31 August 2011

Ebay-ing it Up

I've spent the last two days excavating - excavating through the crates of clothes my children have outgrown, that is.  Two days, and I'm still not finished.  I have, however, gotten through quite a bit.  I sorted out the things that will fit others' children and got some of that sent off today.  Much of it, though, has been put on eBay.  Now I just hope that the things sell.  If they don't, the next charity that sends me a collection bag will get a lot of clothes.  This is why I've not written anything the past couple of days, though.

29 August 2011

Book Nook

I'm going to be a little different today and talk about my own reading habits.  I love to read, and have done so for as long as I can remember.  When I'm at home and don't have to do other things (or even if I do), you can often find me with a book.

Since Mother's Day, though, you might equally find me with my Kindle.  I'm finding that it's much more portable than a book, so I tend to take it outside with me if the kids want to play, or walk around with it, or just sit and read on it.  While it won't replace books for me, it does make it easy to catch up on some classics or whatever else I want to read.  Lately that's been classics such as Victor Hugo's Les Miserables (I love the music and wanted to read the book) and Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale (I love Shakespeare, and hadn't read that play before).

I love the huge selection for the Kindle, too.  It's fun to browse through the titles, finding things that pique my interest.  I love that I can download a free excerpt so I can see if the book is one I want, too.  And of course it's also nice that the classics are free, as are some other books at times.  Pixel of Ink tends to keep track of the free or reduced price Kindle books.

So all that to say that I highly recommend the Kindle.  It makes it easy to get lost in a book whilst also watching the kids.

28 August 2011

Rosary Musings: the Second Joyful Mystery

The Second Joyful Mystery: the Visitation

by Mariotto Albertinelli, from http://freechristimages.org/biblestories/visitation.htm
First for the Scripture from Luke 1:39-56, from the New Jerusalem Bible:
39 Mary set out at that time and went as quickly as she could into the hill country to a town in Judah.
40 She went into Zechariah's house and greeted Elizabeth.
41 Now it happened that as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
42 She gave a loud cry and said, 'Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
43 Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord?
44 Look, the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy.
45 Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.'
46 And Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour;
48 because he has looked upon the humiliation of his servant. Yes, from now onwards all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Almighty has done great things for me. Holy is his name,
50 and his faithful love extends age after age to those who fear him.
51 He has used the power of his arm, he has routed the arrogant of heart.
52 He has pulled down princes from their thrones and raised high the lowly.
53 He has filled the starving with good things, sent the rich away empty.
54 He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his faithful love
55 -according to the promise he made to our ancestors -- of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.
56 Mary stayed with her some three months and then went home.

The first thing I notice is Elizabeth affirming Mary as the Theotokos by calling her "the Mother of my Lord".  Of course the geek in me also gravitates towards the "blessed among women" part, since my limited experience with Biblical Hebrew and Middle Egyptian have taught me that this is how superlatives were written in those languages.

I love the description of St John the Baptist leaping in the womb when he encounters Mary and Jesus.  My children often kicked at the Consecration during Mass, and I always thought of this passage when that happened.  I also love Mary's response of magnifying God through all this.  As I mentioned last week, Mary is always pointing to Jesus, which amazes me.  I wish I could say that my every action and word pointed to Jesus, but alas, that is not the case.  I've a lot to learn.

27 August 2011

St Monica

Today is the feast day of St Monica, my patron Saint.  She's an amazing woman whose faith and perseverance I greatly admire.  She was married to a pagan man who seems to have not been the nicest, and she had three children, among them was St Augustine.  She was grieved by Augustine's wayward life and prayed constantly for his conversion, as well as praying for the conversion of her husband.  In the end they did convert, a testament to her great faith and prayer.  St Monica, pray for us.

26 August 2011

Word Games

I've always loved word games.  In fact, I grew up playing Scrabble with my mother.  I have fond memories of playing Scrabble from a very early age, progressing from her making words and me finding a place to put them, to legitimately holding my own with her.  Unfortunately, I rarely get the chance to play Scrabble these days, despite having two Scrabble boards (regular and travel).

