Friday, December 17, 2010

Santa Claus is Coming to the Library

Last week it was Frosty the Snowman; this week Santa came to visit at story time at the Savage branch of the Howard County Library. A good time was had by all, including our friends Patricia, Zahra, and Saree. We started with a jingle bell song which Jacob clearly loved:

He rang the bells so fast, they're blurry!
Lucy liked the bells too, though she wasn't as proficient as Jacob:

Where did Daddy hide those bells?

After some stories and more songs, we started the craft. This craft was super simple: put some stickers on a blank ornament. Jacob was completely uninterested, which I blame more on his general unenthusiasm for stickers than on it being a craft. As we crafted, Santa arrived, to the delight of most of the children. He talked for a bit about how he'd be quiet when he came to visit all the boys and girls and how he loved the cookies people left out for him. He advocated carrots for the reindeer since they are so healthy. Lots of vitamins and such.

Santa delivers his PSA (the blond in front is not Jacob)
 Then he went to another room for photos. Lucy was ready to go:

 In the room, Patricia took our picture while we (meaning me) took the picture of her and her lovely daughters. Alas, I only have our picture to post:

All in all, we had a great time at the library. We can't wait for next year.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Lucy's First Sledding

Today snow fell in sufficient quantities to make it hard to drive up the drive way and, more importantly, easy to go down the hill in the backyard on a sled. Of course, the front yard is much steeper but has a rather inconveniently placed street at the bottom. So we sled in the back yard. Here's Jacob and Lucy suiting up for the first adventure of this winter:

Jacob wears his coolest hat-his own name AND tractors!

Lucy's supercute snowsuit

Jacob loved his gloves; they're as great as a craft!

Outside, we had lots of fun:

Jacob drags his sled back up the hill

Lucy is smarter--she gets someone to drag her!

View from Mt. Reninger
 Back inside, Lucy decided to try on Daddy's hat. The only problem was the size difference:

"I feel like a character from Fat Albert!"

Jacob wanted to get in on the fun and wacky head wear:

The pillow wouldn't stay on his head so he decided it was a camera

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cry Room Chronicles XXIII

This week Lucy got up late as usual for 8 a.m. Mass. That was okay, since Aunt Maryellen and cousin Autumn were in town to make Christmas cookies and left early this morning. We are definitely confirmed 9:30 Mass goers.

We are also confirmed "start in the church, go to the children's chapel" people. We figure that each time we will stay a little longer in the church, eventually attending the whole liturgy in the main church. This week we made it into the first few minutes of the homily. Jacob started asking to go to the "reading room" just before the gospel, but it wasn't until Lucy got really antsy too that we retreated downstairs to the children's chapel.

The crowd wasn't very big down there: a mom and dad with two children, a dad with his daughter. The daughter was a bit of a wanderer. She tried to follow the usher with the collection basket out of the children's chapel, but luckily the door shut before she got to it. Otherwise she was pretty quiet. Jacob read his usual books; Lucy walked around some but not too much.

Eventually Jacob decided he wanted to go potty. Lucy started to throw a fit when he headed to the bathroom with mommy, so I volunteered to help Jacob. Lucy was satisfied. Jacob did a great job peeing and washing his hands. Once he was done, it was time to go upstairs for communion.

In the narthex, both Jacob and Lucy decided to put their coins in the box for buying books off the bookshelf, so we must have another $1.23 toward a book. Jacob ran his hand over the end of every pew as we walked up and as we walked back from receiving the Eucharist. He'd had his fill of the musicians before, so we headed straight back to the children's chapel.

A cold and rainy December morning meant no going to the church playground. That's probably out for quite a while until we travel to a warmer climate.

We missed most of the homily, but we probably didn't miss much. The guest homilist was a nun from the diocese who coordinates with religious orders in the diocese. There was a second collection for religious orders, so I assume she was pitching the value of what they do to encourage donations. I didn't quite follow the bits I heard and I fear I didn't miss much.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Not So Frosty Reception at the Library

What a difference a year makes! Last year, we went to the library to see Frosty the Snowman, which was a lot of fun but also traumatic for Jacob. This year, they repeated the program. So we decided to go again, with completely different results.

The first difference was that friends came along: BJ & Amy & Colin and Teresa & Jeremiah. They all had a good time hanging with the Reningers.

The program started as usual with stories and songs led by our favorite librarian, Miss Ellie. We even sang this song to the tune of "I'm a Little Teapot":
I'm a little snow man, short and fat,
Here is my broomstick, here is my hat!
When the sun comes out to play,
Down, down, down in a puddle I lay!

