In my post about how we do and do not shelter our kids, I mentioned that we choose not to shield our kids entirely from pop culture influences. As with most things, we try to find a middle ground. We don’t have cable, but we do have Netflix. They mostly don’t listen to the radio, but they do have iTunes playlists with a wide ranging selection: Sesame Street, the Smothers Brothers, Katy Perry, Weird Al, Ylvis, Elvis, Andrea Bocelli, the Irish Rovers. They’re kids. They like some dumb stuff. But, given the opportunity, they like some beautiful stuff as well.

I have to admit to having rather pedestrian taste sometimes, myself. I like Once Upon a Time, and Taylor Swift. And, I swore I was NEVER going to admit this on the blog, but I read and did not hate Twilight. (Please don’t leave.) But I don’t LIMIT myself to only fluff. I also like Masterpiece Classics, and Yo Yo Ma, and Jane Eyre. I want to raise children who know how to enjoy the stuff that goes down easy, but who won’t limit themselves to only that.

I think it’s my job, as their mom, to steer them towards the good, guide them in the neutral, and protect them from the evil.

Here’s how we mostly do it: We avoid the bad stuff, borrow the neutral stuff, and own the good stuff.

I let them bring books of their own choosing home from the library. They often choose not-particularly-challenging books like Magic Treehouse, or novelizations of Star Wars Movies. But for the books that we are going to own, I’m pickier. We make sure that they’re getting exposed to challenging and beautiful books by reading them aloud as a family, listening to them as audio books in the car, and just having a lot of them on the bookshelves, so if they run out of junk food, they’ll go ahead and have some vegetables. We avoid books altogether that I think are overly crass, or celebrate bad behavior.

I used to just not put anything on TV for the kids that I couldn’t sit through myself. So Sesame Street or Word Girl? Yes. I find those shows clever and entertaining. But Barney and Caillou? Nope. Can’t do it. As they’ve gotten older, they do watch things on their own from Netflix that don’t seem bad, but that I can’t sit through. But we make a point of owning, and watching together as a family, movies that we’d like them to see, but that maybe they wouldn’t choose for themselves. Important movies like It’s a Wonderful Life, and Henry V, and The Longest Day, and Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.

They get to listen to their iTunes playlists on their own time, but during our late afternoon clean up, I’ll often put on classical music.

It’s important to me that, although they might enjoy catchy music or silly TV shows, they can also recognize a masterful painting or a beautiful poem. But since they don’t often seek those out on their own, I have to have them in the house. We have family photos on our walls, but also mosaics, and paintings. We’ve got a TV in our living room, but we also have a crucifix. Because I want my kids to know about both.

It’s still my birthday giveaway week, where YOU get the presents! And it is especially applicable today, since September 22nd is the shared birthday of Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, and, as everyone knows, at hobbit birthday parties, the GUESTS get the presents.

Today, I’m pleased to be able to offer you two gifts to help make your home more true and beautiful:

First, a CD of Liturgical Year Latin Motets, recorded by St. Joseph Cappella, an all-volunteer mixed choir from St. Joseph Church in Detroit.

I’ve had the CD myself for a few weeks now and it’s really wonderful. Primarily a capella, but accompanied by an organ on a few tracks, the pieces follow the liturgical year, and the Mass. The accompanying booklet has lovely photography and a detailed explanation of the music. I’ve found this CD suitable for cooking, studying, cleaning, prayerful meditation, and dinner parties. :0)

You can get a copy of the CD for yourself by emailing stjosephcappella@gmail.com. It is available for sale from www.cdbaby.com/cd/stjosephcappella (physical CD and digital), iTunes and other major online digital retailers, and local Catholic bookstores in the Detroit metro area.

Second, is a one year’s subscription of the children’s magazine St. Mary’s Messenger. My kids love getting mail, they love magazines in particular. So I’m really pleased to have this one in the house. It’s full of saint stories, classic poetry, selections from great literature, science, art, photography, craft ideas, liturgical year celebrations and much more. It’s a lovely little magazine aimed at kids aged 7-12. 

To find out more, or to subscribe, please visit their website at StMarysMessenger.com.

To enter to win, please leave a comment telling us all about something true and beautiful in your home.

I’m still out of town. Want to know where? I’m not telling. But if you’re on Instagram or Facebook, you can follow me or look for the hashtag #whereislulu, and guess where she is today! The first few correct guesses on each photo will be entered in a drawing to win some trinkets from the trip!