Tag Archives: Catholic

My 2012 Goals

It’s said that if you put your goals into writing, you actually manage to accomplish them. I am taking a page of blog-speration from Anne @ Modern Mrs. Darcy (and if you aren’t reading her blog, you should be!) and here are my 2012 goals:

Financial

Spend less, bring in more– I am still working my Thirty-One business and I am hoping to expand more. I have a pretty good sized display kit, so I am really going to try to stop the excess shopping. I have kicked my previous retail demons, and since we are living in such a great climate, I can play outside with my kids rather than head to the den of temptation (aka the Mall.)

Get that emergency fund established. Enough Said.

Writing

Determine and Perfect my Blog Niche– Right now I write about a whole gamut of ideas and I have been thinking of trying to streamline it a bit more, to focus.

Begin actually writing my YA novel– instead of just planning and re-planning and re-planning

Write an ebook– I talked to a friend a few years back about writing a book and this might be the right platform for it!

Become Self-Hosted– It might run me about $10/ month for blog hosting, but it might earn me a bit more cred.

Health and Wellness

Kick Sugar– for good this time

Start Jogging again– There is this pin on Pinterest that really reflects my feeling towards running. But a second hand double jogging stroller is less expensive that a gym membership, and the loop around the Rose Bowl Stadium is about 3 miles (just about 5K.) Spend less.

Work on my flexibility– there is a Bikram Yoga place near us, but I might just get a few Yoga DVDs instead. Again, spend less.

Personal Mental Wellness

Get my budding friendships established– Make some “momma-only” dates with the ladies that I have met here

Meet other Spiritually focused At-Home Moms at our Church– there is not a mother’s type ministry at our Parish, so I think the Holy Spirit has been kind of pushing me to start something… Maybe Mass Readings at the Park or something.

Get out once a month for some alone time– Just a date with me and a coffee cup

Re-establish Friday Night Date Night– for a bit, DH and I were having Friday Night Dates at home and they need to come back. Maybe even take some Tango lessons…

Reading

Actually finish reading Anna Karenina and The Lord of the Rings.

Work Crossword puzzles again.

Craft

I have decided to let my Etsy Shop go to the wayside. I started listing my baby hats, longies/soakers and fascinators at the peak of their popularity and I don’t like the extra pressure of having the shop stocked.

I will continue to work of my lace knitting techniques. There are some BEAUTIFUL patterns for lace shawls out there and I’d love to try them out. Plus I have some new blocking wires that I can’t wait to use.

 

Let’s see how far I can get on that list this year! What are your goals for 2012?

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Filed under books, challenge, family, finance, ladies, meatless, monday, New Year Goals

Things that I know

I may never have over 1000 twitter followers

I may never have over 1000 “likes” on my FaceBook page

I may never be invited to a big blogging conference

I may never be a popular “mommy blogger”

But I do know…

that for my husband, I am his Complement

that for two little girls, I am their first example of God’s love for mankind

that for my friends, I am as Christ to them and they are as Christ to me

that there is nothing wrong with having faith, in a world full of pain

that as a broken person, I am more than happy to lean on the crutch of Christ

And to steal from Aaron Neville and Linda Ronstadt, “…that may be all I need to know.”

(Image from Danyso.blogspot.com)

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What I’ve been reading Wednesday: December Blogs

OK I’ll admit it… much of my blogging time has turned into Pinterest time. It’s hard to find time to sit at the computer with the little darlings about and, as a dear friend of mine knows as we have been commiserating together, 4 year olds can be a beast on their own.

But with that said, I want to share some great blogs that I have been reading this past month:

 

Two Catholic Girls– two college girls writing about Catholicism. Makes me happy for the future.

Bad Catholic– I’ve been reading this one for a while. College guy writing about Catholicism. Again, makes me happy for the future.

The Nerdy Wife– She’s cute. She’s nerdy and she’s preggo!

Catholic NewlyWed– New mama and her DD has the SAME name as my DD2!!

 

There are more, so many more, but I want to same some for next month!

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Monday’s Journey: The Conclusion to Regina’s story

For the last few weeks, we’ve been following Regina (not her real name) on her journey of faith and I am happy to bring the conclusion to you today!

