples who use methods of contraception and sterilization do so with good intents. The vast majority of them are blissfully unaware of the contraceptive mentality or even of the fact that the pill can cause abortions. Those who are aware of all this may say, "Well, that doesn't apply to me. Even if my birth control failed, I still wouldn't have an abortion." Very true - I realize that many, if not most (I hope), married people would continue with an unintended pregnancy. But this does not change the whole contraceptive mentality and what it is doing and has done to our culture as a whole. That is one reason why I refuse to have any part in it. Being aware of it is the first step. Deciding you don't want to separate what God naturally put together is the next step. Sex is not meant solely for pleasure and unity between two people, but that is what it is reduced to when it is sterilized. This doesn't mean that procreation has to occur with every sex act, either - God built in natural periods of infertility in a woman's cycle. God Himself placed those there, whereas man invented contraception to be used in complete opposition to the natural fertility of women.

I love to read about and discuss this topic, so if anyone has any questions or knows of good links, feel free to leave them in the comments! It is a subject with much depth, so it can take some time to digest. It didn't stick with me the first time I heard it... the beauty and truth of it all came later for me, after really doing the reading and learning on it at a personal level.

And here's the link again to the article.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Random Bits

Cecilia sings the ABCs:
"A, B, C, B, F and G, H, I, N, O, P, Q, R, S, Y and Z, Now I know my A, B, C, B, F and G, H, I, N, O, P, Q, R, S, Y and Z, Now I know my A, B, C, B, F and G..."
[This is the song that never ends....]

So, while parked at my mom's preschool while in Atlanta, birds pooped on our cars:
LOTS of birds!!! They must have been sitting in the trees above the parking lot for a long, long, long time! My mom had noticed how huge the flocks of birds were there while outside, so we put two and two together... and thanked God they weren't in the trees while we were getting in or out of our cars, ha ha! Now, I was parked about FOUR spaces down from my mom's car. She called a co-worker who was parked in between us, and sure enough, her car was also covered in it. I drove through a car wash on the way back home that afternoon, and it still didn't get it all... awesome husband washed the rest off himself this afternoon. I love him. :) <3

And, more testament to the stupidity of my parents' cats (as if any more proof were needed):
Gabby perching on the edge of the upended mattress that I brought for Cecilia to sleep on.

Mason perching on my dad. She did this every time he sat down. She likes kneading his sweaters, and my mom's fuzzy bathrobe. Weirdo.

So, lots of photos to go with my random thoughts this week... I took a lot of them with my phone recently. Here is a sight never before seen in the history of Wal-Mart...
An EMPTY middle aisle!!! No huge displays of junk taking up the middle of the aisle, causing even more traffic jams than would occur otherwise in a typically-crowded Wal-Mart. This was also at 10:00 in the morning, so it was practically an empty field, just asking to be frolicked about in... okay, not really, although there was a baby we saw crawling across it, noticing the new wide expanse. I regret to report though, that today, there were things back in the middle of the aisle again... but not completely. I have a feeling I have witnessed something as rare as Halley's comet appearing...

In Atlanta, we went to the children's museum downtown one morning, so here are some poor-quality photos of the girls enjoying their time in the museum:
playing in water

shopping with stuffed chickens (as if they don't hang out around chickens enough, they were hoarding the stuffed ones in the play grocery/farm area)

And I said I wouldn't put this on my blog, but I was offloading a bunch of photos off my phone, so I couldn't resist. One of my Eagle Scout brothers who will remain unnamed did this:
See how two candle wicks were lit? That was my doing with a lighter, which ran out of fluid before I got to the third wick. Now, my dad had just bought a three pack of lighters for some reason, but my brother decided instead to light a piece of paper from one of the already-lit wicks. Then the paper charred up and fel, still lit, into the candle, but didn't light the wick. Once we used one of the new lighters, the candle smelled wonderful!

Okay, this is something I saw in a store and I just thought it was weird... don't have any other comments about it:

Caroline said to me yesterday, "Mommy, we're playing hopscotch. I'm learning Cecilia how."

