Catholic T-Shirt Club Box Review

A little box arrived in the mail yesterday for my Rosie. When I found out I would have the opportunity to review the Catholic T-Shirt Club Box, I knew my 4 year old girl would love to review it with me!

Rosie with the Catholic T-Shirt Club box
Rosie with the Catholic T-Shirt Club box

As you might have guessed, this subscription box has a Catholic T-Shirt. You get to pick your T-shirt size, even for little ones. There are different levels of subscriptions, some of which include sacramentals like prayer cards, rosaries or scapulars. Rosie’s box was themed around Padre Pio and his quote: “Do not forget the guardian angel who is always with you.”

Rosie received a t-shirt, a guardian angel craft and a book about Padre Pio. She immediately wanted to jump in and make the craft. Her little angel is in her room now, watching over her while she sleeps. (She named her Rosie, surprise surprise).

Padre Pio kids book
Padre Pio kids book

I think that this box is a great gift idea for so many occasions. Graduation, birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas, or even as a way to celebrate a special moment like the first month of school. There is even a box that has 2 of everything – perfect for a newlywed couple or as an engagement gift.

Here are a few quotes from Rosie:

A box just for me?!

Wow, I didn’t know a shirt could come in a box!

Mommy, can I make my angel now??

When can I wear my new shirt? I love it!!!

This is a great box and I definitely recommend you check it out!

Rosie's new shirt and angel
Rosie’s new Padre Pio shirt and angel

Daily Graces.

Wonder and Awe – The World Through Kids’ Eyes

Happy 2017!! Our 2017 has gotten of to a wonderfully full start. We are so happy to finally have our beautiful baby girl in our arms. Eliza Mary was born in the dead of night in late January and is doing so well. John, Rosie and Clare are fascinated by her and are enjoying learning all the things babies can and can’t do. For the record, if her eyes are open she is quite capable of looking at all 3 kids in 3 different parts of the room at the same time. She is quite talented 😉
Eliza Mary

I must say though, 4 kiddos ages 5 and under is, to quote nearly every person I’ve come in contact with, “quite a handful.” A beautiful handful and I wouldn’t change it. It just takes us longer to get out the door, which is fine. Yesterday’s big accomplishment was making it to the grocery store and home just in time for lunch and timed well enough we didn’t need to stop to feed Eliza while we were out.

While we were out I was gifted (upon reflection, it didn’t seem like a gift in the moment) a change in perspective. We have to cross train tracks to get to the grocery store on base. The tracks are awkwardly placed in relation to the intersections (though I suppose the tracks were there first so it’s not really their fault). This particular line runs only freight trains, which are either long or even longer. Sometimes, as a bonus, the train literally stops while in the intersection. Anxiety always builds as you approach the tracks, “Are we going to get stuck? For how long? Please let us through!!”

So, first time going to the store with the 4 kids by myself, you know my anxiety levels were higher than usual. Which means we got stuck by a train on our way onto base. Of course.

It was alright, it didn’t last forever and was actually kind of interesting (I hadn’t thought about how construction equipment gets from one site to another. Now I know – train). The store went fine and I don’t think we forgot anything – miraculous! We left base at the beginning of the lunch exodus so I expected there to be a back up at the gate as everyone was leaving. While we were waiting in a long line of cars before the tracks the kids started asking if another train was coming in excited voices. They wanted to get stuck by another train.

In my head I was saying “Oh man, please, not another one. Eliza is going to wake up soon. I was really hoping to get lunch on the table before she needed to eat so that the girls could get to their quiet time/nap time on time. Plus there were groceries to put away. No train, please no train!”

Of course, there was a train. It was so long I even took a picture because I had enough time to stare at it and come up with this blog post. My kids were thrilled that there was another train. Their eyes full of wonderment, they kept asking where it was going, what could be inside the boxcars, would there be engines at the back as well or would it be a caboose? Their “awe” was a stark contrast to my own “oh man.” How differently our two perspectives were while looking at this same train. Where I saw inconvenience, they saw infinite possibilities. What I anticipated with pain and angst they anticipated with excitement and pure joy.

It reminded me of G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy when he said:

“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

Here were my children exemplifying this marvelous trait. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we adults would exult in our monotony? I am trying to, and I’ve found something that has been helping which I will be blogging about soon.

I hope that today, whatever task you find monotonous, you are able to accomplish it with a spirit of “awe” instead of “oh man.” With that, I’m off to start a load of laundry.

Daily Graces.

