Lorelei on The Christian Circle Podcast: Raising Children in the Catholic Faith

I (Lorelei) had the pleasure of being interviewed for The Christian Circle Podcast on Raising Children in the Catholic Faith. It was lovely speaking with the host, Pamela Fernandes on the subject.

I hope to get the chance to visit again! Click here to take a listen, as well as to read a bit about behind the scenes. We hope you enjoy. 🙂


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When Grown Ups Get Embarrassed (A Lesson in Parenting)

It’s been a while since I’ve been straight up embarrassed in public. Though I lean introvert, I can typically handle social situations in an appropriate manner.

This week, I was reminded how awful it feels to be embarrassed in front of others.

We were at the pool for Lissie’s swim lessons. I was sitting on the edge of the wading section, keeping an eye on Auggie (who was wearing a lifejacket), and also trying to keep the baby from freaking out at her lack of freedom while strapped in her carseat.

We’d been attending swim lessons all summer. 14 times to be exact. And I had spoken with a lifeguard a few weeks back about where I needed to be in relation to my son while he swam. I was told I needed to be at the edge of the pool, which is where I was.

I was surprised, therefore, that a lifeguard approached me at the last lesson pretty agressively and told me I needed to be within arm’s reach of my son.

I told him I thought I was doing the right thing, but it wasn’t a problem and promptly waded over to tell Auggie to stay close to me.

But then the lifeguard didn’t stop. He kept explaining the rule to me, loudly, even though I didn’t fight him on where he wanted me to be.

There were a lot of people at the pool.

I felt embarrassed.

I know he was trying to do his job and keep everyone safe, but it’s a weird moment when you think you are following the rules, but then someone keeps explaining it to you like you don’t get it for some reason or are going to fight him on it, even though you’re not.

I’ve never liked getting in trouble. I made it through school without a single detention. I cried once when I got a tally mark against me for talking in 2nd grade. I also cried when a very nice police officer pulled me over for speeding the one time I got a ticket.

I really, really, don’t like being singled out in public for a negative reason. And I think there is a much more respectful way to correct behavior, in both public and private situations.

Dignity and Teaching

I learned very early on in my urban teaching experience that my students responded a lot better to redirection if I did it privately, without embarrassing them.

There are a couple of kids I specifically remember. Kids who other teachers had a hard time getting to listen. Kids who often got phone calls home or one way trips to the office. But not with me. Why? Because the other teachers would scold them publicly, in front of their friends. And they would talk back in an attempt to save face.

When these same kids were approached quietly, privately, respectfully when the other students were working, things were different. They, more often than not, corrected their behavior, dignity intact.

I also tried as best as I could to assume the misbehavior was unintentional. There’s a big difference in approach between “Quit tapping that pencil on the paper- you know it’s distracting everyone!” and “You may not have realized this, but tapping your pencil that loudly makes it hard for me to focus on what I’m teaching. Is there a quieter way you could get your wiggles out?”

Understanding kid’s innate desire to be treated with dignity helped my teacher game more than I ever could have known. Kids felt safe in my classroom. They knew I respected them as people. And they were able to learn and trust that they were in good hands.

Dignity and Parenting

How many times a week does a kid get their behavior corrected? Judging by my own parenting experience, a lot.

I think it was good for my kids to see the pool incident happen. We talked about it on the way home. About how I wanted to say some not nice things to him, but didn’t, and how hard it is to control our tongues. We also talked about how he was in charge of the pool, and how I needed to be respectful of him, even though it was difficult.

We talked about how I just wanted to leave, and how I understand there have been times in the past when they have felt the same way, embarrassed by something so much that they wanted to go home.

I hope this helped, particularly our five-year-old. She is a child of Big Feelings. I hope it helped her see that grown-ups have Big Feelings sometimes, too. That we feel embarrassed sometimes. That we need to respect the people in charge, too.