Imagine my surprise, then, when Kieran pulled out the travel Scrabble today and asked to learn how to play.  Since Charlotte was napping, I was more than happy to accommodate his request.

Thus it was that I found myself teaching a 3-year-old how to play Scrabble.  I would form words and help him find a place to put them.  He didn't care so much about the words themselves, but had lots of fun placing the tiles, getting out more tiles, and identifying letters (on his own, with no prompting from me).  I didn't attempt to keep score or anything, though I'm sure that will happen before long.  He was rather upset when Charlotte awoke, since that meant we had to put the Scrabble game away.  I foresee Scrabble becoming a regular fixture in my house again.

25 August 2011

Crafty Thursday

back of the sweater
I'm still plugging away on Kieran's Twisted Tree sweater.  I'm really pleased with how it's turning out thus far.  I'm completing the fourth repetition of the pattern, so I think I have six more before I get to the armholes.  I decided from the beginning to do true cables instead of the right and left crosses, as I just prefer the look of real cables (I also did this with his Sherwood sweater last year).

I've not worked on my sweater this week, though I'm sure I'll return to it soon.  I enjoy having multiple projects going at once, so I don't get bored.

Prayer Request for a Sick Daughter

Prayer Request for a Sick Daughter

Found this over a CMR:

I wanted to ask if you could please include my daughter Ella in your intentions and/or family prayers. She is a little over 4mo and is/has been listed for heart transplantation (status 1A). She already had surgery back in May, but her heart is just too severely defective to repair surgically again. My family and I only met E when she was 3 days old, but it was serious love at first sight. We all fell hard for her; then again, she is the most ridiculously cute baby on the planet. Truly.

But I digress. We are praying for complete healing of her heart and are asking for intercession through Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. Would you join us in our prayers?

I understand if my request seems bold. I don't expect a response, but I figured I would ask. My baby girl deserves nothing less than all I can give.

24 August 2011

Right or Easy

Often in parenting I find that there's a choice to be made: a choice between what is right and what is easy.  Before I go further, let me say that I do not think there's only one right way to parent - to say that would be to fail to take into account the fact that each person, each child and each parent, is different, and each family dynamic is different.  There are some things I'm completely against, like CIO and baby/child "training", but overall I wouldn't say there's one right or wrong way to do things.

from Harry Potter Wikia
As I go about my day, though, I notice this choice between doing what is right and what is easy.  Perhaps I'm busy or just tired when I take the easy way of out of just saying "no!" or becoming exasperated or whatnot instead of addressing the root of the problem.

If I know that Charlotte's fond of climbing on the table, but do nothing to redirect her or show her something more appropriate on which to climb because it's just easier to say "no", that doesn't do a lot of good.  In fact, what ends up happening is that she'll climb up there anyway, I'll get irritated and pull her off, and she'll have a tantrum.  Now, at that point it's no longer "easy" but there's still time to do what is "right" (for example, by proceeding to show her an appropriate venue for her climbing, like Kieran's bed) instead of reacting in kind.

I'll be honest - this is a constant struggle for me.  I have to constantly remember to parent more responsively when I'm feeling tired or am trying to cook or do housework.  I don't think it's always possible to head things off before they happen, for I'm not omniscient or omnipresent and I can't control the actions of others, but, with the grace of God, I do think it's possible to make the right choice, which will vary from child to child and situation to situation.

Once again I come back to the idea of the domestic monastery and responding joyfully as I'm needed.  It's certainly not easy, for denying ourselves is never easy.  Thankfully God gives us the grace we need.

22 August 2011

Book Nook

from goodreads.com
When Kieran was quite little I received some flyers for one of those book clubs.  You know the ones, where you get x number of books for really cheap or free (plus shipping) and then commit to buy x number more books in x amount of time?  Well, I decided to do it because they really were good deals, and we got some great books that way.  One of the deals we got was the entire Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis for all of 50p.  Can't beat that!

