That explains everything!

March 4, 2010


Scene: The family is sitting around the kitchen/living room island eating dinner. The girls spent the afternoon at their friends’ house and now they’re telling us about their day.

Claire: Dad, I made a New York, New York Super Style Crumble Cake with Grace today.

Scott: [teasing her] Is that really the name Claire or did you make that up?

Claire: Yes Dad, that’s really the name. It’s a New York, New York Super Style Crumble Cake. Really, I mean it, it’s a New York, New York Super Style Crumble Cake.

[For some reason she likes saying this name over and over.]

Ella: May I please say something? And Claire, don’t you say anything because you always interrupt me. [Spoken like the youngest child that she is.]  Hey Dad, your friend, Mr. Jonas is going to Georgia for a meeting.

Scott: Oh yeah, who told you that?

 [Being the the oldest sibling that she is, Claire interrupts. She tries to show off her new vocabulary from CCD–a.k.a Sunday School]

Claire: Maybe her “conscience” told her Dad.

[Frustrated that her dialogue with her dad has been interrupted by her big sister]

Ella: No Claire. Mrs. Jonas told me…And besides, I don’t have a conscience!

Scott: [Looking at me] Well, that pretty much explains everything now doesn’t it. 🙂

Ella and Her “New” Sister

February 13, 2010


Scene: It’s Friday, February 12th, 2010, the day before Claire makes her first confession in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I’m busy cleaning the bathroom sinks when the girls come charging into the room. They’re fighting over something and Ella is clearly annoyed with her big sister.

Ella: I want a new sister.

[I don’t think I’ve heard that one before. Claire must have made her really mad]

Ella: Dad’s gonna’ bring home a new sister for me on Wednesday.

Claire: No he’s not.

Ella: Yes he is and it’s gonna’ be one of the Haitian orphans who needs a home.

[News to me. I give Ella my “where in the world did you come up with that idea”  look.]

Ella: Joking! But I do want a new sister.

Claire: Yeah, well you’re getting a new sister tomorrow.

[Sounds like Claire is looking to one-up her little sister. I wonder what country her orphan is coming from. Meanwhile Ella looks confused. She raises her right eyebrow just like her Dad…and you thought I was the expressive one in this marriage!]

Me: So, is the new orphan sister arriving tomorrow instead, Claire?

Claire: No Mom. Don’t you remember?

  [At this point I haven’t a clue as to what she’s talking about or where she’s going with this. Then she comes over and whispers in my ear…]

 Claire: Remember… tomorrow…my first confession… I’ll be like a new sister, right Mom?

This was not all what I was expecting to hear. I was speechless. All I could do was nod my head and smile. And then immediately I was reminded of these verses… 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:17-18, 20) 

Claire’s understanding of the gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation couldn’t be more simple, profound, beautiful or right on: God’s forgiveness makes us new!

So, it looks like Ella really is getting a new sister. I just hope she’s not disappointed when she finds out it’s not a Haitian orphan girl. 🙂

My Claire is Growing Up!

February 13, 2010


This is a big year for Claire. Today she will go to confession for the first time and later this spring she receives her first Holy Communion. She is beyond excited.

I must confess that as a non-denominational Protestant I never understood the big deal Catholics made over a child’s First Communion. We made a big deal over a child saying a prayer of salvation (I suppose because we thought it “secured” their salvation, right?).  A smaller deal was made of their subsequent baptism. Even though it was considered a symbolic act that didn’t have any spiritual effect it was almost always recognized as significant by the community. But First Communion, well, it was rarely talked about, much less an event celebrated by the church community.

In most of the non-denominational churches I attended it was up to the parents to determine when their kids received the symbolic bread and grape juice. If they decided one week that their child was ready for Communion then the next week they could let them participate. There wasn’t any formal or consistent First Communion preparation for children or for adults who were new to the faith for that matter. *

My experience as a Catholic, however, has been very different.  Catholics, well, they make a big deal over this First Communion thing;  it’s not just a “me and Jesus” affair, it’s a family and parish community affair.

Claire started preparing for her First Communion in September. She has two wonderful CCD teachers (CCD stands for Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) and a class full of friends, most of whom seem to be as excited as she is.  Her teachers Mary and Bob have spent week after week teaching them about  God’s love, our sin and what it does to us and His forgiveness.  And of course they’ve talked about the Holy Eucharist and how it really is His Body and His Body just like Jesus tells us in John 6: 53-58 and  Matthew 26: 26-29.  What a gift it is to have a parish community helping Scott and me to raise our girls in the faith.