I wanted to send you some photos of Kate’s baptism – we had it this past weekend. Parts of it were lovely, but unfortunately some of the other families getting babies baptized turned the church into a bit of a marketplace and there was a fairly young priest who didn’t take control of the situation. One family even laid their babe out on the altar to take photos! People kept running back and forth to take photos, including walking back and forth in front of the priest as he was talking, and crossing in front of the font while other babies were getting baptized — we have no photos of that part of the ceremony because so many other people were buzzing around. It was a bit upsetting, especially since [The Hubs] and I had both thought so hard about it and were trying to take it so seriously. I must admit, it was hard to focus on the promises. We had a nice party at our place afterwards, though, with some very tasty cake.

Later on that night, I thought and prayed about it, and I realized that baptism is kinda like marriage – it is a gateway to a new life, and the ceremony itself doesn’t matter as much as how you decide to live the vows that you take. So it doesn’t really matter that her baptism was a zoo – what matters is that we have our families and each other to support and love Kate and raise her the best way we can. [The Hubs] is going to take a year or two of going to church before he does RCIA. He was ready to right before the baptism, but he was so appalled by the other families’ behaviour that he is really turned off church right now, which is unfortunate. I’m thinking about joining the choir! We’ll see.

I know it’s smaltzy, but I get teary-eyed every time I read that email. I think it’s the part where she says:

 …baptism is kinda like marriage – it is a gateway to a new life, and the ceremony itself doesn’t matter as much as how you decide to live the vows that you take

I mean, how profound is that? Regina’s story just makes me happy and I am glad that she thought it to be a good idea to share with you all as well.

And what’s a baptism without some tasty CAKE?

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I hope you enjoyed Regina’s story. You can let her know your thoughts and feelings by leaving comments here.

 

On another note, you might not be hearing much from me this week. Or, you might be hearing a lot, I don’t know yet.

Early on Black Friday morning, we received a call that no child is ever prepared for. My mother was unexpectedly was called home to God’s embrace. She was only 59 years old and in good health, according to her last physical. She and I had a few rough years therein, but I am eternally grateful that we had the chance to patch things up and the last few years with her have been great. She called after dinner on Thursday and we had a great conversation… the girls chatted up Grandma and we made tentative plans for her next visit here to Pasadena.

And then she was gone.

It’s old advice, but think about your own lives. Is there someone you are angry with or has done something so unforgivable? What would happen if they were gone tomorrow? God forgives us of all of our sins, why can’t we forgive others?

We fly to Wisconsin on Thursday and the service will be on Friday AM. I will post information on the CCM FaceBook page as requested by a few emails. Thank you for the emails, positive thoughts and prayers. I love you all.


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It’s that time again! Advent!!

I was looking at some Halloween pictures on-line this past week and I noticed a “different” costume on the daughter of my friend. Her little girl was dressed as a Jack-O-Lantern, but she had little Elf Shoes and a Santa Hat on. The caption of the picture said that she was dressed as… The Christmas Creep. Not only was this a cute costume, but it was also very applicable. Think about, September was barely in the books when stores started putting out their Christmas Displays.

I understand that The Christmas Shopping Season is when most retailers make enough money to get into the black, but how are we as parents to handle this creep within our families? How do we keep Christmas as special as it is while we are reminded of it’s presence starting in the Fall? How are we supposed to help our families remember that Jesus is the reason for the season and not getting new stuff? One way that our family does is pretty easy and fun: We celebrate Advent.

I grew up in a black Baptist church and when I was a Junior in college, I converted to Catholicism. Growing up, the only thing that I knew about Advent is that there was a cute little calendar that had chocolates, one for every day leading up to Christmas (My father’s side of the family is German and I attended a German Language Elementary School.) Once I became Catholic, however, I learned there was whole season in the liturgical calendar for Advent. Advent gives us the gift of four week of preparation: preparing our hearts and our homes for the coming of the Christ Child. It is four weeks for us to re-focus on what is most important, getting ready for the bridegroom to come to his bride.

