Hail Lucy, Fair of Face

Exactly a year ago today, our oldest son, Luke, and his wife, Tasha, presented to the world the inimitable Lucy Beatrice Shea. (In fairness, Luke couldn't have done it without Tasha. And, in hasty self-defense, I add that Tasha is a really good sport who enjoys a good laugh about labor and won't, I am [...]

Children Say the Darndest Things

Richard McGuire is the nom de guerre of a father who is trying to document the crimes of his four children for a hearing at the human-rights tribunal of The Hague. These are some of the lighter moments he captured over seven years -- with no help from the NSA -- that can be revealed [...]

Detachment Parenting: Learning to Let Go

I like to imagine the wind that was blowing on that sparkling fall day, tousling my mom's strawberry-blonde hair. In the photograph, she's holding my older brother Jason, who was around 3 at the time. You can see he has his mother's eyes -- almond-shaped, dark brown eyes that are smiling. My mom's arms draw [...]

Which Will You Be?

The other morning, when I attempted to start the family van, it hesitated and then stalled. I did not panic. It does this sometimes. One thing you learn quickly as a mother of a large family with a not-so-large income is that it is necessary to be patient with your vehicles. And your appliances. These [...]

Home Is Not a Place

It was a cool fall day ten years ago when Dan, my husband, pulled our banged-up Volvo station wagon to the side of a country road and waved his hand toward the nearby woods.     "This is it!" he beamed. I looked. I saw trees.   "Here?" I questioned him. "Right here?" He pointed to [...]

My Prickly Priest

"Fine, then!" Stephen huffed. He tossed a handful of Uno cards across the table and stomped toward the stairs. Each step thundered through the house as he made his way to his room.   I love this prickly child. But prickly he surely is.   I'd like to blame this one's temper on his Irish [...]

The Understudy

I felt the question coming like a dog feels the pulse of the earth before a quake. I had tracked Monsignor's comments from, "How quickly they grow," to, "What grade are you in this year, Ann?" and I knew what came next. So did Ann. Exactly one beat before the question came, we exchanged a [...]

One Little Thing at a Time

My life is ridiculous. Do I need to tell you this, or can you reach that conclusion all on your own when I tell you that I am a homeschooling mother of eight who also works from home? Some days, the different roles I play meld seamlessly together. "Of course I can do this!" I [...]

Is it Time to Rethink Confession for Minors?

In confronting the present crisis, measures to deal justly with individual crimes are essential, yet on their own they are not enough: a new vision is needed, to inspire present and future generations to treasure the gift of our common faith. -- Pope Benedict XVI, "Letter to the Irish People" "Tell me the details," I [...]

Cries and Compromise

Fifteen years ago, night after night, I paced the rooms of our tiny apartment with my daughter Kateri -- a screaming infant -- in my arms.I ran the vacuum, bounced her on my hip, and swaddled her writhing body with flannel blankets, but nothing the books recommended seemed to work. She screamed so hard and [...]

What Love Looks Like

   "How do you do it all?" As a homeschooling, work-at-home mom of many, this is a question I hear fairly often.    Usually, people ask "how I do it all" when I am outside of my home, sitting in the bleachers at a basketball game or standing in line at the pharmacy. The fact [...]

So Now They’re Teens

   "Mo-om!" If the rolling of eyes could make a noise, my oldest daughter's facial expression would have been deafening.   We were headed to her orthodontist appointment. It was early, but I had brushed my teeth, put on make up, and was wearing my new hat. I thought I might even look a little [...]

Let the Santa Wars Begin

   "How can you lie to your children?" one mom demanded of another on an online message board last week.   "How can you deprive your children of the magic of Christmas?" came the retort.   It happens every year -- let the Santa Wars begin!   On one side, we have the Die-Hard Believers. [...]

Obedience to a Bike

  I leaned over the low stone wall along Broadway and raised my six-year-old daughter by her ankle back to the sidewalk. Her bicycle had ended its journey in the side of my neighbor's BMW.   "Drat," I muttered, hoisting up the stubborn child like a fish from deep water. "Carol," I shouted, "stop screaming. [...]

Glimpses of God

"Mama! Mama! Ma-maaaaa!" whined four-year-old Raphael as I changed his little brother's diaper and quizzed his older sister on her spelling words.   "What?" I answered him hastily. "I'm listening."   "No," he pouted. "I want you to listen with your eyes."   Oh. That.   Ever have a moment when you feel like someone [...]

No Freaking Way

As the holiday season comes upon us, and Catholic teenagers everywhere prepare for their high school dances -- searching for the perfect gowns, tuxedos, and corsages, and pondering how, whether, and when to find a date -- the subject of freak dancing will not likely come up. While some high schools have implemented policies that [...]

I Love Homeschooling… I Hate Homeschooling

Through the years, my experience as a writing, blogging, publicly homeschooling mom has made one thing clear to me -- in Catholic parenting circles, homeschooling is a hot topic. Probably second only to the infamous "spank or don't-spank" debates. On a daily basis, inquiring minds fill up my e-mail inbox: What is your homeschool philosophy? [...]

Sanitized Childhood

I read a Curious George book to my children a few weeks ago. It was a library copy -- one of the very old ones, wrapped in protective plastic with decades-old, handwritten due dates inside the front cover. The story was typical H. A. Rey fare. The man with the yellow hat was exasperatingly clueless [...]

Going Dental

Last week, Gabrielle made an alarming discovery. "My tooth!" she shrieked. "My tooth is loose! It might even . . . it might even fall out!"  Somehow, in the midst of princess ponies and soccer practice, grocery runs and laundry piles, I had neglected to tell my six-year-old daughter about the Tooth Fairy. Not that [...]

Another Day in the Life

In September of every year, my inbox fills up with requests from fellow homeschooling moms who all want to know one thing: What does your daily routine look like?   We all know the devil is in the details, but I like to think that God is in there, too. So today, I will swallow [...]