Lately the class has focused on preparing for their First Reconcilation. Mary and Bob have taught them the importance of  having their hearts ready to receive Communion by thinking about what they’ve done  and telling God they’re sorry for the times they haven’t been loving toward Him and others (I Corinthians 11: 23-29).** 

You should have seen the kids at their First Reconciliation retreat last week when our Pastor demonstrated what sin does to the heart and the grace of forgiveness. He started by dumping all kinds of food into a pristine bowl of water and mixing it up. It was gross, just like sin!  Then he cleaned out the bowl, poured fresh water in and talked about the forgiveness and grace we receive when we tell God we’re sorry in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  The kids were of course thoroughly entertained by this demonstration and screamed with delight at his antics, but more than that, I think they got it! 

And now that I’m Catholic, so do I. I get why Catholic parents makes such a big deal of First Communion. I’m one of them now and I find I’m just as excited for Claire as she is for herself.   

My Claire is growing up in her faith. The Holy Spirit, whom she received at her baptism (Acts 2:38-39), has brought her to this place where she is publicly professing the faith for herself. In a few short months she’ll be nourished and strengthend as she receives the life of Jesus through His Body and Blood just as His Word tells us (John 6:54).  I’m not sure that as a mom I could ask for much more at this point in life.


*I suppose that most Protestants don’t make a fuss about your First Communion because it’s considered a symbolic act. We didn’t believe that Communion was an efficacious sacrament (means of grace) in which Jesus wanted to give us His life through His Body and Blood (John 6:53-54). I for one didn’t believe Jesus when He said, My flesh is real food, my blood is real drink (John 6:55). While Communion was meaningful to me in that it reminded me of Christ’s death it wasn’t a “necessary” part of living in Christ. It was just something my fellow church members and I did periodically as a symbol of our faith. In retrospect I have to wonder how I could’ve ever accused Catholics of practicing empty rituals when the very rituals I practiced were only symbolic acts.

**If you’re a Protestant or Catholic who doesn’t know your own faith you may not understand why Catholics confess their sins to a priest. This may seem unnecessary because you believe all we need to do is go directly to God. I completely understand this perspective. It was hurdle for me in my conversion. Trust me, there are Biblical and historical reasons for this Sacrament. In the near future I will explain why Catholics participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

92 Valentines Later…

February 10, 2010

No, that’s not how many Valentine’s dates I’ve had. 🙂

And it’s not the number of Valentine’s Days I’ve celebrated either. Despite all the old age jokes I heard last week, I’m not that old — of course, I’d be looking darn good for my age if I were 92.  

92 is the number of Valentine’s cards Claire and Ella are making for their friends who attend our home school park day (46 cards each).  Tomorrow is our Valentine’s Day celebration so I bet you can guess what we did for school today. Yep, we were up to our eyeballs in Valentine’s Day Cards.

Now I know what some of you are thinking — Those home school families. They do a craft for an hour or two and call it a school day. Who do they think they’re fooling?

Before you make any judgments and determine we home school moms are slackers let me share the vast educational experience in making 92 homemade Valentine’s cards. Ok, maybe it’s not vast but the beauty of home schooling is that you start to see everything in life as having educational value so that learning isn’t limited to the four walls of a classroom or a homework assignment. 

Math, Economics and Home Economics: First we went looking for store bought, pre-made Valentines –we aren’t all Martha Stuart moms, you know. During this process we added up the cost of several boxes of cards and determined that the cost of buying 92 pre-made cards was more than making our own. This decision was made easier by the fact that the Hannah Montana cards were the only ones my girls wanted and well, I’m sorry but as far as I’m concerned Miley and Disney have enough money as it is! This meant shopping for some materials and comparing prices per unit so we could get the best deal.

Note: Ella, of course, could care less about the cost. Claire on the other hand was calculating how many kids in Africa she could feed if she bought the cheaper construction paper. 🙂

Religion, History and Reading: Being a Catholic family we of course talked about St. Valentine. And I, being a former “Bible alone” Protestant, had them read Bible verses that tell us about God’s love. 

