31 December 2010

Not Just For Catholics

I'm always pleasantly surprised when I see NFP discussed on non-Catholic sites.  A friend directed me to this link talking about NFP.  She didn't get into all the theology behind it, but I imagine that's in part because it's a non-Catholic site (the author is Catholic).  I'm glad to see the word getting out there, and that more are coming to realise that the pill isn't without consequences, and NFP isn't the old rhythm method.

Why Is He So Scared?

It seems that K is terrified of so many things right now, and I don't know why or how to help him.

-Haircuts.  He's terrified of them now.  He used to be fine.  He'd often be a little nervous, so I'd pretend to cut the fur on one of his animals, and I'd let him feel the clippers, and then he'd be fine.  I tried cutting his hair a couple of times before Christmas because he's looking shaggy, but he screamed.  I mean, blood-curdling, inconsolable screaming.  So he hasn't had a haircut.  In the words of my dad, the worst that can happen is that he grows his hair down to his waist and becomes a musician.  I still wish I knew what brought this on and how to help him.

-Baths/Showers.  This one has been going on for a few months.  He used to love taking a bath, and now it frightens him.  I know this one is in part because of his new fear of shadows, and is in part because he hates water running down his head, whether it goes in his face or not.  When we put him in the bath, he screams to get out.  It doesn't matter which one of us gives him the bath, either.  He used to like it if we put C in with him, but she hates the bath, too (she loves the shower, though, and gets upset if someone takes a shower without her).  I do have K's bath down to a fine art, so he's only in there for a minute, tops, but it's not getting better.  If anything, it's getting worse.  Bath toys don't help.  B's talked to K about shadows, and even tried doing shadow puppets, which K finds amusing at times, but no luck.

- the dark.  It's a struggle getting K to sleep at night lately.  It's not his room, because he takes naps in there without any problem.  At night, however, he screams if we try to leave him in his room for bed.  This is the same routine we've had for at least a year, so it's not like it's something new.  This just started after Christmas.  The past couple of nights he's wanted us to keep his light on, so we do.  But he still screams when we try to leave, so we've tried letting him start out in our bed, with the lights on in there.  The problem there is that he'll just stay awake in there until I come up with C.  I usually let C unwind a bit and then breastfeed her to sleep, but if K is in the room, she gets really hyper and won't go to sleep.  So while I'm trying to get her to calm down, K wants to be held and is tossing and turning and won't go to sleep.  Last night I put him back in his room after 30 minutes of struggling with the both of them, and I told him screaming wasn't allowed and reminded him that God is with him, and his guardian angel is watching over him, and that Papa & I are nearby, but that he needed to go to sleep.  It actually worked at that point, but hadn't earlier in the evening when I'd tried that same exact thing (in addition to blessing him with Holy Water, as we do every night).  After K went in his room, I got C to sleep easily.  Unfortunately, K still awoke and came in with us, and then cried when B moved him back.  If he would actually sleep in with us, it wouldn't matter so much, but he doesn't always do that and instead tosses and turns much of the night.  It also doesn't seem to matter what time he goes to bed, he wakes up fairly early.  Today he actually slept in (for him) until after 7.00, but he's usually up around 6.00.  He needs the sleep, he's just having trouble right now.  I don't know if part of it is that my parents have returned home, or not.  He did ask for PowPow (my dad) at bedtime a few nights ago, so maybe that's part of it.  I don't know.

30 December 2010

I Never Knew

I never knew how addictive cloth nappies could be when we first got them.  I've exercised great restraint, and didn't get any more until I was pregnant with C.  We had 25 of the bumGenius 2.0s with K, and they're holding up well.  Our only complaints with those are that they were too small for K at first (but he grew into them by 2 weeks old;  the picture is when he was about 9 months), and the velcro and elastic are starting to wear.  But after 3 years, I can't really complain.  They aren't anything exciting, just plain white, yellow, green, and blue, but they work.  bumGenius do have prints now, though.

When I was pregnant with C, we decided we should get some more so she could wear cloth from the very beginning, since we assumed she'd be a similar weight to K.  As it turned out, she could've gone straight into the bumGenius, but I'm still glad we got more.  A friend of mine is a consultant with Lollipop, so we got 20 of their fleece nappies, and I absolutely love them.  They're a mint green, and the covers are green with white stars - too cute.  This was my first experience with prints, and I can definitely see how they can be so addictive!

