Toys or No Toys at Mass? We all know those parents at Mass. They can dip into their magic parenting bag and seemingly satisf... Read More January 31, 2017 We all know those parents at Mass. They can dip into their magic parenting bag and seemingly satisfy their child's every whim and desire. My wife and I used to aspire to this, but we never seemed to have enough toys for our wild-eyed children. Just a FEW toys, right? And the NOISE! Even toys without all the electronic sirens and whistles still make noise. Toys were always falling off the pew, then rolling a few pews forward or back, then the other churchgoers -- apparently eager for a distraction -- would fall over themselves (kindly) returning the toy to us. So, after we had removed all the toys that made noise, rolled, clunked, and weren't choking hazards, what did we have left? Large cotton balls? Stuffed animals? Not much. Eventually, we saw that adding more and more toys wasn't helping, so we decided to go in the opposite direction. Here are my and my wife's TOP THREE toys for Mass: #1. The Rosary The Rosary is Number One and it's not even close. It's almost like the Rosary was invented by the World's Greatest Mom or something. Yeah, the Blessed Mother knew what she was doing. Besides using the Rosary to latently (and blatantly) catechize your kids, the Rosary -- much like Happy Fun Ball of yore -- can do anything! It's great for kids to chew on if they're teething or just like chewing on something ... constantly. It's best if the kids don't put the whole thing in their mouths, though. That's how it gets really soggy. And then, saliva-laden, it's slung by Little Charlie ... people suddenly think it's Palm Sunday and Father is coming around with holy water ... they start crossing themselves, renewing their Baptismal promises ... there's a whole chain reaction. Anyway ... Here's an amazing chewy Rosary bracelet that was given to us. It's a game changer for our six-month old! It's sorta precious and, if that wasn't enough, it's from a great Pro-Life company ... CHEWS LIFE! This company has a lot of great items for boys and girls. The pictured rosary is for boys in particular. The beads feel great in little mouths. According to the website, the beads are "made of soft, chewable food-grade silicone" and are strung on "organic cotton cord." Here's an important tip, though! Get a quiet one. I'm not talking about the family heirloom rosary from great-great-Aunt and nun, Taunte Nanette, but one of the knotted rosaries. Not this kind, though, cool as it looks: That beautiful crucifix will make an irreverent clang when it's dropped onto the pew, falls off the pew, clatters to the floor, and skitters forward six pews. This kind is much quieter: Get it blessed or don't get it blessed? It will fall to the ground, so getting the rosary blessed is somewhat perilous. On the other hand, irreverence is likely not the child's intention. Kids are just clumsy, right? They don't develop coordination until they're what? 40? Whichever you choose, I'm sure Jesus has your back. We choose to use blessed rosaries, because you never know how God's blessing will ripple out. We've lost our rosaries more than once, and I believe a lost, blessed rosary is also found by just the right person. Is it a choking hazard? I'm not a governmental regulatory authority, so don't ask me. All I know is, the knotted rope rosary is a rope, perfect for pulling it back out again. #2. Holy Cards My wife found this idea somewhere on Pinterest. She just uses twine instead of the key-ring -- twine's a little more quiet. Here's an article from Catholic Sistas with a how-to, but as you can see, it's a pretty simple idea: We have separate ones for male and female saints, but the kids share them. Little Charlie needs to learn early what a good wife looks like! Here's a new artist you might want to check out that's making beautiful holy cards: Norman Faucheux. And, of course, ... #3. Books Just one or two, though, not a whole backpack full! Here are some are our favorites: Here are some links: My Picture Missal from The St. Jude Shop Picture Book of Saints from The Catholic Company The Weight of a Mass from Amazon Celebrating Mass from The Catholic Company Please let me know what you think and what has worked for you!