5 Universal Truths for Parenting

Parenting…one of life’s great joys! Today’s post is brought to you by a revelation, of sorts, from this morning.

The Love of a Child

Yesterday I received a series of text messages from Little Miss. She was using my mom’s phone and I was stuck in traffic for an extraordinarily unusual amount of time. In the series of text messages, she told me how much she loved me and how glad she was that I was her mom.

I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me feel awesome.

A Car Moment

This morning, on the way to school, as we were eating our breakfast in the car, she told me she wanted to be just like me when she grew up. I’ve grown accustomed to a high amount of maturity from Little Miss over the years; so much so that it’s sometimes easy to forget she’s only 8. Hearing this statement this morning, it sounded so innocent and childlike that it tugged at my heartstrings.

I asked her why. She said, “Because I love you and you’re awesome and I want to be just like you.”

Take It Seriously

Mamas, our children are listening. They’re watching. What we show them is what they will aspire to do.

As if it isn’t weighty enough to know that raising a child falls squarely on our shoulders as parent, suddenly there’s this realization that, regardless of age, our children will always be our mimics.

That could be a lot of pressure.

Or it could be an opportunity.

We need to take parenting very seriously. We in this vocation are called to be wives first. A huge part of our marriage vows, however, is that we lovingly and willingly accept children into our marriage from the Lord.

“In children we have a great charge committed to us. Let us bestow great care upon them, and do everything that the Evil One may not rob us of them. But now our practice is the reverse of this. We take all care indeed to have our farm in good order, and to commit it to faithful manager…but we do not look out for what is much more important, for a person to whom we may commit our son as the guardian of his morals, though this is a possession much more valuable than all others. It is for him indeed that we take such care of our estate. We take care of our possessions for our children, but of the children themselves we take no care at all. Form the soul of thy son aright, and all the rest will be added hereafter.” ~St. John Chrysostom

Five Universal Truths

I don’t pretend to have all the answers. As I stated, I’m only 8 years into this gig, so I definitely don’t pretend to be an expert, either. But I do think there are some universal truths that we can all apply to our parenting to help us be successful.

  1. Be present. As a child, my parents worked a lot. This meant that sometimes my mom had to take my brother and me to work with her after school. But she was there. My dad was unable to take us to work with him, but even though he was exhausted when he came home, he made time for us. My memories of being with my parents are about fun, and games, and stories. When they were with us, they were really with us. We can be present with our kids in the same way. Yes, life is hectic. And yes, many of us have to reside in dual-working homes. That doesn’t mean that we have to be absent, though. We can carve out time to play: Frisbee in the back yard, dolls on Saturday mornings, game nights on Fridays. We can carve out time to be: cooking together, the commute to school.
  2. Shut up. Look, I know that that sounds harsh, but sometimes we forget that our children are little people. They have ideas and thoughts and opinions. Just like us, they want to share them. Therefore, we should give them that opportunity. Some of my favorite moments are listening to Little Miss. I absolutely adore the way her mind works. The way she sees things astounds me at times. If we listen to our children, we get to know who they are and we might just learn something ourselves, too. For us, these moments happen just after she’s been tucked in, when her mind races and comes alive, asking all the questions she’s stored up during the day. It’s okay to carve out an extra fifteen minutes to listen.
  3. Affection isn’t bad. I know that physical touch is not everyone’s love language. I know that some families are not touchy-feely. And I know that in the midst of stress and turmoil, my Little Miss just needs a hug sometimes. I think back to her as a baby and how I just couldn’t stop kissing her little cheeks. Occasionally, she’ll still want to cuddle with me in our rocker/recliner, and if she happens to fall asleep in my arms, I find that I’m still drawn to kiss those same cheeks. She looks angelic. Physical touch, whether our love language or not, creates endorphins that tell our brain we are loved. You don’t have to do it every second, but I totally recommend being affectionate with your children.
  4. Have standards. It is absolutely okay to have expectations of your children. Kids crave structure. Obviously, you want to make sure your expectations are realistic, but I will tell you, as a former teacher, that structure makes all the difference. Have fun. Have free time that is totally unstructured. But also have routines. Kids find comfort in that.
  5. Be gentle with yourself. Parenting isn’t just about the kids. It isn’t always easy. It’s hard, in fact. An entire human being is entrusted to you: you, a mere mortal. You’re not always going to get things right. Remember that we are given grace upon grace through the love of God and the mercy of Jesus. If Jesus can be merciful to us, the sinners who nailed him to the cross, then you can be merciful to yourself. These are also wonderful teachable moments so that your children don’t beat themselves up when they, too, make mistakes.