I also hope this helps me remember to be sensitive to those moments when my kids are embarrased. To those moments when they feel like they aren’t in control of their life. When they are misunderstood. I think I was better at remembering these things in the context of a classroom than I am in the context of my kids at home. I don’t know why this is. Maybe because I don’t always get a ‘prep time’ each day when I can re-focus and re-charge. JP and I get a few hours while the kids sleep each night, but it’s not like there is ever any extended separation from the environment of home like there was when I left school each day and didn’t have to return until the following morning. It’s more constant each day at home. But it’s not an excuse to forget.

Thank You, Mr. Lifeguard

I didn’t like it when it happened, but that brief and uncomfortable encounter at the pool had a lot to teach me, and hopefully, helped me connect with my kids in a deeper way. It was a good reminder to me of what it feels like to have someone assume the worst intentions in you, and to publicly call you out on it.

I think it’s a good thing when we can take an uncomfortable situation and learn something from it. I’m thankful to that lifeguard. Though I didn’t appreciate his approach, I know he was trying to do his job well. His approach gave me an important reminder about how I handle things with the people I’m in charge of as their momma, and was yet another reminder of the importance of maintaining the dignity of those we encounter. No matter how big, or how small.



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Celebrating Our Ten Year Wedding Anniversary!

Ten years ago, JP and I entered into the Sacrament of Marriage.

We celebrated our anniversary on May 26, 2017. It was a beautiful day, and we are so thankful for each other, and for God growing us in love this past decade. We started the week off by watching our wedding video, and looking at pictures from our relationship, and some of the notes we have given to each other over the years. Turns out back in the day we celebrated “month-versaries” of dating, and got each other a card for each month we had been together. We talk in those cards of all the “memories” we had made in the past one month, or two months, and it’s pretty dorky and funny, but also kind of sweet. Ten years in we now believe we actually do have some great memories together… so feeling pretty legit.

But, without further ado, here are some highlights from the actual anniversary day.

We drove up to Green Bay, which is where much of our early relationship took place, with plans to take the kids to several of our “Love Spots” in the area. We thought it would be good for them to see us celebrate our relationship together for the first part of the day, and it was really cool to have them along, visiting places we never knew we would be bringing our three kids a decade later.

We went to Zesty’s where we had part of our first date, and got ice cream.

Then the kids sat on the bench where we sat and had one of our first conversations. I remember I had my mom scheduled to call me so I could have an excuse to “bail” in case things weren’t going well. I forget what the code word was, but I clearly didn’t need to use it. I liked the fella’.

First Date Bench by the Fox River

We also took the kids to Scray Hill, where JP and I went on a few dates to overlook the lights of the city. It’s also where he proposed at night on a vacant lot, which sounds sketchy, but actually wasn’t. Turns out, the proposal location is still a vacant lot! (Side note: JP does not enjoy selfies, but he humored me with a joyful spirit throughout this part of the day.)

Where we got engaged.

JP went to St. Norbert College in De Pere, and De Pere is where I (Lorelei) grew up. So St. Norbert played a big role in our relationship as well. We took a walk there, also on our first date, and JP cheesily picked me a flower from a bush. Much of our early relationship, looking back, came with a side of cheese. Maybe it does still, cause we went back to that bush and took a picture.

JP picked us all a little flower. Yeah… stil cheesy 🙂

About this point in time JP and Lissie start acting a bit fishy. I knew we were planning to visit the church where we got married (which was the Catholic church Old St. Joes on St. Norber’ts campus. How we ended up with a Catholic wedding looooong before I was Catholic is a whole ‘nother story. But was also a grace I didn’t even know I was receiving at the time.)

The time was nigh and JP suggested we head over to the church. Once inside, Lissie looked at me with a smile and said “Mommy, I have to go to the bathroom.” I take her, and she admitted Daddy told her to do that to keep me busy for a minute.

We finshed up, and I couldn’t find JP. Turned out he was inside the church, and he asked the kids if they wanted to see what it was like when Mommy and Daddy got married. Then he handed me my actual wedding veil, and a piano player started to play Pachelbel’s Canon in D. (At this point I’m very impressed with my husband.)

