Professionally, I am an office manager and the human resources director for my company. When we hire someone new, they undergo an onboarding process that includes a few weeks of a “crash course” in our industry and company procedures/specifics and then they’re assigned a mentoring supervisor to see them out of the trainee period. They also receive a company handbook.
Parenting is not quite as straightforward…I didn’t have a class filled with how to be a mom by today’s standards, including the points of vaccinating my daughter (or not), breastfeeding (or not), the recommended screen time guidelines, or the “proper” age to continue rear-facing her in the car seat. Unless you count What to Expect When You’re Expecting, I didn’t have a handbook, either. There was no mentor assigned to me at her birth (although I do have a fabulous mother who has been a wonderful asset in my parenting arsenal).
There are YEARS of experience there, from both genders and a vast array of ages and abilities. Rachel and I are fortunate enough to be in a wonderful group of women (single moms, new moms, veteran moms, moms with blended families, and spiritual moms) called Moms & Mentors. We meet monthly in our homes, alternating the meeting place.
We’re all Christian women (most of us wives) who are trying to navigate the journey of motherhood without a map. It’s so nice to be around like-minded women, who understand the values I’m trying to instill in my children. It’s like they’re signs along my journey, pointing me in the right direction. It is so valuable!
Sometimes this Mommy thing is fantastic. Little Miss will see something for the first time and her reaction is priceless. Or hilarious. At times it’s inspiring. Or enough to bring me back to when I first saw the same thing. Sometimes this Mommy thing is enough to make you want to scream into your pillow. Maybe it’s the eleventh consecutive Mickey Mouse episode. Maybe it’s the teenage attitude that’s exiting your elementary school-aged child. And it’s exhausting, and leaves you emotionally raw. Then you wonder if you’re giving your child a complex.
Either way, it’s always the best job ever. And you’re rocking it. But you don’t have to rock it alone. Look in the parish bulletin, or call the church office, and see if there’s a mom’s group offered. Maybe there is one, but you’re a working mom and can’t make it there. Might I suggest looking at other local parishes?
The group that Rachel and I attend isn’t our parish. It isn’t Catholic. When Little Miss was small, she attended an amazing preschool program at a wonderful Baptist church. They are such wonderful women, and the director of the program, as well as the music teacher and the children’s minister at the church, are all my friends since Little Miss attended. I’ve gone to special events at the church as well as Bible studies there. Little Miss attends their Vacation Bible School every summer. I wouldn’t trade our group.
They say that it takes a village to raise a child. I am a firm believer that it really does. My daughter is influenced by me and my husband, our siblings, our parents, and my extended family comprised by close friends and our parish church family. She has all of those adults to help guide her. And I love it.
So, too, do we need other people to help guide us. To be a springboard for particularly challenging parenting situations. Or to nod in solidarity and offer a shoulder. Or even to call us out when we need to be called out. To hold us accountable. Parenting is, after all, a big deal.
So Mama, we just want you to know, you’re doing fine. More than that. You’re killing it.
We want to hear from you, ladies. Tell us all about your experiences with mom’s groups. Does your parish offer one? What does yours do really well? What do you feel like is missing from yours? How has being in your mom’s group helped you through a sticky parenting situation? Can’t find a mom’s group that fits you yet? Check out Catholic Mom for inspiration until you do.
We know life gets busy (especially with after-school commitments and mom’s groups meetings), so we want to help you get organized in 2017. Comment below with answers to our questions above (if it isn’t working, please visit our Facebook page) to be entered into a giveaway for a large, spiral-bound planner, some fun accessories, an Our Lady of Guadalupe rosary, and a HailMarry custom bookmark. The giveaway closes on Friday, January 6 at 5:00 p.m. CST. The winner will be notified via email by Monday, January 9.
First of all, MERRY CHRISTMAS from the HailMarry family!
Rachel and I are so happy you’re with us on this journey, so again let me say merry Christmas!! Christ, the Savior is born! Let us rejoice! I hope that your Christmas Day was filled with love, fun, traditions, deliciousness, and family. Ours was a little extra special this year because it was our first Christmas together. We celebrated on Friday night as a family, then on Saturday with my side of the family, and Sunday with my husband’s side. There was a lot of baking and eating and laughter!
This holy time of Christmas makes me feel all warm and tingly inside. It’s that feeling that you get when you come clean with God about your sins. Or when you happen to steal a sideways glance at your husband when he isn’t looking. Or when you see a squishy baby sleeping. But I digress.
