Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas 2014

Dear Friends & Family,
We are closing in on the 2nd year of being in our new house and land. I am still just as deliriously happy today as the first day we moved in. Every single day I am smiling and giggling and asking the kids, “Aren’t you SO happy to be living here?!” – just so I can hear their answer…….again…….and again. That question might get old one day but NOT YET.
I have never in my life imagined that I could have so much. I guess that keeping my expectations low can be a real blessingJ Seriously though, this was another amazing year that is unique to our family. We don’t have sports stats to share with you or how amazing the kids are doing in school. We have haunted trails, air soft wars, parties, a Gaga Ball pit, and Tee-Pee stories. My kids are going to have the greatest childhood memories that I hope will continue when they move on to build their own families.
Nick, 21, returned from Basic Training and his AIT in May and does his weekend drills just a few miles away. He works with landscaping while he finishes up his Associates Degree at Longview College. During his free time, he plays volleyball and soccer. He volunteers as a Catholic youth leader in North Kansas City and has found a home with the young adult Catholics in the Kansas diocese.  He still does not know what God is calling him to do but he’s at least decided that he wants to learn more about his faith, go on as many retreats as financially possible, and work with teenagers in the church. As long as he gets to heaven, he can pick tulips for the rest of his life. I don’t care!
Mary Kate, 20, was finally at the top of the waiting list for a waiver that would allow her to attend a program for adults with special needs. She now attends Developing Potential – a very nice program that keeps her busy with art, field trips, cooking, exercise, life skills and continue her education with reading and writing. She is photographed with all of her Special Olympics medals that she’s earned in the last 12 years.  She is still just as kind and loving as ever. She's perfectly happy to pick tulips for the rest of her life AND she is going straight to heaven. See? There's my proof that I don't care!
Samantha, 15, got her drivers permit this year. Since I don’t have too many positive experiences to share with you about that, let’s jump to something else. She has blossomed into a beautiful young lady. She spends entirely too much time studying because she wants her work to be perfect. When she wants to read or study quietly, she drives the 4 wheeler up to her “throne” that overlooks hundreds of acres of rolling hills and trees. I take everyone that still has use of their 2 legs up to see it. This was carved out by our awesome neighbor and even has her named carved/burnt into it - just in case there is any question:)
Max, 14, is still the outdoorsman. Everything he gets for his birthday or Christmas
has to do with his adventures outside. He has been making YouTube videos with his new GoPro that he will be posting for the world to see very soon. He played Charlie in Marvin’s Room that was put on by Calvary Bible College and will be entertaining us all in Mary Poppins this spring. Max may hate doing his homework but he can tolerate it if we are outside, on the porch, or in the Tee-Pee. Our neighbor also built the tee-pee that he furnished and decorated with nature’s resources and Indian artifacts.  Two or three days a week, you will find us in there reading History as Max builds a fire.

Theresa is 12 years old. God has positioned her just perfectly in the line of children. She negotiates, settles disputes, and compromises. She is best friends with the older kids and younger kids because she can identify and adjust to their likes and dislikes.  Sometimes I forget how young she is. I am ready and comfortable to share and talk to her like an adult – like she is already my best friend. She is the child that fills in the gaps.
Benjamin, 9, is still a rambunctious boy that drives the family crazy. This is his first year homeschooling. I SO wanted him to do one more year at our local public school but he was feeling left out of the family. I couldn’t let him feel that loneliness any more, even if it meant losing the freedom I had when he was in school.  Self-control, good sportsmanship, being a good friend, patience, solving disputes non-violently – these are all virtues we have been working on all year.  He could scale buildings, fly, fight, conquer a small country, and become one of our greatest saints with his God-given gifts if he would just channel his aggressive personality & character in that direction.  Parents of many children have a reputation of slacking off in their duties with the younger kids. Ben brings us back to reality. He is our “shot in the arm” for parenting.

Josie, 7, is still my cute little red-head. She LOVES attention. When I notice her in a new outfit or hairdo, or call her by some silly nickname, she smiles and giggles. I broke my rule about putting the younger kids in public school to learn their reading and writing. I couldn’t bear seeing her cute little cheeks and oversized backpack walking away from me every morning – hence, she is home with me.  She is an excellent student and is reading and writing like a pro. For her 7th birthday, Roy took her out to shoot her first guns. She even made her own bullets.

