31 July 2011

On Being Undermined and Being a Mean Mother

Much of Mass today was spent policing Kieran, to the point that I got to participate in little of the Mass.  Unfortunately, this has become the norm of late, for daily Mass and Sunday Mass.  I feel like such a mean mother and I hate that I can't devote much attention to God.  Most of all, though, I'm angry at the reason behind this.

See, Kieran used to be wonderful at Mass.  No, he wasn't perfect, but he did really well and even tried to join in the prayers and kneel with us.  He wanted to go to Mass simply to go to Mass.  Oh, he still asks to go to Mass, but the reason he wants to go has changed and he no longer tries to act the way he should, at least not as often.

So what changed?  Well, it started fairly innocently.  Kieran had followed the altar servers into the sacristy after Mass one Sunday.  The altar servers get a little candy after Mass, and Father was amused that Kieran had gone in there and so he gave Kieran some candy.  No big deal, right?  Well, after that had happened a couple of times, Kieran started going into the sacristy after Mass during the week.  Sure enough, he was given candy.  I'm not a confrontational person, so I didn't confront the priests and ask them not to give him candy.  I did discuss it with Kieran, and for a time this was enough.  No longer.  No, this week he blatantly ignored me as I was asking him to come out of the sacristy so that he didn't get candy.  He knew that if he ignored me, he'd get some candy.  I can't just run after him, since I'm usually trying to keep Charlotte from running off, too.
So what's the solution?  I need to be firmer about it.  I know the priests will respect my wishes if I make it clear that my children are not to be given candy after Mass.  In fact, a day or two after the incident I described above, Kieran had gone into the sacristy and I reminded him in front of the priest that he wasn't to get candy.  Kieran had thought Fr Theo would give him some anyway, but Father just turned to Kieran and said he must do as his mother said. I appreciated that.  The problem will be one or two of the other people at Mass who think my children need candy and that they only come for the candy.  Well, unfortunately that's partly true, now, though it wasn't.  I want them to go back to wanting to go to Mass simply because they want to be at Mass, and not because they want chocolate.

Bid Me Come Unto Thee

I'm continuing with looking at the Anima Christi prayer. If you want a more in-depth theological look at it, I highly recommend Micah's posts over at The Ranter's blog. Here's the full text of the prayer:

And bid me come unto Thee

 All I can think when I say this is: thank you, Lord.  It's both amazing and terrifying to think of being in His Presence when His glory is revealed like that.  And then I think of the intimacy of the Eucharist, and how that will be absolutely fulfilled and magnified in that meeting with Jesus, if only I manage to persevere (by His grace).  I pray that He will bid me to come unto Him on that day.

30 July 2011

Routines I Don't Get the Point Of

After discussing the Hep B vaccine with a friend recently, I was thinking of all the various procedures that are routine during pregnancy, childbirth, and the neonatal period, and I realised that I really don't get the point of a lot of them.  Well, that's not completely true.  I understand why they're done, I simply disagree that they're necessary.  In general, my philosophy is "leave well enough alone unless the procedure has a definite benefit and that benefit definitely outweighs any risk".  Anyway, I thought I'd give a brief run-down of my thoughts on these.

  • Hep B - I'll start with this one since I mentioned it in the intro paragraph.  In the UK, Hep B isn't routinely given to children, unless the child is at risk in some way.  In the US, however, it is routinely given to all infants in the first 24 hours!  Despite the lack of routine vaccination of infants in the UK, it remains uncommon.  That's one reason I don't understand the routine vaccination of infants for it.  I know it can be spread through childbirth, but if the mother does not have Hep B, and neither do the child's other caregivers, then surely the child does not need to be vaccinated for it?  Especially since it is primarily spread by sex and/or drug use, two things an infant surely isn't doing.  I understand the desire to avoid Hep B, since it isn't exactly a pleasant thing, but it seems to me that routine vaccination doesn't make a lot of sense.  Given that rates of Hep B infection are low in the UK, where routine vaccination for it isn't done, I have to wonder how many cases of Hep B are actually prevented by giving it routinely (I'm not speaking about giving it to those who are a higher risk).  It seems to me, though, that it makes more sense to leave well enough alone and focus on reducing risk factors as needed.  Just my opinion.
  • prophylactic eye drops - I have to admit that I get a bit sad when I see photos of newborns and notice the greasy eyes, meaning the child has received these eye drops.  Again, this isn't routinely done in the UK, but is in the US.  As far as I know, these eye drops are given to prevent eye infections in the newborn that are caused by gonorrhoea or chlamydia.  However, if the mother does not carry these STDs, then the child doesn't need this procedure.  I also can't imagine that the widespread use of antibiotics even in infants who do not need them doesn't have some adverse effect (I'm thinking of antibiotic resistance, but perhaps that doesn't play a part in this); silver nitrate is sometimes used instead of erythromicin, but this can irritate the child's eyes..  I do think it's important for the child to be able to clearly see during those early hours and days.  No, the child cannot see very far in the early days, but he can see far enough to see his mother's face, so I don't see how impeding his already limited vision is a good thing if it's not necessary.  
  • immediate cord clamping - this is done in the US & UK.  However, delayed cord clamping has been shown to be beneficial and benign.  Dr Nicholas Fogelson has written a lot on this topic, so I'll put up a link to his blog.  I've found his blog to be quite informative and thought-provoking; I don't agree with him on everything (though I do agree with him on this), but I've found him to be professional, willing to admit when he doesn't know something, and quite knowledgeable on this topic.  Until recently, it's also been standard to immediately clamp & cut the cord when a child needed resuscitation, but hopefully the BASICS trolley will become the standard so delayed cord clamping can be done in those cases, too.
  • vaginal exams (VE), during pregnancy & labour - VEs during pregnancy aren't routinely done in the UK (though at least some midwives will ask the mother if she wants a membrane sweep towards the end of pregnancy, unfortunately), but they are often done during labour.  I love this link that discusses the issues with routine VEs.  Basically, while a VE can tell you where you are and how long it took to get there, it cannot predict how long it will take to reach full dilation, and it can introduce a risk of infection, particularly if the waters have gone.
  • group B strep (GBS) testing - This isn't routinely done in the UK, but is in the US, as far as I know.  GBS infection in a newborn is rare, but it can be quite serious, so I understand the desire to know if the mother is carrying GBS and to take action accordingly.  However, a woman who tests positive for GBS during her pregnancy may no longer have it at delivery, and vice versa.  When a woman tests positive, prophylactic antibiotics are given during labour, but this presents its own problems.  For one, there's the issue of antibiotic resistance, since GBS is no longer sensitive to some antibiotics.  A review also found that giving antibiotics isn't improving outcomes for the infants.  More research needs to be done, since the review said that there was a lot of bias in the studies they found.  Since it seems that knowing about GBS status isn't improving outcomes, though, I personally see no need to know.  I would've been given antibiotics had I not delivered Kieran within a certain amount of time after my waters had gone (I was given 3 days before an induction date, but went on into labour and delivered within 12 hours), or if I'd developed a fever.  I think these are sensible precautions, since infection is more likely after the waters have broken and fever can be a sign of infection.  But I don't see the benefit of routine testing if the prophylactic treatment isn't improving outcomes. 
I'll leave the list at that for now and spare my readers from more ranting. ;-)

