Thursday, April 17, 2014

Jack Takes Over the Blog

As you may have already read, Holy Week is a busy week around here.

Today, when we handed out chores, somehow Jack ended up with blog duty, and *I* had to clean out his closet.

"Content," I told him, "The people want content." Let's see what he came up with for you fine folks, shall we? 

Hi everybody, Jack here. 


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How to Talk to Little Kids About the Crucifixion

How much of Jesus' suffering and death to share with little ones is a question many parents struggle with.

It can be overwhelming to feel like you have to introduce so many facts and concepts and characters all at once, especially if your kids are perhaps more concerned with how close they are to getting to eat treats again than with the details of Jesus' passion.

How to handle it in your own family is going to depend, of course, on your particular kids.

But here's how we do it in our family:

We give them the facts.

Over the course of Holy Week each year, I read to my kids the story of Jesus' passion and death from the Bible.

They've heard it in Mass, but especially the little ones are probably not paying much attention there. Reading it at home allows them to really hear it.

There are differences in what parts of the story are included in each gospel account, (for what they are see here). Any one you choose would be great, since they're all the Bible. But I like to read from our Children's Bible, which compiles all of the events from each of the gospels into one narrative. It's also illustrated, which I find really helps to keep the kids' attention and assists with their reading comprehension.

I read some each day, focusing on the part of the story that happened on that particular day of the week.

I don't leave out any parts or soften anything, even for very little kids. I just read it to them as is, and we look at the pictures.

Even though my two year old isn't ready to understand everything that happens in the story, and he's certainly not ready to grasp the horrors of Jesus' suffering, I do think he is ready to hear about it. 

I tell all the kids that we're going to read the story first, with no interruptions, then talk about it afterwards.

Once the story is read, I let the kids lead the conversation.

Some kids are going to listen, and then just want to move on. That's fine. Especially for toddlers, my focus is just that they listen. Hearing it in its entirety will plant the seeds for deeper reflection and understanding later. My toddlers have never been upset by hearing the story.

For my pre-schoolers and younger grade school kids, I want to make sure they understand the basics of what happened.

This is what I'd like them to know: 

  • The Last Supper is when Jesus celebrated the Passover with his friends the disciples. Passover is the day the Jewish people remember when God saved them from being slaves in Egypt. This happened on Holy Thursday night.
  • Jesus's friend Judas left the supper and betrayed Jesus by telling the Jewish priests where Jesus would be so they could arrest him. The high priest, Caiaphas, wanted to get rid of Jesus because he could see how much the people liked him and he worried the people wouldn't listen to him anymore and would listen to Jesus instead. 
  • Still that night, Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gesthsemane. He was very worried about all the terrible things he knew were about to come, but he was willing to do what God wanted him to do.
  • Judas came with many people and found Jesus in the garden. Jesus was arrested.
  • Peter followed behind Jesus to see what happened to him. When people asked him if he knew Jesus, he got scared and lied and said he didn't know Jesus at all. 
  • The next morning, on Good Friday, the high priest turned Jesus over to the governor, Pontius Pilate. Pontius Pilate knew Jesus hadn't done anything wrong. But Pontius Pilate worked for Rome, and it was his job to make sure the people didn't make trouble. He wanted to let Jesus go, but all the people kept shouting "crucify him!" He had Jesus whipped to see if that would make the people happy, but they kept shouting "crucify him!" Pontius Pilate was a weak man, so even though he knew it was not right, he ordered his soldiers to crucify Jesus.
  • Jesus had to carry his heavy cross out of the town of Jerusalem, up the hill to Golgotha. It was very hard to do. He fell down many times. The soldiers thought Jesus might not make it up the hill at all, so they made a man named Simon of Cyrene help him.
  • Jesus' hands and feet were nailed to the cross, and he was left to die there, in between two criminals who were also being crucified that day, as a punishment for their crimes.
  • The people in the crowd made fun of Jesus, the soldiers mocked him and took his clothing. Only one disciple, John, and Mary, Jesus' mother, and two other women stayed with Jesus while he was dying. All of his other friends and followers ran away.
  • Jesus was on the cross for three hours, from noon to three o'clock. Then he died.
  • The soldiers took his body down from the cross and gave him to his mother, Mary. 
  • A rich man named Joseph of Arimathea came and took Jesus' body and laid it in his own tomb and covered the entrance with a stone.
If they have questions, I answer them. If they don't have questions, that's fine.

I want my older kids to learn more details of the story and have a deeper understanding of the people involved and their motivations, but that comes with time and multiple exposures to the story.

If my kids ask me, "Why? Why did Judas do that? Why did Pontius Pilate do that? Why did the people do that? Why did God want it? Why did Jesus let them?" I try to answer with truth and compassion but not too many details.

