29 December 2011

IBreviary

One month ago, I was given my iPad, and one of the first things I did was to download the iBreviary app. When we were in Liverpool, we attended a Benedictine parish and I would sometimes make it there for morning prayer. Because of that, I'd been wanting a missal and/or prayer book for the Divine Office, but both are rather expensive. I'd also wanted to wait for the new translation before getting a missal.

So when I started looking at the App store, I looked for a breviary and was thrilled to fine that they had it and hat it was free! I love having it. I don't pray all the hours yet. My plan is to first get in the habit of Lauds, and then add more as I go. It also came in handy when we were at my in-laws', as we used the app to pray Vespers together.

The app also has the daily Mass readings, and various prayers. It's really a wonderful resource, one I highly recommend.

28 December 2011

We Survived!

The road trips with the kids, that is. They had never been on a long car ride, given that wedding drive in England. They'd been on a long flight, and plenty of train journeys, but they could also move around and nurse on those trips, so it was with a bit of apprehension on my part that we set out on the first leg of our journey. The first leg was the longest, as we drove what would've been an 8-9 hour trek without the children. Add a couple of hours with the children because of all the stops. After a couple of days, it was time to drive another 5 hours to get to the grandparents' house for Christmas. Finally, there was the 10 hours of driving time back, which we divided over two days. We survived it all, and I learnt a few things in the process.

- No matter when Charlotte last nursed, or for how long, she will ask for more Mummy milk within 30 minutes of being in the car. The interval between getting in the car and asking for Mummy milk becomes shorter with each stop. I suppose that's the downside to her habit of "grazing".

- we didn't factor in Kieran's ongoing phobia of hand driers, nor his more recent phobia of automatic flushing toilets. The result was a lot of screaming at the first couple of rest stops until we just started finding bushes for him. Forcing the matter wouldn't have solved anything; he'll et over these fears in his own time.

- Chocolate + curve = sick toddler and wardrobe change. We'd give Kieran something for his carsickness, but I couldn't find anything for Charlotte since she's under 2. Thankfully, she was fine after that.

- On a related note, Murphy's Law states that the one time I don't have towels on the kids's seats is when such sickness will occur.

- I used to think nothing of driving 12 hours in a day, but I'm clearly out of practice. I'm very thankful my husband helped with the driving. Today I drove the 5 hours, and was fine, until I got home exhausted. Where are Virgin trains when I want them?

All in all, it wasn't bad, and i'mvery glad we got to see my husband's family for Christmas. The kids had. Blast with their cousins, especially, but also had fun with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and great-grandmother.

26 December 2011

Book Nook

Source
On our latest visit to the library, when I was trying to find a book for Charlotte, Hilda Must be Dancing by Karma Wilson caught my eye.  Growing up, my grandfather had a stuffed hippo named Hilda, so I was immediately drawn by that.  As I thumbed through the pages, I thought it looked like a fun book, and so we took it home.

I'm so glad I did!  It's a cute book about a hippo who loves to dance, but who, in dancing, wreaks havoc in the jungle.  The other animals try in vain to get her to choose another hobby, until they find a solution that is agreeable to everyone.  The illustrations, too, are great.  I'd recommend picking it up if you happen to see it.

25 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

I hope you are all having a wonderful Christmas celebration. This is the first year we've traveled for Christmas with the kids, but they've done well. They've certainly enjoyed being with grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles. I wish everyone a very happy Christmas, and at you continue to have a wonderful Christmas.

19 December 2011

Book Nook

Whenever we head to the library, Kieran often already has a type of book in mind.  The last time we went, he'd decided he wanted a couple of books about Thomas the Tank Engine.  This came as no surprise, since he loves trains and has been happily watching and playing with Thomas trains lately.  So we went and looked down the aisles and happened upon some Thomas books.  I was holding Charlotte to keep her from running off, so I didn't look through them, unfortunately.  Instead, I had Kieran put them in the bag while we went to another section to get a book for Charlotte.  Let this be a lesson to always look through the books before checking them out.

Source
Now, the books he chose (Blue Train, Green Train and another one whose title escapes me) aren't bad books, just way too young for my children.  They were in the older kids' section and were written for children who are starting to read independently.  However, my children are used to books that are a bit more complex, and so something of that sort didn't keep Kieran's interest.  I maintain that books can be written at a level that beginning readers can read while still being interesting for them (The Cat in the Hat comes to mind).

Nor does the subject matter mean the books must be overly simplistic, since I've seen at least one Thomas book that is written at a higher level and thus should better keep Kieran's interest.  I'm sorry that Kieran didn't get books he liked at the library this time, but next time hopefully we can look through them a bit more beforehand.

18 December 2011

Follow Me

Six years ago today my husband and I were on our way to the Bahamas for our honeymoon.  Yesterday we had our anniversary, and our first ever kid-free date since Kieran was born.  I'm very thankful that my parents were able to watch the children while we went to a film.

At our wedding, my cousin sang John Denver's "Follow Me".  I've always loved the song, but today I started thinking more about it.  We had no idea six years ago that we were going to move to Liverpool nine months later, or that we'd end up living there for five years.  We'd no idea that we'd have two wonderful children at this time, nor that I'd choose to be a SAHM and NFP instructor.  And now we have no idea where we'll be next year, but we continue on, trying to follow God and each other.  I can't wait to see where we will go.

16 December 2011

Act of Charity

This post isn't easy for me to write.  On different occasions, in reading about other peoples' experiences, I've heard of something that, frankly, angers and saddens me.  It is that sometimes breastfeeding mums are admonished for openly breastfeeding at church, being told that it is an act of charity to others if they will cover or go to another location to breastfeed.  I've been ruminating over this, over the implications of it.  An act of charity to cover or move.  Is it really an act of charity?

For one, it ignores the fact that the child needs to eat when he needs to eat.  He cannot always wait, and it sometimes will create a scene to force the issue.  Yes, some can wait as they get older.  I would expect my four-year-old to wait, for instance, but would not expect the same of an under-two-year-old.

So what about using a cover?  I used a cover with Kieran until he was about 5ish months old, when I got tired of the hassle and he wouldn't tolerate being covered.  I figured out that I could actually be more discreet by nursing without a cover, since I could feed more-or-less instantly and without an obvious indication that I was breastfeeding (the covers ensure no skin is revealed, but make it obvious what you're doing, in my opinion).  I really don't know many children who like being covered to feed, to be honest.  At least not when they're older than a few months' old.

Source
What is it really saying to tell a mother that it is an act of charity to cover or go elsewhere to nurse?  I think it says that many, many people have forgotten the primary purpose of breasts: nourishing a child.  Unintentionally or not (and I try to give the benefit of the doubt and say it is unintentional), it tells mothers that they are not being discreet or modest, I  think.  I can't help but think of Our Lady of La Leche, then.  For a less stubborn or self-assured mum, it could even result in her dropping some breastfeeds or going to a different church (or ceasing to go), none of which are good options.