27 July 2011

Adventures in Tandem Nursing

I don't often breastfeed both children at once, but when I do, it's always an adventure.  Kieran sometimes asks for them both to breastfeed together, but more often it's that Charlotte sees Kieran nursing and asks to have milk.  When this happens, she pretty much launches herself over Kieran to latch herself on, crushing Kieran a little in the process.  Because she has a habit of twiddling (which drives me insane), she also keeps putting her hand by Kieran's face.  This results in him pushing her hand away a lot while she continually tries to twiddle.  I feel for him, for Charlotte and I have that same fight all the time, since I don't allow her to twiddle if I can help it.  There's certainly never a dull moment.

Child-Free Restaurants

I was just reading about some restaurants that have child-free policies.  I understand getting irritated if a child is misbehaving and the parents are doing nothing to redirect or discipline them, but banning all children under 6?  My siblings, cousins and I grew up going to nice restaurants and a country club with my grandparents.  I knew that when we were there, we were expected to be quiet and not run around and to use good manners.  I know I was able to do that before the age of 6.  Sure, sometimes there were incidents, like when one of my cousins set a straw (I think) on fire with the candle, but we were in a private room that time, so we weren't disturbing anyone.

I have similar high expectations of my children when we're out.  I don't expect them to be perfect, but I do expect that they'll be quiet and not run about.  When we went to London last year, my parents took Kieran out to eat without me, and they raved about how well he did.

I think it comes down to being considerate.  I try to make sure that my children and I are considerate of those around us, and so I teach my children what is appropriate at restaurants or cinemas or wherever else we are.  I do think others also need to be understanding of the fact that sometimes a child might be a little noisy, but that doesn't mean the parents are ignoring the child.  Really, I think it's sad if we don't see and hear children, for how will our society continue without children?

26 July 2011

Cooking with Kids

A couple of weeks ago Kieran and I were making crackers.  He loves to help with them, and it's usually fun to have him in the kitchen with me.  I usually give a bowl or pot and spoon to Charlotte so she can pretend to cook, too.  I do have to watch my reactions, because I can get irritated with making a mess in the kitchen.  Well, Kieran and I had measured out the flour and put in the bowl and I'd then turned around to return the flour to its proper location.  When I turned back around, I found this:

My first impulse was to get upset, but I quickly mastered that impulse and realised she just wanted to help.  So I got the camera and laughed instead.  Once I got it cleaned up, we began again, and I just made sure the bowl was set back far enough so Charlotte couldn't reach it.  The crackers were delicious, as always.

25 July 2011

Book Nook

Last week I started reading Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland to the kids.  I'd read it to Kieran before when he was quite little, I think, and I'd read a little of it to Charlotte before this past week, but hadn't read much.  Both of them seemed to enjoy it this time.  We've only gotten through a few chapters thus far, but hopefully we can read the rest together soon.  Charlotte's been going around saying "down, down, down" in reference to Alice falling down the rabbit hole.  She's also convinced that rabbits say "woof woof".

I actually hadn't read all of Alice in Wonderland until having children.  The only part I'd read before was the poem "Jabberwocky".  I've enjoyed reading it with the children, though.