Having two little ones, my husband and I know that we have to keep our Advent activities simple but still educational. It is important to us, as well, to make Advent just as meaningful as Easter, Lent, or Christmas. Some of our favorite Advent activities are:

– The Advent Wreath: This wreath of evergreen branches sits on our dining table and has 4 or 5 candles (1 candle for every Sunday of Advent with an optional candle for Christmas Eve) Three candles are purple, one is pink and the optional candle is usually white. I don’t have to tell you that kids and candles are always a hit. Before sitting down for the Sunday meal, we say one of the “O Antiphons” and light a purple candle. On week 2, we light 2 purple candles, etc. Week 3 brings the two purple candles and the pink (Gaudate Sunday: Time to Rejoice! The Christ Child is near!) and week 4 we light all four candles. On Christmas Eve, we light the white candle in the center, along with the other four and turn off the rest of the lights in the house and dine by candlelight. The candles stay lit though the evening meal and we let the girls take turns blowing the candle out after the meal.

– Advent Garland: This activity is great for preschoolers. First prep a series of purple and pink strips of construction paper along with some tape (you will need 3 purple strips for every 1 pink strip) to make chain garland. The garland follows the pattern: Purple, Purple, Pink, Purple (just like the Advent Candles on your wreath.) Not only does this make a cute Advent decoration, but it also helps to teach pattern recognition in your child!

– Jesse Tree: This activity does take a little more prep on the part of the parents, but you can make it as simple of as elaborate as you would like. The Jesse Tree tradition comes from the passage in the Bible where it talks about Christ coming from the root of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1.) The tree can be just about anything: a bare branch from outside, a tree painted on your window, a hand-drawn tree on a large piece of paper. There are 24 Jesse Tree Ornaments (one for every day of Advent- not counting Sundays, or you can start your tree on December 1 and hang an ornament daily.) We usually hang our ornaments after dinner: we read the bible passage that matches the ornament or tell the bible story and the girls get to hang the ornament. You can either print off Jesse Tree ornaments or you can make them. Google “Jesse Tree” for some additional ideas or images.

This year, Advent begins on November 27 and ends on December 24 and I hope that these suggestions help you to start a few new traditions within your family and to stave off that “Christmas Creep” a little longer!
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Have a blessed Advent!


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Filed under Advent, Catholic, family, holidays, monday

Sunday’s Journey: Regina, Part 2

November is the month where we focus on giving Thanks. Not only am I thankful for all of you, my readers for giving me inspiration to write, but I am also thankful for the gift of Faith, Hope, and Charity that comes from Our Wonderful Savior.

Over the next few Sundays, I would like to share with you Regina’s Journey… not her real name, but in her words (via email.) She’s given me permission to share her story with you and I give you permission to share with others. You never know where someone will be met on their journey, but remember… no matter who you meet, where you meet them, treat them with love and respect but do not deny the truth.

So, when we last left Regina, she was struggling with parts of Catholicism, specifically the Church’s view on homosexuality and treatment of women. This was a struggle for her personally because she and her husband want to have their daughter baptized in the faith, but didn’t know if it was right to have her baptized if they didn’t fully believe in the faith.

I asked her how she felt about the Eucharist (the source and summit of our faith) and to find out why the Church essentially does what she does with respect to the sticky-wicket social issues. (And I know that that is a total mom/teacher answer… “I could tell you why, but it’s better for you to find it on you own!”) And what did Regina discover?

I love the Eucharist and feel blessed, graced and warmed when I receive it – it is an important part of my connection to God. If it weren’t for the feelings that I get when I receive the Eucharist, I am sure I would be researching other branches of Christianity rather than trying to conserve my connection to Catholicism.

