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7 Quick Takes: Signs You Don’t Want Summer to End

jake 2
If you are anything like me you aren’t ready for summer to end. Yes, you know it has to at some point, but not right now.

My newsfeed has been filling up with kids going back to school already. Cute kids in new clothes, holding new lunchboxes and backpacks, stand dutifully with a smile for first day of school pictures. The pictures melt my heart and make my toes curl all at the same time!

“It’s only the beginning of August! There’s still some summer left!” I want to yell at the school officials who have decided that kids must return. Why do they have to go back so early?

Thankfully we homeschool so we don’t have to worry about summer being over yet. Maybe you are like me and aren’t ready for summer to end either. Here are some sure fire ways to know if you are suffering from the “Summer-Can’t-Be-Over-Yet” Blues…

1.

You have no desire to make your kids wear clothes all day. Swimming suits are easy and cut down on laundry, amiright? Sure, cute new outfits are great, but they come with a price- extra laundry. Who wants that kind of responsibility? Not this lady! Not only that, swimsuits don’t get dirty like regular clothes; I mean, all they have to do is jump in a pool or run through a sprinkler and laundry is done!

jake sprinkler

2.

You have no desire to set the alarm even earlier than normal to meet a bus or drop kids off. 30 more minutes of sleep? Yes, thank you very much!

3.

You have no desire to worry about bedtime routines. When summer ends and school starts, sleep is even more important (even when you homeschool). Right now I like not having to worry so much about what time they get to bed. Sure, we still have a routine (I like my peace and quiet at night!) but if they go to bed late I don’t stress about it as much as I do during the school year. It’s so much nicer on all of us.

4.

You have no desire to worry excessively over dinner time. Its’ 9 o’clock and you’re just coming in from playing so we’re just sitting down to eat? No problem! Oh, everyone’s having a bad day? Ice cream for dinner for everyone! That kind of attitude just doesn’t seem to fly during the school year- schedules really need to be followed and brains need more sustenance than that. Of course, you don’t want that happening all the time in the summer, but occasionally it’s fun to eat sundaes for supper while watching the fireflies flit around in the backyard.

5.

Speaking of schedules- you have no desire to have to stick so strictly to a schedule. Want to go to the zoo on a Tuesday morning? Let’s go! Play date at the park on Thursday? I’m in! Stayed up late eating too much ice cream for dinner? Ah, sleeping in is the best!

6.

You realize you just can’t get the beach out of your mind. You can feel the sand between your toes and hear the waves crashing on the shore- oh wait, that’s just the kids dragging in dirt from the yard and pots and pans crashing in the kitchen. But the fact remains, you want to feel the sand and hear the waves. You dream of sitting beneath your umbrella, your perfect little darlings building sandcastles beside you, and a gentle breeze caressing your hair. Ah, paradise! Summer just isn’t complete without a day at the beach!

Mike and me in the crystal clear waters of Wakulla Springs last summer!
Mike and me in the crystal clear waters of Wakulla Springs last summer!

7.

You still want to catch fireflies, build forts, make mud pies, watch the kids run through the sprinkler, have silly string wars, ride bikes, get an ice cream cone from the ice cream man, and do so many other summertime activities with your kids. Once the days begin to change and the school bus comes regularly each day, it gets harder and harder to do those things.

We may not be able to stop summer from coming to an end, but we don’t have to let go quietly. We can enjoy the last little bits that are left to enjoy. Today we might just have to play all day, and then stay up late, eat ice cream till we pop, and watch the fireflies twinkle in our backyard. We’ll cling to summer for just a bit longer.

kids outside 1

 

Craving more Quick Takes like you crave more summer? Head on over to This Ain’t the Lyceum to read more 7 Quick Takes!

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Advent Colleen Domestic Church Faith Formation Mary Movies Reviews

Catholic Children’s Movies – a Review of CCC and a Fantastic Giveaway!

