What We Did Ash Wednesday

by | Mar 6, 2014 | Homemaking, Lent, March | 18 comments

Pshew, we did it. 

It took a whole day, and we didn’t get ANY schoolwork done (double day tomorrow!) but we went to Mass, got our ashes, decorated the house for Lent, and . . . Cleaned Out the Toys!

Here’s our day in pictures . . .


remember, baby, you are dust . . .

And the big toy cleanout . . . 


(this part is what I like to call “sweep pile rescue”)


I know, it doesn’t LOOK all that different. But there is a huge stack of toys against the wall of my garage that says otherwise. We still have a lot of toys. More than I intended, but it was HARD getting rid of stuff. We got rid of half of our toy bins, and probably two thirds of the toys themselves. We moved art supplies and games down where big kids can reach them.
I’m happy with our progress. And, hey, this way we have something to do NEXT Lent, right?
This is what our school table looks like now:
I’m sure it will be very motivational, or at least now, if they’re spacing out, maybe they’ll be spacing out about the passion. So that’s something.
For our other Lent decorations, see here.
In other Ash Wednesday news, I got the following email:

“FYI, Bishop Michael C Barber, S.J. of the Diocese of Oakland, California, quoted your article “Outside the Box: 66 Things to Give Up or Take Up for Lent (in beginner, intermediate, and advanced). People found it humorous and insightful.”

So. Cool. I need new business cards. Kendra Tierney: wife, mother, blogger, inspiration of bishops. 


Oh, also, not yelling is really hard. I’m glad it wasn’t a one day challenge.


  1. Kate

    Your children are so beautiful! I love your Lent decorations! I wouldn't dare do that with my two little boys about!
    I had a look at your link up to your last decorations – when exactly do you shroud the crucifix? I got all the purple cloth out and cut and then a bit of research with a baby on my lap and saw you shroud it only at Passiontide – is that right?

    • Kendra

      Hey, you're right. Thanks for the head's up. I shall unshroud for the next few weeks!

    • Kate

      Well at least I have it all worked out how to shroud the crucifix now and I have my oldest really interested in why!

      You must read Shirley Hughes book called Helpers. I love how the children salvage all the tossed toys and find special places for them.

      How did you do a toy toss and not shout?! I had to give up shouting when we moved across the country – we now live attached to the school boys' boarding house and I am pretty sure if I raise my voice they will hear and it will come back at my husband (the teacher and boarder master). It has made a huge difference in our home. Less toddler breakdowns that is for sure! I started off by shouting things like "WE DO NOT SHOUT IN OUR HOME!", now, after a few weeks, I can say it in a pretty decent tone.

  2. Colleen

    My husband was listening to the Catholic radio station and came home telling me he heard some good ideas for Lent like not taking the best parking spot in Church. I immediately thought of you and your list…you are making the rounds with that goodness!!!

  3. Maria

    We did a toy purge too. Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. Anonymous

    Amen, Kendra. I am also giving up yelling for Lent, and yesterday I was unsuccessful. Good thing Lent is a whole season! When you have broken a Lenten promies is there anything in particular you do? Yesterday, after breaking my promise not to yell I prayed an Act of Contrition. Is that common?
    By the way, Lulu's hair is such a beautiful color. Maybe it strikes me because she is so small, and has so much of it?

    • Kendra

      I usually just notice, stop, recollect myself, and make a new resolution. But I really like the idea of saying an Act if Contrition. I might try that.

  5. vitabenedicta

    I would really like to hear updates on the great toy purge. I'd like to cut down on clutter, but I'm in that season of life where I have all little kids (a 2.5 year old, a 1 year old, and probably more on the way soon). It is so hard to get them to play by themselves so I can cook, clean, or check my blogs (ok, maybe that last one isn't necessary . . . ) because they can't read or do craft projects unassisted. I'm worried that if I purge 90% of their toys, they will NEVER play by themselves! But then again, maybe fewer toys would actually improve the situation by forcing them to have a longer attention span and fewer distractions. So I'm interested in hearing how Frankie reacts to having fewer toys.

    • Kendra

      We kept Frankie's few favorites. But it is much easier with big kids in the house, the little kids mostly just trail after whatever they're doing. Plus we're in Southern California, so shutting the kids outside is always an option. I'll keep you posted.

  6. Jamie Jo

    I put your 66 things on Facebook and saw others did too!

    I found the same thing with cleaning out toys…although, we made some progress, there is always more to be made. Thank goodness lent is over 40 days long, maybe by Easter we will be good and cleaned out!

  7. Jamie Jo

    OH, yeah, and we live in MN, we don't have the "play outside all day" option. It did finally warm up enough to play outside though yesterday and the kids were out for over an hour! (yay for me!)

  8. Nanacamille

    I love the photos with ashes especially Louise with spit bubble going on. Are the toys coming back in or are they destined for new homes? Am I taking they down to SD Birthline? It will make some kids very happy if I take them in because even broken or missing pieces toys are better than what some of these kids have for toys.

  9. Cynthia

    Trying the “no yelling” thing here too. I failed yesterday…and today. Here’s to tomorrow, my goodness. Love the clearing-out-the-toys idea. I think I’m going to copy that too 🙂

  10. Anonymous

    "if they're spacing out, maybe they'll be spacing out about the passion."
    LOVE IT!

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