I also get that feeling when everything is going exactly as planned. I’m definitely a list and planner girl, and I like to have back-up plans for my back-up plans. As my daughter gets older, I’m finding that that isn’t always going to happen. Sometimes she forgets to tell me that something was due until the day it’s due. Sometimes I forget to read her folder. Sometimes I request the completion of a simple, mundane task from her and it sets off quite the emotional storm.
When I found that said emotional storms were appearing with more frequency and when we were all adjusting to the change from being an all-girl family of two to a heterogeneous family of three, we implemented a family meeting. It keeps us centered and focused as a family on our goals, our weekly agendas, and any concerns that we have. Because of it, we work as a team. And together, we strive for holiness.
The husband and I decided that, prior to our first family meeting, we’d hash out the ground rules. We wanted it to be a place that will encourage growth and honest discussion in our family, but we didn’t want it to be a total democracy, where we are all equals, either. We are the parents in this family and felt that there should be a distinction.
Here are the five Denoy Family Meeting Rules by which we operate:
After reading these aloud the first time, we all signed the rules, to show that we all agreed to abide by them.
The rationale behind the rules are as follows:
I’ve been amazed by how a topic that usually elicits a strong reaction from Little Miss when NOT in the meeting can be discussed calmly and rationally by her when IN the meeting. We have excellent conversations and we do come to solutions.
These meetings are so helpful. We know, clearly, what the expectations of us for the week are, what events are scheduled…sometimes, we even go over the meal plan (a post on meal planning is on its way in January!). We are better when we have them. We are less harsh, less quick to jump, and more joyful.
From where I sit in these meetings, at one of the heads of the table, facing a crucifix and a statue of the Holy Family, I try to imagine what their family dynamic was like. Like my own family, they were a family of three. With one out of the three people being God, I would initially guess that their dynamic was calmer than my own family’s. But…Jesus was also man, and while I know he was sinless, I know how kids can be. In this moment, I find comfort in the story of Jesus being lost, with Joseph and Mary worried sick, looking everywhere, only to find him teaching in the temple. I kind of feel like they would have had family meetings, too.
These meetings are organic. It’s going to be interesting to see how they continue to grow and change as Little Miss gets involved in more activities and as she gets older. It’ll change again when additional members are added to our family, too. I imagine that there will be years of more laughter, tears, tension, relaxation, and all that’s in between as we continue these. I also imagine that there will be more bonding and memories made, too. And I know that I’ll never have enough of those.
What about you ladies? Rachel and I love feedback and getting ideas from other wives and moms. Do you have family meetings? How do you run them? Be sure to let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe to HailMarry so you’ll never miss another post.
Blessings and Merry Christmas!
“A kindhearted woman gains honor,
but ruthless men gain only wealth.”
I was really nervous about posting today’s blog; talking finances is up there with religion and politics, it is such an aggressive topic. With that being said I feel that I do have a lot to offer on the subject with all my personal trials and errors. When I first met and married my love the Scientist, I was coming into the marriage with literally nothing. I spent every last dime I had on my wedding. No job, penniless, and a hot mess when it came to budgets etc. I wasn’t exactly prime pickings. The Scientist still loves me besides my insecurities and we work hard every day to make our one income family work.
Through our journey together that started two years ago, we are constantly learning on how to grow our marriage, how to become one and be on the same page. We have dreams for our family that in order for them to come true, we would have to be out of debt and have a hefty savings account. We also want to be able to do that and still be married after we achieve those goals. I know a lot of couples who have trouble with their finances and it becomes an issue in their marriages. That is not something that the Scientist and I want. We want to be successful but we also want a marriage that is strong and that can withstand any trial. So when we started out we knew that when it came to budgets and living frugally to achieve our dreams; we would have to figure out a way to communicate without tearing each other down. I have included eight tips on how to communicate and navigate through the big finance and budget talk.
I will go into detail how The Scientist and I budget, set goals, meal plan, and cut money waste at another time. Learning to communicate is the number one reasons marriages break or become stronger. We felt that working on our communication was the biggest trial that we have because if there is no communication there is no growing. When you don’t grow in your marriage, if you don’t feed it what it needs, your marriage will die. Hopefully, these tips will help you better communicate with your spouse when you talk about finance, budgeting, or any hard conversations that you may encounter. Print it out Our Budget Talk Guidelines for future talks! Remember to be loving in your actions and be the best you can at the moment.
