Friday, November 21, 2014

Seven Reasons My Kids Don't Need Toys This Christmas

Don't you just love this song?

I do. But naughtiness isn't why there's not going to be much under our tree this year. It's just that there are plenty of reasons my kids don't need any toys. Seven, in fact. Here they are . . . 

1. We Have a Lot of Stuff

We have a lot of kids. We have a LOT of stuff in our house. We have a lot of toys. I keep cleaning them out, and they keep multiplying somehow. We just DO NOT NEED more toys.

2. We Already Have What We Like and Use

Clean out after clean out, we've become more mindful about what we like and use, and we already have it. Legos, board games, toy cars, tea sets, dolls, art and craft supplies, sports equipment, books. That's it. That's what gets played with regularly at our house. Is that all we HAVE? Nope. But all the rest of it seems to be primarily used for making messes. We don't need any more of that. In fact, I'm going to TRY to get rid of more of it.

3. My Kids Aren't Subject to Fads

One of the secret benefits of homeschooling, is that my kids' preferences aren't subject to the whims of their schoolmates. They get to like what they like, and they get to keep liking it year after year. If there are hot new toys this year, my kids don't know what they are.

4. I Keep Failing Anyway

At this point, I think it's time for me to concede that buying The Big Toy For Christmas That They Will Love Forever is mostly a failed experiment at our house. I've tried it all, really I have. 

When we had one and two and three kids, we had the mountain of presents under the tree. Once we got to four and five and six kids, we started trying to limit the number of presents each kid got down to three items. By last year, with seven kids, they each got ONE gift from mom and dad and ONE gift from Santa. I researched popular toys. I read reviews. I carefully chose toys that I thought my kids were really going to love.

But even so, most of what they got was broken and discarded by Epiphany.

The best new things that have come into our house haven't come under the pressure of MUST FIND THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS GIFT. They've been hand me downs, or birthdays gifts from friends who have and like that toy. And they haven't come seven or fourteen at a time.

4. Opening Presents Isn't Actually the Most Fun Thing You Can Do On Christmas, Even For Kids

I'm not even going to play the "Reason for the Season" card here. Yes, obviously we should be focused on the birth of Jesus, yes it's less easy for kids to focus on anything else in the whole world when they are surrounded by new toys. But even if I give us the benefit of the doubt here, even if I figure . . we've observed Advent as a time of preparation, and my kids KNOW what Christmas is really about. We put the Baby Jesuses in the mangers (yes, that is the correct plural), we go to Mass, but the thing I keep coming back to is the fact that we have spent so many Christmases insisting that the kids "Stop playing with that and open the rest of your presents!" 

It's just chaotic and messy and exhausting.

Our favorite things about Christmas are getting up in the morning and eating candy from our stockings for breakfast, and wearing new clothes to Mass, and playing family boardgames, and watching a movie, and putting on our At Home Family Nativity Play.

I want us to have the time and energy to enjoy a couple of gifts, and some tasty treats, and some yummy food, and, each other's company. Plus the Baby Jesus part.

5. Experiences Are Better Than Stuff

Speaking of fun, doing stuff is better than getting stuff. I'd rather my kids make memories than messes any day. So, I've asked family members to consider getting the kids classes or taking them on a special outing, rather than giving them a toy.

We've done this in previous years as well, and it's always been a big success. 

Getting grandparents, godparents, and aunts and uncles on board with a simpler Christmas, means my kids have received trips to theme parks, or movies, or lunch dates, or have been signed up for sports, classes, or activities that maybe we wouldn't have been able to afford otherwise.

6. Activities are Better Than Toys

My kids really like creating-type toys. That's why they Love legos so much. But we already have enough Legos to last us a lifetime. They also really love arts and crafts, but art projects require a lot more input from mom. They are forever asking me for supplies and ideas, but coming up with craft projects for the kids and helping them do them isn't at the tippy top of my list of favorite stuff to do.

