Me & My House

Each year our children grow older and we as parents, hopefully, grow wiser. With our oldest being 7, soon to turn 8, and 3 (plus one more on the way – bring on the basketball court, we’re looking at a full 5-player Team Taliaferro soon), there are some parenting dos and don’ts we’ve figured out. We’ve established some basic family rules, we have rituals and traditions. Our kids understand that we are a family. We stick together, we work together, we laugh together, and most importantly, we love each other.

There are some days that I feel like we’ve got this. We’ve figured out where our kids are, we have a good idea of what they are struggling with, what they are passionate about, and what brings them joy. But then, as always happens, the seasons change. The toddler makes a new developmental leap, the 4 (or 6 or 7) year old discovers a new boundary or rule they would like to challenge. And it’s like we are back to our early parenting days where everything was trial and error, challenge and discovery, frustration and attempts at good communication.

One thing that I’m coming to notice is that though our children go through different stages and seasons of life, and will go through many more that we haven’t experienced yet, some things stay the same. Our love for our children, their need for our love and encouragement and their desire to do good. The who, what, when, where and whys may change, but these things have stayed the same.

Part of this stability, I believe, is because from the first days of Ben’s and my marriage we intentionally put God in the center of it all. In our culture today, God is often an afterthought, or someone reserved for Sunday mornings. God is there when we need something or are going through some kind of struggle, but once the thing is received or the struggle is over, so goes our connection to God. This isn’t what we wanted for our family. Both being raised Catholic, choosing to continue in our faith as individuals and then to receive the Sacrament of Marriage, we had some intuitive wisdom to rely on when it came to building a family culture. And, until recently, I haven’t thought very concretely about how these choices have impacted our family.

The past month or so I have been watching a brand new DVD video series called Me & My House. The host is Patrick Sullivan, a husband, father and theologian with 9 kids who live in Canada. Patrick is a speaker and teacher who hopes to inspire families in their mission to, ultimately, all be in heaven someday. But he doesn’t just talk about the religious aspect of family life, though he knows a lot about it. Patrick digs into the nitty gritty of the family:

  • Why is it important to share a meal?
  • What are effective discipline techniques?
  • How do you communicate with your spouse and how is that different from your children?
  • What is a family culture and what does your family culture look like?
  • How do your children best experience the divine?

These videos are very impactful and are full – I mean really, really full! – of great ideas, tips, exercises and things to consider for your own unique family. The vast majority of the videos are no more than 10 minutes, many are under 6. Patrick systematically walks through family life, exploring the nuances and often not-so-subtle details of many people living under one roof. Through the series, viewers take the time to consider each member of their family, be you a newly married couple or seasoned veterans with any number of children at any ages. What are everyone’s strengths, weaknesses, vices, good habits, perspectives and ways of relating to God? What is our family culture, what kind of boundaries do we have for all the members, not just the children? What expectations do we have of one another, how do we treat each other, what is our collective family goal or mission? How are we striving for holiness within our family and within our wider community?

This series isn’t at all theoretical. Patrick offers real examples from his own family experiences as well as general situations from which lessons can be learned. I have greatly appreciated the practical wisdom that have come from watching these videos. However I will say, since the videos are short it’s easy to watch one too many and become overwhelmed with ideas that you can’t implement all at once. Keep a notebook handy, there’s always something to write down to talk about later.

These DVD’s would be great for a couple, or a group of couples, to watch together over a period of time. Again, the videos are short but impactful so there is lots to discuss from watching one or two, depending on the topic and your family situation. For example, a couple who has recently baptized their first baby will definitely get a lot out of the early videos when Patrick talks about communication and building an intentional family culture. They may find the section on discipline interesting and certainly worth paying attention to, but not directly pertinent to their present situation…yet. These would also work very well as part of an extended family catechesis series or moms’ group where the attention spans of little ones precludes some of the longer video series available.

If you or your parish are interested in finding out more about the Me & My House series, head over to Evango.net/house or click on any of the links here. There are some introductory videos that give you a good feel for what the series is about and how it flows. There is also a Leader’s Guide, Participant Guide, print book, and other accompanying resources which will be available soon. As a bonus, use the coupon code SINGSONG and you’ll receive $15 off the DVD set.

These videos have encouraged me to take a closer look at the practices and rituals of our family life. For some of the videos I found myself nodding my head, saying things like “Yes! Nailed that!” For others, I really had to pause and say, “Wow, we are missing out on an opportunity here. I haven’t considered this before.” There are some ideas I know I want to try to implement right away, like hobby time and asking my kids on a frequent basis, “Who are you praying for?” and “How are you praying for them?”I’m happy to have these videos to reference as we continue in our seasons of change and transition. While we all grow and change, our love for each other and for God will, I dearly hope, only continue to grow. The Me & My House series is definitely encouraging us in the right direction.

The Woes of Free Shipping: The Art of Waiting

I’m trying not to get into the holiday season too early. We still have 2 more holidays to go before we actually get to Advent and Christmas. But already people are starting to talk about Christmas gifts. And I’ll be honest, as a crafter I’m already knee deep in crochet projects for Christmas gifts.

I read something recently about small businesses, especially the home businesses that many moms are part of. Maybe it’s a small Etsy or Peter’s Square business, maybe it’s home-baked cookies at the farmers’ market or locally sourced honey. Often times, the products these small businesses may cost more than similar products you might find at Walmart or Amazon. And more often than not, they can’t support the free shipping we have been conditioned to expect, or even deserve.

The ability to buy whatever we want, and can have 2-day shipping to boot, has encouraged us as a society to become even more impatient than human nature already inclines us to be. Our attention spans, and capacity for waiting, continues to diminish. We can’t even wait for the holidays to arrive in their natural order of time. We are so excited for what comes next, instead of relishing what is now.