Finally, is it really an act of charity to cover or move for the sake of the adults who may be uncomfortable?  It would make them more comfortable, but is that the same as being an act of charity towards them?  There are times when we need to be made to feel uncomfortable in order to truly confront something, and this can in fact be an act of charity.  Charity doesn't mean we ignore our issues, or others' issues, but that we help them.  In the case of breastfeeding, I personally don't think covering or moving is an act of charity for others, for it perpetuates the skewed perception of breasts as being strictly provocative and sexual instead of being the normal way mothers nourish and comfort their children.  Again, this doesn't mean purposefully drawing attention to oneself or being belligerent about it, but simply feeding one's child when and as needed.

It should also be noted that not using a cover or moving doesn't mean exposing oneself, either.  Nursing without a cover can be done modestly.  I've stood face-to-face with a priest whilst breastfeeding my daughter, and the priest only commented that she was sleeping, so I don't think it was obvious that she was also breastfeeding.  Or maybe he just didn't care.  I personally have no problem with wearing something that can be easily pulled down at the neck, but another way of doing it is to wear a camisole under a shirt and pull the top shirt up.  While I prefer the former, simply due to ease, I could compromise and do the latter.  Another option is to feed the child in a carrier like a mei tai or wrap, though this is easiest if the child is already in the carrier and is a bit smaller.  I can still do that with Charlotte, but it isn't as easy as it once was, and since I don't usually wear her on my front, it would probably require more time and distraction.

In the end, I just honestly can't see covering or moving to be a true act of charity, for the mother, the child, or the other people.  I know I'm a lactivist, and thus my views will be biased in that direction, though I've tried to think and talk this out with an open mind.  I just wish it weren't an issue at all, especially not in a house of worship.  Our Lady of La Leche, pray for us.

15 December 2011

Gender Stereotypes and Children

When we were checking out our books at the library this morning, a kind librarian came up and asked if the children wanted stickers. Of course, they answered in the affirmative. Shen then proceeded to give Charlotte a pink princess sticker, and gave Kieran a choice between monsters (left-over from Hallowe'en) or Christmas stickers. I had the children thank her, and that was that.

But I was a tad irritated at the assumption about what my children would like purely because of their genders. Before I continue, I am not saying that gender distinctions are nonexistent or completely arbitrary, but there's also a lot of room for individual taste.

Perhaps I am sensitive to this because I've never been very fond of pink or dolls. Kieran and Charlotte both happily play with dolls and trains, though Charlotte is fonder of dolls than Kieran. Kieran insisted on a pink cake with pink candles for his birthday, and asked for a pink truck on a sweater. Of course, it wasn't that long ago that pink was considered to be a masculine colour.

So, yes, boys and girls are different and have different interests and ways of playing, but it isn't always along stereotypical gender lines, and I think this is important to remember.

Crafty Thursday

I found the camera!  It was where I'd remembered putting it, but pushed way back in the drawer, thus why I'd not found it before now.  Unfortunately, I don't have anything to take nice photos of, as I've not been able to continue working on the Guernsey sweater for my husband.  I really thought I had enough of the navy yarn, but I don't.  So that will be frogged now, sadly.  It was really a perfect sweater for him, though, because it was plain with the exception of some pattern stitching on the hem and around the armholes.  Ah, well, another time perhaps.  The upshot is that I can actually work on my sweater now!  It's a novel idea, I know.  I still have quite a bit left on it, though.

14 December 2011

"Don't Shout, Mummy"

"8.42.  How'd it get to be so late?  Come, on, kids, we need to go right now!  No, Kieran, get in on this side instead of climbing over!"

"Don't shout, Mummy."

How humbling when my four-year-old is reminding me not to shout.  How much does that make me stop in my tracks and reevaluate what I'm doing?  The above scenario happens all too often, and what's worse is that it's usually when we're on our way to Mass.

It's my own fault for not getting out of the house earlier (most of the time), and in my frustration at this fact, I lash out by shouting at my children to hurry up.  This lands my in Confession more times than I care to admit.  As humiliating as it can be for my own child to say "don't shout, Mummy", it is a great grace that God has given, to give me this reminder in the voice of a child.  Yes, it's important to be on time to Mass, but I can't blame the children for my inability to get out of the house with time to spare.  I pray that God continues to give me the grace I need, and that I will be open to receiving that grace.

13 December 2011

New Blog Title

As you've probably noticed, I've changed the title of the blog.  "Why?", you ask?  Well, I'd noticed that, as much as I love archaeology, I don't actually blog about that here, with very rare exceptions.

Instead, my life right now focuses more on the idea of the domestic monastery, and thus my writing also focuses on my faith and my home life.  My goal is to "work out [my] salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12) in the living out of my vocation as a wife and mother, thus the pun in the title (I hope it's not too groan-inducing; I liked it).  Because that is what is at the forefront of my mind, that tends to be my focus in writing, and I thought the title should better reflect that.

11 December 2011

Gaudete Sunday

It's Gaudete Sunday! That Sunday during Advent when we rejoice in anticipation of the coming of our Lord. Last night friends of ours had a lovely Gaudete Sunday party, and even had St Nicholas make an appearance, along with a family Rosary. It was very lovely.

I have an additional reason for rejoicing today, for today is the seventh anniversary of my Confirmation and First Communion! It's amazing to think back on it. I continue to be amazed atGod's goodness.

9 December 2011

Noise, Noise, Noise!

Source
Noise, noise, noise! Sometimes I feel that finding quiet and solitude is nigh impossible. Now, before you think I'm being a grinch, hear me out. I don't think it need always be quiet, for that would certainly be taking things to the other extreme. No, it is simply that I think we've almost come to fear silence and being alone with our thoughts. The first thing many do upon turning on the car is to turn on the radio or other music. I'm as guilty here as any, so it's been nice that my car radio was broken. My thoughts were still drowned out when I went to a large open-air shopping centre to find that they were piping music through speakers along the walks, though, when all I wanted was a bit of silence. It's not that I hate music, far from it, but must we have background noise at all times?  And honestly, it wasn't necessarily silence I wanted, but my own noise, I suppose.

And yet, even with my aversion to lots of noise, how often am I truly still and silent?  How often do I really allow myself to be alone with my thoughts?  No, I, too, seek to drown out my thoughts and prayers by remaining busy.  Not that busyness alone accounts for that, for I can and do pray and think when I'm doing housework or walking or whatnot.  It's more when I'm sitting that I can't seem to be still, paradoxically.  It is then when I suddenly need to be online or reading, instead of having a conversation, thinking, or praying.  I'm not doing anything that is noisy, and yet I drown out my thoughts and prayers just the same, instead of listening for that small, still voice.  I know I should endeavor to allow myself to be still and silent more, but it's something with which I struggle.

8 December 2011

Crafty Thursday

Well, I still can't find the camera, so the photos aren't the best.  I've been quite busy this week, though.  First, I finally sewed the buttons on Charlotte's tunic sweater.  I really love how it's turned out and can't wait for her to wear it.







I also finished Kieran's Twisted Tree sweater.  I had to bind off the neck twice because I forgot to do a stretchy bind-off the first time.  So I redid that part and tried it on Kieran to make sure it fit, and it's perfect.  I'd altered it so that I used the width for the smaller size and the longer length, seeing as he's tall and slender.  I think it worked out really well.





Last night I started working on a Guernsey sweater.  Since we'll be traveling over Christmas, I wasn't sure I'd be able to finish it in time if I did it completely by hand, so I did the hem by hand and then put it on the old Brother knitting machine.  It only gets one gauge, and can't do things other than stockinette, but it works for what I need for now.