24 July 2011

In the Hour of My Death, Call Me

I'm continuing with looking at the Anima Christi prayer. If you want a more in-depth theological look at it, I highly recommend Micah's posts over at The Ranter's blog. Here's the full text of the prayer:

In the hour of my death call me

This line is rather sobering, and yet also comforting, in a way.  It's not fun to think of our own mortality, and yet comforting to think of Jesus calling us to Him in that hour, to be united with Him.

18 July 2011

Science! Science, I Say!

While making scones I was thinking about how breastfeeding and childbirth have been damaged by the attempt to make them more "scientific".  (yes, I have random thoughts when baking, or any time, really) My train of thought then went to my days of studying archaeology and learning about "New Archaeology" (or Processual Archaeology), wherein some declared that what archaeology needed was to be more scientific.  I find it interesting that these major interests of mine can be united by the fact that all, at one time or another, were under some kind of pressure to conform to a scientific method.  With breastfeeding and childbirth, this took the form of schedules and time limits and various procedures, instead of going with the natural flow of things; with archaeology this took the form of putting archaeology under anthropology and trying to be more scientific in analysing artefacts and an assumption that all aspects of a culture could be analysed through the material record.

Now, science certainly has its place within the study of breastfeeding, childbirth, and archaeology, and the scientific study of these things has led to greater understanding in some ways.  The problem, however, comes in trying to force these things to fit within a certain framework (obviously it's a bit different with archaeology, since we're not talking about a natural biological function but the study of past societies and that study must be thorough and rigorous, but the human element still remains).  Thankfully "new archaeology" was soon criticised for its shortcomings, and thankfully the "scientific" rules for breastfeeding are, in general, no longer in vogue.  We're getting there with childbirth, but there's still a ways to go.

The underlying assumption, really, is that the unpredictability and organised chaos of human systems is somehow deficient and inferior to a purely logical, scientific approach.  Seeing as we are not Vulcans, though, our bodies and societies do not, and will never, conform to a rigid system.  This is part of the beauty of breastfeeding, childbirth, and archaeology, in my opinion.  The way science can, and has, helped in these areas is by giving us greater understanding of them instead of trying to force them to conform to arbitrary standards in the name of "science".

Book Nook

My aunt and uncle gave this book (What Makes a Rainbow, by Betty Schwartz, illustrated by Dona Turner) to Kieran when he was young and it quickly became one of his favourites.  Now it's one of Charlotte's favourites.  They love the colourful illustrations, and it's fun that a new colour is added to the growing rainbow with every page.

17 July 2011

From the Malicious Enemy, Defend Me

I'm continuing with looking at the Anima Christi prayer. If you want a more in-depth theological look at it, I highly recommend Micah's posts over at The Ranter's blog. Here's the full text of the prayer:

Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from the side of Christ, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
O good Jesus, hear me
Within Thy wounds hide me
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee
From the malicious enemy defend me
In the hour of my death call me
And bid me come unto Thee
That with thy Saints I may praise Thee
For all eternity

From the malicious enemy defend me

This line always brings the St Michael prayer to mind.  It amazes me that God sends the angels to protect us.  It's also a good reminder that spiritual warfare does exist, and that we must therefore be on our guard.

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -
by the Divine Power of God -
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.


16 July 2011

Guilt and Fear and Decision-Making

One of my pet peeves is when people use guilt and fear to try to achieve a certain outcome or decision.  I was thinking of this specifically in regards to vaccines, because that's what's come up in conversation recently.  During the swine flu scare, I succumbed to the fear and got the jab, even though I'd probably already had swine flu (I'd had flu, but wasn't tested for strain).  I doubt I'd have gotten the jab had I just been allowed to look at the facts and make a decision after weighing the pros and cons, without pressure or guilt.

At the latest HV appointment, they tried to get me to agree to the MMR based on fear.  There's a measles outbreak at the moment, and the HV told me there had been deaths from it.  Well, I can't find anything about deaths in the UK from measles, but even so that alone wouldn't give me the whole picture.  I'd want to know the ages and vaccination status of those who died, as well as whether they were breastfed and for how long, and whether they had any underlying health problems when they contracted measles.  It's not fair to anyone to try to achieve a decision through coercion/guilt/fear, nor does it allow for a truly informed choice (in case you hadn't noticed, I'm rather opinionated about informed choice).

As I've mentioned before, medical decisions should only be made after looking at all the facts, weighing the relative risks and benefits, and then making an informed decision that is best for that family in that situation.  Not that we shouldn't take others into account when making these decisions, since we don't live in a vacuum and therefore our actions affect others, but we need to take everything into account, inasmuch as possible.

15 July 2011

Mirabelle plums

I've lived in this location for almost 3 years now.  Each summer I've noticed some yellow fruits on the neighbour's tree.  While I wondered what kind of fruit it was, I didn't really pay much attention, even though many of the branches hang into our garden and the fruits end up on the ground.