Even as I type this, I am anticipating what is coming, instead of being present in what is now. I almost said “As we look forward to Advent coming, it is a great time to slow down and practice waiting.” But you know what, why wait for Advent? Because I don’t know about you, but I could do with slowing down. My head is already starting to spin with Christmas present ideas, what to make for Thanksgiving, whether to host an Advent Bible study or not, how long our homeschool break should be, etc. Actually, I think that I always could use some slowing down.

So starting today, literally today, I am purposefully slowing down. Here are two things I am implementing immediately, hopefully with more to follow.

  1. I’m trying to drink more water. I’ve put a tracking system into my planner (just little water droplets to cross off, nothing fancy) to help remind me to drink more water. Because when I am hydrated, I’m less anxious, less stressed and my body is able to function as it was designed.
  2. I am saying a daily rosary. A bit ago I purchased a beautiful rosary bracelet from ChewsLife, a website run by moms in Michigan that has created beautiful rosarys for young and old. Literally, they have rosaries and rosary bracelets designed for little babies with safe, silicone beads that they can chew on and play with. It’s so cool. Their rosary bracelets for adults are lovely because they have a movable crucifix that you can use to hold your place, so that your rosary can stretch throughout your day (the only way I am able to get a rosary finished.
    IMG_2498
    My ChewsLife rosary. See the hook clasp on the crucifix and Miraculous Medal? It fits perfectly between any of the beads to mark where I stopped to handle [insert crisis here].

Though not part of slowing down necessarily, there is another practice that I am going to be more conscious about employing. Before jumping on Amazon to grab whatever it is I’m looking for, especially if it is a gift, I’m going to start smaller. If you haven’t heard of it yet, Peter’s Square is basically Catholic Etsy. Which is so cool! Then there is Etsy itself, which hosts so many incredible Catholic products and shops. There is also your local area, where perhaps you have smaller artisans who take such time and care in crafting their product. When I find that perfect gift, I’m not going to shoot over to Amazon to find something similar but with free or quicker shipping. Instead, I’m going to be willing to wait, to pay for shipping if asked. It is a way to intentionally help support another, and to put into practice the art of waiting.

 

The Mass Box – It’s Official People

For those of you who have been around the blog for a while you will know that we LOVE our Mass Box subscription. The kids so look forward to the videos, crafts, and now the bonus Superbook DVDs. Recently, the Mass Box has teamed with the Christian Broadcasting Network and every monthly box includes a Superbook DVD. Anyone remember Superbook from growing up? They’ve updated the animation and characters but still encourage your kids to dive into the Bible stories.

I’ve been toying with the idea of branching out into the world of affiliate programs, but don’t want to get caught up in it. Do you know what I mean? So, starting slowly, I’m so pleased to share that I am officially a promoter and affiliate for the Mass Box.

We were one of the first families to try out this subscription box. Back in Lent 2016 Ashley and Raymond (founders of the Mass Box) sought out 100 families to do a trial run and give feedback for their idea. The response was overwhelmingly positive from us and from others, as you may have guessed since they are still going strong! We have loved growing with the Mass Box family. I have seen how attentive they are to the needs of families as they continue to ask for feedback, solicit reviews and ideas and engage in encouraging and supportive conversations with their subscribers.

The Mass Box is, for those who don’t know or need a refresher, is a monthly subscription box that helps prepare the whole family for Sunday Mass. The crafts are best for, in my opinion, ages 4 – 8 or 9, but they can definitely be done younger (with help) or older for craft loving kids. Each week there is a short Youtube video where Ashley and Raymond’s children do the weekly craft, explain the readings and how everything is connected. These videos are completely free for anyone – check them out! In the box comes everything you need to complete the crafts for the month. They also include a weekly magazine that has the directions for the craft, the readings and some activities that relate to the readings (word searches, colorings, Q&A, games, etc.). These magazines are perfect to bring to Mass for busy hands that need something to focus on. And on top of all that, as I mentioned earlier, now they are also including a new Superbook DVD each month.

Every single Sunday has a craft, magazine and video. Plus, because these people are totally legit and this is what sold me on the whole thing in the first place – they also include crafts, videos and magazines for all the Holy Days of Obligation as well!! You can also opt to skip a month or two if you know you are going to be on vacation or for some other reason know you will be missing the opportunity to do the crafts for a period of time.

The makers of the Mass Box have done a really nice job trying to offer a wide variety of options to fit families of all sizes. You can subscribe for the box with craft supplies for 1-4 children. You can also get a box for just a single month to try it out. There is also something called the Mass Box Lite which includes the craft materials for one Sunday, but the magazines for all the Sundays and Holy Days. You can also order just the magazines if the craft element isn’t totally up your alley. You can also opt to skip a month or two if you know you are going to be on vacation or for some other reason know you will be missing the opportunity to do the crafts for a period of time.

If this sounds like something your family needs, or you know a family that would benefit from this kind of preparation for Mass, please click on any of the links here. You will go straight to the Mass Box website and sign up. Click “Subscribe” at the top of the Mass Box homepage for the subscriptions, or click “One Time Shop” for the single order boxes. As an affiliate, I will receive a 10% kickback on any order you make (subscription or one time) when you use the links here.

If you need more evidence of the enthusiasm for the Mass Box, check out this video my kids took while unboxing the August Box.

This month, our favorite craft was using our Mass Box boxes to make sandals. Jesus sent the disciples out in pairs, directing them to take along for the journey nothing but sandals and a walking stick. Our walking sticks have since turned into fairy wands, but the sandals are still intact and used for spreading the Good News.

As I keep working on my Philippians 2 book, I’m beginning to hope for some more opportunities for this blog. But as all things, finances are part of the equation. My husband and I both appreciate this small way you can support these writing dreams of mine. Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com