I don't understand those people who bring their dogs with them everywhere and then leave them in their cars in parking lots. What is the point in bringing a dog to sit in your parked car?? Well, this dog got revenge:
Unfortunately, seeing me standing there like a goober taking his picture, he stopped what he was doing. See the box on the dashboard, the one that looks strangely similar to a take out box from a restaurant? The dog was thoroughly enjoying his master's lunch while she was shopping inside Whole Foods (or as my dad calls it, "Whole Paycheck").

And, I had a weird dream last night. I have a bad cold right now, and I think it was getting to my brain... I tend to have weirder dreams when I am sick. So, I dreamed that I was at the wedding of my sister-in-law and brother-in-law. They actually got married back in 2003 in a church, but in my dream, their wedding was in Lowe's. Maybe it was Home Depot, but I think it was Lowe's. I was a bridesmaid (at least that much was true to real life). In the dream, I was upset because there was not enough seating for everyone. Apparently, having been to a Lowe's wedding before, I knew that they were supposed to have scaffolding set up for overflow seating next to the folding chairs set up in a corner of the store. At this wedding, however, the scaffolding was in the opposite corner of the store. We had to climb up it and be careful not to knock off any pieces of fine china which were sitting on shelves all over it. Other than the parents of the bride and groom, all the other close family and friends had to sit on the scaffolding while the not-so-close friends and family got to sit in the folding chairs, where the ceremony was taking place. We couldn't see or hear the ceremony from the scaffolding, being on the other side of the store. I thought that my husband must be the best man, because I was paired with a different groomsman, who I think was one of my husband's co-workers (you know how stuff is never totally clear in dreams). But when I asked him, "Are you the best man?" he replied, "No, Homer Simpson is," and motioned to somebody in a full Homer Simpson costume (who was also there on the scaffolding with us). So, we all got off the scaffolding later and the wedding and reception were both over, and there were some pitiful-looking pieces of chocolate cake with the letter E frosted on them (for my SIL's middle initial?? Probably not for any real reason just because it was a random dream and therefore didn't make sense... or it was my initial, because again, this dream didn't make sense). And then I remember wedding guests sitting at a table at dinner somewhere, and it all gets fuzzy after that...

I was sorting through some old letters and cards, and I found one from my mom that said, "Happy Birthday and happy shooting!" I didn't recall ever being taken hunting for my birthday, but I finally figured it out after being quite puzzled. I also found some priceless notes from my baby brother - see photos here!

Never Gonna Give You Up... Except for Lent

Hee hee. H/t to Thomas Peters. Oh, and his "papist thumb war" photo from today is pretty funny too!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Random Bits

This morning, I was getting Cecilia's diaper changed and I said, "We're going to church today. Who will we pray to?" She answered, "Mike Revak."

Caroline has declared herself "The Emperor of Chickens." Indeed, she is. She runs around the yard with a long stick, herding them around. We have set the rule that she cannot touch the chickens with the stick because that frightens them. I can only smile and think of The Story about Ping - except Caroline doesn't spank the chickens on the back with the stick.

Our parish is having a "mission" this week, where we have a visiting priest come and do a series of talks, preceded by a dinner each night, of course! Father Lukefahr, or "Father Luke," has done missions at our parish many times now, and we always enjoy it. He comes for a full week, and he celebrated Mass on Saturday evening. We were at the vigil Mass because Chris left for the ATL airport on Sunday morning at 6. So, after Mass, Caroline invited Father Luke to come with us to El Zarape, the Mexican restaurant where, ten years before, Chris and I had our first date. So we celebrataed that anniversary with two kids, a priest, and a pitcher of beer. We had fun, and Caroline was thrilled that Father agreed to come with us!