So this year, our gift is going to take care of the "them needing a Christmas present" thing AND the "them needing something to do in the afternoons" thing. They're getting Kiwi Crate, which is a monthly subscription service that delivers a sturdy little box full of 2-3 projects specially designed for your child's particular age group. They're each getting one.

So, there's our Christmas done.

You can find out more here if you're interested.

Another great option for a monthly Catholic activity and craft subscription for kids is Saint Mail, to which we are also subscribed. I've review it here.

7. They'll Get Plenty of Fun Stuff Anyway

I'm pretty sure, that despite my best efforts, there will be gifts (and maybe even toys) coming the way of my kids. But at least this year, it isn't going to be all my fault.

The kids will get some little treats, and probably a book from St. Nicholas on December 6th. Then on Christmas, Santa will probably be back with some treats and stocking stuffers. Most likely, Santa will also be bringing the kids one group gift of some outdoor play equipment or a gaming system of some kind. They'll get to enjoy their Kiwi Crates from mom and dad not just on Christmas day, but every month all year. 

And it's not just about the gifts anyway, it's about CHRISTMAS. I want them to enjoy Christmas, not just on December 25th, and not just because of presents, but for the whole twelve days, and because it's a special family time full of fun family activities. I want our family Christmas to conform to our family values and our family culture. 'Cause that's how we roll.

Speaking of that, if you want to hear more -- lots LOTS more -- about how we keep Advent and celebrate Christmas, have I got a podcast for you! I'm a guest today, for the second time, on Kristin's This Inspired Life Podcast, talking all about exactly what we do and don't do during Advent, how we observe Advent as a time of preparation, and how we celebrate Christmas as twelve days of family fun. So, check it out and let me know what you think.

In the spirit of the season, you might also enjoy reading:




And in case YOU have had fewer kids and/or fewer Christmases than I have had, and are perhaps still in the market for toys you won't hate, stay tuned next week for a post on the toys I DON'T regret buying for my kids.

I'm linking up with Kelly again for Seven Quick Takes!

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click over and shop through my link, I get a portion of what you spend at no additional cost to you. But all opinions are my own, and I only link to products and companies I use and love.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Maybe Unmedicated Childbirth Isn't For Me?



How you have accomplished drug-free births? I have about 7 weeks to go and I'm toying with the idea of no epidural. But I'm scared. So far my birth experiences have been: emergency c-section due to late (i.e. during labor) discovery that baby was breech; scheduled c-section due to general anxiety and fear of vbac; and successful medicated vbac which was the Best Experience of My Life. So . . . I'm working through the fear factors, obviously! And I think the next step is considering no epidural. But I'm not exactly sure.



Dear Kati,

I have to be honest about the fact that the reason I don't do medicated childbirth isn't because I'm not scared of anything. It's because I'm scared of different things. I really, honestly don't like the feeling of narcotics. To me, pain is a preferable sensation to the weird fuzziness of medication. Also, I have a generally dull experience of pain, which I think is more fair to say than that I have a high pain tolerance. It's not that I can handle more pain, it's that my pain doesn't hurt as much as some people's.

So, can you do it? Yes. I think you can. Everyone USED to do it, right? But you don't HAVE to. There is nothing in our faith that requires women to experience the pain of childbirth. WANTING to do it is the most important step in the whole process. If you don't want to do it, then don't.

If you DO, I think the key is to figure out how to be super-committed to natural childbirth, while at the same time understanding that you will of course do whatever is best for you and your baby in that moment. That's my plan each time.

I labor at home as long as possible, which I think was really important with my first couple. They were both born within minutes of getting to the hospital, so I didn't even have a chance to consider medication, and after that I knew I could do it. But with most of them since, I have ended up laboring in the hospital for a while. 

So, we have a system. I don't like talking to nurses. I don't like being touched at all while in labor. I like talking with my husband. I like near constant walking until things get really serious. So, my husband tries to intercept nurses and answer things. We don't do any of that back rub stuff. We talk and joke as long as I can handle it. And we fight like the dickens with the labor and delivery nurses for the right to get unhooked from the machines and walk around. Then, we actually duck in to corners and stuff to hide from the nurses to keep them from hooking me up again. It's pretty fun for us. Exasperating for the nurses of course, but, what're ya gonna do? Those are the things that make it do-able for me.