Then, last year's moment of dread approached: The Craft. In the space of a year, Jacob pulled a complete 180 when it comes to crafts. He tried to get the kit while Miss Ellie was explaining how to do the craft. I tried to get him to wait, but he was too impatient. The kit included a tongue depressor with a ribbon at the top, three cotton balls, a tiny red scarf, and construction paper hat, eyes and mouth. With glue stick in hand and a marker to autograph his masterpiece, Jacob went to work with this result:

Unfortunately, Frosty did not survive the trip home :(

Lest you think Jacob did this craft under duress, take a look at his reaction to completing the craft:

A thing of beauty is a joy forever!
Afterwards, Frosty made his appearance. My has he grown since last year. I guess snowmaggedon had its benefits.

Many parents had to restrain their children from mobbing the celebrity
We even got a group photo with Frosty:

The photo doesn't show it, but Lucy was terrified!
Even our godson Jeremiah got to sit with Frosty:

Alas we did not get a picture of Colin, but maybe next week for Santa!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Playdate Bonus: JumpZone

This week we met with some of our play date friends a second time at the Jump!Zone Party Play Center here in Columbia. Strangely enough, I didn't get any pictures of Eddie or Caroline, but they were there with their moms, I swear!

The first thing you run into after registering and taking your shoes off is a big tree house with a very long slide. This was Jacob's favorite spot. He climbed up several times and slid down the slide. Once he wanted me to go up, but I feared I was too big for the slide. Later, I saw a mom go down the slide, so I missed out. We must go again. Here is Jacob, surveying the slope:

"Why doesn't the slide go from the crow's nest?" Jacob asks.

Here he is in mid-slope:

The main attraction of Jump!Zone is the seven or so large inflatable climbers. Jacob was not so interested in these. In fact, I couldn't coax him on to any of them. He would look at them. He would tell me to go in without him. He would drum on them. But he wouldn't go in. I don't know if it was the noise from the blowers that kept them inflated or the number of other children there, but he was not interested in playing on them. Maybe he thought they weren't safe:

Jacob as Safety Inspector (sans hard hat, since he doesn't like hats)

Lucy, on the other hand, loved the inflatables and would have stayed much longer if we'd let her. She went into the SpongeBob inflatable for a good ten minutes. She also went into the Jurassic Park inflatable, which featured palm trees, large bones and a climbing wall. She got to the base of the climbing wall but wasn't proficient enough to ascend. Some of the other kids who had climbed up weren't to proficient either. They dropped down and bounced on top of Lucy. I charged in to extract her Ian Malcolm-style. Luckily she was unhurt and unfazed. We went back to her favorite inflatable where things were calm enough for me to take pictures:
Lucy smiles for another camera

Lucy loved crawling and walking along the alligator's back. What a daredevil!

I think this mom secretly wanted to play in there too!

Lucy definitely got her money's worth out of Jump!Zone. Since we had a two-for-one coupon, I guess Jacob got his money's worth too.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Cry Room Chronicles XXII

We are starting to solidify into 9:30 a.m. Mass goers. Lucy is maintaining her "sleeping past 7 a.m." standard (why can't Jacob adopt that too!?!), so 8 a.m. Mass may not be feasible for the foreseeable future. It worked out okay for us, though. We actually arrived early this week and, contrary to earlier reports, we decided to give the main church a try again.

The children weren't too antsy in the pew in front of the choir. We had the full contemporary choir: many different instruments and about twenty singers. They invited us to sing a prelude song, the ever popular "O Come, O Come Emmanuel." That was a satisfying start for the congregation and for Jacob and Lucy. Mass began. The children were giving mommy some extra love. Lucy sat on mommy's lap while Jacob sat with his back against mommy and pushing his legs off me. Not the most comfortable arrangement but they were reasonably quiet. As Mass progressed the children got more rambunctious. Lucy started taking all the books out of the back of the pew and handing them to us. Jacob started to crawl all over and to increase his decibels slowly. We eventually retreated to the children's chapel when the homily started.

The chapel wasn't very full, mostly older kids who seemed like they'd be okay upstairs. I wasn't quite sure what they were doing there. Lucy decided to poop towards the end of the homily, so she was being changed in the bathroom when the usher came for the collection. Jacob put in our donation with a smile on his face. Jacob decided to poop during the Our Father, so I changed him after the sign of peace. He shook a few hands but didn't work the whole room. After the diaper change, most people had already headed upstairs for communion. We caught up. Lucy wanted to put money in the poor box (this week collection for fish of Howard County...I mean FISH of Howard County). Jacob was off with mommy doing something else. I don't know if we made another donation to the book shelf fund. Like last week, after communion Jacob came back to the cry room directly without passing the choir and watching them for the rest of the Mass. It was too cold out for the playground so we headed straight home.

