Sunday, December 1, 2013

Keeping Christ in Christmas: Join Church Ministries

I’m participating in the KEEP CHRIST in CHRISTMAS Blog Link-Up 2013
sponsored by the Catholic Bloggers Network.

Be sure to visit as many links as possible,
listed at the bottom of this post

I am excited to again participate in the Keeping Christ in Christmas Blog Carnival.  Last year, I wrote about how our family strives to live without over consuming all year, which helps us avoid the commercialization of Christmas.  This year, I am writing about our new involvement in church ministries will keep us close to God during the Advent and Christmas seasons.

A few months ago, our church hosted a ministry fair, so my husband, myself, and our oldest daughter each signed up for different ministries.  My husband had been discerning about the Knights of Columbus, as a way to give back some of the good fortune we have experienced in our lives.  He participated in the induction ceremony a couple of weeks ago, so he is looking forward to learning more about how the Knights are involved in our parish, and to participating in service projects and church fundraising events throughout the year.

I have been waiting for my children to reach the age where they could sit quietly during the readings without me next them in the pew so I could serve as a lector.  Now that my youngest daughter is five, I decided to put my reading talents to use at mass.  My first experience as a lector was exhilarating; I felt the power and Truth of the Word touch my soul as I listened to my fellow lector and to my own voice during the readings.  I am grateful for the public speaking ability God granted me, and for the opportunity to use that talent in His service.  

Participating as a lector has also pushed me to study the weekly mass readings more closely every week, something I have been trying to do for most of this year, but not succeeding at very often.  Now that I am responsible for reading about once a month, I try to spend a little time each week thinking about how the readings are connected to the previous and next weeks’ themes.  This will help me prepare to read with understanding and purpose when it is my turn at the ambo.  My next lector assignment is during the Christmas season, so I will be paying close attention to the Advent readings in preparation.  Look for a future post that is more descriptive of the preparation leading up to and the actual reading experience itself.

My nine-year-old daughter has developed an interest in music and singing, so she joined one of the children’s choirs.  Over the summer, she participated in a few of the “anyone can join us” choir sessions to try out the experience.  Her first performance with the children’s choir was last week, during the mass for Christ the King.  Even though this choir will not sing at mass during Advent, the opportunity has renewed her interest in liturgical songs, especially those used during the Christmas season.  We will be singing these songs as a family in the weeks to come while we wait for Christmas to arrive.

Even if you don’t join church ministries this Advent season, there are usually plenty of opportunities to serve the church this time of year, especially as a family.  Churches with food pantries may need help sorting the extra donations, or organizing the food for a holiday meal giveaway.  Many churches collect gifts for needy families, and need help organizing and distributing those gifts; this is a way to assist in addition to bringing donations.  There may also be opportunities to help to decorate the church grounds before Christmas, and remove decorations after.  You could also get involved in the church’s efforts to present a live Nativity or a Nativity play.

How will you use your talents to serve the church this Advent?  I am also interested in your comments about ministry service throughout the year.

In addition to our new focus on church ministries, we are going to participate in many of the same traditions I have written about in previous years, including making an advent wreath that we can “light” with paper or yarn flames.  Here are last year’s wreaths (yes, each of my daughters wanted to make her own).

I have two older blog posts about our daily Advent activities that are focused on faith.  You can find the first post here.   The second post includes more activities and a list of books we have enjoyed.

I plan to return to regular blogging after the first of the year.  In the meantime, I hope you will read some of the carnival links posted below. 

Equipping Catholic Families: Keep Christ in Christmas
Coffee Moments with Sam The Light of Hope
Faith Filled Freebies: Keep Christ in Christmas
Written by the Finger of God: Not Christmas as Usual
On the Way Home:  Keep Christ in Christmas
Sue Elvis Writes: Bring Christ to Others
Mountain of Grace Homeschooling Keep Christ in Christmas
Home to 4 Kiddos Keep Christ in Christmas
City Girl, Country Home Emmanuel Is With Us. Are we WITH HIM?
Journey to Wisdom: Trusting in your Awkward Fiats
Designs by Birgit: Elf on a Shelf and Santa Claus
A Slice of Smith Life: How we keep Christ in Christmas
Catholic All Year: Three Reasons I love Advent
Mary the Defender: Christmas The Battle Begins
Truly Rich Mom: Keep Christ in Christmas
Diapers and Drivel: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Raising Soldiers 4 Christ: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Campfires and Cleats How We Keep Christ in Christmas
Homeschooling With Joy Keeping Christ in Christmas
Mrs Domestic Bliss Gingerbread Nativity
The Chic Traveller Keeping Christ in Christmas
California to Korea Keeping Christ in Christmas
Dominique's Desk Keeping Christ in Christmas
Our ABC Life:  An Advent Update 
Journey Living: Anno Domini 
The Road to Rome: Advent Prayer and Reflection Resources 
Life of Fortunate Chances: Keeping Christ in Christmas 
Quidquid Est, Est!: Reblog: Advent Posts

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Five Ways to Support a New Mother

This post is inspired by World Breastfeeding Week, hosted annually by The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) from August 1 - 7.  The WBW theme for this year focuses on peer support for breastfeeding women, especially in the community, among family, and from health care providers.  According to WABA, peer support is the best way to ensure that women who are having difficulties, or who have returned to work, continue to nurse their babies. 