5 December 2011

Book Nook

from Amazon
When we visited the library this last time, I saw a book by Ian Whybrow that I'd not read before, and so I picked it up for the kids. We've read the Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs series by Ian Whybrow and Adrian Reynolds, so I figured this book would also be good.

 I was not disappointed. The children love Russell Ayto's illustrations and the various animal noises in the story. I personally found it obviously British in sentence structure, despite Americanised spellings, which made me miss England a bit.  We might have to pick up a copy of the book to own, since the children keep asking us to read it over and over again.  Pick it up - I don't think you'll be sorry.

4 December 2011

Rosary Musings: Fifth Sorrowful Mystery

The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery: the Crucifixion

by Salvadore Dali
1 Corinthians 1:17-24
17 After all, Christ sent me not to baptise, but to preach the gospel; and not by means of wisdom of language, wise words which would make the cross of Christ pointless. 18 The message of the cross is folly for those who are on the way to ruin, but for those of us who are on the road to salvation it is the power of God. 19 As scripture says: I am going to destroy the wisdom of the wise and bring to nothing the understanding of any who understand. 20 Where are the philosophers? Where are the experts? And where are the debaters of this age? Do you not see how God has shown up human wisdom as folly? 21 Since in the wisdom of God the world was unable to recognise God through wisdom, it was God's own pleasure to save believers through the folly of the gospel. 22 While the Jews demand miracles and the Greeks look for wisdom, 23 we are preaching a crucified Christ: to the Jews an obstacle they cannot get over, to the gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who have been called, whether they are Jews or Greeks, a Christ who is both the power of God and the wisdom of God.
 Having been raised in a Christian home, I grew up seeing the cross.  Seeing it so often, it was,. and sometimes still is, easy to forget how venerating the cross really does look foolish.  After all, it's an instrument of torture and death for criminals - hardly something that would normally be venerated.

Similarly, the mystery for today, the crucifixion, is hardly an event one would think of commemorating in other circumstances.  But for us, it is an amazing event, with Jesus our Paschal Lamb sacrificing Himself for us.  It seems counterintuitive, it is beyond full comprehension.

1 December 2011

Crafty Thursday

Back to crafting after Thanksgiving last Thursday. I'm keeping busy with my various projects. I couldn't find triangular black buttons for Charlotte's tunic sweater, but I think these round ones will work. Now to sew them on. I'll post photos as soon as I find the camera. I think Miss Pickle ran off with it.






I've also been working on Kieran's twisted tree sweater. I've now joined the sleeves to the body and am doing the raglan decreases.

30 November 2011

Salt!

This guy would appreciate American cuisine.
Salt!  It's everywhere and in everything!  I hadn't realised how much salt was in American food until we returned and were inundated with it.  It's in everything!  I know those who went to undergrad with me won't believe this, but I'm sick of the salt!  It overpowers the natural flavours (a little is fine, but this is overkill) and makes me feel generally blah.

I understand that salt is a natural preservative, and it is therefore more desirable to use salt than an artificial preservative, but surely they can use a bit less to achieve that effect?  Surely we don't need ridiculous shelf lives for our food items and could therefore get by with a lot less salt in the items?  

I tend to make most things from scratch, but even then I find it difficult to avoid the high salt content.  I really must make sure to get unsalted butter next time, and hopefully that will help a lot.  I'm rather tired of all the salt, though.  I can't help but think that the high salt content in our food plays a part in the higher levels of obesity and heart disease, too.  A little salt is nice for a little flavour (though I find it's rarely needed, personally), but surely no one needs this amount of salt.

30th Day of Thankfulness

I'm so very thankful for my children.  I love seeing how they grow and change and interact with each other.  I love the snuggles, the "I love you"s, the imaginative play.  I'm thankful I can be there for them.  I thank God for every day, every moment I have with them.

29 November 2011

Happy Birthday to my Kieran


I'm so thankful God gave me Kieran on this day 4 years ago. He continually amazes me. He's a wonderful kid, and I can't wait to see how he grows.

28 November 2011

Book Nook

http://tarheeltrains.wordpress.com/2008/10/07/mr-puffer-bill-train-engineer/
I'm thankful my parents have saved so many books from our childhood.  Kieran discovered the book Mr Puffer-Bill - Train Engineer by Leone Arlandson.  It's rather beat-up by now, having survived my siblings and me and then the grandkids, but that just shows how well-loved it is.  I should have known Kieran would love it given his love of trains.  You can still buy used copies on Amazon, but I don't think it's being printed any more. It's a fun book, though, following Mr Puffer-Bill as he tries to find a hat that will stay on his head to protect him from the rain.

Imagination is More Important than Knowledge

from The Guardian
Albert Einstein once said "Imagination is more important than knowledge." it is that statement that continually echoes in my mind as I watch Kieran play.

 As he nears his fourth birthday, it seems his imagination has soared, and he takes us along for the ride. If he gets out his Brio train sets, he'll create an amazing track and then make up stories for his trains. He'll take story elements from Thomas the Tank Engine, English rail stations, and places and events of his own creation and weave them together into a single story. Or he'll take some Playmobil sets or Lego and create objects and stories.

 Always wanting to be like her brother, Charlotte enthusiastically joins in, entranced by the stories. In fact, she now creates her own scenarios, though these usually consist of giving a toy or herself a new name or title, such as when she decided she was a "serious doctor".  I can't wait to see what they'll imagine next.

27 November 2011

Day 27 of Thankfulness

http://crochetingingeorgia.blogspot.com/2009/11/advent.html
Happy Advent! I love Advent. It's a special time of year for me: my son's birthday is often during Advent, I entered the Church during Advent, and I was married during Advent. In a way, all these things heighten the sense of waiting for the Second Advent of Jesus and the marriage supper. We have a taste of that now in the Eucharist, of course, but now is the time we look for the fulfillment of that.

I am also thankful for the new translation of the Mass. We'd started using in Liverpool before we left, but we didn't start using it in the US until now. As Fr. Barron points out, the language is elevated, more regal. This is appropriate, for we are in the Prescence of the King of Kings at Mass.

Rosary Musings: Fourth Sorrowful Mystery

The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery: the Carrying of the Cross

Luke 23:26-31
26 As they were leading him away they seized on a man, Simon from Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and made him shoulder the cross and carry it behind Jesus.27 Large numbers of people followed him, and women too, who mourned and lamented for him.28 But Jesus turned to them and said, 'Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep rather for yourselves and for your children.29 For look, the days are surely coming when people will say, "Blessed are those who are barren, the wombs that have never borne children, the breasts that have never suckled!"30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, "Fall on us!"; to the hills, "Cover us!"31 For if this is what is done to green wood, what will be done when the wood is dry?'
Try as I might, I find it difficult to put my thoughts on this mystery into words. I suppose what comes to mind is the Stations of the Cross. Despite wishing to do it before, I never did the Stations of the Cross until last Lent. It's a wonderful devotion, helping to truly unite ourselves with Jesus: to take up our crosses with His.

26 November 2011

26th Day of Thankfulness

As per my previous post today, I am thankful for amber necklaces! I'm also thankful for the friends I have who've told me of such things.

Do Amber Necklaces Really Help?