You should try to figure out in advance what are some things that might make it more manageable for you.

During labor, I have a list with me of prayer intentions, that way, I can offer up my pain for something. I'd hate to waste it. I have it pretty easy for the first and second stages of labor. For me, the wheels come off right at the end. I moan, and probably scream. I feel like there is no possible way I could do it. But by that point we're so far gone that everyone around me knows it's almost over and can encourage me. I'll say I can't do it. Jim will say I can. My OB is always telling me how great I'm doing, as if it's not just a ride I'm on. But, it still helps me.

My husband and his attitude are a really integral part of my being able to do a non-medicated birth as well. He was a Marine. He worked at boot camp. He understands the concept of suffering for a goal, and has the stomach to watch it. I'm sure it's still hard to witness, but he has the skill set to handle it, and to encourage me through it.

I love that I can walk again and shower and everything right after giving birth, and that I don't have any lingering pain in an injection spot. But, again, those are only good trade-offs for me because I have a pretty positive experience of the pain of labor. Except that very end part. I do hate that. But then there's a baby at the end.

And no matter how you end up getting there, that's the goal.

My friend E wrote about her experience with a c-section recently, I've been meaning to link to it. It's such a sensitive subject. But I think she has a very honest personal take on it, and I think her reasoning is valid. 

It sounds like you want to do an unmedicated birth. It sounds like you think you can do it. It sounds like you are coming from a really good and strong and reasonable place mentally, and that you have the right support system in place. I think you'll be able to do it, I really do.

If you like birth stories, you'll find all of mine here.

Anyway, good luck with it all, and please shoot me any more questions you have. And keep me posted about baby news. I love baby news.


Disclaimer: I am not a theologian, nor am I an official spokesperson for the Catholic Church. (You're thinking of this guy.) If you read anything on this blog that is contrary to Church teaching, please consider it my error (and let me know!). I'm not a doctor or a child psychologist or an expert on anything in particular. I'm just one person with a lot of experience parenting little kids and a desire to share my joy in marriage, mothering, and my faith.

If you've got a question, please send it along to catholicallyear @ gmail . com . Please let me know if you prefer that I change your name if I use your question on the blog.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

If I've Been Sending You Harassing Emails . . .

It wasn't me.

Someone has been entering this blog's email address into the "my contact information" field of Catholic websites, and leaving harassing messages. I've gotten a few auto response emails back. One was a list of like 50 self-published books on Amazon about the priest abuse scandal that "I" offered as suggested reading to an order of nuns. Ugh.

So, anyway, if you've come to Catholic All Year to figure out more about the crazy person who has been sending you messages, unfortunately, I can't help. Because I don't know who it is. But, hey, stick around. It's a fun blog.

And maybe you'll join me in saying a quick prayer for whoever wants to harass Dominican nuns and volunteers at Lourdes, and use someone else's identity to do it.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Maybe Homeschooling Isn't For Me?



My oldest is now approaching Kindergarten age and, honestly, I am getting cold feet about the whole homeschooling thing. Sending him to a Catholic school nearby is oh-so-tempting. Even though I'm drawn to it, the whole homeschool thing is very daunting to me -- especially since he is a typical boy that doesn't love sitting still and learning his letters. HOW do you homeschool young kids?


I honestly believe that homeschooling is almost a vocation. Which means, like marriage and the priesthood, it is a good and holy thing that isn't for everyone. If you are meant to be a homeschooler, your heart will be restless until you make the leap of faith and do it. But if you are meant to be a missionary into the school system, then homeschooling is going to be a bad choice for you. (I say ALMOST a vocation because, of course, things can change and while I know I'm meant to homeschool THIS YEAR, things might change and that's okay.)

You need to pray about it and follow your gut, knowing that you can always change your mind, year by year, or even mid-year.

