Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How to go to Church with a Three-Year-Old

I'm pretty sure that I am done with my blog challenge.  I didn't do it EVERY day but I did it most days and that was pretty good for not-follow-through me!  This month is so full of family visits and wedding meetings and birthdays and trips across the state that I know I will not be having time to write as often for awhile.  I know you are super bummed, but we must be strong!

Today's post is an illustration of my Mass time this week.  Any mamas out there are probably familiar with all of this to the point of it being mundane, but maybe seeing it from the perspective of someone who doesn't have babies at Mass every week will put the humor back in the situation for you.

So here is my step-by-step instructions for taking a three-year-old to Mass (or any church worship):*

Step 1:
Make sure you sit in a pew that has an empty pew in front of you.  This will come in handy for many heart-attack moments during the service as your three-year-old excitedly runs up and down the empty seat.  They are blissfully unaware that one wrong move of their little toddling feet will send their head into the pew ahead of them and the rest of them into the book holders below.  Looking back this should have been foreseen but please remember that only hindsight is 20/20.  Don't be too hard on yourself or worry though; as you try to correct your mistake and catch them they will think you are starting a delightful game of Tag and will squeal excitedly in the middle of the day's readings while running even faster in the opposite direction.

Step 2:
After you finally manage to get your three-year-old back, the only way they will stay in your pew is for you to hold them for awhile.  Please be aware that they are now full of energy and so will try a number of acrobatic moves in your arms to try and get that energy out.  A favorite move that I have noticed is the throwing back of the body with no prior warning so they can hang their head upside down.  Your entire body will be forced forward and only by some primal instinct do your feet stay glued to the ground, thereby preventing you both from tumbling into the empty pew ahead (see Step 1).  You look down to see your three-year-old with arms hanging and hair standing up straight as though they have been electrically shocked.  The thought goes through your head that perhaps electric shock actually is the reason they just tried to kill you both, but please note that you will think that maybe this is a reason for them doing a lot insane things.  It very rarely is the reason however.
They will have a look of pure joy on their face which will make it very difficult for you to convince them that they should look at the world right-side-up for awhile.  Do not be surprised at your child's sudden ability to turn themselves into an immoveable sack of potatoes; this is a normal side effect.

Step 3:
Give them a water pen with its special color-changing pad during the sermon.  This will keep them happy and quiet for maybe 5 minutes and you will find yourself able to actually listen to the wise words you came to hear.  Please don't be too shocked, however, when you turn back to your three-year-old to see them screwing and unscrewing the lid of the marker and taking little sips as water pours all over their clothes.  As you wonder to yourself if this is really a problem and therefore worth the screams involved when you try to stop them (after all, its only water), their older sibling will have noticed the situation and come to the conclusion that it is in fact life-threateningly dangerous.  They grab the pen and your three-year-old commences screaming until they get the pen back.  Even then, however, they will still be quite shaken up and may require some hugs.  Be sympathetic as they point a finger to their sibling and bury their head in your shoulder, the only actions they can muster up to convey their feelings of betrayal.

Step 4:
Bring someone to Mass who thinks it is funny to see what they can get a three-year-old to do and sit right next to this person.  You will have contributed to bringing two new best friends together and witness many games being invented.  So what if they older lady at the end of the pew is shooting daggers at you with her eyes?  The melodious sounds of a child's innocent laughter, even during the Consecration, is worth it all.

Step 5:
It is important to instill in children that giving money to those less fortunate is important.  One way to do this is to let the children put money in the collection baskets.  As your child thrillingly stares at the money in a way that lets you know they are having an experience you wish they would feel for the rest the Mass, try to prevent them from putting their mouths on the dollar bills.  Another tip is to not let them feed you the dollar bills, which they will try to do as their way of bringing you into their excited moment.  There will be many other occasions where a three-year-old will try to feed you; sometimes it will actually be food but even in these instances do not eat it.  Their sense of accomplishment will make them so proud they will try to feed you too many bites at a time with such an insistence that you will become worried they are actually trying to kill you.

Step 6:
As the end of the Mass draws near, your three-year-old will have finally gotten used to the fact that they need to sit still in your lap.  However, they do not see anything interesting in the rows of heads in front of them so they will turn around to face you.  You may be shocked to realize that your face is, in fact, an excellent toy.  Squishing cheeks and touching eyes, violent kiss storms accompanied by a surprisingly strong grip on either side of your head, and trying to feed you their fingers are all "games" you can expect to be played as they read the final announcements.  Refer to step 5 for more information on three-year-olds trying to feed you things.

Step 7:
The Mass has ended, go in as much peace as you can.