We missed most of the homily during the transition from upstairs to downstairs and with the diaper change, so I can't provide much of a recap. Father must have told a funny joke because we heard laughter as we were walking down the stairs. Toward the end he talked about being willing to accept our place in God's plan, which might seem quite insignificant in the big picture. But we don't really have the proper big picture view, do we? If only we could see the world with God's eyes, we'd have a much better understanding of what is important and what isn't.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cry Room Chronicles XXI

Lucy has been getting in some new teeth, so she wakes up a couple of times in the night. Consequently, she's been sleeping in lately. Today she got up around 7:40, which meant there was no way to make it to 8 a.m. Mass. So we went to the 9:30 Mass.

We arrived early for once (we left extra early to go to the grocery store; since the temperature was in the 30s/40s we didn't have to worry about the milk going bad). Being bold, we went into the main church and sat in front of the choir's risers. Unfortunately this Mass only had a limited repertoire of musicians and singers--an pianist, a flutist, and four singers. Jacob and Lucy were interested in them but were also very chatty and not fully distracted. We headed to the cry room just as the first reading started. I'm sure we'll have the ambition to try staying in the church again in the future, but not next week.

The Children's Chapel was quite full. I counted 13 children and 12 adults. Occasionally someone would walk by the glass door with a small child but not come in. Most of the kids in there were well behaved. Jacob resumed his usual habit of picking a book off the shelf and reading to himself more or less out loud. Lucy wandered a little bit but didn't play with anything. No interactions of interest happened between any of the children. Even during the sign of peace, things were pretty sedate. We finally headed upstairs for communion. I forgot to bring change for the poor box. Angie had some coins so Lucy and Jacob did the family duty. Jacob didn't asked to stay in the church after communion. I guess he remembered that the musicians were few and had enough of them at the beginning of Mass.

Even though the kids were well behaved, they were still noisy and a little distracting during the sermon. Father spoke about having a sense of God's time as opposed to our own sense of time. We want to rush and do things and not be idle. God allows for some waiting and quiet times. Father must have said more about that but it didn't stick with me, due to distraction. I was a little bummed, because I was hoping for a good nugget to start Advent. If anyone has any good nuggets to share, I'm all ears!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cry Room Chronicles XX

For our twentieth chronicle, we are proud to present our first field reporter: She took Jacob into the sanctuary at the beginning of Mass so he could enjoy the 9:30 Contemporary choir:

As a visitor to the Reninger household this weekend, I was privileged to attend church with them.  As grandmother, I wanted take Jacob to the pew in front of the musicians so he could watch them to his heart's content.  A family moved over to make room for us on the end.  Jacob was inching closer to the family so he could get a better view of the instruments.  I realized that I would have to use my body as a shield to protect the family from Jacob's encroachment and accidental kicks.  I was getting tired of turning around and dragging him back to our end of the pew.  That was making it difficult for me to concentrate on the prayers and focus on worship.  Jacob did fine throughout the sermon.  He spoke softly a couple of times and responded well when I reminded him to whisper.  Just prior to the collection, Jacob announced that he wanted to go to the room with the books.  He was heading out of the pew when I grabbed him from behind with an across-the-body rescue grip.  I held him on my lap and gave him money for the collection.  That kept his interest for an additional 5 minutes, after which we left for the children's worship room.

Meanwhile, downstairs in the Children's Chapel (also known as "the room with the books"), Lucy was playing shy with the other children, who were mostly sitting quietly with parents. One poor boy was crying so much his dad took him out of the room. Eventually Lucy found the big bead rosaries and gave one to mommy. Then she took it back and tried to put it on mommy's neck. Mommy had to help. My turn was next. My head was almost to big for the rosary to drop around my neck. I'm glad I helped and Lucy didn't try to force it. She also gave rosaries to another little girl but did not insist on her wearing them.

When the usher came for the collection, Lucy was very excited to put in our donation. Then Jacob and Granny came in and joined us. Jacob did his usual reading of books in a quiet voice. At the sign of peace, he was not interested in shaking hands for some reason. Lucy was into it big time and shook my hand twice.

Going upstairs for communion, Jacob wanted to look at the elevator by the book shelf. When I gave him a quarter surprisingly he put it in the poor box and not the book shelf box. I guess we'll have to wait a little longer for that Biblical Sudoku. Jacob didn't want to stay upstairs after communion since he had got his fill of the musicians with Granny. We went back to the children's chapel, which worked out quite well for us since we were next to the parish hall. What's so great about that? This week a bake sale was going on and we were among the first to peruse and purchase some yummy treats: pumpkin bread, cookies, and a blondie.