Ever since Charlotte first started acting like she might be teething, I put an amber necklace on her, determined to naturally alleviate her pain and avoid the nightmare of teething as much as possible.  She's therefore worn a necklace since she was a few months old, long before she cut her first teeth at 10 months, and has worn it constantly since then.  People ask if it helps, and I usually laugh and respond that it either helps, or she's the most laid-back teether ever.

Now, she's a pretty laid-back girl about many things, so I really didn't know how much the necklace helped.  For the most part, she's gotten teeth without much fuss, and without taking medicine.  She likes to chew on ice or a cold, wet cloth, but hasn't needed anything more than that.  Was it the necklace, or was she just one of the lucky ones?

I think I can answer that question now - it's the necklace.  The night before last, she pulled off her necklace and I didn't put it back on.  The clasp is wearing out and I wasn't sure if it would hold.  She's been working on her canines, but I thought maybe she wasn't actively teething right now.  I do have another necklace somewhere, but couldn't tell you where offhand.

Yesterday, though, she was a beast.  It was obvious that her teeth were bothering her, since she had her fingers in her mouth and one pink cheek.  For some reason, though, it didn't dawn on me that that was the problem until the evening.  I took off my own amber necklace and put it on her.  I then put her old one back on her, since I got the clasp to hold for now.  Within 10 minutes or less, she was back to her happy self.  It was amazing to see the difference.  I know she was also hungry, but that wasn't all of the problem, and in fact she was refusing to consider food until I put the necklaces on her.

My conclusion: the amber necklace definitely helps Charlotte with teething pain.  I will continue to use and recommend them.  They are well worth it.

25 November 2011

25th Day of Thankfulness

Today I'm thankful for airplanes, for my husband is on an airplane coming home!  I hate being away from him, so I can't wait for him to get home.

24 November 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

This has always been my favourite food holiday.  I love turkey and all the fixings and always have.  I'd love to go to Mass and celebrate the Thanksgiving of the Eucharist, but my children are a bit ill.  Nor horribly so, but enough where they should stay home and just veg out.

Back to the food.  I'd planned to brine the turkey, but then couldn't find a turkey that hadn't already been injected with a brine solution.  I instead marinated it.  If it turns out as delicious as I hope, I'll tell you what I did. ;-) (Update: the turkey was delicious.  I'd marinated it in a mixture of 1 cup of cranberry juice, juice of 1 medium orange, a few splashes of apple juice, 2-3 cloves of garlic, fresh rosemary, and fresh thyme).

 Here's our menu:

23 November 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 23

I'm thankful my husband passed his viva!  He's been working on this for ages, and I'm very proud of him.

22 November 2011

Day 22 of Thankfulness

I'm thankful for God's grace.  I mess up time and again, and He picks me up.  He gives me the grace I need, when I need it, even though I often fail.

Full-Term Breastfeeding in the Bible

When I was fairly young (somewhere under 13 years old), I undertook to read the entire Bible.  My grandfather had inspired me to do that, so I duly started reading Genesis and working my way through.  I admit I got a bit bogged down in Numbers, but I eventually got through that and made it to 1 Samuel.  In that, I read about Hannah's desperate wish for a child, and how God heard her prayer.

For those unfamiliar with the story, she was despondent in her desire for a child, and wept at the temple, begging God for a child and promising to dedicate said child to God.  Her prayers are heard and when she returns home, she conceives.  The following year her husband is going to Jerusalem for the festival, and she opts to stay home with her newborn son, Samuel.  She promises to bring the child to the temple when he is weaned, and that at that time he will stay there, serving God in the temple as a perpetual nazarite.

Now, given that I'd never seen anyone breastfeed past the age of one, to my knowledge, this passage confused me.  I wondered how such a young child could possibly be left at the temple, for surely the child would still be quite small and dependent upon his mother.  I'd never heard of women breastfeeding past that age, so this passage didn't make sense and, frankly, made Hannah seem a bit coldhearted in my eyes.

Now that I'm a breastfeeding mother and tandem-feeding my (almost) 4-year-old and 20-month-old, I see it in a different light.  I know that historically breastfeeding was continued much longer than most do today, and so I see that Hannah didn't leave an infant or very small toddler, but a preschooler who was likely somewhere between 3 and 6 years old.  Still difficult, I'm certain, but a far cry from what I'd thought it meant before I understood full-term breastfeeding.

I'd honestly not thought much of that passage since becoming a mother, though.  It wasn't until I was looking at one of the daily readings for Mass recently that it came back to me.  The reading was from 2 Maccabees 7 (a book I'd obviously not read in my original quest to read through the Bible, since I was not Catholic at that age; it might have helped me make sense of Samuel's case, though, had I read it).  In the passage, seven sons are tortured and killed for their refusal to disregard God's laws, all in the sight of their mother.  When they reach the seventh son, she mentions how she breastfed him for three years.  Suddenly, the story of Hannah and Samuel came back to me, and made so much more sense.  I suppose this is just another example of how we can lose the true meaning of things when we do not realise the historical customs or biological norm, as the case may be (both come into play in this example).

21 November 2011

21st Day of Thankfulness

I'm thankful for breastfeeding, and the boost to the immune system that comes with that.  Charlotte came down with a sniffle in the night, and as annoying as it is, it's a rare occurrence for either child to be ill and it's usually milder and short-lived.  Not to mention that it's an easy way to comfort an ill child and means I don't have to worry as much about dehydration if the child isn't drinking much else.

20 November 2011

20th Day of Thankfulness

I'm thankful for the gift of motherhood.  While I knew I wanted children, I never knew how much I'd love being a mum.  Yes, there are times when I get irritated or just want a break, but those times don't last for long.  I love the giggles, the silliness, hearing "I love you, Mummy!", the snuggles, the adventures.  I thank God for giving me my children.

Rosary Musings: Third Sorrowful Mystery and Christ the King

The Third Sorrowful Mystery: the Crowning with Thorns

Caravaggio's The Crowning with Thorns, found on Wikipedia
Matthew 27:27-31

27 Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus with them into the Praetorium and collected the whole cohort round him. 28 And they stripped him and put a scarlet cloak round him, 29 and having twisted some thorns into a crown they put this on his head and placed a reed in his right hand. To make fun of him they knelt to him saying, 'Hail, king of the Jews!' 30 And they spat on him and took the reed and struck him on the head with it. 31 And when they had finished making fun of him, they took off the cloak and dressed him in his own clothes and led him away to crucifixion.
interior of Liverpool's cathedral
 Since today is the Feast of Christ the King, I find it very apropos that today's Rosary Musing is the crowning with thorns.  This certainly isn't the image most have of a king, and I find I have to really focus in meditating on Him as King.  It requires rethinking our ideas of kingship, and seeing here the King who willingly sacrifices Himself for us.  As much as the general architecture of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King in Liverpool may grate some, I do love the imagery of the crown of thorns over the altar, visually declaring that our King is there on the altar, in the Eucharist.  Viva Cristo Rey!

19 November 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness - Days 18 & 19

Yeah, I missed writing this again yesterday.  Such is life.  I'm very thankful for the cooler, more autumnal weather we had yesterday.  I suppose it's obvious I grew accustomed to English weather since I thought the breezy cooler day yesterday was absolutely perfect.  It now seems hot to me if it gets much above 70F.