Judas and Peter and Caiaphas and Pontius Pilate and Herod and the good and bad thieves and the crowd are all weak in different ways. They are all sinners like us. They hurt Jesus. But so do we hurt Jesus when we sin. The thing that makes them different from one another is whether they trusted God and asked for forgiveness after they sinned, or if they didn't. The same is true of us.

It is because people don't love God enough that God had to send Jesus to suffer and die for us. Jesus came to make up in a big way for all of our sins, big and little. From the sin committed by Adam and Eve, all the way to the sins that people are committing today, even the sins we ourselves commit.

Jesus loved God so much and loved us so much, that he willingly went through all that suffering. Jesus loved YOU so much that he died for YOU, even though he was God and could've stopped all of it at any time.

Even though Jesus suffered so much, this is a story with a happy ending. We just have to make it through Holy Saturday, our day of waiting and preparing, to find the joy of Easter morning, when Jesus comes back to life and triumphs over death and saves us all.

That's what I tell them.

Even though this is my little kids' first (and mostly only) exposure to heavy concepts like betrayal and suicide and torture and death, I have found that they have always been able to see through all of that and understand that Jesus' passion is a story of love.

I think even the littlest kids deserve to hear it.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Last Minute Somewhat Free Easter Baskets

Hey, there's nothing like a late Easter to really catch you by surprise and actually arrive, right?

Before you rush out the door to the dollar store, here are a few ideas for lovely and edifying Easter gifts that you can make happen in a hurry. And sometimes for nearly free!


Shining Light Saint Printables! Just a word of caution, you could. just. die. of the cute. It could happen. 

Twenty-three of the adorablest saints you ever did see, available for free. Print out two of each on cardstock for a matching game. Print one on Iron-On Transfer Paper and make a patron saint t-shirt. Print one out and glue it onto a composition book for a doodle book. And maybe next year, plan ahead a little and buy the dolls.

Kelly Saints Stamps. These fun saint illustrations have endless possibilities. Print them out on sticker paper for a sticker set. Use them to convert your existing Connect 4, Checkers, or Guess Who games to cuter, more Catholic versions. I got a chance to pre-view this set and, wow, there are a lot of things you could do with it. There are 42 different saints, in 2 different styles, and 4 different sizes. There are dozens of suggestions for crafts like bottle cap saints and saint stones, and games like bingo and plinko that you can put together at home.

I'm working on making the saint stones with these Clear Glass Tiles , and craft glue . A one inch hole punch would make things go more quickly, but I've been managing without it.

Kelly Saint Stamps are available for purchase at Equipping Catholic Families, but if you head over there now and leave a comment, you could win one for free!

Betsy McCall Paperdolls. These darling vintage paperdolls, originally from McCall's Magazine, can be downloaded and printed on cardstock for free. There are dozens to choose from, but 1960 Betsy is my favorite. She has a wardrobe for each month.

Avengers Printables are available from Disney Family. They've got masks and printable playsets.

CubeCraft offers hundred of free printable papercrafts featuring characters from Lego to Superheros to Star Wars to Doctor Who (just look at the little T.A.R.D.I.S.!). I'm going to print some of them out as a craft for my older kids, but you could also make it yourself as a gift for younger kids.


If you happen to have Amazon Prime and order before Wednesday, you can have pretty much anything in the world. 'Cause it's Amazon. But to help you narrow it down a bit and Easter-ize it (I'm making that a word) here are some of our favorites:

The Children's Bible
Tomie dePaola's Book of Bible Stories
Saint George and the Dragon

Do you have an iPad or other e-reader? There are dozens of great classic books available instantly and for free. My ten year old daughter is currently reading A Little Princess, and loving it. Ann of Green Gables, Peter Rabbit, Pinocchio, Robin Hood, Alice in Wonderland, and dozens more are all available for free. Check out this page for more titles, and this page for places to go look for them. (Although I have had good luck finding them right in iBooks. OR as free audiobook Podcasts.) You can load up the iPad with free books, and print out certificates to hide inside plastic eggs. And they'll never have to know they were free!


I recommended some movies in my Holy Week post, that are available as an instant download from Amazon as well.

Plus there's this one:

VeggieTales: An Easter Carol
Sing it with me now, "The bunny, the bunny, oh, I love the bunny." No? Just me? Okay. moving on.


It's the gift that keeps on giving. 

We got a gift subscription to Kiwi Crate from the grandparents, and my kids, especially Bobby (8), really loved it. My kids who can read can do the projects on their own, or younger kids can do them with help from a grownup or older sibling.

The nice folks at Saint Mail sent me one of their kits to review, and we liked it so much that I subscribed for the rest of the year myself.