The sermon was quite excellent this week. The gospel was about the crowds taunting Jesus on the cross and how the two thieves reacted to being crucified with Jesus. Father talked about the need to give all for the Lord. He told of a couple he met at daily Mass who were just married and who wanted to come to Mass as often as possible to keep Jesus as the head of their home. Another woman in her 30s came to him with a problem. She's single with a good job in Annapolis and a nice apartment and thinks she's in love. She told her parents she is in love with the Lord and wants to join an order where she can use her communication skills to spread the message of God's love. Their reaction was to tell her that she didn't know what she was talking about because she never really loved anyone. As she told the priest this she started to cry. He told her of his own vocation: He'd been dragging his feet in high school about applying for college. His mom kept nagging him. One day he went to the spiritual counselor (a Franciscan), and told him he wanted to be a priest, something he had been thinking about for a long time. The counselor was overjoyed and ready to measure him for his robes! When he told his mom later, she was extremely upset and said something rude to him. She then went to his dad to tell him his son wanted to be a blankety-blank priest. The dad came upstairs and told his son that whatever the son decided was okay as long as he would be happy. And he's been happy ever since. The woman agreed that her happiness would be in giving herself completely to Christ. Father was amazed at that desire to give herself completely, or even of the couple to give themselves completely to the Lord. He asked parents to be open to the happiness of their children, even if that happiness is not what they expected for their children. God give us the grace to be open to our children's happiness.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cry Room Chronicles XIX

We had a slow start this morning, so we decided to take it leisurely and go to the 9:30 a.m. Mass instead of 8 a.m. Of course, we got there late because we were too leisurely. We could blame it on Jacob trying to go #2 in the potty at home before Mass. That didn't work out; he pooped right after the sermon and not in the church potty. But that's another story.

The 9:30 Mass is one of the "official" children's chapel Masses. The place was packed, too. I counted four other families and about 17 other people besides us latecomers. We walked in just as the Gloria was ending. All the children were sitting with or on the laps of their parents which surprised me. Our kids were definitely wandering around more than anyone else's. I like to think they were taking full advantage of the accouterments of the room. Jacob read a couple of books, knelt and stood on the kneeler, and moved some chairs. Lucy did a little bit of sharing with one other boy. Lucy was also pretty jealous of Jacob getting to go to the bathroom for a diaper change. Or maybe she just wanted mommy to stay with her in stead of daddy.

Amazingly, we had to encourage Jacob to go upstairs for communion. He wanted to finish reading one last book. After that, he gave his usual 25 cents to the book sale box, got a drink of water, then went in to the church to watch the musicians. The contemporary choir was there with an assortment of instruments: a violin, a drum, a guitar, a trumpet and a piano. Jacob was most enthralled with the trumpet. He waited around until all the musicians left before we headed back to the children's chapel to get our jackets.

Monsignor's sermon revolved around God's care for each one of us. The gospel talks about the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and the coming persecution of Jesus's disciples. He assures His listeners that though they may be betrayed by family and put to death they will secure their lives by persevering. Obviously he does not mean their mortal lives but they will secure their eternal lives. We need to persevere in witnessing to Jesus's message of love in a culture that seems entirely opposed to that message. God grant us the fortitude to be a channel of His light to the world!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cry Room Chronicles XVIII

Last week we missed Mass because I was recovering from an eye injury sustained the night before. Luckily, my eye has fully recovered, but that first day was very painful and not very restful. It was a scary Halloween for me.

Getting to Mass this week should have been more restful since we returned from Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time, which means an extra hour of sleep Saturday night/Sunday morning. We tried to take full advantage. Lucy's molars are coming in, though, which means she wakes up a couple of times in the night, like last night. Also, Jacob came in our room at 4:30 and said he wanted to go potty, which he did. It was really great of him to do that, but the timing could have been better.

So we had our usual baked oatmeal breakfast before the rush of showers and dressing. We made it almost in time for the start of 8 a.m. Mass. We were the first ones to the Children's Chapel, at least. The TV and sound were on but not the lights. Jacob quickly took care of that. He also found some books to read and was pretty good about reading quietly. He also didn't rearrange furniture like last time and was very patient about waiting to go upstairs for communion.

Lucy was also well behaved and fairly calm. When a family with two tots came in, she looked and looked at them. Eventually, she offered the daughter (about 3 or 4 years old?) one of the big bead rosaries. Lucy walked up and laid it on the ground in front of the girl. The girl didn't pick it up. Lucy picked it up and put it on the chair next to her. Eventually they exchanged a sticker from the girl's activity book. Lucy at least made a new friend even if Jacob was aloof.

Once we got up stairs, Jacob put another quarter in the book box. I think our fund is up to $1.50. He wanted to watch the organist play after communion. I took him over and he watched quietly. He even got a smile from her at one point. He's also discerned the difference between an organ and a piano and didn't touch either.

Today's homily was all about Heaven. It won't be what we are expecting at all since we really can't imagine life with the Beatific Vision. Unfortunately stickers were being exchanged at this point, so that's all I got from Father's sermon today. Hopefully next week will be better for paying attention. If we get enough sleep...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Uncle Dan Visits!