CCCKIDS-DEC-CATHOLICSISTAS (1)

CCCKids Saints campaign from Tuesday 12/02-Friday 12/05: 3 movie giveawaysWatch the spirit of giving and the magic of Christmas sparkle in your children’s eyes as they watch CCC of America’s award-winning animated films. This month we are featuring three saints with feast days in December.

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We absolutely love the CCC saints and heroes movies in our house; they are truly great aids to our children’s faith formation! They make the saints approachable for our children as we fall in love with the characters in the story. Several of the saints depicted in the movies have feast days this month, and we were glad to sit and watch them as a family as a way of learning about each saint. In honor of the CCCKids Campaign this week, they graciously sent us three saint movies to watch and review.

{We couldn’t pick a favorite movie at first, but eventually my boys settled on St. Nicholas (although probably because we have been talking a lot about his upcoming feast day, as they dream about the candy that will show up in their shoes!) Each of the movies is truly a treasure, and they would make wonderful Christmas gifts for children or godchildren.}

Francis Xavier and the Samurai’s Lost Treasure (feast day: December 3)

francisThe story begins with St. Francis as a university student, and depicts the friendship between St. Francis and St. Ignatius of Loyola; Francis learns about sacrifice from his friend, Ignatius, who secretly works to earn money to pay Francis’s tuition. Francis, inspired by his friend’s example, soon devotes his life to Christ, becomes a priest, and is sent to a village in India as a missionary. The villagers are pearl divers, and are required to fill a chest with pearls in order to pay their tax to the government; however, raiders continually descend upon their village to steal their chests of pearls. With Francis’ help, they are able to outsmart the raiders and save the village. Francis wins their friendship and the villagers ask to be baptized.

While in India, Francis also meets a displaced samurai in the village who is searching for a special black pearl to take back to the Emperor in his home country of Japan. When the samurai finds his pearl and returns to Japan, Francis decides to go with him to bring the Gospel to the Japanese. First, he must approach the Emperor to ask permission to preach. The pearl is stolen from the samurai, and is accidentally dropped in the Emperor’s crocodile pool. Francis not only saves the pearl, but also wins the samurai’s heart for Christ. His compassion on the pearl thieves also touches the Emperor’s heart, who allows the Good News of Jesus to be preached throughout Japan. Francis is an example of heroism and of the importance of preaching the Gospel despite impossible circumstances.

Nicholas: The Boy Who Became Santa (feast day: December 6)

nicholasNicholas is the son of a wealthy Christian man; even as a child, his generosity shines through. He trades his brand new horse in order to purchase a slave child, Adrian, about his own age, simply to set him free. When his parents die, he gives nearly all of his wealth to the church, and uses the rest to bless his neighbors. Nicholas’s love of Jesus causes the bishop to appoint him as his successor. He is well-loved by the people of his town, and many convert because of his example.

Soon, Emperor Diocletian issues a proclamation for the persecution of Christians. Nicholas’s cathedral is burned, and he is imprisoned for many years. When Constantine becomes Emperor, Nicholas is released, but he is told that Christianity has been all but wiped out. What a wonderful surprise when he walks into the newly rebuilt cathedral for Midnight Mass on Christmas and sees a full congregation, as well as his friend Adrian, now a priest, celebrating Mass!

The movie ends by explaining how Nicholas, the generous gift giver, was emulated through the centuries by other Christians, and how his memory lives on as he has been assimilated into different cultures. In American culture, the man we know as Santa Claus is actually our interpretation of St. Nicholas. “Nicholas: The Boy Who Became Santa” really does a wonderful job of tying in Santa with the good Saint, so as not to cause confusion among children. (In our house, we celebrate St. Nicholas Day and while we don’t really “do” Santa, our kids know that Santa is actually a representation of St. Nicholas, thanks to the explanation in the movie.)