Matthew, 4, is everyone’s favorite little boy. He isn’t scared of anything and wants to participate in every activity that his brothers and sisters are doing. Rarely will you see one of the kids on a 4-wheeler without him.  He has his own bed but has never slept in it. He sleeps wherever he wants – the toy box, my laundry basket, the closet, with a sibling, the trampoline, etc.  He has to be with the action – ok, there’s no action in my laundry basket but rest assured, the action is close by!
Andrew just turned one and has started walking. Oh my does this kid get attention! Everyone loves this little guy. We chase him, tickle him, play, love and squeeze on him all day long.  I have his playpen outside in the driveway. Whenever it is over 55degrees, I stick him in there so he can enjoy the wind and chickens. This kid will have the greatest memories!
Roy has been working his tail off all year. He is building and fixing something every single day. He loves it though. He has, long ago, completely died to himself and just serves his family. Our happiness is his greatest reward. He doesn’t need to be on the ATVs, in the treehouse, the tee-pee or the gaga ball pit. He only needs to know that we are in there and that brings him his joy. He took Samantha and Max on a mission trip to Guatemala this summer to build stoves, chicken coops and pig pens for families.

I am having a crazy busy homeschool year. I jumped from homeschooling 3 kids to homeschooling 5. You can quadruple that number since Ben is one of them! I jumped from teaching 2 classes at our co-op to teaching 4 with Trigonometry & Geometry as one of the grueling subjects. I have added a mobile toddler and 3 days of traveling to and from Mary Kate’s new school. I am tired.  Following the example of my husband, I receive my greatest reward when I see the love and happiness from my kids – as long as I don’t sit still and start feeling sorry for myself. Every day, I get to do 2 of my favorite chores – take the eggs out of the chicken coop & burn trash. Yes, I LOVE burning stuff! Thanks to having such a large family, we get overloaded with burnable trash twice a day. I love the smell of a good fire and anything else that is unique to living on land.
Roy and I are in our 7th year teaching a chastity class for teenagers every week for 2 hours – all school year. We LOVE it and can’t imagine ever giving this up. We started facilitating a retreat for engaged couples that average 4-5 retreats a year. We love teaching anyone and everyone who will listen about God’s plan for our bodies in the single, religious, or married life.
I pray you had a great 2014 and an even better 2015!!
                                                                             Love, The Christy’s –
                                                                             Roy & Katy
                                                                             Nick, Mary Kate, Samantha
                                                                             Max, Theresa, Benjamin,
                                                                             Josie, Matthew, & Andrew
Some of our favorite pictures!!
The best investment we ever made -- a Gaga Ball Pit! Right in our own back yard!
Samantha gets a kiss from a special needs girl in Guatemala
My kids are around special needs children & adults all the time anyway. There were no new experiences on this visit.
Ben made his first Holy Communion this year and promptly began serving with Max a week later. He sits still for this!
Our amazing waterslide in the Summer/Suicide Hill in the Winter
They meet for the first time in 5 months!!
It SO wouldn't be right to leave out the neighbor. (Yes, he's married:)


Monday, October 6, 2014

My Baby Turns ONE

My baby boy turned one today. It is so strange to feel like he is still my new baby and, at the same time, feel like it has been years since I was waddling around the house and hyperventilating after I walked from my van to the front door.

Time is flying by. I am so happy that I learned how quick my life was flashing by early enough to take advantage of my fertile years. I managed to give birth to 9 babies in a 20 year spam. Every once in a while, one of my kids will comment on their disappointment that I only have 9 when I easily could have squeezed in 2 or 3 more. They mean every word too. All of my kids experience day in and day out the indescribable joy of having a large family. Whenever they become complacent, they spend quiet time at a friend’s house and begin to miss the chaos of their home. The silence may be a much needed break for a little bit but soon, the homesickness begins to weigh them down.

I have only experienced this one time in my married life. I went to Branson with Roy for the weekend. It was just the 2 of us. I have never looked forward to a vacation more in my life. I counted down the months, weeks, days and hours like a child going to Disney World. We drove 3 hours, stopped at Walmart and bought all the bad food that we knew we wouldn’t have to hide, picked up a couple bad movies (OK. Stop it. They were PG-13!), and planted ourselves on the couch in our beautiful and QUIET condo.

And we just sat there.

And sat there.