17 November 2011

Milwaukee Co-Sleeping Adverts

I was going to blog about how the adverts aren't actually helpful, and how parents should be given guidelines on safe bed-sharing as well as safe cot-sleeping, but I think other bloggers have done a wonderful job of this, so I'm linking to a couple great posts I've read.

Bellies and Babies: Sensationalism and Sleeping Arrangements

30 Days of Thankfulness - Days 16 & 17

I forgot to post one yesterday!  I'm thankful for old friends.  Yesterday I got together with a couple of friends whom I'd not seen in years.  It was nice to get together again and catch up.

And then there's my best friend. We don't get to see each other very often, but we keep in touch and can still talk about anything and everything.  Such friends are a gift from God, in my opinion.

Crafty Thursday

I feel I've accomplished quite a bit of knitting in the past week.  I started that cardigan for Charlotte, using a light blue bamboo yarn.  There was only one size option for it, age 2-3, and it looks like it'll be too large for her right now, so I'm putting it aside for now.  I'll finish it for her birthday, I think.  The weight will be better for that time of year, too.  The ruffle took quite a while, but I don't think the rest of it will take nearly as long.

Since that one was going to be too large, I started a tunic sweater for her that I saw in the book Brave New Knits.  It's just a plain tunic, with a contrasting colour at the bottom that is folded up to make pockets, using different buttons for it.  I'm not generally a fan of pink, but I saw a watermelon pink from Saucy Sport (another yarn that has been, unfortunately, discontinued) that looked really good when I put it next to Charlotte.  I love the way this tunic is made.  It's knit in the round from the top down, so there are no seams.  The increases after the sleeves are put on holders are really great, and I wish I'd seen them in more patterns.  It calls for left and right lifted increases there, so you don't end up with those pesky holes you get from making stitches, and it looks quite nice.  I've not decided yet whether to use a beige at the bottom, or a green so it really looks watermelon-y.  That partly depends on what buttons I find for it.

15 November 2011

15th Day of Thankfulness

I'm extremely thankful for books and the ability to easily get books.  I'm constantly reading, for enjoyment and learning.  I love to read and can't remember a time when that wasn't the case.  We read to and with our children, as well as reading on our own.  I can take my Kindle with me if I don't want to carry a larger book, and I can pick up books at the library at any time.  I'm thankful for my literacy and access to books, things that are easy to take for granted, but that haven't been as ubiquitous in the past as now.

14 November 2011

Book Nook

image from Amazon.com
We love the old school Sesame Street.  So when Kieran saw The Ernie and Bert Book by Joe Mathieu at his grandparents' house, he wanted to read it.  I'd forgotten about the book, even though I'm sure I'd read it before.  The story involves a long, convoluted explanation from Ernie as to why Bert needs to wear a pot on his head instead of his cowboy hat.  It's a great story with these classic, lovable characters.  I think any child who likes Sesame Street will also like this book (and as a bonus, the parents will also have fun reading it to them).

14th day of Thankfulness

As I sit here enjoying a scone with blackcurrant jam and a cuppa, I'm thankful for blackcurrant.  I'm really thankful I can find it here.  It's delicious and should be everywhere.  I'm also thankful I know how to make scones.

13 November 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 13

I'm thankful for priests.  Our pastor is on pilgrimage in the Holy Land right now.  Normally we attend 8.00 Mass, but Kieran didn't wake up until around 7.30, so we ended up going to 9.30 Mass.  A visiting priest was scheduled to celebrate Mass, but at 9.30 he wasn't there and so our two new deacons decided they'd have a communion service.  I admit that I was a bit bummed about that, but I was thankful I'd still get to receive the Eucharist.

After the deacon's homily, though, it was revealed that the visiting priest had arrived.  So, although he was late, we still got to have Mass!  I was reminded of how blessed we are to have the priests we do.

I've posted this prayer invoking the intercession of St Jean-Baptiste Vianney before, but I think it's appropriate to post it again:

Most gracious Heavenly Father, We thank you for our faithful priests and bishops, whose spiritual fatherhood and example of fidelity, self-sacrifice, and devotion is so vital to the faith of your people. 

May our spiritual fathers be guided by the example of St. John Vianney. Give them valiant faith in the face of confusion and conflict, hope in time of trouble and sorrow, and steadfast love for you, for their families, and for all your people throughout the world. May the light of your Truth shine through their lives and their good works. 

Assist all spiritual fathers, that through your Grace they may steadily grow in holiness and in knowledge and understanding of your Truth. May they generously impart this knowledge to those who rely on them. Through Christ our Lord. 
Amen.

Rosary Musings: Second Sorrowful Mystery

The Second Sorrowful Mystery: the Scourging at the Pillar

Mark 15:15:  So Pilate, anxious to placate the crowd, released Barabbas for them and, after having Jesus scourged, he handed him over to be crucified.


from The Passion of the Christ
Ever since I watched The Passion of the Christ, I've pictured that part of the film when meditating upon this mystery.  I also cannot help but think of Isaiah 52 and 53, with the line that tells us "by His stripes will we be healed".  It's amazing to think of His great love for us, to endure that for us.  I'll admit it's difficult for me to truly meditate on, because it's not an easy thing to think of.  I can't really put into words my thoughts and feelings on it, to be honest.  


I do understand how Mary's soul was also pierced with a sword in all this, for now that I'm a mother, I can imagine her anguish when Jesus was brought out after the scourging.  Behold the Man.  Indeed, we behold Him, but how often do I turn the other way or just ignore Him?  

12 November 2011

12th Day of Thankfulness

I'm thankful for knitting.  My mother taught me to knit when were on holiday in Colorado when I was 7.  I picked it up fairly quickly and usually enjoyed it.  I didn't do much knitting at that age, but I periodically came back to it.  Now that I have children, I tend to knit a bit more, actually.  I love that I can make things for them, things that will last a long time and look nice.  My children have worn knits that my siblings and I wore as children, and I look forward to being able to pass these knits on in the future, too, God willing.

Gruffalo Crumble

"Well," said the Mouse, "you see?  Everyone is afraid of me.  But now my tummy's beginning to rumble.  My favourite food is. . . Gruffalo crumble!"

My children love The Gruffalo.  They loved the book so much that it literally fell apart, so we'll have to get a new copy (we have a plan for that, too).  They frequently pretend that the gruffalo is hiding in the house, or at Mass, or wherever we are.  Last night, though, Kieran then said he wanted to eat the gruffalo.  Being the incredibly cool mum I am, I asked if he wanted gruffalo crumble, to which he readily agreed.  Right, that was the easy part.  Then I had to figure out what gruffalo crumble should be.

I turned to the description from the book.  The book may have been destroyed, but I still have it memorised from all the times I've read it to the children.  The description goes like this:
He has terrible teeth and terrible claws and terrible tusks in his terrible jaws.  His eyes are orange, his tongue is black, he has purple prickles all over his back.  He has knobbly knees and turned out toes and a poisonous wart at the end of his nose.
We had apples that needed using, and some bananas.  One apple was part yellow and part orange, so I figured that would work for the orange eyes.  The banana, though ripe, still had a little green bit at the end, so I used that for the poisonous wart.  My mother picked up some blackberries, which worked for both the black tongue and purple prickles.  I used oats with the crumble topping, which also worked for prickles.  I think it turned out well.

