The Holy Spirit has been busy around here lately. Thankfully, we managed to celebrate sacramentally and materially without much stress. (Just a little. Not more than usual. Perhaps a little less. Mostly.) I'm calling it a victory and giving thanks to God for a weekend of tremendous blessing. The photos are not wonderful quality... and anyone who wants to donate a DSLR for the enhancement of this blog would be most welcome to do so. For the greater good of humanity! (Okay, not. But it would make me awfully happy in a materialistic, worldly kind of way.)
1. DOUBLE THE GRACES
We managed to get the timing just right and get two kids Confirmed at one time. It was so fun, so lovely, so fruitful, and so... so efficient that we'd love to have the rest of the kids sealed with the Spirit in pairs.
Forgive me for getting frugal here for a moment but I'm a mom. We picked up the jacket for the 13-year old at Goodwill for $6. Cookie's lovely dress was 40% off at Lands End. Finding modest, contemporary, high quality lovely dresses for 15-year old girls is not easy. This was a true win on all counts.
2. FOLLOW THE RULES
Hey, when the DRE says that they really prefer that you not take pictures, what she probably means to say is "It's okay to take grainy pics of the back of people's heads standing in the aisle with your smart phone as long as you don't disturb the Bishop." So... we're good.
3. BE FLEXIBLE
Cakes implode. It happens. Especially when it's a gluten free recipe that you haven't tried before. (Gluten is a phenomenal binding agent, by the way.) When it happens, beg Facebook to fix it for you and all of your friends will come to your aid within minutes. My deepest gratitude to Charlotte, Ellen, Katie, Jana, Mary, Meredith, Lena, and Kendra for the cake rescue help. (Good cake clearly takes a village.)
Cookie and I took the inspiration and ended up with cakes in cups that looked Pinteresty (more or less) and tasted pretty darn good. Buttercream, yellow cake, whipping cream/cream cheese topping, a little edible gold spray (not visible in my low quality pic but pretty in person), gold and pearl sprinkles... done. And remarkably easy to serve.
The kids really wanted to reproduce these cookie successes from our previous celebration but I had to choose between cookie making and cleaning the house. If anyone has a firm gluten free sugar cookie recipe that would hold up for this purpose (and taste good), I'd love the recommendation.
4. ORDER GOOD WEATHER
It makes all the difference. When the toddler has to leave church because you planned poorly and didn't feed her? No problem.
5. HAVE CHOCOLATE. REALLY GOOD CHOCOLATE.
From the word go, I was fully committed to the idea of some kind of decadent chocolate dessert. I found a wonderful recipe and made several batches of Raspberry and Chocolate Cheesecake Trifles. Wow. Recommended. Instead of fresh raspberries, I drizzled some raspberry syrup on the top and it was perfect. I modified the recipe to make it gluten free by replacing the chocolate cookie bottom with crumbled gluten free brownie. I replaced the Dove chocolates with chocolate chips to save on expense. There's a typo in their recipe. Do not add 8 more ounces of chocolate after the first 4... it's 8 ounces of cream cheese.
We also made up little favors with Dove chocolate and Swedish Fish. Get it? Dove? And the fish as a symbol of our profession of faith.
6. BE PREPARED
We are a homeschooling Catholic family with a lot of faith-based resources on hand for sacramental preparation. There's everything from the Baltimore Catechism to Lighthouse audios lining our shelves so there's plenty to choose from. In spite of that, we added an additional Confirmation resource this year called Decision Point, a program designed by Matthew Kelly. I'd like to write a full review in the future but I'll just say this for now:
It isn't the Summa Theologica. It isn't a complete presentation of the entire deposit of faith. It isn't sufficient on it's own without a richer context. But... it's a pretty rock solid program that inspired my entire family to love more and dig deeper into our faith. Kelly presents the Truth with so much real joy that it's difficult not to respond from the heart.
The material is not difficult but neither is it fluff. I've seen the program trashed by some who call it vanilla garbage. I don't agree. I think it's simple, but not simplistic. And I think that, especially in a broader parish context, it is the right combination of meat and refreshment to draw in some hardened hearts. I wouldn't rely on it alone but I'm very glad we added it to our homeschool program.
7. ALWAYS DIY
More terrible pictures of lovely things. I made this banner for Professor's Confirmation and was so excited that I didn't have to make anything like it again this time around. It was an easy project the first time and a finished project the second time. A great relief. Here's a link to our last party in which I give very basic directions. Pentacost, Confirmation, and Cookies.
From our last party... VENI SANCTE SPIRITUS!!!
I couldn't post this without telling you briefly about the greatest blessing of the party preparation. It came at the price of humiliation and a wounded heart (not mine) but if that's what it takes to bring me to my knees, so be it...
I did pretty well overall about staying even tempered while trying to get a pretty messy home ready for a lot of company. It's always a funny contradiction; a stressful household preparing for a sacramental celebration! I wasn't too uptight but I was rather tired. And in spite of my general success, I lost my cool with one of my littles.
I repented immediately, scooped the child up, and ran to the nearest cuddling couch. I told her that it wasn't her. I told her that she meant more to me than any party. I told her that I would rather have our guests come to a messy, stinky home than to burden her heart with my sharp words again. She cried and I cried and we sat there for a long time, leaving all the urgent things undone.
My whole day changed in that moment. I didn't forget my priorities again (at least not that day). She's more important to me than any party. She's just as treasured as our most honored guest. It's not worth it. The pride-based stress isn't worth the bruised hearts of my children. And I went into the rest of the preparation with a sad, humbled, and rejoicing heart. He allowed me to see my priorities and set them straight and I would not dismiss the gift. Thanks be to God.
Pentacost, Confirmation, and Cookies
Linking up with Kelly for 7 Quick Takes Friday