I’m down with God being the Father (rather than some ambiguously gendered being, although I doubt God conceives of himself as limited by “Him” – He has many feminine aspects to Him, but anyway). I much prefer mankind and humankind over men. It just sticks in my craw. But I agree about not getting caught up in the little things.
Part of me -old agnostic intellectual (Regina) – finds it difficult to turn myself over so completely to God, and I think that might be why I keep fighting with the little things. But since I’ve met my husband and given birth to my daughter my sense of worship and wonder at the world has changed significantly – for what can love and birth be but an act of God?
I had my pre-baptism meeting with my pastor today and we talked a little bit about some of the things we talked about. He had some interesting things to say on certain issues. The one that I felt particularly convinced of was his explanation of the church’s attitude towards homosexuality: he argued that as we currently do not know whether or not gays or lesbians are the way they are because of nature or nurture, it is difficult for the church to not view the act of gay sex as anything other than disordered – in the same way that premarital sex and contraception are both “disordered” to God’s plan. He said that if the Church ever decides that gays and lesbians are “born this way” (to steal from Lady Gaga), then they must have been made in God’s image and it would be only right for the church to accept them fully. Considering it took a few hundred years for the Church to accept Galileo, I’m not holding my breath, but his argument did give me peace. I think he genuinely appreciated my questions and interest, and I got the impression that he would rather see someone asking questions and thinking through things rather than blindly going along.
I’m going to do a bible study through http://www.salvationhistory.com/studies/courses/online as a way to deepen my own faith and understanding of Catholicism, and I’ve been looking at some of the different resources you’ve suggested. My husband is investigating RCIA, but I think our plan for now is that we make a serious commitment to attend church as a couple this year, and see where that leads him. He has difficulty with some of the more mystical aspects of Catholicism – namely the saints. He got off on a bad foot when he was looking at the study guide our church provided for the new mass translation and found that it featured saints days with the face of the Virgin appearing to people. We are both getting hung up on the details, I think.
Next Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent and I can’t wait for you to read the conclusion to Regina’s story! Stay Tuned to next Sunday for the conclusion!

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Maybe that wasn’t the best tactic, after all?

Have you ever entered into a conversation with a loved one, only to have it turn into something very negative?

A while ago, DH and I were talking about Christmas traditions that each of our respective families celebrated when we were growing up. If I had to characterize the differences, it would be best to say that the celebrations in my family where more Christ-centered, while DH’s family was more family-centered. That’s not to say that my family ignored the family aspect of Christmas and it’s not to say that DH’s family ignored the Christ aspect of Christmas, but it is to say that the emphasis was placed differently and we both have pleasant memories of Christmas and want to bring both of our traditions to the plate and meld them seamlessly.

So that’s how the conversation started. It finished not so civilly.

It’s no secret that DH and I are in different places on our spiritual journey, couple that with our personalities and you get a hot mess. According Myers-Briggs typology, I am an ESTJ. If you know me personally, that should not be a surprise. For those of you not well acquainted with me here are some ESTJ characteristics:

ESTJs are practical, realistic, and matter-of-fact, with a natural head for business or mechanics. Though they are not interested in subjects they see no use for, they can apply themselves when necessary. They like to organize and run activities. ESTJs make good administrators, especially if they remember to consider others’ feelings and points of view, which they often miss. (Myers-Biggs description, emphasis mine.)

ESTJs are civic-minded individuals who dedicate themselves to maintaining the institutions behind a smooth-running society. They are defenders of the status quo and strong believers in rules and procedures. ESTJs are outgoing and do not hesitate to communicate their opinions and expectations to others. (Keirsey description, emphasis mine.)

ESTJs thrive on order and continuity. Being extraverted, their focus involves organization of people, which translates into supervision. While ENTJs enjoy organizing and mobilizing people according to their own theories and tactically based agendas, ESTJs are content to enforce “the rules,” often dictated by tradition or handed down from a higher authority.

ESTJs are joiners. They seek out like-minded companions in clubs, civic groups, churches and other service organizations. The need for belonging is woven into the fiber of SJs. The family likewise is a central focus for ESTJs, and attendance at such events as weddings, funerals and family reunions is obligatory.

Service, the tangible expression of responsibility, is another key focus for ESTJs. They love to provide and to receive good service. The ESTJ merchant who provides dependable service has done much to enhance her self image.

ESTJs have an acute sense for orthodoxy. Much of their evaluation of persons and activities reflects their strong sense of what is “normal” and what isn’t. ESTJ humor is frequently centered around something or someone being off center or behaving abnormally. (from typologic.com, emphasis mine)

Also, according to typelogic… Simon Peter was a type ESTJ.

So where does this lead us? Well, DH is not an ESTJ and in fact it would be great if he would find out his typology! But he won’t because he’s not a big fan of that “mumbo-jumbo.” 🙂

But what did I learn?