Once she outgrew those, I thought we needed just a few more, so I found a lady online who was selling some of her old nappies that were just lightly used.  They're different brands, with 3 minky (great for naps and overnight!) and then a handful of others that had poppers.  Some are prints and some are solids.  I hadn't used nappies with poppers before, but I'm sold.  I definitely prefer them to velcro, especially since C can undo velcro very easily.  Partly because of that, I've been wanting to try out some Fuzzibunz, and a friend who works for eLeMeNO-PEE just sent me one.  And yes, I'm excited.  Can't wait to see how it works out on C.

28 December 2010

Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parent's Guide

I just finished reading this book, after a friend recommended it to me, and I have to say that it was well worth the read.  It is not alarmist at all, and is not either pro- or anti-vaccination.  Instead, Romm goes through the risks of each of the diseases for which children in the US are vaccinated, and also the risks and benefits of each individual vaccine.  She also provides nutritional information to help the immune system work efficiently, which is helpful information whether you decide to vaccinate or not, or to selectively vaccinate.  I really appreciated her no-nonsense approach, and would recommend this book for all parents.  After all, we cannot give truly informed consent without knowing all the facts.  While this book looks at the CDC's schedule, I found it helpful since any vaccine given in England is also given in the US, they just give more in the US.  So one could simply focus on the vaccines given here if they wished.

27 December 2010

12 Days of Presents

Starting last year, we decided to extend the presents over the entire 12 days of Christmas.  I wish I could say that this was purely out of making sure we were reminded that it's still Christmas over the entire 12 days, but that was only part of the reason we started doing that.  For K's second Christmas, when he was 13 months old, we had all the presents under the tree and he got them all on the Feast of the Nativity, and he was completely overwhelmed.  So I decided that the following year we'd space them out, even if it meant that we just did cookies for some of the days.  Presents from grandparents and other family are included in this, too. It does help us to keep in mind that it's still Christmas over those days, though, as does going to Mass for each of those days if possible.  While this is only the second year for us to do the presents this way, I like our little tradition.

24 December 2010

Christmas Eve

It's Christmas Eve!  We started out the day by going to Mass, and Archbishop Paul Gallagher was in for the holidays, so he celebrated Mass.  K was happy that he got to see Fr Cassian, too.  We brought the tree in from the garden last night so it could dry off a bit, and we'll set it up today.  My parents arrive this afternoon, so we'll wait until then to actually decorate the tree.  Honestly, we'd probably wait until afternoon to decorate anyway.  Besides, that gets us closer to the end of Advent before the tree is up. ;-)  I think perhaps we'll make some popcorn to eat while we decorate the tree, too.  I might also see if I can find A Muppet Christmas Carol for the kids to watch.  I always loved watching that growing up, and K does enjoy the Muppets quite a bit.

Everything else today is just about preparation for tomorrow, really.  How exciting that tomorrow is Christmas!  My heart is filling with joy and excitement thinking about celebrating my Saviour's birth!  Hopefully I can keep that in my heart as I sort the presents, do some last-minute wrapping, and make dinner.  We're not trying to go to Midnight Mass with the kids, and will instead go to 8.00 Mass in the morning.  I think that's a great way to start Christmas.  God bless, and have a happy Christmas!

23 December 2010

Knitting Thursday

I've not been able to knit much lately.  Between the kids being ill and going to London and cleaning and having family in, it just hasn't happened.  It seems the few times when I get to sit down and knit, one of the kids ends up needing me.  So I'm still working on C's tunic dress, and at this point I'm doubtful it'll be finished before Epiphany, but we'll see.

I do have lots of yarn now, though, so I'm sure I'll have lots more projects soon.  My mom brought me a lot of Wildflower DK, which is a nice yarn to use.  In fact, that's what I'm using for C's dress.  That yarn came from a sweater set I'd made nearly 10 years ago; it didn't fit me anymore, so I recycled it.  The yarn still knits up well, though some of it has faded a little.  Sad that the Wildflower DK is being discontinued.

