It’s Halloween. Again. [insert eyeroll emoji here]

It’s Halloween. Again. [insert eyeroll emoji here]

Okay – I admit (yet again) – I’m a big “bah humbug” Halloween All Hallow’s Eve person. Some have wondered why I don’t particularly care for Halloween, so I decided today was as good as any to set the record straight. To clarify:

  • I am not anti-dressing up in costumes. I had a dress-up box as a kid and I wore the heck out of that stuff.all-hallows-eve-2015-gigi-and-papa
  • I am not anti-creativity.
  • I am not anti-fun. (Hello.)
  • I am not the world’s most uptight, protective parent. Truly. I’m not going to provide evidence to this assertion here, but trust me when I tell you this is not the case.
  • I am not anti-treats, although I don’t want my kids’ teeth to rot out of their heads nor do I want them to develop Type 2 diabetes.
  • I am not even anti-trick-or-treating. More on that later.

What I am is this:

A caring, concerned Mom of young, impressionable souls who doesn’t want her kids subjected to things that could disturb their peace and desensitize their spirits in the name of “fun.”
all-hallows-eve-2016-pumpkin-patch all-hallows-eve-2015-gigi-and-pumpkin

I am against:

  • evil
  • sin
  • fear, and
  • anything that makes light of these works of the enemy
  • anything that leads my kids into those works of the enemy

I’ve read my dear friend Rebecca’s post about protecting our kids, and I agree with her – I don’t think a zone of perfect safety exists. I mean, who wants to protect one’s kids to the point that they can’t survive in the real world? It’s our job to help our kids to develop and form their consciences and practical skills so they can, among other things, navigate life out in the big, amazing world beyond the doors to our homes.

Still, there ain’t no way you’re going to convince me that I must – or even should – at least once a year, knowingly subject my progeny to the creepy, gory, scary, gross, and sometimes truly frightening stuff that can be easily stumbled upon Halloween night. Perhaps you disagree. And that’s fine. You and I can agree to disagree, and I’ll still be your friend.

In fact, if you’re my husband, I will still be married to you. More on that later.

Oh, lighten up, Heather. It’s just good, clean fun.
all-hallows-eve-2011-elise-all-saints-massall-hallows-eve-2015-gigi-and-caramel-applesall-hallows-even-2011-ava-and-elise-pumpkins

Sure. I agree: Activities surrounding All Hallow’s Eve can wholesome, and even good. We’ve participated in some really lovely Harvest parties, Trunk or Treat activities, and All Souls’ Day Masses with the kids dressed up as their favorite saint. But some things can also scare the pee out of a kid, and give them nightmares for a good, long while. Ask me how I know. Still sound like “fun?” More importantly, do I, as a Christian Mom, need to expose my younger or more spiritually sensitive kids to things resembling the demonic in a non-controlled environment just because society tells me it’s no big deal?

All the nope.

Perhaps what it boils down to, for me at least, is this: Hell is real. Some people will go there. Satan is real. Some people serve his agenda. Demons are real. Some people are bothered by genuine demonic influence. Evil is real. All one has to do is take a quick look around to realize this is true. I’m not too keen on watering things down to the point where we are unable to identify and avoid evil.

Now – and I promise – my thoughts about Halloween are not (NOT!) a judgement on parents who allow their kids to go trick-or-treating, or to participate in haunted houses, haunted corn mazes, and the like. You are the parent of your children. You are in charge. You know your kids. You know what they can handle. You get to develop your own family culture, just like we as parents do. My preference, as a Mom, is to try to err on the side of Philippians 4:8:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

all-hallows-eve-kids-praying

Okay. So now you hopefully (even if you don’t agree) understand what I think about Halloween and why I feel the way I do. If you still disagree with me, you aren’t alone.