But know that homeschooling is NOT a requirement for good Catholics. Some of us have to be out there in the public schools and the parish schools volunteering and interacting and complaining and influencing and being visible. And people who say that homeschooling is the ONLY choice for God-fearing Catholics because of x, y, and z are mistaking their own personal vocation for a universal requirement and they should cut it out.

As for homeschooling itself, if you're meant to do it, or need to do it because of circumstances, of COURSE you can do it! It's going to come more easily to some moms than to others, but I'm convinced that anyone who feels that homeschooling is the best option for her family CAN successfully homeschool.

When my oldest started Kindergarten, I had him in preschool two days a week, and we did two days a week of homeschool, and we took Fridays off. Our homeschool days lasted less than an hour, during the baby's morning nap. The first couple years are REALLY low stakes, and I found them to be really manageable.

I've never had much pushback on schooling, probably mostly because Jack was excited to do it, and the others have followed his lead. But for my kids who are, let's say, not SUPER excited to do it, I just try to keep a really positive outlook and be consistent about when and how we do school, so there is always the expectation that this is just what we do and there's no use complaining. 

I keep each subject REALLY short, 3-5 minutes on each thing, then maybe 10 minutes on 100 Easy Lessons for reading/phonics. We just do the lesson part, not the handwriting. We do handwriting in a different book.

I think the very most important part of homeschooling (and ANY parenting in general, no matter the schooling) is that I love my kids and enjoy spending time with them . . . and they can recognize that. Secondly, I'm consistent about having school time and completing our schoolwork each week. It has been a good strategy for us, but that's probably more of a family culture decision. Maybe other family homeschools thrive on flexibility and more of a child-led approach.

The most painful lesson I have learned over eight years of homeschooling, is: what I do doesn't really matter nearly as much as I thought. All the stuff I was in a raging panic over, all the stuff I had my kids in tears over, none of it was in my control to begin with. Especially with learning to read. I've had two that didn't learn to read well until second grade, one after three years of tears and shouting and accusations and misery, and one after basically being neglected for a school year because I was really, really sick. Both started reading in second grade, just fine. It wasn't up to me, that was just when they were going to learn to read.

I know this seems like a HUGE decision, but really, it isn't. Any schooling decision you make will have its good parts and bad parts. There's no perfect solution, just the thing that's going to work best for your family this year.


Disclaimer: I am not a theologian, nor am I an official spokesperson for the Catholic Church. (You're thinking of this guy.) If you read anything on this blog that is contrary to Church teaching, please consider it my error (and let me know!). I'm not a doctor or a child psychologist or an expert on anything in particular. I'm just one person with a lot of experience parenting little kids and a desire to share my joy in marriage, mothering, and my faith.

If you've got a question, please send it along to catholicallyear @ gmail . com . Please let me know if you prefer that I change your name if I use your question on the blog.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Quotable Frankie, Printable Prayers, Peaky Blinders . . .

My friend Kelly is hosting Seven Quick Takes today, so I'm back on the link-up wagon. 


The Quotable Cranky Frankie

Frankie (3): a mornin mama
Me: mornin Frank
Frankie: No! I'm Frankie!
Me: <whispering> Good morning Frankie.
Frankie: No! Not like THAT! A mornin mama.
Me: . . . 
Frankie: a mornin mama
Me: . . . 
Frankie: a MORNIN mama
Me: Good morning Frankie.

. . . . . . 

While I'm tucking him into bed: Mom, can you jus' go?

. . . . . . 

While I'm attempting to kiss him goodnight: I jus' don't want you to SLOBBER on me.

. . . . . . 

After it started getting dark early: Mom, I jus' want you to turn those 'tars off. Dare buggin' me.


But, hey, you're thinking to yourself, he's THREE. Three year olds are notoriously emotional. Probably it's just a phase.

To that I offer you this photo of Frankie Tierney, aged 10 minutes, already sporting his trademark frown. God love 'im.