Not free, but I can personally vouch for the awesomeness of both services.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Answer Me This . . . of Boggarts and Barbies (and Pageviews and Palm Sunday)

Updated! (now even MORE stuff at the bottom)

Welcome to Answer Me This, a new Sunday link-up here at Catholic All Year.

If you missed the big introduction post, here's a quick recap of the rules: I ask you questions, you answer them. You can answer in the comments, or if you've got a blog, you can answer on your blog and link it up. The link-up will be live through Wednesday at 10am.

1. What time do you prefer to go to Mass?

I've been all over on this one. I spent some time as a 5:30pm Sunday happy clapper, then as a 7:30am Sunday, "I've got kids, can we just get this over-with-er." But now, I'm a leisurely breakfast Sunday morning, then to 10:30am-type.

It's been good for me to give over the hopes of accomplishing things on Sunday in favor of family time and focusing our day on the Mass.

2. Would you rather be too hot or too cold?

I get cold very easily, and don't like it. I much prefer hot weather.

The husband, of course, is the opposite. In the wintertime, he'll go to sleep in shorts and a t-shirt, and I'll be wearing a flannel granny nightgown and wool socks and I get the whole comforter, doubled over on my side. Because he doesn't want it, but I do!

3. How many brothers and/or sisters do you have?

I have one lovely sister, three years my junior, who lives with her husband and two daughters in Ames, Iowa.

4. If you were faced with a boggart, what would it turn into?

Well, I really can't imagine anything worse than what it does to Molly Weasley. But that's not, um, any fun . . . soooooo . . . 

I'm scared of being lost, and of letting people down, but I can't see how it would turn into that . . .

Let's say labor and delivery nurses. Although, really I'm more infuriated than scared by them.

5. Barbie: thumbs up or thumbs down?

If we're talking me as a child, thumbs up. Waaaaay up. Barbie was my thing. I had many, and a lovely three-story house that my dad built and my mom decorated. It had little photographs of my mom and dad and sister and I along the stairs, made from proof-sheets (remember those?). 

My sister liked to PLAY Barbies, but I really didn't, I liked to carefully set them all up at a dinner party, or a wedding, or a barbecue, then stand guard lest my sister attempt to play with them.

For my daughters? Meh. It seems like when I was a kid, Barbie wanted to be a veterinarian, and the president, and get married. And these days she wants to be a "popstar" and a "fashionista," and become a fairy mermaid.

Which doesn't seem like progress.

Here is 90's veterinarian Barbie on the left (Although my prime Barbie-dom was the 80s), next to her modern-day counterpart (who moonlights as a diner waitress, I guess?):

I don't have much experience with vets. Is this how they're dressing these days?

My girls have a great castle setup down at my parents' house, and a fair number of Disney princess Barbies, along with their respective princes. But Betty really likes American Girl-type dolls the best, and Anita loves her baby dolls.

6. If someone asked you to give them a random piece of advice, what would you say?

People ask me for advice all the time. But usually it's pretty specific.

RANDOM advice? Not that's fun.

I will share with you the best advice I have received from each of my grandmothers, and some excellent advice I received just today from a random pre-schooler at the park.

From MamaBet: "Never refuse a breath mint."

We interrupt this post to point your attention to the sidebar ===>
That's a lot of pageviews. Thanks guys. And now back to your regularly scheduled blog post . . . 

From Nini: "Buy jewelry on vacation instead of souvenirs, and you'll be able to keep it for the rest of your life."

From random pre-schooler running down the grassy hill at the park: "You better watch out for pooooooooop!"


Happy Palm Sunday!

Lacy at Catholic Icing has some ideas for what to do with your Blessed Palm.

And Tracy at A Slice of Smith Life burns hers, then GROWS EASTER GRASS on top of it. Brilliant. How cool would it be to grow real grass in Easter baskets?! 

We tend to go the Palm Frond = Lightsaber route around here. Then they get tucked someplace or other.

Just don't throw them away. Because they are blessed.


The winner of Gus' Confession Book giveaway (a signed copy of the book and a confession checklist notepad) is . . . 

Bethany Sonnier for
Two muffins are baking in an oven. One turns to the other and says "Wow, it's getting hot in here." The other one says "Ahhh! A talking muffin!" 
Congratulations on your first confession!

and honorable mentions (a confession checklist notepad) go to . . . 

Amelia Bentrup for
Gus: What animal cheats during tests?
- A cheetah! :)

and Betsy for
What kind of cheese isn't yours?
Nacho cheese!

Send me an email with your address!

And thanks to everyone who participated! We LOVED all the jokes!


And here are the questions for next week, which, of course, is Easter Sunday. But you have until Wednesday to link up, so take your time.

