Showing posts with the label children

An Excellent Read-Aloud:: Matilda

I still remember reading Matilda by Roald Dahl when I was in elementary school, and as I put it back on the shelf, I sighed and stared at the spine lovingly.  I loved the character Matilda most of all,  It was surely one of my favorite books when I was about my daughter Madeleine's age.

So it has not been easier to pick something at the library to read out loud with her than when I spotted Matilda.  I am going to make an argument that it is -seriously- his best book.  I love some of his others, notably Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but James and the Giant Peach let me down, and I have only seen the movie The BFG, but I'm hoping to read this book out loud soon (I seriously can't wait.)

But Matilda is downright stellar. Let me tell you why. I realize it might sound antiquated to praise a book I read as a child. It was published in 1988.  Imagine if your parents read a book (to you) from their childhood, when Harry Potter had first come out... anti-climactic, to say the…

Secretly Cynical, Surprised by Joy on Christmas Morning

Do we wait for Christmas morning with a joyful expectation or has life’s disappointments left us jaded and closed to any spiritual surprises or gifts from God? Many of us are actually just like Scrooge, that traditional symbol for someone who has been so wounded by disappointment and jaded by life that he cannot embrace the spirit of giving during Christmas. Scrooge wasn’t just stingy, he was miserable, with his heart closed to other people and to love and joy. Come to think of it, how many of us actually expect to receive any spiritual joy on Christmas morning? When we are secretly cynical, we will not receive a thing, not even a tiny flicker of Light because we have locked the door to our hearts. Then, our cynicism will be confirmed once again, just like last year and we will cement our cynicism in place until next year. Yet we all long for the dark, empty places within us to be flooded with His light. The answer to our dilemma can be discovered when we observe children because the…
Playing with the SAINTS! ~Blog post # 11 If you have a child preparing to make his/her First Communion this year, today’s saint is an important one for them to know about.
Saint Tarcisius: Imagine that if you got caught going to Mass you would be thrown in jail and probably executed!  During the third century, that is how it was in Rome.  Christians had to attend Mass secretly.  Just going to Mass could get you arrested and killed!
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Join the Angels and Children in The Cosmic Dance

Dancing demands a freed person, one who vibrates with the equipoise of all his powers. I praise the dance. O man, learn to dance, or else the angels in heaven will not know what to do with you.                Saint AugustineIs joy at the heart of your life in Christ? Many Catholics feel beleaguered as they struggle to stand up for the truth in an increasingly hostile environment. Of course, it is easy to become so busy addressing serious moral and religious issues that our spirituality is relegated to Sunday Mass and a few Hail Marys rattled off on the run.

 However, if we are determined to be effective agents of change in society, we must make time to learn how to live in, with, and through Christ. Only when we are filled with the power of Holy Spirit, we will witness effectively with joy, with a dance in our step.

The average Catholic probably thinks sanctity is for a select few and certainly does not associate play with holiness
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Children are Sponges! Teach Them Well!

When you think about those virtues that you want your children to possess, what comes to mind?
Is it gratitude? Do you constantly tell them to say thank you?Is it respect? Do you keep reiterating to them to say please, play nicely; share their toys?Is it patience? Do you tell your children that some things are worth the wait, and in the process teach them how to wait? By your living example, you teach them all of this, and much more. By your own faith and trust in God, or lack of faith and trust in God, you teach your child what to believe. By your own hope in Christ’s promises, or lack of hope in Christ’s promises, you teach your child about hope/despair. By your demonstration of love for God and family, or lack of love for God and family, you show your child the meaning of love/hatred from your own perspective.


Whispers in the Pew: Get Going!

This is the last of six articles for families on celebrating the Sunday Mass. My washing machine broke. A tiny plastic piece in the detergent compartment disappeared. Don’t ask me how—it’s one of life’s mysteries related to the Final Resting Place of socks that vanish from the dryer. Whatever. I ordered the part, tracked the package’s progress online, and ripping open the envelope, discovered my simple piece of plastic. Predictable enough, I suppose. Even so, I still felt a little thrill when I saw a package waiting for me in the mailbox. I can’t be the only one who hasn’t quite outgrown the charm of receiving a special delivery. Sending and receiving packages connects us to one another. And knowing a package is meant just for me—regardless of its contents—lifts my spirits. As our “Whispers in the Pew” series draws to a close, we consider the very end of Mass.

Read all about it at Praying with Grace!

Whispers in the Pew, Part 5

Most paintings of the Last Supper show the Apostles shifting restlessly--just like our children at Mass!
How long is your child’s attention span?