We looked at all our “sugar” cereal on the counter – right out in the open – and started missing the kids. They needed to be there with us! What were we doing?! I wanted to hide all the junk food and pull out my ninja-matrix-stealth moves to get to it. THAT is what makes life so exciting!! Having what I want, when I want it is SO boring!  (I could totally put in a plug for Natural Family Planning here but I won’t)

Roy and I muddled through the next day and came home early.

From now on, our alone time vacations will be sneaking ice cream after the kids go to bed.

I don’t want this part of my life to end. I want to go straight from having my own children to having grandchildren. Life is priceless. Each child is priceless. I wouldn’t trade any of my kids in for anything – Not for a cleaner house, more money, a career, a newer car, a college degree, more free time, sugar cereal out in the open – Nothing.  



Saturday, September 20, 2014

Created for Love - Chapter 1

Our Theology of the Body for Teens began in the beginning of September and we didn’t waste any time jumping right into the hot topics.

The first class began with introductions and then we watched a chastity talk by Jason and Crystalina Evert that they give to High Schoolers all across the country. It was and hour ½ that covered subjects like sex, dating, STDs, how Jesus suffered and died for his beloved (the Church), chastity, the dangers of contraception, etc. etc. We broke in the middle of the video to spend 10 minutes in adoration and benediction.

Now the students are hooked and bringing their friends!

This week, we covered Chapter 1. The title is Created for Love. This chapter explains in detail about how and why we were created. Why are we here? Why do we have bodies? What is our purpose?

This would be a never-ending blog if I attempted to answer these questions but, in reality, these need to be answered if we want to have eternal happiness. Eternal happiness.

We are created by Love and for love. Each one of us has a God-given desire to yearn for communion with one another. The purpose of our bodies is to be a visible sign of the invisible God – much like watching a ball fall to the ground being the visible sign of gravity – or trees swaying as a visible sign of wind. When Adam & Eve looked upon each other before the Fall, they saw God in each other. After the Fall, there was a fog that made it difficult to have that same vision. Now there was a real danger of being looked at lustfully rather than with love. But as long as we know what we are looking for – as long as we know that our desires for one another are signs for our desire for God, we are on the right track to having eternal happiness.

That is about all the wisdom I can share on the subject for a blog! For richer teachings, I recommend reading Love and Responsibility by Saint Pope John Paul II while having the companion Men, Women and the Mystery of Love by Ted Sri, sitting close by.

One of the activities for chapter 1 was to mold something out of play dough that represents their current relationship with God or a relationship they hope to have with Him in the future.

I cannot believe how quick and creative all of the kids were with this project! Everyone had a different idea. Everyone had a different piece of art.....

God has me safe in His hands

God is still working on me. Ok, maybe a little creepy but it's pretty ingenious right?

My own daughter & I forgot what she said...:/

Old St. Patrick's Latin Mass brings her ultimate fulfillment in her faith.

The Max mold is looking at the world as a symbol of  materialism as God waits for him on the other side of the wall. Max only needs to look away from the world and toward Him. Yes....that's my son:)

Good grief. He made a Minecraft. LOL. It symbolizes distractions he has with his relationship with God.

Lumpy stairsteps that symbolize his fumbling in the right direction.

A skull and cross bones that symbolize death to himself as he surrenders his life to God

"F, crucifix, ?" Symbols of Faith, what Christ did for me, and questions why God could ever love a guy like him. It brought "awww's" across the room.

She had a complicated and lengthy project & story. I expect nothing less from this remarkable girl.

God is trying to yank this boy back as he tries to run away from him. He resists but still allows God to pull him back from the world.

God leads her as she "blindly" allows Him to.

"I took apologetics classes when I was a Protestant and now I'm taking apologetics class as a Catholic. I had 2 different lives."

Praying at my bedside

Whenever I weather a storm, God brings out the blessings in the end.

This is me being invited to get out of the boat and walk with Jesus

God is in the center of death (tombstones) as He guides me to Him

God has me completely in His hands - loving me and caring for me.

God gives me gifts every day. (She made a bag holding gifts)

I have amazing students, don’t I?! Goodness. I feel like my job is done but NO - We have 2 hours, every week for the next 30 weeks to talk about love, sex, chastity, dating, God, the language of our bodies, vocations, sacrament of marriage, reconciling with God, etc., etc., etc., ETCETRA!!!! 