Lo these many moons ago, when I still felt like I wanted my children to avoid Halloween altogether, my husband asked me to consider allowing them to go trick-or-treating in select locations. I finally, reluctantly agreed – with one caveat: If they were going to go trick-or-treating, the Renshaw kids were going to dress up as Saints or Biblical characters. End of story. Renshaw kids are going to be lights in the world. Period. My husband finally, reluctantly agreed to my terms.St. Francis of Assisi

all-hallows-even-2012 all-hallows-even-2015-noah-with-others all-hallows-eve-2015-kolbe

Our alliance has lasted, more or less, for the past 13 years. Yes, there were times when I grew weary of fighting the battle (“Why can’t we wear other costumes? No one else dresses up like a saint!”) and years when we had babies and concocting an awesome saint costume was too much to deal with. We weren’t always a united front. But we soldiered on. Church Militant, and all that.

And now we come to this year.

Once the end of September hit, as sure as Bob’s your uncle, the kids began asking the questions – and complaining – about Halloween. Again. For about the 11th year in a row. And you know what? I stepped aside. I deferred to my husband’s judgment as spiritual Head of our home. He discerned it was okay for our children to dress in non-saint / non-Biblical character costumes for Halloween, so long as they weren’t dressing up as something scary/gory/evil, etc. And I finally, reluctantly agreed.

This year, we have an extraordinarily excited Captain America, Rapunzel, Iron Man, Robin Hood, and Piper McLean of Percy Jackson fame.

all-hallows-eve-2016-group

And, while their costumes aren’t exactly my preference, I’ll be saying a covering prayer over each of them, putting blessed salt in their pockets and holy water on their foreheads as I usually do, and walking around the neighborhood with them, rosary in hand. I even bought a little something of my own to wear for the occasion, because, while I may have lost this battle, I sure as heck ain’t ever gonna concede the war.

all-hallows-eve-2016-heather-hoodieall-hallows-eve-2016-featured-imageBe safe out there, y’all. God bless,
heather

 

 

 

31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Consolation (Day 22)

31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Consolation (Day 22)

It’s fascinating to me how many “bad” days I’ve had since October 1st. Truly. I mean, right out of the gate things were wicked hard, and I wondered, “What have I gotten myself into??!” Or, to flagrantly (and poorly) steal from St. Catherine of Siena, I’ve definitely wondered, “Lord, if this is the sort of joy you bring to your friends, no wonder you have so many enemies!”

I hadn’t planned on letting this cat out of the bag until October 31 or even November 1 (assuming my brain still works at that point), but I must admit: the School of Joy has contained many more hard knocks than I anticipated. 

I mean, choose to write about joy, and surely God will load you up with all sorts of happy experiences and fun anecdotes to share with your blog readers, right? Right?!

Of course, it hasn’t all been bad 

And yet … it has been hard.

Praise the Lord for Pope Saint John Paul II, man, because I think he might have personally asked Almighty God to give me a break on his Feast Day today. And so I present to you, The Top Five Consolations for Thursday:

Consolation #1: NO MORNING CHAOS

I started the day with a quick trip to the lab (only a busy + exhausted Mom would consider a blood draw as a break, amIright?), thus completely bypassing the crushingly exhausting morning routine. I got home just in time to tag my husband, swap cars, and head in early (early! What a concept!) to school drop-off.

Consolation #2: HELPFUL HUSBAND

As I’m driving, I realize it’s Pope Saint JP2’s Feast, and think: “Wow! Since we’re early today, I can go to daily Mass in honor of JP2 on his feast day. How marvelous!” We arrive at school, and I don’t even have to search for shoes and coats for my little people because my husband already did that before they got in the van. He is so great.  We exit the vehicle and head in to Mass.

Consolation #3: TO MASS OR NOT TO MASS

Except … there was no Mass. Okay, so this is kind of a bittersweet joy, because there was no Mass. Honestly, I was hoping for Mass. However, because of schedules, there weren’t any priests available, so we had a Communion service instead. The joy (please don’t hate me for saying this) is that the Communion service took about 12 minutes. Twelve. My 4- and 2-year-olds didn’t even have a chance to think about doing (m)anything(s) naughty because it was over in a flash. And, yet, in that 12 minutes, we still said prayers, heard the Word of God, and received Jesus in the Eucharist … what a wonderful way to begin the day!

