Category Archives: Children

When We Struggle in Church with Young Children

I find it very difficult to let things go and not bother me.  I usually hang on to the hurt and review the play by play in my head long after.  This past Sunday, when we visited a local Byzantine Catholic Church, an old lady was visibly annoyed with us.  During the sermon, little Eric was unable to stay still.

Christ Blesses the Children

I was holding John on my lap because he was a bit overwhelmed in a new place, and Nathaniel was dealing with Gregory and David.  So, Eric slipped away and decided to spin around in a circle right in the middle of church.  Then he looked up and smiled at everyone.  He was as sweet as can be, but he was a disruption.

Then I heard a loud “humph” from the back and looked up to see the woman staring daggers at me.   In a parish as small as that one, Eric’s distraction could go unnoticed.  Nathaniel quickly grabbed him and placed the wild little man on his lap.  Just a bit after that, another child was being incredibly defiant, so I picked up Eric while I was pulling the other child by his arm and left the church.  What a great first impression we had made.

Needless to say, I was incredibly discouraged by the time we drove out of the parking lot.  At our parish in Kentucky, we had a system that worked for us.  That doesn’t mean it was easy; dealing with five young children in church is never easy, but we did have their godparents and friends who would help out.  I rarely felt completely alone, even if I did feel overwhelmed.

Recently, Sarah wrote a good post called “How to Encourage that Young Mother at Church.”  I recommend this for everyone, whether you have children or not.  It is so important to encourage those who are struggling.  And I guarantee that, at one time or another, every parent is struggling in church.  Thankfully, in the end, the struggle is worth it. IMG_20150823_112238

Book Review: When My Baba Died by Marjorie Kunch

The other day, we were driving down the road when a funeral procession stopped all traffic in order to cross a busy intersection.  My oldest turned to me and asked if only “really important people” have funerals, and I explained how anyone can have a funeral if they desire.  “Mommy?  Did you have a funeral for the babies who died in your tummy?” he asked.  I told him how we did special prayers at church for the littles ones that we lost to miscarriage.
As a family, we have only been to one funeral, and
I, then, realized that none of us has been to an Orthodox funeral.

When My Baba Died

Recently, I had the pleasure of previewing Pascha Press‘s first book: When My Baba Died by Marjorie Kunch.  When My Baba Died is a lovely guide for children through the loss of a loved one.

The description from the website:

This warm, accessible, faith-based book ministers to a child’s specific needs when faced with their first experience of an Orthodox funeral.  It will help parents guide their children during this difficult time and illustrate the progression from the funeral home visitation, to the funeral ceremony in church, to the cemetery graveside service. I also answer the most common questions children asked of me during my twelve years serving as a funeral director, define newly encountered words,  and address the emotions they may be feeling as they begin their journey of grief. This is accomplished with the use of simple text, accurate terminology, and beautiful photography digitally edited to create tasteful illustrations of all phases of the ceremony. It is my humble prayer this book brings you closer to our Risen God and the comfort of the Orthodox Faith.When My Baba Died

I think When My Baba Died would be the perfect addition to the library of any Orthodox family.  It helps prepare a child for what they will encounter at a funeral by going through what will happen, step by step with photos, from the visitation to the burial.  This book lets children know that it is normal to cry and feel sad, but also gives them hope that their loved one is with the Lord. The author, Marjorie Kunch, is a mortician and an Orthodox Christian, and she does an excellent job making this difficult subject accessible to young children.

When My Baba Died

 

When My Baba Died will available June 21st from Pascha Press!

Follow Pascha Press on Facebook for updates.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for this review. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Holy Week Passport {Printable}

Holy Week Passport

I have created a Holy Week Passport to be used from Lazarus Saturday through Pascha.

Holy Week Passport

It is very simple and geared toward younger children; it doesn’t require any reading.

Each page has a drawing relating to the day that the child can color.
It also has space to either write or draw.

To treat it like a passport, and each time the child goes to service, use stickers from Sermon on the Sidewalk to “stamp” that page.  These can just be cut out and pasted in the blank areas on the pages.

Holy Week Passport

All you do is print out the booklet and then fold.  When you print, make sure your settings are landscape, two-sided and short-edge binding.
I used brads to complete our booklets, but you can use staples as well.

Enjoy!

I’m Bored Jar *Printable*

I'm Bored jar

There are many different “I’m Bored Jars” all over the internet, especially on pinterest, but I wanted one that I could use specifically for Lent.

While there are many ideas that work all year long, I added a few to help with my children’s spiritual development as well.

You can print out a copy of the pdf ( ImBoredJarforLent ).

Feel free to tailor it to your needs.  Enjoy!I'm Bored jar
I'm Bored jar

Lenten Activities for Kids

I’ve put together a list of activities that you can use in your home during Lent.  
Just click on the photo for the link to the activity.

First, some Lenten Crafts from Be As A Light:
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Laura of Many Mercies has so many wonderful *free* printables on her blog!

Lenten Calendar Printable:

http://manymercies.blogspot.com/2014/02/orthodox-lenten-calendar-printable.html

This year we are using this Memory Verse Garden:

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We use this one in our homeschool:

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Learning about “Lord Have Mercy”:

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Printable Pascha Cards and Basket Cover:

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We made this little Resurrection Garden last year:
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Matushka Emily made this lovely calendar, which we used last year:

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Bingo from Orthodox Education Blog

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Here is my Orthodox Children’s Prayer Book:

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You can use my Weekly Planner to help organize your activities:
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Have fun teaching your children during Lent this year!

