Friday, December 21, 2012

CHRISTmas, advent, and everything in between.

With this post, I’m participating in the Keeping Christ in Christmas Blog Carnival, hosted by Arma Dei:Equipping Catholic FamiliesRaising (& Teaching) Little Saints, Truly Rich Mom and the Catholic Bloggers Network. We'll be sharing different ways, tips, stories and real-life experiences that will help us focus on Jesus as the Reason for the Christmas season. Please scroll down to the end of the post to see the list of carnival entries. 

It's Christmas time, the most wonderful time of the year! Well Easter is at least equal to Christmas, maybe more exciting since that is when we were finally freed from original sin, but I digress since this post is about the CHRISTMAS season. It is a season that gets more exciting every year my children get older and begin to understand better what is happening. It is also a season the lasts about 6 weeks, something I (and I think many others) often forget. So I am trying my best to celebrate the WHOLE season.

We begin in advent. I don't have everything together yet because that is pretty much the story of my life..... late. This year we did manage to get a couple things put into action. Every night at diner we light our own family advent wreath and say an extra prayer that we got from an advent packet our parish put together. It was exciting last week to see that our 3 year old made the connection between the wreath at church and ours at home! At diner on Gaudete Sunday (the pink candle) he informed us that we get to light 3 candles now since they lit 3 candles at mass. We also chose the first day of advent to put up our Christmas tree with some lights. Throughout advent we use it as our Jessie tree. Each night we read a scripture passage following the line of Jessie from Adam all the way to Jesus and add an ornament to the tree that goes along with the passage. I made my own ornaments a number of years ago, but I am hoping to redo them and put together a tutorial here for next Christmas. 

Then on Christmas we will finish decorating the tree with other ornaments so that we can enjoy it through the Christmas season till the Epiphany. Finally this year we are doing "Santa" but with the focus more on Jesus. My oldest barely understands the concept of Santa bringing gift but when he broke his favorite toy sword and really wanted another one I took the opportunity to have him ask Jesus to have Saint Nicholas bring one for Christmas. Later when we saw one in the store and he was reminded of his longing for that sword I reminded him that he had asked Jesus for one and would have to wait till Christmas to see if he would get it. Being 3 years old and that it was close to nap time he did not care for that answer and had a bit of a melt down. However, when we got home he asked me to help him say a prayer to ask for the sword again. 

So far I am happy with how we are celebrating the season, but I am even more excited for next year when we have things a little better figured out and add more traditions to remind us what Christmas is about. I would like our family to build a comfortable manger for Jesus with our good deeds throughout advent; make a birthday cake either on Christmas or the Epiphany and sing for Jesus to remind us that it is his birthday we are celebrating; and incorporate some more charitable giving. It may be a little ambition so next year I need to get things together a little sooner I guess, but with my children as small as they are what we have now is working out wonderfully.

If you liked this or even if you didn't check out these other wonderful blog posts on keeping Christ in Christmas!

Homeschool Mosaics: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Joy: Keeping Christ in Christmas: Advent Interruptions
The Breadbox Letters: Interrupted by Glory
TwentyTuesdayAfternoons: Keeping Christ in Christmas/ The Season of Giving / A Wee Bit of Beach Holiday Angst
The Learning Basket: Staying With the Nativity Story
Tercets: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Rosary Mom: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Ate Maui: Hoping and Bringing Hope
Written By the Finger of God: 12 Traditions for Keeping Christ in Christmas
Dominique's Desk: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Felix at Fifty: What Jesus Wants for Christmas
Mommy Bares All: Birthday Cake for the Birthday Boy on Christmas Day
Between Now and Later: Keeping Christ in Christmas, I am trying...
Lique's Antics: Family Antics: Christmas Reflection
Life of Fortunate Chances: Our First Ever Christmas: Keeping Christ in Christmas
The Mommy Journey: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Roller Coaster Ride: How to Remind Your Kids of Jesus Christ This Christmas
Cymplified: Christ -Centered Christmas: Cymplified!
Mountain Grace: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Touring Kitty: Grown-up Christmas List
Mommy Chinkysoup for the Soul: A Very Special Christmas
City Girl, Country Home: Finding Jesus in a Flurry
Coffee Moments with Sam: Christmas Unwrapped: 5 Presents Our Kids Truly Deserve
Raising Lifelong Learners: Keeping Christ in Christmas
The Diary of a Sower: Keeping Christ in Christmas: Celebrating the Golden Days
Arma Dei: Equipping Catholic Families: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Raising (and Teaching) Little Saints: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Truly Rich Mom: The Greatest Gift of All This Christmas
Joy-Filled Family: CHRIST in Christmas
Blueberry 010: Keeping Christ in Christmas: Jesus is the Reason for the Season
Deeper Truth Blog: Keeping Christ in Christmas Carnival
Holy Ducklings: 10 Ways to Make Advent Special for Your Little Ducklings
Green Eggs and Moms: Keeping Christ in Christmas: Green Eggs & Moms Style!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Taking your clay to Our Blessed Mother

I obviously am a terrible blogger, 2 posts and I'm done. Well I guess I did have a baby not too long since the last post so I guess I can give myself a break. Anyways....

Though I have not been blogging, I have been searching for possible topics to write about. It's been hard to come up with things. At ages 3, 1 1/2, and 2 months what can you do to form them into little God loving people? We say meal, morning, and bed time prayers and take them with us to church. Our 3 year old knows how to say the Hail Mary, Our Father, Glory Be, and Saint Michael prayer. The 1 1/2 is catching on quickly... (sorry for bragging I am just so impressed and proud and I did nothing it was all my husband's doing). Again anyways...

