Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Five Reasons to Raise Children Who Are Like the Five Little Peppers

When I went to a book sale a few months back, I found a sizable collection of beautiful hardcover classics for a whopping total of $10. Just holding books like that, and having them on my shelves, makes me want to dive right in! I've been trying to read the classics lately (I'm on my final Jane Austen novel right now!!!!). Part of my plan is to have one adult work of classic literature, and one children's work of classic literature going at the same time. So, right now, I'm in the middle of Jane Austen's Persuasion and...Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney. If you haven't read it before, the basic premise of the book is that the Pepper Family - made up of the five Pepper children - are being raised by their mother in a little brown house. Times are hard for the Pepper children, but that doesn't stop them from being filled with the kind of joy that can't help but bubble up and spread to others. It's for that reason that I think that Mrs. Pepper has some real wisdom to share with us...
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1. Even when they have very little, the children know how to find something to be grateful for.
Polly Pepper and her siblings - Ben, Joel, Davie, and the beloved Phronsie - have very little by anyone's standards. But, what they do have, they try to be grateful for. That doesn't mean that they don't complain - but they encourage each other to have a grateful attitude. Throughout the book, we see the various material struggles of the family, and the ways that friends step in to help them - and it is so beautiful to see how grateful the dear Peppers are for what their friends do for them.
2. They have a strong sibling bond.
Their sibling bond is actually pretty amazing. Polly goes to visit a friend in another town at one point, and one of her younger siblings misses her so much that the child is willing to leave her own mother, just to be with Polly. All the children treat Phronsie (the youngest girl) with absolute tenderness, and they way they treat her reminds me to be more patient with my own 4-year old.  When something good happens for one of them, the others aren't jealous, but rather genuinely happy for the good fortune of that sibling. And when one of the siblings is sick or discouraged, the others rush in with care and concern. They have moments of disagreement, just like any siblings, but their affection and concern for each other spills off the pages.
3. They are generous and selfless.
There are so many instances where the Peppers take what little they have, and give it to someone else in order to bring joy. To thank a friend, they bake cakes with some of the few prized raisins in the house - just to make their friend happy. The eldest two children devote months to planning a Christmas surprise for their younger siblings, and they're so happy to be planning something for the little ones, that they genuinely don't mind the thought of getting nothing themselves. They just receive so much joy from giving to others.
4. They have contagious joy.
One of my favorite passages in the book was when a new friend's grumpy father first meets the adorable Phronsie. She is so bubbling over with joy, that it wears away at his grumpy exterior almost instantaneously. Their friend spends as much time as he can at their "little brown house" because just being around them fills him with so much joy. They don't sit around, moping about they don't have. They are just happy to have each other, and the love of family and friends. They know the secret to true joy is not in material possessions, but in the sharing of love.
5. They have a deep love and respect for their mother.
We don't really know many details about when their father passed away, so it isn't possible to say what their relationship with him was like. We are left to observe their relationship with their hard-working, tireless mother. All five little ones love her so deeply, and want her happiness more than anything. They are grateful for what she does for them, and happy just to have her around. At every opportunity, they do what they can to help her, and to show her that they are thinking about her. They want so badly to make her life easier, but they don't help her out of guilt. Rather, they just want to make sure that their poor mother gets a break sometimes! The honor they show her, and the affection they have for her, is simply beautiful
I don't have any Peppers...but I have two little cuties who are hopefully on their way to being those sort of children. How about a peek at what me and Maria wore this Sunday?
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Therese finally caught the plague that's been going around, so Andrew and I tag teamed Mass, and this little girl tagged along to two Masses on Sunday. Can't you see her halo?
(Linking up to the ladies of Fine Linen and Purple.)