This week we had a special visitor for one night only, Angie's friend Dan from her UC Berkley days. He's in town for a conference and spent a little time with us.

Dan visited us once long ago (i.e. before Lucy was born) and he and I had a good time playing Guitar Hero after Angie went to bed. We also had a fabulous breakfast with scones, eggs, bacon and lots of other good stuff.

On this visit we had a bunch of new things. First, of course, is Lucy, who had lots of smiles for him. Second, we now own Rock Band (second hand from Craigslist), which meant that we had two guitars and drums. Angie did not get to sleep early that night! Dan loved the drums and is convinced they need the game at their house. Eventually Angie was able to escape leaving us guys to play some more. We played until our fingers bled. Well, at least until Dan's finger bled. He developed a blister that popped while he was wailing on the drums. Sorry Dan!*

The next morning, we had a special breakfast. Angie baked our Saturday morning treat, Baked Oatmeal, on a Wednesday morning. It was very yummy and everyone was happy to eat such a good breakfast. Dan read stories to the kids while I showered and Angie headed off to work. Then Jacob, Lucy and I toke him back to the metro. It was a great visit. Hopefully we will see him again soon!
Lucy wasn't awake yet!

*In an interesting side note, my Tae Kwon Do buddy Dave sustained a minor injury and bled a little Wednesday night. As I write it is Thursday 10:30 p.m. So far there are no injuries yet. I am the only one still awake, so I guess it will be me if these things really do happen in threes.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween Library Storytime

Tonight I was lucky enough to take Jacob to the Pajama Time story time at the Savage Branch of the Howard County Library. The theme tonight (as you may have guessed from your calendar or from the blog title) was Halloween.

We arrived a little bit late. As we entered, we discovered that Miss Rita had a partner who was translating the books into American Sign Language. Thus we learned signs for orange, black, bat, pumpkin, and a whole host of other spooky words. The story time was almost completely stories, i.e. we didn't sing or dance. But there was a craft!

We formed a big circle and the assistant handed out supplies. We got a purple paper plate, orange yarn, a cardboard bat, a cardboard pumpkin, a cardboard bat, and a cloud with "Happy Halloween" written on it. Jacob grabbed a glue stick and we attached the cloud to the middle of the plate. Then we had to tie the orange yarn to each of the decorations (they had holes punched in them) and then to hole in the bottom of the plate. Getting yarn through a hole was pretty tricky, but Jacob succeeded more often than not. Sometimes he would just get a little bit of yarn in and then let go. The decoration would fall and pull the yarn back out. Luckily, Jacob didn't get frustrated, we just laughed over it. I had to tie the knots since we haven't taught Jacob that yet. When we got home, we showed it off to Mommy:

The bat is hiding behind the pumpkin for some reason!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Cry Room Chronicles XVII

We've been fighting a cold on and off for a couple of weeks now, so that's why the blog has been quiet. My apologies!

Today we went to the vigil Mass (4 p.m.) at St. Louis, since our good friend Brian was a lector. His lovely wife and super-cute new-born son joined us in the Children's Chapel. Boy, did she get an eyeful and and earful of our children's rambunctiousness. Jacob started out with the usual routine of "reading" out loud from a book, throwing in lines from the liturgy. Then he started moving a chair around the room. I mean that literally. He took it from the right side to the front, across to the left side and then to the back of the room, almost full circle. Lucy did a lot of running around, too. Her new found skill is climbing onto the chairs, for which she got a lot of practice. The practice was pretty harrowing for us parents to watch but she never hurt herself. Once she had herself perched on the seat, she'd look over at us with a beaming face. It's hard not to smile.

Another boy with his dad and older brother were in the room with us. The boy handed me a book which I held open for him, flipping pages occasionally. He seemed to enjoy it. At least it kept him quiet and occupied. He and Lucy also had a couple of friendly staring matches. No clear victor emerged. They also played the "take everything off the shelf" games, resulting in a pile of books and kneeling rugs. The other dad worked diligently to keep up with them, but re-shelving is a lot harder than de-shelving.

Jacob started his usual "it's time to go upstairs" appeals during the collection. He even went around and shook everyone's hands in order to convince us that the sign of peace was over and it was time to head up. Eventually, we did go upstairs. Jacob put another 50 cents in the book shelf box, while Lucy put her change in the poor box. I was intrigued by Biblical Sudoku Puzzles on the book shelf. We may have to get that once we've paid enough. So far, we've given $1.50. After communion, we did check out the organist. Jacob was pretty good at whispering till he noticed a CD player on one of the pews behind the organ. Then he said full volume, "There's a new CD player!" At least he didn't shout it. And I was able to keep him from playing with it. Luckily the second collection happened just in time to distract him.

