Thursday, September 12, 2013

Going to Daily Mass: Our Daily Struggle

I was not very happy this evening. We failed to go to daily Mass again. My eldest was eating VERY SLOWLY AGAIN. My younger son was a bit sluggish this afternoon (must be because of his 6-in-1 vaccine yesterday). I was hoping that we could still go even if we will be a bit late. But things didn't happen that way. Dinner was longer than usual.
This has been our daily struggle since we moved to our new house which is just behind a church. I sometimes feel frustrated, a lot of times disappointed, that we are not yet consistent in attending daily Masses. I have been dreaming of this for so long. There are always challenges every day especially when we don't have a maid to help me out with the chores and in watching over the kids. And in case you don't know, I also work from home and write books.
Anyway, on days when we have successfully stepped out of the house to go to Mass, the next challenge that I face is keeping my kids well-behaved while the Mass is going on; so I and the rest of the other church-goers can pray in peace. This could be easier if my kids are already older. But my kids are both below 5 years old. Both of them are so active and curious that it's difficult to keep them focused, sitting down and quiet. My eldest son is also a high intensity child. He loves to go to Mass. He loves to sing with the choir. He likes to read what is projected on screen. And I love that about him. My challenge is guiding him and reminding him to tone down his voice and to sing or read together with the congregation. His voice can be really loud sometimes that I sometimes want to melt where I'm standing when he sings louder than the choir members who are using microphones. I usually heave a sigh of relief when we are able to participate well in the Mass -- meaning, the kids are extra obedient and cooperative and my eldest is not singing too loud.
There are days when I would wonder if I should even bother to bring them with me since making the daily Mass an integral part of our day means that we need to be more organized and disciplined in our household.
I thank God that on days like today, I received inspiration and encouragement to keep on fighting this daily battle. I received my much needed encouragement through the homeschool group I was a part of (ROCKERS). Someone shared this article: 10 Reasons to Attend Daily Mass.
I was particularly struck by this quote from St. Augustine that was included in the article. He said, “All the steps we take to hear Mass are counted by the Holy Angels and that person will be given a high reward by God in this life and in eternity.” 
I felt like crying as soon as I read this quote. It was as if God just whispered in my ear and in my heart, "It's ok, child. I understand your struggles and challenges. I know what's in your heart."
I remember a line I often heard when I was a young Christian. Our elders in our community would constantly remind us that God wants our faithfulness more than our success. Today, God reminded me of that lesson again. I know that God wants to see me and my kids in the church daily attending Holy Mass. But I know also that when we fail to be present there, God knows that I tried.
Sigh. Now, my vision is a blur because my eyes are filled with tears...
You see, I love the Holy Eucharist so much that I've been a daily communicant for many years (sometime in High School until the early weeks of my pregnancy when I was not still on bed rest). I've faced and triumphed over many challenges during those years. It has been around five years now since then. So, you could just imagine my eagerness to go back to this daily habit now that our house is literally a stone's throw from the church.
This article helped strengthen my resolve to continue in my struggle to include the daily Mass in our daily lives. This article affirmed me that bringing my kids with me to the Mass would be good for them and is the direction that He wants us to take for our homeschool. I pray for extra grace to be successful in achieving this goal and in being faithful.
Let me end this post with Psalm 84:1-7 (NIV) and a song by Himig Heswita that I like listening to:
1 How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty! 2 My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. 3 Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young-- a place near your altar, O LORD Almighty, my King and my God. 4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. "Selah" 5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. 6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. 7 They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.   

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Almost 5 and Breastfeeding Again

My eldest son was sitting next to me as we listened to one of the speakers at the Breastfeeding Pinays photo exhibit at SM Mall of Asia. Then, we heard something that surprised both of us. The speaker (Nanay Ines of Arugaan) shared that in some countries, kids as old as 5 to 7 year old still breastfeed. My eldest son and I looked at each other. I said to him, "So, you can still breastfeed just like Mateo!" He smiled and said, "Yes, because I'm only 4 years old."
"Do you want to breastfeed again?" I asked him.
"Yes!" he replied.
When we got home and getting ready for bed, my eldest watched closely as his younger brother nursed from me. I asked him again if he wanted to breastfeed again. He said yes but was hesitant and shy. I asked him why.
He said that he's not sure if he remembers how.
I told him to watch his younger brother and encouraged him to try again.
He did try. But after a around a minute stopped.
I didn't force him to continue. I simply encouraged him to try again next time.
My youngest son continues to breastfeed from me and his older brother sometimes would watch as if wanting to do the same.

