Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers... and surviving Sunday Mass together

One of our family's struggles is to help our girls learn to love the Mass. Today, I want to post some ideas for helping our little ones. I love the Mass. I love being in Church. I love being with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.  As a mom, though, it's a little hard to pray and focus, and thus it's hard to teach my children to pray and focus. If all they see me do is police them, they'll never learn to sit quietly and pay attention.

When I'm alone, I bring a stack of prayer books and my "Word Among Us" booklet to help me focus.

What can I bring for my children?  That will be quiet?  And truly help them to focus on Jesus, the Mass, the Church?

After long, hard searching, I've found several unique ideas online that I just didn't seem to find in my initial searches.  These, I believe, are truly gems for children.  I get no kick-backs for these... my blog isn't that fancy.  These are just ideas to help you and your little ones love Jesus more!

  1. Rosary fit for a baby, toddler or child.  It's cuddly, and it's devotional.  It also makes a very soft rattling noise. Our girls each have their own Rosary; they make it in several colors, so it works for boys or girls.

    I have taught them to keep it tucked under their pillows, and to sleep with it in their hands so they can say their Hail Marys as they fall asleep and whenever they wake in the night.  My 3.5 year old still wants her plush Rosary, but also now wants a rope & bead Rosary.  I let her have both.  Either are great for bringing to Mass.

     
  2. Pocket Oratory.  "PiccoloDiLuce," the Etsy maker of these beautiful sacramentals explains they were popular in the 19th century, especially in Russia, which makes me think they have an Orthodox origin. What a beautiful idea... and quiet too!  Several versions are available, devoted to different saints such as St Catherine of Alexandria, St Gertrude, St Anthony of Padua, and others. 
  3. Wipe clean books.  If you can rely on your child not to write on the pews (we're not there yet!), these wipe clean books can provide a lot of activity for a child at Mass.  Learn the ABCs and the 123s with Catholic associations for each letter or number. 

  4.  DIY Catholic crafts printed on fabric.  O my!!  What a lovely idea.  "MagneticCatholic" has a shop on Spoonflower with several wonderful, simple DIY sewing projects that can help focus your child at Mass.  From pocket saint dolls to a fabric books to follow the Mass to "My Mass quiet toys", the artist has so many cute ideas... it's hard to decide! I personally plan to spend way more than I should on these lovely fabric panels to make things for our girls.  Too bad I discovered this after Christmas!  Let's see... fill the Easter basket is next!

  5. BINGO.  That's right, Bingo!  Following the Mass has never been easier than a fun Bingo card to keep a child riveted to the Mass.  There's a version for readers as well as non-readers
  6. Other Catholic fabric.  For the DIY mama, there are some other Spoonflower designers with devotional fabrics that you can make into any number of things.  Check out Anniezs, Rengal, and Anette_Teixeira and let your imagination go!


Friday, May 13, 2016

Be inspired or be a purist?

For nearly two years now, I've been reading books and blogs on Maria Montessori and her pedagogy. It is an amazing and wholistic approach to education of the whole child, and I am hooked!

But, I find myself struggling with whether I should be inspired by the Montessori ideals or be a Montessori purist. We are homeschooling, and that means every element of curriculum and materials is up to me to develop and implement! O, the freedom and flexibility... But O, the decisions I must make.

I got to thinking about my struggle when reading about the clever ideas inspired by Montessori on CatholicIcing.com.

On the other hand, a comment was left by a Montessori purist who somehow manages to have the perfect, by-the-book Montessori classroom in her home.

Yikes! I am so torn between the two methods. On one hand, being purist is so expensive, as the materials whose cost is meant to be saddled by a school of 30 kids per class with the mote tip of being used by hundreds of kids over the materials' lifetime is shouldered by a school that will graduate 3, 7, or maybe 12 children.

On the other hand, being inspired means allowing myself to incorporate other ideas into the day, and leaving out those that don't necessarily aid my child.

If you have had the same struggle or are currently debating something similar, I'd love your comments! And, really, what do you think Maria Montessori herself would do?