The homily was more memorable this week since there was no homily. Two sisters from our sister parish in Haiti are here for the weekend, so they spoke a little bit and we saw a video of the past year's activities at St. John the Evangelist in Haiti. In addition to a parish, St. John's also has a large elementary school and an adult learning center for young women. The video focused on the recovery efforts after the January earthquake and was quite inspiring. See more about ongoing developments here.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Cookiepalooza at Touche Touchet

An important event is happening today and tomorrow, namely Cookiepalooza. Touche Touchet Bakery makes many wonderful cookies, cupcakes, cakes, pies, muffins and other treats. Right now (October 8 and 9, 2010) they are giving out free samples of four cookies and asking customers to vote on their favorites. Jacob, Lucy and I stopped in and shared one sample (though now that I think about it, maybe we could have received one sample each?). After tallying the children's opinions, I submitted our vote. Since we are Americans, I won't reveal our vote. I will reveal that we bought three cookies from the case (which are only $1 each during Cookiepalooza), though not necessarily one for each of us. We plan to give some to Mommy, who hopefully will participate in the electoral process on Saturday. Here is our takeaway:

l-r: harvest, midnight madness (chocolate mint), ginger snap
Please note: The ginger snaps aren't sold in halves (though you might expect that for the $1 price). Jacob had already eaten his half before I could take a picture. He declared it "Soft and yummy." All the cookies were winners in my book.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Cry Room Chronicles XVI

We were all alone in the Children's Chapel this week, which was definitely a good thing. Lucy has been teething for a week, so her sleep pattern is at best erratic. Certainly, it has been insufficient. As a result she was pretty cranky today in church. She wanted to go back and forth between mommy and daddy and to wander around. But she was never really satisfied and she let us know it. She had new shoes on too, so that might have added to her discomfort.

Jacob did fairly well. He was reading through his book with the occasional repetition of words from Mass like "Holy Spirit" or "Thanks be to God." He did sing along with the Alleluia part of the opening hymn, for which I cannot remember the name. He also sang at the Gospel's Alleluia. Again, he put money into the book box instead of the poor box, so we've got another 25 cents towards something. I should be keeping track. Lucy put her change in the poor box, so the poor made out better than the books this week. Jacob did want to see the musicians after communion, but the 8 a.m. Mass only has an organist. He watched with mommy while I took Lucy back to the Children's Chapel.

After Mass, we went to the church's playground. The weather was cool and crisp; the equipment was still dewy. Jacob had a great time climbing around, though at one point he insisted that I not touch him while he was climbing across a precarious part. I tried to explain to him that if I let go, he'd drop to the ground. I was supporting all of his weight. He refused to acknowledge my argument and kept insisting that I let go of him. So, I let him drop kept him up in spite of his denial of his need for me. I wonder how God puts up with us insisting on our own way and using own abilities, when He's really holding us up completely. He must have a LOT of patience. I hope He keeps my patience up with Jacob and Lucy.

I don't remember anything from the sermon on today's readings, but I got the message on the playground.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Busy week at the library!

Actually, it's been a busy week at several libraries. We started with with the end of last week, where Jacob's latest craftiness produced these wonderful sheep at Pajama Time:

Jacob has to protect the sheep from the hungry dinos on his pj's

Jacob's picture shows the sheep a little better & juxtaposed with a random toy on the floor
Our next library adventure was on Monday. We went to Storyville in Woodlawn with Granny. See the photos here, since too many were taken to post on the blog. Jacob had a great time in spite of accidentally biting his lip while removing the drum. He got a little bloody. The family bathroom was no help since it was too environmentally friendly to have paper towels or tissues. I had to use a wipe from our diaper bag to clean up the blood. He really enjoyed working the grill and the cash register, which I guess means a fast food restaurant career is not out of the question. Maybe it'll be his day job to support his drumming passion.

Today (Thursday, September 30, 2010) we went to 3, 2, Fun at the East Columbia Branch of our local library. We were supposed to get a ticket from the children's desk to let us in, but we went the wrong way so Jacob could see photocopiers and the globe. An announcement on the library's PA system caught Jacob's interest and we ran into one of the children's librarians who helped convince Jacob it would be fun. We made it to the room a little late--Jacob still had to stop at every copier along the way and got two drinks from the water fountain before we made it to the right room. The theme was zoos. A story about ordering a pet from a zoo kept both Jacob and Lucy enraptured. Jacob also played along with "Old MacDonald" and a couple of other songs. At the end, he got his usual hand stamp on a piece of paper. While Jacob and I were busy negotiating that with the librarian, Lucy started cleaning up the room! She took all the bean bags that were on the floor and put them on a table. Lucy probably got us a guaranteed ticket to come back to story time at any time, ticket or no. Good job, Lucy!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cry Room Chronicles XV

This week we had special guests at Mass: Granny and Grandpa! Thanks to their help we were even early to the 8 a.m. Mass at St. Louis.