1. What did you and your family wear to Mass on Easter Sunday?

2. Easter Bunny: thumbs up or thumbs down?

3. Do you prefer to celebrate holidays at your own house or at someone else's house?

4. What is your favorite kind of candy?

5. Do you like video games?

6. Do you speak another language?

By the way, how do you feel about this time for the link-up to start? I thought I'd wait to open the link-up until late morning here in case anyone wants to include What I Wore Sunday, as I sometimes do. But do you prefer the Midnight central of 7QT? 

Arg. Even at 10am, I'm not going to get my WIRS photos up befoe Mass. So if you like that sort of thing, check back around 1pm Pacific.


Here's What I Wore Sunday!

and what we did with our palms . . .

now we're off to burn last years'. 

Check our other Palm Sunday best at Fine Linen and Purple.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

The "You Can Still Do This" Guide to All Things Holy Week

Well, you've done it. You AND your children have, somehow, against all odds, survived through to these last few days of Lent. Though for a while there, it looked like you might succumb to acute lack of coffee / Netflix / Facebook, you've made it. And now you need to figure out how to make Holy Week solemn, meaningful, and memorable for your kids. Without a whole lot of effort or advance planning on your part.

Um. I'm not sure that's possible. But I WILL tell you what WE are going to attempt and that I haven't started any of it yet.

In an attempt to not totally freak everyone out, I'll also include the first things we did, when I only had little kids and we were first learning how to live the liturgical year in our home.


Becoming a Family of Prayer

You guys actually read my crazy Day in the Life post. All the way to the bottom! 

And some of you had questions about it. So, I'll be addressing those questions over the next few weeks. 

  • How we do bedtime routines, 
  • why our kids don't have their own beds, 
  • letting our kids go places on their own, 
  • encouraging independence in our kids, and 
  • how we incorporate prayer into our family's daily routine.
Since that last question came from the estimable Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas, I did that one first. . . .

I want perfection in prayer. At least I think I ought to want it. Raptures, ecstasies, levitation, my heart literally bursting into flame. That’s what a good prayer life looks like in my imagination.

In reality, I’m not a cloistered nun or a desert hermitess, able to spend hours deep in contemplative prayer. My prayer life has to happen within my vocation to motherhood. It’s stolen moments, and frequent interruptions. And it mostly has to happen alongside my children. So there’s no levitating, but there are requests for crackers, and bathroom breaks, and whisper shouting. But it’s better than nothing. It’s so, so, so much better than nothing.
That’s what I’m slowly coming to understand. If I wait for the perfect time to really get serious about my prayer life, I will never have a prayer life at all. If I wait for my children to be ready, they’ll be grown and gone and we won’t have started yet.
A perfect prayer life would be lovely. But since that’s not possible, we have found ways to incorporate prayer into our daily family routine. It’s very imperfect, but it’s happening.
The rest is guest posted over at Carrots for Michaelmas!
And the Day in the Life post is contagious, check out Jenny's at Mama Needs Coffee! (Where other things are contagious too, ugh.)


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Day in the Life of Me, Kendra Tierney, in Which a Lot of Things Happen and Often I Don't Yell

a grandfather clock built by . . . 
my grandfather
(is your mind blown?)
Okay, you asked for it. Here it is. You have no one to blame but yourselves.

My days start at about 11 pm, since that's when I can usually put Lulu down for an hour or two and attempt to accomplish all the things . . . 

4/1/14 11:06pm. I nurse Lulu to sleep while reading blogs and checking Facebook and returning emails on the iPad, then slip her into the swing in our living room. I go visit with the husband for a bit before he goes to bed. Quality time. We got it.

11:23pm. Meal plan for Lent is to clear out the freezer. I fish a bag of chicken bones out and put them on the stove to make stock for soup for tomorrow's dinner. I'm thinking chicken and dumplings. Or maybe Chicken Corn Chowder.

11:28pm. I sit down at the desktop computer to blog with two hands. But, first, I check my email and comments and feed reader (yay! Christine had her baby! Nothing from Colleen. Does that mean she's had the baby or that she hasn't?!) and Facebook timeline. I feel a great need to keep my unread emails at zero. I like to respond to comments and emails right away, before they get lost under a new batch. I'm pretty meticulous about the blogs I follow and almost always read every post. I always scroll down to the last thing I remember seeing on Facebook. I don't want to miss anything.

4/2/14 12:10am. All caught up on that, now it's time to write. I should have at least an hour before Lulu wakes up. Normally I'd start working on my seven quick takes. I have a few concepts I've been considering for future installments. But, I've been nominated for a Leibster award. It's an AWARD! I don't want to put that one off too long. So, I start writing.