Unfortunately, due to Chris's trip, he is missing three nights of the talks... and so am I, because the girls and I came to visit my parents while he is out of town. We will get to attend Wednesday and Thursday nights, though. So far in Atlanta, I have been honked at loudly by a car carrier on the interstate and an extremely indignant woman in the Trader Joe's parking lot. Now that is a parking lot that has always been too tight anyway, but last time I checked, I was within my rights when backing out of a parking space into my own lane so long as there was nobody coming down the aisle behind me... apparently it is not okay to back out if somebody else decides that they can use your lane because they can't wait for the senior citizen bus to move out of their lane. I truly believe with 100% of my being that she would have hit us if I hadn't stopped. I haven't driven here regularly in over ten years, but I think the prevailing attitude is, "I am the most important one in the world, and anyone who gets in my way or delays me slightly is just a huge inconvenience to be looked upon with contempt." People act like other people aren't even human - they are just objects in their way. Culture of death, anyone?? I don't even get angry... I just stare in bewilderment as they honk and zoom around, wondering why they hate life so much and why they can't just chill out? Come on, people, it is just a parking lot - chill out! There are lots of cars, and sometimes we get in each other's way... patience!! All these haughty drivers are going to die of heart attacks if this is how they approach every slight inconvenience in their lives!

Speaking of cars... a few recent noticings of mine:

Is it ironic to have a bumper sticker from the radically liberal "move on [dot] org" on the back of a Lincoln Navigator in the Starbucks drive-thru? I mean, how is driving that monstrosity of a vehicle even slightly on the agenda of the enviro-nutty? Aren't people who like that website into the ideas of only using a square of toilet paper for each bathroom visit and such? Why would they drive the hugest vehicle short of a Suburban that they can find? And Starbucks? Don't they use disposable cups and encourage money-wasting?? (Oh, I was in the line because I found a gift card in my mom's house... and because I like idling in drive-thrus and emitting more toxins from my exhaust pipe, hee hee!)

Another thing... anyone else notice the recent trend of people monograming their cars? They have their initials on the back windows, usually in some pretty script. Uhhh... why??? I just don't get that at all.

Another car trend I don't get is the "in memory of" stickers on the back windows. Are people dedicating their cars to the deceased?? I understand everyone has their own ways of dealing with grief, and perhaps this is healing to some people. I personally just think it is a little strange, particularly when there are four different dedications on the back of the same car. I mean, most of my grandparents are dead, but I don't advertise that on the back of my Mazda, ya know?

So, off my car ranting now... My mom has been referring to Cecilia as "sweetie pie," to which Cecilia replies, "Gramma, I'm not pie - don't eat me!"

And speaking of Cecilia, she is used to Daddy putting her to bed each night... not me. So, it has taken me an hour and a half to get her to sleep myself. Being at Gramma's house makes it harder to calm down for sleep anyway, I am sure. I just think it is funny that I can still nurse her to sleep within minutes for a nap each day, but not at night. So strange. So, today was her first day ever with no nap at all... I purposely didn't give her a nap. We went to the Children's museum and a playground downtown, and she fell asleep tonight within minutes. And then she woke up at 10:20, but I got her back to sleep... for now, that is... I jinxed it just by typing about it here... when she woke up, I was in the middle of the previous sentence. Okay, and so now she woke up again. I'll just shut up now...

The other day...
Caroline: Hey, what's that big red thing up on that hill?
Me: A roof of a building. A house, maybe.
Caroline: Or a barn.
Me: Maybe.
Caroline: Or a Dairy Queen.
Just as a side note... she used to call Dairy Queen "The King Dairy," just less than a year ago!

Final note... the other day, my husband informed me that an old radio station in the Atlanta area, 99X, had returned... but instead of being at 99.7, they are now at 97.7. I almost didn't believe him... how can a station at 97.7 call themselves anything with "99" in the name?? They ceased existing just a few years after I'd finally gotten used to their name change from Power 99 to 99X. So today, while flipping through the stations, I came across 97.7 and thought, "Hmm, this really does sound like the old 99X in its early days, soon after Power 99." It was weird... they were playing songs like this, and this... songs that were coming out while I was in my freshman year of high school. And they kept playing songs from this album... why? Is "alternative" music of the early/mid 90s in high demand again all of a sudden? Very odd.

And off to bed I go before Cecilia wakes up again... which it sounds like she might with all her tossing and turning!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

~ And Lent Begins ~

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. I wanted to get all my thoughts down on our plans for this beautiful yet somber season, so here are some of our plans...

~ Preparations ~

First, we prepared for Lent by getting a few things ready around the house. I got out our children's Lent books for Caroline and Cecilia (listed in the lefthand sidebar) and the Stations of the Cross Box. I also made a Lenten calendar for us, which I will explain further below.