We had the Children's Chapel to ourselves at the beginning of Mass. Slowly, more children and parents trickled in. Lucy's little same-size-but-slightly-older friend showed up first. They got along really well, though it seemed at some points they were about to get into something over a book that they were both interested in. Another mom, granny and daughter showed up later, as did James, Colin, and their parents much later. The room steadily filled.

In spite of the many kids, it was a very peaceful service. Lucy was pretty low-key; she couriered books from the shelves to Grandpa and to Mommy and back and forth and hither and yon. She was pretty satisfied. Jacob stuck to his usual reading (out loud but quieter than usual). He did repeat some of what the priest said and some of the responses for the congregation. He even sang along with some hymns and parts of the Mass. He also sang Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and the ABC song. He only asked to go upstairs right before communion and was very polite and quiet about it. Jacob even managed to put change in the poor box instead of the book-buying box like he did last week. The kids must have been on their best behavior with the grandparents there. We'll have to get some life-sized cardboard cut-outs of them for next week.

Since it rained, we were unable to play on the playground. I did see Timmy and his parents when we went to communion and afterward walking out of church. Hopefully next week's weather will be better.

I even got to listen to the sermon this week. The gospel was the story of the rich man and Lazarus. The priest brought out how the rich man never really did anything bad, but he failed to do the good he should have, especially for Lazarus. He drew a great comparison with the movie Schindler's List, where a business man at first exploited the Nazi economy to make lots of money. Then he had a turn of heart and tried to save as many of the Jews as he could. Schindler did what the rich man in the parable didn't. He used his wealth to help those in need. Not only did he give of his wealth, but he gave of himself. And that is what we are all called to do--not just share our wealth, but share ourselves.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Visit to the Coptic Church Festival

This past Saturday (September 18, 2010), we went to St. Mary's Coptic Orthodox Church for their church festival. In many ways, it was like many other church festivals or picnics. There was a moon bounce for the little kids, a dunk tank for bigger kids, church tours for the interested, food (including ethnic delights) for everyone and even a car wash for your car. We had a grand time.

After handing our keys over to the car wash guys, we meandered into the parking lot where someone offered us a tour of the church. We thought that would be a nice start, so off we went. The guide explained to us that orthodox churches are usually in one of two shapes. First is cruciform or cross-shaped, with a long main aisle and two side aisles that would look like a cross from above. Second is the ark shape (as in Noah's ark), with a rectangular room and a ceiling with long wooden slats supported by arches much like an upside-down boat. This church is ark-shaped. Like other orthodox churches, the altar/sanctuary is separated from the pews or nave by the iconostasis, a wall with three doors or openings connecting the sanctuary and the nave. The iconostasis has many icons on it representing saints and other holy persons. Here are some of the pictures I took:

Main door of the iconostasis

Detail of Mary and Christ child, yes it's on the curtain!
Detail of Last Supper over the main door
Icon of Mary and Christ child to left of main door. Note the intricate carving on the columns!
One of the common motifs in decorating the church is the cross, which can be seen in the iconostasis, the pews, the altar and even the podium:
The woodwork throughout was pretty incredible.

The altar directly behind the main door/curtain is fairly simple.
There is no tabernacle as in Catholic churches since all the consecrated bread is consumed during the orthodox mass. And yes, that is a camera set up in the sanctuary. They stream their services on-line for parishioners who may be away for various reasons. Our guide said that he'd watch when he was off at college. Another camera is in the body of the church facing the podium and iconostasis.

Another interesting decorative feature is the "ostrich eggs" on the iconostasis. They symbolize the vigilance of the Holy Spirit in watching over the church, just as the ostrich will not leave its egg for anything until it is hatched.
To the right of the egg is an icon of the Archangel Gabriel and one of the side doors
Also, this church is blessed with relics from fourteen different saints, most of whom were from the Egyptian area. The reliquaries that house the relics are quite ornate, as in the picture below which shows icons of the four saints on the top with the relics in cloth bags underneath.
Apologies for the poor lighting in the photo
Also, the baptismal font is large enough for baptism by immersion, which is their common form of baptism for adults and infants.
Detail of icon of Jesus baptized in the Jordan River above the font
While Angie and I did the tour, Jacob kept asking us for change to put in the poor box. Lucy meanwhile made a friend:
Looking cute on the steps of the altar
Not to be outdone, Jacob later made the same friend in the parking lot while they were playing with rocks:
Jacob has a preternatural awareness of cameras pointed at him
We enjoyed the festival too. Since it was the middle of the day, we did not get a meal, though I did try the sugar cane juice (surprisingly tasty) and some baklava (not particularly outstanding).
Sugar cane juicing machine
Standard food booth with lots of extra sugar cane on hand
Jacob was fascinated by the dunk tank since they were emptying it. He threw many leaves and blades of grass into the runoff water. Much more fascinating was the band, which played some contemporary Christian music quite well. The singer was especially good. Jacob liked the band because they let him try out their drum during one of their breaks.
The band's allure overcame Jacob's preternatural awareness of the camera pointed at him
The visit was a lot of fun. We'd definitely go back next year. Maybe then we'll be brave enough to try to get the kids to eat something more than a little different for dinner.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cry Room Chronicles XIV