Most research suggests that children’s attention spans relate to their age: how many years old are they? That’s the same number of minutes they can sustain interest in an activity.

Four-year-old children, for example, can pay attention for four minutes. Some studies claim attention spans extend up to two times the child’s age. In that case, under the right circumstances, our 4-year-old children can accomplish eight minutes of acceptable church behavior.

Depending on your parish, the eucharistic prayer occurs about 40 minutes into the celebration of Mass. Forty minutes of liturgy is FIVE TIMES those eight minutes we can expect from our little ones. And some of our children struggle with medical or behavioral challenges that make the basic eight-minute mark a miracle.
Read the rest at Praying with Grace!

"Dear Pope Francis" Will Delight You!

I'm an excitable person, I realize that--I did a victory dance this morning when I managed to peel my orange in one satisfying strip. Even so, THIS IS BIG: Children drew pictures and sent letters to Pope Francis! And he answered them!

The children ask such beautifully genuine questions, and Pope Francis responds thoughtfully, tenderly. Some people worry that our Pope is a controversial figure, I know, but this book simply confirms that Pope Francis is someone we all would like to spend time with personally. Dear Pope Francis invites us to feel like we've spent an afternoon in the Pope's sitting room. Truly a pastor--a shepherd--Pope Francis gathers us around his chair, listening to us and speaking with us sincerely about God, love, life's troubles, death. That's the feeling I get from Dear Pope Francis, with its homemade drawings and heartfelt exchanges.

Join me at Praying with Grace for all the details!

Prayerful Thoughts from St. Ignatius of Loyola

I wanted to pray "for families" today. Then I looked in my little book of Ignatian thoughts and realized that's too vague. His words challenge me to become a better wife and mother myself--THAT is an important step in praying for families!

Open this booklet with me at Praying with Grace!

"Not My Son Lord"

One of the greatest mysteries in scripture is the hidden Mother.  One of the greatest of these is...TO READ MORE CLICK HERE. 

Children Learn From Your Example

Children Copy Us Children mirror what they learn from adults and older siblings in their lives. So, just what is it that you are teaching the children in your life? Are you teaching them, by your example, how to grow in virtue? Or, are you teaching them the very things that you don’t want them to become? In essence, do you practice what you preach?  Or, is it more of a “Do as I say, not as I do” mentality around your house?

On my blog, I write about the virtues for adults, to benefit not only the adults, but the lives of children. My blog teaches you as an adult, how to embrace and practice virtue; so that you can be good role models for the children in your lives. If, as adults, we do not embrace and practice virtue, then how can we expect our children to grow in virtue? Read more...

6 Family-Friendly Tips for Memorizing Prayers

One of my godchildren lives in Illinois. The school her family attends vehemently opposes memorization. At a back-to-school meeting, the school principal told parents, "We are a proud part of the digital age. Our students never memorize anything they can look up on a device. In a world powered by search engines, memorization is a complete waste of time."
How do YOU feel about memorizing prayers? I'm kind of a huge fan. Read why at Praying with Grace.

Theology of the Body Building Blocks for Tots

Children learn by doing. Take sharing, for example. Here’s what doesn’t work:

Son, I’ve asked you to sit down with me today to discuss the multifaceted benefits of sharing, both for the individual who shares and for the community concerned with fairness. I realize you’re only two years old [stop chewing on that electric cord, please], but I believe even you can learn to appreciate why [seriously, that’s dangerous–put down the cord] sharing will enrich your young life.

Here’s what works better:

[Prying toy out of two-year-old’s death grip] Honey, we’re going to give this little girl a turn with the toy. Why don’t you sing the ABC song with me? When we’re done with the song, she’ll give the toy back so you can have another turn.

The detached exploration of abstract principles has its place, but typically not with young children. Children are concrete thinkers. Effective parents embrace that fact and use immediate, hands-on opportunities to help children grow.

Some people have a gift for …

Heavenly Dolls!

I was recently asked to do a post about a new doll company and thought, "Why not make it into a {p, h, f, r} post?  I am a doll lover!!! ( I know, technically, I cannot love a doll because it is incapable of sharing emotions, but the English language is so limited in this capacity).  So I am pleased to introduce Dolls from Heaven and their heavenly dolls

The picture speaks for itself as far as beauty, but let me add a little information.  This is the first prototype doll.  She is St Therese.  Who doesn't love St Therese?  (Yes, I know I used the same word, and this time it was genuine, lets come up with a new, useful word to add to our lexicon instead of all these texting abbreviations, please!) She is gorgeous.  Her habit is well designed with much attention to detail.  At $100, she easily competes with those other 18" dolls that are quickly losing their appeal in my opinion.  This is a doll that can be treasured for many years and speak to a child's heart!


