Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Mass With Little Ones

The past two weeks Katie has been getting up early and asking if she can come to Mass with me and Anthony.  Usually when I take both of them to daily Mass it's a recipe for disaster because they fight over my lap and it usually results in Anthony crying loudly or screaming.  But since she's been asking to go things have been surprisingly calm.  The kids are getting along and they've both been very quiet.

I find that what works best with keeping them happy is giving each of them a notebook and some crayons so they can just color and draw. But while Anthony spends a lot of time playing at my feet or just exploring the pew, he does also pay attention.  Some days he watches intently and imitates what the priest is doing as he says Mass.  There have even been times where I've heard him trying to say what the priest is saying.  I think he thinks he's helping them out.  He typically only does it when it's one of the two priests he knows best, his godfather and his "favorite priest." (Father has insisted since he was very small that he's Anthony's favorite.)

So today while in line to receive communion Anthony was having a great time singing on the way up.  Katie, soaking in her surroundings was happily waving her latest drawings, until she got very serious before bowing before the eucharist just before getting a blessing.  And then I notice Father motioning for me to look at Anthony who was in my arms.  He was really hoping to receive communion.  He had his tongue out and had this "I'm waiting" sort of expression on his face.  He was visibly disappointed that he got denied.  He has plenty of people who attend daily Mass who all think he already has a good understanding of what goes on at Mass.  Perhaps they're right.  I'm curious to see how he reacts going forward.  Today was the first time I've ever noticed him hoping to receive.

It amazes me how much little ones pick up when they attend Mass frequently.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Not A Dog Person

The twelve year old me would be horrified to hear me say this, but I'm absolutely not a dog person.  At least, not a person who wants a dog to live in her home.  I don't mind other people's dogs that I'm not required to live with, but I want no part of living with a dog, particularly Oscar.

Dogs are like living with the most irritating toddler you can find, only it smells really bad and it's parents never come to take it home.  Dog smells, dog hair and even the smell of dog food are all offensive to me.  The sound of a barking dog sets my nerves on edge.  When people tell me about their small dog that lived for more than a decade I start to panic that I could be stuck with this dog for more than another year or two.

Today Oscar decided to remind me of why I despise living with him.  Instead of barking at the door to go outside, like he normally would, he decided to pee on the kitchen floor.  Ellie sat next it it and didn't notice.  I kept asking if anyone knew what the awful smell was in the kitchen and no one knew anything.  Then Katie went to throw something in the trash and the poor kid stepped in the massive puddle of pee and slipped.  She ended up being covered in it and needed an immediate bath.

I'm not a dog person because I can't stand the smells and sounds associated with having a dog.  But my children shouldn't be dog people because the animal they claim they love so much is something they can't be bothered to feed or let outside at regular intervals.

Someday this misery of dog ownership will end and I'm going to celebrate like I never have before.  I long for the day when I can live in a pet free house.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Engaging Vs. Sleep Inducing Lenten Reading

I told Bryan earlier today that I'm just going to stop taking book suggestions from the saints.  Two books in particular that were given high praises by saints have left me bored to sleep.   Several weeks ago I wrote about how disappointed I was initially with the book What Jesus Saw From the Cross.  I have tried and tried to keep reading this book hoping that maybe it gets better, but I'm finding myself less and less impressed with the book.  I feel like so much of what is in this book is conjecture and the author trying to make sure his readers know just how sure he is of himself and his ability to fill in the blanks that are not overtly covered in detail in the Gospels.  The book feels like a penance and I think after this afternoon I'm just not going to bother forcing myself to read it anymore.  I have plenty of other books that would be better for reflecting on Holy Week.

Now the other book I've been reading for Lent, St. Francis de Sales Sermons for Lent is a far more engaging read.  It is not a sleep inducing book and it is thought provoking.  You can read a sermon from this book and come away with a deep appreciation for whatever points St Francis was talking about, and it gets you thinking about how you are living your life and what you could be doing better.
I think Lenten reading should make you contemplate Our Lord's great love for us and help us to mediate on his Passion.  In short, it should draw you closer to Him, not bore you to sleep.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Pencils and Cheerios

Anthony really likes to keep me on my toes.  There's just something about this little guy that drives me crazy and makes me laugh all at the same time.

Yesterday he was such a busy little guy that I wound up falling asleep on the couch before 7pm while Bryan and the girls were at soccer practice.  The last thing I remember before Katie woke me up was having Anthony sitting in front of me on the couch while we all watched Mulan.  She frantically woke me up from a nice, but way too short, nap to tell me that Anthony was playing in the toilet.  Ugh!  I don't know what it is about him, but he really likes to dip toilet paper in the toilet and then pull it out to watch the water drip on the floor.  It seriously makes me gag.

Earlier that day he asked for a banana and I gave him some cut up banana.  Minutes later when he asked for another banana I told him "no" and I thought that was the end of it.  Of course, it wasn't.  He found a way to reach the rest of the bunch, and went into the family room where he proceeded to bite through the peels of three bananas.  He actually ate the peels off the backs of the bananas.  If you're wondering who does stuff like that, I can give you an answer.  Anthony.  Anthony does stuff like that.