I'm pretty sure he's going to keep the grumpiness. I think it might be hard if he were my first, but I've got enough kids around to understand that it isn't anything I've done, it's just how God made him. I actually find it pretty endearing, somehow.


And now for the printable prayers I made for the winners of the Catholic Costume Contest!

As with all of my printables, you are welcome to print them for your personal use or to give as a gift, but if you'd like to sell them, please contact me. Thanks. :0)

All of my printable prayers are available on this Pinterest board.

Here are the newest additions.

A Blessed Mother Teresa quote, on white . . . 

and on teal . . . 


Another Blessed Mother Teresa quote, on white . . . 

and on navy . . . 


The prayer of Consecration to Our Lady, on white . . . 

and tangerine . . . 

and blue . . . 


And the Saint Francis Prayer, Part I . . . 

and Part II . . . 


And now . . . remember all that stuff I've always said about how I don't like shows about bad guys?


And how I need HEROES and HEROISM?


And how I just can't enjoy shows in which the protagonists are just sad and damaged?


And how, just a couple of days ago, I was all "blah, blah, blah, people can choose to be good even if bad stuff happens to them"?


That was all the me BEFORE Peaky Blinders.

It's a BBC miniseries, about a bunch of Small Heath gangsters in 1919. In the US, it's available exclusively on Netflix streaming. And it's pretty much everything I used to think I didn't want to watch: damaged protagonists, good guys who are bad guys, bad guys who are good guys, graphic violence, drug use, onscreen, um, romance (not really nudity, but there are scenes, kind of a bunch of them).

But THIS SHOW. It is just so heart-wrenchingly, gut-achingly beautiful. I want to scoop up Tommy in his razor-adorned newsboy cap, and rock him to sleep. And shush him. And tell him it will be okay. But NOT pat him on the head, on account of the razor blades.

It's the best cinematography I've ever seen. Each frame of the show is like the most amazing photo you've ever seen on Instagram. Every single one.

Anyway, I don't even know who I am anymore. 

But if you like Les Miserables (and I do . . . I do, I do, I do), and you wouldn't REALLY mind if Javert lacked principles as well as compassion and Valjean hadn't, ya know, repented or anything, check out Peaky Blinders.

Now that I have contacts, like some sort of real writer, I can tell you that Season Two will premiere on Netflix on November 17th. And there are only six episodes of Season One, so if you feed the kids cereal for dinner, you should have plenty of time to get it all in before Monday.

Update: AHHHHHH! I just checked and Season Two is up right now! So much for my investigative reporting. Now, I will valiantly go to sleep anyway.

Happy Friday everybody!


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

There's a Right Way and a Wrong Way to Fracture a Fairy Tale . . .

I am so, so late to jump aboard the Once Upon a Time train. Not as late as I was for Doctor Who, I guess. But still, Once Upon a Time has been on the air since 2011, and I only started watching it last month.

I had heard of it. I knew Haley liked it, but . . . even though she's probably the coolest person I almost know, we DID have that thing about Flannery O'Connor. So, I still didn't watch it.

I like BBC shows. All the time BBC. I don't know why, I must have a secret British sensibility. Although I do have to watch them with subtitles, because I can NOT understand those guys when they really get going. So, first thing, I'm just wary of American network TV in general.

But more than that, I have a problem with the genre of the fractured fairy tale. It started way back in 1995 with Wicked, I guess, and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs in 1996. And then there was Oz the Great and Powerful, in case you liked Wicked, but wished it had less singing and more James Franco. (I didn't, really.) Most recently, there was Maleficent. It's kind of a whole thing now. Anyway, you know the drill, they're all the same. There's this evil character from a well-known story, but here's what REALLY happened. Here's the secret backstory about all the people who wronged her and how she had NO CHOICE but to become wicked. She's never going to let THEM hurt her again. It's all everyone else's fault.

It drives me nuts. I dislike the concept for two reasons. First, because the fractured fairy tale misunderstands the POINT of fairy tales themselves. They are stories for children. Children below the Grammar Stage of learning are black and white little creatures. They need to sort characters into good guys and bad guys in order to understand them, and eventually, the world around them.