11 November 2011

Does Having a Vaccine for a Disease Make Us Fear It More?

The title question is something I've been mulling over lately.  When I was a child, I started getting the flu jab.  I didn't know much about the flu, but I figured it must be something horrible if I needed a vaccine to protect me, so I dutifully got the jab every year.  That continued until after I went to England, and one year I just didn't get the jab.  Yes, I got the flu that year, but it wasn't all that horrible and was nothing to fear since I don't have any respiratory issues that would make flu more serious for me.  I found that my fear of flu (for me, personally) was rather unfounded.  It might be different if I fell in one of the higher risk groups for it, but I don't.

Recently I've come across people who seem absolutely terrified of chicken pox.  I don't recall encountering such reactions prior to the chicken pox vaccine being available, and I certainly don't remember encountering such reactions in England, where they do not give the varicella jab.  Again, I could see the fear for those who are in a higher risk group with it, but in general I just don't see it.

So why the fear?  Can these diseases be serious?  Of course.  Are they usually, for the majority of the population?  Not that I'm aware.  And so I wonder if part of the fear isn't because of the vaccine being available, in a way.  Having a vaccine for something seems to render the disease more serious in the minds of people, or maybe that's just me.  As fewer cases of the disease are seen, it seems it would be easy to begin seeing it as worse than it is, since it's not just another common childhood illness.  So I suppose the reaction can make sense, even though I think it isn't the logical conclusion to make.  Of course, my musings on this could be completely off, too.  What do you think?

ETA:  Just to be clear, I'm not saying one should never get vaccines, but just wondering if some undue fear has been created due to the fact that we don't see these things regularly.  One should always look at all the facts and weigh all risks and benefits when making these decisions, and the decisions that are right for one may not be right for another when it comes to medical decisions.

Day 11 of Thankfulness

I am thankful that I've never personally experienced combat/war, and am thankful for those who work for peace.  And because it's Armistice Day, I'm posting "In Flanders Fields" by Dr John McCrae.


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below. 

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields. 

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields. 

10 November 2011

Crafty Thursday

Not a lot to report today.  I'm still working on the first sleeve of Kieran's sweater, and have found a nice cardigan to make for Charlotte.  I'll have to post a photo.  Right now I'm trying to decide which yarn to use.  I have some bamboo, which is what the pattern calls for, but I'm not sure any of the colours are right for her.  So I'm also looking at some Bernat Softee Baby in a brighter pink, or unraveling a sweater that doesn't fit so I can use some red.  Hmmm.

I've discovered that while the pearl snaps loo nicer, they are coming out, so I'll just have to go with the other snaps as I continue converting my bumGenius 2.0 stash.

With Remembrance Day coming tomorrow, I'm reminded that I've put off crocheting a poppy too long.  I'd planned to make one to wear.  I'll definitely have to make one for next year.

10th Day of Thankfulness

I'm thankful for all the opportunities I've had.  I went to amazing universities for undergrad and graduate school.  I was able to study abroad for a semester of undergrad, and for my MA, remaining in England for a few more years after that.  I've been spoiled with wonderful (free) museums, the ability to travel in England and Europe, to study under some of the most renowned Egyptologists of today.  It's really amazing, and I thank God for these opportunities.

9 November 2011

Day 9 of Thankfulness

Today I'm thankful for two remarkable people: my grandmother, whom we called Baba, and a Benedictine monk and priest, Fr Theo.  Today would've been my grandmother's birthday, and is Fr Theo's 90th birthday.

I grew up living next to my grandmother.  I won't say I always enjoyed it, but I know I was very lucky to live so close and know her.  When I was contemplating being baptised, she's the one who spoke with me about what it meant.  She talked to me about guardian angels, sent me silly cards when I was studying abroad, and even learnt how to work Skype so she could see Kieran.  She was an amazing woman, and I pray I'll see her again in Heaven.

Fr Theo is one of the priests at the parish we attended in Liverpool.  One of my neighbours there declared him to be a living saint, and I have to agree.  While 90, he's still going strong, still celebrating Mass and hearing Confessions and staying active, despite having a lot of back pain.  He once scolded me for not sitting in the front row, as he said Kieran couldn't see.  He made sure to tell me that I should always bring the children to Mass.  He's an amazing confessor, always knowing what to say.  I pray I'll get to see him again, as well.

If You Can't Say Anything Nice

Why is it so much easier to criticise than to edify?  I am really bad about this, being quick to speak negatively about someone or thing, instead of trying to see the good first or just keeping silent.  When I'm reading things, I find myself reading through things that anger me and getting irritated with comments, leading me to join the fray, if only in my mind.  What's more, that negativity seems to infect my interactions during the day, too.

When I'm writing, too, I find it easier to be negative than positive at times.  There are legitimate times for criticism, but it can be done in a way that isn't demeaning or so negative.  Unfortunately, I struggle with that as well.  So in thinking about this, I'm thinking that I should be more careful to refrain from reading and writing things that do not edify at all.  I'm not talking about just going with sappy/happy things, for that isn't realistic, but ensuring that my tone isn't so negative/condescending/etc.  I also pray that I can follow this in my conversation. With God's grace, all things are possible.

8 November 2011

Thankfulness Day 8

I'm thankful for new friends.  My mother and sister both suggested that I meet up with someone who lives nearby and has children of similar ages to my children.  Today we met up and had a really nice chat.

I've also been making the acquaintance of other homeschooling mums at our parish.  I'm hoping we can meet up more, so the children can play and we can chat.

Full-Term Breastfeeding is Normal, not Sexual/Abusive/Weird

One of these days I'll learn not to read the comments under stories online.  I keep telling myself that, but it hasn't happened yet.  I saw someone else post a link to a bit about whether breastfeeding helps with bonding.  I'd thought that was pretty much settled by the science of breastfeeding, to be honest (that's not to say that those who bottle-feed don't bond with their children, especially when they incorporate lots of cuddles/skin-to-skin with it, as my mother did, but we do know that breastfeeding releases oxytocin which is linked to that bonding).  I was happy to see that the video was respectful and dealt with this fairly well given the time limits.

But then I read through some of the comments, and I was appalled!  There were so many declaring that breastfeeding past the age of x (it varied) was solely for the mother, had no benefit for the child, was actually child abuse and/or incestuous!  Oh my word!  First, I'd really like to meet these mothers who force their over-two-year old children to breastfeed, because I don't know how they'd do it.  If Charlotte (age 19 months) doesn't want to breastfeed, it would be nigh impossible to make her do so.  I certainly can't see getting Kieran to breastfeed if he didn't want!

And incestuous?!  Really?!  Breastfeeding isn't sexual (in that context of the word)!  Yes, oxytocin is released, but this doesn't mean the mother gets all hot and bothered when breastfeeding!  Nor does it mean she's addicted to it or breastfeeding just to get a "fix".  Yes, I saw someone claim that.  I'll be honest - I don't really enjoy breastfeeding that much right now.  Charlotte's teething and therefore wanting to be latched on more; Kieran's still adjusting to being in a different house/country and wanting the comfort, though he is starting to ask to snuggle more.