Weekend Reading - Vol. 11

Linking up with the esteemed Kelly, of This Ain't the Lyceum for 7 Quick Takes. Also, remember to update your blog feeds to our new address, if you haven't already!! http://mydomesticmonastery.com
Also...it's not to late to vote for My Domestic Monastery in this year's Sheenazing Awards!!
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Friday! I never thought it'd get here!!! Kick back, take a few minutes to relax, and join me for some early Weekend Reading.
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Before I share anything else...a question for you all. Would anyone be interested in a vlog series? I'd love to share with you some unique tips for thriving - not just surviving! -on a graduate student budget (since that's been our reality since we got married!!), and a vlog seems like a fun way to do it. Any interest in some money saving tips?
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As I shared with you on both Instagram and the blog, I've been making a braided rag rug to freshen up the girls' room. I've crocheted a couple of t-shirt rugs before, but this is my first braided rug. I'm not really strictly following any tutorial, but I have found this one to be helpful. I found lots of inspiration over on Pinterest...are you following us there, yet?
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4 year olds are like their own species. They can be both delightful and utterly challenging, and I was happy (as always) to glean some wisdom from Auntie Leila on the matter.
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I've never gotten super excited about podcasts...until Fountains of Carrots came along! Episode 8 (the latest) was a book discussion, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Do you have any podcasts to suggest?
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I know that I link to Jenny practically every week, but I just loved her thoughts on debt and openness to life. Now, as a family without a ton of money, I can attest to the fact that you can indeed raise children with less money than you'd think. Nonetheless, Jenny is so right - there is a freedom in knowing that you have the resources to welcome more little souls into your family. Some excellent food for thought.
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Heather posted again this week!!! I've missed her drawings. On a more serious note, she had a lovely post about praying for Paul. May he rest in peace, and please keep his poor family in your prayers.
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The March for Life was yesterday, and I hope that you got to watch some live coverage (or better yet, got to attend!!!). This is an older video, but I think it is so powerful. Sometimes, I wonder what history will think about this period in history. Will those who stood for life be vindicated? Ultimately, it doesn't matter, so long as our children are finally safe. As someone who has suffered from mild to moderate hyperemesis gravidarum, it always breaks my heart when I hear about how many women with HG are pressured to have an abortion (rather than medical professionals and researchers putting the time and money into finding a real cure for this serious condition). Women and their children, deserve so much better. They deserve real solutions to the difficulties that come with pregnancy. Keep praying for respect for life!!

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Linking up with Auntie Leila  this morning! Don't forget to update your feeds to our new site: http://www.mydomesticmonastery.com 
My heart and prayers are with all of those Marching for Life today. I'm especially thinking of our beloved seminarians who trekked out for the March. And we're missing them, of course!
It's something so small, but here's just a glimpse at the beauty of life with little ones. Even on the hard days, it is so beautiful. :-)
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Right before Therese was born, we went over to Menards and picked out this tan colored rug. It's served us well, but now it's old, worn-out, and kind of dingy looking. Finally, I got tired of looking at it, and started scouring the internet for affordable rugs. But, when your budget is teeny-tiny, it's hard to find what you're looking for. So, I decided to take some fabric I already had and make a braided rug. Isn't it so much prettier than the old rug?! This is just a picture of the coils laying out, and the braiding isn't even finished in this picture...but it is now! I have it all braided and pinned to a backing, and I hope to sew it to the backing today (Maria's mood permitting). It's so satisfying to find a frugal solution! What's that saying? "Necessity is the mother of invention."
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Poor little Maria succumbed to the flu/cold that I had, and was sick and feverish all of last weekend. But the weather was GORGEOUS, so Therese and I snuck out to the park together. I sometimes forget, in all the busyness of life, what an absolute treasure she is. I love spending time with this creative, funny, beautiful little girl, and I get super excited when I think about what she's going to be like when she's grown up!
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I tried my hardest to keep these two apart when Maria was sick, but it was near impossible. "We loves each other!"
I've had a hard week, with a series of (fairly minor) disappointments, and I've been feeling really down. I didn't even know if any of my friends could really "get" what I'd been going through, you know? Then, my sister called last night, and we talked for an hour, and I felt a million times better afterwards. She really is my best friend! I'm glad to see the friendship that these two are developing. :-)
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In the early days of this blog, Therese was right around Maria's age and I was intent on doing "Tot School" with her. (For background on what "tot school" is, check out Carisa's beautiful blog.) I enjoyed it, she enjoyed it, but it was so forced at times. Recently, I started doing some "tot school" with Maria...and it's been completely organic. (And no, I don't mean that we're using all natural materials or anything. See our take on plastic toys.) She dropped her morning nap, was "hovering" around while Therese and I were doing preschool, and was ready for simple little activities - coloring, playing with playdough, etc. Am I preparing fancy activities and spaces for her like I did for Therese? No. Is she getting some one-on-one interactive time with Mommy. Heck, yes!
If you haven't already, please pop over and vote for My Domestic Monastery in the annual Sheenazing Awards. Thanks for hosting them for another year, Bonnie!
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Thanks and Please Vote!!!I