12:34am. Lulu wakes up. Ugh. Okay. Switch off the computer monitor, turn the stock down to simmer, pick up the baby. Be greeted by her adoring, adoring smiles. Less mad. I put Lulu on my hip and go floss and brush (one handed).

12:40am. Lulu and I sneak into bed. I latch her on and finish a few things up on the iPad (including this). I say my evening prayers and do my examination of conscience.

1:06am. Despite having the whole internet in my hands, plus a book I'm enjoying AND an itty bitty booklight that wakes neither husbands nor babies, I decide to go to sleep.

4:23am. Roll over. Nurse.

6:27am. Roll over. Nurse.

7:24am. Roll over. Nurse. Wake up, say morning offering. It's better for me to get out of bed for my 15 minutes of morning prayer. But Lulu is wiggly, so I stay put. I only fall back to sleep for just a second in the middle there.

7:45am. Grab iPad. Check comments. Last evening I published the post about why I'm letting my hair go gray. Folks seem to like it. Cool. Check emails.

8:00am. I should get up. Lulu's still wiggly.
I check Facebook.

8:03am. Lulu seems asleep.
I'm not done with Facebook.
I want to read Bonnie's review of Noah. What an enigma that movie is. I haven't seen the Christian blogosphere this divided since . . . Well, since Frozen. So maybe it's always divided. I wasn't initially planning to see it, but it have to say, I'm intrigued.

8:04am. My guardian angel helps by making the internet painfully slow. The page won't load. I close the iPad and roll stealthily out of bed, leaving a sleeping baby and the iPad with it's white noise app behind. Not exactly a heroic moment, but I'm up. I get dressed: jeans, sweater, nursing tank stays on, scarf -- note to self: find a scarf that matches. I slip on my new slip on running shoes.

8:10am. In the kitchen, six kids are up. The big kids set an alarm and get up at 7:30, so by now the chickens are fed and watered, eggs are brought in, dishwasher is emptied, little trash cans are brought to the big trash can, and that's taken out, and the recycling is taken out and sorted. Two kids are dressed, most are eating breakfast. They've made scrambled eggs. Daddy made a pot of oatmeal and cut up some fruit for them before he left.

Our wonderful, amazing, super-terrific housekeeper is here and folding laundry.

I start reminding people what time it is.

I check the chicken stock and turn the heat up on it. I check for other ingredients and decide to make chicken and dumplings. Know what we're having for dinner before 10am. Check.

I put an English muffin in the toaster.

8:14am. I check iCal. Need to return library books. We lost a library book months ago. Our kind librarians keep renewing it for me, but I finally ordered one from Amazon to give them. Now I just need to remember where I put it.

Frankie has speech therapy, Betty has a voice lesson, both at our house. I need to write a check for her teacher.

I notice that it's JPII's death day. D'oh. We usually celebrate that as Jack's name day, since he is named John Paul after Pope John Paul II.* That means Jack gets to pick what we have for dinner. I ask him. He does NOT want chicken and dumplings or any other chicken-stock-based dinner. Blerg.

He wants Indian curry and rice. Okay. I need I to check for ingredients.

Back to iCal. Betty has softball practice at 5, Jack has a baseball game, also at 5. So, soup was never going to work anyway. We need a to-go dinner. Curry burritos it is. And I have everything we need. All planned. Still before 10am.

I turn the stock off to cool down and take my English muffin out of the toaster. Frankie wants it. I remind him how we ask for things. He asks for it. I give it to him and put another in the toaster.

8:19am. I remind everyone what time it is.

Kids who aren't dressed get sent to dress. Everyone gets sent to make beds.

Anita can't find her school dress and asks for help. I find it hanging over the foot of her bed. How could she be expected to find that?

I go get clothes for Frankie and change his diaper and dress him. He wants to put on his own shoes. I wish him good luck.

8:22am. I remind everyone what time it is.

I remind everyone that we always have to put on shoes every morning.

I remind the girls to brush their hair.

I do my make up. Frankie does his.

8:30am. I remind everyone what time it is. School starts at 8:30, but so far it's just me and Frankie in the entry way.

8:32am. We're all out front for the Pledge of Allegiance and P.E. Gus beats us all running laps, as usual. I used to be pretty confident that I could beat him if I really tried, but now I'm not so sure.

8:45am. Back inside for prayers.

Morning Offering, Guardian Angel, Memorarae, Gus recites the Act of Contrition in preparation for his First Confession on Saturday.

8:51am. We light a candle and Betty reads aloud a story from our Children's Bible . Gus is surprised that Jesus was healing leopards. We have a discussion about lepers.