I really don't see how it could be labeled as abusive, either.  The argument for that went like this: the mother is forcing the child to remain a baby and stunting his emotional growth.  Never mind that it's nigh impossible to force the child to continue breastfeeding if he's ready to stop and that full-term breastfeeding actually has been a positive effect on the emotional health for the child.

I guess the frustrating thing is really that these myths are still believed and perpetuated.  It just seems incredible given all the information out there on the benefits and normality of breastfeeding.

7 November 2011

Book Nook

When I was little, I loved the book Magic Growing Powder by Janet Quin-Harkin.  As it turns out, my parents kept that book, so now that we're back with them for now, I can read it to my children.  The story tells of a very short king who is obsessed with getting taller, and nearly falls for the scam of magic growing powder.  It's a cute story, one I read a lot when little, though I'm not sure my children are as enamoured with it. 

Day 7 of Thankfulness

This might sound a little silly, but I'm really thankful for ease of access to information.  I love that I easily find information about almost anything.  Yes, you have to know how to evaluate sources and weed out the inaccurate things, but it truly is amazing how much we can find.  I also love that I can connect with people all over the world to learn more, chat, exchange information, etc.  It really is amazing when you think about it!

AP as the Norm

I love that my children see Attachment Parenting as the norm.  I know they're mimicking what they see and experience. 

The other day both of them insisted on wearing their stuffed animals.  Both love being worn and just see that as the norm.

They also see breastfeeding as the norm.  Today Charlotte was asking me for milk, and asked for "regular milk", to differentiate it from cow's milk.  I love it!  After all, it is the regular milk she gets, especially since she still has some issues with dairy.  Kieran offers "Kieran milk" to his toys, or even his sister!, when he thinks they're in need of comfort (no, Charlotte hasn't actually taken him up on this).  The point, though, is that he sees this as the normal way of feeding and comforting, and therefore mimics it.  Love it!

6 November 2011

Day 6 of Thankfulness

I read this post from the Ranter's blog and it reminded me of how thankful I really am for the Mass, when I am really thinking about it. I'm glad I read this prior to going to Mass this morning, as it really reminded me to truly pray the Mass, even with the children needing my attention at different times. As an aside, it was rather humourous that Charlotte told Father and Monsignor to focus during the homily (Father had talked about how we needed to focus on the prayers and responses, so his homily was very apropos with the blog post in mind, too). So go on over to the Ranter's blog and check it out for a nice reminder about praying the Mass and how thankful we should be at every Mass.

...the hell with it: Absurdity of Mass: Do you ever have a conversation with someone who isn't engaged? You know they're just waiting for you to get done flapping your gums so they...

Rosary Musings: First Sorrowful Mystery

The First Sorrowful Mystery: the Agony in the Garden

El Greco, source: http://www.myfreewallpapers.net/artistic/pages/el-greco-the-agony-in-the-garden.shtml
Matthew 26:36-45
36 Then Jesus came with them to a plot of land called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, 'Stay here while I go over there to pray.'
37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee with him. And he began to feel sadness and anguish.
38 Then he said to them, 'My soul is sorrowful to the point of death. Wait here and stay awake with me.'
39 And going on a little further he fell on his face and prayed. 'My Father,' he said, 'if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it.'
40 He came back to the disciples and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, 'So you had not the strength to stay awake with me for one hour?
41 Stay awake, and pray not to be put to the test. The spirit is willing enough, but human nature is weak.'
42 Again, a second time, he went away and prayed: 'My Father,' he said, 'if this cup cannot pass by, but I must drink it, your will be done!'
43 And he came back again and found them sleeping, their eyes were so heavy.
44 Leaving them there, he went away again and prayed for the third time, repeating the same words.
45 Then he came back to the disciples and said to them, 'You can sleep on now and have your rest. Look, the hour has come when the Son of man is to be betrayed into the hands of sinners.
 This truly amazes me.  I know how anxious I can get about things at times, things that are nowhere near as agonising as this.  I know how much I can waver in the face of hardship and pain and fear of ridicule, but Jesus didn't waver.  He shows how united He is with us in His humanity, and also His divinity in being able to to make that sacrifice.  I can relate to the Apostles, for all too often I do not "watch and pray", but fall asleep or get distracted with my own things.  I continue to pray to be given the grace to persevere.

5 November 2011

Day 5 of Thankfulness

Two things for today.  First, I'm thankful for my in-laws.  I am truly blessed in them and love having such great family. 

Second, seeing as today is Guy Fawkes' Day in England, I'm thankful to live in a place where I can practise my faith openly.  I just pray that I can be a better witness, that I can allow God to shine through.  He must increase, I must decrease.

4 November 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness

I'm thankful for my family.  We are currently living with my parents after our move from England back to the US, and I really appreciate that they are allowing us to live with them for now.  While of course it is an adjustment to be back in their house after having my own place, in a different country no less, they make it a bit easier on me by the fact I don't feel like I'm intruding.  My mother was more than happy to give the kitchen over to me, and they're both great about not overstepping bounds with the kids or anything.  I'm very thankful for all this. 

3 November 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness

Source: olphla.org
Today I'm thankful for the opportunity to go to the shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.  Prior to leaving Liverpool, I started asking Our Lady of Perpetual Help to pray for us.  After that, I discovered that there was a shrine for her in St Augustine, and so I promised to go there when I could.  Today we got to go, and it was quite nice.  The shrine that is better known there is the shrine to Our Lady of La Leche, so I'd been unaware of this one, which is on the same grounds.  It was dedicated by the Byzantine Catholic community, if I remember correctly.  Knowing Fr Theo was turning 90 soon, I'd also told him we'd pick him up something from the shrine, so we were able to do that today.  I'll have to post it soon.

Crafty Thursday

I've been working on Kieran's sweater this week, and I've finished the body up to the armholes.  Since this is made in a seamless fashion, I put those stitches on waste yarn and started one of the sleeves.  I'm really liking the way it looks thus far.  I do get annoyed with double-point needles at times, though.  Oh well.






I also finally got some snaps so I could start converting our beloved bumGenius 2.0s to snaps.  These have been in use for nearly 4 years and are still going strong.  However, the velcro is really wearing out, and Charlotte can escape from them quite easily, and has been able to do so for some time now.  So I'm slowly taking those that are still good (the PUL has worn out on a couple) and converting them after finding a tutorial.  I've only finished one thus far, and while it doesn't look that nice, being the first one I've done, it does work well.

2 November 2011

All Souls' Day/30 Days of Thankfulness

Today is All Souls' Day and also the second day of the 30 days of thankfulness for this month.  Once again I'm combining these two things.  I am thankful for the opportunity to go to Mass daily, though I don't always take it or don't always pray the Mass as I should.  I am thankful for the reminder that death does not sever the ties with the entire Body of Christ.  There is always hope, and we remain connected with each other.  I am also thankful for Purgatory.  That final cleansing, that final application of Jesus' sacrifice, is really a wonderful, merciful gift from God.  What love to give us that final cleansing so we can stand before Him in our wedding garments, without any attachment to sin (wish I could say I have no attachment to sin now, but that's definitely not true).

I also like to pray the St Gertrude prayer on this day (and whenever I remember to do so).  I only just learnt that St Gertrude was a Benedictine (Benedictines rock!); she was promised that 1,000 souls would be released from Purgatory with this prayer.  I know we're not required to believe private revelation, but it is a beautiful thing to contemplate and the prayer itself is a wonderful way of remembering the Holy Souls in Purgatory.