Consolation #4: CHILD’S PLAY

I played board games with my preschooler and toddler and I didn’t lose my ever-loving mind. There may be some of you with much more patient temperaments than mine. I have gotten so, so, sooooo much better over the years, but practicing patience is really energy-sapping for me. Because of this, I generally avoid playing games with my kids. Legos and blocks and imaginative play I can handle, but usually I  keep the board games on the tippy-top shelf  in the boys’ room (it’s almost as if they don’t exist!) so as to avoid the crying, ripping, etc. that happens when attempting to play a game in a civilized manner. For some reason, however, I decided to do forego the non-essential trip to Costco and head to Candyland with the littles instead.

Blame the loss of blood, blame the surge of energy gained by skipping morning routine or by receiving the Eucharist, but it was pretty cool. Okay, sure, the 2-year-old couldn’t wait his turn, and the 4-year-old had a crying meltdown because she wanted to wiiiinnnn, but the real joy was that I did it and was freakishly calm, even for the non-enjoyable parts. I mean, I’ve gotten much better at faking calm on the outside, saying, “Your brother’s game piece does not belong in your mouth!” while smiling through clenched teeth, for example, has become easier. But I didn’t even have to fake itI was calm on the outside AND on the inside. And that, my friends, is nothing short of a minor miracle. Truly.

Consolation #5: BABY LOVE

A friend picked me up to attend a new women’s study on – wait for it – one of JP2’s writings. And even though I didn’t get to participate in the whole meeting, it was only because I got to hold my friend’s squishy baby girl for a chunk of time. It was so great! Normally, I am ecstatic when I have a minute to be child-free, but it was really and delight and a joy to have tiny baby hands and suckling noises and coos and smiles staring me in the face. I don’t think I stopped smiling the whole time I was holding her.

So, there you have it, friends – an oasis of consolation in an otherwise terribly, horribly, Jesus-take-the-wheel, living one Glory Be at a time sort of month. And I do believe I have a Saint to thank for it.

Thank you, Pope Saint John Paul II! We love you.

Pope Saint JP2 Funnin

31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Survival (Day 19)

31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Survival (Day 19)

Sometimes, I think, it’s okay to not have anything truly meaningful to say.

Sometimes it’s okay to be done with a day that went something like this:

Toilet

The toilet overflowed not once, but twice. TWICE.

changing

The upside to the toilet overflowing is I somehow (maybe it was the shrieking??) convinced the girls to finally change their first #2 diaper EVER because I couldn’t mop up the toilet water and change a diaper at the same time (but I could capture this quick shot – bwahaha). Lucky for you, this blog post is not equipped with the dulcet sounds of, “Oh, my gosh! It’s so gross! It smellllls sooooo baaaad!”

spill

Spills. Always with the spills.

Mr. K

By the time we got home from school drop-off, it was time for some couch time with my favorite baby.

G

Somebody had a rough day. I feel ya, sister.(notice tired + cranky baby brother photobomb).

A lot of other things happened, too. Tantrums. Arguing, Inappropriate drawings. Homework squabbles. Volleyball practice. Phone calls to three doctors, trying to get in. Forgetting things. Returning emails. Finding shoes. Doling out Band-Aids. A left knee that buckled underneath me when I tried to get out of the minivan (see!! Death By Minivan, folks. I’m telling you. It’s real!). Trying to schedule and arrange a bunch of ministerial stuff and wondering what the hell I was doing it for.

Book

Interestingly, this book, about Blessed Mother Teresa’s dark night of the soul, arrived today. And the St. Jude Novena started today. And a friend wrote about her battle with food today. And a support group started sugar rehab today. Funny.