Pope Francis' encyclical reminds me we are not angels. We have bodies, and we must live in the physical world. It is this physical world, our common home, that Pope Francis asks us to consider: On many concrete questions, the Church has no reason to offer a definitive opinion; she knows that honest debate must be encouraged among experts, while respecting divergent views. But we need only take a frank look at the facts to see that our common home is falling into serious disrepair. Hope would have us recognize that there is always a way out, that we can always redirect our steps, that we can always do something to solve our problems. [61] Interestingly, when I searched for images of "home" to include here, nearly 100% of the photos looked like this: Read more at Praying with Grace!

I Was Going to Be the Perfect Mom

Did you get a load of this New York Post article? A New Yorker named Wednesday Martin just wrote a memoir called Primates of Park Avenue, due out June 2. The book chronicles her experience with Upper-East-Side women who wear motherhood like an assault rifle. According to Maureen Callahan's article about the book, these moms pay $400 an hour for play-date tutors, enroll 3-month-old infants in music classes, and time pregnancies so their children will be the oldest ones in class.

Loyola Press offers a rosary kit for children ages four and up. They sent me a kit and asked me to share my thoughts. So, I turned right around and shared the kit with some families (including one family with a son who has developmental delays), and asked what they thought.

Pope Francis' Big Heart For Children

A Big Heart Open to God. That's what the world's Jesuit magazines titled their interview with Pope Francis six months into his papacy. (You can read the English-language version at America Magazine here.)

Yes, Pope Francis seems to have a big heart open to God, and to all of us. He often reveals his heart for children too. I would like to dedicate today's blog to some of the Pope's inspiring words about children and the adults who care for them. (All excerpts come from the Vatican Information Service.)
We parents, grandparents, teachers, catechists, and other adults who work for the welfare of children can pray with the Pope. We can pick one or two lines from these passages and ponder them in our hearts, as Jesus' own mother Mary did:  Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. -Luke 2:19

Visit Praying with Grace to be INSPIRED!!

The "Hygiene Hypothesis" Blows Lent Wide Open

Driving to work yesterday, Iheard a story on NPRabout scientists studying the "hygiene hypothesis." The thinking behind the hypothesis goes like this: Developed countries have detergents, sanitizers, and machines to clean things in ways humans have never cleaned things before.We also don't hang out around livestock like our ancestors did Back In The Day.Children who grow up in these super-clean environments lose contact with good old-fashioned GERMS, tricking their bodies into thinking every microbe in town is hazardous.Thus, their adorable little immune systems go berserk: #eczema #allergies # asthma
Are we too clean?
Please join me at Praying with Grace to reflect and comment on how our faith might be too sterile, as well. Do children need to suffer?

Heaven and Battlefield (Part III)

The Offertory,  (Battle of Tears)

Now is the time to fight.  Not with weapons or words, but with tears, the tears of a Mother pleading for her children.  

Some time ago I prayed the words of Rachel during the stations, I said, "Give me children or I shall die."  I meant spiritual children that I can pray for.  God in His goodness gives me children that I cannot see or touch, that are somewhere in the world and in need of a Mother's tears for them.  At this moment in the Holy Mass He not only gives me these children but also fills my heart with love for them at the same moment.  My heart is pierced and tears flow for the children I love, although I do not know them, I love them no less.   

The tears of a Mother pleading for her children before the throne of God is very powerful.  A Mother's heart willing to be pierced for her children to lead them to God can pluck those with the darkest of hearts directly from the demons grasp. 

The heavens are opened and ...TO READ MORE.…

What Christmas Shows Children About Self-Esteem

Children are hungry for affirmation. Children are desperate for love, for family, for an understanding of their place in the world. Children who lack these things grow up hating themselves and wanting to disappear, or forcing others to pay attention to their outrageous displays of addiction or terror. The truth about Christmas provides all the affirmation we need: the only reason we exist is because our God created us out of love; and when we forgot this, God proved his love by becoming one of us.

Relentless headlines tell us about school shootings, suicides, rampant drug use, epidemic STDs, teenagers joining terrorist groups. . . . This is not God's plan for us or for our children. And we don't begin to address the crisis by telling children how great they are. We free our children by showing them how great God is.

Read more at Praying with Grace.