Advent and Christmas is here and all is calm in my household. This is my favorite time of the year, the waiting, the anticipation, and the solemn focus on our Lord and Savior. The advent and Christmas season is always a growing process for me. I had such different ideas from a child, to a teenager, to a young adult, to my late 20’s, until today. Each Year I seem to add and grow my outlook on the Advent and Christmas Season. I love to prepare for the biggest birthday party in the world. I decorate, bake, shop, visit family and friends all for the coming of Our Lord. During the season I love to do all my favorite activities, here are my top 5.
Advent Baskets could be filled with a number of things depending the ages of your household. We keep the basket out all season long so that we can share and have joy waiting for our Savior to come and celebrate when he is here. I have a mixture of games, Paper Doll Nativity Sets, Color Sheets, Prayer Journals, Holy Stationery, and Advent Books.
I actually just Googled it, printed it out, cut it out, and have all the pieces in an envelope for the kids.
As a teen and adult I still love to color and create. You can get a ton of awesome coloring sheets online.
Rosary and Prayer Journals
We love to do a family Rosary, we like to take prayer requests and write them down in our prayer journals. We keep these prayer journals out so when we have quiet time we have them at our fingertips. We also like to reflect and writing it out helps sorts out your requests to God and your feelings.
Bible Verse Stationery
I like to use these to write letters to others. Letters bring encouragement and heartfelt prayers, good wishes, and are a statement of love. So when I have free time I will sit down and get out my list of people that I would love to correspond with. This is also great for kids no matter the age, to communicate in a way that is not tech heavy. Get your Bible Stationery Luke 2 10 here now!
There are tons out there I just get free eBooks or even go to the library and pick them out. What a great way to spend time with the family then to read a book out loud.
I put together a Hot Chocolate Bar that is easy to put out and to clean up after. I get individual packets of hot Chocolate, marshmallows, peppermints, and caramel to put in bowls. We like to read the birth of Jesus through the book of Luke. So everyone will get their hot chocolate, discuss and read through the birth of our Savior.
We watch a mixture of both Christian and NON Christian Christmas movies. We love holiday movies and there are an abundance of them. We like to go to the Library and rent them for free!!
We like to bake or write a letter to someone we know that is having a hard time. You don’t have to spend money to bring cheer and joy to someone.
This gets really hard for our families. Cell phones, iPad, and game systems are all the rage. We noticed that when we put our phones down; we tend to focus on each other more. Our marriage needs that time to help make our relationship strong. It is also giving us opportunities to make memorable moments. Some of the activities we like to do are puzzles, crosswords, talk, pray, listen to music, and craft.
What are your favorite things to do this Advent and Christmas Season? Leave us a comment and subscribe!!! If you missed Kristi’s take on keeping Advent holy, check it out here.
I love my husband. I know that as a newlywed and wife in general, that sentence should always be able to roll off my tongue without a drip of sarcasm or irony. But in this season of Advent—the season of hope, joy, faith, and peace—I am reflecting on the blessings that I’ve been given this year.
I met my husband, got engaged, married him, took a super-fun family vacation, learned that my best friend is a bad ass in every sense of the word, saw my husband through the lens of his closest friends and family, and witnessed people come together for an unforeseen tragedy—in some cases the people didn’t even know those whom the tragedy befell.
The world grieved the losses of talent through the deaths of countless actors and musicians such as Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Prince, Florence Henderson, Kenny Baker, and Gary Marshall, to name a few. I also lost my last living grandparent just after she celebrated her 94th birthday and in the early fall, the sudden loss of a cousin, without any warning.
I know that many on my Facebook feed are ready for this year to end. It hasn’t been a great one for the United States. The entertainment industry has been decimated and we saw the ugliest election in my lifetime. Yet, in the midst of 2016’s wake, I can still honestly say: I am so grateful for 2016.
I am grateful that my husband and my daughter and I are making new family traditions. I am grateful that my small nuclear family has expanded and that my extended family has more than doubled through my in-laws.
In this Advent season (and the upcoming Christmas season), it’s easy to get caught up in everything the world tells us to. The world tells us that we’re supposed to sing gimmicky song after gimmicky song (I see you, ”I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” and “Dominick the Donkey”) and buy cheap trinkets that will not only NOT hold our loved one’s attentions more than 15 seconds, but may not even last that long to begin with.