That is, until Charlotte decided she wanted to eat them.  That gave me the push I needed to look them up, and I discovered that they're Mirabelle plums.  I never knew there were yellow plums before.  I did some more digging and found out that they're traditionally harvested by shaking the branches, because the ripe fruit will fall down, so that's what I did.  I gathered enough to make a tart, with plenty left over.  I've been wanting to try out the jam setting on my bread machine and I figured the glut of plums provided a good excuse for that.  I came out with two jars of jam, so I gave one jar to our priests and kept the other.  There are plenty more plums on the branches overhanging our garddeen, so I might have to make more jam.  Can't let them go to waste. ;-)

New Whooping Cough Law Prompts Race to Vaccinate - The Bay Citizen

New Whooping Cough Law Prompts Race to Vaccinate - The Bay Citizen

I saw this article, thanks to the Analytical Armadillo. To me, this doesn't make a lot of sense. Scientists have revealed that the pertussis virus has mutated, and that many who contracted pertussis during the outbreak had been vaccinated against it. This isn't a unique phenomenon, either, as this study shows (yes, I realise the study also concludes that high vaccination rates should be maintained, but it does show that vaccination doesn't mean a person won't contract pertussis). I'm glad they're allowing exemptions, at least. Personally, I think some vaccines make more sense as being offered only for those who are at a higher risk for that disease, as in those with compromised immune systems, but that's just my opinion.

14 July 2011

Crafty Thursday

There's nothing much to report on my sweater.  Still plugging along on it.  I keep forgetting to look up the pattern for the other sleeve for Charlotte's dress, and I haven't gotten around to starting Kieran's sweater yet.

I have, however, done a fair amount of sewing the past few days.  I'd found a tutorial for turning an adult's button-down shirt into a toddler's dress, so I wanted to turn one of my old button-down shirts into a dress for Charlotte.  Following that link, I also found a tutorial for making some bloomers from the sleeves, so I'm going to try that, too.  I need to get some more thread, though.  I think the dress turned out well.  I had the white material already, as it had been given to me at the same time as the sewing machine.  I'd just never found a use for it before now.

these will be bloomers

dress front



modelling the dress

I also had an Oertel moment (those who went to uni with me will understand this reference).  I'd noticed a pile of clothes that had been outside for at least a day, so I scavenged.  I found a couple of button-down shirts in there, and one was suitable to turn into a dress for Charlotte.  I'm going to try cutting the other one down for Kieran, as he's outgrowing some of his other button-down shirts.  We'll see if it works.  Here's the dress, though.  It hadn't been hemmed yet in the photo.

13 July 2011

More on the Circumcision Debate

I've written before about the circumcision debate as San Francisco decides whether to ban routine infant circumcision.  I thought I'd break down my thoughts on the risk/benefit analysis, bearing in mind that I'm not medically trained.  I'll start by looking at the benefits that are often listed for circumcision.

- decreased risk of UTI.  From the studies I've seen, there does appear to be a decreased risk of UTI with circumcision.  However, the risk of the child contracting a UTI in the first place is rather small, so that over 100 boys would need to be circumcised in order to prevent 1 UTI.  Of those that do contract UTIs, very few will be serious.  I've seen some debate about whether the increased risk of UTI is more about lack of breastfeeding (which protects against UTI) and premature, forceful retraction of the foreskin, since the foreskin protects against infection when left alone.  It therefore seems like a miniscule risk of UTI, so I don't see circumcision as a necessity for that.

- HIV and other STDs.  There are conflicting data on whether circumcision decreases a man's odds of contracting HIV and other STDs.  Even if it does, though, abstinence and monogamy remain the only surefire ways of avoiding these diseases.  Abstinence and monogamy don't require anything to be done to the infant boy, either.  Once again, I don't see how this justifies a surgical procedure.

- cancer.  It's often noted that penile cancer seems to occur exclusively in uncircumcised men.  There's also information about partners of uncircumcised men having a higher incidence of cervical cancer.  Both penile and cervical cancer are often caused by HPV, a sexually transmitted disease.  Again, abstinence and monogamy are the best protectors.  It's true that I cannot guarantee that my son will follow Church teachings on sexual morality, but neither can I assume that he won't follow them.  I can't see justifying a surgical procedure on the chance that my son might not follow Church teachings, though.

- avoid phimosis and similar issues - Sometimes phimosis is actually caused by premature retraction of the foreskin, done by well-meaning family or medical professionals to clean or examine the penis.  This shouldn't be done.  Proper hygiene also decreases the risks of problems.  Rarely, circumcision will be needed later, but there are usually other treatments to try first.  Also, these issues are not unique to uncircumcised men, though they are rarer in circumcised men.

-hygiene - There seems to be a myth that circumcision allows for better hygiene.  But there isn't any special care needed for uncircumcised boys, and the foreskin should be left alone until it's retractable.  At that point, the boy can clean under the foreskin when bathing, but nothing else is required.  Given that we have access to clean water and modern sanitation, I don't see this as an argument for routine infant circumcision, either.

So just based on the stated benefits of circumcision, I don't see that the benefits are significant enough to justify any action.  So what about any risks?  I've read that risks occur in anywhere from 1-5% of circumcisions; while this number isn't huge, it's something to take into account, especially given that, as far as I am concerned, the benefits of circumcision are not great enough to warrant action.  I do think it's telling that the AAP also states that there's no compelling reason to circumcise, since the benefits don't outweigh the risks.  These are just my thoughts, of course.