I do a quick two minute guided meditation with the kids, then we have two minutes of silent mental prayer. Even that is usually too long for us <cough -- Frankie -- cough> to stay silent. But we keep trying. Today goes pretty well. We each choose an intention and a resolution for the day. My resolution is to remember to go to the library. Must. Remember.

9:06am. We blow out the candle, put the Bible away and start our school day. Anita and Frankie go out back to play. Betty and Jack go to the kitchen table where Jack will do her math lesson with her and work on spelling on the iPad and editing in his workbook. Gus and Bobby sit on either side of me at the dining room table to do math.

My main job is to tap the table with a pencil every time Bobby spaces out. So, every 15 seconds or so. Math is supposed to be finished by 10am. I remind everyone what time it is.

I eat my breakfast.

9:27am. Wow. Baby's still asleep. 
I sneak to the bathroom the back way, so Frankie doesn't see me. When I open the door to come out, he's standing there.
Frankie: Mama, are you all done? 
Me: Yes, Frankie, I'm all done. 
Frankie: No Mama! I lika go whichu!

10:00am. We're supposed to be done with math, but we aren't quite. I remind everyone what time it is.

10:12am: Math is finished and corrected for Betty, Bobby, and Gus. Lulu is still asleep! Normally we would all sit down at the kitchen counter to do All About Spelling together, but this week is our homeschool group Spelling Bee, so we head out to the front yard to work on our spelling lists.

Betty quizzes Gus and Anita, I quiz Jack, Bobby climbs the apple tree.

10:19am. Lulu wakes up. But she can wait a minute.

10:24am. Lulu doesn't want to wait anymore.

I'm finished with Jack's words, so I leave him to quiz Bobby (still in the tree) and go get Lulu. She wet the bed. And by "the," I mean "MY" bed. Oh well. So many smiles. I will sleep on a pee spot for you, baby.

10:28am. Betty is done with quizzing the littles and comes to find me and Lulu. I quiz her on her words while I get Lulu changed. Anita arrives and insists that Lulu wear a fancy dress. Then she climbs up on the bed in her muddy cowgirl boots. The things I will sleep on for them . . .

10:39am. I get Betty, Bobby, and Gus going on the self-directed part of their school days. Bobby has copy work to redo. His handwriting has lately taken a turn from "lovely" to "Did you do this with your feet?" Hopefully the 4th time is the charm on "The Ostrich."

I realize that Jack is missing. I find him still out front, hitting tennis balls with a baseball bat. Erg.

I don't yell.

I don't yell.

I don't yell.

I yell.

I make a new resolution not to yell and steer Jack back to his school work.

10:50am. Despite my best efforts to put her off until next year, Anita keeps asking to learn to read. She follows me around with the book.

So, I read to Gus the directions on his new phonics workbook pages, then do one of the Hundred Easy Lessons with Anita.

11:06am. Anita would like to do another lesson, but Frankie's speech therapist will be here soon and I need to get the sand off of him. Bobby says he's done writing the essay, but I don't have time to check it now, so I tell him to do his geography page.

I pull some leftovers out of the fridge for lunch. Betty seems to be the farthest along on her school day, so she gets to make lunch. Other kids are disappointed. They should've thought of that before they . . .

11:14am. Miss Hannah (speech therapist) arrives. Betty is the one to let her in. This is very, very upsetting to Frankie. I tell him to knock it off. He does.

Jack is missing again. Betty thinks he's at Dad's desk doing his Latin. He better hope he is.

Miss Hannah, Frankie, Lulu, and I go into the playroom. Anita, Frankie, and Gus are reading and coloring at the dining room table, which is visible through the playroom doors. But mostly they are just wishing they could do speech therapy.

I nurse the baby and feverishly try to keep up with this note-taking.

11:38am. There's Jack. I hear Bobby asking for him help on his geography page. Jack helps him, albeit rather sarcastically. It sounds like Betty is working on lunch. I see the housekeeper leaving, which means the house is at its daily peak of cleanliness. It's all downhill from here. It's almost time for the Angelus. I need to remember to do the Angelus.

12:04pm. Speech therapy is over. The therapist is going to recommend that services for Frankie be terminated in the next few weeks. That's fine with me. Frankie will miss his sessions, but I was never really convinced he needed them, and he's made a great deal of progress. 

12:12pm. We head out to the front yard for lunch. The kids eat while I read aloud from James and the Giant Peach. I do voices.

12:56pm. I eat what's left over while the kids bring the dishes inside and load and start the dishwasher.

Time for naps, the bestest time of the whole day.

Jack has a job bringing in trash cans on trash day for seven houses in our neighborhood. Since the trucks have all been by, he heads out on his bike to do that. Gus tags along with him. Frankie wants Betty to put him down for his nap, so Bobby will put Anita down today, and I get Lulu. (I always get Lulu!)