On Sunday, Caroline and I made a crown of thorns to be a centerpiece for our dinner table.

Caroline counted out 20 toothpicks and then broke them in half - 40 "thorns" for the crown, one for each day of Lent (it spans a total of 46 days, but technically Sundays aren't considered a part of Lent since they are always joyous days in the Church).

I made a basic salt dough recipe: 4 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 1 1/2 cups water (we used coffee, hoping it would make the dough brown... but I guess I should have brewed it stronger!), and then we made three ropes and braided it to form the crown. Caroline stuck the toothpicks in it to make the thorns. I originally heard of this idea from another Catholic mom.

We baked it for almost an hour and a half at 350 degrees, and once it was cool, I noted that it merely looked slightly tan and not brown enough. So we mixed up some paint on Monday and painted it.

Here is the finished product. I also sprayed it with varnish after the paint had dried. The idea for this is that each day, Caroline or Cecilia can pull out a toothpick "thorn" to represent some sort of sacrifice made that day. Some of the thorns come out easily and some are pretty stuck and may have to be broken off... next year, I will try jiggling the toothpicks around in the holes just a bit before baking and see if that helps them to be more easily removed once the crown has been baked.

Here is the aerial shot, which I share because my husband walked in and saw it and said, "That looks just like... never mind." Dog poop is what he was thinking. Yeah, I guess the brown might be a little too much. So, maybe it will stay faintly tan next year! Or maybe he's just saying that and nobody else thinks it looks like dog poop? Go ahead and tell me, it won't hurt my feelings... I think that's what it looks like now, too!

Anyway, on easter morning, any remaining thorns will have been removed (by God's grace... it fills in the gaps where we fall short of sacrificing) and the crown will be covered in flowers. That is the plan, at least. We have not done this activity before, so we'll see how it plays out.

~ Mardi Gras ~

On Tuesday (Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day... whatever you choose to call it!), we painted this plaque with the words "Alleluia! He is Risen!" I did the words and Caroline did the edge using gold paint. During Lent, we do not sing the Alleluia in Mass, not even at Sunday Mass. Alleluia is a celebratory word, so we stop using it until Easter Sunday. It actually makes the anticipation build and brings the realization of how beautiful it sounds since you've been deprived of it for six weeks! It is especially beautiful at the Vigil Mass, where the lights are dim until the Alleluia is sung, and which time the lights are brought up to full brightness, signifying that now, Jesus has risen!

So, we are "hiding" the Alleluia until Easter Sunday. We put it in a violet bag, that being the liturgical color of Lent, and it is waiting in the top of the craft closet.

Before hiding it, we got out all our Alleluias, which Caroline thought was great fun. We shouted, yelled, and sang "Alleluia!" in the den over and over. Cecilia sang out, "Allelula," as if there weren't already enough Ls in the word. Then we pulled up some videos of various Alleluias on Youtube. Tim, you will be especially proud that this was Caroline's favorite:

She wanted to watch it over and over... four or five times, I think we watched it. We saw a few less traditional Alleluias, and Caroline kept wanting to return to the one shown above. Cecilia loved it since it had the Pope in it, and she learned the word "miter."

For dinner:

Pancakes, of course!

It used to be that people would give up not only meat during Lent, but any animal products, including eggs, butter, and milk. Therefore, Fat Tuesday was a day in which to use up all of these items before the season of abstinence began. Pancakes are one good way to do this... our recipe, which was specifically a banana pecan pancake recipe, called for 2 cups of milk and three eggs. We also enjoyed omelets made with seven eggs in all. As for using up all our eggs... that's kinda hard to do when you have chickens laying them in your backyard! ;)

~ Ash Wednesday ~

This is Cecilia, looking up at the ashes on my forehead. She did this all throughout Mass once we'd gone up for ashes, and I just had to take a photo of it once we were at home! She was good about not touching them, though! We went to Mass at the parish school, which is actually located a few minutes away from the church... so they hold school Masses in the gym. As Caroline put it, "A church shouldn't have a Coca-cola sign on the wall!" While I'd prefer going to Mass in the actual church building, the kids at the school Masses are extremely reverent... very quiet, very serious even though we are in a gym! The school Mass fell at the best time for us (not a lunchtime and not just prior to dinnertime, that is!).