22 December 2010

There's an old saying - don't change anything, ever

In case you don't get the reference from the title, it's a line from an episode of Monk: Mr Monk and the Astronaut.  The quote could easily be said by K, though.  He really doesn't like it if things are out of the ordinary for him.  For example, he's not at all sure about the new priest who has come to our parish, because he doesn't know him.  He doesn't have problems when Archbishop Paul Gallagher visits the parish in the summer, because that happens every year, but since he doesn't know Fr Alban, he's a bit upset by the change.  It's somewhat amusing to me how ordered K is, and that he insists that things be done a certain way.  He's also extremely independent, wanting to do everything himself (though he does sometimes relinquish control by telling B or myself to do it ourselves).

21 December 2010

Pet Peeves - Breastfeeding Myths

I'm sure this has been covered on other blogs, perhaps on Dispelling Breastfeeding Myths, but I feel the need to rant about a myth I've heard a few times, and which I just read this morning in an article.  It's the myth that a woman can't breastfeed if she gets mastitis.  In actuality, a woman should continue to breastfeed if she gets mastitis, as it can help make sure the infection doesn't get worse (source: Patient UK).  I'll grant that it can be incredibly painful to breastfeed from the infected side if you get mastitis.  I recall wincing each time K latched on when I had it, but I carried on whilst being treated with antibiotics, and it soon cleared up, thank God.  Thankfully I knew enough to know I didn't have to stop, and the GP never suggested stopping.

Actually, this all reminds me of a great comic from Hathor the Cow Goddess.  Check it out.

20 December 2010

More Sibling Fun

I love watching my children together.  C gets incredibly excited when she sees K.  She just lights up, and usually laughs.  K also asks C to sing a song a lot, meaning he wants her to play on the piano with him.

Today when I was cooking, K called into me saying "Mummy!", and then ran around the corner to hide.  When I asked C where K was, K came running out, and C just smiled.  We did that a few times, with C smiling more and more and laughing, until she finally crawled after him.  It was very sweet.

They also had great fun playing in the box in which a Christmas present arrived.  Who needs the actual present when you have a box?  Rolls of wrapping paper are also fun, it seems.

18 December 2010

Where's the Logic?

It seems that many midwives (and perhaps OBs, I just don't have firsthand experience going to an OB) insist on using the LMP for calculating the due date, but at the same time are quick to point out that the rhythm method doesn't work.  Many are still taught that ovulation is always on day 14, and yet say a woman can't possibly know when she ovulates.  Contradictory much?  If the LMP is accurate and ovulation is always on day 14, then the rhythm method is accurate and women can know when they ovulate (well, they can know when they ovulate anyway).  However, we know that the rhythm method is not accurate for all women, just for those lucky enough to have regular cycles, and even they may have at least one cycle that's thrown off by stress or illness or whatnot.

I know I've gotten into arguments with midwives and nurses about these topics.  It's rather infuriating, to be honest.  When I was pregnant with C, I told them that giving them the LMP wouldn't give an accurate date because I'd had a 35-day cycle that time, but that's what they wanted.  Had I been thinking fast enough, I would've given them a date 2 weeks prior to Peak instead (and told them I was giving them that date) so I wouldn't have had to fight about the date for the rest of the pregnancy, especially as I got near my due date and they started bugging me about being induced since they thought I'd gone over my due date (I hadn't - C was born 1 day before her due date).  Ultrasounds can also be a week off from what I've read, even earlier ultrasounds; in fact, the ultrasound tech with C told me as much when I told her the date she gave was 6 days earlier than the date from my chart.  Unfortunately, it was like pulling teeth to get the midwives to listen to me about my dates, as one kept insisting that charting wasn't accurate.  (Please note that I do understand that LMP is the best starting point if a woman isn't aware of when she ovulated, and ultrasounds can narrow it down further in that case, my rant is about thinking that those are more accurate than a woman's chart, when they aren't.  A really early ultrasound can be quite accurate, but they aren't usually done before 11-12 weeks here.)