1. I am not the boss of others.

2. I cannot impose my will on others.

3. Jesus met people where they were. So should I.

4. God is sovereign and has an ultimate plan that I neither need to know nor am obliged to know the details of.

Now, I know all of this, but it does not make it any easier! I see husbands that are involved with their church and are Catholic/ Christian not just on Sunday and I can’t help but think how great that would be for our family if we were truly united in the faith… if only my husband was as on fire as I am for Christ and for His church. But he is not and no amount of talking, chiding, nagging, conversing, suggesting will change that.

Man does not have the ability to change the heart of another… only Christ can do that.

Do we attend Mass at least 98% of the time as a family? Yes.

Is my husband a good man? Yes.

Does my husband believe in the existence of Christ? I think so.

So, why isn’t that good enough?

I blame my personality.
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Teaching the Teacher Tuesdays: The Space

I have finally taken one more step toward getting our homeschooling started! Yesterday, I headed out to make photocopies of the worksheets that I want to use and I created this nifty little focus board for our teaching space.

There is a space for our Virtue and Verse of the Week, The Theme of the Month, Calendar information, and the Letter and Number of the Week. The handouts that we are using are basic letter, number, color, shape and pattern handouts from a book purchased from the store.

I am planning on teaching on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for 2.5 to 3 hours total and I think I have enough activites to fill our day, but I am still trying to find easy crafts for the girls (Pinterest has great ideas for larger, more complex crafts but not too many easier ones.) I’d like our crafts to be reflective of the letter, number, verse/virtue or season so that does open up lots of options.

The Bear is still working on completing the markers for her chore chart as well. Since one of the virtues that we want to foster is responsibility and I am a bit tired of doing EVERYTHING, we are in the process of giving her a visual for the things that she needs to do daily to help the house run. In addition to getting herself ready (brushing teeth, getting dressed, etc.) she also needs to make sure that her room is picked up and the table is set for meal times.  We are not planning on any type of reward for completing her responsibilities but we ARE thinking about a positive reward system for her exhibiting positive virtues… like playing nicely and not pinching her sister in frustration. I’ll keep you updated.
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What does your Homeschool space look like, if you have one? What would your ideal space look like, if you decided to homeschool? What is needed in a “good” space? What are you thoughts on positive reinforcement for good habits?


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Sunday’s Journey: Regina

November is the month where we focus on giving Thanks. Not only am I thankful for all of you, my readers for giving me inspiration to write, but I am also thankful for the gift of Faith, Hope, and Charity that comes from Our Wonderful Savior.

Over the next few Sundays, I would like to share with you Regina’s Journey… not her real name, but in her words (via email.) She’s given me permission to share her story with you and I give you permission to share with others. You never know where someone will be met on their journey, but remember… no matter who you meet, where you meet them, treat them with love and respect but do not deny the truth.

I’ve been following your blog for a while and I really respect your opinions and would love some advice.
After my engagement, I began attending church because I had a vision of a “church” wedding. In turn, I fell back in with the Catholicism of my youth. I had gone to Catholic elementary school, but switched to public secondary in grade 8 after experiencing some serious questions about faith in general and Catholicism specifically. After a relatively amusing marriage prep class, my husband (baptized Anglican, but stopped going to church when he was quite young) and I started attending mass. I love attending mass at my local parish, I love singing hymns, and I find prayer to be a comfort. However, I still have some major issues with Catholicism – not in it’s essential truths, but in it’s sticky rules that most people tend to not care about. These issues are preventing my husband from joining RCIA and me from being confident in my faith.
Now I have a baby girl, who is three and a half months old and we are in the process of arranging her baptism. I want to make sure I can stand up there and firmly make the baptismal promises with confidence. My main issues are with the restrictions against women in the priesthood (although I believe celibacy is important for priests, I have a problem with every argument I’ve read supporting the men-only side – I feel it is a historical construct imposed on the church rather than something inherent in Catholicism itself.).  The other major problem I have is with the church’s attitude towards gays and lesbians. I am from Toronto, Canada, where gay marriage is legal and socially acceptable. Being in the arts (theatre specifically), many of my friends are gay. One of my most devout friends — who sang the psalms and hymns at our wedding — is gay. I find it hard to believe in a church that prohibits my friends from fully expressing themselves. For example, most schools in our area have Gay-Straight Alliances, which are designed to promote conversations and respect between Queer and Straight youth. Our (publicly funded, not private) Catholic high schools have banned these clubs. I have been praying that Church leaders may find a way to accept my friends.
While I understand that you yourself might disapprove of homosexuality, and might produce some good doctrinal evidence that condemns it, I need to know that I can wholeheartedly promise to raise my child Catholic, while praying for change in how the Catholic church perceives women, gays and lesbians.
Does any of that make sense? Is it wrong to doubt a whole faith based on one little rule?
Anyway, sorry to rant all over you. I probably should talk to my priest about these things, but I’m so shy about it.
PS – I just read the new Nicene creed and am disappointed in the “for us men (!) and for our salvation.” I feel like God is provoking me!
How many of us have been in the exact same position? How many of us are in that position now? What parts of Catholicism are we currently “struggling” with? (I hesitate to use the word struggle, but I think it works well.) What is keeping us from fully living out our Faith?
Stay Tuned to next Sunday for the continuation!