He took his spot down the aisle, and the kids ran and took their seats. I walked, once again, to the place where we married each other, and JP, I kid you not, ten years later, had tears in his eyes.

Things looked a littled different from my end than they did ten years ago. First of all, there were two humans who we created sitting by JP. And, my husband was holding our infant daughter as I walked to meet him. It was all surreal and beautiful and very cool.

I figured he would have some sort of love note for me or something, and I turned to smile at the kids. But when I looked back, a Priest had popped out from behind a wall, and he said we were there to affirm our wedding vows.

So we stood, in the empty Church with a Priest and our Children, and affirmed that which we promised to each other ten years ago that day. For richer and poorer, in sickness in health, until death do us part. It was a most wonderful surprise.

Where the magic happened ten years ago.


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After our vow renewal.

After that, one set of Grandparents babysat the littles for the evening, and we put the camera away while we went to enjoy a fine bottle of wine and the Chef’s Table at Chives in Green Bay. Highly recommend it, especially for special occasions. We were joined by a good pair of friends, and ended the night with some awkward karaoke.

It was wonderful to be able to spend a day just celebrating all that has happened in this first decade of our marriage, and to realize how far we’ve grown, and how much our love has developed and matured from those early days.

The Sacrament of Marriage has been a huge gift to us. One which I think we are just beginning to really appreciate, and to understand for what it is meant to be. We are both looking forward to what the next decades bring.


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A Lesson From A Two Year Old On Holiness (And A Quick Update)


Lorelei’s latest article is up on Catholic Stand today!

A Lesson From A Two Year Old On Holiness

This Catholic Family just got back from a Mega Family wedding. It was so much fun, and we will be sharing more about our weekend with you in our next post!

-JP and Lorelei

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Superman, Spit-up Shirts, And Other Mommy Things

Oh man are we in the thick of it!

And we only have three! Bless you mommas who have more. And bless you mommas who have less. Depending on the personality cocktail of our kids, one can seem like many, and many can seem like an army.

Here’s a few things, or tidbits, if you will, that this momma has paid attention to of late:

1- My son wants to be a superhero. I don’t know how this happened, other than it is inside of him somehow. We don’t watch superhero movies, we don’t have superhero books. But he got a Superman figurine somewhere, somehow, and all of a sudden every blanket is a cape, and he is running around defeating bad guys. This kid wants to fight for justice. He wants to be strong. He wants to have what it takes to save the day. I love that about him.

2- I am the world to this baby. For now. When this tiny infant of mine cries to be held for the bajillionth time each day, it helps me to remember that to her, right now, I am the entire world. Within a very short amount of time, I won’t be. I already have to bargain with my two year old for snuggles, depending on the time of day. So, when she cries, again, for her momma, I am trying to just embrace this fleeting time.

3- The creativity of children astounds me. We have a room full of Many A Toy, and you know what the kids spend most of their time playing with? Blankets, pillows, cushions, blocks, art stuff, and books. My oldest daughter has an amazing imagination. She leads her little minion brother on the coolest adventures. They make forts, and Fun Parks, and piles, along with other crazy messes (that I try hard not to overreact to). And all those fancy schmancy toys just kind of hang out and enjoy the show. We have, for a while now, stopped stocking them with many additional fancy schmancy toys. And they don’t seem to mind a bit.

4- Sometimes I have spit-up on my shirt. Yeah, I know it’s there. And no, I don’t feel like making extra laundry, so this baby is going to ride out the day.

5- Dinner is easier to make in the morning. Dinner time is the Witching Hour around here… where Bigs are tired from the day, and Little is fussy. Tis much easier to reheat a kind-of-soggy-fajita than to attempt to make a not-as-soggy fajita at five pm.

Perhaps these are kind of random… but that’s kind of how my thoughts are throughout most of the days most of the time. Any other coherent-ish posts you may have read require late nights, covert trips to Starbucks, or many, many edits. And these tidbits I’ve mentioned have been popping up around me lately over and over again. Especially the spit-up clad shirt thing. Whatevs. So I smell like sour milk. I keep these little humans alive.