This week provided a special challenge since Angie was up most of the night feeling ill. She didn't come to Mass (she went to the urgent care clinic instead), so Jacob, Lucy and I went to 9:30 Mass at St. Louis. I was a little nervous about having both of them double-team me.

We arrived a little late; as we were walking in we heard the end of the Gloria being sung. In the Children's Chapel we discovered our 8 a.m. friends Timmy, Kim and Luke, along with another dad and his daughter about Lucy's size but seemingly a little older.

Jacob went into reading mode pretty quickly. He kept asking me if it was okay to read the book that he just got off the shelf. I didn't say no to any of them, (1) because they were keeping him occupied and (2) they are stocked in a church cry room, how could they be objectionable? One book's cover said it was My Little Prayer Book but from Jacob's reading, clearly the lyrics of Old MacDonald Had a Farm were printed inside, which he sang quietly. Lucy joined in for the part she knows: "Eeee-iiiii, eeee-iiiii." They were cute but distracting.

Lucy finally learned from the other kids to put the rosary beads over her head and around her neck. She walked around for quite a bit like that. She also traded beads back and forth with the other girl. They both seemed content. As is her custom, Lucy handed me a bunch of the song books and other children's books. I didn't see her giving books to anyone else, though maybe she was being coy.

All in all, they were pretty well behaved and I didn't really have to worry about things. Jacob almost missed the collection again but he didn't beg to go upstairs for communion like he usually does. When we finally did go upstairs, he got a drink of water from the fountain and put the change I gave him for the poor box into the box next to the book rack. My attempt to explain which box benefits the poor and which one is for buying books was fruitless this week. I'm sure he'll eventually figure it out. By that point, we may have put enough change in to buy something good. Again, it being a church book rack, it'll be hard to find something bad there.

The Lord was definitely with us going to communion. Lucy was happy to be carried and Jacob held my hand the whole way, so neither one wandered off. We did go by the choir and musicians. We stopped and Jacob watched them for the rest of the Mass. I half-watched him and half-prayed. I felt like I did a lot more praying this week than in previous weeks.

The only bad thing was the "Old MacDonald" incident coinciding with the sermon. I honestly can't remember what the priest talked about. The gospel reading was the famous You cannot serve God and mammon passage. Even re-reading it now sparks no memories. Oh well, maybe next time, as Jacob likes to say.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Jacob Plays with Fire, or at least the Remains of Fire

Jacob was a little disappointed today that we didn't go to his favorite "car" park by Lake Elkhorn. In stead, we went to the playground in Savage. He did remember that park and had a good time riding the slides and such. Lucy also enjoyed climbing up the play equipment and riding on the swings.

After a while, Jacob decided to investigate outside the play area, which meant exploring the picnic tables and grills. Lucy kept playing on the swings and I figured she needed me more than he did, so I let him have freedom to explore. He was fascinated by the grills and played a lot with the charcoal, becoming quite charcoally himself. I didn't realize this until it was far too late. He admitted that his hands were dirty,

I'm a boy, what did you expect?
but he refused to believe that his eye was dirty. Luckily no other parents were there or I probably would have been reported for having a child with an unexplainable black eye:

you should see the other guy!
Thankfully, diaper wipes work on more than just baby's bum. He was cleaned up in time to make a respectable appearance at the grocery store. Let this be a lesson to parents out there, even a cold grill provides a hazard to your child!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Taken Home from the Library

Last week Jacob made it through another craft and came out smiling. The theme of pajama time was Grandparents. The craft was a hug:

The barely visible text is "I love you this much!"
Jacob tried to model it for me when he got home:

Check out the heart hiding behind the left hand!
It's a little big to hold out easily but he was very proud. He hasn't decided which grandparent to give it to. Possibly he'll forget about it before he sees any of them.

The day after Jacob's craft, I received an email from the staff at East Columbia. I had been participating in the summer reading program, submitting the titles I've been reading along with short reviews. At the end of the summer, they drew for prizes, and I won a tote bag full of books and other fun items:

What a haul!
Six books, three post-it note pads, a reading light, a lanyard, two CDs of audio book samples, a notebook, a key ring, a free ticket to Toby's Dinner Theater, a bookmark, a carbine clip, and (of course) a tote bag. Pretty awesome! I'll definitely participate next year.