Sunday, September 15, 2013

Every Kid is Special (three days per year)

As a parent, I want to figure out how to pay enough attention to each child so that he knows he is precious and valued, but not so much that he ends up an entitled brat. 

Fortunately, we have enough kids that I think it would be really, really hard for us to err on the latter side. So we need to focus on NOT erring on the former side. I make a point of bringing one or two kids along on errands, and letting them help with chores even though they make it take longer, and I have an unofficial and top-secret policy of saying "yes" to at least one thing per day that my little kids ask me to do with them.

But the thing that we've had the most enthusiasm for, and the most long-term success with, is: The Three Special Days.


you can find them here but they're pricey
I got mine on ebay for less

Each member of our family gets three special days per year:


Birthday
Name Day
Baptism Day


On your special days, you get to BE SPECIAL (but in a non-inconvenient-to-the-family-type way). You get to eat off the special plate, pick where you sit in the car, choose the story we read and what we have for dinner, etc. And we always have dessert on feasts AND special days. We do bigger parties for kids' birthdays (you can read more about how we do that here), but since they're usually not on their actual birthday day, they often still get a family "special day" out of it.

On birthdays we sing "Happy Birthday" obviously, but on name days and baptism days, we sing "For He's (She's) a Jolly Good Fellow."



The key to keeping this going for many, many years has been that it fits in to our everyday routine. I was going to make dinner anyway, it's just that on particular days a particular kid gets to pick what we have. Whenever possible I let them choose far enough in advance that I can get to the store so they really can have what they'd like, but when that's not possible, they just get to choose from what we have in the house.

The most memorable dinners have been when someone chooses something kind of off the wall for dinner, like pancakes, or something I've never cooked before, like Philly cheesesteak sandwiches.

It's an opportunity to celebrate our faith as well. On our name days, we talk about our particular saints, read a book about them, etc. All of our kids actually have multiple saints referenced in their names, but they just get ONE name day. Jack (who is actually John Paul) would like to get to have ALL the St. Johns, all the St. Pauls, AND Blessed John Paul II, but he just gets the last one because that's who he was actually named for. My first name isn't a saint's name (yet ;) so I use my middle name for my name day, if you or your child don't have a saint's name at all (yet ;) you can use your confirmation name or choose a patron saint.

On baptism days we all renew our baptismal promises while the special kid gets to hold his lit baptism candle (or *a* lit baptism candle if maybe you didn't fill in the side of the box and don't know which candle goes to which kid). Really, any candle will do.

Yesterday was Jack's baptism day, so we had homemade pizza:


And very tiny Elephant Ears:


He's the one who's always coming up with crazy requests (like the Philly cheesesteak sandwiches). He had a giant elephant ear at an amusement park over the summer, so that's what he wanted. I had no idea how to make them, so I cheated a little and used pre-made puff pasty dough as suggested here. But I fried them instead of baking them because - duh, that's totally yummier. They were very small and some were pretty wonky looking, but they tasted delicious.

I love how enthusiastically the kids reject Satan (and all his works and all his empty promises) before Daddy zings us all in the face with Holy Water:



It's a lot of days to keep track of, so I'm grateful for the little reminders that pop up on my calendar. I'd never manage it otherwise.

So, that's how we do it. For us, it's been a really great way for individual kids in a big family to get to feel special and singled out, but not TOO special and singled out.

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And . . . it's Sunday again. here's what I wore to go to the early morning Mass with just Frankie because Betty has a stomach thing going on and she is not sick trained. Of all the kids she wins "Least Likely to Make it to the Bathroom." I honestly don't know what it is. Anyway, so I'm staying home with her while the troops go to our normal Mass where the boys serve.

Update: this was not, I repeat NOT, a good plan. On. The. Altar.


Dress: eShakti again (I bought two dresses from their overstock section, they were a great deal)! And after I recommended them last week their media relations department contacted me and . . . it's not set up yet, but I have every intention of selling out to get you guys a giveaway. So stay tuned.
Shoes: Naughty Monkey from Zappos
Belt: Old Navy
Neclace: Lava beads from Pompeii, drop necklace from White House, Black Market
Earrings: Cameos from Sorrento
Bump: 29 weeks

Happy (?) Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows everyone.



Our family tradition to remember the Seven Sorrows of Mary is to give the kids each seven sour candies (super-sour licorice cut into little pieces works well, lemon drops are good, but take a long time to finish), a little lump of play dough or clay to shape into a heart, and seven toothpicks (the little sword or arrow-shaped ones are the best).

For each of the seven sorrows, we read aloud the applicable Bible verse (found here) while the kids eat the sour candy and TRY NOT TO MAKE A FACE. If they need something to do with their hands in order to not fidget, they get a coloring page. But bigger kids can just meditate. Then, at the end of the verse, they stick the sword/arrow/toothpick into Mary's heart.

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us . . . 


Thanks to the good ladies at Fine Linen and Purple for hosting another What I Wore Sunday. Head on over to check out what everyone else wore to Mass! And keep it sorrowful out there today people.