We'd had the books when I was little, though I don't remember reading them until the films came out.  Once the books arrived, I set to reading them to Kieran, young as he was, so he and I have gone through the entire series.  I need to start reading them to Charlotte now, and re-read them to Kieran, of course.  Lewis has a way of writing that brings all the images of Narnia to the mind.  Reading The Last Battle actually helped me a lot with how I view the end of the world and death.  Obviously I know he wasn't writing a theological treatise, but I found his depiction of that to be uplifting instead of the scary treatment those subjects had received when growing up.  It's also lovely to see Lewis' faith shining through these works.  I'll admit that some of the books in the series are better than others, but all are worth reading.

21 August 2011

Guest Posting @ Alternative Mama

Check out my guest post at Alternative Mama!

Rosary Musings: the First Joyful Mystery

Now that we've gotten through the Anima Christi, I want to go through my thoughts on the mysteries of the Rosary.  The Rosary has always been there in my life, popping up here and there long before I was Catholic.  I remember my cousins praying the Rosary, I remember a friend praying it in college, I remember getting myself in a little trouble at Sunday School by knowing and defending the Hail Mary (not exactly something a good Baptist would do).  I feel that Mary was always there, gently leading me closer to her Son, leading me into the Church and the Eucharist.  She's still there, pointing me to Jesus all the time, if I just pay attention.

Fra Angelico's The Annunciation, from artbible.info
The First Joyful Mystery: the Annunciation 

This mystery is taken from Luke 1:26-38:

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth,

27 to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

28 He went in and said to her, 'Rejoice, you who enjoy God's favour! The Lord is with you.'

29 She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean,

30 but the angel said to her, 'Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God's favour.

31 Look! You are to conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus.

32 He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David;

33 he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.'

34 Mary said to the angel, 'But how can this come about, since I have no knowledge of man?'

35 The angel answered, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God.

36 And I tell you this too: your cousin Elizabeth also, in her old age, has conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month,

37 for nothing is impossible to God.'

38 Mary said, 'You see before you the Lord's servant, let it happen to me as you have said.' And the angel left her.

Mary's faith astounds me.  I wish I always responded by just saying "let it be done to me according to thy word", but I don't.  I fight, I protest, I want to do it my way.  I have a lot to learn from Mary.

Of course, this mystery also resonates with me as a mother.  I know what joy and fear come with seeing that positive pregnancy test, but how much more would that joy and fear be magnified when bearing your Saviour in your womb?  Though without sin and dedicated to God, I'm sure she felt the full range of emotions with the message the angel brought.  In the Rosary, I meditate on these events in the life of Jesus through the eyes of Mary, and seeing God humble Himself to take on flesh and dwell in the womb of Mary and then to dwell among us: it's just amazing.  And all of Mary's words and actions point to Jesus, which is also amazing.

20 August 2011

Aren't You Worried About Them Socially?

That's the question I was asked today at a neighbourhood child's birthday party.  It rather amused me, actually, for a couple of reasons.  First, the person who asked had assumed that Kieran went to nursery.  Yet it wasn't until I mentioned that I was going to home educate that socialisation became a concern.  If he seemed socialised enough when it was thought he went to nursery, why is it suddenly a concern when it turns out he doesn't attend nursery and won't attend school?

The second reason it amused me was because we were at a birthday party.  Obviously Kieran doesn't know these children from school.  He knew the birthday-girl and her sister from our parish, but had never met the other children.  Despite that, he was playing well with them, even if he did have a bit of conflict with another child.  It was nothing that wasn't normal at that age; I policed a little as needed but tried to step back as much as possible.  The point, though, is that he had no problem interacting with children of a variety of ages, even in a chaotic party setting (this is a big deal for my very well-ordered son), so I don't think socialisation is an issue.

I suppose I'll have to get used to these sorts of questions now that Kieran's approaching school-age.  After all, that's why the questions arose, since multiple people at the party asked me if Kieran was starting school this fall.  While I could've just answered that he's not old enough yet since his birthday is in late November, I went ahead and disclosed that I was home educating, for I see no reason to hide that fact.  In that way, I brought it on myself.  It didn't bother me, though I do get a bit annoyed with the misconceptions regarding home education.  Who knows, maybe I can help clear up some of those misconceptions over time.  And of course home education is a learning process for me, as well, and will be the entire time, as I see what works and what doesn't for each child and adapt as needed.