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Lent Is Upon Us! An Idea For The Family, and Reflections On The Season

I’ve been writing about a couple of more serious topics recently, so I thought it might be time to switch it up and get a little more lighthearted. Like by writing a post about Lent. Because Lent is known for being both lighthearted and fun! Ha ha! But, in all seriousness…


People. I am honestly, truly, so pumped about Lent!

I think part of the reason I’m so excited is because last year, at this time, I was approaching Confirmation. I was preparing in my heart for fully uniting with the Holy Catholic Church. And it was just a beautiful time of anticipation and reflection.

Another reason is that I have really grown to appreciate the liturgical seasons. They are such a rhythmic way to go through life, with periods of anticipation, and celebration, of sacrifice, and waiting, and also, normalcy. I think the cycle is so beautiful. And I know many of my Protestant brothers and sisters, in their faith traditions, are already or are starting to re-embrace some of these liturgical aspects, like Advent and Lent, as well. It is good for us to have a rhythm to our life. Like the seasons of the earth, only these are the seasons of our faith.

We move ever forward, and yet revisit that which is good for our souls time and time again as the years go by.

In this particular season of having three little ones at home, my desire is to start incorporating more formal traditions into our family life for the major liturgical seasons and Holy Days throughout the year. But also, not to bite off more than I can realistically chew. I may or may not have a tendency to think I am Superwoman. I submit Felicity’s third and fourth birthday parties as examples of this. One was a Frozen theme, the other Rainbows.

It is quite possible that my children will never experience this level of Pinteresty-ness again. I sure did have fun doing it, and hopefully the husband and grandparents that got roped into helping did too, but this momma has time to painstakingly cut out dozens of paper snowflakes by hand no longer. And if some day, some how, some way I do have the time and energy and will again… cool. But I’m really working on not putting that kind of pressure on myself if I just can’t. Right now I can keep 3 little humans alive and manage to maintain my sanity for the most part. This is enough.

So… I want to start traditions, but keep it manageable. I had a few ideas, but this year, I am settling on this one. Just adding one thing to our Lenten season as a family. And that one thing is… drumroll please…

Sacrifice Beans!

Oddly named, but pretty cool. I originally found this idea on one of my favorite Catholic Mommy blogs, Catholic All Year.

This Lent, whenever we do something that is a sacrifice for the benefit of another, we get to put a bean in the vase. This will primarily be for the kids, but they are welcome to call out JP or I making a sacrifice for another and we can put a bean in as well. We will continue to add beans to the vase all the way up until Easter. At which point, on Easter morning, they will arise to find that all their sacrifices have turned into Jelly Beans. We can continue this into the Easter season, and this time, when they sacrifice, they get to eat a Jelly Bean.

These Savaryns Are Ready To Go!

If things go well, Easter this year may be a bit more sugared up than usual. 🙂

My hope is that this will be a fun way to help all of us to focus on serving each other, and to remember to put others first during this season. Also, hopefully, this will help pave the way for our children, and for JP and I to continue to live just a little bit more selflessly as time goes on.

That’s about all I can take on this year. We can add other traditions as the years go by. But I’m glad to be doing something, and am glad to start our first significant family tradition during Lent.

What about you? Does your family have any special Lenten traditions? Are you going to try something new this year?

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In Which Mary Charlotte Receives the Sacrament of Baptism

There’s a story in the Gospel of Luke about a man who was paralyzed. Jesus was speaking in a house nearby, and the man’s friends carried him there. It was so crowded that they could not get in the door. However, they did not give up. They carried their friend up on the roof of the house, opened a hole in the roof, and lowered the man down so he could meet Jesus and be healed.

The paralyzed man could not get there on his own. He needed others to bring him to Jesus.  Today, we acted likewise and brought our infant daughter, who can’t yet speak for herself, to Jesus through the Sacrament of Baptism. That story provides such a beautiful parallel to what we do when we baptize our infants.