Advent Reading for Children

As Advent approaches, I made a list of all the books I plan to read with the children during the Nativity Fast, which begins on November 15th in the Orthodox Church.  Our Advent occurs during the 40 days before Christmas. We will read one book or story per day.
Advent Reading
Our list of books (these are all books that we own):

    • The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski
    • Peace at Last (St Volodymyr) by Savedchuk
    • Book of Bible Stories by Tomie dePaola
    • The Feast of Pentecost (12 Great Feasts Series) by Mother Melania
    • The Miracle of St Nicholas by Whelan
    • The Story of Mary the Mother of God by Dorrie Papademetriou
    • Zeek the Christmas Mouse by Scherde
    • One Baby Jesus (boardbook) by Pingry
    • Uncle Vova’s Tree by Polacco
    • A Children’s Paradise of Saints by Nun Nectaria Mclees
    • The Monk Who Grew in Prayer by Claire Brandenburg
    • The Miracles of Jesus by Tomie dePaola
    • Sweet Song by Jane G Meyer
    • Christmas is Coming (boardbook) by Ailie Busby
    • How the Monastery Came to Be On Top of the Mountain by Currier
    • St Nicholas and the Three Poor Girls by Potamitis
    • The Legend of St Nicholas by Demi
    • Room for a Little One by Waddell
    • The Trisagion Hymn by Potamitis
    • St Spyridon and the Horses by Potamitis
    • North Star by Dorrie Papademetriou
    • The Story of the Nativity by Winthrop
    • Away in a Manger by Thomas Kinkade
    • The Friendly Beasts by Tomie dePaola
    • The Annunciation (12 Great Feasts Series) by Mother Melania
    • Christmas in the Manger (boardbook) by Nola Buck
    • The Nativity of Our Lord (12 Great Feasts Series) by Mother Melania
    • The Nativity by Potimitis
    • What Do You See at Liturgy? Orthodox Board Book

Please share your favorite children’s book in the comments!

The Feast of Transfiguration

Transfiguration

You were transfigured on the mountain, O Christ God,
revealing Your glory to Your disciples as far as they could bear it.
Let Your everlasting Light also shine upon us sinners,
through the prayers of the Theotokos.
O Giver of Light, glory to You!

TransfigurationMatushka Emily has some wonderful resources on her blog that we used for our lesson today.

Transfiguration

We also read from The Children’s Bible Reader about the Transfiguration of Christ. 
Transfiguration

We used our book about the Transfiguration of our Lord from this set.

Glorious Feast!

Coming Out About Comparisons

Make sure you read Part One and Part Two of this series as well.

Skies

Scrolling through social media and blogs has the ability to make even the greatest, most accomplished, most patient, most crafty, most musical, most over-achieving moms feel inadequate.  The reason is quite simple: the internet rarely tells the whole truth.

We all post photos about our greatest accomplishments, not our deepest failures.

Do you want to see the pile of laundry on my bathroom floor OR my daughter reading to her little brother?  Do you want to see how the puppy chewed up yet another toy all over the living room floor OR the craft the kids did?  Do you want to see my child throwing a fit on the floor OR my baby smiling beautifully for the camera?  The answers to these questions is obvious.

No one wants to see the hard stuff. 

It might be a nice change of pace to see a post or read something about someone who has embraced the fact that life is messy and chaotic, but these are few and far between.  More often than not, we see happy smiling children eating homemade treats while doing crafts in a beautifully decorated home.  Forget the fact that in the other room is a dog chewing up a dirty diaper (Not that I know anything about that…).

As a mother, it is difficult not to compare yourself to other women who seem to have it all together.  But I will tell you the truth: even the most perfect mom in the world has her bad days.

I openly admit to having a Super Mom Complex.

I pin so many amazing ideas on Pinterest, but will never have enough time in my life to do them all.  I love to sew and craft, but leave projects unfinished.  I menu plan and then end up eating out for dinner.  I do crafts with my kids and get frustrated when they make a mess.  I homeschool and some days I want to give up.  I make green smoothies and then eat candy bars.  I snuggle my kiddos and then tell them to go into the other room to give me a few minutes of peace.  I succeed and I fail, but I always get back up again.

This is what parenting is all about.

“What I do you cannot do; but what you do, I cannot do.
The needs are great, and none of us, including me, ever do great things.
But we can all do small things, with great love,
and together we can do something wonderful.”

~Mother Theresa

It isn’t about what you do, it is about how you do it.  Stop comparing yourself to other moms.  We all have different gifts and abilities.  No two moms are the same.  No two people love the same or need love in the same ways.  Work with what you have.  Embrace it.

Be the best parent and person you can be
and forget about what everyone else is doing. 

Of course, you won’t be able to do this every day and some days you will feel completely inadequate once again.  But do not be discouraged.  We all have days like this.  This is normal.  The most important thing a parent can do, above anything else, is to love their children and to teach them that God loves them more than they can even imagine.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God;
and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
In this the love of God was manifested toward us,
that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world,
that we might live through Him.
In this is love, not that we loved God,
but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Beloved, if God so loved us,
we also ought to love one another.

1 John 4:7-11 (NKJV)