Role Models

We are our children’s role models. Let’s make sure we’re modeling something worth repeating.

Blending Advent

“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” ~ Matthew 1:23

Here we are in our first week of Advent! Our liturgical New Year has begun and we enter into a period of preparation for the birth of Christ. 

Advent Traditions

There are so many ways to celebrate and prepare in this time. Jesse trees and feast days, candles and devotions, every family and culture with their own unique traditions. Developing these traditions in your own home and with your own family, bringing the memories of your youth and experience and blending them with those of your spouse can be beautiful. But sometimes, especially when your traditions differ because you don’t share a faith, it can be difficult.

Similarities 

Captain isn’t Catholic, but thankfully our Advents growing up looked a lot alike. We both lit candles each Sunday of Advent and had our chocolates from the Advent calendars. We’d adorn our homes with lights and nativity sets and decorate Christmas trees whenever schedules allowed the whole family to participate. Christmas Eve we found ourselves at church singing carols and hearing about the angels and shepherds that first Christmas night and then open presents from Santa the next morning. 

St. Nicholas 

Something I love to celebrate that was not part of my husband’s traditions was St Nicholas’ Day. My parents had special stockings for each of us kids and we would find them on the morning of December 6th filled with candy, with a small gift and personalized ornament for each child. These ornaments would then be put on the tree with the all the ornaments of years past. I was so excited to continue this tradition on into my marriage, but since Captain didn’t grow up with this he didn’t understand the significance of the tradition. It was sad watching it go by for several years without the excitement of finding something in my stocking. But now that we have kids, I enjoy making sure my family always have something special on December 6th. 

What are some traditions you enjoyed as a child during the Advent season? What traditions do you enjoy now with your family? 

FIAT: Moving Day!

Hello, friends! Happy December!

Moving Day

We are SO excited because Advent arrives this weekend and we get to use our Every Sacred Sunday journals for the first time!

Today is Kristi’s Moving Day, so we are without a new FIAT: Faith in All Things podcast today.

Our Top 3 Podcasts

Fear not!

We’ve highlighted our top three favorite Catholic podcasts…perfect for moving day, your commute, or a long trip! All links will take you to iTunes, but you can also stream each podcast online by Googling the podcast name.

FIAT: Faith in All Things by Hail Marry

This one is ours and…well, we just kind of love it! Check out our episodes with Ginny Kochis, Finding God in the Bubbles, and Morning Offerings!

Letters to Women by Old-Fashioned Girl’s Chloe Langr

Based on St. John Paul the Great’s Letter to Women, Chloe explores the feminine genius with a guest in each podcast. She really appeals to all women, from all walks.

Coffee & Pearls by the amazing Sterling Jacquith

15 minute chunks of wisdom for Catholic wives and mommas is what this podcast is all about. Kristi likes to listen on her way to pick up Little Miss from school.

Advent

Advent begins Sunday and is our period of waiting…so we’re making you wait for a new episode until next week. Have a great weekend and a wonderful kickoff to the Advent season! Pray that Moving Day goes smoothly, too, if you don’t mind.

What are your favorite podcasts? Share the love in the comments!

Reflecting on Our Marriages 2017

If you’ve been following our blog for a while, then you know that Rachel and I are awesome friends. You may also know that we love all things fall, including pumpkins, the changing of the leaves, boots, and scarves. Further, you may be aware that we both met our husbands on CatholicMatch and then I met mine after being urged by Rachel to join CatholicMatch. You can read about our successes in the world of online dating here.

What you may not know is that we were both married in the fall. I’ve just celebrated my first year of marriage with Superman exactly one month ago, and Rachel’s third with the Scientist was last week. In honor of these anniversaries, and remembering why we founded this blog to begin with, which was to support the vocation of marriage as understood within the Catholic Church, we thought we would reflect on our marriage journeys thus far.

Our Marriages 2017

2017 was a very big year for both of us…as was 2016…and we met in 2015…2018 is shaping up to be quite the year, too, so, really…we’ve been pretty busy since we met!

2015: The meeting of Rachel and Kristi at a Catholic Daughters of the Americas meeting. The joining of CatholicMatch by Kristi. The first anniversary for Rachel and the Scientist. Babies born into Heaven. Just barely the year that Kristi and Superman met online (like, December 30).