1:04pm. Anita pinches her finger in the door. The world might possibly end. But somehow, with the help of a ducky-shaped frozen teether, it looks like she might pull through. Stories for Frankie and Anita recommence.

1:15pm. Betty's voice instructor, Mr. Kaviani (or, as Frankie calls him, Kani Kani) arrives, so I take over with Frankie. He wants ALL the songs. He only gets three.

1:20pm. The chicken stock is cooled down, so I move it to the fridge for tomorrow, and start the rice for tonight.

Jack gets home. He has accomplished very little of his school day so far. (I heroically do not yell.) I have him write out a list of everything he still needs to do for the day and tell him that he needs to complete each item or no baseball game and NO FEAST DAY FOR HIM. I resolve again not to yell. He says he can get it all done.

Betty is on track.

A quick review of his poetry and catechism means Gus is finished.

I check Bobby's essay. Nope.

Frankie is shouting. I tell Frankie to stop shouting.

1:30pm. I'm off to nap. Lulu has fallen asleep in the crook of my arm. Hopefully I can lie down without waking her.

1:32pm. I cannot lie down without waking her. This is a great disaster.

I try to nurse her back to sleep. I think she will, then I think she won't, then I think she might again, then I'm pretty sure she's not going to, which is THE WORST. I don't take a full night's sleep at night, because of being able to do stuff uninterrupted in the middle of the night, so I count on a nap during the day to get enough sleep. Otherwise I get grumpy.

1:45pm. I turn on the ceiling fan for Lulu to look at, skootch her to the middle of the husband's side of the bed, and let her kick for a bit.

I hear a bedroom door opening and closing. This is not allowed. I get up to investigate.

Anita is up and out of bed. She knows she's caught, and bursts preemptively into tears. She wanted to put the teether back into the freezer, despite a hard-line Tierney Family policy against getting out of bed at nap time unless the house is on fire. And even then, you better be sure it's good and on fire. Anita gets put back. The teether does not.

At least Lulu was already up, or I might have forgotten to not yell.

Frankie is quiet.

1:49pm. Lulu is tired of kicking already. She can wait a minute.

I kind of want her to get a bit upset so she's more likely to fall back to sleep when I nurse her on the other side -- my last best chance for a nap.

1:55pm. The internet is being SO SLOW. Will I never get to read Bonnie's review?! Lulu is sufficiently mad. I change her diaper. Oh, no wonder she was mad. Oops. Trying nap again.

2:00pm. Forgot to say Angelus. Say it now.

2:07pm. Nap time isn't working. I try letting her kick again.

Me: Lulu, you have a full tummy, and a clean diaper, and a fun ceiling fan to look at, and a delicious dress on which to chew. If you don't want to sleep, fine. But why don't you want ME to sleep? It's very like the fable The Dog in the Manger. Do you remember that one? We may have read it before you were born. But this is very like that. 
Lulu: Wuh-AHH! 
Me: Whatever. Let's try this again.
2:10pm. Nursing again. I'm pretty sure it won't work and my whole day will be ruined and we'll all be miserable. And probably this is what will happen every day from now on.

3:10pm. Oh. Good.

Lulu is still asleep so I check my email, lots of comments, yay! and try to check Facebook and blogs, but it does not please The Lord today to have my iPad get the internet.

3:30pm. I carefully slide away from Lulu and head out to see if any disasters have befallen us during nap time.

All is well.

Jack has left on his bike to go to the 4pm baseball practice before his 5pm game. His note says he finished his school day.

Anita is still sleeping. Frankie is up and he, Bobby, and Gus are having our favorite afternoon snack. I don't mind if I do.

3:44pm. I work on Bible History and grammar with Betty and Bobby. They're almost done for the day. This time I don't make it past Frankie without being spotted, "You remembered Mama!" so I have some company is the bathroom.

4:10pm. I start making dinner.

4:15pm. Lulu wakes up. I'm not done.

Lulu supervises from the bumbo. Yay for already cut-up veggies.

We need to leave in 30 minutes. I remind everyone what time it is, and start them looking for shoes.

4:20pm. I coordinate with the husband via text message since we've got concurring sporting events this evening. He is going to come by and pick up one van with Anita and the boys to go to Jack's game. Lulu and I will take Betty to practice in the other.

4:33pm. Twelve Indian curry with veggies and rice burritos are wrapped in foil and in the oven to stay warm. Shoes are on feet. People are dressed appropriately for the day and activity. Schoolwork is finished, though I never did see that ostrich essay again. We do a flash-tidy of the house. I change the laundry.

I check my make-up and put on big girl shoes for going out and seeing the people.

4:41pm. Gus says it's starting to rain. While that may not be a problem in some parts of the country, here in LA, if it rains, everything is cancelled.