Fairy tales are stories that were handed down from generation to generation to entertain and instruct. They taught children that you should really STAY OUT of the woods, and that, if you work hard and bear your burdens joyfully (and are kind to animals), you'll probably get to live happily after. Both are important, true lessons. It doesn't help with either lesson for kids to be told that the wolf wants to eat Little Red Riding Hood because his wolf father was mean to him, or that the Wicked Witch murders people because someone broke her heart. It's just confusing. Fairy tales aren't ABOUT the bad guys anyway. Bad guys are just a plot device.

I used to think I was just stuck in the grammar stage myself, and that for my own entertainment, as well as my kids,' I just needed my good guys to be good and my bad guys to be bad and leave it at that.

But, eventually, I ran out of BBC shows I wanted to watch on Netflix. And there it was in my suggested shows. I decided to give it a try. And watching Once Upon a Time made me realize that it wasn't that I needed bad guys to stay bad. What I didn't like was the idea forced on us by all these villain-centered rewrites that we don't have a choice. Bad guys HAVE to be bad, because bad things happened to them. 

That's just not true. And it's a disheartening concept for children and adults alike.

Bad stuff happens to people all the time. We don't get to choose our mortifications, but we do get to choose how we respond to them. We get to choose whether our mortifications turn us in to villains or into saints.

That's the truth.

And that's the truth at the heart of Once Upon a Time. We get to know the bad guys. All of them. We get to see what happened to them to make them choose evil in the first place. And we get to see them fighting against it. Winning and losing, for better or worse, we see them striving. And we get to remember that our own lives are also a constant struggle against our less noble inclinations. Even if our own less noble inclinations don't include ripping the still beating hearts out of our enemies. 

Mine are more like, "Hey, I should stay up all night binge-watching this show on Netflix streaming. The kids won't REALLY need me to do school tomorrow morning." Still bad. Just not as interesting cinematically.

So, here's the breakdown.

The good:

The casting works for me. I think the actors do a good job of embodying both their storybook characters and that character's modern counterpart. There is a child actor. He can actually act. The storybook characters wear over the top costumes and deliver delightfully cheesy lines. I love it.

The writing is clever. I watched Malificent on the plane recently, and it was the standard fractured fairy tale trope, but then it didn't even follow The Rules. There was all this, you think you know what happened, but it didn't actually happen like that. Not only was Maleficent a perfectly lovely girl who was the victim of a tragedy and HAD to turn evil, also the prince wasn't ever a dashing hero, he was just a hapless, helpless boy bander who never actually saved anyone.

That's not okay with me. If you're going to fill in the backstory, the rules are, the front story stays put and you work from there. That's what good writers do.

And these guys do it. They've taken every character from every storybook story you can think of, and some that you totally wouldn't have thought of, and woven them together beautifully. I love it every time a new piece of the puzzle is revealed and a new relationship between characters from different storybook worlds comes out. It's just plain clever how it's done. Everything comes back around.

The bad:

If you only like highbrow entertainment, this might not be the show for you. It's campy. Sherlock it is not. I'd say it's at maybe a Doctor Who-level of cheesiness.

Mostly, the plot lines conform to an old timey storybook ethos, where good comes from good and evil comes from evil. Which is unique and refreshing in this day and age.

However, it's not a Catholic show, so they don't always get everything right. There is a storyline in which a character who has a True Love in the storybook world, is married to someone else in the real world. Someone who isn't his True Love. The way it's handled is problematic.

But, really, mostly, it's a show in which we see the right consequences for choices. As Rumplestiltskin always says, "All magic has a price." 

The ugly:

The CG. Argh, the CG. It makes me want to gouge out my eyes, it's so bad. The storybook worlds in which they're walking around look so, so, so fake. I know they can't be expected to create a Middle Earth-caliber set for each of the story lines, but the actors look like a bunch of Renfair meteorologists standing in front of the action news accuweather map. It's pretty bad.