Juan Diego: Messenger of Guadalupe (feast day: December 9; feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe: December 12)

juandiegoThis movie is a beautiful depiction of the love the Blessed Mother has for each one of us. Juan is a poor Indian convert who is struggling to reconcile his former Aztec beliefs with his new belief in Catholicism. He becomes discouraged as he is asked not to teach the children anymore because some of his ideas about religion are confused. Mary appears to Juan at the Hill of Tepeyac, reassuring him of her love for him, calling him “my littlest son.” After several days of appearing to him, she gives him roses to take to the Bishop so that he will believe the apparitions, and to convince him to build a church on the hill. Juan hurries to the Bishop’s house, and shows him the roses, which do not normally grow in Mexico in December. As the roses spill from his tilma, the image of Our Lady appears imprinted on the fabric – the image that we know as Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Bishop then believes Juan and has a church built there in honor of Mary.

This story not only illustrates Mary’s love for her spiritual children, but also has many humorous parts intertwined; a salesman is constantly trying to sell Juan a new tilma, but Juan insists that he prefers his old one. Of course, when Mary’s image appears, Juan must get a new one, and the salesman ends up giving one to Juan for free. The movie is truly delightful!

I really cannot recommend these movies enough; they are innocent, wholesome, educational, and entertaining. My only wish is that CCC produces more movies with new saints, and soon! I can give some suggestions as to what I’d love to see – St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, St. Catherine of Siena, St. John Bosco… 😉

(I received 3 complimentary movies from CCC to review; all opinions expressed are my own and I have not been compensated for this review.)

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Giveaway:

Rejoice this Advent season with these beautifully animated stories learning charity from the real Saint Nick, discovering the courage of Juan Diego, and experience the importance of missionary work like Saint Francis Xavier. CCC of America will send the winners the DVDs along with other sweet treats!
[CCC PRODUCTIONS ARE 30 MIN AVAILABLE IN ENGLISH, SPANISH AND FRENCH)

Enter through the Rafflecopter widget below. Giveaway ends Friday, December 5, at midnight EST. US residents only.

 

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Ink Slingers Motherhood Parenting

Career or Kids? What’s a Girl To Do?

happy-momThis amazing article is the best one that I have ever read about the dilemma women face when choosing between self-fulfillment through career or self-gift through rearing children. It is an incredibly difficult choice for women and one that impacts others beyond us–our husbands, our children, society, the different fields (medical, educational, etc). As author Elizabeth Corey writes:

“Modern women are right to think that both the pursuit of excellence and the desire to care for others are part of a fully flourishing life. Excellence in a particular field requires persistence, self-confidence, drive, courage, and initiative. These are eminently admirable qualities. On the other hand, serving or loving another requires the even more admirable qualities of attention, focus, care, patience, and self-sacrifice. The accent we place on them, and the way we put them into practice, is a matter for all of us to figure out for ourselves.

But we must not deceive ourselves. We cannot happily harmonize these two modes or pretend that they are somehow the same in kind. The disharmony is most apparent at the extremes, when we observe the two modes collapsed into one sphere of activity. We have all seen, for example, the driven mother who can talk of nothing but her own successes and those of her brilliant offspring, or the woman continually distracted by her iPhone, unable to focus on her children as she waits for the next important message to come in. Something is profoundly disordered.

At the other extreme, we probably know many women who have chosen not to pursue their own excellence. Of course there are better and worse reasons for this decision, the most admirable of which is devotion to nurturing others. Yet this also comes with costs.”

Saint Teresa Benedicta tells us that women have an innate knowledge of how to foster self-fulfillment, as well as to how to bring to fruition the gifts of those in their care. That’s why women make excellent mothers, as well as excellent teachers, doctors, managers, and so forth. Women, by virtue of being women, are mothers. No matter what she does, no matter if she has birthed children or not, a woman has a feminine nature and that, in turn, entails maternity. Woman are ordered toward the bearing and nurturing of life, whether physical or spiritual.