Caroline received ashes from Father and then, as I stepped forward, he quickly asked, "Do you want them for her, too?" as he looked at Cecilia in my arms. I wasn't expecting that - I figured he'd just ignore her or put them on her forehead - so I answered, "Uh, it doesn't really matter..." I didn't know if she'd freak out over it, or if she'd even care, or if she'd feel jealous. Father said, "I'll give her just a dab," and he basically put a thumbprint on her forehead, hee hee. It turned out that Cecilia was glad she had ashes too. And it was nice that she didn't have such a big mark that she rubbed it and made a mess! Later in the day, after they'd worn off, she said, "My Holy Spirit rubbed off." Not sure why... maybe because she knows you touch your forehead when making the Sign of the Cross, which includes the words "Holy Spirit?"

No, I promise you that Caroline did not take this baby doll to Mass with us, nor did Father put ashes on its forehead! Caroline, as usual, likes to replay things later (we already had our first "Lent Play" today), and so she put "ashes" on this plastic baby doll. Prior to Mass, she was saying that if Cecilia didn't get ashes, she could draw some on her forehead with a marker. I told her that it would be better if she used some black chalk dust, and only if Cecilia wanted to play "Ash Wednesday Mass" with her! Then I said, "But we don't have black chalk." Caroline said, "Yes, we do!" Well, there is such a thing as black chalk - who knew it? We have a piece that came with their easel they got for Christmas. So baby doll Gianna got ashes as well!

~ Our Lenten Calendar ~

I saw this idea first at Shower of Roses, and then I saw another form of calendar at Waltzing Matilda. I liked both ideas and couldn't decide which one to use, so I combined both of them. This is the result! There was some assistance from Caroline, as you can see.

The calendar emphasizes that Lent is a time in which we especially focus on praying, fasting, and giving alms. The Gospel reading today was about just that. It also lists special feast days and the days of the Triduum. There is an empty cross for Good Friday onto which we will attach a picture of Jesus on the cross. We have another image of him being laid in the tomb, which we will attach inside the tomb I have drawn on the calendar, and then we will place a drawing of a rock over it. On Easter Sunday, a risen Jesus image will be emerging from the tomb with the stone rolled aside!

~ Pray ~

Our Lenten focus on prayer will be to continue the habits we have already established of praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy on weekday afternoons and a decade of the Rosary as a family each evening just before the children go to bed. In addition, we will offer these prayers for specific intentions each day. The intentions are listed in the previous photo... you can read them if you click on the photo. We will also be praying the Stations of the Cross as a family each Friday evening during Lent. The first time is this Friday! I love the Stations of the Cross, and every week they do a different one... through Mary's eyes one week, for children another week, done by the youth group another... and each week, it is preceded by a meatless dinner in the parish hall.

~ Fast ~

We abstain from meat on Fridays and also on Ash Wednesday. We fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, which means eating only one larger meal along with two smaller ones which together do not equal the large meal, and no snacks. Children are exempt from this. We are also encouraged to give up some sort of vice - to try to improve. For children, this often comes in the form of just giving up something they like that isn't necessarily bad, but that they can do without as a sacrifice. We will not be having any desserts during Lent unless we have a special occasion, such as Caroline's birthday or a special saint feast day.

A few things I am going to do personally:
* I am going to give up staying up late... doesn't that sound funny? I have been staying up past midnight lately, and I should really be trying to get more sleep.
* I am also wanting to work on a toy purge and some kind of system where we don't have all our toys out at once. This post on the subject was very interesting to me, and would be especially good with larger families and older children.
* I have been slowly organizing and purging the grown-up stuff as well, and I want to focus more on this during Lent.
* I would like to get to confession more often and am aiming to try for once a month.
* Adoration: Our church has this every Friday throughout Lent, and I would like to take the girls a few times, even though we'll only stay for a few minutes most likely. For children, it is being there that counts, no matter how short a time.
* I picked up a Lenten copy of The Word Among Us at church... I will try to do the daily readings in it.