The Front Row

Let me begin by saying that we very much like our new parish. We will only be in San Antonio a few months but we felt it was important to find one church and quickly re-establish our Sunday morning/going to Mass routine. After being on the road for 2 months visiting family yes we of course went to Mass every Sunday. However, often it was a different church and time from one week to the next. We wanted to regain the stability of routine for our kids after so much transition in as many ways as possible. Going to Mass at the same time and place is one of those critical weekly routines.

That being said, I witnessed something interesting at our new parish this past week. This is a large parish. Large in both the physical space and number of people. You can easily fit 300 or so people in the pews, maybe 350 or even 400 if everyone actually moved all the way to the middle (#Catholicproblems haha). There is also standing room in the gathering space and along the walls. They actually keep folding chairs permanently set up along the walls knowing people will need them. There is also a Blessed Sacrament Chapel that is in the back and can be used for overflow seating.

This Sunday we arrived approximately 10 minutes early. Typically early enough to find a pew for 5 at most churches. At this parish, however, we were cutting it close (again, if people would only move to the middle….). Ben went to park the car and I walked in with the kids. As we walked in I noticed a large group of families with small children hovering in the back by the Blessed Sacrament Chapel (doors closed). There were still plenty of seats available if you smiled nice and negotiated space. As I walked by with my 3 little ducklings (or elephant sea lions depending on the day) an usher stopped me. She asked me if I wanted to wait with the others, they would be opening the doors (to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel/overflow seating) in just a minute. She questioned whether I would be able to find a seat. I looked around, assured her we would be fine, and moved on. We did find a seat. Front and center (and in the middle no less).

During Mass I sneaked a peek at the back and saw that all those families were in the overflow seating instead of being with the larger community.

Now I know you can argue that they were still sitting with the community, they are just an aisle away. And I do agree, they were still worshipping with all of us. My big issue, especially in light of the Gospel reading, is how they got there.

For as welcoming as this parish is, somewhere there is an undercurrent that pulls families with small children to the back. No matter how or when it happened, there is now a culture that exists which tells families that their place is in the back, away from the larger community (even if it is just separated by an aisle).

Now think about the Gospel. Zacchaeus is a tax collector who happens to be short. Due to his stature, Zacchaeus can’t see Jesus and the crowd isn’t making it any easier for him. So, he climbs a tree to see Jesus better. There are many theological and scriptural lessons that can be pulled from this passage. I would like to think about the most basic point, the height difference. Zacchaeus was short and the tall people wouldn’t let him through to the front. He took matters into his own hands and climbed a tree.

Let’s apply this to our children. They are short. When you stick them in the back, they can’t see. All they experience is a disembodied voice, some music and they get to go for a walk close to the end. Since there aren’t any trees around, they take matters into their own hands in any number of ways.

I’m not saying that children are angels in the front row and demons in the back row (mine proved this very well in our front row experience for All Saints’ Day). However, I do notice an overall improvement in behavior and most importantly, interest, when we sit up front. John asks me more questions and participates in the songs he knows much more when we sit up front compared to when we are in the back. Clare, only 2 years old remember, is much more likely to go into the aisle and try to run away when we sit in the back than when we sit in the front. Again, it’s not perfect and we have had some very hard Masses in the front row. But they are fewer and farther between than when we sit in the back.

Jesus told his disciples “let the children come to me, do not prevent them” (Matthew 19:14). This means, to me at least, let the children come all the way to me, not just to the cry room or the designated overflow seating that is in the back and out of the way. Tall people, stand aside! Let the children come all the way up!

So what to do about this? I have a proposition that I would love to have opinions on.

The Front Row by Daily Graces at
CC Public Domain

Many churches reserve one of the front rows for a handicap row. This way, persons in wheelchairs and their families will have a place to sit where they can see and feel comfortable. Why don’t we take the first 3 rows of one section of the church to reserve for families with small children? What if we went even farther and created a new ministry for high schoolers and adults with older children or grown children? These individuals could sit in the middle (yes, the middle!) of the pew to be helpers for these families.

Well, what do you think? Let’s make a new culture. If we insist on designating a space for families, let’s at least offer them what should be the prime place where their children can see and engage in the drama of the liturgy. And, let’s offer them the help that they need so that when their youngest unloads in their diaper or someone needs some extra space to calm down on the day that their spouse had to work, is sick or is deployed, they have an extra set of hands who is willing and wanting to be of service.

It’s not rocket science folks. After all, how many times have you taken a group photo and heard the photographer call out “Short people in the front. Tall people in the back!”

****Don’t forget about The Mass Box coupon opportunity and GIVEAWAY! Raffle for the giveaway is open until November 11, 2016.Daily Graces.