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22 comments:

  1. The Special plate! We have the same one! We never celebrated Baptisms {beyond relighting the candle each year} or saint days much growing up {thanks for the idea for the future!}, but we ALWAYS use it for birthdays! One of our priest-friends always teased us saying, "You are special today, but not tomorrow...".

    And you look GORGEOUS! I love the dress!

    God bless you!

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  2. Love that dress! And this whole post reminds me that I really need to set up all those dates in my google calendar so we can be more intentional about celebrating them - the kids have been too young to really notice baptism anniversaries and name days, but John Paul's REALLY into all that right now and I think he would die of excitement if he got to CHOOSE what we ate for dinner on his name day!

    But I'm cheating and giving the twins an extra special day to share, because they're named for the Visitation :)

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  3. Thanks for sharing this. I love ideas on how to incorporate feasts at home and daily life :)

    Our family also celebrates the 3 special days: birthday, feast day = name day, baptism day.

    I agree with other readers. Love your dress. You're a glowing pregnant momma!

    Visiting from wiws.
    Sarah

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  4. We grew up celebrating Baptism Days as well....and I loved it. We always had a Pepperidge Farm cake (coconut) and renewed our Baptismal promises. Thanks for the reminder that we need to do that with our own kids again.

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  5. I love this post and your commitment to making every child feel special. We have that plate, too, and had it growing up, but I'd never thought to use it for our children's baptism day - thank you!!

    Also, you look amazing!

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  6. Sorry to hear about the stomach virus. Ugh.

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  7. Love love love your dress - so beautiful on you!

    Love your celebrations for baptism day - what sweet ideas.

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  8. Wait, someone vomited on the altar? Oh, man, and I thought my kid throwing up on another family's stroller was bad!

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  9. This is SUCH. A. GOOD. IDEA.
    Thanks! Now I am totally doing this with the kids. I loved the picture of your kids renouncing the devil :)

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  10. so just a question. Do you plan to celebrate confirmation days too ? Just wondering since my oldest made hers already. Plus, this post reminded me--the church we married in was Our Mother of Sorrows--this could be a designated date night for us! Just an idea of making it an unofficial day for the parents when the wedding church saint comes along on the calender. I have heard of others that do the baptismal candle thing but I only know where 3 of my kids candles are so I would have to substitute other candles for some.

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    Replies
    1. I think celebrating confirmation days seems like a great idea, and we celebrate our wedding anniversary, so a sacrament's a sacrament right? The one time ones anyway seem like they deserve use of the red plate.

      And there are NO bad excuses for date night!

      We really do use whichever baptismal candle I happen upon first. They even sell them on amazon. I do believe in sacramentals, but I also believe in its the thought that counts!

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  11. That's an adorable dress. I love your ideas for the Seven Sorrows. It's too late to try it this year, since it's bedtime right now. My husband and I only just remembered what day it was, and are planning to recite the seven sorrows on our own in a bit. But I'm definitely writing down your ideas for my (still fledgling, but ever-expanding) liturgical-calendar binder!

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  12. I have that plate, but it is heart shaped. We use it for birthdays and Baptism days, but I never thought of name days. Thanks for sharing! That dress and those shoes are amazing.

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  13. Wow, I want to live at your house and be special 3 times a year! I really need to make those dates more prominent around here (for ALL of us. =) I love the renewing-the-Baptismal-promises pic!

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  14. You look great, Kendra! I absolutely love that dress.

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  15. I hope the stomach issue has not passed on to other kids. I think the new van was baptized, the new carpet and the alter at the SF Mission. Poor dad always seemed to have a bucket and a rag with him. Like good grandparents when the going got tough we got going...home to San Diego. Get well soon and lots of love even though we left you.
    Nanacamille

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  16. What do you do for Christmas?

    Thank you for the ideas, but I wonder about Christmas because it always seems like everyone gets distracted by gifts (buying and receiving) that I am not sure what to do to focus on the real importance of the day.

    Kathy

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    Replies
    1. I'm planning a post on that before advent, but our policy basically comes down to shopping before advent begins, focusing on advent as a period of waiting and getting ready, and limiting the number of presents to one from Santa, one from parents, one from grandparents etc (and getting grandparents to give a group gift or a class or lessons or outing is the BEST).

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  17. Will you add patron Saint's feast day after your kids are confirmed?

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  18. Wonderful idea to renew baptismal promises and sprinkle with holy water! So glad I found your wonderful blog through the Catholic Homeschool facebook page!

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  19. Just found your blog through a friend. I'm the oldest of seven so I love seeing your seven children! I have four of my own so far. We grew up celebrating baptismal days with a special dinner and also honoring one another for the ways we saw them striving for holiness. Being loving, hard working, a good friend etc. We still do it now even though we are mostly grown up. (My youngest sister is 12.) It is always so uplifting. We are trying to do the same with are children they are still quite young though ages 6 to 1 so we focus on the special dinner and get to invite their God parents over! Your blog is really encouraging! Thanks for being open to share your life and faith!

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