12 July 2011

Charlie Dale

Baba with my dad & uncle. I don't know the date. 
I found myself thinking about my grandmother, Charlie Dale, today.  Sometimes I'm asked if we named Charlotte for her.  We didn't, and in fact I hadn't even thought of that connection until I was asked, but I do like the association.  It's funny, too, because sometimes Charlotte sets her mouth in a way that is just like Baba (what we called my grandmother).  I wish she could've known Charlotte.  In fact, she never met Kieran in person, either, though she got to talk to him on Skype a bit.  Anyway, this post is just to say that I was thinking of her, and missing her, may she rest in peace.

Charlotte, July 2011

Nail Biting

Anyone have tips for stopping nail biting?  Kieran constantly bites his nails - fingernails and toenails.  He's bitten some of them down so far that they're red and look sore.  I also hate the sound of him biting his nails.  So, any tips?  Or should I just ignore it?

11 July 2011

Responding in Kind

My daily struggle as a parent, or just as a person, is not to respond in kind.  I've always been prone to respond in kind, usually taking it up a notch, which isn't good.  Just ask my mother.  I don't think I ever tried to rein that in before becoming a parent, but I'm trying now.  Of course, children are a good motivation for that, for I never want to hurt them at all.

I've always known that raising my voice or being snarky in response to someone else's raised voice or snark didn't help, but I also didn't try to stop myself.  This becomes even more apparent when it's my son shouting at me.  If I shout back, what does that accomplish?  It only makes us both angrier, and greatly upsets him.  However, if instead answer in a calm manner, the problem is resolved faster and more easily.  I know this, and yet I still struggle with it.  This is just one of many reasons why I need to go to Mass daily, to spend that time with God and receive the graces from being there (and even so, I too often don't open myself up to His grace and therefore still mess up royally).  Since I'm far from perfect, I'll keep trying, and I'll keep apologising to my children whenever I raise my voice or otherwise mess up.  Thankfully they're quick to forgive.

Book Nook

I absolutely loved Frank Muir's Super What-a-Mess growing up.  I took fairly good care of the book, and I made sure I had it on hand once Kieran was born.  I'm glad to say that my children enjoy it, too, even if it isn't their absolute favourite like it was mine.  Unfortunately, the book is wearing out due to the extra "love" it's receiving, but I can live with that.  It's a fun book, and I love the illustrations.  It's one I read over and over as a child, and can still read it over and over to my kids.

10 July 2011

Suffer Me Not to be Separated From Thee

I'm continuing with looking at the Anima Christi prayer. If you want a more in-depth theological look at it, I highly recommend Micah's posts over at The Ranter's blog. Here's the full text of the prayer:

Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from the side of Christ, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
O good Jesus, hear me
Within Thy wounds hide me
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee
From the malicious enemy defend me
In the hour of my death call me
And bid me come unto Thee
That with thy Saints I may praise Thee
For all eternity

Suffer me not to be separated from Thee

 I see this as a supplication that we will not walk away from God, for nothing can separate us God unless we choose to walk away (Romans 8:38-9).  Since we don't lose our free will when we become Christians, we can choose to walk away from God at any time, thereby separating ourselves from Him.  This part of the prayer reminds me of the injunctions to persevere to the end so that we may be saved (Matthew 24:13).  I pray that I will persevere, by the grace of God.  Suffer me not to be separated from Thee, O Lord!

9 July 2011

Children's Liturgy

Earlier this week I noticed an informational bulletin about the children's liturgy at our parish.  Now, I know I've ranted a little about children's liturgies before, but bear with me.  This bulletin had bullet points to enumerate the reasons for sending the children to the children's liturgy.

One of the reasons given was so the children could be taught about the readings in way they could understand.  Now, there's absolutely nothing wrong with explaining the readings and/or looking at them more in-depth later.  We often re-read the Gospel with the children before bed.  However, I think this should take place either before or after Mass, not during it.  During Mass, I feel the children should be learning about the Mass and that the parts of the Mass shouldn't be separated in that way.  After all, the Liturgy of the Word is the preparation for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

This way of presenting things specifically to the children is addressed really well by The Crescat's post that I read today.  I think she has a very good point about how these things take the focus off of Jesus, placing the focus more on the children.  I also like the point about how we needn't dumb things down for kids, something I've ranted about recently.

Another reason given in the bulletin was so the parents could listen to the readings without distraction.  While I admit that it's easier to listen and concentrate if I'm alone, I won't leave my children at home just so I can attend without that particular distraction.  There's always going to be some distraction, anyway, whether my children are with me or not.  Perhaps it's also telling if we see the children as distractions, instead of fellow parishioners.  If we no longer saw them as distractions, would we begin to see the Mass as they do?  I too rarely pay attention to how my children perceive the Mass, but I do love how excited they can get during the Consecration.

Of course, even with attending the children's liturgy the children would be in the Mass for the Consecration.  But the transition from children's liturgy (in another room) to the Liturgy of the Eucharist causes its own problems.  The bulletin says that parents should ensure the children remain quiet once they are back in the Mass, but my experience has been that this doesn't always happen (I'm not saying children should be silent, for I don't expect that of my own children, but that they should be respectful and not playing around).  How much are the children (and their parents) missing because of trying to settle the children after their re-entry into the Mass?  I don't know that answer, but I imagine it's not negligible, if their children are anything like mine probably would be in that situation.

In the end, I continue to think that the best way of doing it is for families to stay together during Mass, with the parents teaching the children more outside of Mass.  It could also be helpful for Sunday school classes before or after Mass.  It requires some reorganisation, but I personally think it would be worth it.  Just my opinion, though.