That leads to the other bit about teaching that ovulation is on day 14 but that the rhythm method isn't accurate (and falsely equating all charting and NFP with the rhythm method).  Both of those statements can't be true.  I really wish more medical professionals were familiar with modern methods of NFP, or at least knew that there are various signs that indicate a woman's fertile times and that these methods are accurate and reliable, even if they don't know much about the methods themselves.  I have met one GP who was willing to look at my chart and take my word for it, though she didn't understand it, and I appreciated that.  I know there are more out there, especially since there were a few doctors at the Billings training I attended last summer.  Ah well, enough ranting for now.

17 December 2010

5th Anniversary!

Today my husband and I celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary.  It's a much prettier day than it was on our wedding day, when it rained and stormed the entire day.  It's colder, sure, but sunny.  We started out the day with pancakes and waffles, then got everyone ready and out of the house for Mass.  After Mass, Fr T said a blessing for us, which was quite nice.  Tonight I'll make homemade lasagne (might even make the pasta myself!), garlic rolls, and roasted parsnips, all enjoyed with a nice glass of red wine.  Yum!

It's amazing to look back and see how far we've come in these 5 years, too.  When we got married, we were living in Florida and I was teaching 3rd grade.  We moved to England when we'd been married 9 months, and have lived there since that time.  We have two wonderful children thus far.  We've both grown in our faith, helping each other along the way and making sure we can pray together as a family and attend Mass together.  I can honestly say I love B more now than I did when we married, and I look forward to the future with me by his side.

16 December 2010

Adventures in London

Yesterday the kids and I got back from a short trip to London.  My parents were in and drove us there, since we don't have a car. Consequently, that also means the kids aren't used to being in the car much, and C was not at all happy about it.  The fact that both kids have a cough and cold didn't help much.  Most of the drive down was spent with me leaning over C's seat to let her nurse.  K did pretty well in the car, though; it helped that we watched some Star Trek: Voyager.  Every time the SatNav spoke, K declared that it was a hologram, or maybe a robot hologram.  Yes, he's already a Trekkie.

When we got to London, we found our hotel, a bed and breakfast called St Athan's.  It's not fancy, but it's family-run and has a nice English breakfast.  Once we'd gotten our bags in and the kids changed, we made our way to Westminster Abbey for Evensong, since my parents wanted to see Westminster.  It was a beautiful service, though I found myself wishing the Eucharist were there and also thinking about how reverent the ushers and choristers and ministers were.  You could almost picture the Mass being said there before Henry VIII.  K was very tired and hungry by this time, so most of my time was spent pushing his buggy around, and with C strapped on.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to see the shrine of St Edward the Confessor, though his shrine was just behind the high altar (the reredos would have obscured it from view).

Following Evensong, we set off to find Indian, since I knew K would eat that.  On the way, we got wonderful views of the Abbey, Big Ben, and the Houses of Parliament.  We found the Thames Tandoori on Waterloo, and the food was quite nice.  K devoured the poppadoms while we waited for the rest of the food.  We then made our way back to the hotel for the night.  K wasn't at all sure of staying in a hotel and wanted to go home, but he did well.  I awoke at one point to find he'd put his arm around C while they slept.

The following day we started with the English breakfast and then my parents drove C and me to the US Embassy so I could register her birth and apply for her passport and social security number.  While I did that, they planned to take K to the Sea Life Aquarium.  K wasn't too sure about staying in the car with Grammy and PowPow without me, but I assured him that he'd have a good time and that I'd come to get him in a bit.  I'd been prepared for the Embassy appointment to take 3 hours, since it took at least that long with K, but thankfully we were out in just an hour.  C slept through the whole thing.  Because we'd gotten out so quickly, I went ahead and got a taxi to the aquarium so I could go through it with my parents and K.  They hadn't gone too far when I caught up with them.  K was a bit teary, but after a little while he perked up and looked at the fish with me.  He wouldn't stick his hand in with the cleaner shrimp, though.  That did feel a bit weird, especially when they cleaned under my fingernails, but it was pretty cool.  K enjoyed seeing "Nemo", "Dory", and "Bruce".  He also loves the orca he got as a souvenir.