2016: The meeting of Rachel, the Scientist, Kristi, and Superman. The premature stillbirth of Rachel’s son, Tripp. The engagement and wedding of Kristi and Superman. The second anniversary for Rachel and the Scientist. The “familymoon” with Little Miss.

2017:  The conception, premature birth, and loss of Rachel’s daughter, Frances. The career change of Superman. The conception of Kristi’s second daughter, Belle. More babies born into Heaven. The first anniversary of Kristi and Superman. The third anniversary of Rachel and the Scientist. Kristi moving.

As you can see, there’s been a lot that could’ve weighed very heavily on our marriages. How’d we do? Read on!

Kristi’s Marriage 2017

Last October, I walked into my parish ready to marry this wonderful, hilarious, sensitive, kind-hearted, Catholic man. I felt not one trace of nerves: we just fit. Not everything went according to plan, but it was the perfect day. (If you’re interested, you can read my open letter to my bride self on Spoken Bride here).

One year in and I am happy to report that we are busy, sometimes overwhelmed, and unable to function without a family dry-erase board calendar; but we are happy.

We were both single into our thirties, so our ways were pretty set when we met. Luckily, though, we complement one another perfectly. He’s a champion launderer of all the fabric and I am a decent dishwasher of all things containing food. Holidays have become a manageable, streamlined, stress-free thing (for this year, at least). Money is still something that can be a topic of tension: I mean, who really enjoys budgeting?! Otherwise, though, our life experience alone blends together to create the family that I’d always hoped for as a young woman.

We laugh constantly. I can’t emphasize enough how much I think that matters in marriage. Humor, levity, and community are all joined together in laughter.

We’re balancing work-home life, keeping up with our eight year-old Little Miss, moving (this week!), and expecting our second daughter in the spring. We like to think that we’ll slow down eventually, but that’s never really been our style. I am so psyched to see what we encounter in the rest of our second year of marriage.

Rachel’s Marriage 2017

The morning of November 21st, 2014 was beautiful and calm. I was up getting ready for my wedding to my best friend and soulmate.

I waited a long time for him to come along; I went down many wrong paths trying to find him. It was when I stopped searching for all the wrong places, I found my perfect-to-me mate for life.

That day went by in a flash; it felt like no time had passed and I was walking down the aisle. Our wedding was beautiful; it was on a Friday night. We had a full Mass and the pictures that my cousin-in-law took were breathtaking. It was our dream wedding and the party afterward went by way too quick.

The first year of marriage was tough on us. I know that in the marriage prep course (and advice from everyone) is that every day you should be working on your marriage. I had no idea what that meant, or the intensity of that, until I was married. I did not realize that my usual patient self (anyone who knows me would laugh) would have to compromise. The little things that we used to argue about: dishwasher manners, watching cool TV (not lame things); all those things were worked out that first year. It was quite a learning curve for both of us. We learned a lot about ourselves that first year and how to work through all the little things.

The second year was the year we really came together as a couple. We found our boundaries with each other and others. This was a big expectation and goal for us last year. Boundaries make good relationships great! We really started to pare down on what we were going to outside of our home. Too many extra activities made us worn out and crabby. When we slowed down it was as if we were courting again and finding our love all over again. It is such a sweet feeling.

The third year? 2017? Well since we have been married, we have faced a lot of hardships, tragedy, and emotional toil. We have been really fortifying as a couple to face these things with the power of God. God truly knew what he was doing when he put us together. The Scientist always knows how to encourage me, comfort me, and make me laugh. He always says that I bring joy, happiness, and fun into his everyday life. In real life, I am kind of a goofball and he is such handsome goof. Our life together is blessed and I am lucky to spend the rest of my life with him.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Seriously, there’s just something about this time that’s…magical.

The Best Outweighs the Worst

Even though you tend to see the worst of people (driving, shopping, searching for deals, parking at the mall…), my faith in humanity is always restored a bit during this time. We come together as a parish to support several parishioner families that are in need of food and gifts. There’s the Salvation Army and its seasonal ringing for loose change. Also the Salvation Army, Angel Trees line the shopping malls. Toys for Tots are in stores, on the news, and in our schools. Food pantry donations overflow.

A Wonderful Time of Social Calendars

This is the precarious part of this most wonderful time of the year.

