Four Kids, One Cousin and Two Farms in Seven Quick Takes

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(The world’s all-time record for a long blog post title?)

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I practiced flute for half an hour in my bedroom at my parents’ house yesterday. Now, if you’re much of a musician you probably know that not all rooms are equal. Acoustics make playing in some rooms a pleasure and in others a chore. If I’d ever stopped to think about it I’d have known my carpeted basement lies closer to the latter than the former, but it’s the space I have and so I use it. My childhood bedroom, with its hard wood floors and un-fussy decor, felt like a concert hall. I was disappointed at being called away after only half an hour. (Which was in two parts, btw.)

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We were at my parents’ because it was their 43rd wedding anniversary. Everybody tell them congratulations!

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Mom pulled out her wedding gown. In the box she also unearthed my First Communion outfit. Which reminded me of my greatest childhood drama. (Prepare yourself.) When I was in the second grade, my mother told me First Communion was becoming too much about vanity, so I wasn’t going to wear a fancy white dress. I was extremely bitter, because not only was I the only girl in my entire class who didn’t wear a white dress and veil, I was the only one of my SISTERS who didn’t get to wear a white dress and veil for her First Communion.

I held this against my mother for years, until I’d been through a few First Communions as a liturgy director and decided the vanity factor is wwwwway out of hand, and these dresses are completely ridiculous. Then and only then did I discover that it wasn’t her idea in the first place, it was the teachers’.

Looking at my outfit–store bought, by the way, which says something about how bad my mom must have felt, because she never forked over the money for storebought us clothes when we were little–brought every twisted emotion I have ever felt on the subject roaring to the surface.

Now, how can I be so bitter about not having gotten to wear a fancy white dress and, at the same time, be irritated with the money-vanity factor of First Communion fashion today?

(My mom’s answer: “Then you reacted like a child, now you react like an adult. And it must have been a very deep hurt.”)

Here's the outfit...we put it on Julianna. She fought me all the way getting it on, and then refused to take it off, even though it was way too big.

Here’s the outfit…we put it on Julianna. She fought me all the way getting it on, and then refused to take it off, even though it was way too big.

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Once my sister and her son arrived, Mom sent the kids outside to pick blackberries. Alex’s comment was priceless: “These are TOTally SOOOO not storebought.”

Of course, the real attraction of being in my parents’ back yard was the big round hay bales beyond it. All four of my kids had to go out and touch one.

Touching the hay bale

I had a strong memory of Finding Nemo.

___5___

Then we went down to watch my dad moving slats out of the hog barn, which is being repurposed for storing miscanthus bales.

Dad on tractor

Alex wanted to take a ride on a slat. Julianna hid behind her aunt as long as the tractor was running.

Tamara with Julianna

Then Dad turned off the tractor to say hi to the kids, and Michael dashed in. It took him all of five seconds to go from standing by me, relatively clean, to getting oil on his hand.

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IMG_0804 smallWhich was followed in short order by a trip into the haybarn-turned-machine shed. While my sister and I were waxing reminiscent about jumping off piles of hay bales, Michael got on Julianna’s bad side and got pushed to the ground. So now he had oil on his hand and thick dust on his bottom and his belly.

___7___

Alex milking cowWe followed this up with a trip to another farm that raises chickens, goats, and a llama. We got to feed them peanuts. At least, Alex did; Julianna and Nicholas wouldn’t dare, but Michael had to be dragged away screaming. He thought it was hilarious. The owner let Alex and his cousin milk a goat. All I can say is that I have a real sensitivity problem with dairy operations, wholly stemming from the manhandling of the mammary organs. As a nursing mother emeritus, I spend the entire time wincing and feeling violated. I know. It’s psychotic. The farm girl can’t handle hearing about or watching animals being milked. Well, we didn’t have a diary when I was a kid.

Anyway, we got good and dirty, which meant…what, do you think? That it was a great time to go to Great Grandma’s assisted living facility for an ice cream social, of course!

Bonus: For those who don’t read all the time, take a look at this post, if you will, and consider sharing. Ministry is so important, and every parish lacks for volunteers because people think they aren’t good enough or don’t have time. This is my attempt to make a dent in that!

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 227)

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11 thoughts on “Four Kids, One Cousin and Two Farms in Seven Quick Takes

  1. Tamara

    OMG, Michael! Oil, then dirt. Then so much ice cream on your shirt we had to take it off. Then you made a beeline for someone else’s phone – 3 tables over! Then you tried to escape down the stairs!! I think Kate you just have to laugh because otherwise you’d be crying all the time.

  2. Cindy

    Our niece in Milan, Italy, made her first communion this Spring, and the girls wore what amounts to altar server robes here in the states. No veils, no earrings, etc. I have to say I liked it, and was quite surprised that a fashion epicenter had such a great low-key fashion for the girls!

  3. My pastor wore no special clothes or even had a special Mass for First Communion and he still brings it up. I tell him it clearly had no effect on his vocation and ordination made up for it. The dress around these parts has thankfully calmed down a bit, it was way out of control.

  4. When my big ones made FHC, the DRE’s letter said that white dresses weren’t required. Both times there were one or two girls who weren’t wearing white. I felt bad for them. Maybe the point was to say “Don’t let lack of a white dress keep you away” but the girls weren’t wearing cheap dresses. When the youngest made hers, the letter at least pointed toward white dresses.

    I have mixed feelings about the fashion show. On the one hand, it can get out of hand; on the other hand, it does teach the kids that we dress up for special things and that FHC is special.

    • That is true. I think in part, as a parent and as a person who’s starting to try to see all decisions about money in the light of the whole world’s issues, I have a real problem with the outlay of expense on a dress that can only be worn once. Only in the first world would we do something like this. Then again, I wouldn’t suggest that we do away with wedding gowns, and that’s even more the case with those. I don’t know what the solution is.

      • Why can they only be worn once? My girls wore theirs as Sunday dresses, which is what I did with mine. I’m another one who was less than thrilled with my dress when I saw the others. Mine was a homemade white church dress for lack of a better description. I don’t remember how many girls were wearing something like that and how many were wearing mini-bridal gowns but I remember the big poufy dresses and long veils. My veil was one the program was pushing (remember that back in the Stone Ages when I made my FHC we wore veils to church every week) and it was just another veil, not the long flowing things some of the girls had.

        While I certainly would not deprive my family of necessities to buy a fancy FHC dress, someone, probably someone in a third world country, has a job in part because I bought that dress.

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