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Manners Monday: Parenting with Grace under Pressure

A Facebook friend recently shared this on her Wall:

What would you do? Could you do anything? I’m curious what others do or think. I felt nothing I could do would help, and I was too overwhelmed caring for my babies. But I saw a scandalizing example of why many people develop a dislike for Christians. A mother w/ a 2ish year old and 4ish year old shared the “cry room” with us for a random church session. And proceeded to hiss, yell, slap, pinch and otherwise verbally attack her kids throughout the whole thing. It was very disturbing and I ended up leaving the room to stand in the back w/ my kids.

At the end, she literally physically dragged them into the main church and told them they had to do stations of the cross for being bad while on their tippy toes. She kept twisting the older child’s arm b/c he wouldn’t stop sobbing. I feel bad b/c my reaction was so strong I could not think clearly or think of any helpful way to intervene/redirect/de-escalate. My kids were freaking out and I didn’t want them to see what was happening, too. Mostly I was shocked that she had no filters whatsoever…she didn’t seem to care at all that others saw her and heard her. Ok so there’s my current stomach-turning issue.

Comments ranged from total compassion for the mother (‘you don’t know what kind of day she was having’) to complete and total derision toward her (‘you should have called CPS right away.’) Parenting is full of Monday Morning Quarterbacking moments and this is for sure one of them.

I think that we have all been in that sort of situation to some degree. We have been the mom at our wits’ end with our children and we have been the passive bystander asking herself “What should I do? Should I ask her if I can help? Oh, those poor children!” None of us are parenting experts, even those with a whole alphabet’s worth of letters after their name. We all have great parenting days and we all have craptastic parenting days, but the mark of a Parent with Grace is how you handle those craptastic moments.

I will say that I take issue with how this mother handled her craptastic moment in general and specifically at Mass. Pinching, Twisting, and Bopping your kid only teaches this that it’s acceptable to pinch, twist and bop those weaker than you if they don’t do as you say. Mass is supposed to be a celebration and Church should a happy place to be… not a punishment for anyone. If nothing else, this mother has planted the seeds for extreme religious hatred for her children. Instead of seeing the Stations of the Cross as a monument of Christ’s love for us, they will see it as a punishment, something that they had to to when they pissed mom off at church.

Discipline is proactive. Punishment is reactive. There are days that I would love to get to daily Mass, but it doesn’t happen if I know that my children are not prepared for the Mass. That means: well-rested, fed, dressed and briefed as far as my expectations go for them. If I am choosing to take them to Mass and I know they are hungry and tired, I have no one to blame but myself for setting THEM up for failure. We, as parents, need to also drop this facade of perfection that we carry around. We all have bad days and accepting help from a stranger, or asking for help is not a sign of weakness. If someone offers you a hand, do not take it as a personal affront to your parenting skills, as it is only when we accept help from others that we allow them to become Christ to us.

So what would I have done if faced with this dilemma? Honestly, I have no clue. I’d like to think that I would have said something to her but I really don’t know…

What would you do? Should you do anything?
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