I want to share five ways anyone can support a new mother, and although these tips are especially helpful for breastfeeding mothers, they are also helpful to women who are bottle feeding (pumping or formula).  
Because breastfeeding can be difficult to maintain after a woman returns to the workplace, I also include specific information on how coworkers can assist their lactating colleagues on the job.  Several women have told me how lack of time to pump at work led them to end breastfeeding sooner than they otherwise would have.  This situation creates a spiral of less nursing because missed pumping sessions reduce supply, which leads to more use of formula, which leads to less nursing, etc.  

Our efforts to support lactating women are important in all areas of our lives: in the family, at home, in our neighborhoods, at the workplace, in public, and at worship.  I hope you are able to put these simple suggestions to good use supporting a new mother and her baby.

Five Simple Ways to Help a New Mother

1. Bring her a meal.  This is especially helpful during those early days at home when baby is very hungry and mother needs to heal from the birth.  A lactating mother needs a hearty healthy meal and plenty of snacks to keep her milk flowing, her energy up, and to promote healing.  If she has other children, she will benefit from the rest instead of preparing a meal for them.  While many women are fortunate that a family member can help out during this time, some mothers do not have any help, and most family members return to their own homes after a week or two.  

If you are supporting a lactating coworker, You can offer to bring her some takeout for lunch, or to pick up a dinner for her to take home to her family.  This is especially helpful when she first returns to work and her whole family is adjusting to their new schedule.

You can even organize a crew of volunteers to bring meals to a family with a new baby by contacting the new mother’s friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers.  Care Calendars makes this easy; all you have to do is set up a schedule and then send an e-mail to those who might want to help.  They sign up and the information is sent to the new mother and the calendar coordinator.  You could even arrange this before the baby is born!

2.  Offer to watch the baby or her older children.  New mothers need their rest, and even though everyone will tell her to sleep when the baby is sleeping, she may not be able to, especially if she has other children.  Keeping the baby or other children occupied for just an hour can let the new mom take a much needed rest without interruption.

You can help a coworker by watching her desk or phone and assuring anyone who tries to find her while she is pumping that she will return soon.  Also, before she returns from maternity leave, you can ask others to help you clean the refrigerator in the break room so the pumped milk can be stored in a sanitary place (you know how yucky a workplace fridge can get sometimes).

3.  Run an errand or help with a house chore.  We all know how difficult it can be to get to the store with a newborn, especially if that baby does not like the car seat.  Offer to pick up items while you are running your own errands, or ask if she needs something to help with breastfeeding, her post-partum bleeding, or her personal hygiene.  Same for a coworker; running errands after work might mean the baby will have to wait to nurse, which is not helpful to either the mother or child if they have been separated all day.

Laundry can pile up with a newborn around, so if you are visiting the new family, offer to help place something in the wash or fold things that are already dry.  Maybe the floor could use a sweep or the sink a wipe down. 

4.  Listen.  Sometimes, mothers need to share what is happening to them, or ask questions about how they are feeling.  She may want to gush about the baby, talk about how her life has changed, or simply have a conversation with an adult (instead of a baby or children) about something entirely different.  Indulge her; she will remember your kindness later.

Your coworker may have questions about readjusting to work life with a baby, how to handle a situation with her baby’s caregiver, or a work project that was completed during her maternity leave.  Returning to work while caring for a young baby can be distracting, to say the least; your offer to listen or chat can help tremendously.

5.  Pray.  This is an easy one, especially if you are already in the habit of praying for those who are healing or going through a major change in their lives.  There is much to pray for: healing, health, rest, learning to breastfeed, smooth nights, energy to complete daily tasks, patience, and so much more.

What are your ideas for supporting a new mother?  I am fortunate to have benefitted from the kindness of others in all of these ways, especially after the birth of my second child.  In fact, the help of friends was crucial to my breastfeeding success the second time.  You can read my stories about how I handled breastfeeding difficulties here and here.

Notice: This blog may contain advertising links to venders I have an affiliate relationship with.  This means that if you click on one of these links, a window to that vender’s website will open.  If you shop for products on the vender’s site and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission on what you buy, even if you purchase items during a later visit.  I appreciate your support of this blog.  You can read more about how I choose my affiliate relationships here.

Offers from Melissa & Doug Over 2,000 Unique and Exciting Toys for Children of All Ages! Click here!