Today he was very quiet at Mass.  He was happily playing with some of those little golf pencils that our church has out in the pews from a charity campaign that is ongoing.  When he decided to stop scribbling all  over my Magnificat pages, he decided that pencil points where the ideal vehicle for picking up Cheerios.  I guess he feels more sophisticated eating his Cheerios with a pencil instead of his fingers.  I kept trying to pry the pencil from his kung fu grip, but the more I tried the more it seemed like I was going to send him into a full out tantrum.  So in the interest of not causing a major scene during the consecration, I decided to just let him use the pencil as an eating utensil.  Good thing the "lead" is really graphite and not actual lead.

I did think his pencil as utensil showed some creativity.  His very odd antics often reveal that he's a pretty smart kid who likes to find solutions to the problems he encounters.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Book Review: The Little Flower: A Parable of St. Therese of Lisieux

St. Therese is one of my favorite saints.  The simplicity of her Little Way just amazes me, and I like how her example is excellent for teaching little children how to do small things with great love for Our Lord.  St. Therese has been the saint I introduce my kindergarten religious education students to first, and over the years I've had many students who have come to really like the little girl who grew up to become a saint.

My usual vehicle for introducing children to St. Therese has been the stories in the Catholic Children's Treasure Box series.  At the beginning of the school year my present class of kindergarteners learned about St. Therese and they still talk about her and point out the little wooden peg doll statue of her that I keep on our class prayer table.  About two weeks ago I surprised them with another story about St. Therese.  The story I read to them was The Little Flower: A Parable of St. Therese of Lisieux.  It didn't take long for the little girls (all of my students are girls this year) to notice that it was a story about our much loved St. Therese.
The story is filled with gorgeous illustrations that warrant taking your time to look at them after reading the text.  Several times the little girls stopped me from turning the page because they wanted to examine one of the illustrations a bit more.  But not only are the illustrations beautiful, the story is also quite beautiful.

In the context of the story the parable is told to St. Therese by Jesus as she talked with Him about how she wanted to do great things for Him but she was very little.  It's a great story that shows very young children that while they may be small and unable to do to big amazing things for Our Lord, they are no less special to Him.

Overall the story is very well done and certainly has appeal to little girls in the five to six year old range with no questions what-so-ever.   It's a book that I'd suggest for a little girl's Easter basket.  The illustrations are perfect for Easter because they are so Springy.  My four year old, who has St. Therese as one of her patron saints, will find this beautiful story in her basket on Easter morning.  I know she's going to love this story and I can't wait to see her reaction.

I was provided with a review copy of The Little Flower: A Parable of St. Therese of Lisieux by the publisher, Gracewatch Media, in exchange for my honest review.  Visit their website Peanut Butter and Grace for more information on this title.  They also have a lot of great information for teaching your children about their Catholic faith.  The book is also available on Amazon with prime shipping if you're looking for the perfect book to tuck in your child's Easter basket.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Crunch Time for Easter Prep

Several years ago I got tired of realizing at the last minute that I didn't have everything I needed on hand for holidays just days before the actual holiday.  So I started to make an effort to plan ahead so I didn't have to feel overwhelmed and frazzled the night before a major holiday.  These little post it note reminders that I have used from year to year have been so invaluable to me.

During Advent I have post it notes that tell me when to buy stocking stuffers, or chocolate Santa's for St. Nicholas' feast day. And notes telling me when I should make sure the kids and I have outfits, stockings, shoes and whatever else is needed.  There's even a note telling me when to make cookies and how many batches of each to make.  It makes life a lot easier and I don't have to try to remember what I need to do.

During Lent I have reminders telling me what candy to buy and when.  I also have notes that tell me to order Easter outfits (if I haven't already) and more notes telling me to make sure we have tights, stocking and shoes and all dresses, shirts and dress pants ironed.  That note about shoes, tights and ironing is for this week.  I used to wait until Holy Week to do the ironing, but I've come to find that after Holy Thursday night life starts to feel chaotic if I have to gather up outfits and get things ironed.  The Triduum has a way of making me feel like I've been put through the ringer every year.  It's probably the most exhausting, but beautiful and spiritually fulfilling three days of the year.  So I just don't have time or the energy after Holy Thursday to fill Easter eggs with candy, stuff baskets or iron clothes.  It's just not happening.  I hardly have the energy to think of new hiding places for Easter eggs after the Easter Vigil.  One of these years I'm going to just dump them all in one place for one lucky kid to find.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Book Review: Easter Story

Sometimes teaching small children about Holy Week and Easter requires more than just reading them a story. That's where coloring books and activity books come in handy.  I find that kids can often remember parts of a story better if they can recall doing an activity or something memorable that will help them retain what they have learned.  The Easter Story Bible Activity Book is an excellent hands on vehicle for helping little ones between the ages of four to seven (pre-K through 1st grade) to better understand the Easter story.

This activity book is ideal to use during Holy Week and the Easter Octave.  Each two page section of the book covers a different part of the Easter story beginning with Jesus' entry into Jerusalem and concluding with Jesus appearing to his Apostles and disciples after His resurrection.  Each of the pages in this book are filled with colored illustrations, a variety of activities, such as mazes, color by number, picture searches and so on.  Each section of the book tells a different part of the Easter story in a chid friendly way.

I'm looking forward to using this book with my four year old starting this upcoming Sunday.  I know she will enjoy doing the fun activities.

I was provided with a review copy of Easter Story Bible Activity Book by the publisher, Pauline Kids, in exchange for my honest review.  You can learn more about this title or take a peek inside the book here.
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