We’re supposed to decorate our homes for Christmas before Thanksgiving, start listening to Christmas music on November 1, and leave our family behind at the dining room table so that we can get in line to grab the hottest technology piece on the market (which is already outdated and will be replaced by Super Bowl Sunday). It’s about having gifts. All the gifts. It’s a season of keeping up with Joneses.
In the Catholic world, we know better.
We know that Advent is a season of waiting. We’re patiently awaiting the coming of the Messiah. God’s gift to us. His one holy begotten son. It’s easy to get caught up in the world. But we’d like to challenge you to not be of the world. You are of Jesus, living in the world.
Here are my top five tips on making Advent a reflective, holy season in your own domestic church.
I love Christmas decorations. I love the lights. I love the Nativity scenes. I love garlands and bows and banisters, yard art, those little projections on a house simulating snow. I love it all. Loving all things Christmas is almost hereditary in my family, and it’s a dominant gene. Therefore, I always decorate the house and put up the tree in Advent, well before Christmas. But this year, we decided to be a little more simplistic. We have a tree, homemade garland on our mantle (and stockings!), and a lovely sign that has a silhouette of the Nativity on wood that says “Oh Holy Night.” We also have multiple Nativity scenes throughout our home and a Christmas village. Not every wall needed adornments. Some years, it’s looked like Christmas threw up all over our house. We chose instead to focus this year on small, intentional decorations that reflect our personality, the fact that we’re celebrating Jesus, and that add to the homey feel of our home.
We have an Advent wreath that was the easiest DIY of all time. It’s a small wreath from the Dollar Tree. Inside the wreath are four small glass votive candle holders holding three purple candles and one pink candle (all from Wal-Mart). As a little extra for this year, in the center of the wreath is a lovely statue of a pregnant Virgin Mary. It was my Mother’s Day present this year, and it really helps us to focus on what Advent is all about. On Christmas Day, we’ll replace the statue with a white candle (also in a small glass votive candle holder). We light the appropriate candles on the appropriate Sunday and say a prayer. On December 5, we leave a shoe out and wake up to small gifts, reminding us of the kindness of St. Nicholas (whose feast day is December 6). December 8, we go to Mass as a family. On December 13, the feast day of St. Lucy (one of my daughter’s favorites), we drive around looking for lights.
“The tree is a pagan thing!” they scream. Maybe. But, in the words of my friend Brittany, “God made the trees before they were used as a pagan thing.” She has a good point. The Christmas tree is an example of God’s creation, as are we. Its branches, which form a triangle, are almost like an arrow, pointing us toward Heaven. It is an evergreen and is called such because it is always green. This reminds us of life eternal. See? Since God is in everything, it’s not a stretch to see his son in everything. Wreaths are round (eternal, unending) and also made from evergreens. Stars on the tree? Heaven. Angels? They announced Jesus’ presence to Mary, shepherds, and the three kings. Christmas lights and fire? Jesus is the light. Use known objects in the world to teach the truth to your family.
This post began with me talking about being grateful for this year. We’ve been totally blessed in my family. I imagine many of you have been as well. Not everyone has, though. I want to give back to those who need it the most. In preparation for the aftermath of Christmas presents, my daughter went through her things. She decided to donate five Build-A-Bears to a local children’s hospital. She wants to donate her Disney Princess castle to a little girl who wants a dollhouse. She donated 37 new toys to her school’s Toys for Tots drive. We selected three children and three seniors from the Salvation Army Angel Tree. I donated to a homeless family. We are always called to be the light of Christ to others. Especially in this season, when it’s all about materialism and the gimme-gimmes, it’s nice to be the odd family out and remember what Christ preached. It’s nice to remember what made St. Nicholas the world-wide symbol for holiday giving. It’s nice to be Jesus to the least of these.
Advent is a great time to rekindle a prayer life if yours is not where you’d like it. I think of the Blessed Mother, pregnant, not really sure how her fiancée is going to feel about it, knowing that she’s bearing the begotten son of God (which would be enough to stress anyone out) and then TRAVELING ON FOOT to serve her pregnant cousin. Was she stressing out on the road? Was she having the crisis that I’m sure I’d have had? No. She prayed. The Magnificat is a beautiful prayer and it has a special place in my heart. We could all look to Mary’s example of how to deal with the things life throws your way that you aren’t expecting. Especially with the stress the holidays often bring, be like Mary. Pray.
I hope your Advent is an amazing journey of family, memories, prayer, and the true spirit of Jesus. Look for Rachel’s top five tips on keeping Advent holy soon!