19 August 2011

Seeing Babywearing as the Norm

Just before leaving for Mass I find myself tying a sarong on my son like a wrap sling so he can carry Duckling on his back.  How did this happen?  Well, with minutes to go before we have to leave for Mass and amazing the kids and I are all dressed and ready to go when Kieran says he needs to put Duckling on his back.  Since we're running ahead of schedule (meaning we're not rushing out the door at breakneck speed so we're not late), I find myself running upstairs to try to find something that can be used as a sling.  My first thought was to grab one of the many decorative scarves I have, but then my eyes fell on the sarong I'd gotten on our honeymoon in the Bahamas.

"Perfect!" I told myself, as I rushed back down the stairs to help Kieran with it.  It's been a long time since I've tried to use the Kari-Me wrap (pretty much like a Moby wrap, for my US readers) on my back, but I thought I remembered enough to quickly strap Duckling on Kieran's back.  Thankfully Duckling is rather light, and not alive, so it really didn't matter if it was well supported.  My first attempt didn't look quite the way it should, but by that time we were in a hurry so I left it.  I didn't get a photo of the second attempt, which was much better.  Once I got Duckling strapped on, we headed to Mass like this:

Kieran was very happy having his Duckling on his back like that, and I was thrilled that my children see babywearing as the norm.  I've actually worn Kieran on my back in the mei tai fairly recently, and I frequently wear Charlotte, either on my back in the mei tai or on my hip with the Kari-Me folded like a sling.  She's a bit too big for a front carry these days.  Children imitate what they see and know, and obviously for my children that's babywearing.

18 August 2011

Crafty Thursday

I've been working on Kieran's Twisted Tree sweater, using some lovely bamboo needles.  I like the way it's looking so far.  I'm knitting a little tighter than the gauge calls for, so I'll just follow the length for the next size up and it should work out, according to my calculations.  I'll double-check when I get to the armholes, just to make sure.  I often have to make things longer for Kieran anyway, so it would be good to check at that point before I have to do any shaping.  I do love knitting all in one piece, too.  Hooray for not having to sew up side seams!

Negative Attitudes Towards Children. . . Among Children?

Yesterday after dinner I took the kids outside to play since it was nice out and many of the neighbourhood children were playing.  One of the children, A, was out and riding her bike up and down.  She's roughly 8 or 9 years old.  As she was riding past, she made a comment that she would only have one child when she was older.  She continued, saying that having two children would be OK, but having three (or more, I presume) would be bad.  This attitude puzzled me in part because she's not an only child, but has three older siblings and frequently plays with a family of five children.

More than being puzzled, though, it saddened me.  I know our children pick up on our attitudes towards things, so I know that this is a consequence of many being opposed to larger families (though I don't consider three children to be a large family).  It's not uncommon to get comments about "having your hands full" if you're out with three or more children.  In fact, I think I've gotten that comment even when out with just my two children; I know I've gotten that comment when taking my two children plus a friend's child somewhere.

As annoying as it is to encounter that attitude among adults, it's heart-breaking to encounter it among children.  For one, it is their attitudes that will shape the generation following them, since their children will watch them.  We're already seeing a growing trend in child-free experiences - will that continue or worsen if our children are picking up on this attitude?

I think this can also tie in to my previous post.  As a society, we tend to look only at the negatives associated with children, instead of realising how much good and fun also go along with having these children.  In my opinion, the more the merrier.  Or if that reason is insufficient, one can always look at economy professor Bryan Kaplan's book Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids (note: I've not read the book yet, but I liked what I read in the excerpt, and I've heard good things about him).

Who wouldn't want more of these?!
Whatever the reason, I think hearing A yesterday was a bit of a wake-up call for me that we don't need to just focus on how other adults perceive us when we have more than two children, but we also need to look at how other children perceive our families.  We need to make sure we don't just complain about hardships or difficulties, but also talk about the joy.  I don't mean to just pretend hardships don't exist, for that isn't helpful either, but to give the whole picture.  Hopefully, given time, this attitude can be turned around.