The dilemma, comes, of course, when a woman who has a flourishing career in which her spiritual maternity is fruitful (such as teaching) is then blessed with physical maternity. Suddenly, this woman has to choose–will she leave her students to rear her baby? Or, will she retain these spiritual children by seeking the help of other caregivers for her own child? Many women are faced with this predicament and must choose.

woman-and-careerThe Church gives no clear answers about what women should do, offering only general principles regarding the dignity of women, the high value of maternity, and the right that women should have from pressure to return to their careers when they decide to rear their young children at home. The Church also defends the right of women to equal pay and safe workplaces; it praises women who bless society through applying their feminine genius to their careers. Pope John Paul II’s Letter to Women offers a balanced and positive perspective on women’s contributions to the family and society.

Society needs saintly women everywhere! We need holy women in the medical field, where weak, small, and voiceless humans are disregarded. We need well-formed women in education, where hurting children need a teacher who can also be a mother and authority figure. We need prayerful women in government, where the feminine gifts of communication, synergy, and a good moral sense are desperately needed. Imagine how transformed our society would be if saintly and well-formed women filled key roles in shaping economic policy, city planning, international relations, and the academy.

We also can’t ignore the reality that some women absolutely must work to help meet their family’s basic needs. We ought never to malign the efforts of our sisters who have no choice in whether they will stay at home to raise children or work outside the home. But too often, society encourages women to look to a career as their primary source of self-fulfillment, when the fact is, women are designed by God to thrive on relationships, not recognition. And there is no more intimate and fulfilling relationship than between a mother and her child.

Our children need us, especially when they are tiny. Mother’s intuition tells us when our babies are sick, even before the thermometer registers. It tells us that our child is not having a selfish tantrum, but actually is just tired and hungry (or reacting to that red dye in her Popsicle). Consider, too, that we seem to need our children as much as they need us. Women are not able to compartmentalize in the same way that men are, which is why we can’t focus on work when we know we have a child sick at home without us. We miss our children and ache to be with them and we can’t turn it off.  

 

Corey acknowledges that full-time motherhood is incredibly difficult: “Although the rewards of caring for children are great, motherhood can also be tiring and frustrating, not to mention lonely. A woman must be extraordinarily self-assured to withstand the self-doubt that might cause her to wonder at times whether she has done the right thing.” Especially when children are very young, there is little time to pursue enjoyable hobbies or intellectual pursuits; most days are counted a success if everyone is fed, clean, and safe. Some days with children are extremely demanding and I know I can feel like I’m running a marathon, trying to stay ahead of my children as the day goes by. For those women who forgo a thriving career to raise children, it can help to remember that this demanding season of life won’t be forever. Children grow up quickly and the years come just as quickly in which a mother has more time to pursue her own interests.

“We are limited, embodied creatures,” Corey says. “These limits mean that we cannot do everything to its fullest extent at once, and certain things we may not be able to do at all.” She is right. As a full-time mother, I cannot excel as an astronaut, nor will I be named department chair at the UT School of Music. Such elevated positions require single-minded commitment and expertise in their respective fields.

But I can earn my Masters in Theology through a distance-learning program while the children nap. And I can live on a farm and keep sheep. And speak at Catholic women’s conferences on weekends and pursue my dream of starting my own clothing line after the kids are in bed or having time with Daddy. These ways of using my unique, God-given talents are still available to me even when raising children full-time. By prioritizing according to our vocation and the will of God, we can both lay down our lives in self-gift to our families AND be fruitful in ways that promote our own self-fulfillment. It’s that paradox laid out by Our Lord: that only in giving of ourselves can we find ourselves…only in offering ourselves totally can we be truly free.

Achieving this balance is no easy task and it is only accomplished when we constantly seek direction and grace from God. Every child deserves parents whose actions prove he is wanted and valued and every woman deserves the chance to express her own unique gifts to the world. Let us pray for one another, as we discern how best to love those placed in our care. Whether called to physical maternity or spiritual fruitfulness, a rich life of love and legacy, more beautiful we can imagine, awaits us.