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 ūüėČ

DailyGraces.net
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:

‚ÄúBecause 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.‚ÄĚ

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. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

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 dailygraces.net
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. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

 

The Mass Box: Review, Discount and GIVEAWAY!

***Make sure you read all the way down for the discount and giveaway***

You may recall if you’ve been around the blog a while that back in Lent (I know, so long ago and at the same time, what? Advent is in a month?!), I shared a few times about the wonders and joys of a new box that we had arrive at the house. This is a brand new subscription box that will revolutionize the way that your family approaches the Mass and certainly did for us this Lent.

Aptly named The Mass Box, this box arrived at our house just before Lent started. It contained not just really creative ideas for¬†crafts with my kids, it had everything we needed to actually DO the crafts! How many times has Pintrest or blog done that for you? Each craft is thoughtfully made to be engaging for ages approximately 3-7 and as they are getting ready to officially launch the program they even offer the option for boxes that will have duplicates if you have more than one child in that age range. Plus, there are copies of¬†Magnifikid, the kids version of the¬†Magnificat.¬†Plus more, each week this awesome family is producing youtube videos (Catholic Crafts with Clare) that feature their daughter Clare working through the week’s craft and talking about the reading/theme for the upcoming Sunday.

The Mass Box Review plus discount and giveaway at dailygraces.net
Rosie working on her Ash Wednesday face. Even the yarn in a variety of colors was provided! Copyright 2016 Kate Taliaferro

Lent was amazing. The kids looked forward to a new video being revealed each week and immediately wanted to plunge into the craft. They made Ash Wednesday faces, a felt picture of Jesus in the desert and even their own paschal candle. They were so proud of what they had accomplished. Kids are very tactile and I think, at least for my kids, if we talk about something while they are working on a project that aligns, their retention skyrockets. So, when we got to Mass on the Sunday where we heard the reading about Jesus being tempted in the desert, John whispered to me “Mommy, it’s just like the Jesus we have on the refrigerator! He’s going to tell the devil to go away, right Mommy?” Couldn’t have been prouder.

There are two things that I especially loved about The Mass Box besides just the awesome crafts and age appropriate preparation for Mass.

  1. The creators took the time to select crafts that would work for the Gospel for each week. Now before you say, Duh, of course they did, consider this. Depending on your parish and your RCIA program, the third, fourth and fifth Sunday of Lent could have different readings than the regular Gospel reading because of the Scrutinies. This means they took the time to check both readings and come up with crafts that could work for either reading. Liturgical awareness and knowledge – check! This also gives me confidence that the crafts they have chosen were selected with care and thought, not just thrown together based on the “theme” for the Sunday.
  2. The Mass Box Review plus discount and giveaway at dailygraces.net
    John and the Blessing Bag. Copyright 2016 Kate Taliaferro

    Not everything was a craft! Don’t get me wrong, I love crafts. But some days I’m not so into it. There was one Sunday where all that was provided was a gallon bag. We talked about how there are those who have less than we do and it is part of our responsibility as children of God and members of the community to reach out and help take care of them. The kids went through the pantry and chose non-perishable items (applesauce pouches, oreos, fruit snacks, popcorn and cans of fruit) to put in our “Blessing Bag” which we carried in the car with us until we found an opportunity to give it to someone in need. This is where The Mass Box really takes off for me. It’s about more than just preparing the kids for Mass. It is capable of engaging the faith of the parents as well. Very smart and a unique catechetical tool for sure.

I’m so excited to share that The Mass Box‘s trial run for Lent was a huge success and they are ready to officially launch the program for Advent and will continue beyond the season. A box will arrive once a month with everything you need for crafts and activities, the¬†Magnifikids and coloring sheets that correspond to the readings. The December box will have a bonus craft for the first Sunday of Advent which is on Nov. 27 (stop frantically shopping for Advent candles for your wreath, The Mass Box has you covered).

I’m very proud to be an affiliate with The Mass Box and if you decide to subscribe for your family you can use the coupon code

DAILY10

You will receive 10% off your first month. As an affiliate, I will also receive a small kickback which will go to support this blog ministry.

The Mass Box Review plus 10% Discount and Free Giveaway at dailygraces.net
Copyright The Mass Box. Used with permission

Also, as an affiliate, the Mass Box has offered and exciting opportunity. From now until Nov. 11 you can enter a raffle to win one FREE Mass Box (even free shipping!). That means you will have crafts for all of Advent! Get clicking folks, this is a super opportunity that will enhance the way your family celebrates all of Advent. Follow the link below to submit your entries.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/87a01ce71/?

***Winner will be contacted on November 12. If there is no response by Nov. 14 a new winner will be selected in order to ensure delivery of the box by the First Sunday of Advent.***