Last night, as my eldest son watched his younger brother breastfeed from me on the bed, he asked if he could try again. I readily said yes and motioned him to lie down on my other side. I helped him latch by doing a sandwich hold of my breast while I encouraged him to suck. He suckled for a few minutes, paused and stopped. I asked him if he was able to get some milk. He smiled and said yes.
It was my first time to breastfeed my kids simultaneously. It felt good.
The first time my eldest tried to breastfeed from me after the photo exhibit, my youngest was still not willing to share my breasts with his older brother. I was happy last night that he even encouraged his older brother to breastfeed with him.
My eldest son's breastfeeding session last night was brief but it gave me much joy. He said that he will breastfeed again every night before he sleeps. That was enough for me. I'm positive that tandem feeding my sons at night would bring positive results not only to my eldest son's health but more importantly to their relationship as brothers. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Experiencing God's Graciousness in our Homeschool

Mateo read another word again! :)
Tonight, while reading one of our favorite bedtime books (The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton), he read the word MOON consistently from the different pages of the book. The wonderful thing about it is that the word MOON had different placements in the sentences used in the book. Yet he was still able to read the word MOON consistently until we finished reading it. :)

Must be because he can already read the word MOO in the book Go, Train, Go! :)
I can't help but be thankful to God for His graciousness and His timely affirmations to me as I homeschool my sons. There are days when I wonder if I should put more structure in our homeschool because we do the interest-led approach. I design their activities based on what I observe they are interested in. I expose them to what I think kids their age would be ready to learn. But if they are not ready for it, I don't force them. I try again when I see them more responsive and interested. So far, this approach has been effective especially as we see the results in my eldest son. We have not bought a curriculum until now even for our eldest who is almost 5 years old now.
But time and again, God would surprise me with these kinds of milestones. Just when I felt that I'm not able to invest a lot of time in our homeschool (except doing the basics like reading, arts, pretend play, music and values), my sons would accomplish something or hit a milestone unexpectedly. A lot of times, they even hit these milestones much earlier than expected!
At 21 months old, aside from reading a few words, Mateo now strings two words to form sentences. He's also bilingual. Although he is not as conversant as his older brother when Yanthy was his age (which I think is due to his being bilingual), he has very good receptive language skills. He can follow two-step commands. He is a keen observer with a very good memory, too. This must be why he remembers a lot of things like he can help sort the laundry and tell who owns the different pieces of clothing. He also remembers the way to our new house (I am amazed with this because I'm a geographically-challenged person!). He also remembers where things are kept or hidden. Most of all, I love that he is very sensitive and emotionally advanced. He shows very strong empathy for others.
I was not expecting that the basics that we do in our homeschool would have these kind of results on Mateo these past months that I'm busy writing my latest book. He even started reading at an earlier age compared to his older brother! (Yanthy started reading words at 2 years old. Though he was already memorizing entire books at that age, too.) What a wonderful surprise from God! We're so blessed to be soaking in His grace.
I thank God for helping me instill a love for learning and reading to my kids at an early age. I think this is key to their fast development. I can see this even with my youngest son who is only 21 months old. He loves to read just like his older brother. A day would not pass without us reading at least one book. He's so hungry for learning. Lately, he has been showing fascination for counting. He wants to learn how to count. He also shows interest in learning phonics and writing. Sometimes, I think I'm the one who is not ready to discover that my kids are this kind of learners. :) I guess a part of me as a mom wants to keep them as babies for a very long time.
I pray that God would continue to show His graciousness to me being my sons' main teacher. I pray that my husband and I could patiently and generously invest time teaching our kids most especially during their formative years. I believe that we would need much grace from God to do all these.
I highly recommend that you include The Going to Bed Book in your bedtime routine with your kids. You may read my review of this book here.