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Developing Potential

Mary Kate is my 19 year old with special needs. I have gone through several hoops throughout her life to get her the education she needed in just the right environment. As she graduated to a different school, it was always heartbreaking because I never knew if everything would still go well. It takes a very special person to be a special education instructor. Some people have a good heart and good intentions when they get their degree in special education but then when they step foot in a classroom, they want every child on Retilin before the day is over. I can’t say I blame them – hence, why I’m not a special ed. teacher.

Middle School was pure Hell. I had her in for 4 LONG months before I finally parented-UP and took her out for good. My plan was to keep her home whether I totally stunk at homeschooling or not. It didn’t matter. If she stayed home and watched The Sound of Music over and over, it would have been better than the abuse she took from the border-line inner city environment she was in.

Then the heavens opened up and the most amazing school dropped in our lap. It was a school exclusively for kids with special needs. Every time she got off the bus, she was greeted by teachers and students with hugs and smiles and kisses. Every day for 3 years she had this. Then, at the tender age of 15, we got the bad news that due to budget cuts, she would not be able to go back. I held in my sorrow until the parent/faculty meeting. As we all went in our separate groups to talk to our case workers, I burst into tears. I couldn’t control myself. I was a blubbering mess.  If any of the law-making guru’s were there, I’m sure my pathetic and childlike whimpering would have brought them all to tears and Mary Kate would still be there today.

After allowing Mary Kate to attend one 1 hour class at the local High School until she turned 16, I yanked her out and she has been home ever since.

Fast forward 4 years and we finally have a nice place for her to go to during the day, Developing Potential. It is a daily program that provides continued education for adults with special needs. This program doesn’t graduate anyone. She gets to stay there for the rest of her lifeJ

This is her new friend, umm…..we don’t know her name. I guess names aren’t important to Mary KateJ

Friday, July 25, 2014

Forgiveness & Dirty Diapers


I have been reading a book called Boyhood and Beyond with my 13 and 8 year old sons throughout the year. I love this book because each story is only 2-3 pages and they each teach a valuable virtue in a language they can understand.

Today I read a story called Forgiveness & Dirty Diapers. The boys loved it because it started off telling about a man that collected dirty diapers. Every time he met someone, he would try to confiscate a soiled diaper from them. Whenever he was around people, he loved to show off his collection. He would always try to find the dirty diaper that belonged to his guest too so he could share it and remind him where it came from. His friends dwindled as time went on because they couldn’t endure his smell – his house, his car – HIM. He smelled of soiled diapers all the time.

This is a total BOY story isn’t it?! My 8 year old was bug-eyed the entire time.

Then the author used this story to talk about the “dirty diapers” that people give us – insults, hurtful comments, gossip, pride, etc. When people give us their…..lets say…..CRAP…..What do you do with it? Do you save it? Do you share it with others? Do you make your friend see it and smell it every time they come over? Do you make your other friends see it and smell it?

If you do any of these things, eventually, your friends will not want to be around you. They will be disgusted by you. They don’t want to know about other people’s “crap” and they certainly don’t want to be reminded about their own.

So. What are you supposed to do whenever you are given a “dirty diaper”? THROW IT AWAY. Keep a nice, sweet smelling home and toss out anything that soils or stinks it up. KEEP THE PERSON but throw away everything that keeps you from being kind and joyful.

What are we supposed to do when we give someone one of OUR dirty diapers – when we offend or hurt someone? We are to ask for forgiveness, ask them to throw away our offense and promise to never do it again.

Valuable lesson, eh?

All 3 of us were tempted to blurt out other people we know that have hoarded “dirty diapers” but this lesson was not about them. It is about US. How many dirty diapers do we have that need to be thrown away?

The boys and I gave several examples of the dirty diapers we were hanging on to – an annoying friend who said something insulting a year ago…. gossiping about another mom who sent me hurtful e-mails.

My friends and their friends want to be around someone who is happy, kind, sweet in speech and is secure that they will not be led into sin when they are with us.  

If you are interested, I highly recommend this book, Boyhood and Beyond by Bob Schultz

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Totus Tuus

Totus Tuus (Latin for Totally Yours) is a Catholic program that brings 4 college students to a parish for what other denominations would call, Vacation Bible School.  These students could be local or come from states away but wherever they are from, they come for one purpose – to spend the entire summer teaching youth about their Catholic faith.