Monday, February 15, 2016

When a stranger asks you about your sex life

I kid you not. At a church function recently, a lady I barely know came up to me with questions about my sex life. Here's how the convo went:
HER: So, when are you going to give that beautiful little girl a baby brother or sister?
ME: Uh, God gives us babies. It's up to Him. 
HER: Well, you are using NFP, right?
ME: (in shock!) Uh...
HER: You're not doing anything to stop it, are you?
In utter shock and unable to get the the courage up to tell her off, I proceeded to give her a 101 on Ecological Breastfeeding. It so happens, I explained, that God has provided our bodies with the amazing ability to nourish our babies through nursing, and that nourishment isn't just food. It's nourishment for the body, soul and psyche.

And, with Ecological Breastfeeding... meaning that mom and baby are absolutely inseparable, nursing frequently, even a few times an hour, and through the night... our bodies skip ovulation. Our hormones, knowing mother is busy nourishing a born child through breastfeeding, don't put any energy toward getting ready to nourish the next unborn baby.

Result: children spaced apart with any of the work and worry of Natural Family Planning. (NFP... also known as periodic abstinence. It is distinctly different scientifically than, thought sometimes referred to as, the Rhythm Method.)

Ah, what relief for this Catholic mom.

I loved what author Jennifer Fulwiler said about it (my paraphrase as I can't find her great quote!)
It doesn't matter how many or how few children you have, someone will be offended by that number.
So, I know the Catholic church has a lot to say about NFP and such, but I wonder if it may be helpful to have a bit more emphasis and education on Ecological Breastfeeding. Perhaps more Catholic churches should be hosting La Leche League meetings. Or, perhaps, require reading The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding during marriage preparation.

Ecological Breastfeeding absolutely can work for the modern, first world family. It's not just a historical thing or a third world country thing. Has it worked for you? I'd love to hear about your experience in the comments!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Share my body... now share my bed?

O boy. I never thought I'd think this: maybe bedsharing with a nursing infant is the way to go?

I shunned the idea from the first I had ever heard of it, mostly because ten years ago, a couple at my aunt's parish rolled over their infant in the night, crushing him. The very though of co-sleeping with a babe has been the furthest from my mind since then.

And, I can't fail to mention that while I knew of some families who did this, all of the professional voices I heard from baby experts to my parents warned me of the inherent dangers of such a practice.

Plus, no one ever told me how to do such a thing.

Until... now.

I'm constantly reading up on some aspect of my new profession, that is, motherhood. From Montessori education to nutrition to baby care, I have a constant book-on-loan from our local library or book-in-transit from abebooks.com.

So when a recent book, Diaper Free, suggested that along with no diapers, bedsharing is the way to go with a nursing infant, I ventured to read up on it. This led me to  several books including the out-of-print Three in a Bed.

Eventually, due to the friend's influence that I mentioned in an earlier post, I found a surprising ally in the bedsharing phenomenon in La Lech League, and they have a new campaign to promote "Safe Sleep" with infants through their book, Sweet Sleep.

The benefits of bedsharing include:
  • decreased or eliminated risk of SIDS
  • better sleep for mom and baby
  • baby doesn't need to cry to nurse, only needs to nudge mom... or if mom is topless, just latch on while she continues to snooze
  • immediate help for baby for elimination (if you so choose to do the diaper-free method)
  • emotional security for baby
  • save money on not buying crib or getting larger home with separate bedroom for nursery
  • it's just snuggly!
So, with so many benefits, why don't midwives help moms learn to bedshare after birth? I certainly wasn't made aware of any of these benefits nor was I helped to understand how to safely bedshare if I was going to consider doing it.

That's why I love La Leche League's campaign for Safe Sleep. The two biggest "aha" moments for me in learning about safe bedsharing are:
  • do no swaddle the baby: baby could become too warm, and baby can't flail his arms/legs to tell you when he's in distress or hungry
  • you both will actually sleep better
So, now it's time for me to consider what I'll do when the next babe come along. I already gave away the crib... so you can guess what I plan to do!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Vaccination as a requirement for US Citizenship?

They're treating it like it's HIV. Or worse. But it's the chicken pox.

Two MLB players have been diagnosed with the chicken pox and sent home for several weeks to recover, missing several baseball games. 

It's the chicken pox, people. It's not that big of a deal. Well, at least it used to not be that big of a deal, back when kids routinely got it... and happily got out of a week or more of school as a result. As described (accurately) in the article, the chicken pox isn't that serious for kids. The older you are, or if you have a weak immune system, the risks go up. But, generally speaking, it means itchy blisters and rash and fatigue. 