And now our work has just begun, as we live to raise her with a strong Catholic faith. Soon enough, she will begin making her own decisions about growing in her faith as we support and guide her, and model for her what it is to live this life as a Christian. But this Sacrament is an amazing way to start her off on that journey, and we are so thankful, once again, for the gifts of the Church, and the Sacraments that help to guide us.


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Mary Charlotte

We have been so thankful to welcome Mary Charlotte Savaryn into the world on December 26th! The whole end of pregnancy while working full time with 2 other kiddos didn’t leave a lot of time to write, but it did leave a lot of time for reflection, so this post has been a long time coming.

Mary Charlotte, just after being born.

Prior to becoming pregnant with Mary, I was full of fear. Because of my traumatic pregnancy with August, the idea of getting pregnant again was terrifying, and my husband and I were not wanting to go through that again. I already wrote a bit here about how this pregnancy has allowed for such healing in our marriage in how we were able to handle the challenges of pregnancy differently this time around, which has had much to do with our Catholic faith.

But on a more personal level, just seeing God’s faithfulness in bringing me through the physical challenges of pregnancy this time, and knowing that He was sustaining me through the nausea, through the growing pains, through the discomforts at the end, and all the way through to a very healthy and healing natural delivery, boosted my own personal faith in countless ways.

I know that God had willed for us to have another child, and being open to life again was a big step of faith. And through it all I never felt abandoned… I could kneel in Mass and feel nauseous and know that Jesus, who asked this of me, was there, literally, sustaining me, right there in the Eucharist. I could kneel in Mass and feel the weight of my child inside me this December and know that Jesus, who asked this of me, was still, right there, always, in such a concrete way, a way I had never had access to prior to becoming Catholic. I knew that He has such a plan for this life, and that He was pleased with our faithfulness in being open to another child. Receiving Jesus each Mass was something I looked forward to and was grateful for, many times through tears, throughout the more difficult stages of growing this babe.FRAMED_OLG_SAMPLE.jpg

I also had the blessing of being very pregnant during the season of Advent. I was able to study and contemplate the journey of Mary at the end of her pregnancy, anticipating the birth of her own child. The discomfort she must have felt to be so pregnant on such a long journey, her own wonderings at when her child would be born, her own feelings and emotions as the time drew near, her faithfulness in the (much greater) task that God had set before her. And this Advent, due to my new relationship with and appreciation of the Mother of my Lord, I drew more comfort than ever that Mary knew what it was like, especially since she had so much more at stake than I did. And she was so faithful. And if she could be so faithful, then I knew I could as well.

My relationship with Mary has only started to grow, but I also felt her sustaining me throughout this pregnancy. Our daughter carries my grandmother’s names, one of which is also the name of our Holy Mother, and that was no coincidence.

It is my utmost goal to raise my children strong in the Catholic faith, so they can grow to be Saints in this world by following Jesus with their whole lives. This journey to motherhood for the 3rd time was particularly special, and healing, and I cannot wait to see what God has in store for this little life that he chose to bless us with, and through whom He already has provided such healing in my marriage, and in my soul.



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Oh Child, I Have So Much Good in Mind for You – If You Would Just Obey


In reading the Gospels lately, there is a common theme in Jesus’ teaching that jumps off the page at me (JP). That theme: if you believe I am Lord, then do what I say. I really am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and I’ve come so that you can have life to the fullest. But, having that life requires obeying me!

Being a parent has granted me the gift of understanding our relationship to our heavenly Father in better ways than ever before. Look at a scenario many parents are familiar with: parent wants what is good for the child, child doesn’t trust parent… But why?

Because sometimes what’s good for the child requires some element of suffering for the child.

The child can’t see past the short term suffering – giving up the toy to the younger brother, turning off the T.V. when mom asks, coming inside when told, …. etc. Since the child only sees the short term suffering, he/she has a hard, if not impossible time, believing that the parent has the child’s best interest in mind. But, the parent pleads with the child – if not explicitly, at least implicitly, subconsciously – to trust, just trust. “Child, if you’d just trust that I have your best interest in mind and obey what I tell you to do, life would go so well for you. I love you unconditionally, I take care of you, I want nothing less than for you to become the best version of yourself!”

