As a parent, I want to figure out how to pay enough attention to each child so that he knows he is precious and valued, but not so much that he ends up an entitled brat.
Fortunately, we have enough kids that I think it would be really, really hard for us to err on the latter side. So we need to focus on NOT erring on the former side. I make a point of bringing one or two kids along on errands, and letting them help with chores even though they make it take longer, and I have an unofficial and top-secret policy of saying "yes" to at least one thing per day that my little kids ask me to do with them.
But the thing that we've had the most enthusiasm for, and the most long-term success with, is: The Three Special Days.
|you can find them here but they're pricey
I got mine on ebay for less
Each member of our family gets three special days per year:
On birthdays we sing "Happy Birthday" obviously, but on name days and baptism days, we sing "For He's (She's) a Jolly Good Fellow."
The key to keeping this going for many, many years has been that it fits into our everyday routine. I was going to make dinner anyway, it's just that on particular days a particular kid gets to pick what we have. Whenever possible I let them choose far enough in advance that I can get to the store so they really can have what they'd like, but when that's not possible, they just get to choose from what we have in the house.
The most memorable dinners have been when someone chooses something kind of off the wall for dinner, like pancakes, or something I've never cooked before, like Philly cheesesteak sandwiches.
It's an opportunity to celebrate our faith as well. On our name days, we talk about our particular saints, read a book about them, etc. All of our kids actually have multiple saints referenced in their names, but they just get ONE name day. Jack (who is actually John Paul) would like to get to have ALL the St. Johns, all the St. Pauls, AND Blessed John Paul II, but he just gets the last one because that's who he was actually named for. My first name isn't a saint's name (yet ;) so I use my middle name for my name day, if you or your child don't have a saint's name at all (yet ;) you can use your confirmation name or choose a patron saint.
On baptism days we all renew our baptismal promises while the special kid gets to hold his lit baptism candle (or *a* lit baptism candle if maybe you didn't fill in the side of the box and don't know which candle goes to which kid). Really, any candle will do.
Yesterday was Jack's baptism day, so we had homemade pizza:
He's the one who's always coming up with crazy requests (like the Philly cheesesteak sandwiches). He had a giant elephant ear at an amusement park over the summer, so that's what he wanted. I had no idea how to make them, so I cheated a little and used pre-made puff pasty dough as suggested here. But I fried them instead of baking them because - duh, that's totally yummier. They were very small and some were pretty wonky looking, but they tasted delicious.
I love how enthusiastically the kids reject Satan (and all his works and all his empty promises) before Daddy zings us all in the face with Holy Water:
It's a lot of days to keep track of, so I'm grateful for the little reminders that pop up on my calendar. I'd never manage it otherwise.
So, that's how we do it. For us, it's been a really great way for individual kids in a big family to get to feel special and singled out, but not TOO special and singled out.
If you'd like to keep track of ALL the feasts of the Catholic liturgical year, I've created a wall calendar to help you do it!
It features the all the feasts and fasts of the Universal Calendar and then some, illustrated with images featuring the traditional Catholic monthly devotions. It's an easy visual way to bring liturgical living into your home. You can keep track of the feasts and fasts and seasons of the Catholic year, and be reminded to focus your prayer on a different aspect of our faith each month.
As the Church year begins with December, so does this calendar. You get December 2023 through December 2024, thirteen months. Available for purchase here. Thanks!
And . . . it's Sunday again. here's what I wore to go to the early morning Mass with just Frankie because Betty has a stomach thing going on and she is not sick trained. Of all the kids she wins "Least Likely to Make it to the Bathroom." I honestly don't know what it is. Anyway, so I'm staying home with her while the troops go to our normal Mass where the boys serve.
Happy (?) Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows everyone.
Our family tradition to remember the Seven Sorrows of Mary is to give the kids each seven sour candies (super-sour licorice cut into little pieces works well, lemon drops are good, but take a long time to finish), a little lump of play dough or clay to shape into a heart, and seven toothpicks (the little sword or arrow-shaped ones are the best).
For each of the seven sorrows, we read aloud the applicable Bible verse (found here) while the kids eat the sour candy and TRY NOT TO MAKE A FACE. If they need something to do with their hands in order to not fidget, they get a coloring page. But bigger kids can just meditate. Then, at the end of the verse, they stick the sword/arrow/toothpick into Mary's heart.
Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us . . .
Thanks to the good ladies at Fine Linen and Purple for hosting another What I Wore Sunday. Head on over to check out what everyone else wore to Mass! And keep it sorrowful out there today people.