A little more Math: While cutting out hearts for Ella, I had Claire determine how many sheets of paper I’d need if  I could get three hearts out of each piece of paper. That covered multiplication and division for the day and moved into a little exercise of counting by threes for Claire. Ella kept track of the number of hearts by counting by twos.

Spelling and Handwriting:  I made each one figure out what they wanted to say on the cards and write it out for me. Then I printed out their message on labels for their cards and had them sign each one–Claire practiced her cursive and Ella, well, I’m not sure how many she actually signed.

Finally, the character building portion of this crafty home school project….Patience and perseverance. By card #20 the girls were over this project (this non-crafty mom was over it well before that). At card #21 we discussed the importance of finishing the job with a good attitude (my own included).

Here’s to a fun-filled Valentine’s Park Day tomorrow. Oh, did I mention the high is supposed to 50 degrees with a wind-chill factor of God knows what? (That’s cold for us Floridians.)

Oh, well. Happy Valentine’s Day!

On folding laundry and following God’s will – Claire’s perspective

January 26, 2010


Claire came into my room a few months ago while I was folding laundry. She sat herself down in the middle of the piles of folded clothes and began this conversation…

Claire: You’re not folding that towel the right way Mom.

[No doubt about it, she really is Scott’s daughter. Not that there ever was any doubt mind you. This only proves it 🙂 ]

Me: Claire, did you really come in here to tell me the right way to fold towels?

Claire:  No. 

Me: So are you here just to keep me company or are you gonna’ help me?

[She proceeds to pick up a towel and fold it the “right way”]

Claire: I think God might be telling me I should be a nun.

Me: (surprised but not really surprised) Really?

Claire: Yes really.

Me: So what do you think about that?

[Without missing a beat, in a matter of fact tone of voice…]

Claire:  I think I’m gonna’ tell Him “no.”

Me: (suppressing a grin) You sure you want to do that. I mean, tell God “no.”

[Putting down her properly folded towel, she gets up to leave]

Claire: I don’t know. I might change my mind.

Me: Yes, you just might.

Several months, masses and moments spent with Claire in prayer later and I’m beginning to think she might just change her mind. That is of course , if God is calling her to a vocation in the religious life–which He may or may not be doing. 

In some ways it wouldn’t surprise me. Claire is the one who regularly asks to stay a little longer for adoration. She’s disappointed when we can’t make it for benediction or liturgy of the hours. She has such a tender heart toward God and great empathy for others, remembering them in her prayers (the blessing at dinner is usually quite long). And I swear she can’t watch the Hallmark movie about the life of Mother Teresa without crying. Of course she’s still very young and we’d never pressure her one way or the other but it wouldn’t surprise me if she seriously considers choosing a vocation in the religious life. 

Regardless of her future vocation, I’m just pleased Claire is listening to the stirrings of the Holy Spirit in her heart.  While some might see her “no” as a defiance or disrespect for God’s will, I see in her response a trust and openness with God. There’s something refreshing about her faith and her honesty. She trusts her heavenly Father enough to be honest with Him. She doesn’t fear that her “no” would make God love her less. And, even at her young age, she knows her “no” right now is not the final word. It’s not the first time her childlike trust has spoken to my heart and I have a feeling it won’t be the last.

During Advent and Christmas we talked a lot about Mary’s fiat, her “yes” to God. Claire says she wants to be like Mary and do whatever God asks of her. Something tells me that she will.

What’s up with the password?

September 13, 2009

A few of you have noticed and asked about the password protection on some of my posts. Some strange web search inquiries were showing up on my blog stats and I just got a creepy feeling about the word choices and intent behind those searches. I’ve decided that family photos, especially those including my girls and precious nieces, will now require a password to see. If you’re a family member, friend or blog friend and I haven’t sent you the password just let me know and I’ll get it to you. A reminder for all my mom friends, if you get a creepy feeling about anything regarding the safety of your kids, always go with your gut. God gave us that intuition for a reason.

Mind Reading 101

April 8, 2009

Ella has this habit of telling you what you’re thinking or feeling. Usually it’s when she knows she’s done something wrong and she’s in trouble. She’s also my “glass is half empty melancholy baby”  so her mind reading usually goes something like this…You’re thinking you don’t like me…Or….You’re thinking I’m stupid...Or…You’re thinking you’re mad at me

I’m constantly reminding her that she shouldn’t tell me or anyone else what they are thinking. Today was no exception. This morning I asked her to put some of her toys away and she gave me one of her “I’m not going to do it” looks and then she did her mind reading thing again. Our conversation went like this…

Me: Ella you can’t go outside with Claire until you put your things away.