You dear, dear readers. THANK YOU for nominating me for a Sheenazing Award!
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If you haven't already, please vote now!
I've seen some other bloggers giving their favorite picks for various categories, but I'm going to take a different route. I know how it feels to be a lesser known or unacknowledged blogger (because, um, I'm still in that phase myself!!!) so I'm going to give a great big shout out to some of my personal favorites from the honorable mentions. And, um, some of them are much bigger named bloggers than me and I honestly don't know why they aren't front runners in their own category!
Shower of Roses has long been one of my favorite bloggers. She's been around forever, and her archives are a wealth of information and inspiration. I discovered her when I was a newlywed, working as a catechist (and possibly not even pregnant with Therese yet). Her family is big and beautiful, she homeschools, she bakes, she celebrates feastdays like none other, and she lives in beautiful Oregon. She's also one of the masterminds behind Catholic Cuisine.
The Busy Budgeting Mama is incredible and is a bigger named blogger than I ever could hope to be! She has amazing tutorials (especially for felt food) and her little ones are simply adorable. She's also the founder of Happy Mommy Box, and wrote a moving picture book for children who have a grieving parent.angel, inspired by the loss of her best friend to domestic violence. (And, at the risk of sounding like a total creeper, I recently found out that she is also the cousin of one of my best friends from college...and I totally had a fan girl moment - from a distance! - when I saw her at my friend's wedding.)
Wildflowers and Marbles is a virtual feast for the eyes. Whenever I get a peek at the pictures of Jennifer's home, I wish I could just pull up a chair and spend an afternoon there. She's also a bit of a Charlotte Mason guru, if you're interested in that sort of thing.
And drumroll, please....this blog is not on the list, but it should be! (I'm kicking myself for missing the nomination deadline!) I've linked to it many times, but Go Forth and Mother really is one of my favorite new blogs on the block. I love that she has a section for cocktail recipes because how fun/Catholic is that?! Before Amy started this latest blog (she's already the brains and beauty behind the successful quilting blog 13 Spools), I was looking at her blogger profile and saw that she had signed up for the domain "Go Forth and Mother" and thought, "That sounds pretty awesome. I wonder if she's going to do anything with that domain name?" I'm happy she has! Amy's the kind of girl that she just want to sit and chat with for hours (speaking from experience, since I actually have sat and chatted with her for hours), and her personality just shines through her blog. So, go...check it out! (Side note: she's also Maria's godmom, and Maria gives her blog two thumbs up.)
My Child, I Love You was a big time winner of the Sheenazing Awards last year, if I remember correctly. Lindsay's family is absolutely beautiful, and her intense love for her children shines through every post. They recently had a difficult diagnosis for their youngest in-utero daughter, and Lindsay's reflection on all of it was beautiful. Her mother was also recently diagnosed with cancer, and their family could use a lot of prayers right now. Even in the face of all of that, though, Lindsay's family's love and beauty just shines through as an incredible witness of our faith.
Harvesting Home is such a beautiful blog - both to look at and to read. I know Caitlyn in real life (I was in the same theology/philosophy department as her husband in college and we used to have ridiculous debates during study groups) and I promise she's as lovely in person as she is on her blog! But seriously, her blog is just a feast of lovely things and lots of inspiration and adorable babies, and you simply must hop on over there!
So go, explore, and keep these lovely ladies in mind for the Sheenazing Awards next year (and add them to your blog feed this year).

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Weekend Reading - Top Posts of 2014

Let's have one more year end wrap up post, shall we? I find it interesting to see what posts people read the most of last year. So, without further delay - the top 7 posts of 2014. (Linking up with Kelly.)


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(Before Five in a Row is the relaxed "curriculum" we use for 3 year old preschool in our house. For our 4 year old curriculum, we use 26 Letters to Heaven. If you want to "homeschool" preschool without tons of prep work and stress, I highly recommend both!) 


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(I really need to update this, as our current toddler aged child is of the "strewing variety," which means our play area/classroom is MUCH simpler!)


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Enjoy!

(Also note: any photos used that are not my own are given due credit in their respective posts!)







Thursday, January 8, 2015

2014. Done.

First we were traveling, now I've come down with the plague...but enough excuses! I've been writing so many posts in my head. Let's wade in with a recap of 2014. Joining Dwija, of course!

January

The littlest members of the family made the greatest strides in January. Maria tried solid food for the first time...


And Therese started (homeschool) preschool!!


(Sorry, Dwija...that was two.)

February

Star Wars occupied our minds, hearts, and home last winter...



March

...was evidently warm enough to hike in short sleeves. (I love you, Missouri.)


April

The glorious Triduum was in April, and we got all dolled up (of course). We also survived the Easter Vigil with two children!! (And, um, six adults to keep them happy.)


May

We traveled and Therese got her first (and hopefully last) head injury/ambulance ride/ER visit/stitches. (Hence, the neon pink bandaid.) But...that was our only hospital trip of the year as a family. Way down from 2013, with an HG pregnancy, childbirth, and kidney stones. Hooray for us!!!


June

...was the month of hilarious facial expressions and of the Raising Your Kids [the Catholic Way] series.


July

Little Maria/Plumpy/Ria/Goobermeister-meisterburger turned one!!!!


August

We celebrated 5 years with some throwback pictures. I'm still so in love with this man!


September

Went to the orchard to get some apples. Came home with a couple of [cute] nuts.


October

My beautiful firstborn turned four.


November

We drove 16.5 hours in one day, because we like doing things the hard way. ;-)



December

Advent. Christmas (including Midnight Mass in the church we were married in!). And a wonderful time visiting BOTH sides of our family. :-)


Cheers, 2014!

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