Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Back To The Heart Of Catholic Parenting

 A few months ago, Erin Franco of the Humble Handmaid blog invited me to be a guest on her The Right Heart Podcast.  It  was such a pleasure to talk to Erin--she was warm and friendly and we chatted easily, like two longtime friends visiting over coffee.  The conversation (and her precious southern drawl) made me miss Louisiana so much!  If you are not already subscribed to her blog and podcast, do so right away.  She's got a lot of great Catholic content going on.

During the show, we discussed all things related to Catholic Parenting.

Monday, August 10, 2015

How To Manage Family Life And Writing...Or Not

I thought my summer was going to be different; I had lofty goals and plans for myself.

I was going to exercise more, take more pictures, teach a photography class and churn out some freelance articles.

I didn't accomplish any of those goals.

Mostly?  I tried to keep up with daily life.

I tried to keep the pool towels clean and the kids lathered in sun screen.

I tried to keep the television viewing to a minimum.

I tried to make sure we read books--the good kind from the likes of Lewis and Tolkien.

I tried to ensure visits to and from our friends.

I tried to maintain a slower pace, complete with lazy afternoons and "wasted" time.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

My Number One Parenting Tip

A friend of mine came to visit last week with her small army of young children.  We chatted while I slathered peanut butter and jelly on slices of wheat bread and threw them at the masses.  Every five minutes, we filled requests for cups of water and changed diapers and broke up scuffles over broken toys.  In between the commotion she asked,

“How do you discipline your kids?”

I paused because her question, while excellent, was a rather weighty one that I wasn’t sure I was prepared to answer.

I am not a parenting expert. 

I always joke that God gave me all these kids because he knows how stupid I am.  Some people learn important parenting lessons after one or two children, but God knew it would take me six to get even the basics down!

On top of being a slower learner, I also tend to be a reactor, which is a nice way of saying I’m a hot head.  I have a temper and I sometimes yell. 

And my kids? 

Read the rest at Integrated Catholic Life.

Friday, July 17, 2015

What Childhood Should Look Like

I found a handwritten schedule penned by 8-year-old Mary the other day.  Here was her agenda for the day:

1.  Say hi to mom.

2.  Kiss Eds

3.  Ride bike and pick berries

4.  Eat food

5.  Play with Camille

6.  Play with Legos

7.  Play with Eds

8.  Catch butterflies

9.  Eat snack

10.  Play with Eds

11.  Play with Pat and Meg

12.  Try and play with Chris

A perfect list for childhood, right?

I thought so too.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Friday, June 26, 2015

7 Quick Takes: A Random Assortment Of What-Nots

1.  Last week Edward threw my iPhone into the toilet.  I swear that kid is like a pint-sized Harry Houdini, wriggling into all kinds of tight spots, nabbing items I don't know he's got, and causing a general, but constant ruckus.

Good thing he's cute.

As for the phone, I threw it in a bag of rice and waited with baited breath for two days in order to determine if it would work again.

Can you believe it?

The rice did the trick.

(I guess it draws the water out of the device?)

Though there is damage to my phone, it does indeed work, which means I don't have to purchase another expensive piece of technological equipment to replace my old one.

For now, anyway.

2.  Summer is officially here and by 10 am every morning, the children have exhausted use of their games, books, and toys.  Yesterday morning looked something like this:

  • 6:50 am:  Camille descends the stairs and demands breakfast.  I send her back up the stairs, put her in my bed with a stack of books and command her to stay until I call her.
  • 7:00 am:  Camille reappears and asks for breakfast.  She announces she's read all the books and she's hungry.  She also tells me she's not going back into my bed. At this point, Meaghan has emerged from her slumber, so she offers to make oatmeal.  I accept the help.
  • 7:30 am:  Breakfast is over.  All six children have been fed and hydrated.  I proceed to put a clean diaper and dress Edward for the day.
  • 7:45 am:  Now dressed for the day themselves, Camille and Christopher situate themselves outside on the porch with a pile of cars and toys.  Meaghan, Mary, and Patrick begin a rousing game of Monopoly at the dining room table.
  • 8:00 am:  Christopher and Camille feud over who actually owns the one toy car out of the five million laying in a pile.  To ensure he "wins" the debate, Christopher grabs Camille's favorite chap stick from her bag, holds it up above his head and yells, "I'm not giving this chap stick back.  It belongs to me."  Camille begins to shriek and kick and threaten Christopher with all kinds of intended mayhem should he not return her chapstick.  While this is happening, Edward chucks matchbox car off the deck.  I suggest a different game.
  • 8:10 am: Camille and Christopher pull out their art supplies and set up at the picnic table outside.  Edward joins them, if only to torment them and their efforts to create.
  • 8:20 am:  Christopher and Camille tire of coloring and tell me their bored.  I start counting down until nap time.
  • Rinse and repeat all day long.
 The pool opened this week so I'm hoping frequent visits there will help with the "Mom, I'm bored" stuff.