Following the aquarium, I'd promised K some ice cream, which he happily devoured.  We started going through a Christmas market nearby, but left early as I wasn't feeling well after eating fudge with rum in it (rum unfortunately doesn't agree with me).  We went back to the hotel, and I napped with C while K watched more Star Trek before heading out to dinner with Grammy and PowPow.  I was very proud of him, as they said he did very well in the restaurant, without me, and without books or toys.

Yesterday after breakfast we loaded up the car.  We'd planned to go to the British Museum for the special exhibit on the Book of the Dead, but C had just fallen asleep, and we deemed it wiser to go ahead and drive back home, hoping she'd stay asleep.  She did sleep the majority of the time, thankfully.  So that was our whirlwind adventure in London.  London's nice, but I have to admit that I prefer the north.

10 December 2010

Following My Gut

I've said it before, but my style of parenting comes not from reading a book and trying to implement the author's advice, but from following my instincts.  That was how I found I was actually following most of the guidelines for Ecological Breastfeeding and Attachment Parenting before I'd even heard of those things.  Those practises and ideas were what came naturally to me and what seemed right.

Yet so often we're told to ignore our instincts.  Sometimes this in relation to scheduling feeds or controlled crying or not co-sleeping, all things that many mothers are told but which my instincts said to do the opposite (ie: I feed on demand, I don't do CIO, and I co-sleep).   Sometimes we're even told that these things will go against our instincts but that we need to ignore our instincts because they're wrong!  I know it's easy to second-guess ourselves as mothers, but I think our instincts are mostly the right way to do things for our families.

There have been many times when I've been convinced to make a parenting decision that went against my instincts, and it is those decisions that I've come to regret the most.  When I was in labour with K, my instincts were telling me to labour in the shower, but I didn't continue that in hospital because I wasn't sure I was "allowed".  When I was pregnant with C, my gut told me not to get the H1N1 jab, and yet I succumbed to it.  Now I see that my instincts were right, and I'm glad I didn't have any adverse reactions.

8 December 2010

On Days Like This

I'm glad I'm still breastfeeding K.  He awoke this morning with very flushed cheeks, a cough, and a fever.  He didn't even want to eat a whole banana at breakfast, when he normally devours them (he did still eat his fromage frais and a little bit of pancake, though).  Before I'd realised he was ill, I'd expressed some milk for the milk bank; since the kids aren't well, though, I won't send it to them.  I ended up making K's pancake using it, so nothing wasted.  (K won't drink expressed milk, or else I'd have just let him drink it)

Mainly, though, he's gotten lots of milk and snuggles today.  C isn't feeling the best, either, but it doesn't seem to have affected her as much, other than being rather cuddly.  I'm sure they will be feeling better in no time, though, and I'm glad I can give them both milk when they're feeling poorly.

Sibling Love

I absolutely love watching and listening to my children interact.  Whenever I have those moments of feeling guilty for no longer being able to give K all the one-on-one attention I used to, I have just to watch them together to know I've given both of them a great gift: each other.  Sure, they get annoyed with each other at times.  C takes K's toys, and vice versa.  At the same time, they love each other immensely.

Yesterday morning, I left both kids in K's room (they'll share the room once C moves out of our room) while I got dressed.  I could hear them playing on the toy piano, and when I entered the room, K announced that C was singing.  K crawled around after C, eventually tackling her.  She's used to this and is generally OK with it.  At Mass later, K still wanted to play with C.  And then, while making dinner, I was listening to them playing while K asked C if she wanted to read The Velveteen Rabbit.

I'm also amazed at how protective K can be.  While he's quick to push C away if she's getting his toys, he also gets upset if she's hurt or upset.  If I get exasperated or tell her 'no', K is very upset.  If he hears her stirring from a nap, he wants to rush upstairs to get her.  Sometimes this has led to her waking earlier than she would have, since she hears us coming, but oh well.

C always wants to follow her brother and see what he's doing.  If he's breastfeeding, she either wants to eat, too, or just get K.  If he's playing, she usually wants to join in.  If he's watching a DVD, she wants to watch with him.  I know he sometimes gets annoyed with her tagging along, but it's really sweet to watch.