Everyone is having a party. We see an uptick in family reunions. There’s a potluck for this organization, a chili cook-off for that one, a white elephant gift exchange. You get invitations to cookie baking parties and gift-wrapping marathon movie nights. There’s a million local events ranging from free to really expensive to make your holiday memorable and remarkable.

Remarkable

The thing is, the holiday season in itself-that wonderful time of year-is already remarkable. In Advent, we’re preparing for the coming of the Savior. In Christmas, we’re celebrating his birth. This time is the most wonderful time simply because of what it’s about.

So how do we focus on that and fight against the stream of commercialization and secularization?

My 2017 Approach

This week is moving week for me, so to say that our holidays are starting with a BANG! would be an understatement. It’s got lots of potential to be frenetic and crazed. But I know that going in, so (in true Kristi fashion) I have a plan.

Week One: November 26-December 2 This week I am focusing on moving into our new family home (our new domestic church) and unpacking. Little Miss is in charge of setting up her room and she’s going to help set Belle’s up, too. Superman and I will handle the rest amidst the backdrop of work and prepping for a work trip. As we convert our house into a home, we will have a priest come and bless it, so we start the season holy. We’re also going to begin Story of This Life’s December Nativity & Scripture tradition (the link will take you to a Facebook video, and there are instructions on their Facebook page as well). Little Miss fell in love with the idea and we’re running with it.

Week Two: December 3-9 The first week of Advent, we’ll pull out our Advent wreath and light the first candle (with prayer) each night at dinner. We’ll also use this week to decorate our home for the season (sorry…we don’t wait!) and continue our Story of This Life activity. We’ll also spend some time with family that weekend. St. Nick stops by our home, too, so he’ll leave chocolate coins, a Cutie orange, and a book for Little Miss. Don’t forget: December 8 is a holy day of obligation! Little Miss and I are also attending a holiday tea. All of our Angel Tree and Toys for Tots donations will be due this week.

Week Three: December 10-16 We’ll kick off the second Sunday of Advent with a St. Nicholas breakfast at church and will begin lighting the first two candles of our wreath at home. This is also when we go looking at Christmas lights to celebrate the feast of St. Lucy. New for us this year? We’re attending an Our Lady of Guadalupe Mass & Tamale Dinner at our parish. Again, we’ll continue the Story of This Life activity.

Week Four: December 17-23 For the third week in Advent, we’ll light all three candles and celebrate with our nightly wreath and Story of This Life activities. School will come to an end, so there will be an end-of-year party. We’ll begin reading A Christmas Carol and then watching our favorite versions of it this week, too. Our favorites, by the way, are Mickey’s Christmas Carol, Muppet’s Christmas Carol, and Disney’s A Christmas Carol…in fact, I think Disney has made all three of these! This will be the week for cookie baking, too!

Week Five: December 24-30 In this strange, final week of Advent/beginning of the Christmas season, we’ll be going to Sunday morning Mass and then Christmas Eve Mass for the Children’s Choir performance ahead of having some family time on Christmas Eve. On Christmas morning, Little Miss will be tasked with locating all of the hidden Baby Jesuses from our Nativity scenes and placing them where they belong prior to opening gifts. Then the race is on to find the hidden pickle ornament (a German tradition, honoring our ancestral roots, which we learned about in Epcot’s Germany on our “familymoon.”). This link will take you to a site for German beer steins (so if you happen to be in the market for some…lol), but we liked it’s explanation. We’ll then eat our traditional breakfast of cinnamon rolls with my parents and do Christmas with them ahead of going to my in-laws’ home for Christmas dinner, where we’ll have Christmas with cousins and aunts and uncles. We also begin our Wise Men Seeking Jesus tradition this week.

Why This Approach?

There’s a lot on this schedule, but it’s centered around two things: the liturgical season (and its meaning) and our family. We’ve got our own traditions as well as those of our families-of-origin, with focuses on giving and the meaning of the season. For us, this helps ensure that we’re doing the most wonderful time of the year correctly.

Here are some insights into last year’s Advent and more, with all of our Advent posts:

Grateful. Intentional. Advent.

5 Ways to Celebrate Advent & the Christmas Season

Celebrating Christmas with the Wise Men

Our First EVER Advent Gift Guide!

How We Advent

Don’t forget to join us on social media, posting about your own Advent 2017 celebrations using the hashtag #HowWeAdvent. We’ve got a lot of our blogging friends on board using the same hashtag, so if you’re coming up short for ideas, search it on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for inspiration.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this, the most wonderful time of the year. Let us know how you celebrate in the comments!