15 August 2011

There Is Also Life

I finally got around to reading the entire NYT article on twin "reduction" (to use their euphemism). I didn't really want to read it, because I knew it would both anger and sadden me. As I was reading it, though, I kept noticing that those who were choosing to abort one twin, or a child with a genetic defect, seemed to only focus on the negatives. For example, the parents talked about how they didn't think it would be fair to their other children, or that they wouldn't be able to give multiples the love and attention needed, or that they didn't want to deal with the craziness or difficulty of raising multiples or a child with a genetic defect.

Yes, there are difficulties. That is true with any child, multiple or not, genetic defect or not. Yes, there are more difficulties with some situations than with others, but there are also love and life. One of the mothers who was interviewed for this mentioned that she was terrified of having twins after seeing a friend who seemed to be struggling with having twins plus an older child. After having her twins, though, she commented that "the thought of not having any one of them is unbearable now, because they are no longer shadowy fetuses but full-fledged human beings whom I love in a huge and aching way." I suppose that's part of it - too often we don't see the unborn as being a "full-fledged human being", and it's all too easy to forget when they aren't seen.

I'm reminded of the scene between Arwen and Elrond, when Arwen sees her future child. When she confronts Elrond about it, he says he looked into her future and saw death, which is true. What he neglected to tell her was about the life there would also be. There will always be pain in this life, but there is also beauty. I think we forget that when we focus so much on the potential negatives.

Book Nook

from Amazon UK
When Kieran was around 9 months old, Uncle Rugrat gave him the book Can You? Play Like a Kitten, which he loved.  It has different photos of cats, with a mirror at the top, and asks the child to mimic the cat by rubbing his eyes, yawning, etc.  Now Kieran will flip through the book and ask me to mimic the kittens, while Charlotte wants us to read it to her.  It's definitely been a good book to have around, since they enjoy the photos and think it's funny when we mimic the cats.

14 August 2011

For All Eternity

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

For all eternity

 When I was young, I was terrified of the idea of eternity.  Mostly because I was terrified that maybe I wasn't saved.  I no longer have that fear, but I certainly can't wrap my mind around the idea of eternity.  We talk about wanting something to last forever, but we can't truly fathom it.  The idea of something being eternal, timeless, no beginning and no end - it's just not something I can imagine in this world where things end all too soon.  But I trust in God about this, for that is all I can do when I don't understand.

I was also thinking about how we should really be in perpetual adoration of God at all times.  I admit that I don't get to Adoration nearly as often as I'd like.  I try to remind myself to be there before Him spiritually when I'm going about my day, but that doesn't happen as often as it should, either, unfortunately.

12 August 2011

Hometown Pride and the Riots

While this doesn't really fit with the general theme of my blog, it is something that's been on my mind a lot lately.  I lived in the Dingle area of Liverpool for a few years, and that's one of the places that has experienced the recent riots.  When I heard that Toxteth and the Dingle had riots, I was disheartened, but not surprised.  Those are areas tend to be avoided by others.  I remember when we first moved there and we were getting on the bus at the university to go home.  We told the bus driver where we were going, and he looked at us like we were insane.  He asked if we were sure we wanted to go there, so I responded "yes. We live there.".  He didn't hide his surprise, but gave us our tickets and we got home just fine.  I understood his surprise, for outsiders to Liverpool don't usually go there.  It wasn't just that we're American, but no one outside Liverpool tends to settle in the Dingle or Toxteth, or are met with surprise when they do.  I've a friend who lived down the road from me when we lived there; she was from southern England and was also met with surprise at the fact that she lived in the Dingle.

When living in the Dingle, we became quite popular with the neighbourhood kids.  At first they just wanted to hear my accent, but they came by most days just to chat with me.  Litter is a huge problem in that area, and these kids also had a tendency to just throw rubbish on the street.  When we saw them do that, though, we made them pick it up.  I didn't mind putting it in our bin, but I didn't want it on the street or pavement.  At first this was met with disbelief, with one child remarking "but no one comes here anyway".  I retorted that no one would want to come if the residents didn't even care enough about their home to take care of it.  Evidently that sunk in a little, for some of the kids relayed to their parents that I didn't allow them to litter.  This became evident when I was walking along Park Road and saw some of the kids with their mum.  One of the girls started to throw her rubbish on the street, and her mum corrected her and then turned to me to inform me that she didn't allow her children to litter.  It amused me that she felt the need to address me on the matter, to be honest.