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.

1 November 2011

Litany of the Saints/30 Days of Thankfulness

Today is All Saints' Day!  And since the American Thanksgiving is in November, many are also posting something for which they are thankful for every day in November.  I think these two can overlap today, for I am truly thankful for the "great cloud of witnesses" we have, who provide us with examples and pray for us before the throne of the Most High God.  I was also overjoyed that I got to hear the Litany of the Saints at Mass today, for I've not heard it in a few years.  So here it is, for your enjoyment:

31 October 2011

Book Nook

Now that we're settling in, I can finally start up my Book Nook series again!  This week I took the children to the library to get library cards.  Both have been talking about the Gruffalo a lot (he's evidently hiding in the house), so I thought I'd see if they actually had any books by Julia Donaldson.  To my surprise and joy, they did!  So we picked up Tyrannosaurus Drip, by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by David Roberts (I admit it's a little weird for me not seeing Axel Scheffler's name there). 

Source: http://articles.sfgate.com/2008-07-27/books/17173736_1_crocs-rexes-silly-goose
The book is cute, and follows a duckbill dinosaur who is raised by Tyrannosaurs.  Of course, the little duckbill dinosaur, named Tyrannosaurus Drip, doesn't fit in and isn't accepted by his "family", but he eventually finds other duckbill dinosaurs and is overjoyed at fitting in.  Not only that, but he becomes a hero through some clever thinking.  It's a nice story, as I'd expect with Julia Donaldson, and I love the rhymes and rhythm she uses.  Since Charlotte was demanding that we all read it to her, I'm thinking she's a fan, too.

30 October 2011

Rosary Musings: Fifth Luminous Mystery

The Fifth Luminous Mystery: the Institution of the Eucharist

Matthew 26:26-8:

26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had said the blessing he broke it and gave it to the disciples. 'Take it and eat,' he said, 'this is my body.'
27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he handed it to them saying, 'Drink from this, all of you,
28 for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

And John 6:53-6 (I recommend reading the whole passage, though)

53 Jesus replied to them: In all truth I tell you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.
54 Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise that person up on the last day.
55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.

source: http://www.maryourmother.net/Rosary.html
I think this might be my favourite of the Rosary mysteries, to be honest.  It absolutely amazes me that Jesus not only died and rose for us, but allows us to participate in that one, eternal sacrifice by giving us His Body and Blood in the Eucharist. 

I remember before I was Catholic, how I'd talk to a Catholic friend down the hall of my dorm.  I tried to convince myself that I was right and that she was wrong when it came to the Eucharist.  After all, didn't the OT forbid the consumption of blood?  So how could Jesus command it?  But it nagged at me, the "what if?" until I finally looked at it more.  I found that the consumption of blood was forbidden because the life was in the blood; Jesus brings home this point by declaring that we don't have life unless we eat His Body and drink His Blood.  Wow!  And if you read the rest of John 6, you see that the people gathered there understood Him to be speaking literally and were very offended.  But instead of correcting their misunderstanding (as He had about baptism/being born again just a few chapters earlier), He reiterates the point until many leave.  He doesn't tell His Apostles that those who left misunderstood or explain it as a parable, as was His wont in other cases, but just asks if they're leaving, too.  Seems fairly clear when I finally looked at it without my preconceived notions of what it should say.

Looking at Eucharistic miracles also helped convince me, especially the miracle at Lanciano

Sometimes I find that I take this amazing gift for granted, but with God's grace I hope to keep the freshness and wonder of it.  For truly, if I'm thinking about it, how could I not be amazed at this total gift of self, for someone such as me?!  This humbling of Himself just so we can approach?!  It's truly amazing, and I thank Him for it.

27 October 2011

Crafty Thursday

That's right - I'm back to knitting!  The kids and I have gone to my mother's knitting group the past two weeks, though I find I'm not really able to knit there since I have to chase the kiddos around.  But that's OK.  I have gotten to knit a fair amount, though, working on Kieran's and my sweaters.

I finally finished Charlotte's tunic, too.  While it had been listed as a tunic dress, I think it's a bit short for a dress; it works great as a longer, tunic-style sweater, though.  It's supposed to be a Christmas present for Charlotte, but it might end up being a bit tight by then.  I made the 2-3 year size, but she's wearing 24 month/2T clothes already (at 19 months), so I don't know.  I did find another sweater I want to make for her, and I have the yarn, so if I get a move on, I could do that.  We shall see!

How My Children Play

I love watching and listening to my children play with each other.  While they sometimes get upset with each other, they often play well together.

They're also enjoying the new (to them) toys at their grandparents' house.  Charlotte's new favourite toy is a small doll that I think was my sister's; Charlotte refers to this as "baby".  Kieran's new fave might be the rather large alligator puppet that he insists is a crocodile.

There can be friction, though, between Kieran and Charlotte when playing with these toys.  Take this interaction the other day.  Charlotte was sitting in my lap and had been holding "baby".  Suddenly she sat up and said "baby back to me!".  I asked where "baby" was, only to have Kieran answer "I think the crocodile ate it".  Yeah. 

25 October 2011

Pumpkins!

My children had their first experience carving pumpkins this year.  It's not really a big thing in England, so we just didn't do it.  They'd seen me cook with pumpkins, but nothing else.  So on Friday we went to a pumpkin patch and let them pick out some pumpkins.  Charlotte immediately gravitated towards a white pumpkin.  Kieran at first went for a large orange pumpkin, but it had spots on it, and since I wanted to be able to cook with the pumpkins, too, I asked him to look for another one.  He then went for the beautiful carnival squash.  He also picked out a couple of orange pumpkins for my parents. 

So we brought the pumpkins home and took them out to the deck. 
Charlotte tried to help with the actual carving of her pumpkin, though that didn't last long.  Both kids enjoyed helping with the "goop", though. 









While carving the white pumpkin, I scooped out as much flesh as I could so I could make a pumpkin pie.  I also used the small orange pumpkin Charlotte's holding in the above photo.  Between the two we had enough for 1 pie and a batch of muffins (I saw the recipe in a Penzey's magazine and just had to try it).  The carnival squash and other pumpkin will be used for soup.  I'm personally quite pleased at being able to use most of the pumpkins.  I didn't save the seeds from these, but I think I'll roast the seeds from the other orange one and serve them with the soup.  Should be delicious!

24 October 2011

Fun at the Zoo

Something we've been enjoying here is the zoo.  We purchased zoo memberships so we wouldn't have to rush through and so we can go back whenever we want. 

We've been quite pleased with it.  The children are very fond of brushing (and hugging) the pygmy goats.  In fact, the second time we went to the zoo, that was what they begged to do. 








The zoo itself is lovely, as far as I can tell.  They have benches and picnic tables in various locations, so it isn't necessary to go far to find a place to sit and eat.  I was a little confused with this sign, though, because it was placed in the midst of some trees, with no seating in the vicinity.  That seemed slightly odd.  I had the mei tai, so I could easily feed Charlotte on the move, and I don't really care about finding designated nursing spots anyway.  We'd just happened to see this sign off a path in the play park part, which I found odd.  But our overall experience with them has been great.  I know we'll go back soon.