My Beamish Brood

My Beamish Brood

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Beautiful Easter Weekend

Alleluia! He is risen! We were so blessed to be able to spend Easter with Paul's family in Wisconsin at Monica and Glenn's beautiful new home. Patrick drove to our house from college and rode with us, surviving five-plus hours of Minecraft discussion wedged in between the two booster seats in the back of our minivan. He's a boss.

The visit was just wonderful, in every way. We arrived to big smiles and hugs, and I finally got to hold my newest niece Evelyn! I can't believe this was the first time I have seen her in person. We went for a walk in the woods near their house and discovered a sculpture park that included statues of Jesus, our Blessed Mother, and St. Peter! Oh... and Abraham Lincoln and some gnomes and a wishing well. Quite the spread, I'd say. After our walk we returned home to pray the Stations of the Cross and start the Divine Mercy Novena. It was especially awesome and inspiring to hear about Liam's devotion to Divine Mercy... that kid's not a kid any more. Glenn fried up some fish and Monica served potato soup for dinner; I felt a little guilty for eating such delicious food on Good Friday!

Saturday we were treated to an amazing breakfast of baked French Toast and bacon, and then we all set off to see the lake. It was a quick walk to the shore, and I think the kids would have stayed there all day if we let them! Well, all except Audrey... apparently she's afraid of water. Oh well, there were plenty of arms to hold her. The boys collected several pounds of rocks and loaded them into the wagon to bring home, and Nathaniel had a great time throwing the rocks from the wagon on the way home, sending his big cousins scrambling to pick them up!

The menfolk went on an outing after we got back, and the little ones went down for naps. That left Grandma, Monica, Max, Lucian and myself. Max settled in to read books to Grandma while Lucian baked Resurrection Rolls with Monica. I wandered back and forth, watching and enjoying the time they got to spend together one-on-one.When Patrick got home he set up his slackline (a bit like a tightrope) and got pretty much everyone in the family to try it out, including Audrey! I hope I won't bore you with all my talk of food, but the food that weekend was incredible. Dinner Saturday was no exception; we feasted on Glenn's famous smoked carnitas. Um. Wow. Be jealous, be very jealous.

Easter Sunday was beautiful. Lucian and Max bounced out of the bedroom yelling "Alleluia!" "Jesus is Risen!" "We can finally say Alleluia again!" Incredibly, we were all ready to go and made it on time to 9:00 Mass. Ok, maybe it wasn't incredible for most of the family, but I was very impressed with us! I loved Monica and Glenn's church, the community seems very engaged and the priest is young and on fire. We sang as many Alleluias as we could have hoped for, and by some Easter miracle, both girls were very well-behaved. (Audrey made up for it this Sunday with ballerina twirls in the aisle. Yeesh.) The kids hunted for eggs and found their Easter baskets when we got home. Then they sat around eating candy and playing with their new wares while we drank coffee and enjoyed each others' company.

That night, there were card games (Six-handed five hundred! My brain cannot handle that many cards) and cigars (no, not me.) and lots of laughs. It was bittersweet, knowing we would be leaving the next day. Goodbyes are always hard, but the beauty of a goodbye is that it only happens because there was first a hello! We had a wonderful time breaking-in the new house, and thanks to the wonderful hosts we felt right at home.

Happy Easter to you all!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Painting the Saints

Ever since my reversion to Catholicism back in college, the saints have been my inspiration and my companions. Reading the writings of St. Therese changed my life, and she was the first on an ever-expanding list of my "favorite" saints. I ask for their prayers and try to emulate their lives, and I really feel like they are my true friends. When I started having kids, I wanted to instill in them a love of the saints, but for years I have had no idea how. I can't plunk them down on the couch with a biography of Padre Pio, or guide them through the writings of Pope John Paul II. That day may come, but I don't want them to wait as long as I did to meet all of these great friends. I have tried countless saint stories, videos, paintings, but nothing quite seemed to catch their interest in the way I was hoping.

Then I heard about Saint Peg Dolls. I am not really a crafty person; I love crafts with my kids, but only because the process is more important than the outcome. I am intimidated by "grown-up" crafts, especially if anyone else will ever see them. But for some reason, these dolls kept speaking to me. 

So I joined a Saint Doll Exchange through a friend of mine. Each of us painted 19 wooden pegs in the likeness of a saint of our choosing, then we sent them off to her to organize and send back one of each saint to each participant. I was a little terrified at the prospect of painting something that a bunch of strangers with unknown artistic ability would be seeing, but I did it anyways. I painted 19 St. Lucian of Antioch dolls and mailed them away.

Before Easter a package arrived in the mail. I snuck up to my bedroom to examine the saints I had received, and I was blown away! They were beautiful. There was a wide range of artistic talent, from simple (like mine) to extremely elaborate and complex, but each one was stunning in its own way. It took every ounce of self-control to save them until Easter... but I managed, and the kids each received a group of saints in their baskets. 

It has been amazing. Every day since Easter, they have played with these dolls. They keep bringing them to me to ask about their lives, and even I am learning things I never knew! St. Perpetua is a current favorite; we read all about her life and her martyrdom, and the next thing I knew, there was a duplo arena in our living room with St. Perpetua facing the wild animals. They also love to know which saints knew each other or lived at the same time. We have some great pairs, including John Paul II and Mother Teresa, Francis and Clare, and Edith Stein and Maximilian Kolbe. 

We ended up with a great mix of ancient (St. Joesph, St. Philomena, St. Perpetua, St. Lucian) and modern (Bl. Pier Giorgio, St. Maximilian, St. John Paul), and everything in between. Max has taken to snatching my phone whenever he sees it lying around and snapping pictures of his pals. Now that they have met 19 new friends, we only have about 10,000 more to go! Let's get painting!