Free Shipping On Any Order Of $60 Or More Now At!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Disaster Prep: Go Bags for the Family

I suppose I need to cut back on watching the evening news while I prepare dinner.  My children have been asking a lot of questions about tornadoes the last month or so.  My four year old is particularly concerned about one of them coming inside our house, despite our reassurances that the wind stays outside most of the time.  

In our coastal community, hurricane season began six weeks ago, so I have been taking stock of our supplies.  Because we live more than twenty miles from the coast, we rarely evacuate when a storm comes our way, and although I am not ruling that out, we prefer to stock what we will need to ride out a storm and its aftermath.  That means water, non-perishable food, medical supplies, batteries, candles, and plenty of things for the kids to do.

Also, this year, I prepared “Go bags” with emergency supplies for each family member.  I asked the children to help me collect everything and make decisions about their clothes. They actually had fun looking for the toys they wanted to pack and helping me find all the supplies from around the house.

I read about go bags on two blogs recently, and realized we needed to be better prepared in the event of a last minute evacuation.  Jessica over at Life as Mom wrote about her “24 Hour Go Bags” last fall.  Her post is full of helpful hints, such as color coordinating the family bags and when to buy them on sale.  She includes a helpful list of what she packed in each bag, and what she plans to add as she finds other items on sale.  I will do the same below. 

Jessica also created a fill in form for family and emergency contact information to place in each child’s bag.  I really like that the form conveniently has 2 columns and prefills the second column with the family information (address, parent name, etc.) as you type the first column.  In the extra space at the bottom, I wrote that we are Catholic and that my children speak both English and Spanish (she used that space for insurance information).

Bobbi at Revolution of Love wrote about her disaster preparations earlier this year, and included rosaries and other prayer tools in her family bags.  Of course, I had to add those items to my own bags!  

I chose to use some backpacks given to the children at a local home improvement store during a children’s workshop.  We also pick up many similar bags at festivals around town, so if you are looking for something lightweight, you might not have to buy anything.  The children are using bright orange bags (easy to spot), mine is black, and my husband is using our old travel backpack, as he will carry more food and water for the rest of us.

Go Bags Packing List

1. Clothing and Toiletries.  Family color shirt (ours is green), shorts, socks, underwear.  Sunglasses, ponytail holders (comb in my bag), hand sanitizer, bandages, toothbrush and paste.  During the emergency, I will take the bag of sunscreens I keep in my outing bag and move it to my go bag.  My husband will carry anti-bacterial wipes, regular baby wipes, and toilet seat covers for all of us.  I am also going to look for lightweight pants that we can pack instead of shorts; after a storm, the mosquitoes will be out in force.

2.  Food and Water.  Bottled water (2 each), packaged granola bars, trail mix.  As we ride out the storm, I’ll add other food that will keep for a few days: yogurt and plastic spoon, bread, cheese sticks, crackers.

3. Emergency contact and money.  I sealed the contact information card, a family portrait (leftover Christmas photo card), and five dollars in bills and change inside a zip bag.  If the children are separated from both of us, they can make calls and show emergency workers what their parents look like.

4.  Flashlight with batteries.  My husband and I each have a crank operated flashlight that doubles as a radio.  The kids carry mini mag lites.

5. Prayer aids and entertainment.  Each of us packed a rosary and prayer cards.  The kids also decided to pack a small stuffed animal and a small notebook and pen.  I am going to look for other small books and toys to include (such as mini playing cards).  My husband will carry the extra charger for our cell phones.

Here are a couple of pictures that include most of the bag contents; we will add items as we think about them or find useful things on sale.  

child bag contents

adult bag contents

We will also pack our passports, a printout of our bank balances, insurance cards, a flash drive with important information, and more cash in a zip bag that my husband and I will carry, along with extra zip bags for the cell phones and other items we may grab as we head out.

I think we are ready.  In the event a hurricane heads our way, we will move the go bags from the hall closet to the room we stay in during the storm, along with raincoats.  Everyone will wear jeans, socks, and tennis shoes so we can be ready to evacuate on the spot if necessary (if our roof collapses or the house begins to flood).

These go bags are just a brief look at our disaster preparations; we do so much more to prepare our home when a storm is forecast for our area.  In addition to stocking pantry foods, we make other food ahead of time, pack the freezers full of ice, fill the tub with water for the toilets, stock up on propane and charcoal, fill the vehicle gas tanks, do all the laundry, put candles and matches in every room, back up the computers, store important papers and photos in plastic on top shelves, board up the windows, and bring in all the patio furniture and gardening tools.   More details in a later post, if you are interested.

Notice: This blog may contain advertising links to venders I have an affiliate relationship with.  This means that if you click on one of these links, a window to that vender’s website will open.  If you shop for products on the vender’s site and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission on what you buy, even if you purchase items during a later visit.  I appreciate your support of this blog.  You can read more about how I choose my affiliate relationships here.

Products from Amazon

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...