But the child needs to do more than simply give mental assent to this claim from the parent – the claim that the parent has the child’s best interest in mind. The child actually needs to obey the parent! Without obedience, there is no growth. In obeying the parent, the child is participating in allowing the parent to shape him/her into the person the parents want them to be. And they want them to be a certain way only because the love them so very much! They want the child to be happy and they know what brings happiness and what doesn’t.

How similar have I been in my relationship with God to how my kids interact with me. Yah, yah, yah, God, you came and died for my sins, I get it. Jesus is God, I get it. …. 30min later when stuff is getting hard in the house, kids are screaming, dishwasher is broken, rain water is coming in the window, … whatever, I choose to sin, I choose not to obey Jesus’ commands in those moments. But if I really believe he is who he says he is, then the answer to all life’s greatest challenges is to do what he says! And what does he say to do?


That lead to the next logical question: what is love? How do I love as Jesus commands? Love is to will the good of the other. Love, which is what God is, is self-giving, indifferent self-giving. Love is giving of self regardless of the circumstances, regardless of what you will get in return. This is what Jesus came to show. He showed us what that looks like. And then he gave us the answers to all of life’s greatest troubles: do what I tell you – love others as I love you – and you will have life to the fullest. You will be free to freely give! Not to even begin to mention the endless grace he pours out on us when we make room in our hearts for him. If we just trust our Father in heaven has our best interest in mind and do what he says, we will have life to the fullest.

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” -John 10:1

– John Paul

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Children are Life

I write this as my 4 year old daughter is screaming and crying and stomping her feet in the middle of a time out. So, if I can still write this now, you know I mean it.

Felicity, our first little gift of life.

I hope to explore this further as time goes on, but I’ve been thinking a lot about how parts of our society view children. The decisions about how many children to have, how far to space them apart, what kinds of sacrifices are involved, seem to revolve more around the convenience and desired lifestyle of the parents than really looking at the matter from the perspective of a Christian, or, Catholic worldview.

I think those are important things to consider when deciding when or how many children to have, and the Church acknowledges that there do exist grave situations where limiting or delaying family growth is prudent. JP and I have no plans to need a school bus to cart our family around. But, there is a moral and ethical way to go about that planning that doesn’t wrap our fingers so tightly around the control that we shut out God’s movement. But my concern is that we are all too often addressing the issue from the view of society, and not from the view of the Church.

Example- the idea that having more children is going to postpone our life’s plans, are going to make it more challenging for us to have the lifestyle we desire, etc. Thinking about family planning from that perspective is looking at things from the point of view of society- that our goals and ambitions come first, and we somehow fit our child bearing into that plan for our lives. Somehow, bringing children into the world has become about us.

The Church comes at child bearing from a completely different angle. And this is the angle we should be using when evaluating issues in regard to family planning. The idea that children are not a barrier or a cause of delay in our own lives… children are life! They are life created in the image of God. They are life endowed with an immeasurable intrinsic value. In addition to that, the Church believes that marriage is most fully expressed in the way God intended when it is a marriage lived open to the possibility of creating life. We have found that openness to life to be transformative in our own marriage. When you live like that, the perspective necessarily shifts away from what we get out of our marriage, to what we give, and then, ultimately, what we receive from God as a result of our own self-giving.

I think there is a possibility that one might decide to have fewer children than originally thought, in order to pursue one’s life goals more quickly… but then decades later wonder “what if…” Whereas, I don’t think it’s likely that many people, deciding to allow for the blessing of children in their lives at God’s timing, would,decades later, wish that they hadn’t had one or more of their children. Or that they would regret delaying a “life’s goal” in exchange for the existence of their child.

Why is that? Because, while we have plans for our “life,” in the sense of what we want to accomplish, children actually are life. Period. And actual life, God-imaged life, is one of the most precious gifts our Creator has given us. Children are the beautiful life-filled result of the loving, giving union between a husband and a wife. And there are few things more beautiful in this world than that.

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