It saddens me that this pride in one's home seems to be lacking from some of the residents there.  The Dingle and Toxteth have great potential, if the people there take care of them.  There are incredible views of the Mersey where we lived in the Dingle, along with quite a few historic properties (though they aren't always in great condition, unfortunately).  There's no quick fix, but they also aren't going to improve as long as they're skirted in fear.  Thankfully, though, many residents do still have pride in their homes and have turned out for clean-up efforts.

11 August 2011

Crafty Thursday

While I've not done a lot of knitting this week, I did start Kieran's Twisted Tree sweater today.  I'd thought I'd use a sagey green, but Kieran liked the blue better.  I'm using more of the Wildflower DK my mother gave me.  I love the way the pattern looks, so here's hoping it'll look as good when I make it.  I think I'm going with the length for the size 4/5, but the width with the size 2/3 - my son's slender and tall, so I often find I have to alter patterns for him.  We'll see how it goes, though.

9 August 2011

Knit Together

The clickety-clack of knitting needles has never been far from me. My mother is still an avid knitter, and I grew up seeing her knit beautiful and fun creations, for herself, for us, and for others. When I was 7, we were on holiday in Colorado. My dad and sister had gone water-skiing, so I was left with my mom in the cabin. That was when I first learned to knit, and a passion was ignited.

I didn't knit all the time. I tended to go in spurts – I still do, in fact. I found that I became bored quite easily, so I always wanted to change the pattern somehow. This is something else that I still do. I'd only knit sporadically for years, occasionally making toys or afghans or sweaters, but I never did any regular knitting. I'd been on a knitting hiatus for a couple of years, probably, when I found out I was pregnant with my first. Nothing like reigniting the passion for knitting like the prospect of knitting for my child.

Knitting for children is quite fun, so I've been slightly more prolific with my knitting since Kieran was born, though still nowhere near as prolific as my mother. Because of this, my children are growing up hearing the clickety-clack of knitting needles. They even like to help me. Of course, for Charlotte this usually means stealing my yarn and waving it around until it's gotten rather tangled, but she does have fun. Kieran, however, actually wants to help.

from Kaboodle.com
A couple of years ago I was given a Prym Maxi knitting mill. While it's not good for creating a diverse array of items, it can be used for hats, bags, or flat panels. The great thing is that it's perfect for children. Kieran and Charlotte both like to play with it, with Kieran really turning the crank. One of his friends also enjoyed making a hat with it.

Sometimes, though, Kieran wants to actually help me knit with the needles. I honestly never imagined that my 3-year-old would want to help me knit. I've taught children to knit before, but never one as young as Kieran. He's quite good at helping, though. His personality is such that he's very focused and very keen on things that have to go a certain way to work, so it suits him. I was rather surprised at how well he did, sitting in my lap and holding onto the needles with me and helping to guide the yarn. He doesn't do it much, but I enjoy that time with him, once I remind myself that it's OK to knit a bit more slowly than I normally would. And sometimes he gets distracted and just wants to put a bunch of markers on the needles, but that's fine. It's wonderful that we can share this interest.

8 August 2011

Set Up To Fail

Are parents set up to fail? Sometimes I think so. Or perhaps it's more like there are lots of things out there trying to trip us up or make us think we're failing. It isn't that these people or things are trying to make us fail. I try to think the best of others, so I imagine most are genuinely trying to help. Nevertheless, I think a lot of advice that is given to parents is flawed.