I had tried mercilessly to get my priest to bring Totus Tuus to our parish. Actually, I never really asked the priest. All decisions that went on in our parish were left up to the office staff and our deacon. When we got a new priest 3 years ago, I didn’t even have to ask. He told ME that they were coming!! And it turns out that the priest is actually in charge of decision-making in parishes. Who would have thunk?!

This year, our family was able to attend Totus Tuus on 2 separate weeks. The first week was at Our Lady of Lourdes in Harrisonville while my bigger kids were in Guatemala. It gave my younger kids something to do so they didn’t miss their siblings so much.

It turns out that all 4 of the Totus Tuus staff were on staff at Camp Savio back in June. All of my kids knew them already! I knew Samantha and Max would be jealous if they knew who I was spending my week with so I took selfies with all of them to send to Roy. My evil plan worked. They were jealousJ

This past week, we were all hoping and praying that the same team would be at our parish so Samantha and Max could spend more time with them.

They were!

Samantha spent all day and evening with them as they played and prayed together.

The week ended with an evening party at our house. We had Gaga ball, volleyball and basketball.

All 35 of us walked our hiking trails as we prayed the rosary together.

After all the students left, the Totus Tuus team and our family relaxed, talked and prayed together.

We are so blessed to be fortunate enough to host gatherings for such remarkable, selfless people. They inspire young people to keep their faith as they grow into adulthood. It takes great courage and self-discipline to keep and grow in your faith just after you leave home and are considered “free”. Yes, they are all free. They are free to choose the good. They are free to love and serve God. They are free to love and serve hundreds of young people this summer. They served my children and I can’t thank them enough for sharing themselves with them.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Pitching for Priests

There have been posters and advertisements for an event called Pitching for Priests all around the Catholic world. They were $10 a ticket so I was pretty sure that I was not going to make it. I couldn’t dump $100 on an event plus I frequently make the excuse that I already do enough “Catholic”stuff. I can’t do EVERYTHING.

Then one day, I was mingling in the back of church when our family’s adopted grandma, Grandma Marie, asks, “How many tickets do you want for Pitching for Priests?” She didn’t ask if we wanted to go. She asked how many tickets I wanted.

“Uh… Well?.....” I didn’t want to give her my ungodly high number.

“How about I give you 7 tickets.”

Yay! I bummed Roy for 20 bucks for 2 more tickets and we were set!

For the last couple of weeks, I have been trying to figure out how I can get a group of Catholic young adults (18-25) to come together on a regular basis to play, learn about why they are Catholic, eat and play some more.

Light Bulb!  Why not invite everyone to tailgate at the Pitching for Priests game for a meet and greet?

Little by little, the invitations were getting out of hand. I invited about 250 families from my homeschool loop to stop by with their young adult child. Nick inadvertently invited EVERY Catholic he knew. And then my priest announces that our family will be tailgating before the game. Roy and I looked at each other in shock. We envisioned hundreds of hungry and thirsty people hovering over us with no real plan to meet or greet anyone.

We bought 54 burgers and 80 hot dogs. Roy spent a couple hours packing up the truck on Sunday with the grill, chairs, tables, etc. I spent hours filling up our van and car with food, drinks and all the necessities – paper towels, cups, plates.

We took 3 vehicles and headed off to T-Bones stadium.

What a night. Yes, we have flocks of people – including one homeless man….maybe a woman… was hard to tell – that visited our party. The young adults played Frisbee, talked, laughed, ate and never noticed the older crowd from my circle of friends and church family sitting nearby.

After my darling husband packed up EVERYthing, we headed in the stadium to watch the game.

The game was between the priests on the Kansas City/St. Joseph Missouri diocese verses the priests on the Kansas City, Kansas diocese. Undoubtedly, the entire stadium of 2,500 people were all Catholics. Instead of the typical music heard at a baseball game, we heard Ave Maria. When a Monsignor was up to bat, the crowd would clap and chant Mon-SEEN-YER! Mon-SEEN-YER! There were Catholic banners and t-shirts everywhere. The atmosphere was so warm and full of those fuzzy feelings we get when we are with a mass group of people we love. We all had something so dear in common. We were all Catholic. We all loved our Mother and we loved our Eucharist.

The priests came up to bat one by one. I knew most of them which added to the fun.  Each batter, each hit, each out, each strike, walk, run, base hit – every moment was exciting. I think what put all of us in a state of awe was the fact that all of these young and professional looking men were priests AND normal. They played GOOD! Who would have thought that you could bring 20 priests together and actually see a good and intense and enjoyable game?