3.  Let's talk books, shall we?

Per a dear friend's suggestion, I just finished reading A Just Mercy by Brian Stevenson.  It's the memoir of an attorney who has spent his life working for the imprisoned.  His stories and statistics are so harrowing, at one point I texted my friend with the question:


Prior to reading the book, I was already against the death penalty.  We have a system to adequately contain criminals in the United States so I don't think it is probably ever necessary to kill criminals.  But this book increased my awareness to the injustices people of color face in our penal system.

It highlighted for me how black people are not treated the same as white people when they are convicted of crimes.

It made me aware of the injustice of trying children as adults (which is a practice that runs rampant in this country).

It heightened my awareness of how gravely cyclical poverty coupled with a lack of education stymies people and limits their ability to make different or better choices.

And for these reasons, of course, I highly recommend the book.  It will open your eyes to a man who has devoted his life to working for the impoverished, mentally ill, and emotionally/physically/sexually abused.

But the book is not perfect, of course.  Though I think Stevenson is a warrior for those without a voice, I struggled with his strong defense of the imprisoned without mentioning the other important injustices against life (mainly abortion and euthanasia).  Because he didn't mention the value of all life--not just those on death row, but also those in the womb or in a nursing home--I think he risked  promoting a sort of political agenda, instead of living the gospel.

Still, the book is worth a gander and will move your heart.

It did mine.  Stevenson is a modern day hero.

I've also been reading the  Hawk And The Dove by Penelope Wilcox.  I read it in fits and stops, picking it up and plowing through 150 pages only to put it down and not pick it up again for a few weeks.

This book is the first in a series and came highly recommended to me by the ladies in my Great Books Club.  It's the lovely story about monks set in fourteenth century Yorkshire during the time of Chaucer.  The thing I love about the book is the way the author depicts these monks who are very serious about living out the vocations God calls them to, but who are also deeply flawed and wounded by life's circumstances.  This is an edifying read for anyone who loves God and wants to be a better neighbor and love others well.

I'm also reading The Aeneid and am struggling greatly.  I'll leave my commentary at that.

4. The last time I met with my spiritual direction, I mentioned how I wanted to discern the role writing and photography takes in my life.  Father and I spoke a long time about these hobbies and his parting words to me where,

"You're on to something here.  You should keep discerning how God wants you to use your gifts.  Just make sure that as long as you pursue these forms of art, you do so in a way that is beautiful, that promotes truth and goodness."

I reflected on Father's words all afternoon because if there is one thing I want to do with any kind of art I do, it's reflect goodness, beauty and truth.  But I also worry and wonder if I should dedicate myself to these artsistic hobbies I find so edifying.  I wonder what the role writing and photogrpahy should play in my life.

In short?  I wonder if these things are God's will for me.

The next day, I had committed to take pictures at a Baccalaureate Mass for a homeschool group.  I was busy running around the back of the church, snapping photos like a mad woman.  As I worked, I heard the music ministry people cue up Matt Maher's song "Lord, I Need You."

And then I looked at the Crucifix and saw this. 

I lifted my camera to capture the image and as I did I heard the choir sing these words:

"Where sin runs deep, your grace is more.
Where grace is found, is where you are.
Where you are, Lord, I am free,
Holiness is Christ is me."

And I started to weep right there in the middle of the Mass.  

(Poor form if you are the photographer at an event.)

I thought of Father and our recent conversation to search for beauty and I knew right there in the middle of the preparation for Communion, God is in fact inviting me to pursue the arts in my life.

He wants this for me, like I want it for myself.

5. Camille and Christopher started another round of swim lessons and Camille loves every minute of it.  Every two seconds she looks for me in the crowd and waves like Princess Diana addressing at her adoring fans.  It's a sight to behold.

6.  We have another Murphy baby.  She's cute, ain't she?

7.  That's all I've got.  Have a terrific Friday and don't forget to stop by Kelly's for more awesome quick takes.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Why I Will Never Say To Another Parent "Little Kid, Little Problems, Big Kid, Big Problems"

Sam Cooke wasn't lying when he sang, "A Change Is Gonna Come."

Sometimes I'll look over at Meaghan as she is diapering Edward's bottom or baking cookies (her favorite afternoon activity) and I'm blown away at her maturity.  Lately, she'll relay a funny story about something one of the little kids did and the ease she possesses as she tells the tale makes me think she's one of my peers.  When she rolls her eyes and waves her hand dramatically to emphasize her point, she conveys a type of sophistication I didn't know was possible for a girl her age.

 I know this is a very mom thing to say, but Meaghan is a beautiful girl.  She's got legs up to her eyeballs and freckles sprinkled all over her fair skin.  She has started curling her stick straight,  blond hair before school in the morning and I've noticed--all of a sudden--she's stashing some of my personal care items in her room.

Last week, I decided to bring Meaghan with me to meet my new niece, Eliza, and on the way home she said, "Eliza is a doll, mom."

Then she looked over me with a big question mark written all over her face and said, "Do you think she looks like a Murphy?"

I squelched a giggle and felt my mom heart swoon.

My girl, Meaghan?  She's a delight.

I have to confess...I'm surprised I enjoy her so much.

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