I think parents are also set up to fail by societal expectations of a baby's behaviour. A baby should sleep well, but parents mustn't bed-share. A baby should be quiet, but mustn't be carried/worn all the time or attended to quickly every time. A baby should be breastfed, but please don't show any skin or do that in here. Add to this the fact that many young parents live farther away from their own parents and extended family, and thus don't have the built-in support system that used to be commonplace. Even if they did, though, many of our parents were also sabotaged by bad (but well-meaning) advice. So what do parents do? Some at least read various parenting books that tell them to just follow this routine and your child will be good as gold; if that isn't the case, the blame is put on the parent, not the advice. Or they ask a medical professional, friend, or family member who tells them to do x, y, or z, and/or ignore their own instincts.

That's really the crux of it – we're discouraged from following our instincts, or we don't know how to follow them because we don't see it. Breastfeeding, whilst natural and instinctual to a degree, is also learnt. Our attitudes to it are heavily influenced by our society, meaning that our instincts in this matter are often eroded away long before the baby is born. After the birth, many are then given advice that conflicts with our instincts, thus damaging or completely sabotaging the breastfeedingrelationship. It's no wonder many women stop breastfeeding, for in many ways you really do have to be incredibly obstinate to breastfeed as you wish.

This is also true with baby-training. Because many of us were raised in the era of “Ferberising” and similar methods, where parents were told to ignore their own instincts, many haven't witnessed or experienced instinctual parenting. Then when a child is waking at night, as they do, parents are told to ignore their instincts and “train” the child to sleep. I understand the motivation behind it, I truly do, but I think we're failing ourselves and our children when we follow this.  

As a society, it seems we've forgotten what is normal, namely that babies are meant to wake at night and are meant to be close to mum. This won't lead to them being spoilt brats, they aren't trying to manipulate (even if they vomit or poo or stop crying when they hear you coming). We've forgotten that babies are meant to breastfeed on cue, including during the night, and doing so won't turn them into demanding hellions who expect to receive their every wish immediately. Thankfully this information is being rediscovered and disseminated, so even if parents don't see these behaviours, they can know about them. There's still a long way to go, though.

*Note: I do not think parents who follow that advice are bad parents, but I lament that they've been given incorrect info and undermined in that way.

Book Nook

from harpercollins.co.uk
Kieran was given Well Done, Noddy! by Enid Blyton by a couple at our parish.  While my husband and I aren't all that fond of the book, both kids seem to like it.  It follows Noddy as he seeks to help his friend Big Ears after Big Ears' has been in a bicycle wreck.  I'm just not fond of Noddy seeming a bit vengeful, but I suppose it can provide a good opportunity to discuss what a more appropriate response would be.  The illustrations are lovely, really, and I think that's part of the appeal for the kids, too.

7 August 2011

That with thy Saints I may praise 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

That with thy Saints I may praise Thee

 Obviously I can praise Him now, but my thoughts are divided due to the cares of the world and the responsibilities of being a wife and mother.  In Heaven, though, we can praise Him without ceasing, without being weighed down by cares and sin.  I'm reminded of the verse in Revelation that speaks of the prayers of the Saints rising before the throne of God.  I'm reminded of the Sanctus at Mass, where we sing with the angels their song of unending glory:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

5 August 2011

Checklists for Parenting?

I heard about this proposed scheme to give parents a checklist for parenting.  Here are the five daily pledges proposed:
1. Read to your child for at least 15 minutes a day.
2. Play with your child on the floor for ten minutes a day.
3. Talk to your child for 20 minutes with the TV off.
4. Adopt positive attitudes towards your child and praise them frequently.
5. Ensure your child has a nutritious daily diet to aid their development.
Obviously that's a bare minimum (I hope).  I personally find this proposed scheme to be rather insulting.  For one, I tire of the various checklists the HVs have, either telling me how to parent or trying to make all children fit a certain profile in terms of what they do and when.  Yes, I realise that many children will meet certain milestones around certain ages, but we also need to realise that every child is an individual and will meet those milestones at his own pace.