*Note: Some of these steps are not exclusive to Mass/Church time and may include other ages of children as well

The 3-year-old 

Hope your day is blessed and filled with laughter!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Princess Time

Today I got to babysit my future nieces and what a fun time it was!  I got to spend time in that elusive world of tea parties and princess dresses and whirling dances and I left that world with smiles to spare.  What a blessing :)  Here are some photos that show our good time:

Sista love

And you thought you had style...

She is smiling ALL THE TIME.  Unless she's laughing.
Hope (the little one) had a great time wandering down the hall and then charging back in the room with her head thrown back in a laugh until she would fall on her bootie because she remembered she only started walking a few weeks ago.  HILARIOUS.  I tried to upload a video but apparently that's against blogger rules?  Grace (the older one) loved running around her room showing me all her treasures with a steady narration of "just one more thing!" And then we ate sandwiches.  

This is the life :)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Snazzy Suits and Save the Dates

Today my man and I picked out the suits for his guys for Wedding Day!  We got a coupon that said everyone gets $40 off their suit if they order before a certain date so we got that taken care of.  It seems sooner than I would have thought but, hey, $40 is $40!  We picked out light gray suits with baby blue ties and vests- a nod to the North Carolina Tar Heels.

No one can say I didn't try to include my man in the celebration planning.  Light blue and light pink are the colors....hopefully it doesn't end up looking like a baby shower of some sort.  I'm sure it will be fine...

In other wedding news, I meet with a photographer on Saturday and I'm pretty excited about that.  This company has a photography/videography package, which is just so smart in my opinion!  I then meet with a wedding coordinator on Sunday since my reception site doesn't allow us to start setting up until way late in the day.  Like, halfway through our church ceremony late in the day.  Silly.  So I need a wedding coordinator to get that taken care of.

I've been addressing Save the Dates for two weeks now and let me tell you it is HARD WORK getting my fiance to get his necessary addresses.  Praying for a miracle in that respect.  Both of us also have such ginormous families that I have hand cramps just thinking about the giant stack of envelopes I've been working on.  Let's hope they enjoy the fruits of my labor :)

Monday, November 4, 2013

In-Between Time

This is the time of year that I enter Wal-Mart and feel my eye twitch.

I drive down the street and see decorations on a store front and want to go rip them down.

Ads on websites become red, white, and green and I change the page.

This is the In-Between Time and I spend a lot of it trying not be irrationally angry.  All of the Christmas decorations that over-take everything before Halloween has even passed point to a bigger problem in our culture.  I get so upset by the blatant greed and lack of focus on the present day that I hardly go anywhere at all.

I'll go out and about after Thanksgiving.  My blood pressure can't handle it before then.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Grateful to BE

I just returned home from the most lovely dinner party!  It was thrown for me by my lovely mother-in-law-to-be and attended by a great majority of my fiance's family in honor of my birthday next week.  Let me just say that I am lucking out with my fiance's family; I'm so overwhelmed with the love and acceptance they exude!

This is actually a perfect segue into what I wanted to talk about today: love and acceptance.  The priest today gave an excellent sermon about loving yourself the exact way you are.  Same old story about not being unhappy with the way you look but given with such joy and belief in the words that it was like the idea had never been voiced before!  This is definitely a priest I will be returning to hear more from!

One of the things that he said was that God made each one of us "with big ears or a lump on the nose," stepped back, and said "This one is my absolute favorite so far!"  What a beautiful thought :)

For myself, I switched this to describe the inside rather than the outside: God made my personality the way He did for a reason!  Trying to be someone else or at the very least hiding my truest thoughts and opinions for fear of what others might be thinking is such a waste of the specific way He made me!   I know this with my whole mind and heart yet this fear has had a ruling hold on my life for so long that the thought of living without it is, for me, the most intoxicating of dreams.  Just imagine, though, if each one of us embraced the unique mix of gifts and talents that we were given rather than always thinking we should have different ones.

Thanks Genie!  Don't look annoyed Aladdin....you need to hear it!

One thing my fiance's family does that I love in theory but have trouble experiencing myself is their tradition of honoring each other on their birthdays or at special milestones. Since it was my birthday dinner tonight they each took turns saying wonderful things about me.  Let me just tell you it was SO hard for me to listen!   I wanted to curl up under the table while they were talking so no one could see me and then return each nice thing said with compliments for each of them.  Neither of these are the point of this exercise however: you must sit and completely take in the honoring.  You cannot turn the compliments away; you must accept them, OWN them.  For this one day in the year you are given only the nice parts of yourself so you can stop focusing on the negative.  How hard and yet how necessary!  See- I told you I was lucking out with in-laws!

"Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one." This excellent quote from Eleanor Roosevelt is a good way to summarize my point in this post.  Know yourself; know your weaknesses, and know your strengths.  In this way, in each moment of the day, we can be truly useful.  I pray in this moment that YOU, dear reader, may know yourself and love yourself.  Say the same prayer for me :)

What is your favorite thing about yourself?