Finally some divine inspiration came my way. Our Lady of Guadalupe's missionary picture has been traveling around for a while now, and recently it was in my area. Sadly, I was not able to visit the picture, but a friend of mine was and she told me that she dedicated her children to Mary there. And there it was my next step for this rock building I am trying to do, give them back to their true Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary! I know my husband dedicate our first child when he was born, but dedicating our children to Mary never resonated with me until about a week ago. 

Then I wondered what there was to this dedication stuff. It seems like some that should be a big deal. Maybe not something to throw a party for, but a lasting thing, big commitment. Something with daily prayer requirements or I don't know but something! Actually, it is quite simple you can even just say something to the affect of, "Bless Mother I consecrate "so&so" to you, please look after them and care for them, especially when  I can not." You can also find some more elaborate dedication prayers online. Honestly how simple is that? There is only so much you can do at young ages and most of it is over their heads, but dedicating your child's life to Mary or Jesus is something you can do at any age. I personally am going to take sometime to do it this weekend.

For anyone looking for a better dedication prayer, there is a very nice prayer here: Consecrating A Child to the Blessed Virgin Mary | Women of Grace.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Rules of the Sand Box

When my first child was about 15 months old I realized he was going to need some rules and discipline that weren't just the when I see it I'll know kind. He was a toddler, he was pushing limits and testing boundaries. I hadn't even begun to think about boundaries. That's not to say he didn't get redirected or told no when needed, but up until then it was just baby curiosity. He was now doing things with a purpose; to see what mom or dad will do. That is when it began.

As soon as I realized how unprepared I was and how little I knew about toddler discipline, I went to the library and made a B-line for the parenting section. I checked out every book on disciple that caught my attention, my first visit resulted in at least 5 books. I now rarely check out more then 2 books on the topic at a time but every so often I feel like I don't know what I'm doing and I go looking for tips and advice. One thing I have gotten from the books I like is that you need to have a set of house rules. 

After reading my latest book, Nanny to the Rescue!: Straight Talk and Super Tips for Parenting in the Early Years, I decided to finally come up with and write down our house rules. I put them up on our board where reminders and lists go so both my husband and I could consider what rules we needed and input our suggestions. The plan was to then put them onto something decorative and post them up in the living room. They sat on that board for weeks, maybe even months, I didn't know why but they just weren't right. 

One holy day of obligation I didn't make it to mass with the kids in the morning. Since my husband went to mass during work, I got to go to mass by myself in the evening. It was glorious! I was there early I got to pray, meditate, and be fully involved in the mass. While I was meditating it hit me, our house rules... THE TEN COMMANDMENTS!!! Of course! What better rules are there then the ones given to us by God? These are the rules that I want them to learn as they approach the age of First Reconciliation and Communion, that I want them to consider when they go to confession. So why don't I start teaching them what those rules are and how to live by those rules now?

I went home and typed up Our House Rules. Under the title listed I-X are the Ten Commandments, rules our kids are expected to live by. Under some of the commandments are little sub-rules to help make things a little more specific to what our particular weaknesses are. Right now these are our sub-rules:

I. I am the Lord Your God You Shall Not Have Any Gods Before Me
     - Love God more then anything else
IV. Honor Your Mother and Father
     -Listen to Mom and Dad
     -No back talk
V. You Shall Not Kill
     -No hitting, biting, or playing too rough
VII. You Shall Not Steal
     -No taking someone else's toys
VII. You Shall Not Bear False Witness Against You Neighbor
     - Always tell the truth

As the kids get older our sub-rules will change to address the challenges we are having, and eventually they won't be needed at all because the kids will be old enough to understand what each commandment entails without it being spelled out for them. Even as I think about it now, I am amazed at how the Holy Spirit inspired me to not only set rules, but to also use those rules as a way to teach my kids about God and what He expects from us. Now I just have to work on making those connection with my kids. "Don't push your sister! We don't push because it can hurt and God wants us to always be kind to people. See it's one of our house rules and one of God's commandments." Something like that anyways. Also, if you decide to try this in your home don't get discouraged when you feel like you are talking and your toddler isn't getting it because eventually they will make the connections. One day they will amaze you with their understanding, but first you have to give them something to understand.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Sandy Beginnings

I would like to begin this blog by explaining my hopes for it and thoughts behind it. I have been praying and searching about a deeper calling that I have been feeling lately. Then as I was loading the dish washer at nap time and musing about what it could be it hit me! I have been blessed with three children given to me by God perhaps my deeper calling is to build their faith and their foundation.

I am not one who can readily quote scripture usually, but this revelation reminded me of the parable of the Two Builders that is quoted at the top of the blog. One builder built his house on rock while the other one built his house on sand. Then when the storms came the house on the rock still stood while the house on the sand was destroyed. Our faith is no different if you do not understand why you believe or do the things you do and you simply go through the motions, because that is what you have always done, when someone or something challenges your faith you will either crumble or be forced to build that foundation you never had.

So I thought "OF COURSE!" I am being called to build rocks. When they are young is the best time to build their foundations, teach them the reasons behind our faith, and answer their questions so that one day they can build their own beliefs on that rock. Since this is the calling God has given me I want to know that I did everything I could to lead them to God the best way I knew how. I want to know that the teachings and information they are given about the Catholic church and our beliefs are true and not someone's ideas about what they mistakenly think they are.

I want to start when they are young because though I was given a good foundation in my youth the house I have built since then could use some repairs, a deep cleaning, and some expansions, perhaps even my foundation needs some repairs. That being said, much of this journey will be a learning and remolding experience for me as well as the building of young foundations. I hope to form them into the granite that they will build their own faith on and that will eventually be tested by the storms of life. Here I begin with a sand box, slowly and through God's grace scooping up the grains of sand and forming them into pebbles and rocks.