I  also see these five things as being rather common sense, though I know not all parents read to their children regularly or really talk with them.  All the same, it almost seems like it treats parents as being too ignorant to know they should actually spend time with their children.  Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but I'm not sure.  I was thinking about how we're already not given certain information because they don't think parents will actually follow it.  For example, instead of giving parents information on how to safely bed-share, we're told that all bed-sharing is dangerous (not true).  Or how pregnant women in some places are told not to drink any alcohol instead of explaining that light/moderate drinking hasn't been shown to be detrimental and may even have benefits.  So I already see this trend towards treating parents as ignorant, so I'm not hopeful about this checklist.

Something else that's worrying about it is the following statement:
Parents in the poorest 20 per cent of the population could also be entitled to extra child benefits if they attend parenting classes run by the scheme. 
Why is it being assumed that a parent being in the poorest 20% of the population means that the parent isn't a good parent?  Conversely, why is it assumed that not being poor is indicative of being a good parent?   I'm sure parents will take the classes in order to get the extra benefits, with both good and bad parents disregarding the info and carrying on as normal.  Maybe I'm being cynical.  Regardless, I think it's rather silly to come up with such a scheme.

4 August 2011

St Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney

Today is the feast day of St Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney.  I joke that he's following me, because I seem to see him almost everywhere.  His faith amazes me.  Here's someone who struggled through seminary, who wasn't thought to be that special, but his faith carried him through so that he inspired the people around him to also follow God and love Jesus more.  I would honestly love to name a child after him (though I did realise today that I'd been pronouncing his surname wrong!  Oops!).

I've been looking forward to today all week so I could go to Mass.  Well, I try to go to Mass daily, and it's always something to look forward to.  Anyway, this morning when I got up it was quite grey, but wasn't raining.  Well, at 8.45, it was raining pretty fast.  A lighter rain, but we still would've gotten quite wet (the umbrella's been lost).  I debated leaving Charlotte home with my husband and taking Kieran, as I could've put one child in the buggy with the rain cover, but Charlotte was already dressed by that time.  I debated whether we should go at all, even though I wanted to go.  So I asked St Jean-Baptiste-Marie for his prayers.  At the last possible moment that we could leave and get there in time, it stopped raining.  Thank you, St Jean-Baptiste-Marie for praying, and thank you, Lord, for answering that prayer.  It was a small thing, really, but I appreciated it.

Crafty Thursday

Sorry I've been slacking on posting this the past couple of weeks.  I've not done a whole lot in the craft-department, in part because my wrist has been bothering me a little and I've been forgetting to wrap it.  I did make Charlotte's bloomers out of the sleeves of that shirt, though.

1 August 2011


One of my pet peeves is referring to not using contraception as having unprotected sex.  Unprotected?  Let's think about that.  From what or whom do we need to protect ourselves?

If we need to protect ourselves from our significant others, why are with them?  This actually reminds me of when my husband and I went to open a bank account and asked for a joint account.  The bank teller incredulously asked us if we trusted each other, to which we responded that we wouldn't be married if we didn't.  But surely something is amiss if we feel the need to "protect" ourselves from the very people to whom we're giving ourselves, right?

Or maybe the protection refers to protecting ourselves from diseases.  Again, why are we with that person if we have to protect ourselves?  Many people go out of their way to avoid, say, the flu, through vaccines, through face masks, through avoiding crowds and those who have the flu, but when it comes to STDs we seem to have a very different view.  Interesting.

Perhaps the protection is instead referring to the chance of pregnancy.  This one really angers me.  Pregnancy is not a disease, a child is not someone to be feared or from whom we need to be protected.  Unfortunately I think it speaks volumes about our attitudes if we do feel we need to be protected from the possibility of having a child.  I think this attitude is following its logical course with the child-free movement, too.

Book Nook

My dad sent the kids another Julia Donaldson book: The Snail and the Whale.  The story follows a snail who wants to see the world, and gets to travel on the tail of the whale.  As I've come to expect with Axel Scheffler, the illustrations are beautiful.  I was a little surprised that I've not found a squirrel, though, since I think I've found a squirrel in the other books we have that he's illustrated.  Maybe not in The Tickle Book - I'll have to look.  The children immediately fell in love with this book, asking my husband and me to read it numerous times just on the first day they had it.  Julia Donaldson certainly has a knack for creating books that are sure to be favourites from the start.