8 July 2011

Kids' Music

I have a confession to make.  I generally hate kids' music.  I don't sing "The Wheels on the Bus" or "The Grand Old Duke of York" to my children.  Their only exposure to those songs has been at the children's centre, or if they hear someone else singing them.  Kieran insisted on listening to Vivaldi a lot; it's only been since Charlotte was born that he's been able to nap without listening to The Four Seasons. They also like jazz, which is great since I'm quite fond of Herbie Hancock's music.

When Kieran was about 18 months old, I took him to the children's centre for a music session.  I took him because there were going to be people from the Philharmonic symphony there, and so I figured he might like it.  I was wrong.  Instead of introducing the children to classical music, they played some children's songs and had the kids use shakers.  Nothing wrong with getting the kids involved, but neither Kieran nor I were impressed with the music.  I think he would've enjoyed it more had they played some Mozart.

I guess my real rant is in dumbing things down so much.  Children can appreciate classical music and classical literature.  We grew up going to the symphony and listening to classical music at home (my father has the complete Mozart collection, not to mention all the Beethoven, Dvorak, Chopin, etc), and I love that I was exposed to that.  My father also grew up having his grandmother read Shakespeare to him, and I've read Shakespeare to Kieran.  It's the same with not dumbing down speech when speaking to children.  I don't change my vocabulary when speaking to my kids, knowing that they will pick it up as they go.  In the same way, I don't dumb down the music or literature.  Obviously we have a lot of children's books, but the ones we get are ones that aren't dumbed down, but are still fun and interesting even to the adult reading them.

7 July 2011


I was reading a post about how what we name things influences how we think about them and what they are.  Since I'm a SAHM, I started thinking about this in relation to parenting topics.  For example, I love that cloth nappies are referred to as "real nappies" here.  By comparison, then, disposables would be considered somehow less "real".  Now, I don't think people often really think of them in these terms, but it's what the language indicates.

I also see a disconnect in the language regarding SIDS.  In England, SIDS is referred to as "cot death", which would seem to indicate that it is an event happening when the child is in a cot, and yet it is bed-sharing that is vilified.

I guess my thoughts on this are that our language should reflect the thinking on something, yet it seems, at least with these examples, that there is a disconnect between what the language says and what the perception is.

Crafty Thursday

I tried on my sweater yesterday to see how it was coming and whether I liked the pattern or not.  Here's the result thus far.  Thoughts?

6 July 2011

Praise and Criticism

I've been thinking a lot about how I respond to my children.  Unfortunately I find I'm much quicker to criticise and correct than I am to praise them.  I seem to take it for granted when they're meeting or exceeding my expectations, but am quick to correct or scold when they aren't.  I have high expectations, and I don't see a problem with that, for I think they are capable of those expectations (they've proven this over and over again).  However, my response needs work.  I don't know how to remind myself not to criticise as much.  I do think it's better if I'm more responsive and not absorbed in my own thing, though.  It's usually when I'm not paying as much attention that I get more irritated and therefore become more critical.  Since I've realised that I have this problem, though, hopefully, with the grace of God, I can begin to rectify it.  I know it won't happen overnight.  I know it'll take a lifetime to learn, but I'm willing.  After all, I want my children to know how proud of them I am, and not to think I'm always disappointed, because I'm not disappointed in them at all.  I'm honoured to be their mother, and they should know that.

5 July 2011

Prayer for Priests

I've been reminded of late that I really need to pray more for our priests.  While I try to remember to mention them in prayer before Mass and sometimes during the day, I don't necessarily make a concerted effort to pray for them as I should.  I'm humbled in reading about St Jean-Baptiste Vianney, who is the patron of priests.  I should follow his example, too, for his faith and service to God are amazing witnesses.  I found a beautiful prayer asking for his intercession, as well:

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.

3 July 2011

Within Thy Wounds, Hide Me

I'm continuing with looking at the Anima Christi prayer. If you want a more in-depth theological look at it, I highly recommend Micah's posts over at The Ranter's blog. Here's the full text of the prayer:

Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from the side of Christ, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
O good Jesus, hear me
Within Thy wounds hide me
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee
From the malicious enemy defend me
In the hour of my death call me
And bid me come unto Thee
That with thy Saints I may praise Thee
For all eternity

Within Thy wounds, hide me.

Whenever I say this line, I immediately think of the suffering servant of Isaiah 53, by whose stripes we are healed.  This line is especially poignant when I'm upset or in pain, as then I can think of His wounds providing a safe haven.  I think also of those Saints who have experienced the stigmata, and how they were absolutely united with Jesus' suffering, and it amazes me.  I think of the grace His suffering has brought us, and how the Blood shed from those wounds is the same Blood we receive in the Eucharist, which is amazing.  It's easy to forget the reality of that at times.  The Eucharist gives us grace and strengthens us and provides a haven for us as well.

2 July 2011


Some time ago I promised that I would research veiling customs during the time that St Paul lived, as I wasn't convinced that women always wore headcoverings outside the house. I've finally gotten around to doing some research, which I'll be presenting below.

Often arguments around whether women should cover their heads in church dismiss it as a custom that was prevalent in society as a whole then but isn't relevant now. Some comment that since women always covered their heads outside the house in earlier times but don't do so now the practise is now archaic. The question is, are these conclusions supported by the evidence?

