After a week away, I need at least one day, but usually two, to catch up on all the laundry, unpack and re-enter into regular life. I *think* I’m done with laundry (not sure if the big kids have anything clean to wear) and after a soak in our luxurious new pool with the boys, it’s time to crank out some Takes.
As I mentioned last week, I read Mary Lenaburg’s book ‘Be Brave in the Scared’ on the drive out to Wisconsin. It was a quick and easy read, and despite the sometimes heavy content, I’d consider it a good summer read. For me, Mary’s story hits close to home. I will admit there were periods of time I couldn’t read her blog because it was just too hard. Our lives are quite different, but I relate to many of her challenges and struggles in ways most people can’t. Reading more of her family’s story reminded me that, sure, there’s probably a “right” way to go through a tragedy, however most of us fall way short of joyfully accepting our crosses when they’re handed to us. We suffer and struggle and push against God with all our might and yet, it is in yielding and allowing ourselves to be broken that we are made all the stronger. And it’s not a lesson learned once; we must keep being reminded: acceptance just once isn’t how this life lesson works. It is the continual acceptance, the falling down and getting back up, that educates us.
I don’t think you need to be a special needs parent to learn from Mary. I think if nothing else, you will enjoy Mary’s storytelling. But I think the larger messages will resonate with you as well; when you receive bad news, when the bad news seems to be piling up, when your marriage is struggling and you don’t know what to do, when you’re worrying about doing enough for your children, when you have a hard time accepting yourself for who you are – Mary’s story will speak to you especially in these moments. And you will feel like you’re getting practical advice from a trusted friend over coffee, rather than feeling like a failure because you can’t live up to the exceedingly high standards of the saints and their hagiographies.
When I’m not reading my friend’s books, I’m reviewing their courses! Jennifer Elia ( of Sound Foundations Homeschool Resource Center) is a long time blog reader and fellow Jersey girl who I’ve had the privilege of meeting IRL a few times. When she mentioned a new art course she was working on, I jumped at the chance to check it out. I’m a huge fan of ‘Drawing with Children‘, but I also love online classes that take some of the teaching burden off me. While this is NOT an official ‘Drawing with Children’ class, the technique is similar and I like the gradual building of skills. The course is offered through Teachable and each lesson is very short making it easy to incorporate art into your child’s daily work. The lessons also allow children to work independently (bonus points!) Although Jennifer and Sally Stansfield (who you’ll see in the videos) say that children of all ages can work on the assignments together, my older children with art experience were not interested in the lessons. I think if you’re looking to introduce art to your children, but are worried about following through (because I know how easily art falls off the radar!) Beyond the Stick Figure would probably be a great addition to your fall line up.
I have a son named FULTON, so it’s safe to say my husband and I have a special devotion to Arbp. Fulton Sheen. We’ve followed his cause for years now, and I’m blessed to be able to call Bonnie Engstrom and her family friends. The release of Sheen’s remains by the Archdiocese of NY to the Diocese of Peoria was big news in our house. I was offline for much of our trip, but when a friend messaged me the news article announcing the Pope’s acceptance of the Engstrom’s miracle, I needed to dig out my laptop and celebrate (burning some bacon in the process). God willing, we will ALL be at the beatification Mass- fingers crossed we can get tickets! Tony, Fulton and I were some of the lucky few that made it into the crypt at St. Patrick’s. I am so excited at the possibility of making the pilgrimage to Peoria to view him in the cathedral in a location accessible to all! For information on the cause, developments and such, check out these important links.
On Wednesday night, one of Teddy’s classmates (M.W.) was killed as he crossed the street near his family’s restaurant with his grandmother and brother. His brother was not injured, but at last report, his grandmother was in critical condition. Teddy has always been tight lipped about his school friends, and is not one to share his feelings. He did not want to discuss the matter after I told him about it. I think his true thoughts will come out later, in the quiet moments before bed, or weeks down the road when we least expect it. We are offering multiple rosaries for the family because what else can you do in the face of such a tragedy?
I reflected that while this boy and Teddy are similar ages, when each was born there were different reactions. Teddy was quickly diagnosed with SMA, and the joy of his birth was suddenly tinged with grief. We anticipated losing him too soon from the very beginning. M.W. was born a healthy/typical child, and his family could celebrate and anticipate a lifetime of milestones and achievements. And yet here we are on July 12, 2019 and it’s M.W. that is gone far too soon.
We don’t get to choose the life we want for our child. Just because you get the healthy baby doesn’t assure you, or your child, a perfect life. Just because you get the child with a degenerative disease, doesn’t mean your lives will be miserable (and a treatment/cure won’t be discovered in their lifetime). I have feared the loss of a child more than many parents, and I feel the loss of this boy keenly because I know it could be any of my children. Through Fulton and Teddy, I learned not only to worry about losing them, but the hard truth that I am not given guarantees for any of my children. We are taught to meditate on our own deaths occasionally (momento mori and all) but hug your children tight, guard their souls carefully, and thank God for every inch of them even when they’re driving you crazy, because nothing– their youth, health, personality, etc. is a guarantee against tragedy. So anyway, sorry for the morbid rant, but please remember M.W.’s family in your prayers.
Until next Tuesday, we’ll be busy at the local Our Lady of Mt. Carmel festival. The older kids are all volunteering on various nights with their youth group, and there’s a plethora of deep fried foods Fulton and Teddy are anxious to try. Tony and I are hoping to sneak out a a few nights post-bedtime and indulge in the Italian food, drink, and live music. I hope you have some fun summer plans on tap as well.
Link up your posts below and be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!