There is texting.

It looks like just a passing shower. Everything is still on. Betty and I get everyone buckled into the appropriate vehicle.

4:55pm. The husband arrives home. We kiss hello and good bye, then jump into two different vans and are off.

5:01pm. I drop Betty off at practice. Lulu and I head for the library. WITH the book I need to return AND the book I need to replace both in the car. Pat self on back.

I'm hoping we'll be able to say a family rosary tonight after the baseball game, but you never know, so I start saying a rosary in the car. I accomplish the library, get some new books.

5:46pm. Back in the car to pick up Betty, I finish the rosary.

5:52pm. At the park, I get Lulu out of her seat and nurse her under my scarf (most useful accessory ever) as I walk over to Betty's practice field. They finish practice, and vote on their team name.

6:08pm. Back to the car with a full baby and a Northridge "Rebel." We head to the other park. This is the first year we've done sports at two different parks. I miss NOT doing sports at two different parks.

6:16pm. Arrive at Little League field. I greet the husband and the other kids, who react as if I've returned from a polar expedition rather than the library and another park. It's nice to see them too. We say grace and count to forty and eat dinner and watch the game.

7:04pm. The game's over, we lose. It wasn't our day. The husband loads Jack's bike into one van and stays with him for his team meeting. I take the other six kids home. It's getting late, so we say one decade of the rosary in the car on the way home in case we don't get to it tonight.

7:11pm. At home, we unload the car of people and stuff.

Betty brings in the dinner bag and unloads it.

Bobby hangs up all the raincoats we didn't end up needing.

Gus cleans up all the sports equipment in the car and all over the front yard.

7:14pm. The kids are awfully dusty from the park, so I draw a bath and put the first shift of three littles in.

I ask to see completed schoolwork and there is remembering of things that they thought for sure were done but maybe might not actually be completely done. So they go check.

7:25pm. First shift out of the tub and into jammies. Next kid in.

Daddy plays the "smash 'em, steamroll 'em, tickle 'em, poke 'em" game with the boys while I dry Anita's hair. Teeth are brushed, prayers are prayed. Daddy puts Frankie to bed.

7:40pm. Last two kids take shifts in the tub while I read stories to Anita and Gus. They've chosen to sleep in the guest room bed together tonight. They are threatened with relocation if there is talking.

8:00pm. Lights out for them. Lulu has fallen asleep in my arm.

I check the kids' schoolwork. I find some things Jack has missed. I am assured that it was an oversight and that he'll have it done in a jiffy.

"The Ostrich" is not getting better. Bobby gets sent to bed early. He's sleeping in the boys' room with Frankie tonight, so that he can get up with him in the morning. The big four take turns with him.

8:34pm. I start trying to tidy the kitchen one handed, then regret it, because I wake up the baby.

8:38pm. Jack is done. For realsies this time. He heads to bed (actually, a sleeping bag on the floor of the guest room) to read until 9pm.

Betty holds Lulu so I can finish the dishes, which are not one of the things I can do one handed. I take a quick look at Facebook. Yay! Colleen had her baby! WHY is the internet so slow today?

I cut up a cantaloupe for the kids to have in the morning.

8:49pm. The dishwasher is running and the counters are wiped down. That will have to do for tonight.

I take Lulu and send Betty to bed. There's an empty bed on either side of her in the girls' room tonight.

I go get changed into my jammies, even though I won't be heading to bed any time soon. If I don't get to it before she falls asleep on me, I end up sleeping in my clothes -- in the boot-mud (and whatnot) that's in my bed. But not tonight. Tonight, it's jammies all the way.

9:00pm. I remind the big kids what time it is.

I turn the iPad off and back on again. The internet now works fine.

I read Bonnie's review of Noah. Now, it's a well-known fact that Bonnie and I don't always agree about movies, but I like what she has to say. I'm tempted to see it. But I don't much care for epics. And I require good guys. And it's Lent. So, probably I won't.

9:14pm. Lulu gets wiggly, so I sit down at the desktop computer to nurse her and while away the next couple of hours catching up on emails and comments and Facebook and my blog and other people's blogs while the husband works on our taxes and provides for our family by doing stuff on his laptop.

And sometimes I ask him stuff and he answers. And sometimes he gets me a snack.

11:04pm. I attempt to put Lulu into the swing . . . 

And that's it. That was my day. In twelve pages of handwritten notes that I have now typed up and blasted into the internets.

Seriously, I can't imagine anyone just read this whole thing. There's no way anyone read this whole thing.

I could say anything I want down here. No one could possibly still be reading. Ummm . . . here, how about this:

*It turns out JPII DOES already have a Feast Day. It's October 22. Don't tell Jack.