Ella: You’re mad at me.

Me: No I’m not mad. And Ella, please don’t tell me how I feel. You don’t know what I’m feeling.

Ella: You’re thinking I’m stupid.

Me: No, I don’t think you’re stupid. And please don’t tell me what I’m thinking. You can’t read my mind.  

Ella: Mom, you love me don’t you?

Me: Yes, of course I do.

Ella: See, I can too read your mind.

 Did I mention that she’s a little too clever for her own good?  

Score one for Ella.

Living with Superman

April 4, 2009


Tuesday Morning: While driving to Mass, Claire is quizzing Ella on some spelling words. Ella is doing well but then comes the first mistake and I wait for her typical response… I’m just stupid. I can’t do anything right. This  leads to a conversation about how we don’t have to do everything perfectly.

Me: You Know Ella, we don’t have to do everything perfectly. In fact, everybody makes mistakes.

Ella: (In her most “matter of fact” voice) That’s not true Mom.  Dad doesn’t make mistakes!

[Had I been eating something at the time I would have choked on my food. Good thing for that hour long fast before Mass. 😉 ]

Wednesday Afternoon:  Driving to my parents house, watching an educational video produced by the  Discovery Channel.

Claire: Mom, what channel number is the Discovery Channel?

Me: I don’t know Claire.

Ella: Hey Claire, we’ll just ask Dad.

Claire: Yeah, I’ll ask Dad. Dad knows everything.

[This time I almost choked on a sip of my soda… 🙂 ]

Thursday Evening: Mr. Jim, a family friend, is over for dinner.  Mr. Jim happens to exercise at the same Wellness Center as we do.

Claire: Hey Mr. Jim, did you know my daddy is the strongest man?

Mr. Jim: Yes, he’s very strong. Did you know he’s so strong they had to order more weights for him to lift at the gym?

[ Good thing I was holding my wine glass with two hands. I almost dropped it on the spot.]

Yep, that’s my husband, their daddy…

He makes no mistakes.

He knows everything.

And, he’s soooooo strong….

Ok, I get that they’re 100% Daddy’s Girls but…

Would someone please hand me the kryptonite now? 🙂

Protected: Ella’s Bottom Line

March 28, 2009

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Car-Schooling, Claire and Childlike Faith

March 25, 2009


I haven’t posted much this month. March has been busy.

This week we’re back to schooling and making the most of the last few weeks of Lent 2009. We’re counting down the days with our family friend, “Miss Jessica, ” as she waits to be baptized, confirmed and receive her first Communion at the Easter Vigil.  We’re also trying to make it to daily Mass more often. Of course that always results in interesting conversations  with the girls. Here’s a scene from the drive home from daily Mass last Thursday.

Scene: I’m behind the wheel patiently 🙂 navigating the snowbird traffic our county is so well-known for at this time of the year (in case you’re wondering I was going the speed limit). The girls are watching an educational DVD on volcanoes. “Car time” is social studies and science time (a.k.a.  car-schooling).

Claire: Mom, can you turn down the volume? I have a question.

[Anticipating another question about volcanoes–one  to which I probably won’t have the answer–I stop myself before saying we’ll look that up on the internet too.]

Me: Yes Claire, what is it?

[Long pause]

Claire: Jesus is in heaven right?

Me: (Ok, I can answer that one) Yes.

[Another long pause]

Claire: So if you die and you get to go to heaven then you’ll see Jesus right?

Me: (Wondering where she’s going with this line of thought) Yes.

[Third long pause. Smoke is rising like a volcano from Claire’s brain because she’s thinking so hard]

Claire: Mom, I think I’d like to die now so that I could go and be with Jesus forever.

[My turn to pause. So, this is childlike faith: No worldly attachments, ambitions, desires or fears–just faith and a longing to be with Jesus.

Me: You know what Claire, I can’t think of any place I’d rather be than with Him.


Jesus, give me the grace to mature and have childlike faith: To believe and trust without reservation and to desire eternity with you more than anything else. Amen