Here’s a picture of the calvary that came to save me today:

photo not available

Oh, wait. There was none.

It was a loooooong day.

sunset

All day, I was just longing for an end. And here it is. Oh, joy. 

Sometimes it’s okay to have a non-awesome day. It doesn’t mean you have a non-awesome life.

I hope your day was better than mine, and I hope that tomorrow, by God’s grace, will be better than today for all of us.

Until then, may God bless y’all.

heather

31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Fall (Day 14)

31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Fall (Day 14)

Hi, there!

In case you are just dying to know what my day looked like, here it is in a nutshell: morning routine huge juice spill whine drive drive kids drive school Mass whine drive drive pumpkin patch whine drive drive kids drive home lunch huge spill again clean like a freaking maniac in-laws arrive kids all talking at once dinnertime kids whine bedtime routine now. it was a bit much of a day.

BUT! I had a really edifying time at the pumpkin patch with my two youngest. I was worried that I wouldn’t enjoy it, because of all the other things I had on my plate and also because, usually, when I have done things with the two youngest in the past, I end up having to chase after the baby and the poor preschooler has to be pulled away from her fun activities while I tend to the little dude. Today, however, was gloriously beautiful, and everyone had a good time! That is, of course, until the 2-year-old biffed it and landed face-first in the dirt and the 4-year-old timed out because she needed a snack and I had nothing but old fast food napkins to offer her. But otherwise, it was a pretty successful outing!

One of the things I’m loving about having two littles again is that, the first time I had two littles, I was so terribly overwhelmed by having two littles that I rarely had a moment to breathe and enjoy having two littles. This time around, I can still get a bit anxious about certain safety-related things (Sit down on your bottom while the tractor is moving! Don’t put your hand up next to the goat’s mouth! Don’t climb on the slide!), I am actually able to take in some of what they’re seeing and just … breathe in life. It’s pretty awesome.

So! Please enjoy pictures from our glorious morning at the farm. I’m warning you – there are a lot. 🙂 Until tomorrow, God bless y’all!

heather

Are we having fun yet

baby cows

big ole slide

scenery frrom hay ride

Both kids with pump

Gianna table o pumpkins

gigi with pump

gigi with pumpkin

Tractor

going down with a friend

I think we have a winner gigi

K and G black and white

PP scenery

Kids on the hayride

tree farm part

kolbe pumpkin

Kolbe with chickens

let's pick one

Mama and Kolbe with tongue

And a not-so-little child shall lead them

And a not-so-little child shall lead them

While driving in the car the other day (Lord knows I spend a lot of time in the car these days), I decided to solicit some advice about how to tackle all of the things I’ve currently got on my plate.

Luckily for me, I had a middle schooler in the passenger seat of my car, so, naturally, I asked her.

“Honey,” I began, “what do you think about all the things Mama has going on these days? How do you think I can get them all done?”

She barely thought for a moment before she replied: “Well, it seems like you are doing a lot of things all at the same time,” I vigorously nodded my head in assent as I navigated the sweeping country roads back to our house. “In school,” she said, “I try to just do one thing at a time until I’m done. And then I move on to the next thing.”

The simplicity of her response both startled and resonated with me. “Soooo,” I queried, slightly incredulously, “what if something changes, and the teacher wants you to do something else before you’ve finished with the first thing?” She admitted that happened from time to time. “Well, then I have to adjust, and I do what the teacher asks until that’s done, and then I go back to the other thing I was working on and do that it until it’s done.” After a quick pause, she added, “I really hate homework, and I’d rather just get it done in class so I have time for fun things when I get home.”

Wow. My kid is growing up. And she is pretty smart. And I should take an organizational page from her every once in a while. Just don’t tell her I said so. She is on the cusp of the teenage years, after all. I really wouldn’t want all her “right-ness” and “smartness” to go to her head. 😉

The moral of the story is: Do what you’re doing until you’re done. The end.