(Please note that I am not arguing that there's a canonical requirement for veiling. I think people such as Fr Z, canon lawyer Edward Peters, and Jimmy Akin have made it clear that there is no canonical requirement to veil. I'm only looking at the cultural practises at the time.)

I'd first like to address the Scripture in question. Here's 1 Corinthians 11:3-16 from the Jerusalem Bible:

3 But I should like you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
4 For any man to pray or to prophesy with his head covered shows disrespect for his head.
5 And for a woman to pray or prophesy with her head uncovered shows disrespect for her head; it is exactly the same as if she had her hair shaved off.
6 Indeed, if a woman does go without a veil, she should have her hair cut off too; but if it is a shameful thing for a woman to have her hair cut off or shaved off, then she should wear a veil.
7 But for a man it is not right to have his head covered, since he is the image of God and reflects God's glory; but woman is the reflection of man's glory.
8 For man did not come from woman; no, woman came from man;
9 nor was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for the sake of man:
10 and this is why it is right for a woman to wear on her head a sign of the authority over her, because of the angels.
11 However, in the Lord, though woman is nothing without man, man is nothing without woman;
12 and though woman came from man, so does every man come from a woman, and everything comes from God.
13 Decide for yourselves: does it seem fitting that a woman should pray to God without a veil?
14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him,
15 but when a woman has long hair, it is her glory? After all, her hair was given to her to be a covering.
16 If anyone wants to be contentious, I say that we have no such custom, nor do any of the churches of God.

So we see here that St Paul says men should have their heads uncovered for religious gatherings, and women – all women, regardless of social class or marital status – should cover their heads. We still see that men uncover their heads for Mass (this is perhaps more obvious with a Bishop, since he removes his mitre or zucchetto for parts of the Mass), and some women cover their heads. The question, though, is the practise at the time that St Paul was writing.

In Roman practise, everyone covered his head during religious observances. There's a statue of the Emperor Augustus Caesar in the role of Pontifex Maximus, and his head is covered since he is performing a religious ritual. St Paul's prescription that men uncover their heads, then, would not seem to be the Roman custom. Jewish men also covered their heads, though I'm unsure of when this became the norm; it may post-date St Paul's writings or may not. I've not researched that.

Outside of religious observances, though, what was the Roman practise? I found Kelly Olson's book to be quite helpful. She focuses more on Rome itself and not the provinces, but the information is still valuable. In the Roman Empire, the prescription was that matrons wore a palla, a long garment that covered most of the body and would be pulled up over the head when out of the house. This only applied to matrons, though, and not unmarried women. Further, it doesn't seem to have applied to married women of the lower classes or to slaves, for the palla would not have been a practical garment if one had to do physical labour. St Paul, however, does not make a distinction between marital status or social class in his command.

In comparing the literary and artistic evidence, Olson contends that wearing the palla was seen as the ideal for the Roman matron, but was not a universal practise. One example is on the Ara Pacis, where women are shown both with and without their heads covered. It is possible, though, that those with their heads uncovered are unmarried girls who would not normally wear the palla anyway. However, there are also numerous portrait busts of matrons, some of which show the palla over the head and some which do not. It would seem, then, that covering the head was ideal (going by the literary evidence), but was not universally practised among Roman matrons (going by the artistic evidence).

Greek dress also dictated that women wear a himation which could cover the head. However, it did not just cover the head, but was more akin to a burka, covering the entire body except for the face. I have also found that Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones' research indicates that Greek women commonly went in public fully veiled, with head and face covered (the source is listed below; I was unable to get the book and so had to rely on the website listed that gave me that source).

St Paul, however, does not make a distinction between marital status or social class in his command. On the contrary, St Paul remarks in places about how all are equal in Christ, so having different rules for citizens and slaves would not be in keeping with that, it seems. St Paul also does not advocate for the more extreme veiling of Greek women which covered the woman completely. He does not seem to be succumbing to cultural mores since he speaks of this as a universal tradition throughout the Church at the time, and it doesn't have absolute parallels in the surrounding cultures in the way it is practised.

My conclusion, then, is that St Paul is not just upholding the cultural mores of the time. He in fact seems to deviate from the cultural prescriptions in many regards by not having different rules based upon social class and marital status. It later becomes the norm that women cover their heads everywhere (St John Chyrosostom speaks of this being the case), but it likely varied from area to area, especially as the Christians went to the farther reaches of the Roman Empire and beyond. So I'm not convinced that one can say that veiling has lost its meaning now that women don't cover their heads any time they are out of the house, since it appears that they did not always cover their heads when leaving the house in St Paul's time, either. Again, I'm not arguing that veiling is mandatory; the Church doesn't say that it is and I will not argue otherwise. I just wanted to research the historical practise a bit.

Llewellyn-Jones, Lloyd (Edt), "Aphrodites Tortoise : The Veiled Woman of Ancient Greece", Classical Press of Wales, December 2002
Cairns, Douglas L. “The meaning of the veil in ancient Greek culture”, Women's Dress in the Ancient Greek World, ed. Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones, p73-94.
Olson, Kelly. Dress and the Roman Woman: Self-Presentation and Society.