But, apart from it being a generally benign illness that could actually have beneficial future outcome for those that contract it (meaning: it reduces or eliminates your risk of getting the far more serious illness Shingles later in life... but now Shingles is on the rise!), the part that shocked me the most about the news was the speculative reason why these two ball players got the pox:
Yost said shortstop Alcides Escobar was vaccinated just recently as part of requirements for citizenship, though it's unclear whether that may have introduced the virus to the clubhouse.

WHAT!?

You mean that prospective citizens are required to get vaccinated in order to become American?! 

How unabashedly UN-American is that?!

First of all, we don't require folks to have vaccinations in order to visit our country, and folks visiting and traveling may even come into contact with more people than those moving here. Further, if the efficacy of vaccines is questioned by many, then why are vaccines being shoved into the bodies of future Americans as some sort of savior? These people are moving to the United States in order to have more freedoms, not to have them taken away.

I could say a lot about vaccinations right now, but I'll just leave you with this noteworthy observation from a chiropractor in Florida:
We’ve essentially swapped one form of the disease for another, without considering the costs or risks associated with kicking the burden down the line.  
Is that the end result we're asking for by forcing vaccinations?

Saturday, August 29, 2015

What "Children's Rights" means to me now

I would have never imagined ten years ago when I started this blog where my life would have turned out. When I was single, I would get my kicks from blogging nightly on some topic from women's rights to Church issues. My experiences in the the trenches of the respect-for-life movement spurred on my thoughts.

Yes, I'm still involved with the pro-life, anti-abortion movement through prayer and participation, though I am no longer involved in leadership. But now: I'm a mom.

My perceptions of life have stayed the same, and in many ways they have solidified by my motherhood. For one, a whole new understanding of the meaning of "Children's Rights" has opened up to me. As I write this, I have the memories of the hug of a 14 month old around my neck and arms. I think she's beautiful, and I am honored to be her mother.

It has occurred to me recently what great importance breastfeeding has in the life of a new child. My mother nursed myself and my three siblings. My sister breastfeed her two children. I always knew innately that "breast was best" and that I'd do everything I could to make it a success if/when I became a mom.

Thankfully, we did it. We nursed for 12 and a half months.  When I started breastfeeding and first heard of La Leche League, I laughed. A support group for breastfeeding?! Most unusual!

Thankfully, I staved off the "lactation consultant" during our hospital stay at birth who came in to see if we had trouble. I had heard from friends that these ladies will take Baby's head in one hand and my breast in the other, showing me just how to nurse. I was sickened by that thought, and I'm sure it was Divine Intervention that kept those ladies' hands away from me. But, after that, I thought the last thing I wanted to do was get near women who may want to tell me how to nurse.

As it turns out, I had my ups and downs in breastfeeding, and my mom and sister were there to answer the questions I had.

Last week a dear friend, mom to a six month old whom she's still nursing, convinced me to read La Leche League's The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. My child is already weaned... but I still learned so much for the next one around (please, God, soon!)  They are unabashed in their insistence on the goodness of breastfeeding not only for the infant's nutrition, but for the mother-baby relationship, the mom's health, the longevity of nursing relationships, and more! I was most impressed and hope for the opportunity to put into practice all they said.

While not all moms are able to breastfeed, I guess the long-and-short of is: I hope that all moms and babies are able to spend extended time together in one anothers' arms, loving each other without the din of the world saying they're so much else you could be doing rather than just being in love with baby.

Please! Let's respect, condone, and enable mothers to be mothers!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Life Chain is coming soon


Each October since I was a little girl, I remember standing on the streets outside St Vincent's or St Gabriel's in Charlotte bravely holding pro-life signs.

I always thought that the Life Chain didn't last long enough. By the time we got our signs and found a nice place to stand, it would be time to return our signs, stowing them away until next year.

For most people, the annual life chain is the only chance they have to be involved in the pro-life movement.

If your parish is having a life chain on October 5, join in if you can. And, think about other ways you can be involved in the pro-life movement throughout the year. If the sign you hold says "Jesus Forgives & Heals," consider promoting a local "Rachel's Vineyard" retreat for healing after abortion.

If your sign says "Abortion Kills Children," consider donating to a local pregnancy care center.

If you are holding the message, "Adoption: The Loving Option," spend some time in prayer for kids in foster care who are awaiting placement.

Don't be afraid to use the Life Chain as a springboard to more involvement in the pro-life cause. These little babies won't have a funeral or a grave, but you can make sure they don't die without loving prayer.