~ Give Alms ~

I thought this was such a fun idea that I put it on our calendar as well... as usual, I didn't come up with any of this on my own! Each day on the calendar has something written at the bottom... for instance, today was beds, tomorrow is chairs, other days include books in the book basket, crucifixes, stuffed animals, trees in the yard... Each day, Caroline will count the listed item and then add that number of pennies to a bowl on the dinner table. We will collect these pennies throughout Lent and donate them to the poor afterward. It is a small way to begin showing children how we should share our treasure with the less fortunate.

~ Circle Time ~

We have some Lent/Easter songs that we will sing, and we will be focusing on the song "Were You There" during February. In March, we will switch to learning the Stabat Mater, or "At the Cross Her Station Keeping." And our priest will look like this on most days:

Here are the songs and rhymes we'll use (excuse the formatting):

I Know Jesus is Alive (sung to the tune of Once I Caught a Fish Alive)
1-2-3-4-5, I know Jesus is alive.
6-7-8-9-10, He died for me, then rose again.
Why did He have to die?
So I could have eternal life.
Where does He live today?
In heav'n, but He hears me when I pray.

Jesus Died but Rose Again (sung to the tune of Mary had a Little Lamb)

Jesus died, but rose again

Rose again, rose again.

Jesus died, but rose again

On Easter Sunday morning.

Do You Know the Son of God? (sung to the tune of The Muffin Man)
Do you know the Son of God?

The Son of God?
The Son of God?
Do you know the Son of God
Who died and rose again?

Oh, yes, I know the Son of God,
The Son of God,
The Son of God.
Oh, yes, I know the Son of God
Who died and rose again.

Do you love the Son of God?
The Son of God?
The Son of God?
Do you love the Son of God
Who died and rose again.

Oh, yes, I love the Son of God,
The Son of God,
The Son of God.
Oh, yes, I love the Son of God
Who died and rose again.

Will you obey the Son of God?
The Son of God?
The Son of God?
Will you obey the Son of God
Who died and rose again.

Yes, I'll obey the Son of God,
The Son of God,
The Son of God.
Yes, I'll obey the Son of God
Who died and rose again.

Three Days fingerplay:
Day One--

Hold up one finger.
The guards watched the tomb.
Put hand above eyes. Pretend to watch something intently.
All was quiet.
Hold finger to lips.

Day Two--
Hold up one finger.
The guards watched the tomb.
Put hand above eyes. Pretend to watch something intently.
All was quiet.
Hold finger to lips.

Day Three--
Hold up one finger.
The guards watched the tomb.
Put hand above eyes. Pretend to watch something intently.
All was quiet.
Hold finger to lips.
Jump, as if in shock.
The stone rolled from the door of the tomb.
Make a rolling motion with hands.
Jesus stepped out!
Walk fingers across palm.
God's Son was alive!
Point to sky.

~ Throughout Lent ~

* We will be attending our parish mission with Father Lukefahr a few days... we'll miss the first few evenings because of travel
* We'll be following Holy Heroes Lenten Adventure... we enjoyed the Advent Adventure! They are asking for families to make their own videos to submit, too - of Lent traditions or family prayer times. Caroline is considering whether or not she wants to make one about her Stations of the Cross Box.
* We'll bake pretzels at least once during Lent, and hopefully not catch the oven on fire!!
* We will plan to make hot cross buns for Good Friday
* collecting sticks from the yard to make crosses on Good Friday

What are your plans for Lent this year?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Real Snow!

We had more snow that the girls have ever seen... and more than this area has gotten in over 15 years! And it all melted quickly... we had less than 24 hours of good thick snow on the ground. Cecilia didn't care for it for very long... here are a bunch of photos of Southerners being fascinated by snow!!

This was as far as the chickens would go in it... and only Sally would be brave enough to come this far! They liked eating it, though!

It was still falling when we went out Friday afternoon.

Our fig tree and the neighbor's house

our daffodils had begun coming up

and I hope those aren;t buds on the blueberry bush - otherwise, they're done for! :(

across the street

our neighbors brought their sled over and pulled the girls around!

our snowman... or snowgirl, Caroline called it

The next day...

the snow was melting off the trees Saturday mid-morning

Everyone tasted the snow: