31 March 2011

Knitting Thursday

I once again missed posting last week.  I was nearly finished with Charlotte's dress, but didn't feel like I had much to post at the time.  I finished her dress on Saturday morning, the day before her birthday.  I also made her a headband to go with it.  It's crochet, which requires a bit more concentration from me, but it went quickly nonetheless.  It just meant I couldn't read whilst making it. ;-)

And now I'm working on another dress for her.  I'd planned to start working on something for me, but I'll need to do a bit of math with that first, since I'm using DK instead of sock yarn.  I was doing a swatch with the lace pattern with the yarn I'm using, and I don't like the way it looks with that yarn, so that will change, too.  And I want it to be a V-neck.  In the end, it won't really be the same sweater, but that's OK.  I rarely end up following a pattern completely anyway.

29 March 2011

I might never go back

to using deodorant.  Now, before you step away holding your nose, let me explain.  Years ago, I think I was a teenager, I'd heard that the aluminium in antiperspirant was bad for you, so I started using just plain old deodorant that didn't have antiperspirant in it.  Seeing as I was a teen, I didn't research to see if that was true or not, but figured I'd rather be safe than sorry.  I got used to doing that, and in fact it's still rather ingrained in me to do that.

So over the years I've used deodorant, but have never been all that pleased with the results, since it sometimes irritated my skin and of course I still had to deal with the wetness from perspiring.  Nevertheless, I continued with that until recently, since I figured I needed to use something.  Unhappy with this, though, I started seeing if I could find something else that would work.  To that end, I searched online for a natural deodorant, and came across a site that suggested using 1 part bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) to 6 parts cornstarch.  I mixed that up and put some on using some cotton wool, and it works great.  In all honesty, it works better than the store-bought deodorant I was using, and the cornstarch acts as an antiperspirant.  Even better, it doesn't irritate my skin at all.  I'm sold.

On a related note, I also might never go back to using shampoo and conditioner.  I stopped regularly using shampoo a while ago, actually, and started just using conditioner.  Shampoo isn't the best for curly hair.  Once my bottle of conditioner ran out, I decided to try something else, and started using bicarbonate of soda instead of shampoo, and then rinsing with diluted cider vinegar.  So far it's working great, without making my hair feel bad or causing any build-up.  Who knew baking soda was so handy?

28 March 2011

Book Nook

Kieran just got a new book: Mixed-Up Fairy Tales, by Hilary Robinson and Nick Sharratt.  The book divides a bunch of fairy tales into 4 sections, and then the child can mix up these sections to create crazy tales.  For example, they can read a story about Cinderella climbing a beanstalk to find a bowl of soup, or Puss in Boots being tormented by two step-sisters and finding a cave full of treasure that was stolen by a troll.  The pages are colour-coded, so you can find the proper story if you want.  The combinations are quite funny, though, and provide lots of entertainment.

26 March 2011

Lollipops and Rainbows

Time for another NFP pet peeve.  I know, it seems like I'm ragging on NFP a lot, which may seem rather strange considering I'm a BOM instructor; however, my beef isn't with NFP, but with the way it is sometimes presented.  Now that I'm starting to give presentations on it, I don't want to fall into some of these pitfalls.

I get rather irritated when using NFP is presented in such a rosy light that the sacrifices are just glossed over.  By all means, mention any potential benefits, but don't make it sound like it'll make your married life be all lollipops and rainbows.  Yes, it can lead to increased communication, considering the couple must discuss the chart regularly, but it won't magically solve any communication problems (believe me), and if the couple are relying on NFP to ensure they're communicating, then they have bigger problems.

I do think it does the couples a real disservice to mention any potential benefits to the exclusion of mentioning that it also requires sacrifice.  Sacrifice isn't a bad thing, in fact it can help lead us to holiness, but that doesn't mean it's easy, and this needs to be explained.  Of course, it also needs to be said that marriage in and of itself is a sacrifice, whether one uses NFP or not (and I'm not convinced that using NFP should be the norm, though I will also say that I do not think charting is necessarily synonymous with NFP, and I love the knowledge that charting gives me).  Back on topic.  One reason I think this does the couples a disservice is that they may wonder what's wrong with them if they aren't experiencing this sunshiny existence when using NFP.  I know I felt like that, and yet I didn't speak of it, because I figured I was just the odd person out.  Maybe I am, I don't know, but when I gave the presentation for Engaged Encounter, I decided to be upfront about the sacrifice it entails.  I also felt like the couples appreciated my candour with that.

Actually, that brings up another point.  If we paint NFP as being nothing but sunshine, then will the couples actually believe us and turn to NFP if they have a just reason to postpone pregnancy (or want to conceive)?  I don't know the answer, but I do know that I'm sceptical of things when no sacrifice is mentioned, because I think that just about anything that is worth it requires sacrifice.

To sum up my thoughts: teach about NFP, but give an accurate, realistic picture instead of an idealised version that doesn't exist in reality (at least in my limited experience).

22 March 2011

Ah, Spring

It's gorgeous here today.  14C and sunny, so of course we've been outside.  A home ed group meets at the playground, so we went there first.  The kids had a blast playing, with both of them loving the slide.  Charlotte tried to climb over the side and up the slide, saying "whee!" as she did so.  I'm very glad we were able to go; I wasn't sure we'd be able to do so since both kids had gone back to sleep a little before 10, but they both awoke by 11 so we were only an hour late.

After leaving the playground we headed to the library and then to the store to get some veg for tonight.  I love walking in this weather, and Kieran was enjoying himself, too.  Charlotte had fallen asleep by the time we got home, and has taken a long nap, but maybe we can get back outside a little later.  I love this weather.

21 March 2011

Adventures with Children

Yesterday the kids and I went on an adventure.  I had to give a presentation on the Billings Ovulation Method for an Engaged Encounter group at the Franciscan Friary at Pantasaph.  It's beautiful there, by the way.  By car it would've taken about 40 minutes, but I don't have a car, so we went by train, which would take nearly 2 hours.  Being Sunday, there were fewer trains running, so we had to leave at 8.00 in order to get there in time.  It took a total of three trains to get there, too.  So I packed diapers and wipes and books and snacks and toys in the bag, along with the handouts and USB drive that I needed for my presentation.  Kieran had decided that moose had to go, too.

I got the kids dressed and ready and fed and out the door, and we got to the station with plenty of time.  Kieran loves trains, so he was quite excited; I'd strapped Charlotte on in the Kari-Me, opting for that over the mei tai because it would be easier to get her in and out on the train.  We got on the first train, which was quite empty, being the first train of the morning through that station, and got into the city centre to change trains.  Charlotte had fallen asleep, but she awoke on the second train, so I got her out and we had snacks.  We made it to Chester without a problem and waited for the final train into Flint, where we would then get a taxi to the Friary.  Kieran was very excited about the taxi.  Charlotte was tired of being strapped on at that point, and even the sight of all the sheep wouldn't distract her.  There were even sheep grazing in the middle of the golf course, with golfers just walking around them.  It was a beautiful drive up to the Friary, though, and the taxi driver was incredibly nice.

Once we got there I was met by one of the presenting couples who took us up where we could sit down and I could have a cup of tea.  The kids were thrilled to be able to run around, and it was decided that they would watch Kieran for me during the presentation.  I figured that Charlotte would likely fall back asleep after all the running, and she did, so it worked out perfectly.  Both kids made friends with one of the Friars, who pointed out that my children have Franciscan second names, something I'd not thought of before.  After lunch, we turned around to come home.

The train back was considerably more crowded, since there wouldn't be another train through that station for 2 more hours, and consequently there were no seats.  Thankfully it was a Virgin train, and we only had a 13 minute journey on that one from Flint to Chester.  I was prepared to tell Kieran that we'd have to run for the next one (4 minutes between connections at the station), but, praise God, the platforms were just next to each other, and we got on the next train without a problem.  We did miss our connection in the city centre, and so had to wait nearly half an hour for the next one, but that wasn't bad.  The kids were good as gold the entire time, with Charlotte sitting with me and Kieran watching out the window and talking about trains and tracks and magnets (he recently read about mag lev trains).  After all that, and after we'd eaten an earlier dinner, I felt I owed it to the kids to let them run around outside with the neighbourhood kids, and so we did.  It was a long day, and an adventure with both kids in tow, but it worked out, and I'm rather proud of them.

Book Nook

This is one I've mentioned in another Book Nook, I think, but it bears having its own post.  Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler are a great team, and they don't disappoint in Zog.  The story follows a dragon called Zog through his years in school, as he tries to be the best in the class.  It's a very fun book.

17 March 2011

Happy St Patrick's Day!

For your viewing/listening pleasure:

Knitting Thursday

Sorry for not posting one last week.  I didn't have a whole lot to report last week, as I was just putting the finishing touches on Kieran's sweater, and I'm not online as much right now with it being Lent.  I finished Kieran's sweater last Friday, and blocked it on Saturday.  I have to confess that I hadn't actually blocked a sweater before, but it's necessary with the Sherwood sweater to make sure the cables stand out the way they should.  I could've made his sweater longer; I keep saying all his sweaters need to be longer, but then I don't always make that change.  I did add a few rows to the bottom when I made this one, but I should've added more.  Ah, well, it does fit him, he just won't be able to wear it next year.

Once I finished his sweater, I had enough left on that skein to make the matching hat.  This knit up quite quick since it was on larger needles and all the cables were on the same level, so the majority was just ribbing.

Having finished that, I started making this dress for Charlotte.  Hopefully I can finish it by her birthday.   I can't believe she'll be 1 in just over a week!

NFP & Divorce

OK, I have a pet peeve when it comes to how NFP is presented.  Well, a few of them, in fact, but the one for today is when people try to "sell" NFP based upon the low divorce rate amongst those using NFP.  This is even worse when that is used as a selling point with Catholic marriage preparation, in my opinion.

So why does this bother me?  First off, can we really say that NFP itself causes this low divorce rate?  As far as I'm aware, the majority of people using NFP are those who are devout Catholics, and they probably wouldn't be using it if they didn't already subscribe to Church teaching regarding marriage.  If that is the case, then they wouldn't be likely to divorce anyway, using NFP or not.

Second, it leaves out the fact that NFP isn't required.  I highly doubt that the divorce rate amongst Catholic couples using NFP versus those not using NFP or anything else is that different.  And really, if they're getting married in a Catholic parish, then saying that NFP users have low divorce rates shouldn't really matter, since anyone getting married in a Catholic parish should be able to say that.  Yes, I'm aware that that isn't always the case, because many are woefully unprepared for marriage for one reason or another, leading to the many annulments that are granted.  Hopefully that begins to change given Papa Ben's instructions to be more careful in preparing couples for marriage.

Divorce statistics definitely won't be a part of my presentation on NFP at Engaged Encounter this weekend, and hopefully I can also avoid my other pet peeves when it comes to presenting NFP. ;-)

14 March 2011

Book Nook

Today we have another book from my childhood.  I remember reading But No Elephants by Jerry Smath when I was little, and so I wanted a copy for my kids.  My sister then sent her childhood copy of it to Kieran, while my dad also got them a new copy (the last page is torn in our childhood copy).  It's a really cute story.  A pet salesman keeps offering various animals to Grandma Tildy, who takes them one by one, but always adds the refrain "but no elephants!".  As you can guess, she ends up with an elephant, and while they're not sure it's going to work out with him, he proves quite useful in the end. http://www.himandus.net/elefunteria/library/books/juvenile_1/2983.jpg

12 March 2011

Maybe I Am Crunchy Enough. . .

Since Charlotte was born, I've toyed with the idea of doing Elimination Communication (EC) with her.  I have a few friends who do/did this with their children, and I remember Baba, my grandmother, talking about how she did it with her children (she didn't call it EC, but that's pretty much what she did).  When Charlotte was born, I could tell her signals fairly easily, but I didn't do much with it.  We were in the midst of potty training with Kieran, which was a chore in itself, and I told myself I'd wait until Charlotte could sit up well.

Once she started sitting up, I gave it a few tries, but wasn't consistent, and she didn't seem to enjoy sitting on the toilet too much.  We were still working with Kieran, and I thought it was just too much to also try to do EC.  I figured I just wasn't quite crunchy enough, and that was fine, so I stopped trying with it.  I did still notice her cues, at least some of the time, I just didn't get her to the toilet.

Fast forward to the past week or two.  I'm getting fed up with how long potty training is taking; part of the reason for that may be because I couldn't work with him much during my pregnancy, and haven't always been able to work with him and chase after Charlotte.  I really don't want a repeat of this.  So, I started trying EC with Charlotte again, and we've had some success!  Kieran gets a kick out of cuing her, too.  She always tries to go if I cue her, and once she's even told me she needed to go so I could get her to the toilet.  No, she didn't use words, but made it clear to me that she needed the toilet.  No, other people probably wouldn't have known that's what she wanted, but then, others don't know her other signs for hunger and other things, either.  At the very least Charlotte has an awareness of her own body and knows that the diaper isn't ideal.  It really isn't a hassle, either - no more so than changing a nappy.  So maybe I am crunchy enough.  I will try this with future children, too, though I still doubt I'm crunchy enough to do it from birth.

8 March 2011

Ashes to Ashes

Well, Lent starts tomorrow, so I won't be around as much.  I've been needing to cut down on computer time, and will be doing so during Lent.  I'll still be on some, but not much.  Since I agree with Sister Mary Martha that we shouldn't use Lent as an opportunity to give up something we should give up anyway, I'll also be adding in some more time for prayer.  Perhaps I can even get to morning prayer with the monks, though I don't know how feasible that will always be with the kids.  I wish you all a blessed Lent.

7 March 2011

All That Matters

As you've probably noticed, I have a tendency to talk about labour and birth quite a bit, and I also tend to get in more animated discussions about it, especially when the subject of home birth arises.  Sometimes in these discussions there's someone who says something to the effect of "all that matters is a healthy baby".  This can be said either in discussing why one shouldn't have a home birth, or said after a mother mentions various interventions that she found to be more traumatic.

Let's think about this statement though - all that matters is a healthy baby.  So what about the mother's physical and emotional health?  Birth isn't just some medical procedure, but is a highly emotional, personal experience.  Now, I certainly agree that the baby's health is of the utmost importance, and I would sacrifice myself for my child if it came down to it (I suppose in a way labour and just being a mother are sacrificing myself for my child, but I digress).  However, I do not at all subscribe to either the false dichotomy of pitting mother against child instead of working to ensure both are well, in every sense of the word.  The mother's emotional welfare shouldn't be neglected, either, and telling her that the baby is all that matters gets translated to her as saying that she doesn't matter and she should just forget any emotional trauma.

Even without my first birth being truly traumatic, I can understand this, for I do have some emotional baggage, as it were, with Kieran's birth.  I'm thrilled beyond words that Kieran is fine, but I'm also angry and hurt at being subjected to interventions that shouldn't have been necessary, had I had continuous support been more educated on various positions and the like and been more confident.  No, I'm not blameless.  (and no, I'm not saying interventions are never necessary, nor that women aren't traumatised if an intervention is necessary).

Whatever the circumstances, though, telling the mother that it only matters that the baby is well, or even telling her that it's okay because both she & the baby are alive, serves only to belittle her emotional well-being.  I don't think people intentionally do this, for I don't think others realise just how emotional birth is and that the experience itself, as well as the outcome, is important.  In fact, I'm sure I was guilty of this way of thinking prior to having Kieran.  It's helped to be able to talk about it, and has spurred me on to educate myself more, thus leading to my ongoing reading and research.  Now I see the bigger picture, that a healthy baby and mother are important, and that this goes beyond physical health.

Book Nook

Today's book: Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, by Simms Taback.  I'd never read it or heard of it until my father sent it to Kieran one day.  My father has a habit of randomly sending books to the children, so they have a nice little library now.  This is a lovely book, though, and the children love the pictures and the story.  We've definitely read it to them many a time, and I highly recommend it.

5 March 2011

Charlotte's Birth Story

As I sit here breastfeeding Charlotte to sleep, I can't help thinking of her birth, and how nice it is to be sitting here feeding her in the room in which she was born.  Once I hit 37 weeks, I was ready for the pregnancy to be over, to be honest.  I was tired of being nauseated, tired of the pelvic pressure, tired of not being able to eat anything other than vegetables and bread.  That being said, I certainly wasn't going to allow for an induction or membrane sweep, since I knew Charlotte would come out when she was good and ready.  I remember being in tears during the afternoon of 25 March because I wasn't in labour.  Not only was I ready to have Charlotte on the outside, I'd wanted an Annunciation baby.  God had other ideas.  Her due date was only 3 days later, on Palm Sunday.  I joke that I have very liturgical children, since Kieran's birthday is often during Advent, and Charlotte was due in Holy Week.

I also joke that family aren't allowed to tell me when to go into labour any more.  With Kieran, my mother told me not to go into labour before the 29th of November, which is when he was born.  My sister told me not to go into labour before the 27th with Charlotte.  Wouldn't you know that I woke up just after midnight on the 27th and realised I was having contractions?  I might not have awakened then except that Kieran crawled into bed next to me.  I got up and took a paracetemol, had a snack, and went to the toilet, and then decided I might as well lie back down since the contractions weren't that strong yet.  I stayed in bed until around 1.30, when it was no longer comfortable.  I told B that I was in labour but that he didn't need to get up yet, and I was probably going to take a shower.

I came downstairs and turned on my computer, because I'd promised Daddy I'd email him when I went into labour.  I also had to text Charlotte's godmother, because she wanted to make sure she had the nuns pray for me during labour.  Because I'm a geek, I also logged on to a message board to let them know.  A lot of them were online, so I ended up sitting on the birthing ball and chatting with them in between contractions.  After about an hour, I was vocalising through contractions, and one of my friends told me I needed to have B phone the midwife.  I was in denial, but I agreed to it, so I got him out of bed.  He'd come down earlier to set up the cushions and blankets and such for the birth.

So B phoned the hospital so they could phone the on-call midwife.  She rang back and said she'd be over as soon as she could.  She was worried she wouldn't make it in time (obviously she knew I was farther along than I thought I was), so she'd phoned another midwife to come out, too.  Irene got here around 3.00 and checked Charlotte's heartrate in between contractions.  She also rubbed my lower back during contractions, which was quite helpful.  Ann arrived a little after that, so she did make it in time.  It wasn't long after that before I hit transition and screamed.  Unfortunately I woke Kieran, so B went back upstairs to comfort him.  I tried focusing on the Crucifix during these transition contractions, but kept losing my focus and screaming "I can't!", or just screaming, instead.  Irene assured me that I could do it, and I also remembered what I'd read in the Bradley book, that it's almost over when you start saying "I can't".

Transition only lasted for 2 contractions, and suddenly my body was pushing.  I quickly got off the birthing ball and onto my hands and knees on the floor.  I'd lift up to kneeling while pushing, then go back onto all fours in between contractions.  I remember being a little surprised at how long it was taking; since Kieran was an assisted delivery, the pushing stage was only 15 minutes with him.  It was still only 30 minutes or so with Charlotte, so not long really.  She'd start to crown and then go back; once the head was born, Ann saw that that was because of a nuchal hand.  Silly baby.  The body was born in one go at the next contraction, and she was passed under me so I could see her.  She'd been born at 4.10, only 4 hours after I'd noticed contractions (perhaps I'd slept through some earlier, though).  The midwives helped me lie down and Charlotte almost immediately latched on.  Because things had gone so quickly, the midwives hadn't had a chance to look at my birth plan, and so they asked if I wanted the syntometrine for delivery of the placenta.  I declined and asked them not to cut the cord, which they obliged.  They waited until the cord stopped pulsating before cutting it.  It wasn't too much longer before I felt the urge to push again, and the placenta was delivered.  They then made sure I was OK and helped me to the toilet and to get cleaned up before helping me into bed with Charlotte.  I'd only had a very slight tear that didn't require stitches.  I was very thankful for this, as I'm allergic to local anaesthesia.  The membranes were ragged, which explains the later infection, but it turned out fine.

Once Charlotte had been born, B brought Kieran down.  He wasn't sure about everything, so he hung back while I went back to sleep.  He wanted to go to Mass, though, so B took him.  Fr David sent the Eucharist back with him, which was wonderful.  Irene came back later in the day to check on Charlotte and me and make sure all was going well with breastfeeding and that there were no signs of infection (there weren't at that point).  All in all, I'd say it was a pretty perfect experience.  The only thing I'd change would be to get in an upright position for delivery of the placenta, since that would have lessened the risk of retained membranes or the like, thus reducing the chance of infection.  I definitely will continue having home births, though.


After reading this infuriating article earlier, I was thinking about the various cultural assumptions that are made in it.  Our cultural assumptions influence the questions we ask, as well as our preconceived ideas of how things should be.  In fact, reading through the article reminded me of an article written by James McKenna, who mentioned that researchers never question whether it's safe for an infant to sleep alone in a crib, because our cultural assumption is that solitary sleep is the norm, even though it isn't the norm for much of the world, or for much of history.

So, what are the assumptions made in this article?  The first one that comes to mind is the assumption that children are necessarily expensive and a drain on resources.  I'm sure this assumption is true, if parents also buy into the cultural assumptions/expectations about what is needed for a child.  In having children, I've found that the majority of "must-have" items aren't actually necessary at all.  For example, that Moses basket? Didn't need it.  The crib? It was used for storing laundry and/or a cat bed (Firebert quite enjoyed sleeping there).  The cot-top changer?  Not actually necessary; we used it with Kieran, but not really with Charlotte, opting instead to just change her on the floor. Speaking of changing, cloth diapers save a lot, and going with EC would save even more.  I just haven't quite decided if I'm crunchy enough for that step yet, though I keep thinking about it.  Bottles?  Who needs them - breastfeeding is free.  Baby food?  Why not just give the baby the food you're eating?  Stroller?  It can come in handy, I suppose, but babywearing works, too.  eBay and Freecycle are great places to find clothes and toys, and they don't really need many toys anyway.  My kids quite enjoy the boxes in which toys come, sometimes more than they enjoy the actual toys.  Even more than that, children can teach us to live in a more economical and "greener" manner.

The other major assumption made is that parents aren't as happy as child-free people.  I think the larger assumption here is that we should be able to do what we want, when we want, without worrying about others.  Indeed, this is what society tells us so often, that it's about us, and we need the newest things, or to go to the best parties, or whatever, in order to be truly happy.  Poppycock.  While it may seem paradoxical, and it goes against societal expectations, sacrificing our own wishes to care for another is profoundly rewarding.  True, there are times when parenting can be infuriating, such as when one child is throwing a tantrum and another is teething or ill, but those days don't last forever, and they're very much outweighed by the hugs and kisses and "I love you"s.

This leads to another problem with the article's analysis of happiness: how do you define and quantify happiness?  I'd venture to say that parents and child-free couples might have different definitions.  This doesn't mean parents aren't as happy, though.

Finally, perhaps some of this comes from the expectations that are put on parents in our society.  In the US, mothers are expected to return to work around 6-8 weeks postnatal, a stress I cannot fathom (yes, I returned to my PhD and part-time job at that time, but I was able to bring my son with me; I ended up having a panic attack anyway from the stress of my required tasks competing with my desires to be a SAHM).  Mothers are expected to be able to juggle a promising career and childcare and caring for the household.  Furthermore, parents are expected to do all these things without the benefit of extended family.  I can well imagine how all these expectations, in addition to the unrealistic expectations of what our children should be doing and when (such as when they should sleep through the night) and what each child should have, can lead to depression.  Again, I don't think this indicates that being a parent causes depression, but perhaps societal/cultural expectations for parents contribute to that.

4 March 2011

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Watching my children gives me insight into how often I do certain things, since they imitate my husband and me and each other.  Sometimes this is humbling, sometimes just hilarious, and sometimes it makes me proud.  I truly am proud when I see Kieran "breastfeeding" one of his toys.  Breastfeeding is a part of his life, something he sees every day, and so it makes sense to him to "feed" his toys in this way (he's only rarely seen bottles, and I'm not sure he'd actually be able to identify one).  I am proudest when he's kneeling and praying, at Mass or at home, for I see that he's learning these things from us.

In the hilarious camp are those things that the kids do together.  I love it when Kieran asks Charlotte to hold his hand, in the same way I ask him to hold my hand when we're crossing a busier street.  Lately he's taken to trying to play hide-and-seek with Charlotte, trying to convince her to hide with him so he can ask me where they've gone.

The things that really get to me, though, are the things they imitate that I wish I didn't do.  Lately Kieran's been repeating "I'm sorry for raising my voice" (no, he hasn't been shouting).  I raise my voice all too often, or just get a harsher tone to my voice, and it's usually when they're doing age-appropriate things.  I make sure I apologise, thus where Kieran's getting that sentence that he keeps repeating.  It's truly like a knife to the heart to think that my weakness in this regard is influencing him so much.  And so I will try to be better at this, and will pray a lot and (hopefully) receive the Eucharist frequently and go to Confession regularly.  Can't beat the grace given to us through these Sacraments.  When I do mess up, and I know I will, I will continue to apologise to my kids and ask them for their forgiveness.

3 March 2011

Knitting Thursday

I've nearly finished the body of Kieran's sweater.  I should have the second shoulder done in a few minutes, and then I can start on the sleeves.  Yay!  Not much else to report, except that I think the pattern instructions were a little off for the three-needle bind-off, since it said to hold the wrong sides together instead of the right sides (provided I read it correctly).  No matter, though, since I held the right sides together for it.

1 March 2011


A topic that sometimes arises is whether a university education is worth it, or if it's beneficial to everyone.  Obviously this isn't a parenting issue I'll need to address immediately, but it's something that is often on my mind.

First, a little bit of my background.  I never considered the possibility of not attending university, to be honest.  My parents had degrees, my siblings and cousins went, and I can't think of any friends who didn't go.  I also love to learn, so that's another reason I didn't really consider not going to university.  I chose a small private university, and I don't regret my time there one bit.  I chose a degree that I love, and not on the basis of employability.  A postgraduate degree is usually required for archaeology, so I'd always considered that I'd get my MA as well.  After completing the MA in Egyptology, I started the PhD, but later stopped because I chose to be a SAHM.  I would've happily continued attending lectures and language classes, to be honest, provided I didn't have to write the thesis.

When I was doing my undergrad, I was sometimes asked what I would do with my degree.  I'd usually remark that I could work in a museum or teach at the university level (field work was out after my second knee surgery), but, to be honest, I didn't choose my degree based upon the possibility of finding a job, but because I love archaeology and have from a young age.  In fact, a university education shouldn't be tied to employability, in my opinion.  I went to university because I love to learn: full stop.  I didn't limit my lectures to archaeology and history, but chose other courses that interested me, such as literature, Hebrew, and biology.  Similarly, I chose my MA because it interested me, and even managed to fit in a slightly unrelated course on Minoans simply because I find them fascinating (I also found my required language classes fascinating - I love dead languages).  As I mentioned before, I'd happily attend lectures, at least sometimes, if I had the time and money.  In the meantime, I'll continue hitting up the library all the time.

With all this in mind, I can understand why some say that university in a non-negotiable for their children, or that they don't consider the possibility of their child not attending university (not that they're making it compulsory, just that they can't fathom it not happening).  I'll be honest and say that I'll probably be surprised if any of our children choose not to attend university, but I won't require it.  There are some professions where a university education isn't necessary, and if my child knows for certain that he wishes to pursue that profession, I'd set about finding what training/education he needed so he could get it.  An example would be going to culinary school instead of university.  Or if one of my children absolutely knew he wanted to enter the religious life, then attending university might not be the best idea (depending on the type of religious life) so that he wouldn't accrue debt, thus postponing entrance into the community.  Obviously I'll encourage my children to do their best and reach their full potential, and I certainly won't discourage university, especially given my fondness for my university education (I don't care as much about the degrees, but love the education).