Money Savers

Living on a shoestring budget means sometimes getting creative and just finding ways of doing things that save money.  Here are some things on my list, though I'm sure I'll forget some things.  Feel free to add to the list!
  • Hang clothes to dry.  We don't even own a dryer any more, but even when we did it was rarely used.
  • Get meat with bones in order to make your own stock.  We always get bone-in chicken pieces so I can make chicken stock.
  • Dry your razor after use.  If you dry it off, it stays sharp a bit longer.
  • Freecycle.  This is useful both for clearing things out and getting things you might need.
  • Recycle clothes.  I'm finding it easier than I thought to turn old trousers into skirts.  I also have some older shirts and such that I'm going to try to cut down for clothes for the kids.  
  • Forage.  For me this mainly entails picking the blackberries that grow by the train tracks, but there's also rosemary growing, as well as other plants.  I suppose I could also put all those nettles in the back garden to good use, too.  
  • Real nappies.  While the initial cost is more, in the long run they more than pay for themselves if you get a quality brand.  My faves thus far are my trusty bumGenius 2.0s (still going strong!), Fuzzibunz OS and Lollipops.  
  • Bicarbonate of soda & vinegar.  Seriously, these two things are amazing.  My showerhead looks like new after scrubbing it with a soda paste and rinsing with white vinegar.  I use bicarbonate of soda instead of shampoo (rinsing with cider vinegar), and also use a combination of bicarbonate of soda & cornflour instead of deodorant.  
  • No TV service.  We have a television, but it's only used for DVDs and the Wii.  
  • Make your own bread, rolls, crackers, and pasta.  Besides, it tastes better and the house smells great.  Not to mention that you can avoid unwanted ingredients in this way.
Well, I'm sure I've omitted some things, but that's my list for now.  I welcome any more tips!

1 July 2011

Sacred Heart of Jesus

Today is the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  I've yet to do enthronement, though I want to do so.  We do pray a little prayer to the Sacred Heart daily, though.  I thought I'd post this litany.  For background info on it, check out EWTN's page.

Lord, have mercy
Christ, have mercy
Lord, have mercy

Christ, hear us
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Spirit,  have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, formed by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mother,  have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, substantially united to the Word of God, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, of Infinite Majesty, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, Sacred Temple of God, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, Tabernacle of the Most High, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, House of God and Gate of Heaven, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, burning furnace of charity, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, abode of justice and love, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, full of goodness and love, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, abyss of all virtues, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, most worthy of all praise, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, king and center of all hearts, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom are all treasures of wisdom and knowledge, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom dwells the fullness of divinity, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom the Father was well pleased, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, of whose fullness we have all received, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, desire of the everlasting hills, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, patient and most merciful, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, enriching all who invoke Thee, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, fountain of life and holiness, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, propitiation for our sins, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, loaded down with opprobrium, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, bruised for our offenses, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, obedient to death, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, pierced with a lance, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, source of all consolation, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, our life and resurrection, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, our peace and our reconciliation, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, victim for our sins have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who trust in Thee, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, hope of those who die in Thee, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, delight of all the Saints, have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world,   graciously hear us, O Lord. 
Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, have mercy on us, O Lord.

V. Jesus, meek and humble of heart.
R. Make our hearts like to Thine.
Let us pray;

Almighty and eternal God, look upon the Heart of Thy most beloved Son and upon the praises and satisfaction which He offers Thee in the name of sinners; and to those who implore Thy mercy, in Thy great goodness, grant forgiveness in the name of the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who livest and reignest with Thee forever and ever. Amen.


After reading through Simcha Fisher's wonderful post (and the myriad comments), I was thinking about what pregnant women are told regarding consuming alcohol.  I grew up in the US, and so always heard how consuming alcohol in pregnancy was anathema.

I later moved to England, where the guidelines have changed a few times over the past few years.  I think they changed at least twice just during my pregnancy with Kieran.  They started out with saying you could drink, then that you couldn't at all, and now are back to saying you can in moderation.  I personally think this approach is better, for it strives to give women more information so they can make truly informed decisions.  I feel the "don't drink at all!" approach seems to treat pregnant women like children, assuming they cannot or will not make the decision they feel is best upon receiving all the information.  For example, even when it was reported that light/moderate drinking during pregnancy did not cause problems and may even be beneficial (summaries of studies can be found here), ACOG reiterated that "no amount of alcohol consumption can be considered safe during pregnancy".  Strictly speaking, their statement isn't false since you can't prove a negative, but neither does the available evidence show that light or moderate drinking during pregnancy is harmful.

It's the kind of statement I might make to Charlotte if she ties to touch the oven.  I simply tell her not to do it, and don't get into a discussion about when/how it could be done safely because she isn't yet coordinated enough for that.  However, a pregnant woman is able to look at the facts and make an informed choice, if she's only given the information and/or knows where to look for the information.

Maybe it's just that I'm stubborn and question just about everything, but I always want to know the "why" behind something.  If my health care provider suggests something, I want to know why as well as the pros & cons.  This doesn't mean I disbelieve him, but that I need to understand it a bit more in order to provide informed consent.  When the guidelines changed to advise pregnant women to abstain from alcohol, I appreciated the GP who didn't just give me the official line but gave me the whole story.  So treat me like an adult and give me all the facts, good, bad, and ugly, and then let me make an informed decision.