7 December 2010


As I'm sure any mother can verify, it seems we become paranoid once we become pregnant, and stay that way.  I think it got worse with my second pregnancy, strangely enough.  When I was pregnant with C was when the H1N1 scare was happening.  I'd looked into things, and decided I didn't need the vaccine, but then ended up getting it because I gave in to the fear after hearing all the hype about it.  I did this even though I'd already had the flu, and that flu was possibly H1N1 (I was never tested for the strain, so I don't know).  Even though I'd read up on it, I gave in to the fear.

After C was born, I declined the Vit K.  This was a decision about which my husband and I had researched and discussed and were in agreement.  Yet, when the midwives asked me, I nearly caved.  It was B who spoke up and said we didn't want the Vit K.  I spent weeks in paranoia, even though I knew that any risk was quite small since it was a normal, non-traumatic birth with delayed cord clamping, immediate breastfeeding, and the fact that I eat foods high in Vit K (and thus Vit K would be in the breastmilk).  C is fine, of course, and I'm glad I didn't give in to the fear when making that decision.

What these things bring out, to me, is the fact that people sometimes seem all too eager to influence another's decision by resorting to fear.  It makes me angry when the people doing that are medical professionals.  I would prefer to be given the necessary information in order to make a truly informed decision.  Now, I'm not blaming all medical professionals, because not all do this, and I truly appreciate that.  I'm sure some of this is related to how much time they have with a patient, as it's often quite limited and this isn't conducive to giving all the information needed for the patient to make an informed decision.  I'm not sure what the solution is; thankfully, a lot of the information can be found online if one knows where to look, and how to sort through the credible and non-credible sources.

All that to say, I'm sure I'll still be paranoid about things when it comes to my kids, but I'm getting there, and in the meantime, I'm continuing to research things so the decisions I make can be truly informed ones that are made in the best interests of each child, and our family as a whole, whatever those decisions may be.

6 December 2010

Happy Feast of St Nicholas!

It's St Nicholas Day!  I got the kids' stockings finished last night (some ends still need to be worked in, but they were at least functional) and we hung them up.  I then made some sugar cookies.  Nothing like putting everything off to the last minute.  Got those made and put them in bags to put in the stockings.  I couldn't actually leave the stockings hanging up overnight because I was afraid Firebert (our Siamese-mix) would knock them off since he frequently performs "experiments in gravity".  Unfortunately I didn't account for Cosmo (our Maine Coon) trying to steal the cookies.  When I came downstairs, he'd pulled the bag of cookies out of K's stocking, so the bag was in the middle of the living room, and the stocking by the door.  Thankfully he didn't eat them, so I put the bag back in before K noticed.  I'd planned to wait until both children were awake before getting into the stockings, but K tore into his as I was in the middle of telling him about St Nicholas while I made breakfast.  So he had 3 cookies before breakfast.  We made it to Mass, and gave some cookies to the priest.  All in all, a nice feast day celebration.

3 December 2010

Order of the Sacraments of Initiation

I so often complain about things in the archdiocese, so I thought I'd talk about something that makes me happy.  Our Archbishop has decided that the order of the Sacraments of initiation will be restored.  What this means is that Confirmation will be moved, and so children will be confirmed at Pentecost and then receive their First Holy Communion at the Feast of Corpus Christi that same year.  I'm all for this.  In fact, I'd be happy if we followed the custom of our Eastern brethren and bestowed Confirmation/Chrismation and the Eucharist on babies at the same time as their Baptism.  But I'll take what I can get.  I think kids need the grace of these Sacraments.  So I guess now I just hope we can stay here so my children will benefit from this.

I'm also happy with tying reception of these Sacraments to appropriate feasts during the year.  I think it may emphasise the meaning of both the feasts and the Sacraments.  We'll see how things go when this is implemented in 2012.

2 December 2010

Knitting Thursday

Thanks to my mom, I figured out what to put on K's stocking: a camel.  So I've gotten the camel part finished, and it shouldn't take too long to finish up the stocking.  I just need to work in the ends on C's.  At least the kids' will be finished by Monday; I'll have to do B's & mine for next year, I think.  That's what I get for procrastinating.  Oh well.  Once I finish these stockings, I'll get back to work on C's dress, and maybe I can also work on the other jumpers for the kids.  Who knows when I'll finish B's, though.  Some pics of the stockings thus far.