Bottom line is, I think Once Upon a Time is a rare thing in this day and age: a creative, entertaining, and charming show that reflects the truth of the human condition.

It's also pretty unique in being family entertainment that older kids and grownups could enjoy together. There is a same sex attraction storyline (in season 2, I think?) but it is VERY subtle. Like, my kids would definitely not have picked up on it. And even if they had, I think it's handled in a truthful, appropriate way. Out of wedlock pregnancy is another storyline, but again, I think it's handled appropriately. In season 1, the Evil Queen is having a liaison with the Huntsman, but it doesn't work out very well for him.

I watched it on my own, but I think Betty and I might watch it through together next summer. I don't think we'll be able to interest the husband or Jack, and I think it's most appropriate for ten (or even twelve) and up (not until the Logic Stage), so that just leaves me and Betty. There will be some things we'll need to talk about, but I'm okay with that.

Really, my only hesitation in recommending it, is that they're still making them. Which means you can blow through seasons one through three on Netflix, then you can watch the beginning of season four on the Watch ABC app, and then you end up . . . caught up. And if you're caught up you have to wait a week between episodes like some sort of cave person. Really, I cannot deal with non-Netflix streaming TV watching.

And that's my honest opinion. But this is a sponsored post. :D


Monday, November 10, 2014

What Everyone Should Do for the Feast of St. Martin of Tours, with a printable

Is that too strong? Well, it's what WE are going to do anyway: CLEAN OUT THE COAT CLOSET!

It's something we can ALL do, no matter our financial circumstances. We can take a look in our coat closets and see if we have anything to spare. Maybe we do, maybe we don't. But I'll bet we could all stand to take a look in there and tidy up a bit.

My rule for us is going to be: It gets to stay if it's in good working order and will be used by my family with the next two years. Otherwise it goes.

St. Martin's Day is a great time to do necessary cleaning and repairs (why are all of our coats always put away filthy?) and be boldly generous with what we've got, because, odds are, there is someone who could really use our help.

I've been on a bit of a tear around here, as you may have noticed. I cleaned out my closet, cleaned it WAY out. And it's been great. Even though I made a fall wardrobe and it's consistently been in the nineties all week. Whew. At least I didn't put away all the short sleeves. (Have you cleaned your wardrobe out? Have you linked it up?)

I've also done the kids' closets. Blogging is forthcoming on that. But on Tuesday, November 11th, St. Martin's Day, I'm going to go through the coat closet and get that down to a reasonable number of items for us as well. We're going to get rid of duplicate sizes, and sizes we won't be using for the next couple years. And I'm going to give our extra coats to families who will be able to use them NOW.

Did you notice the background of my capsule wardrobe graphic? That's St. Martin of tours, cutting his cloak, to give half of it to a beggar.

We live in Southern California, of the aforementioned ninety degree weather in November. But I still have all the coats we had when we lived in Chicago.

I'm planning to go through and keep 3-4 for me, and no more than two per size for the kids, one light weight jacket and one heavier coat. (It WILL cool down enough for sleeves here at some point, and we go camping.) That should still give me quite a few to donate. Of course, giving away a whole coat, even many whole coats, when I still have a closet-full at home, isn't quite the same as giving away half of the only warmth you have. But, I figure it will be a good start.

I made the St. Basil quote printable, for inspiration!

And since it's a FEAST, after the cleaning out, we're going to have dessert.

We're also going to have dessert today, since November 10th is the Marine Corps Birthday, and you only turn 239 once.

With dessert, silly. Here's what Betty made for her dad last year:

For more FUN things to do for St. Martin's Day check out these posts . . .

From Molly Makes Do: Martinmas Hide and Seek

and Two Os Plus More: 7 Quick Ways to Celebrate Martinmas, the Feast of St. Martin of Tours

And have you heard about the new Advent Journal from Blessed is She?

Click here to learn more and order! All proceeds go to help with operational costs for Blessed Is She. Help US help you, ladies. :D